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Life & Work with April Nading

Today we’d like to introduce you to April Nading.

Hi April, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
When I turned 50, I made a list of 50 things I wanted to try and accomplish. The list included flossing my teeth and learning more Sanskrit for yoga, and I added: “learn to do a handstand” on a whim. I had never done a handstand in my life, but I was determined to accomplish this feat. I practiced almost every day for years and was finally able to kick up away from the wall when I turned 57! I created a blog — Handstanding Grandma (I have three grandchildren) — and began posting my hand-standing adventures, photos of my love for fashion, and my passion for plank pose (I hold a plank for five minutes every weekday and stream it on Facebook). I had two shoulder surgeries and a hip replacement along the way, but I returned to hand standing immediately after recovery. Now at 59 — and just two months shy of my 60th birthday — I handstand every day and am always looking for exciting places for hand-standing to post on social media. EX: Recently, while attending a baseball game in St. Louis, I received permission from Busch Stadium to do a handstand on the field! And of course, I had to handstand under the arch! A Google search led me to The Empty Suit and Eros Endato.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
It has not been a smooth road! I had never done a handstand, so I was completely starting from scratch. I attended workshops, watched videos, and practiced every chance I could. Recovery from the shoulder surgeries set me back several months, as did the hip replacement surgery. As a woman in her 50s, I had to get past my fear of falling and hurting myself — which I have done a few times. Three years ago, I dropped out of a handstand, hit the dresser, busted open my foot, and it took five stitches to close it up! There was also the fear of making a fool of myself in front of other people, meaning it was a big deal for me to put myself out there on social media — what if nobody liked what I posted or thought I looked stupid — and it was an even bigger deal learning how to use the platforms. I made many mistakes and watched many YouTube videos trying to figure out how to make/use reels, stories, and posts. Did I mention that I also had to learn to set up my shots and record myself? Sometimes my husband or unsuspecting friend/relative is forced into the role of photographer, but most often, it’s me documenting my stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finally kicked up and held a handstand, only to realize I forgot to hit record. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, though, when what I envision works. I kicked up under the arch numerous times from several locations and was happy with them!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I encourage others, especially those in their 50s and beyond, to push themselves and get out of their comfort zone. During COVID, I started planking online and worked up to five minutes. I continued planking after lockdown and still do it M-F with a different theme daily, and stream the segments on Facebook. I’ve planked with baseball players, local TV personalities, politicians, car dealers, athletes, etc., reminding people they can do more than they thought — regardless of age. But I’m most proud of learning to do a handstand, and any time I travel, I seek out local sculptures, murals, and landmarks (like the arch) and then post them on social media. What sets me apart is my age. Many people on social media are handstanding, but they’re not in their 50s.

What matters most to you?
What matters to me is continuing to send the message that age doesn’t matter. And we must keep challenging ourselves in some way — physically and mentally. If we back away from challenges, we’re no longer experiencing the feeling of accomplishment, and it’s that feeling of accomplishment that keeps us moving forward, trying new things, and getting out of our comfort zones. I believe we become old when we allow ourselves to become stagnant. I want people to find their “handstand” — maybe it’s learning to knit, or taking up running, or painting, or something they’ve wanted to do but have kept putting it off or talking themselves out of it. Life’s too short not to enjoy every minute!

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