Week of December 28, 2014: Resolutions

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December 28, 2014

Happy New Year!
The holidays are just behind us and we are moving rapidly into 2015. There’s something about a new year that makes people reflect, regroup, set new goals, give up old vices, and tackle new challenges. It’s just another day on the calendar, no different than any other, but there is something inherently powerful about January 1st. It seems to offer us a brand new start, a clean slate, another chance to do, or not do, the things that we feel need to be done… or undone as the case may be.

This coming week we felt as though we had to talk about resolutions. Who’s making them and who’s not? What are the most common resolutions people make and how good are they at keeping them? We also touch on a few New Year’s traditions that people have. Some you may be familiar with, some perhaps not.

We invite you, as always, to join the conversation! Have you made any resolutions for the coming year? Do you think you will stick with them? Have you helped someone else achieve their goals?
You can share your resolution successes (and failures) with us here in the comments or on our Facebook page! You can read interviews all this coming week about the ever popular, often made, sometime even kept, New Year’s resolution and more…
In the meantime, we invite you take this short poll about New Year’s Resolutions.
Thank you for your continued support and Happy New year!

Out With the Old, In With the New…A Talk With a Fitness Professional.

December 29, 2014

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Photo Courtesy of Christian Cianfrani. Appearing with former Baywatch star Jeremy Jackson.

WHAT DO YOU DO AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT FIELD?
“I don’t call myself a Personal Trainer but rather a ‘Fitness Professional’.
I teach people of all ages, with various goals and backgrounds, how to achieve their desired goals in the most effective plan and execution. I always played sports, since I was 7 years old, and even as a kid I became a leader on my teams because I loved to teach. I carried this attitude into the U.S. Army.

I eventually became the Physical Training Officer, where my program spread to an entire aviation battalion. After that I knew my purpose was to help the world with fitness and health.”

DID YOU REQUIRE SPECIFIC TRAINING?
“Yes it does require specific training. There are too many “personal trainers” who take the easiest route to work at a local fitness club or to freelance. Some are not even certified. There are also many trainers like myself who take the tougher route because we are simply curious about knowing everything. I graduated from the National Personal Training Institute which required 500 hours of practical training along with multiple written and oral exams. After that, I earned my CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) which is the gold standard of certifications. I earned my Masters Degree in Exercise Science in 2012 and I continue to study and have multiple certifications.”

DO YOU TEND TO SEE MORE “TRAFFIC” THIS TIME OF YEAR, AROUND THE NEW YEAR?
“I always see more gym traffic at the New Year. People mentally see it as a fresh start. Some studies have shown a 33-50% gym membership increase in the 2nd week of January. However 80% of those people fade away by the 2nd week of February.”

BEING IN LOS ANGELES WHERE PEOPLE MAY BE MORE IN TUNE WITH APPEARANCES THAN OTHER PLACES, DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE IN THE CLIENTELE AND COMMITMENT THAN YOU’VE SEEN ELSEWHERE?
“Los Angeles is a very big difference than Philadelphia for example. I have a steady clientele throughout the year in Los Angeles because for one reason, the weather is warmer. I would say about 90% of my clients are very committed as I have had some of the same clients for a few years now. There are also many more people with higher income in my area of Los Angeles which also helps. I had to aim for a very specific niche of clients in Philadelphia in order have steady clients which made it more difficult. It is December and 72 degrees out today and I already have two new people contacting me.”

WHO ARE SOME OF THE MORE WELL KNOWN CLIENTS YOU HAVE WORKED WITH?
“I am now working with 5 Playboy Bunnies including 2014 Playmate of the Year Kennedy Summers. I have also trained Jeremy Jackson from Baywatch, Loni Willison (Fitness Model), Hayley Hasselhoff, Kevin Dees (Son of Rick Dees), Thor Bradwell (Hollywood agent to Taylor Lautner), a few ladies from the ‘Housewives’ shows, and more. I have many “behind the scenes” clients such as the producer of The Doctors show and a major Hollywood Movie Editor for ‘Trailers’. Universal Pictures also hired me to train the up and coming young stars. There are a few other celebrities that I can not discuss. In 2010, I was a trainer for an auction in Malibu for charity which included stars such as Dick Van Dyke. I also work for the prestigious Jonathan Club. I am not allowed to discuss the celebrities who are members. Of all the high profile clients that I have ever trained, I am even more proud to have trained hundreds of U.S. Army soldiers and to teach hundreds of fitness students from 3 different universities.”

