16 years in community ed and Barbara STILL can’t paint a lick!

But she’s aiming high, and, let’s face it – we love her anyway

The school board sends out a schedule of community ed classes twice a year, and twice a year I feel like a kid planning her Christmas wish list out of the big Sears catalog.

There are always so many classes I’d love to take, but so little time in which to take them. Narrowing down the choices is excruciating, but necessary when you work full-time.

I’ve been taking community ed classes for at least 16 years. I took the Introduction to Computers class and the Word Perfect class, a myriad of craft classes, Tai Chi, and even a creative writing class. Each class has been fun, educational, and stress-relieving, and some have been downright challenging.

I’m taking two classes this session – an acrylic painting class and Pilates.

Since I haven’t painted anything other walls in quite a few years, I was surprised to find that painting’s not quite as easy as it used to be. Once I passed the magic age of 40, my eyesight went a little kablooey. Now I wear one contact lens adjusted for distance and one contact lens adjusted for reading. That works out great when you’re reading, working on a computer, or driving, but it’s not the best arrangement for painting. I kept trying to close my right eye and focus everything through my left, but I wasn’t so successful. When I got home, I realized that not only am I no Rembrandt, I’m closer to a Picasso – nothing in my painting seems to be lining up the way you’d think it should. Still the painting’s only half-finished, so I’m hoping next week’s class includes tips for cosmetic repairs, serious cosmetic repairs. I’m also hoping by wearing my glasses I’ll actually be able to see the canvas.

The Pilates class has been a long time in coming. I’ve done Pilates before, but not with a live instructor. I find working with an instructor so much more rewarding than strictly working with a DVD, mainly because I can’t just shut off the instructor and ignore the fact that I haven’t finished exercising – you know, like I do with a DVD.

My Pilates instructor is Ms. Devi Persaud. I’ve known Devi through the eastbank library for years, and she’s tried to convince me to take her stretching/Pilates class for about as long as I’ve known her; I should’ve listened years ago.

I won’t reveal Devi’s exact age, although she’ll readily tell anyone; suffice it to say that she’s not quite old enough to be my mother, but she is old enough to be my aunt. Don’t let her age or her soft-spoken manner fool you, though – this woman will work muscles you’ve forgotten existed and keep you laughing in the process.

We started off with warm-up exercises, which were easy enough. Then we went on to the real exercises. I didn’t do too badly, considering I’m as out of shape as they come, and I only had to stop on occasion. Then there were those moments that pointed out just how out of shape I am and just how unbelievably in shape Devi is. At one point she told us to lift our outstretched leg off the floor as high as we could. I managed about a 6 – 8” lift and was feeling okay, until I looked up and saw that Devi’s leg was behind her head. I heard someone in the class mutter, “You have got to be kidding me.” At another point in the class we were to ease ourselves down as far as we could, split-like. I didn’t even come close to a split, but there was Devi, in full split, and bending her entire torso down onto her outstretched leg. I swear the woman is made of rubber.

When the class was over Devi was as cool and collected as always, I was dripping sweat, and one woman jokingly asked her friend if she’d be back the next week. While we stumbled out of the room, Devi’s students streamed in for her next class – Salsa and Samba Dancing for Exercise.

I spent the two days following that Pilates class shuffling around like Fred Sanford but eager to return for more. I figure if I sign up for Devi’s class for the next 15 years, I may one day be able to put my leg behind my head, too.

If you’ve never taken one of the Community Ed classes, I urge you to consider it when the new schedule comes out in the fall.


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