To Trapeze or Not to Trapeze?

One of the unexpected benefits of being part of the dog loving community is meeting people you would not otherwise have the opportunity to get to know. This is especially true when it comes to animal rescue. I have formed long lasting friendships and a virtual sisterhood with other volunteers as well as some of the veterinarians, groomers and veterinary technicians who have helped me rescue these little souls.

Just about three years ago my dogs and I were fortunate to meet our favorite vet tech, Leia McVicker.  Besides being a charmer of the four legged and having a huge heart, Leia it turns out, has all sorts of artistic talents hidden beneath her scrubs. One Saturday afternoon when she stopped by to inject our permanent foster dog Trixy with her monthly dose of Percorten, Leia mentioned she had just come from a class at the Trapeze School of New York on the Santa Monica Pier.

Trapeze School NY

I had to stop myself from being overly inquisitive about Leia’s class and I didn’t want to seem stalkerish by sharing my childhood fantasy of being a trapeze artist.  I was flooded with memories of  my numerous Easter vacations  to Las Vegas with my parents. I didn’t much care for Sin City but I definitely looked forward to the trapeze acts at the Circus Circus Hotel.  This was definitely the highlight of the trips for me. I loved it all — the daring and graceful performers, their glittery costumes and head dresses. I still vividly remember the dramatic sound of the cymbal as the trapeze artists completed their final and most treacherous feats.

In February, I took my Mom and my nieces to see Leia perform on the Silks at the Santa Monica pier. We were absolutely blown away by her performance to the Beatles, “Let it Be.” Her choreography was as exciting as the screams of the passengers on the roller coaster just behind us.

I was so inspired that on the way out I discretely slipped a class brochure into my purse. Back at home as I looked over the classes. I thought, “What is a chubby 45-year old woman like me going to do in a trapeze class?” I can’t even do one pull up. Alas.

When I found out Leia was teaching classes at TSNY, I couldn’t resist trying it at least once. After all she had already seen me at most vulnerable. Usually after a long drive to and from a shelter out in the high desert carrying a frightened, filthy dog pooping blood with parasites.

So Sunday was the big day.  That morning I found myself nervously parking in a structure on Colorado and Broadway.

“What am I doing?”

As I walked from the parking structure to the pier I tried to muster my courage. I reminded myself that at the age of 37, I trained and ran the Los Angeles Marathon. Then in the years following I also ran 26.2 miles across Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles one final time. I could handle hanging from a pair of silk drapes.


It turns out that for me at least, the silks are a far bigger challenge than running a marathon. It is not just a feat of upper body strength. It requires strength, flexibility, cardio vascular fitness and concentration.  Oh and a sense of humor comes in handy too.

Honestly, it took everything I had to hang from the silks for a mere 5-seconds. Meanwhile, the other woman in my class was a natural. Sadly I was not able to climb up the Silks but I kept trying and I did not give up. Not once.

This I believe was the true accomplishment of the day. Especially as we age, women are underestimated,  undervalued and if we are not careful, we start to buy into all the misogynist ideology.

For me,  the mere fact of trying something new despite my feelings about my body, my weight or my age was an important statement of self-worth.

Today my armpits of all things are killing me and my right wrist is a bit sore. Despite all of this, I am going back for round two in a couple of weeks and I am determined to climb those Silks.

Leia, with the greatest of ease.

Leia, with the greatest of ease.