Be Aware of Autism

ProgtammingHopePosterI know April is Autism Awareness month, but I truly believe we should be aware of autism all year, in a positive and uplifting way. So this post I give you today will help everyone do just that. It includes a very personal video that I’m so happy to share with all of you.

You can go back and read any of the writings about my son, Kyle, in the archives of this blog. Just look over to the side or below for a menu of blog topics and click on AUTISM. Catch up a bit, if you haven’t already done so, that would be helpful. Even if you just read THIS ONE. You can also find that link near the autism ribbon under the archives list. It gives a good overview of our story.

Fast forward to today. Kyle, at almost 29, is working at nonPareil Institute. The movie, Programming Hope, a documentary film about nP, premiered back in February 2015, and FINALLY it will be available for everyone to watch at home starting April 2nd via Vimeo On Demand.

nP has even expanded from Plano and opened a second location in Houston! It’s an exciting time. They still need lots of support to make even more future growth possible, but they are working hard on all this. Please share our story and their story with everyone…visit nonPareil Institute’s Facebook page and share from there! We really need to get the word out there so everyone can be aware of autism in a future tense. It’s a business story as much as it’s an autism story. Anyone can benefit from hearing what is being done now to help adults on the spectrum and what’s on the horizon. It gets ideas and conversations started. It gets ideas and actions started, too.

Kyle’s Story

A little before the nP Houston location opened, I had the pleasure of hearing first hand, from several folks who were at their “open house” meeting, about my son’s “speech” which he made during that event. You see, he was asked to attend with Dan Selec and Gary Moore, the founders of nP…and that alone, was pretty exciting!

What many may not realize, was that Kyle actually was pretty nervous in the days leading up to traveling down there. He was going all by himself on a plane, since Dan and Gary were already down there attending an earlier event the night before. To Kyle, THIS trip was a big deal! He had flown before, but never alone. Having to navigate getting to and from places for the first time is always a topic of stress…add to that flying, and he just needed some reassurance. We discussed this by phone before he left. That’s typically how our relationship flows now that he’s an adult. He simply needs a little extra support and guidance, and we are his sounding board to help him make wise decisions…and of course, learn from his mistakes, which still can crop up.

After the Houston event was over I heard on Facebook about how well things went…he even posted wonderful pictures and updates during his short trip. Eventually, within a day or so, there were pictures posted on nonPareil – Houston’s Facebook page…and I was thrilled to learn that the documentary folks were down there, too, getting some final footage for the film…and luckily, Kyle’s speech was captured!

This makes us SO happy. He’s done something like this before, given a wonderful, moving testimony and we missed almost all of it. It was the evening of the final marching band competition his senior year of high school. Both my husband and I were busy doing band parent stuff, and I walked into the band hall at the tail end, heard his closing words, only to see kids and parents in tears and then applause. My husband missed it completely. Unfortunately, there was no good recording of it by anyone. We heard so much about it, though. We knew then that Kyle really had learned a sense of gratitude and that he valued his friends…and that he felt safe in band…and he really was worried about his future. It was scary to think he was going to leave his comfort behind after graduation, but we remained optimistic.

As expected, college was not the right fit for him, nor was working in food service. Neither made him happy or feel successful. Kyle learned to speak his emotions very well thanks to all the counseling and speech therapy we did with him through the years . He was taught to use his words once he gained a sufficient amount of them in his repertoire . Outbursts were not appropriate, not tolerated and we taught him other ways to let go of what he was feeling.

Years later, what you see here is the pay off. I never dreamed it would happen like this in a million years. Kids grow up. They learn what they are taught, over and over and over again. This is proof.

I’d like to share a more recent video, which includes my son’s speech at that open house in Houston, in the hope that it helps those parents that are struggling right now. Our journey was long…and I cried a lot…and we were very scared…but we just kept doing the best we knew how to do. I simply can’t thank both Dan and Gary enough for helping to create this moment, now…and for believing in my son…and a big thank you to Jack Creamer, the director of Programming Hope, for sharing that meaningful film clip and the other pictures with me.

I want all of you reading this to take a moment and please watch…and share it with anyone who might need to hope and inspiration…



Autism Awareness is more than statistics. Be aware of what is possible. Know that a great future can and will happen. Children grow up and there are people out there right now working very hard to make sure training programs and jobs will be available to individuals on the autism spectrum. Stay aware and keep learning about it…because time will pass in the blink of an eye!

Years ago, we had to forget our fear and just take it one day at a time. It ends up that it’s been a wild ride, but a great lesson to share…life will take you places that you can’t even realize. You’ll meet people through the years that will help connect the dots. So don’t sweat it so much right now while the kids are little…just enjoy them…smile more often…lighten up! Teach them to be kind..teach them love. Teach them right from wrong as best as you can.

Eight years ago, during a hot Texas summer, our son was the first student in a program we knew nothing about…but we took a leap of faith. Meeting someone randomly led this to happen…it wasn’t planned and we were not looking for it. See? You just never know!