WHAT IS YOUR BEST TIP FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO STICK WITH A NEW AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FOR THE NEW YEAR?
“Fitness is your health and your health is a lifestyle. Don’t just exercise for weight loss. Fat loss is mostly diet and exercise helps to aid in fat loss but is mostly designed to improve movement. Focus on improving your movement and performance because it will help you stay on track. Choose short term goals such as improving push-ups and distance on treadmill. If your performance improves it should lead to fat loss. Weight loss begins at the supermarket. Also, your body does not like excuses. It doesn’t care that you are too busy for the gym. It doesn’t care that you ate a piece of cake because it was a birthday party. You can leave your job or even move to another country but you are stuck with your body until the end so why not treat it the healthiest way possible.”

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU IN 2015?
“I am looking forward to 2015. I recently gained a business partner to create the most intelligent and effective fitness programs and websites for the average person as well as athletes. He is an expert in website designs and marketing with many Hollywood connections. We can reach millions of people and create a brand with my expertise and his trust in me. We will be creating fitness videos with celebrities along with exercise programs and diets. The main goal is to change the world and become a powerful voice in the fitness industry.”

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Out With the Old, In With the New…What Happens in Vegas…

December 30, 2014

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This week we’re talking about resolutions. Who’s making them and who’s not. What are the most common resolutions people make and how good are we at keeping them? Join the conversation! Have you made any resolutions for the coming year? Do you think you will stick with them? Have you helped someone else achieve their goals? You can share your resolution successes (and failures) with us here in the comments or on our Facebook page! You can read interviews all this week about the ever popular, often made, sometime even kept, New Year’s resolution. And you can even take our New Year’s Poll here.

ARE YOU FROM THIS AREA?
“No. I’m from Atlanta.”

HERE ON BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?
“Pleasure. Here for a week with my sisters.”

IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME HERE?
“No. My sisters and I come out two or three times a year. We’ve been coming since ’06.”

HOW DID THAT TRADITION START”
“We came for my older sister’s 40th birthday in December of ’06. We had so much fun that we planned a trip for the following spring. After that we thought it’d make a nice sisters getaway and planned to do it every year, but we kept getting these flight deals and room offers and stuff, so we started coming every winter and every spring. Last year we came out 3 times”

DO YOU DO A LOT OF GAMBLING?
“I don’t know if I’d say ‘a lot’, but I do my fair share. My younger sister is much worse than I am though. I start saving my pennies up about 3 months before the trip and bring out a set amount for gambling only.”

DO YOU STICK TO THAT AMOUNT?
“Not as often as I should, no. I mean, I’m not pawning my ring or anything (laughs and holds up wedding band set), but I’ve hit the ATM a bunch of times when I’ve gone through what I had allotted for gambling money.”

HAVE YOU EVER MADE A RESOLUTION TO TRY TO GIVE IT UP?
“Not really. I mean, I’ve said, ‘oh I’m going to definitely stay within the set amount this time’ about a dozen times, but I have never said, ‘I’m going to give up gambling for my New Year’s resolution’, no.”

DO YOU EVER MAKE ANY RESOLUTIONS?
“Oh yeah. I’ve made the resolution to quit smoking at least a dozen times too. And I’ve made resolutions to go to the gym, give up sweets, take up running, cut back on how much coffee I drink, a bunch of them every year pretty much.”

DO YOU STICK TO THEM, I MEAN OBVIOUSLY NOT THE SMOKING ONE, BUT IN GENERAL?
“Not really. I’ve stuck to some longer than others. The smoking one never seems to last but I try it every year. I made a resolution to go to the gym last year and I did join and I was going like 3 or 4 times a week for a while, like maybe 6 months or so. Now, I go less often but I still go when I can, which I guess means when I feel like it.”

DO YOU HAVE ONE IN MIND FOR THE COMING NEW YEAR?
“I haven’t really thought much about it yet. I guess it’s time. I don’t know. I think I will probably try to quit smoking again.”

DO YOU THINK YOU’LL STICK TO IT?
“No. But, it’s nice to try, right? I mean what do they say? Every cigrarette takes 7 minutes off of your life? So even if I give it up for 3 days that’s like 60 cigarettes. So that’s like giving myself an extra, what, like 420 minutes. That’s better than nothing.”

