Pole Problems, Pleasures, and the Company of Women

 

I’ve been doing pole for almost ten months now, and the photo shoot is fast approaching. While my progress often astounds me, I find, in true KD fashion, that I’m impatient to be better still and I’m never quite satisfied with where I am. What slows me down more than anything is the need for recovery time. At the moment I’m doing two and three classes a week. That’s in addition to gym time and walking like a crazy woman. While I don’t bruise as badly as I used to, there are always new move or combo that will add a whole new dimension to bruises, pole burn and muscle and joint aches.

 

 

 

I have never been good at moderation, and learning pole is no exception. That means in every class, I work flat out, and especially if I have a pole to myself. That means I don’t have the time to rest I would have on a shared pole. Of course when the endorphins kick in and I’m in the zone, I feel no pain. It’s only later when I’m back home and have scarfed my dinner that I realize I might have slightly overdone things … slightly. My body constantly reminds me that I’m not twenty. Hell I’m not even thirty or forty. And I’m constantly in dialogue with it trying to convince it that that eensy little fact doesn’t matter. Those dialogues often happen in a steamy epsom salts bath. I will not use my age as an excuse. But neither will I deny that it sometimes is a pain in my ass. Not

 

 

There’s no doubt that stamina and strength are finite. I have a pole at home now, which is extremely underused, not because I don’t want to practice, but because I’m too busy recovering from the practice I’ve already had. Every day I try to do a of the very basic moves, but sometimes it simply is a bridge too far.

 

 

Because I’m strong, I’m much better at pole moves that require strength. Now that I can get upside down on my own, I love the strength moves and I love the physics involved in holding a move that seems impossible to anyone looking on. However the moves that involve finesse and grace — the spins and combos — I struggle more with. In most cases it’s not because I can’t do them, it’s because when I do they look klunky and awkward.

 

 

Because I’m someone who has spent a good bit of my life yoyo-ing with my weight, I’m very conscious of what the scales say – even more so now that every extra pound is one more I have to drag up the pole and when the very sport itself is changing my body. I’ve kept the weight of for two years now and have developed strong, healthy eating habits. BUT I’m always hungry. Though anyone who has ever battled a weight problem will understand the struggle to decide if it is actual hunger or “head-hunger.” Some things don’t change just because my habits have changed.

 

 

Muscle does, however, weigh more than fat, and muscles tend to engorge after a workout. On average my weight is up maybe two pounds, and it’s almost always up that much the morning after a hard workout. The shape of my body is changing too. I have more muscle definition in my abs and especially in my shoulders and upper back. Bras and shirts are tighter across my back now and long sleeves that hug the upper arms just don’t work for me any more. They are either too short now or to tight in the bicep. Because of all the neuroses I associate with my weight and my body, I am cautious and I weigh every day so that I know my body’s cycles. That way there are no surprises.

 

 

As I see my improvements on pole and look at what I can do more critically, I have to appreciate all the positive changes the last ten months have brought about. I’m more flexible. I’m stronger – for the first time in my life I can do pull-ups unassisted. For me that’s huge. I feel more empowered, more confident in myself that I am learning something so hard and yet so beautiful and amazing. Seeing not only my own progress, but that of my pole sisters continues to be one of the best parts of the journey. Shared photos and encouragement, laughter and gossip and just spending quality time with other women — that is maybe the best part of these last ten months. The company of women is, something I think, many of us don’t get nearly enough of. And when we’re all striving toward being better, stronger, happier, and encouraging each other in the journey, how can it be anything but positive?

 

 

 

Four Days in Zagreb

 

 

I’m just back from a quick, and fabulous, trip to Zagreb. Mr. Grace was there on business, and with a cheap plane ticket, I was able to tag along. Just so you know, I never miss a chance to go to Croatia these days – especially Zagreb, which was my home for four years before the war in the Balkans. In fact, I met and married the lovely Mr. Grace there. While having to leave as the war began and watching the place I adored descend into chaos was a time full of heartache, Croatia itself holds four years of amazing memories for me, and I consider it a major turning point in my life, the point at which I discovered the world at my door step and realized there was no going back to the insular way of life I’d grown up in.

 

 

 

Returning after so many years to find the best of Croatia still there, still vibrant, but even more so since joining the EU has added a new dimension to my life and given me the much-needed chance to heal old wounds and reconnect, the chance to make new memories and new friends.

 

 

Zagreb has always been a beautiful, fascinating city full of history and culture, but now, with a growing tourist trade and wonderful balance of independence and cooperation, the place has become a true jewel in Central Europe. The people, the location, the culture, the history make me want to go back again and again. Here are a few pictures from my last glorious visit.