My Message To You

Keep your focus on the love…the consistency…and laugh…don’t forget to laugh. I think I mentioned that twice. It’s worth repeating. Build your village of support…the right people are all out there, walking around each day…you’ll know when you meet them…and the village grows as your child grows up, with each new experience. SO, make sure your children have a have a TON of experiences…both good and bad, because there’s something to be taken away and learned from each of them along the way.

Things have a way of falling into place…worry and fear just make the journey more difficult, so surrender to faith.

aRound Anniversary JOY

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I didn’t always hoop. In fact,  I never even touched a hoop until I was 47 years old. Nevertheless, I have had abundant joy around me. With each passing year, each holiday, each birthday, each anniversary, each event, I reflect with more clarity. There is joy in my life. It’s a simple fact. Joy is there for the taking when we open our eyes.

After 33 years of marriage, I can REALLY see the joy everywhere in my life. Where it was hiding, how I tried to disguise it, when I let it slip away, who I felt it most with, what brought it around me the most and when I decided to let it take over. Joy became the most key element at some point and the rest, as they say, is history.



So, did the hoop have anything to do with this? Considering that I discovered hooping 23 years into my marriage, I can truthfully say “no”…I had lots of joy before I ever picked up a hoop. I think accepting the fact that I WAS around so much joy and being grateful actually allowed me to have my eyes more open to opportunities for more joy. Yes, you read that correctly. Joy led me to the hoop.

At some point after my youngest son graduated from high school, I just felt it was time to to not let the journey of “who I want to be” suddenly end. I knew feelings that were no where near joy. I had already experienced loss and many disappointments. So I decided to begin listening to those little happy feelings more deeply… and I would see what resonated with me most. What did I get a true sense of joy doing? That was how identified with hooping and knew I had to give it more than just a passing try. Sure glad I stuck with it. Did I have to seek outside my comfort zone, my family life and the day-to-day normalcy to embrace the hoop? Absolutely. Sometimes joy has a pull on your heart so strong. I knew this was something that would make me better in the long run, for my health and for my husband. It’s been a real blessing.

As I take a peek back into the past 33 years, however, I can say without question that I wasn’t always seeing the joy in each day. Marriage is always a work in progress. Raising children is THE HARDEST JOB in the world. I remember not being very happy on many days. Somehow, we made it through. Seeing the boys grow into real people, having their own way of doing things, being interesting individuals, THAT was when the bigger joy started happening. We taught them good morals and to care about others. We’ve accepted that it’s those two qualities that are the most important. I’m proud to keep modeling this to my family with my business. Our sons may be grown, but they still look at what we do and can learn by example. Seeing your grown children become successful is such a gift and joy! When you know they had to really struggle with ADHD and autism to get where they are in life, yet now are happy, productive adults, though? That makes the joy even sweeter, let me tell you!



As for my husband and I, being a couple again, having time for each other…THAT brings me the most joy. The hoop helps me move and stay vital, so I can continue to be active in my life. I want to still FEEL younger, have that youthful, playful spirit well into our 40th and 50th years of marriage…and thankfully, hooping will allow that.  How do I know this? Well, I have students who are a walking testimony, hooping in retirement brings them such joy! I’m watching and learning, to be sure!



Why You Should Look Up

I get asked everyday to troubleshoot problems that my hoop training clients are experiencing. They come to me with questions…I give some suggestions and tips to try. One that is always helpful in almost every situation is very simple, but often forgotten about. It’s easy to do and anyone can do it, although it’s sometimes the last thing you would think to do. See, it all starts with your eyes and where you are focusing them. YES, it’s just that easy! Here’s a few reasons why you should look up…

  • When you look up, you are putting yourself in uplifted state of mind. You think taller, lighter…and thus, you are happier. This can effect your attitude during hoop practice, for sure. Even if you don’t hoop (yet), pay attention to where you are focusing your eyes as you go about your day and then check your attitude at that moment. Try looking up and see if you feel a shift in how you “feel”…this is actually a great pre-hooping practice.
  • Focusing up puts your body in the correct posture for successful hooping and proper technique. You only need to refer to the first bullet point to understand that when you think taller you actually stand straight and tall…so this is all related to remembering to look up so you can place the body in the right alignment with more ease.
  • You can hoop while not looking up, but if you want to have that confident, fluid style, looking proud, motivated and happy, then looking up will help you accomplish that. Again, refer to the previous two bullet points. This is all tied in together. See how this is all related?
  • Now, in this short post, I’m not going to technically break down each move and explain how looking up helps specifically. Just know that the concept of correct posture matters in ANY move. A wonderful side benefit from hooping, when done properly, is better posture, ANYTIME, not just when  hooping. It all starts with looking up, whether you have the hoop with you or not.
  • When you look up, others can see your face, and if you seem uplifted, it makes your hooping more inviting and a pleasing experience for the observer. If you want to share more joy, let others  feel it, hooping is perfect for that. If you want to do more connecting with others and attract more joy, just think about your gaze, where you are looking and what your face is saying to those watching you.
  • Perhaps the biggest reason why I have trained myself to not tilt my head down is due to my inner ear issues and fear of triggering another vertigo attack. Looking down while turning can make you dizzy. Nobody wants that. I suffer from vertigo occasionally, but I digress. That’s a topic for another day. Just keep your gaze up and look with intention at objects, focal points, as you turn. I’ll go into more of this in a future post.

