Sunday, July 12, 2009

Relaxing with Meryl...

Without a doubt, I've been working hard. I've had this intense focus on health and wellness for over a year now that has been almost unshakeable. And it has been fantastic. But what has been even more exciting for me, was the prospect of taking a break from it all -- work, home, working out -- and chilling out while doing something I absolutely love... travelling and watching great theatre.

It feels like it has been a couple of years since my last
overseas adventure, and this year, I decided to stick closer to home than I normally would. But I decided to do something that has always been a bit of a dream -- spend days soaking up the lights and energy of Broadway in New York City. As I'm a bit of a Broadway musical junkie, so many people have a hard time believing that I've never been before. But after finding amazing deals on hotel and airfare, and show tickets, one of my best friends Tony, (that's him and I on right outside of NYC's Schubert Theater) and I set off on July 6 for 4 days in the Big Apple.

Now, as this isn't a blog about travelling, I'm not going to spend too much time yammering on about how much I fell in love with Ne
w York. But I'm only going to say it once -- seriously. That city is incredible. Here's a quick list of the highlights:

We saw four stunning shows: Next to Normal (a musical about bipolar disorder), In the Heights (a musical about life in the latin community in NYC), 9 to 5 (a musical version of the famous movie starring Dolly Parton),
and Blithe Spirit (a play featuring Angela Lansbury and Rupert Everett). All the shows were fantastic -- we laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats.

  • Although we had a lengthy list of things to do, we didn't overdo it. We hung out in Herald Square, had lunch on the Lower East Side, shopped at Macy's, and just soaked up the city. We didn't do any tourist attractions... saving those for my next 10 trips.
  • I fell in love with the Upper West Side... and got my photo taken in front of Will & Grace's apartment building.
  • Oh, and just a minor detail. We met Meryl Streep. She had dinner at the table next to ours. We waited outside the restaurant for an hour for her. We shook her hand, said hello and soaked up her stunning brilliance. She smells floral. Seriously. I haven't washed my hand since!
All that said, the highlight of the trip to NYC was the fact that I learned to let go, and relax. I was a bit nervous heading into the trip because I knew that I wasn't going to be able to work out as much as I have been. In the week leading up to the trip to NYC, I had a one-week 'staycation' here in Toronto, and gradually weaned myself off the gym in preparation for a week-long hiatus. Seb and I went for a 5k run on the boardwalk, my friends Mo and Jim from BC did a 25K bike ride with me along the harbourfront, and I also ventured out for a solo 5K run along the beach. I hadn't spent that much time being active outside for as long as I can remember, and it felt fantastic!!! The off I went to NYC...

I brought my gym gear with me, with every intention of getting up in the morning to do a quick bit of cardio at the hotel gym. On the fi
rst morning, Tony woke up and headed up to the gym, while I stayed in my cozy bed at the hotel. It felt good to say 'No, I'm not going to go to the gym today' and to roll over and fall back to sleep. I didn't think it was going to be that easy to say 'no', but I did. And it felt nice. Although part of me is wishing that I had gone to the gym that morning... not because I missed the workout, but because I missed Tony choreographing his own broadway musical on the treadmill, much to the delight of the contruction workers looking into the gym from the adjancent building... but that's another story altogether!!!

We walked all over NYC and enjoyed the abundance of
tasty food that the city had to offer. I didn't completely overdo it on the food front, which for a self-proclaimed foodie, was a tough thing. But we had some amazing pizza at Li'l Frankies in the East Village, started our days with 'cawfee' and donuts from Dean and Deluca, or strudel and blintzes from Zabar's, and I "found Jesus" in a pastrami on rye from Katz's deli, ironically the same place Meg Ryan had her fake orgasm in When Harry Met Sally. We had a Jamba Juice before each evening play we saw, and had reasonable dinners -- sometimes a quick slice of pizza, a sandwich, or as we did one evening, some gnosh, wine and dessert at Angus McIndoe's Restaurant, where we dined next to the incomparable Meryl Streep. I did say that I met her, right??

I had one of the most enjoyable vacations I've ever ha
d -- because I unclenched and I relaxed. I didn't worry about what I put in my mouth. I didn't worry about the fact that I was missing my workouts. I didn't worry about the fact that my routine was shot for a week. Why? Because I was thoroughly relaxed and enjoying myself. I was living one of my dreams... 4 days of Broadway in NYC!!! Nothing could wipe the smile off my face!

