How to keep a hula hoop up

This post was written assuming you have read (nearly) all the advice and watched (nearly) all the videos on the web on how to keep a hula hoop up, and have the right sized hoop, but still can’t keep the hoop up when waist hooping. This was how I felt when I first started, and I would have loved to find information that went beyond the same old “push your belly back and forth” that everyone kept restating.

These are notes that I took on some of the less common tips that I found very helpful when I was starting out. I have been waist hooping for four months now, and can keep the hoop up for pretty much as long as I like, so I am certain these tips work. Some of these are from other sources and some of these I discovered on my own. The videos that I linked to were the ones that I found to be the most helpful.

1. Have your weight distributed evenly between both legs. This video demonstrates it well.

2. Keep your pelvis tucked forward, as shown here.

3. Allow your feet to rock, if necessary. This is easier to do on a level surface. Sometimes all you need is the foot in front to rock, as I first observed in this video. All the advice out there says that you should be moving your pelvis back and forth (or from side to side), and not so much in a circle. This is easiest to do when you rock on your feet. The movement may look and feel awkward in the beginning, but that’s what enabled me to feel the rhythm of the hoop and have control over it. As you improve, the movements will get less pronounced. Now, my feet remain stable on the ground, and the movement is within my knees and hips.

4. Start on a flat, level surface. At first I only tried to hoop on the grass because I didn’t want my hoop to get scuffed up when it hit the pavement. However, the ground was uneven. After I moved onto the pavement, I was able to rock my feet, and keep the hoop up. I can hoop on the grass now, but in the beginning, a level surface really helped.

5. Tape makes a difference! If you’re making your own hoop, be sure to tape it. I had read the advice saying to use gaffers tape for grip, but I didn’t want to tape my hoop at first because I planned to resize it when I got better. (I started with a 40″ diameter 100 psi polyethylene tube for a hoop.) Many hoop sellers offer to sand the inner side of a bare hoop for grip as well.

It turned out, tape really made a difference when I was first starting to hoop. I couldn’t keep the hoop up at all when it was not taped. Tape adds grip as well as weight, making it easier for beginners. All I did was wrap my hoop with electrical tape, and I was able to keep it up for longer. Later I added some gaffers tape, too.

*      *      *

I hope you found these tips helpful. Hooping is a skill that takes practice, so don’t give up. Even though I was able to do it as a kid (until I became too big for the child sized hoops), it still took some time for me to pick it up again as an adult. I’m glad I took it up again because it’s a fun, low-impact exercise that doesn’t require much; just a hoop and adequate space. (When I hoop indoors, I let my hoop spin over the edge of the bed.)

If you have any questions or other less common tips that you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment. Happy hooping!

How to not let it bother you

I will admit upfront that I am quite a sensitive person and I also worry a lot. I often wish I were not that way, and over the years I have found strategies for lessening the amount of grief and annoyance that I would experience otherwise. If you aren’t easily bothered by these things, I wish I were like you; if you are, I hope you will find these tips helpful.

1. It’s them, not me
I have always had a very difficult time not taking things personally. Even now I still struggle with it, but I have been getting better at identifying when someone behaves the way they do because that is the way they always behave in that particular situation, and not because they are purposely trying to hurt me.

The easiest way to tell is by observing the person’s interactions with other people. (If you only encountered him once and aren’t likely to see him again, then he’s not worth getting upset over, unless he committed a heinous act.) If certain patterns of behavior show up, then you know that it’s the other person, not you. For example, I’ve noticed that there are people who will raise their voice in the face of disagreement when they believe they’re right. Some people are extremely blunt, and there are others who like to push other people’s buttons. That’s just how they behave towards everyone, so I know it has nothing to do with me.

It helps if other people report feeling the same way. I’m not encouraging you to gossip, but if everyone present felt that that person was difficult to deal with, most likely she was the one being unreasonable.

If you still have a hard time shaking it off even when you know that it’s the other person, and not you, then read on to my second point, which is:

2. Think of the offender as a ridiculous kid
In the past when people have left me harsh/snarky comments online, I’ve tried telling myself that it’s them, not me. Still, that doesn’t take away all the upset and shock I’ve experienced, even when I know that the things they accuse me of are unfounded assumptions and simply not true. My attempts to “just ignore them” have not been effective, except in cases when the person is obviously being abusive to everyone, so it’s clear that he’s the one with the problem.