 

 

Cheese Burek with yoghurt, delicious fast food in Zagreb. The two are traditionally eaten together, only because they are a fab combo!Burek is basically a layered thin pastry with a meat, cheese or fruit filling. This little place off the Dolac Market sells nothing but burek — cheese, meat or apple.  And it’s the very best.

 

 

The Croatian National Theatre, a pilgrimage I couldn’t resist.

 

 

And this is why. I love Ivan Meštrović’s work and this is my very favourite piece, called the Well of Life. No way I could do it justice in a photo and no way I could resist the chance to sit in the sunshine and just take it in.

 

 

The most important pilgrimage I made, however, was to visit my old home on Goljak Street.

 

 

Strangely enough while almost the whole street has been renovated and is full of new flats and houses, my house was like stepping back into time. I got goosebumps just being there. It felt like I could just dig out my house key, walk right on in and make myself at home.

 

 

I created great deal of wonderful memories in this place on this very steep hill. I lived on the bottom floor, below where the laundry is hanging out to dry. I’m viewing it from the street below in this photo.

 

 

There were so many photos I could have taken, so much I would love to share with images, but this time, this trip, I spent most of my time in the moment, just walking and remembering and taking it all in while I shared my evenings and mornings with good friends. Oh! And coffee. There was LOTS of coffee shared with good conversation and laughter.

 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to be in the city for the opening of the Zagreb Festival of Lights. It was a wonderful warm night, perfect for walking about and enjoying the displays. This one was done by painting on small glass slides and projecting it onto the building. We were lucky enough to meet the amazing artists, Gordana & Zorislav Šojat  from the Zagreb School of Light Art. This was most definitely our favourite display.

 

 

The second favourite was in Tuškanac, which is a gorgeous walking part of the city, green and full of trees and grass and parks. I had walked the area the day before in the warm spring sunlight. What a transformation night makes. This area is very near my old flat. You can see how hilly it is.

 

 

I would like to thank Melina Popovic, for the wonderful private tour of the Old City provided by her son, Tom, who is a tour guide. Tom was amazing! And I’d also like to thank her for sharing the Festival of Lights with us. She knew exactly where to look for the best displays.

 

 

I’d also like to thank Tanja Miloš for pointing out all the best places to “graze” while I explored Zagreb, and for lots more good laughs and naughty talk over lots of coffee. She’s the one who introduced me to the best burek in Zagreb .

 

 

Wonderful friends and wonderful memories, those are always what give prominence of place in my heart, and Zagreb, without question, holds a very important position therein.

 

Filtering Our Lives

From the Archives:

 

While this post is from the archives, it is very appropriate once more, as I’ve been spending less time on line and more time in my private world. The cycle is forever turning, changing and beginning again and being filtered to suit my needs. Hope you enjoy the post.

 

I’ve been thinking about filters lately, going through one of my periodic stages of resenting smart phones, social networking and all things techno. That may well be in part because I’ve only ever managed to master what it takes to survive in that online world. I’m a klutz on my best days. But sometimes I’m an angry luddite wannabe, who grumbles incessantly while I bury my nose in my kindle to lose myself in a good book … Oh the neuroses of my life!

 

When I’m lost in the world of navel gazing and trying to connect to what matters without losing myself in the detritus and the trivia of a world online, I often find myself thinking about the filters we live our lives through, and what being once removed from everything, while at the same time up close and personal with the whole world and all the information in it means to us as a civilization – to me as an individual.

 

I can go online and hear the background microwaves that are the remnants of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. I have done, have listened over and over with goose bumps crawling up my arms.

 

I can go to Facebook or Twitter and have meaningful conversations with friends all over the world, people I’ve never met physically and yet I’ve connected with and feel somehow a kin to.

 

I can keep up on films and stars and gossip, I can join any group, be a fan girl, talk trash, be a part of any organisation with any cause imaginable – political, religious, medical, physical, magical, practical, any hobby, any sport, any obsession. It’s all there. All I have to do is log on. Easy.

 

When we were in Dubrovnik several Christmases ago, we found ourselves in a random café for lunch one day. The cafes that were open in the dead of winter were happy for customers, and when we arrived, we were the only ones there. About halfway through the meal a young man came in, eyes glued to his smart phone. He asked us if we’d read the reviews for this particular café. We said no, we’d just dropped in. The food was lovely. We had a local beer, local specialties, and the owners of the restaurant were friendly, and patient with us as we practiced our rusty Croatian on them. Meanwhile the man ordered without looking at the waitress, ate without looking at the food, all the time lost in communion with his phone. We left him that way.