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THIS NEW YEARS?
“We all have kids. Mine are teenagers now but I don’t really like them going out on New Year’s Eve, so we alternate house parties every year. My older sister, the one who started the whole Vegas tradition, it’s her year. Our kids all invite friends over and hang out and listen to music in the family room downstairs and the adults have drinks and talk and play cards sometimes, and watch the ball drop at Times Square. We live an exciting life. Maybe when the kids are all out we can make one of our Vegas trips a New year’s trip. I bet it’s crazy here on New Year’s Eve. That’d be fun!”

Out With the Old, In With the New… Noelle’s Thoughts.

December 31, 2014

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Today is the final day of 2014.
Since we began this project, everyone has so kindly shared of themselves whenever we have asked them to. In turn, we thought that we would take this opportunity to share our own thoughts, reflections, and resolutions with all of you, to end our year. Thanks again for reading, following, looking, sharing, and supporting our ideas and dreams. Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

As another year winds down, many of us will reflect on what we’ve experienced and learned over the course of the ending year and will ponder what’s to come as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. Some will resolve to make changes that will, hopefully, contribute to a good year. I’m no different. This time of year makes me reflect on life more than usual. For me, Christmas gets that train rollin. And in case your curious, here’s my 2014 life assessment. Maybe you’ll be able to relate.

2014 had a theme for me: Bittersweet. Now I realize bittersweet is pretty much life as a whole, but this year was the perfect example. I took some “nasty falls” this year. But I believe that there were lessons attached to them.

I’ve had a business in direct sales since 1999. I love my business, the people I meet, the way I get to make others feel, and yes, the money is nice (and necessary) as well. Over the years, I’ve earned free cars with my company. Six of them. Pretty sweet for a part time gig! Being a high achiever (where was that part of me in high school?), I earned a leadership position in my company in 2009 where I mentored others to get out of their businesses what they wanted. I enjoyed that position. Then I didn’t. I stepped down from my position in September. Some of that was choice. Some was productivity. More hard work was needed to maintain that position, by me and my team. It didn’t happen that way. So I kind of lost my job. I also stepped out of a free car. These changes stung. Made me question my worth. I’ve always loved this business (and still do) so why would I not be performing better? The answer, I believe, was passion, or lack thereof. I lost it. I’m not good at going through the motions. It bores me. Then I don’t perform. This is in any area of my life. I’ve always known that to some degree, but this year it was crystallized. I’m still active in my business, still love the business, my customers, many of the folks I get to work with. I just needed another outlet as well. Something more creative. I’ve always enjoyed talking to people, hearing their stories. I’ve loved photography for years. Then I saw HONY (Humans of New York) and was inspired. That was like something I had wanted to do for so long. Michelle was in a similar boat as me, with variations. We got together to talk about life and how to fill this creative void we both were feeling. I brought up the aforementioned. She loved it too, but we wanted a variation, not a duplication of what HONY was doing. Fast forward, One, Unified was born. Bitter. Sweet.

Having lost a full time gig, naturally money was lost too. Again, I questioned my worth (in more ways than one). As many of you may know, this can make for a lot of depression and anxiety. Money isn’t everything. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Money is the root of all evil. But, dammit, we need money to survive. I wasn’t pulling my weight. More pressure is on my already hard working husband. We have a kid going to college in the fall. While this problem is yet to be a thing of the past, and as I work to get my business back up to the well oiled machine it once was (with or without the leadership position), we struggle a bit. But I was blown away by the people that came through for us this year. I’m not saying our bills were payed off, gifts were bought for us, college is now paid for, but smaller (I didn’t say small) things. Tickets to a concert I/we really wanted to attend. Paying our way so we could enjoy a night out we may not have been able to swing otherwise. Some side work to earn some extra cash when we were really strapped. Understanding and compassion when it was toughest. Some of these friends are people we’ve known for a long time. Some are people we’ve only been friends with for a few years. It touches my heart and makes me feel so rich to have people like this in my life. Bitter. Sweet.