I had an epiphany several months ago, when someone left a harsh comment that was filled with accusations and inaccurate assumptions. I happened to be at work when I first read the comment. Later that afternoon, some kids were squabbling over something petty. That’s when I realized that whenever the kids come to me when they’re having petty squabbles, I always tell them to ignore the one who is provoking them. (After all, the troublemaker doesn’t listen to me anyway.) Yet, it always seemed impossible for the kids to ignore the mean kid, even though to me, such actions seemed like no big deal. That made me wonder why it was so difficult for me to ignore the mean comments. Then I thought of the commenter as one of the kids who was being ridiculous. Suddenly, it was easier for me to not be affected by it.

3. Turn it into a joke
One of my pet peeves is seeing quick repetitive motions, especially in my peripheral vision. For example, it annoys me when I see the motion from someone jiggling their leg or shaking their foot while seated. (If I can feel vibrations from their movements, or if their leg-shaking makes the whole bench bounce, it bugs me even more.)

One morning when I was waiting at a bus stop, a guy standing to the left in front of me kept pumping his knees. While this annoyed me a bit, I suddenly noticed that he was pumping his knees in a regular rhythm, and it matched The Go-Go’s song Turn To You. So I started imagining him purposely moving his legs to the the introduction to that song, and it was quite funny to me. Then I wondered what might happen if I secretly videotaped his moving legs and put the recording to the music, and then posted it on YouTube. I wasn’t going to actually do that, but I thought of all the other times people were moving their bodies in annoying ways, and all the videos I could make by matching their jiggling to music. Once I found it funny, it was no longer annoying.

4. Put it in perspective
In the grand scheme of things, how significant is this really?

When I am worried about or upset by something and can’t get my mind off of it, it helps to put it into perspective. One way that I do that is by asking myself, three months from now, will this still be bothering me? I go so far as to find the date three months from now and mark it on my calendar, with the question, “Is it still bothering you?” To be honest, I have only done this once, but the time that I did it, I found that I had forgotten about the thing that was making me upset, in much less than three months. In fact, I was looking ahead in my calendar and was thinking, “What did I put that event in for? Oh, that. I forgot about it two months ago.”

Another way of putting things into perspective is one that I got from reading Stress Management for Dummies. I won’t go into all the details, but it involved rating events on a scale of 1 to 10 for how stressful they are, and then evaluate how stressful you’re experiencing it.  The events that fall into the 8, 9, and 10 category were things like a major financial loss or a serious illness. That’s when I realized that the thing that was keeping me up at night was more like a 5, yet I was treating it like a 10! I was overreacting when I didn’t need to be.

5. Think of it as a learning experience
People have a bias for remembering emotionally salient stimuli, as opposed to neutral ones. This is thought to have evolved because emotionally salient things tend to be out of the ordinary, and remembering dangerous situations or harmful things enables one to avoid them or react faster to them in the future, which is beneficial to survival. Not surprisingly, I am able to remember many incidents in which I’ve made stupid mistakes and embarrassed myself. As much as I would love to erase those memories, I suppose it’s better that they stay, since I now know what to do differently, should a similar situation arise.

The only problem is when those memories bother me excessively; the situation is on replay in my mind, accompanied by the feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment. I keep telling myself what I should have done differently, how I was too slow, how I should have been more careful, how the other party is going to think “there was this stupid girl today…” even though I try to convince myself that most people won’t remember or care all that much after you’ve left; they’re preoccupied with their own lives and issues. Or, if it was in front of a group of people, not everyone may have noticed. A lot of the time the interactions are with people I may never run into again, or people that I will see again for the next few weeks, but after a year the chances of meeting are slim.

Since it’s pretty certain that I won’t be forgetting the incident any time soon, I might as well “reframe” how I think about it. This is usually accomplished by determining what there was for me to learn from it. That way, when it comes to mind, I simply think of it as a learning experience. Reframing can also involve countering my irrational beliefs through focusing on facts, until I’m convinced that I was being too hard on myself. After the process, I am usually relieved and able to get on with life again.