 

Back out on the streets, after a wonderful walk in the sunshine around the medieval city wall, we stopped for coffee and once again were astounded by the number of tourists gripped by their phones even as they walked, obliviously, down the main street of the Jewel of the Adriatic, the sea the colour of sapphire and the sky a shade darker still, contrasting with the red tile roofs.

 

A few weeks later we went out for lunch and observed three very lovely young women who came in and sat down at a near-by table, again completely caught up in whatever was happening on their phones. They barely spoke to each other during the course of their meal and never put their devices down.

 

I recently received an email from a friend of mine in the States, and I was saddened when the rather extensive epistle
was all about what series she was now watching on telly. I know for a fact this woman used to be a librarian. We used to spend our time talking about books.

 

All of these events, and lots of others leave me slightly queasy, even as I sit here writing this blog post, hoping that a lot of people will go online to my blog and read this post. It’s the filters that leave me feeling this way. They leave me wondering about our connection with the real world, about MY connections with the real world. I wonder if we’re now more connected, and I just don’t ‘get it’, or are we less connected because we’re joined at the hip with our devices. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of the two.

 

The world I live in is totally dominated by the technology my profession depends upon. The first thing I do in the morning is get up my laptop and see what I missed over night. I do what I need to do for PR on twitter and Facebook, I see what I need to do for the rest of the day, and some days that involves a good deal of being online and interacting with social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I have some control over the promotion and sales of my books, no matter how little that may be. The feel that I’m at least doing something is worth a lot, even if it is at times only the placebo affect. In the brave new world of self-pub, a world in which the gatekeepers’ roles are changing and evolving along with the world of traditional publishing, I see how important it is to be present online. But I fear very much that being present online often costs me the simple pleasure of just being present.

 

I remember when I launched Interviewing Wade after a day spent mostly in promo, looking at reviews spending time on Twitter and Facebook and blogging, at last I went into the darkened kitchen to reheat the pasta from lunch for dinner and discovered something truly amazing. Through the kitchen window, I had the most exquisite view of the thinnest sliver of a new moon in conjunction with brilliant Venus, and for a few minutes there was the added pleasure of red Mars just about to sink below the rooftops of the neighboring houses. I was stunned. I couldn’t take my eyes off what I saw. I reached for the binoculars for a closer look

 

The moon was illuminated with earthshine and, through the binoculars, the darkened areas were visible with the brilliance of the sunlit crescent making the whole look almost dark purple, huge and 3D. As I tried to focus on the bright smudge of Venus, my heart beat kept jarring the binoculars, so I couldn’t resolve the phase, but I’m sure it was as close to full as Venus ever gets.

 

Venus is always in phase. How amazing is that! We never see the full face of Venus because it’s in between us and the sun, and it’s only full when it’s on the far side of the sun from us – something that’s only true with the inner two planets. Mars dipped quickly and was gone, but I stood for ages, trying to hold my breath and brace my elbows so I could look. But no matter how hard I tried, Venus constantly quivered through the binoculars with the steady beat, beat, beat of my pulse. I shifted back and forth between the shiver of Venus and the pock marked darkened surface of the moon with its crescent of brilliance at the bottom edge. When my arms got tired of holding the binoculars, still I stood.

 

It was one of those rare moments of being in focus, of standing with nothing in between me and my little sliver of the universe; experiencing a moment, one raw, naked, aching moment without anything in between me and my heart. That tiny shred of time felt like skin freshly formed over an abrasion. And I wanted to stay there forever in that little sliver of the present with nothing in between.

 

I couldn’t, of course. The moon set, and I had work to do. It occurred to me as I nuked dinner, that even that incredible few minutes of focus were filtered, brought closer through the lens of my binoculars. We’ve been filtering our world for probably as long as we’ve walked upright. Perhaps we can only be safe in – and from our little slice of the universe when we filter it, analyze it, look at it through eyes – and heart — well protected.

 

The next morning, online, there were more images of Venus and the New Moon in conjunction than I had time to look
at. I was far from the only one bringing that moment into myself through filters that helped make sense of it, helped make it personal and, clearly, I was far from the only person needing to share it. Somehow that makes the world community seem just a little bit smaller, just a little bit closer. Somehow that makes the filtering of my universe and all the contradictions that involves set just a little bit easier in my mind. That and the knowing at least for a little while that earthshine, that sliver of moonlight, that conjunction with bright Venus was mine. All mine.