What if you want to look down while hooping?

I realize, at times, you JUST want to peek down, see what’s happening, perhaps, with the hoop spinning on the body…it’s inevitable. My best advise is to find a reflection to watch yourself in…a mirror, if accessible, a window or glass door…or sometimes even a vehicle if it has enough flat, shiny area on the side. You can also just glance down PERIODICALLY with your eyes, while not moving your head down…you eyelids will almost looked closed, but your shoulders, head and chin should remain up. Use that as a little technique whenever you feel the urge to look down. It takes some practice, but if you focus on small eye movement, keeping the other body parts in alignment, it will become your new normal.

Enjoy this short video and get inspired. Again, even if you are not hooping right now, looking up can help brighten you day. It’s never a bad thing to try and develop into a daily habit.  You’ll be that much more prepared to start hooping!



I also have a more recent video, recorded “live” over on my Facebook page…I speak about the physical pain that looking down can cause. So, head on over and watch that, too. While you’re there, stick aRound a few minutes, like, follow, comment and connect with me there if you haven’t already! I regularly make daily live videos on various, informative topics, including hooping, and so much more!

Oh, and don’t forget! I have a free waist hooping video series that also explains more about how focusing up and posture are related…sign up anytime right here! It’s a great preview of what it’s like to train with me!




Amy Grant Hooping aRound The Christmas Tree

There’s a little something I knew but had forgotten! Well known singer, and one of MY favorite musical artists, Amy Grant, has been hooping for years! I recall seeing a YouTube video of her skills on the farm with friends several years ago. Recently, I learned she was now hoopin’ aRound the Christmas tree on her holiday concert tour!









Thanks to videos on social media, we can all enjoy watching the festivities! A client retweeted a video on Twitter & alerted me! I also gave it a tweet-tweet & also looked up the hoopla on Facebook…here’s just some of the fun!

I mean, Y’ALL…how fun IS she?? Hoopin’ & rockin’ aRound that Christmas tree!


According to what I can find, she was hooping as far back as 2008 in a quick video outside what appears to be a sound recording studio. Now, let’s look back at Amy in another video from 2012, on the farm with friends…


I LOVE IT! The only thing is that she’s using a “weighted hoop”…and you know how I discourage use of those. I explain all that HERE.

Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say that I am not THRILLED over the moon that Amy loves getting in a hoop and spinning with the music! Oh, it makes my heart sing! I just want you all to understand why a hoop like that isn’t the best choice…safety is the biggest concern….but more than that, there’s SO many more full body benefits you can experience with a custom size & weight (lighter) handmade hoop…using it off-body is SUCH an incredible arm workout. Hooping is SO much more than just spinning a heavy circle on your waist.

Of course, I did notice in that fun 2012 video there ARE other, lighter hoops spinning alongside Amy’s. I wonder if she is also using those sometimes? I hope so. Maybe Amy is like so many who think “more weight” is more beneficial for a workout. I hear that all the time. I know for sure she finds it easier to keep the hoop going! It’s very common. That’s what the weight IS good for…but that’s it. Lighter hoops work you out HARDER…again, I explain more details about the SIZE of lighter hoops HERE…bigger is easier, but it doesn’t have to be much heavier than 1.5 – 2 pounds. Any more than that and you can bruise, hurt internal organs and you can’t use the heavy hoops for anything else but waist hooping.

A hoop helps more than just your waist,  keeping your “girlish figure” in tact! It’s got so many therapeutic benefits for those of us over 50, too! Opening up the upper body, flexibility in the shoulders AND hips as we get older, warding off arthritis even in our fingers, helping to keep them active as we use a hoop in our hands…even challenging the brain to LEARN a few tricks with our hands, using our mind, as if working a crossword puzzle, to make vital connections…thus, exercising our mental muscles, too! THAT is SO important as we age! None of that can be accomplished with a heavy, thick hoop.

STILL, with ALL that being said, I just love seeing the hoop circling Amy! I also now have something I want to do in my life while I’m still here to do it…I want to make Amy a pretty new hoop, give it to her and then teach her a few moves.

Yep, it could happen someday. You never know.

Hooping with Amy Grant. On my “Grown-Up Christmas List?”

Nope. Just on my bucket list!


7th Anniversary Mannequin Challenge

In celebration, my clients and I made a little 7th Anniversary Mannequin Challenge video!

It was just a quick, silly decision, but thanks to the talents of Paul Knudsen, who filmed this on his phone, it came out great!



See more photos over on my Facebook page or more over in the gallery on Paul’s website HERE

I not only had clients come that lived here locally…some drove from Plano and even as far as Temple, TX! Yes! She was one of my online training clients that I’d never met in person! She actually left with even better knowledge and more confidence in her hooping skills! We had a wonderful afternoon!

The HoopShack has been a labor of love…many changes in 7 years…but where has the time gone? From a warehouse teaching bigger classes, to a studio with private lessons and finally now, a guest house where I can still offer intimate private training & occasional get-togethers. Wherever I have trained clients, I always enjoy meeting and helping them!

When will you be joining us?