Thursday, July 24, 2014


In my journey to a better life, with a trainer and exercise at Motions Fitness, I was encouraged to join a class.  So I did.

I was introduced as one of two new members, and everyone welcomed us with warm smiles and open arms. My trainer positioned me in the second row from the front, behind a lady named Donna, who was a very active participant, and one I could follow.  (I'm not coordinated enough to step in time while watching the moves done backwards - in other words, watching the coaches on the stage face me and instruct).

Looking back, I am still amazed that I participated as much as I did.  The idea at Motions is that you don't compare yourself to others, to what you can't do.  You do what you can, you work at doing the best you can, and you keep moving.  There were some moves I couldn't do at all,  but I kept moving.

I was nervous as the memories of participating in line dancing were very vivid to me.  While most of the dancers were in beat and clapping and slapping while moving in sync to the music, there I would be, going the opposite direction.  I told myself to erase this from my mind, and when the very upbeat music started, I didn't have much time to waste daydreaming.  I didn't imagine I'd need the towel because I never sweat; and I didn't bring a water; but someone handed me a water as the class started.

Because this was something new again, I was tempted with the "I don't know if I can do this" mentality, but I was doing it, and I kept doing the moves to the best of my ability, sort of.  It moved along so fast, that there was no time to stand around to talk myself out of it.  Many times my legs hurt and I was so out of breath. A couple of times I wondered, "What the heck did I get myself into?"  Even without doing the floor exercises, I was more confident than expected.  I finished with the rest, quite out of breath, sweating, and exhausted, but I can say, "I did it!" One of the stage trainers came over to me and offered a chair as an option for getting down on my knees to do some of the floor exercises.  Who does that?  No where else, no one has ever offered me that in a group exercise experience!

Then came the verbal approvals - "Susan, you did it!  You did great."  Me?  I did great?  Really? "Come back again on Friday!" I'd have to think about coming back.

Probably one of the most surprising things that I experienced is later that day I didn't feel exhausted or in any way like I had just exercised the most ever in one hour in my entire life!  It felt good.  But then I saw the class picture on the Motions Face Book page.  I guess I'm still more self-conscious in a group.  At least it was a back view of me. And yes, I did share it on my own page, demonstrating that I am stepping beyond my comfort zone again.

Am I going back to the class?  I don't think I'm ready for that yet, at least not at this stage of my program.  I am doing so well in strengthening my hip and trunk muscles with my trainer.   I am really focusing on biking to warm up before our sessions, at home every day, and now by adding the roller for my hip pain at home.  I am trying to remain loyal to my eating plan, and feel if I add just one more thing, at least right now, that I'll lose my focus.

Time will tell.  What I can tell you, is that I am getting stronger, and am no longer saying Farewell.  It is "Hello Susan,  hello me."  Hello - to being what I can be, perhaps what I was meant to be.  Hello!

Monday, July 21, 2014


It's been a dream of mine - to share an afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Tea Room in Houghton Michigan - with many of the ladies that have come to tea at my home. I have been to the Four Seasons Tea Room two times before and each time I mention that I've gone there, I hear so many comments that others want to go too. I had hopes of inviting them all, but even with my new van, I would still have to make a choice from over 50 guests to fill my seven seats.

How could I do that?  I wouldn't want to offend anyone, and I wanted them all to I rented a 32-seat bus.  I worked closely with Greg from Checker Transport to arrange for transportation that would be comfortable and affordable.  And I worked with Andi from the tea room to schedule a private party for up to 40 guests, some of which I realized could be friends from Houghton and Ontonagon.  Though I've planned many an event, I had never planned a bus trip before.  I could not have arranged either without the superb customer service by both Greg and Andi, which to me, was always about pleasing the customer and creating a day to remember. Thank you!

Though I was concerned that sending out the invitation in May for July 21 was too early, I soon discovered that many people were filling up their calendars early for our very short U.P. (Upper Peninsula) summer. It seems I invited twice as many as were needed. It wasn't long before the twenty-one minimum seats were reserved and paid for, meaning my dream was on its way to coming true.

And so, on the same day that Prince George was celebrating his first birthday with a tea, twenty-nine of my friends and family, boarded a bus to experience a day dedicated to sharing tea with friends. The two-hour ride went along as planned, with the only issue being a little warmer on the bus than we had hoped for, the hottest day of the summer.

I was pleasantly surprised at the many styles of hats the ladies had chosen to wear; and how many of them wore a dress.