 

Free Rom-Com—Shopping for a Billionaire (Book 1, Shopping for a Billionaire series) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

Author: Julia Kent

Release Date:  June 2, 2014

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Description:

When mystery shopper Shannon Jacoby meets billionaire Declan McCormick with her hand down a toilet in the men’s room of one of his stores, it’s love at first flush in this hilarious new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Julia Kent.

Buy links:

iBooks➜ http://apple.co/2oXQSNi

BN/Nook➜ http://bit.ly/2owPTWn

Kobo➜ http://bit.ly/2DJqFe5

Google Play➜ http://bit.ly/2BaBq6j

Amazon US➜ http://amzn.to/2owfjn0

Amazon UK➜ http://amzn.to/2oDUPrW

Amazon CA➜ http://amzn.to/2FEKbJz

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Goodreads➜ http://bit.ly/2oHfpaL

Audible➜ http://amzn.to/2oBNLvU

iTunes➜  https://apple.co/2owHgeG

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

 

Excerpt:

We are in the financial district of Boston, where people like me notice the nearest Starbucks or Boloco, but folks like the vice president for marketing at Anterdec notice which building has a helipad for helicopter landings.

Three suited men are turned away from us as we enter, their heads huddled in discussion. One head is gray, two are brown.

No women. Of course.

“Advantage already. No women,” Greg whispers in my ear. He is the opposite of sexist. He pays all of us, male or female, the same crappy salary.

The office is gorgeous. I’d expected a sleek, black and gray glassed room overlooking the building across the narrow road; the financial district isn’t close enough to the water for everyone to get their sliver of a view of the ocean.

But this. We are on the twenty-second floor and the window looks out over a rooftop terrace next door, covered with topiary filled with…PacMan?

“Is that a PacMan maze on that rooftop, or am I nuts?” I whisper to Amanda, who stifles a giggle.

“Big video-game development company next door. Their IPO just happened. I hear one of the perks of working there is that they deworm your dog or cat on site while you work.”

I open my mouth to say something back, when the three men turn and stand, facing us.

My mouth remains open.

One of the men is Declan McCormick.

His eyes meet mine and five different emotions roil through that chiseled jaw, those sharp eyes, that sun-kissed skin. Most of them are scandalous. All of them make my toes curl.

And then his face spreads with the hottest, warmest, most mischievous smile I have ever seen on a man who has taken over my damn senses, and he says:

“Toilet Girl!”

Blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Military Erotic Romance—Naval Maneuvers by Dee S. Knight (@DeeSKnight) #military #romance #eroticromance

Naval ManeuversBlurb:

Men and women of the armed forces experience desire and love pretty much like everyone else. Except, well, there is that uniform. And the hard-to-resist attraction of “duty, honor, service” as a man might apply them to a woman’s pleasure. All things considered, romance among the military is a pretty sexy, compelling force for which you’d better be armed, whether weighing anchor and moving forward into desire, dropping anchor and staying put for passion, or setting a course for renewed love with anchor home.

Individual blurbs: (the book is in three parts)

Weighing Anchor (allowing a ship to move forward by retrieving the anchor): A professional woman sworn to avoiding all things military finds herself in love with a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Love won’t conquer all if she allows her childhood memories to eclipse future happiness.

Dropping Anchor (securing movement by dropping the anchor): Two people find (surprisingly) that they are both in the Navy and love their chosen professions—until one turns out to be an officer but not a gentleman and the other is a gentleman but not an officer.

Anchor Home (safe, smooth sailing): When two former lovers find each other after more than a decade, will a long-hidden secret threaten the course of a rekindled romance or be the cause of it?

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2sM5PZo

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2omZcaA

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/naval-maneuvers-dee-s-knight/1127958432?ean=2940158612114

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/792622

Black Velvet Seductions: http://blackvelvetseductions.com/gs_bookshowcase/4779/

*****

Excerpt:

“And what is your name, pretty?” Mel Crandall addressed the dinosaur bones in an undertone, bending nearly to face level. The skeleton displayed an open mouth and rows of fierce, sharp teeth.

“Roger,” a man standing next to her said in a low voice. Startled, she looked up. Up being the operative word. She stood a decent five feet ten inches, and he beat her by a good half foot. She studied him. He ignored her.

The guy had a solid profile, strong chin, chiseled cheekbones, and a straight back with muscular shoulders. Short brown hair. He wore glasses and stared straight ahead, but glasses couldn’t disguise the laugh lines that radiated from the corners of his eyes. His posture was near perfect and he was not overweight, as evidenced by the trim fit of his jeans and red polo shirt that clung enough to give evidence of a low body/mass index number.