Unfortunately, knowing many people, there’s a flip side to that last paragraph and bound to be a little drama. I’m not a fan. Sadly, I’ve learned things about people this year that was disappointing. I learned that not everyone can be taken at face value. I’m a very honest, sometimes brutally honest, person. You never have to wonder if I’m telling the truth. If the words are coming out of my mouth, it’s true. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn, it’s just who I am, how I was raised. So I expect the same in return. It just doesn’t always work out that way and it’s a little heartbreaking when you learn that someone you thought you could trust, you may not be able to. So I’ve adopted a policy (and this isn’t really that new, I’ve practiced it in the past) to just accept people for what they are. Know that they’re doing their best or what they think is their best, but that I don’t have to put myself in their space more than necessary. There are true blue friends, fair weather friends, good time friends, and acquaintances. There’s people that don’t want to be friends, people I choose not to associate with as well. This is a lesson it’s taken some time to learn. In years past, I agonized over this. Trying to get everyone to like me. Getting upset every time I was disappointed. I still get upset, but not in the obsessive way I used to. It’s a 2014 miracle! But more than likely it’s just an age thing. Bitter. Sweet.

This was a tough year, but I realize not as tough as many others had. (I’ve had those years too.) But I’m ever grateful for the lessons I was lucky enough to be here to learn. I’m blessed, beyond words, to have a hard working, loving husband that is completely supportive (possibly too supportive for his own good sometimes). I have a funny, intelligent, empathetic, socially aware, caring son that was just accepted into Penn State Abington. No one in my family attended college, so this is kind of a big deal. I’m lucky to have my parents still with me. My sister and nephews and a wonderful extended family. Not to mention a whole other family of friends that are there on a dime when needed. My late uncle Eddie was a very wise man that gave me invaluable guidance and advice till he passed in 2010. He told me all the time, “You can’t control EVERYTHING Noelle”, as I tend to try to do. I’ve heard this in my head more this year than in years past and I’m grateful for it. It’s rather freeing.

My goals (or resolutions if you will) for the future, 2015 and beyond? Yes, I have the get healthier mantra so many people resolve to do. It really is important. But mostly I want to squeeze every ounce out of life. To be present in my life. To make good memories with the people that are important to me. To try, no matter what, to find a positive in every situation and person. To continue to earn the right to be called someone’s friend. To be the best version of me as I can possibly be.

I write this realizing just how thankful I am, despite any worries I carry about my future, and there are definitely worries. Grateful for those family and friends mentioned earlier. And I’m grateful for YOU, the reader and the wonderful people that have shared themselves with us (and you). This has been such a wonderful experience and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share it with someone. We all do have a common thread and truly are one, unified.

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Out With the Old, In With the New…Michelle’s thoughts.

December 31, 2014

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Today is the final day of 2014.
Since we began this project, everyone has so kindly shared of themselves whenever we have asked them to. In turn, we thought that we would take this opportunity to share our own thoughts, reflections, and resolutions with all of you, to end our year. Thanks again for reading, following, looking, sharing, and supporting our ideas and dreams. Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

Another year is drawing to a close. I don’t know if it’s me getting older or just my imagination, but it seems that each one goes faster than the last. The ushering in of a new year can be different for everyone. For me, I look at it as a good time to reflect. It’s a good time to decide what needs changing, to plan, to resolve to do better. And even though it’s just a day on the calendar, it can be scary, happy, sad, exciting, and a slew of other things all rolled into one. This year as I say goodbye to the outgoing year, as I reflect on 2014 laid out behind me, I have one main feeling moving forward— hope. This hope that I have for the coming year is replacing the most prevalent feeling of 2014 for me— doubt.

The past year has brought me a lot of the same old, same old… the kid’s baseball and softball games, family dinners, Sunday football games, homework, holidays, and the day to day grind that is the life of mother of three. This year I stopped blogging, lightened the load on my freelance work and got more involved in charitable projects and my personal writing. I started running. In May I completed Muderella with some of the fiercest women I know. That was something I never thought I would do. I finally finished the two half-written children’s manuscripts that were lurking around forever. Sure they’re still collecting dust, but at least they are complete! I even got another few chapters done in the never-ending novel. So, in many ways it was a year of staying still, but also of moving forward (figuratively and literally).

