Summer in Chicago is SPECIAL. Given that most of the year we’re bundled up in multiple layers of clothing, the city knows how to make a summer count. This summer was memorable for me because for the first time ever I was able to be in the city for most of it.
Every summer, I find that I have no patience for any workout that needs to be done in solitude. I love working out with people whether it is going to the gym with a friend, working out with a trainer or taking a group class. Since I am no longer confined to my home due to icy sidewalks or laziness that cold weather brings about, I sign up for my first group class sometime in May every year. This year it took me a while to get started after being back from India.
I decided to start off at something unfamiliar to me – Vinyasa Yoga. I signed up for a two week trial at a studio near where I live. This experience with Yoga was very different for me – I met some truly qualified and approachable teachers who emphasized the importance of building internal body heat, proper alignment and quietening the mind. The studio has no mirrors, something which is very essential in building body awareness with Yoga poses. At the end of the two week trial I signed up for monthly classes starting in September (since I had some travel coming up in August).
What I read
Two casualties of my long trip to India were my workout routine and reading habit. It was hard for me to get back to reading. July was full of half read books and books I painfully endured because I was too stubborn to give them up. The only book I managed to finish was the breezy and light book, “Dad is Fat” by comedian Jim Gaffigan. The book is about his experiences raising a family of five children in Manhattan. It was a quick and fun read. If you haven’t watched Jim Gaffigan before I highly recommend you check out the clip below! He is hilarious.
I spent a good deal of July 2014 at the pool. I continued my swim education at the Chicago Blue Dolphins swim studio and I am proud to report that I’ve made great improvements in my freestyle stroke. I love swimming and I am happy that I wasted no time this year in getting to improving this important life skill.
On the learning train
When I decided to take time off from work, I knew it was important for me to try out as many new things as I could so that I would be able to find out for myself what hobbies and interests I truly wanted to pursue.
With that end in mind, I signed up for Salsa dancing lessons, Spanish lessons and started the Couch to 5K running program.
The dance lessons were fun and I learned a lot but I don’t really enjoy dancing with strange men. My preferred dance partner, the husband, isn’t too keen on learning to dance so I am left with little choice in this department. Not to say I may not go back to dance class just to continue learning for the fun of it but I am unlikely to pursue it with a passion.
I’ve always wanted to learn to speak Spanish and it was one of the first things on my to-learn list (after swimming of course). I enjoyed learning with a native speaker who insisted on making me speak the language and also introduced me to some TV shows like ‘Como dice el dicho’ and movies like ‘No Instructions Included’. I won’t say I am completely convinced that I will be able to speak Spanish fluently anytime soon but I do know that the way there is not through extensive vocabulary lists and cramming up endless verb conjugations but through speaking and listening more.
Running is something I’ve really wanted to enjoy. Watching runners take on the lakefront trails in the summer is always very inspiring but I’ve found that running always left me breathless and exhausted and not in a good way. This summer I improved this situation by trying out the ‘Couch to 5K’ running program on my phone. The program takes you through a run/walk interval routine that helps you ease into running. I will say I made some good improvement in my running speed using this app but I decided to give up on the program half way because I realized that I don’t really enjoy running all that much, even if I wasn’t breathless and beat up after a run. I don’t know if I’ll pick this up later on but for now I am sticking to a combination of cardio dance and Yoga that seems to be working very well for me.
Chicago, I love you
There’s nothing I love more than walking by the river, the lake front or just lazing in the lush green grass at Chicago’s many parks. It’s probably my most favorite thing to do in the world followed very closely by a shopping spree at Papersource. This summer I spent a good deal of time enjoying idle time by the lake, watching boats at the marina and lazing at Lincoln park or Millenium park with a good book or watching a summer concert. I am so grateful that I live in a city I truly love. I first visited Chicago as a teenager in 1997 and fell in love with the city pretty quickly. Every subsequent trip to the city, despite the season, made me more sure that I wanted to live here. Today, after living here for around 4 years, I’ll say that I am a bit tired of the winter here but every summer that I find myself here, I am grateful that I stayed on. J