How to stop hiccups

This is a method that I learned many years ago from my geometry teacher, Mr. Story. I haven’t seen it anywhere else, so I’ve decided to share it here.

A student started hiccuping during class, so our teacher told her what to do to stop the hiccups, and it worked. Since then, I’ve done this many times myself, and it is quite effective. My estimate is that 95% of the time my hiccups are gone on the first try, 98% of the time on the second try, and usually they’re gone for good after the third attempt. This is from someone who hiccups quite a lot. There are some days when I have as many as five bouts of hiccuping.

What I like about this method is that you don’t need anything, like water or sugar, to do this. It’s convenient and can be done any time, anywhere. This is how it’s done:

  1. Exhale. Squeeze as much air out of you as possible. Do not breathe in yet.
  2. While holding your breath, swallow once or twice (or even three times).
  3. Now you can relax and breathe in, and your hiccups should be gone. If not, do steps 1 and 2 again.

It takes a bit of practice in the beginning, but after you get used to it, it’s not difficult at all, and you get relief from hiccups. Give it a try the next time you want to stop hiccuping! If you have any questions about this, let me know and I’ll do my best to clarify things.

Precautions to take when looking for a room to rent

Everything I’m writing here is based on my own experience and, to the best of my knowledge, is true. Throughout this ordeal I’ve had people tell me “life’s lessons are costly,” so I want to share what I have learned with as many people as possible, for free.

Background

In September 2013 I was in desperate need of housing so I replied to an ad for a room on Craigslist. The next evening I went to the apartment to look at the room. The tenant who posted the ad went by Pauline. She told me that there were many people looking at the room, and she can’t save it for me unless she gets a deposit. As I left, she told me to “take your time” to decide if I wanted to rent it. Two days later I returned to sign the rental contract with her, and paid her a $600 deposit. The move in date was Nov. 1. She didn’t have a key for me because the current tenant had it.

A couple weeks later she tells me that I can’t move in because her current tenant won’t leave and there’s nothing she can do about it. She said she will return my deposit by sending me a check. A week goes by and I don’t get anything, so I ask her about it. Over the next few weeks she keeps giving me excuses, such as she doesn’t have any checks so she’ll need to go to the bank first, or that she has to first wait for another check to clear. I offered to let her pay me via PayPal, and in installments, but she tells me she has no money.

After three months of waiting, I finally sued her in small claims court. She did not show up at the hearing so I won. However, she has not done any of the required actions after the judgment. She ignored it entirely. I don’t have her email address since she used the Craigslist email, so I mailed her a letter asking for my money back. I got no response. At this point, there’s nothing I can do that won’t cost me more money. I just want to put this all behind me.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with small claims, the court does not assist with collections. Winning the judgment is one thing, but getting your money is another. While it’s true that you can make the judgment debtor pay the costs incurred during collection, that requires filing another form, which needs to be delivered or mailed to the judgment debtor by a registered process server, and a separate collection attempt, which will cost more money. Even though $600 is significant to me, the amount of money required to possibly get part of it back is not cost effective. There are additional details that I have left out to make this account shorter.

If you are tempted to give advice on how I can try to get my money back, please refrain from doing so unless you have personally successfully collected from an individual (not a business) who was a complete stranger, unemployed, and uncooperative.

Lessons learned

While there are many articles on how to avoid online rent scams, such as this one, this one, and this one, and I was aware of those red flags during my search, none of them went into the details that would have prevented me from losing my money in this case. This is why I am sharing what I learned.

1) If you can help it, don’t sublet. Rent though an actual management company that requires all the paperwork and background checks. Unfortunately, sometimes we are poor or want to save money, or don’t meet the income requirements. Then what?

If you can only afford to rent a room, avoid apartments. The tenant most likely does not have permission from the landlord to sublet. If they claim that it’s okay (as that woman did when I asked her), don’t just take their word for it. Check with the landlord first! If it is illegal, you could be evicted. Instead, renting a room from the owner of a house is a safer option. First verify that they are indeed the owner. One way this can be done through the county tax assessor. (Plus, if you ever have to sue the owner in small claims court, and you win, you can put a lien on her real estate if she refuses to pay you.)