It was a challenging year. It was not, to put it nicely, one of my favorites. It actually started out strong. It was a year of the unexpected! At the beginning of the year I was happy and full of a renewed sense of purpose and joy. I was looking forward to a year full of changes and challenges that, although scary, I was ready to meet head-on. But, as they say, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ (read as: shit happens, roll with it). The changes and challenges of a promising new year quickly became, like many years before it, one of loss, sadness and yes, pain. I spent more time in 2014 in pain than I have cared to admit, but now I guess it’s the time.

Very few people are happy all of the time. No matter how blessed we are, sometimes it is hard to be the perky, smiling one. It is hard to be the always optimistic, ever-grateful one. And it’s even harder to admit when you are not feeling those things, because that is what people have come to expect of you. And when you have been blessed as I have been, with a wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head, food on my table, and very few of the real-life worries that so many must deal with every day, it seems selfish to even admit that there are days when you are just not feeling it. But, I am admitting it. This year I wallowed. I swam in a sea of questions, and confusion, and doubt for a good long while. I questioned my place, my purpose, my life. Most who know me, probably never even realized. And never being one to let my negative emotions show, I wanted to quickly get myself together, move on, and finish out the year strong. I tried my best to pick up the pieces, dust myself off, and jump head first into the rest of my life. I finally got the ball rolling on the business I had started several months prior. I started this site (along with my friend and partner in crime, Noelle). I started making decisions about the next chapter(s) of my life and who and what belonged with me on my journey. With my children to motivate me and to guide my choices as they always do, I pulled it together. Yes, I still have unanswered questions about my path. Yes, there is still an element of the unknown surrounding me in some places. Yes, there are still a lot of choices to be made and things I would like to do. But, there is hope.

Luckily for me, this is exactly what a brand new year is for! Each new year, a new beginning. Although the year did not finish quite as I had thought or hoped that it would, I did learn a lot of things along the way this year! I learned that you have to walk in your own truth, no matter what that is. You can only be yourself. It is the only way that the right people will come into your life and stay there! And if they walk out, well, it is their loss… perhaps their role in your life was over, or maybe they were never meant to be there in the first place! I also learned that not everyone will be who and what you want them to be. This is okay. I learned that sometimes no matter how much you believe in someone, no matter how much faith you have in them and in what they are capable of, if they don’t share that belief, you can not make them. You can try. But more often than not, there will come a moment when you will have to walk away- no matter how much it hurts you. I have learned that some people will judge you by your past- by things you have said and done long, long ago, and by the mistakes you have made, even if you are a changed person. Let them. Their judgments can not hurt you (refer back to walking in your own truth). You are not the mistakes you have made and you should only concern yourself with those who understand that and who see you for who and what you are now! I have also learned, and listen to me closely, that it is never too late to change the road you are on! It’s never too late to create a new beginning! And no one is too broken to be fixed! You just have to be brave and take the risks. Some people are not that brave. I hope to be that brave!

If I had to make goals for the coming year (I am always reluctant to call them resolutions) there would only be a few. One would be to get to know myself better. It’s easy to lose sight of who you are when your whole existence hinges on the existence of others. And that ties into my other goal, to say ‘no’ when I have had enough, to ask for help when I need help, and to understand that I can only control my own stuff. I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I don’t have to make the best chocolate mousse in the world. It’s okay to just make a good chocolate mousse. I don’t have to volunteer for every school party and function. It’s okay to make it to a few and let the others go. People who love me, people who respect and care about me, they will do so whether I make them cookies or not. It’s wonderful to be thoughtful, but it’s also important to think of your own needs too. In the coming year I am going to try, for the first time in as long as I can remember, to balance my own needs with the needs of others. I hope that I am successful.

This year I will have hope in all things. I will hope because sometimes that is what gets you through- looking forward- even when you are unsure. There’s a line from one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, that says: hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Things may not always be exactly what you wanted or how you wanted them, but if you live in hope, you can get through the days knowing, believing that someday they will be. In this I truly believe, I truly hope.

I wish every one of you joy, peace, health, happiness, and yes, hope in the coming year.
Happy New Year!
~Michelle
xoxoxox

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Out With the Old, In With the New…Philly Style.

