And the winner is…

Tesuque! I do have a fair amount of spam on my blog, so I am hoping this is a real person, lol!!! Congratulations Tesuque.

Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk: it gets my vote.

Intentional Printing - jacket art

I have been friends with Lynn and have been watching her mature as an artist for a few years. When I heard she was coming out with a book, I was not surprised. In Lynn’s capable hands and with this fabulous surface design manual, Intentional Printing, you will learn about using paints on cloth in several techniques, using different tools and approaches to designing interesting cloth. As a textile designer and an artist who works in cloth, I was very interested in seeing what, how and why Lynn works with her chosen media.

This book is quite interesting to me as well because Lynn likes to hand stitch portions of her work. I too love stitching and working my own printed cloth by hand, so you can see there are strong points of interest between our different approaches to working printed cloth. I was happy to receive a copy of this book for review and to jump on a blog hop about it. I sent Lynn a list of questions and asked if she would please send some pretties to dazzle your eyes. This coming post highlights Lynn and her amazing accomplishment, Intentional Printing.

Lynn K art close up

1. Let’s talk about the concept of stashing. Do you “stash’ hand printed cloth or paper or are you in the habit of making per project? For myself, I prefer to make per project and am trying to whittle down the stash I do have. Please discuss your thoughts and approach to keeping a stash (or not).

I love this question!  I think stashes reveal so much about how an artist works!

I print fabric only when I’m working on a project, I don’t print it to stash. With that being said, I do have quite a bit of “blank” fabric lurking in the studio. Since I work on fabric that already has color in it, I’ve got reserves to choose from when it’s time to print.

And the scraps? I have a lot of scraps and since I make collages, I tend to hang on to nearly everything. The piece has to be super tiny for me to toss it. I keep those in clear boxes, I love the riot of color and pattern they create when they all mix together. It’s really inspiring! 

Lynn K question 1a

2. Embroidery seems essential to your methodologies, can you please discuss why this is? Do you print with ideas of stitch work in mind or is it a free for all?

Hand stitching is one of my biggest loves. The first kind of fiber art I got involved with was crazy quilting, which features hand stitching prominently. So I developed a strong connection with that kind of stitching right out of the gate. It’s something that has stuck with me even while the rest of my interests evolved.

I don’t really print the fabric with the stitching in mind. But at the same time, I always leave gaps in the printing. Meaning that unless I’m making art cloth, I leave it unfinished so that I can add other things in as I continue to work on it. A lot of times that other thing ends up being hand stitching.

And I’ll use any type of thread – perle cotton, sewing machine thread. I relish the long periods of time it takes to stitch something to within an inch of it’s life. 

Lynn K question 2b

 3. You work in several media, how do you manage this? Do you have a favorite media, or is your favorite media the one you are presently engaging in. I too have several medias and I often use them to cycle through and to help move blocked or stalled projects forward. Please discuss.

I do have other interests but they nearly all revolve around fiber. I’m really into knitting and crochet. I decided to learn to knit because I had used some yarn on an art quilt once and loved it so much, I wanted an excuse to buy and use all the pretty yarns!  :-D

I think it’s a good thing to have more then one type of activity, it lets your creative mind rest. And I often find that in those breaks from the big projects, things shake loose that you might be stuck on.

Besides, there’s so much to explore! I always come back to my paint and fabric and collages but I don’t keep my muse on such a short leash that it can’t just have some fun.

Lynn K question 3

 4. Is there one technique that is your ‘Go To’ method? If so, do you try to challenge yourself to move away from it, or do you go with it and see where it takes you?

I have given this question a good think. Because I can’t say that I am faithful to any one technique. I do love Thermofax Screen Printing a lot but I do so many other printing methods that get equal billing.

Instead I’ll say that I’m dedicated to using paint. I do dye my own base fabric to work on but the pattern that gets created on the fabric? Always paint. I love working with it and the different effects you can get with the opacity of it. The challenge, in my mind, comes with sticking with it and learning it’s boundaries and how far I can push it. 

Lynn K question 4b


I think Lynn’s book is a great primer on both printing cloth using acrylic paint and combining this with hand stitch.

Seeing as I work predominantly with dye, the immersion into the use of paint did me good, and I understand that some people are hesitant to use dye, in which case, this book is especially geared toward you. But even if you have no problem mixing up some concentrate and printing with it, you will find interest and divergence from your preferred methods in this book. I think it is a solid artistic offering and that the techniques and projects are approachable and well presented. 

