Column: Hula Hoops & Resolutions

By Icy Frantz

We welcomed in 2018 at a cozy and casual dinner with close friends. Well, truth be told, we almost welcomed in the New Year with our friends. We actually had already arrived home, trading in blue jeans for pajamas, and were counting down the seconds when the clock struck midnight. I can’t remember the last time that my husband and I were awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve, so I was proud of us for making it. There were years when the ball dropping indicated not only the start of the New Year but also the start of the night, but that was long ago, and our children have since taken over that duty. They were all out on the chilly night, and I was thankful to be home, inside and warm.

Over dinner, we discussed and contemplated potential New Year’s resolutions: a better diet, more “me” time, a new exercise regime, a cleaner home. I tried them all on for size, but none of them felt right. I wasn’t even sure I completely agreed with the New Year’s resolution concept. I had tried in the past and had failed and, according to statistics, I was not alone in my failure. And, furthermore, couldn’t any date on the calendar be chosen as an opportunity to start fresh? Then it struck me. 2018 would be the year that I would learn to hula hoop!

I know. Deep, right? With so many noble aspirations and ways in which I could change this beautiful, crazy world with some small gesture, all I could come up with was the need to hula hoop? It must sound a little trivial, but stay with me on this and I will take you through my thinking.

To begin with, this idea didn’t come out of thin air. At dinner on New Year’s Eve, we had all tried out our friend’s new hula hoop. It was weighted and promised to whittle down the waistline and, after a month of over-indulging, mine needed whittling. I have always considered myself a bit of an athlete but the circular tube got the better of me. I just couldn’t do it! Everyone else seemed to manage fine. Effortlessly, they rocked back and forth in the exact rhythmic motion needed to keep the hoop afloat around their midsection. I, on the other hand, awkwardly rotated my hips, maybe a bit too pronounced, flailing my arms like a bird in flight, trying to keep the hoop spinning. I mimicked the other hoopers (an actual term) and tried to move less, but the hoop dropped promptly to my ankles. And, although my competitive side surfaced with a vengeance, and the more I forced the hoop around in a circular direction, the less success I had.

So, not allowing the hoop to get the better of me, I decided that 2018 would be the year that I get to know the hoop a little bit better. Keep your enemies close. My decision was made, not so much out of spite or to massage my wounded pride, but to learn something novel, to master a skill, and to teach this old dog a new trick.

Before I begin anything new, I scour the internet for resources and shortcuts and anything that will help me on my quest. Googling “hula hooping,” I found a long list of sites: instructional videos on YouTube, advertisements for retreats all over the world where hoopers go to perfect their art, conventions and Facebook pages dedicated to hula hooping, a National Hula Hoop Institute, and even a blog entitled, “The Spinterz.” There is a world record recorded (74 hours and 52 minutes of hooping accomplished by Aaron Hobbs from Columbus, Ohio) and a not-for-profit, Hooping for Hope, that provides breast cancer survivors with pink hula hoops. I found an entire community of hula hoop enthusiasts that I didn’t know existed. Fascinating.

My time on the internet taught me that the exact skills I would need to improve my hooping were also the skills that would serve me well in the new year.

Maintain Momentum

In order for the hoop to circle the body, there needs to be consistent and constant momentum. When I think of momentum, I picture a wave crashing towards land in a full onward thrust, completely unstoppable, or an athletic team with momentum on their side cruising towards victory. To accomplish anything, one needs momentum. Yet, I look around me and find countless unfinished projects where I have lost momentum. There is the needlepoint pillow that I started while on bedrest with the twins twenty years ago, and countless chapter ones I have written of books I intend to write some day. Momentum can’t be maintained on an impulse, but rather it needs clear dedication and sacrifice. But perhaps, that starts with just one small step and will build with time, like the wave gaining speed as it moves toward the beach.

Stay Flexible and Go With the Flow

Hula hooping requires both flexibility and “hula flow.” Your body must be able to adjust, pivot, and shift to the movement of the hoop, and “hula flow,” the ability to move in a natural and unforced way, allows the hooper to finesse the hoop forward. Likewise, in life we must remain flexible in order to adapt to the many unexpected changes that might come our way, and they will. Sometimes we cause these changes, and sometimes they are beyond our control. We are powerless and it is hard, but we need to try and accept these changes with an open heart, not fight them, and just go with the flow. Last week, I was lost and attempting to follow the voice of my navigation system in my car. Flustered, I kept making wrong turns, turning before the designated street or completely missing a turn and, inevitability, caused the voice to alarm…recalculating, recalculating, recalculating. And, sometimes, that’s just the point: we need to recalculate. We need to let go of our intended outcome and make room for a different one. It might just be a better one.

Find Balance

Balance allows the hooper to keep the hoop on a horizontal plane while staying properly afoot. But, balance can be boring. When I was younger, I used to love to live a little on the edge, leaning over the side of a cliff to get a better view, my equilibrium a little off kilter. Today, I will take boring over uncertainty, although, truthfully, I don’t find my life boring. I strive for balance in work and play, dependence and independence, give and take. I feel better living in the middle, a step back from the edge that used to call my name. Balance gives me stability, and, from there, I find it much easier to take on life.

Engage the Core

To achieve sustained spinning, the hooper must engage the core. Everywhere I go and in everything I read, I am reminded to always engage the core. Two years ago, I joined an exercise class that focuses primarily on strengthening the core, so that, in turn, one will be able to engage it. And, I must admit, I am stronger because of it, and my back is forever thankful. And beyond the core, it is important that we simply engage; engage in the world around us, the world that we know and the corners that are new to us, as well as the people that we know and the people that are new to us. As I tell our daughter, when she complains about a boring class: engage and participate, and by doing so, you will get more out of the class. The more we are engaged, the more we will get out of this New Year.

For me, 2018 is not the year of New Year’s resolutions but, perhaps more accurately, it is the year of New Year’s revolutions. The spinning of this beautiful crazy world for another 365 days around the sun maintains a consistent momentum that will allow us the time to try and keep that darn hoop spinning. This year, may we learn to reach beyond our comfort zone humbly and go with the hula flow, pivoting and adjusting to the ever-changing centrifugal force, and finding balance. May we learn to always engage our core and, beyond that, engage in our community and seek out new ones and delight in them all. And, may we always remember to laugh at ourselves and know just when a metaphor has way outlived its stretch. Bring it on 2018. Happy New Year!!