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! We hope you’re enjoying our week-long talks about reflecting and resolutions as we look ahead to 2015. Be sure to check out everything we have to offer you this week and if you haven’t already, please take our very brief New Year’s resolution poll. As always, thank you for your continued support.

imageWHAT IS YOUR NEW YEAR’S DAY TRADITION? “Every New Year’s morning, I do the Mummers Parade, where I am a wench in the Froggy Car brigade. They put a bunch of roofers, construction workers and beer bellies in dresses and bloomers. The beginning of the Mummers Parade was the wenches. (The Mummers Parade is over 100 years old.) I got started when we used to hang out at a bar called O’Neal’s, which is where we’ll be having our between party this year (and last). One of the bartenders we befriended offered to sponsor my friend Victor, and I to be in the parade. We said sure, let’s try it out. It was a blast!”

HOW LONG AGO DID YOU START THIS TRADITION OF BEING IN THE PARADE?
“I think this is my 13th year. I count the costumes, it’s hard for me to remember. I was just looking at costumes, because this year is a reproduction of a couple of years ago, and I counted 8 of the dresses but have 13 different parasols (some of the dresses are in storage). When I do the math, I believe this is my 13th year.”

WHAT IS THE DAY LIKE?
“From beginning to end, it’s controlled mayhem. It’s so much fun. We start out at the clubhouse, where it starts with 2, then 20, then 50, then 800 guys in dresses and parasols. The cool thing is, everybody tweaks their costume a little. Some guys will wear different wigs. Some guys paint their faces differently. Some have the legging socks. Some will have double tiered parasols. Everybody tweaks it just a little. The coolest part is that we go around south Philly to the houses of whoever’s members passed away that year and serenade them with the band. We have a little horn section band. So we go into these little side streets in south Philly and knock on this lady’s door, 800 of us, to serenade her for whoever passed away that year. That’s why we usually get to Broad Street late and get disqualified every year. It’s pretty cool though. Makes ya feel good. It’s a little uncontrollable for a while, nobody with a megaphone or anything saying “come on guys, let’s go this way!” You just follow the masses till you get to Snyder. When you get there, there’s a little box truck with a couple of guys handing beers off the back. It’s like a pied piper thing. It’s three guys handing beers off one at a time to 800 guys and everybody’s filling their satchel. That’s how they lead us to Broad St. Once we get there, the truck turns off, cause there’s no trucks allowed on Broad St. that day, and then we’re there till we do our little march down. I like to stay on the side, play with the kids a bit since they’re off to the side. We do our little march down Broad St. It’s just long enough.”

HOW LONG IS IT?
“We meet up with friends around 11-11:30, and then it’s about 3 hours of stopping and going. But mostly going. Then we get to stop and watch the string bands. Most of them.”

WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER THAT?
“We go to our party which I started about ten years ago when I lived at 9th & Oregon in south Philly. I wanted to have a holiday party, but everyone was so busy during the week. Then I thought “nobody has a New Year’s Day party”. (Usually I work on New Year’s Eve, working a concert). Sure enough, people welcomed the opportunity to get out of the cold for a couple of hours. We drank and whatever. It grew from about 30 people the first time to, the last one I had at my apartment two years ago, 80 people. It was a little too small for 80 people in my apartment. So last year we rented upstairs at O’Neal’s and it turned out perfect. About 150 people showed. That’s what the owner said. We have a smaller window (that the party will go on for) this year just cause we wanna make the 2 street festivities. We kind of missed our group, Froggy Cars, the last couple of years, cause we stayed at the party too long. So we made it for 2-4:00 this year, so there’s plenty of time to get to 2 street (AKA 2nd Street) by 5:00.”

WHAT IS THE 2 STREET TRADITION?
“All of the winners in each category get to march down 2 street. It gets to be like Mardi Gras where it’s just a mosh pit of people. It’s a lot of fun. Everybody that lives there opens their door to strangers. I’ve been to many strangers houses on New Year’s Day just cause of the costume. They don’t let just anybody in. It’s a huge party. Whoever won each group/category of the Mummers Parade gets to march by themselves down 2 street and serenade the whole group of people that are down there. Even though we usually don’t win, we’re the biggest and say “we’re marching anyway!” And we do our little march with our band, the people are in the spirit for the rest of the night.”