What once was a custom and required fashion item, hats have not been needed or desired to be worn like early days.  But there are many of us who feel that hats and dresses (beyond business casual) are what makes an event such as afternoon tea, all the more special.

 Anne and Cynthia


The Four Seasons Tea Room was once a drug store which is still visible by the small wooden drawers in the gift shop cabinets, and unique display areas in the dining area, filled with tea pots and tea cups.

The dark green walls and soft lighting around the room, tea cups, linen napkins and table cloths, and glass table tops set the mood for a tea, whether morning or afternoon, spring, summer, fall or winter.

We were expected for tea at 2:00 p.m. and arrived shortly before the hour. Though in the front window a "CLOSED" sign was posted, Andi and Sienna our server, and our local guests were waiting within.

One of the most interesting things guests discover as they enter the dining area is the many styles of hats hanging on the walls and lined up on the shelves, waiting to be chosen by man or woman to be worn during the celebration of tea. Here is Ken, our bus driver, wearing a "required" hat.

Our afternoon began with a greeting by Andi, who welcomed us to the Four Seasons Tea Room and thanked us for coming.  Our first cup of tea was served.

Here is our menu:

Queen Elizabeth - a blend of Darljeeing, Assam and Ceylon black teas
Pear Green - an iced tea
Last Mango in Paris - tisane, which is caffeine-free, and a fruity, light herbal blend (this was highly recommended by Andi, the owner of the tea room)

Our first course was a quiche', followed by sandwiches, sweets, scones with lemon curd and cream, and cake.  Here are the scones and cake.

We sang happy birthday to Sheryl who was honored with a candle in her quiche'.  Many poses for the camera and conversational moments filled the tea room with an atmosphere of enjoyment.  It was exactly what I had imagined and so much more.

Cynthia shared a short history of hats, and noted that her enjoyment is to remake or upcycle vintage hats.  It was interesting to learn that hats were once worn for coverage from the elements, protection, social position and of course, fashion.

Here are some of the best pictures from the afternoon.

The front seats of the bus included a table and reverse seating.  Nancy chose a full length dress, matching hat and lace gloves.

 Judi wore a pill box style daisy hat with green veil, and lace fingerless gloves 
which match her black lace top.

Wendy chose a pink tam with black plume, and matching bag.

 Darleen, Nancy, Janiece and Clarice wait for their first cup of tea.

Birthday girl, Sheryl and friend Kathy in their black and white suits.

 Cynthia on the left with her pink hat and matching dress.  Connie, LaVerne and Mary Ann all chose large brim hats - aren't they lovely!  

Wendy and friend Becky, who chose shades of tangerine for dress and hat. 

Louise, Nancy and Janiece.  Note the stack of hats behind them.

Janiece and Clarice live in Houghton

The wooden drawers and shelves once used by the drug store make unique display areas for the wide variety of tea pots and cups.  Anne and Cynthia enjoy the displays.

Soft lighting and hats add to the charm of the tea room.  Asunta and Judy sit across from Wendy and Becky, while friends Louise and Darleen visit.

The three ladies on the left are friends from Ontonagon.  Sue and Cathy in yellow and black hats.  Note Ginny's hand made white hat on the right.

Carol visits with Anne and Cynthia, as they discover that they all are nearly neighbors.

Here are some details about the guests: There were three ladies I had never met before today:  Asunta, Janiece, and Lorraine.   Mary Ann came a long way to participate: from Shelby, Michigan. Six of us are first cousins.  Every one (except Ken our driver) had either attended a tea at my home, participated in one I held at another place, or had a love for the celebration of an afternoon tea.

Scones were served with lemon curd and cream.

Each table setting was different - dishes and cups.

Roberta and Vicki are from Ontonagon.  Vicki and Sue (both in yellow) visit as they once worked together.

So delighted was Ginny to attend the tea that she fabricated her own hat.  I am wearing a "Minnie Pearl" hat, complete with attached price tag.

  We are first cousins from left:  Wendy, Clarice, Nancy, Carol, myself, and Judi

What made Monday, July 21, 2014 a memorable day was turning off our cell phones; dressing for the occasion; taking time away from the stresses of life; enjoying being served tea with delectable sweets and savories, meeting new friends and re-aquainting ourselves with long time friends; and for those of us on the bus, being willing to overlook the fact that our bus' air conditioner was not working. Yes, we had A day to Remember. Thank you!

(Ladies: I promised to only post the best photos.  I wished I was able to sit and visit at every table during the afternoon.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions.)