I am always interested to see how other surface designers approach layering, using color to best advantage while exploring concepts of design and composition. Lynn is gentle in her guidance and really thorough in teaching you to look at and to respond your work. It is almost as if she is sitting at your shoulder, teaching you the things she does really well. Just as it should be.

I am a fan.

Good job Lynn, and thank you.


 

So. I would like to give this copy of Intention Printing away. I will ship within the continental United States. Please leave a message below to enter you name into the drawing. I will use number generator to pick a winner one week from today, April 9. The drawing will occur April 16.

And don’t hesitate to check out the other blog hop sites!

Draw, stamp, screen print and more to create gorgeous art cloth with the help of surface design artistLynn Krawczyk’s new book, Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Art Fabric (Interweave/F+W Media; $26.99.) Take part in our blog tour with stops along the way at:

 

 

 

random acts of kindness are real.

Lifting weights, challenging my body and mind to work together to complete my workouts, watching my muscles grow and my shape change is quite an adventure. Being proactive and engaging with my body and its needs has helped me to feel grounded and clarifies my mind, especially after the rigors of breast cancer treatment. I know it isn’t guaranteed, and nothing can prevent cancer, but exercise is inexpensive, non-invasive and well within my ability to accomplish. It provides great benefit, acts as an antidepressant, it helps level out hormonal levels, it helps keep my body fat low (I had estrogen dependent breast cancer and fat stores and creates estrogen). 

While surfing my favorite fitness blogs last week, I noticed that Jen Sinkler is coming out with a new product called Lift Weights Faster and is building interest for her new offering by doing a give away. Jen Sinkler owns a gym with her husband, she is really straight forward in her fitness approach, and she is badass, goofy, and fun (all of the things you want in a person who inspires you to exercise). Jen had a scheme where you got one point for entering yourself in the drawing, and 10 points for every friend you refer. The grand prize to this giveaway, is a home gym set up.

I took a screenshot of all the swag, just so you could see it. 

And, ohmygoodness, I wanted it! I began to use my social networking feeds to get my points up to winning levels, I told my friends that I wanted that grand prize and asked them to sign up for Jen’s email list, just so I could have a chance at winning all that loot. My points started racking up and I was excited to get detailed messages describing how many points I had earned in my email box. Pretty fancy. 

But then…

An unnamed admirer went and bought the entire grand prize offering and had it shipped directly to me. Just typing out these words, almost a week afterward, makes me tear up. All of the items, and more, were on my ‘wish list’. I had just been shopping for them and trying to find good deals.

Here I am with my newest kettle bell, a heavy bugger that I look forward to swinging soon.

But what really touches me about being given this gift, this random act of kindness, is the note that came with it. Which said, ‘Simply because you are an inspirational woman.’ 

This touches me deeply. I am honored to receive this generous gift. I feel gratified that my actions are received in the manner I had hoped. I have decided to live out loud, in all of my Flat and Fabulous glory, and to advocate for us Flatties as much as I am able. Talking about this topic, putting an image of my body on the web challenges me. It does not come easily. But at the same time, I feel passionate that women need this information and perspective, so I choose to do the work anyway. I know that if I am able to affect a single person, it was worth it, even if it is difficult to do.

So when this kind act was given to me, it was as if I had received physical confirmation that I am doing good work. It also feels somewhat permissive, as just last week, I was reviewing topics I would like to discuss on this blog, and one of them is fitness, my new hobby. So, rest assured, I will be talking fitness in the weeks and months to come.

And as is the hope when giving and receiving Random Acts of Kindness, I will be looking for a way to ‘Pay it Forward’, when the time comes. 

And in the meantime, I choose to allow myself the love and kindness and generosity that was given to me along with the physical aspect of this gift. Thank you universe. Thank you very much. Some very heavy items will arrive this week and you gotta know, I look forward to lifting and writing about them.

Oh! And, I bought Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster eBook/video compilation, I love it! I have been studying it (and trying new lifts out) in downtime all week!

The Goodness

I recently went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw an installation by William Kentridge called The Refusal of Time

I don’t know about you, but when I go to museums, which are like candy shops for me, I give myself an ‘out’, which goes like this, “Go ahead and wander around until something ‘sticks’.” This version of ‘candy’ takes up mental space, I figure I should not apply my full attention to anything in particular until my internal bells and whistles begin firing. I really do not want to give my energy away before I have had my moment.