imageWHERE DO YOU GET THE COSTUMES FROM? “Each group in every category has a clubhouse. Some are on 2 street, from Washington to Snyder. Walk down there any day and you’ll notice that there’s all different clubhouses. You go to the clubhouse, usually the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is when they start, you have to be sponsored by someone and give the name when you get down there. Pay your $225 for the year. When you’re a member for the year they give you the dress, parasol, the badges, the hat, and there’s different events through the year that you’re invited to. A night out at the Phillies game, or they’ll have beef and beers at their clubhouse. New Year’s Day they put a big tent out and have breakfast sandwiches in the morning and coffee. Then when we get back they’ll have some little pony beers left over from the truck and a pork sandwich or something. They do take care of you.”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
“It’s a camaraderie. You make friends with strangers and you have no idea what they look like cause their face is covered in make up. A few months later you’ll be at a bar and will be talking and they’ll say “we were in Froggy car together”. You’re like “ok, if you say so”.

BEING SOMEONE THAT ATTENDS THE PARADE, I’VE SEEN THAT YOU GUYS GET TREATED LIKE CELEBRITIES. DO YOU INTERACT WITH THE CROWD?
“Usually when we finish the route, we go into the crowd. It’s good luck to kiss a mummer, so everybody’s asking for that. We get lots of pictures with kids, which I’m always happy to stop and make funny faces with the kids that aren’t scared to death of you.”

DO YOU ENCOUNTER PEOPLE THAT AREN’T FROM HERE OR AREN’T FROM THE AREA THAT HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A MUMMER IS?
“All the time. You do a lot of explaining.”

(Note the link above for a full explanation of the Mummers and Mummers Parade tradition)

WHAT WOULD SAY TO SOMEBODY THAT ISN’T FROM THE AREA BUT IS CONSIDERING CHECKING OUT THE PHILLY NEW YEAR’S DAY FESTIVITIES?
“Hotels still sell out. There are still people that come in just for the parade. It’s the longest running parade in the United States. It’s a parade for the people. Even the fancy’s and string bands, with the beautiful costumes that are real expensive, they’re all regular Joe’s playing those instruments. There’s no professional musicians or anything like that. This is all people that do this on the side. These are your cement workers, your plumbers, the blue collar of the city of Philadelphia that get together and celebrate another new year. You gotta love that part of it.”

image

Out With the Old, In With the New…You Say You Want a Resolution…

January 3, 2015
imageWHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?                          “I manage a spa/salon inside a resort hotel/casino. I am also a licensed massage therapist and I teach yoga.”

SO YOU GET A LOT OF EXPOSURE TO PEOPLE TRYING TO BETTER THEMSELVES IN VARIOUS WAYS?
“Oh yeah. I mean, the people who are coming to the spa are usually on vacation and looking for a massage or a facial or one of the premium services we offer (mud wraps, seas weed, hot stone, etc.) It’s more of a one or two shot thing. Sometimes they come in for hair or makeup for events, but mostly it’s a relax and pamper thing.”

DO YOU THINK PEOPLE RESOLVE TO SPEND MORE TIME PAMPERING THEMSELVES IN THE NEW YEAR?
“I think. I mean it’s probably a good resolution to make. Resolving to spend more time, not necessarily on your appearance, but just on your self overall. Making time for yourself. Doing something that isn’t a necessity, but strictly something extra or special just for you. I definitely think that is a good resolution to make.”

HOW ABOUT WITH TEACHING YOGA? FITNESS AND HEALTH IS A HUGE RESOLUTION THIS TIME OF YEAR ISN’T IT?
“The biggest I’m sure. I have a big surge in clients the first few weeks of January. People say, okay, I want to get fit. I want to lose 10 lbs. I want to fit in my skinny jeans by spring or in a bikini by July! Yoga is a great way to do that. It improves more than just your waistline. You can lose weight, but you can also stretch, tone, tighten, plus improve circulation, relaxation, flexibility, breathing, and increase self-awareness and self-confidence. My housemate teaches Zumba. Her class is jumping in January!”