As a doctor, she immediately noticed body characteristics before actual looks. But with this guy, examination in lieu of admiration was hard. Men were often put off by the fact that she paid attention to whether they looked sallow or flushed, or if their hands were cold or warm before she “saw” them. She noticed if a man’s eyes were dilated or glittered with fever before she registered eye color. Dates started with mini examinations before she relaxed enough to enjoy personalities, but that’s just the way she was. Men had to take it or leave it. Sadly, most left it. Which was why she talked to dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History all on her own.

Mel moved on to the next exhibit, a shorter built specimen but still tall and with a nasty spiked tail. “I wonder what you looked like,” she murmured. “What color were you, what did you eat, and what’s your name?” She bent to read the exhibit information.

“Gray. Grass.” That same guy had followed her. Rather than having a strong profile, she was beginning to think he was a weirdo. “Annnd, roger.”

Quickly, Mel moved to the next exhibit. “And you are–”

“Roger.”

He stood beside her again! Mel started to look for a museum guard but saw none. Great. Planting her hands on her hips, she turned to him. “Stop following me,” she said loudly enough that people in the general area turned to see what was happening.

The guy said, “Hold it.”

Hold it? Hold it, as in “Wait a minute, little lady?” She opened her mouth to lay into him when he turned and removed his glasses, showing her the richest, most chocolatey brown eyes she’d ever seen. The words stuck in her mouth.

“I’m sorry, what?”

In a lower voice she said, “You’re following me from exhibit to exhibit and talking to me. I want you to stop.”

“I didn’t realize…” He wiggled the glasses at her. “I’m working here and I’m afraid I didn’t notice you.”

Well. What was worse, that he was a pervert following her place to place, or that he wasn’t a perv and hadn’t even noticed her?

His brow furrowed while he studied her. “Yes. Yes.” Then he shook his head. “Roger.”

Again with that Roger.

“Gotta go. Later.” Then he smiled at her. “Just a minute, okay?” He folded the glasses and put them first in a protective case. Squatting, he placed a briefcase on the floor and opened it. He stored the glass case inside a pocket. Then he removed something from his right ear—an earbud?—protected it and also put it in the case.

Mel watched all of this with curiosity. He expected her to wait for him? What arrogance. And yet, wait she did. When he stood, holding the case in his left hand and smiled once more, her heart stuttered. The guy was drop dead gorgeous—at least to her understanding of the word. Normally, she appreciated the male form, mostly from a medical viewpoint. This man she enjoyed with pure pleasure.

And Good God. He hadn’t been talking to her, he’d been talking to whoever was on the other end of that earbud. Embarrassment flooded her.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought you were…” She slid her hand between the two of them and then to the exhibits.

“No,” he said. “I apologize. I shouldn’t be testing this stuff around people. The last time I did it a kid thought I was calling him Roger.” His voice had a soft drawl to it. Western Virginia or North Carolina, maybe? Somewhere in the mountains. It felt like a cool stream as it ran over a body hot and tired from hiking: refreshing and invigorating, at the same time soothing and relaxing. She wanted him to talk more.

Stop that! She laughed. “I thought you were naming each dinosaur.” He smiled and dimples indented his cheeks. His eyes crinkled and Mel’s breath caught. This guy should come with a warning label. Approach with caution. Could bring on lustful intentions and ultimately, broken hearts. Take only in small doses and in public places.

He held out his hand. “David Stimson.”

She took it gingerly, half expecting lightning to bolt between them. Nope. Nothing. So much for romance novels. He had a nice hand, large and warm with healthy pink nails, and she grasped it firmly. “Melissa Crandall.”

“Nice to meet you. Do you mind if I wander along with you?” Grasping the briefcase with his left hand, he deftly, he moved to the left of her.

“No, please. It’s a free country.” She walked to the next dinosaur re-creation. “And this one is…” She half waited for his pronouncement.

“Not Roger,” he said, stopping her heart with that killer smile again. He leaned over to read the information. “Torosaurus latus. It says here that these bones were dug up in North Dakota, but that the Torosaurus roamed from Canada to Texas, and that he had the biggest head of any land mammal.”

“Well, I guess that’s something to be proud of,” Mel responded. David laughed and she found herself smiling back. When she moved to the next exhibit, he strolled along with her, hands behind his back.

He pointed to the next specimen. “Poor guy. Starved to death.”

“Oh, yeah? How do you know?”

“Can’t you tell? He’s all bones.”

*****

Author Bio:

A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex. Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That’s how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she’s lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret. Dee loves writing erotic romance and sharing her stories with you. She hopes you enjoy!

Website: https://nomadauthors.com/deesknight/index.html

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#DeeSKnight

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeeSKnight/

 

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