2) Choose a room that is already vacant. After this incident, I only respond to ads for rooms that are available immediately, and the room is already vacated when I go to view it. When subletting from an individual, it’s risky to hand your deposit over for a room that is available on a future date and still has someone living in it. There is no way of knowing if the person will actually move out. It’s possible that he or she has no intention of actually leaving. (See Rachael Marie Smith rent scam.) This might not be an issue if you’re renting from a legitimate landlord or management company. However, scammers are known to break in to occupied apartments and fraudulently collect people’s deposits for an apartment that really isn’t for rent.

3) Do a background check on your landlord. If you’re really serious about renting, get the person’s legal name (first and last) before you hand over money, and find out what you can about her. (Unfortunately, I only knew her as Pauline until I wrote the check to her; her actual first name is Baolien.) Ask how long she’s been living here, and how her experience has been. You might even want to ask where she lived before, under the guise of small talk, if she hasn’t lived in this county for long.

Although the site checkyourlandlord.com exists, there might not be information on the individual you’re subletting from. You can still do a Google search of the person’s name and see what turns up.  Also, there are public records that you can easily access for free online. While you won’t be able to see the actual document unless you go to the courthouse or recorder’s office or pay a fee to request it, you can see on the website that there was a record. Make sure to check Small Claims Court records. Has she been sued before? If so, that’s not a good sign! You can also check for records from the County Clerk-Recorder to see if there are any liens on that person’s property. If that individual appears as a grantor, it means she owes or has owed money!* Those are red flags to not trust this person with your money.

Keep in mind, having no records turn up isn’t a guarantee that she has never ripped someone off or doesn’t have the potential to. It’s possible that there are records in another county. I know people who won’t bother with Small Claims court for amounts under $2,000, so it’s possible that the person has been stealing money from people but no one has taken action against her. However, I found records for the woman who stole my money, so had I known this before, I would not have tried to rent from her.

Other things you can do to screen your landlord are listed here.

4) Avoid subletting from people who are unemployed, especially if they sound desperate for money. Pauline deposited my check the very next day, so I didn’t have the option to get the bank to stop payment. If you win a judgment against an unemployed person and she won’t pay you, you can’t even garnish her wages because she has none.

5) Make sure you get the keys when you hand over your deposit, and check that they work. Then again, it’s possible to have gotten working keys for an apartment that you can’t actually rent, as mentioned in this story.

6) When I posted this same list on a subreddit, someone mentioned having positive experiences using DepositGuard, a service that keeps your deposit in a neutral account until you move in. I have not tried it before, so I can’t vouch for it, but I would give it a try if the situation ever arises. If you have used DepositGuard before, please share your experience in a comment below.

Edit: A friend wondered what might have happened had I dated the check with the move-in date. Therefore, it couldn’t be deposited or cashed until after I moved in, and I would have had time to stop the payment. However, from what I’ve read, stopping a payment only puts it on hold for six months, after which you’ll need to pay another fee to stop it for another six months. Still, it’s possible that she would have returned my check if the money wasn’t already in her possession.

7) If you suspect you’re a victim of an Internet/rent scam, make sure to report it to the IC3, FTC, and local authorities. I do not know for certain whether Pauline is a scammer or simply a deadbeat, but she did say that she couldn’t work because she was sick, which is a common scam line. Instead, she was taking classes at a community college (with her grown son) because she wanted to start her own business. I spent nearly two hours talking with her about the use and cleaning of the shared areas, so it seemed legitimate, but I figure that getting $600 for just talking with someone about your apartment for two hours is an easy way to make money.   Did Baolien Dang steal your security deposit, too? Leave a comment below if you’re also a victim.

I hope that this information will reach as many people as possible and will prevent you or your loved ones from going through what I did. Looking for housing can be very stressful, but it’s important to not rush to a decision out of desperation. I was able to find a much nicer room not long after, so I’ve learned to not settle for a place that I’m not completely satisfied with. I acknowledge that more often than not you probably could successfully find housing without taking these precautions, but after getting burned, I’d rather be safe than sorry.


*In general, the grantor owes money to the grantee, but if the debt has been paid, the grantee becomes the grantor and releases the lien. So if you find someone is a grantor who is releasing the lien, that means this grantor (formerly grantee) has gotten paid.