DO THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO SIGN UP FOR THESE THINGS AS PART OF A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION STICK WITH IT ALL YEAR?
“Well, for yoga I see a slight drop off. But, seriously, once you try it and start seeing the benefits, you will be so motivated. In my experience not too many people take up yoga and then quit. I know Jill (housemate) sees that big push in January of everybody saying, my resolution is to lose 10 lbs by March 1st or whatever. Sometimes they stop as soon as they reach their goals. Other times they don’t even make it that far. Not that Zumba isn’t awesome. It is. I take her class 4 times a week! I just think that people who sign on as part of a New Year’s Resolution may not realize what a commitment they are making. I think people think it’s easier than it is to be committed to fitness too. It’s work. I would think that is true with many kinds of fitness classes. Gym memberships probably go way up in January and I bet a good chunk of those people have quit or stopped going before Easter (laughing).”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU SEE IN THE WAY OF COMMON RESOLUTIONS LIVING AND WORKING WHERE YOU DO?
“Well, the getting fit one is big. Weight loss, flexibility, all of that. I’ve seen some at the spa who are in getting services because their resolution is to look great at their high school reunion, or to get their ex to notice them and be sorry they left- stuff like that. And I also have people who want to get into massage and things like that because they’ve resolved to finally deal with their health such as a chronic pain issue. And I of course see people resolve to quit smoking, drinking, gambling, etc. all the time”

DO YOU LIKE BEING A PART OF HELPING PEOPLE FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES AND SETTING AND REACHING THEIR GOALS?
“I do. I like it all the time. I mean, it’s more common right now, more discussed. Anytime someone walks through the door of the spa though, they are our guest and we strive to make them happy. That’s my job. It’s my job to ensure that they get what they’ve come in for and that they leave satisfied and looking/feeling amazing. But, that’s my job. I have to do that. I mean, I like it, but it’s definitely slightly different.”

HOW WOULD YOU SAY IT’S DIFFERENT?
“Well, when I have people who come in to the spa, I’m happy if they leave looking good. I’m happy if we have them a great facial. I’m happy if they love the highlights that they got. But if someone comes and takes my yoga class and says, wow, this class is great. My resolution is to get healthy this year. I want to be off o my blood pressure medicine or I want to be able to run my first 5K. If I can help people reach their goals, real tangible goals that they’ve set for themselves, I think that is really amazing.”

SO, DO YOU EVER MAKE ANY RESOLUTIONS OF YOUR OWN”
“I do. I make them every year pretty much. I mean, I resolve to do stuff like, drink more water or get an additional certification. I only like to set goals that I am pretty darn sure I can reach. I hate failure. This year I resolved to try to grow the size of the yoga class by double by the end of the year. I like to make goals, long term stuff with long term benefits more so than quick fix resolution type stuff.”

WHAT IS THE CRAZIEST RESOLUTION YOU HAVE EVER HEARD IN YOUR LINE OF WORK?
“Oh man. I think it would be the time we had a woman come in with a picture from a magazine. She came into the spa. This was a few years ago now, but it was so bizarre. They were staying at the hotel over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in one of our party package weekend specials. It’s funny because the spa treatment was part of the package and it was called like, “indulge your resolutions” or something like that. So she came in, probably 5’5″ maybe 5’6″. Probably about 165-170 bs, with a large bust. She had long brown straight hair and brown eyes. She handed the picture to one of the hostesses and said her New Year’s resolution was “to look as much like this woman as possible”. Well, the hostess hands me the photo and the woman in the photo, probably a supermodel, is like 6′ tall and pencil thin of course. She has super-short, pixie like, loose wavy white blonde hair and blue eyes. And freckles! Freckles! Were we supposed to pencil them on for her? We just looked at each other like, okay lady it’s a resolution not a fairy godmother. So, I have to say they did a great job. I mean they cut her hair, double processed it to light blonde, gave her a facial, the stylist even went online and showed her what she would like if she went and got blue contacts. But she still looked nothing like the woman in the picture.”
All week we’ve been talking to people about reflecting upon the outgoing year, and ushering in the new one. Resolutions are high on the list for many. We even conducted a brief poll earlier this week to see who’s making them and who’s not, and what they are hoping to achieve. While it’s about 50/50 on the making of resolutions this year, with a few still undecided, a whopping 90% admit to having made resolutions in previous years. More than half of you will make resolutions related to diet, exercise and weight loss, while another 25% will focus on improving overall health. The rest is a mixed bag, but mostly related to maintaining or improving existing relationships.
So, how about you? Did you make any resolutions for the coming year? Do you think you will stick with them? Have you helped someone else achieve their goals? You can share your resolution successes (and failures) with us here in the comments or on our Facebook page! You can re-read this week’s interviews and today as we round out the week, you can read about another person who not only makes resolutions of her own each year, but helps people to keep theirs as well.

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