But I did start to frown for a short while during our trip. Before I left, I did a bunch of clothes shopping to get ready for both the NYC trip and a subsequent family wedding in Pennsylvania. I ha
d everything I needed except for a summer-weight v-neck sweater to go with my newly acquired seersucker shorts from Joe Fresh. Yes, i've become a bit of a fashionista. I saw a v-neck at the Gap here in Toronto before I left -- perfect size, a 2XL, and decided not to buy it in case I saw something better in NYC! But after searching at a few stores, including Macy's and Century 21, I decided to head back to the Gap in NYC and buy the v-neck sweater. But when I got there, they didn't have any 2XL sweaters! This was a bit unsettling, because US retailers tend to carry more 'extended sizes' than Canadian retailers. But they didn't have ANY 2XL menswear, so the v-neck sweater was history. Until the next day.

We were strolling through the Upper West Side, after having taken some photos in front of Will & Grace's apartment building. Passing by yet another Gap store, we went in to check for a 2XL men's v-neck sweater. Again, no 2XL sweat
ers. I was starting to feel sad. Just when I was starting to feel like I 'fit' in 'normal clothes' from 'normal stores', I couldn't find what I wanted. Now I know that many of you are probably thinking that it's just a sweater, but when you spend a lot of your life shopping at Big & Tall speciality stores, finding nice clothes that fit well is really difficult. Now, Tony sensed that I was started to get frustrated, and suggested that I should at least try on an XL sweater. I rolled my eyes and told him 'no'. He told me just to try it. So, I made him hold my man purse (er, I mean 'European Men's Carry All') and my sunglasses, while I reluctantly pulled the size XL sweater over my head.

It fit.

Like, seriously. It fit. I couldn't believe it. I have NEVER worn an XL sweater from the Gap. When the Gap came to Canada, I already outsized their inventory. This was pretty remarkable. I mean, 18 months ago, I would have been buying a 4XL men's sweater with no style or shape. And I got the XL I thought I'd never fit. And I haven't taken it off since... well, I have... but I still haven't washed the hand that Meryl Streep shook. Did I mention that I met her? Did I mention that she smelled 'floral'???

By the way, this photo was taken in front of one of the Big & Tall stores where I thought I would shop on my first trip to NYC... Ironically, nothing there fits!!!

So, all in all the trip was relaxing... and rewarding. I got my elusive grey sweater. I had a blast. I truly relaxed. After four days in what is one of the most amazing cities on the planet, I set off on the train to Pennsylvania for my
cousin Brian's wedding. I was a bit anxious because there were many family members there who hadn't seen me in a long time (i.e. since the beginning of my journey)... and my Dad was going to be there -- he saw me this past Christmas, but that was about 80 pounds ago. So, I was a bit anxious, but exicted at the same time.

After a long nap on the train and the shock of leaving
Manhattan to arrive in Amish Country, I arrived in Lancaster, and my Dad met me at the train station. He was thrilled to see me and didn't stop giggling for a few minutes - I'm assuming out of excitement for how good I looked. Relatives who I hadn't seen in ages remaked at how amazing I looked. Many people asked me what my 'secret' was... and I was thrilled to tell them that it was a lot of dedication and hard, hard work. I sent many of them here, to my blog, or specifically to my last post, to get an idea of how much work it takes. And their amazement and admiration made me feel incredible.

So, all in all, this was an incredible trip. I chilled out. I relaxed. I fulfilled a dream. I met Meryl Streep. I spent 4 days in NYC with one of my
best friends. What more can I ask for??? Oh, I know! For the first time in 10 years, I flew on an airplane without having to ask for an extension for the seatbelt! The regular standard seatbelt fit around me, with tons of room to spare. That was one of my goals -- to comfortably sit in a 'coach' airline seat.. and I did. And it felt amazing.

All that said, I'm proud of myself for having taken the time to relax and to fully celebrate what I've accomplished. It has been a long long haul so far, and I've still got a long way to go. But I needed this break. I truly truly did. And as one friend commented, "Man, you fu**ing deserve it."

He's right. I did. And I do.

Kia kaha.

Stay strong.

PS... Stay tuned for my next post about getting back to the gym after being on vacation and having a week-long sinus infection! The transition back has not been easy. And I promise the new post come much sooner than this one!!!

PPS. Another photo... this is the hand that Meryl shook.
You know, Meryl Streep. Did I mention that I met her? And yes, I've washed my hand since. Lightly, but it's clean. I mean, seriously.