So I wandered around, predominantly on the second floor, where I stumbled on a show called Jewels by Jar. I like sparkly things, not a lot, but I do, I meandered through the gallery, which was very dark, I looked at the amazing jewel encrusted sculptures, they were really neat, Jar has major talent and imagination. But what I really liked, was seeing the New York dames, elder women, neatly dressed, holding the print-out closely and trying to figure out what metals, jewels and fibers were used in each piece. I have always loved elder people and I fall in love easily. 

I fell in love that day.

Then I stumbled into a furniture exhibit, centered around the dressing table. This was a low key gallery as far as I was concerned. It held my interest long enough to take a fun selfie.

But soon after this, I entered into the installation by William Kentridge ( the top most phot in this post). I really like the art this man makes. Every piece I have come across satisfies me, touches me deeply and this installation did not disappoint. Surrounded by projections on all three walls, sitting on a chair affixed to the floor along side an active bellows of some sort of machination, while listening to some really ingenious music, I became immersed in this 35 minute experience. 

It brought tears to my eyes, I was amazed. I love that. I love when good art makes me cry. When good art makes me think and pulls me away from what I think is true and relevant and fills me with wonder and anticipation. 

I want to see it again.

And whenever I go to the Met, I always seek out the gallery just outside the Antonio Ratti Textile Center which had an exhibition of William Morris fabrics and wallpaper. This is just food for the soul. This textile lover, up and coming textile designer, loves William Morris. Being able to lean in and really look at printed cloth and wallpaper? Being able to see the ‘thuck’ of the block printed paper (the texture that the ink leaves), oh my goodness. That was a treat beyond measure.

I left the museum with a lightness, an airiness that had not been there previously.

What museum, show or gallery have you been to that has rocked your socks? Tell me in the comment, please.

The Grace to be Flat and Fabulous

The images that follow may be considered too-much-information, which is a perspective I understand. If you feel this way, you should skip this post and come back another day. 

MellyIsisPortraitCropped

Breast cancer has changed me. It has changed me physically as well as mentally. It has made me question feminine behaviors and expectations, it has made me question what is important to me, it has reordered who I believe myself to be. 

I knew from the start that reconstruction was not for me. I did follow through and go to a plastic surgeon to discuss ‘my options’, and I did my best to remain open to the idea of reconstruction, so that -I could- reconstruct if I came around to feeling the need. But honestly, I did not like how that plastic surgeon touched my body, I don’t like the thought of inserting silicone under skin or muscle, do not want the multiple surgeries or ‘exchanges’- a euphemism for additional surgery to ‘swap out’ the silicone implants every 7 to 9 years, will not move muscle or fat from any other place on my body to form an insensate semblance of a breast.  

I won’t do that. I can’t. My body is enough.

Believe me when I say, I faced strong opposition to my decision to opt out of reconstructive surgery. I was asked to see a psychiatrist to make sure I was making a sound, well founded decision. I was told that just the month previously that my breast surgeon saw a woman who demanded testing for BRCA, which came up negative, and that she continued to want preventative mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and that as a result, the hospital asked that all women wanting preventative or profilactic removal of a breast needed to see the psychiatrist. Being compared to a person who neither had cancer, tested negative for BRCA, and demanded preventative mastectomy does not help. Being questioned about wanting symmetry after being told you -need- a radical unilateral mastectomy, doesn’t help. Being told you will ‘suffer’ gender confusion, doesn’t help. Being told women who choose reconstruction settle back into life more quickly after breast cancer surgery, doesn’t help. Especially when the psychiatrist on staff is not covered by insurance and you will need to pay $500+ out of pocket to help your hospital perpetuate their disordered thinking on what is ‘right’ for the breast cancer survivor. 

I would not have been asked to see a psychiatrist had I chosen the ‘conventional, ‘acceptable’ path’ of reconstruction.

I have extracted a quote from this interesting article, which I hope you will read:

A study in the Psychology of Women Quarterly reported that sexual minority women face considerable pressure to have reconstruction, and those who decide not to have surgery often feel like they have to justify their choices to their doctors. The researchers argue that these women’s reasons for and against the surgeries highlight sexist and heterosexist assumptions within the medical management of breast cancer, and particularly mastectomy. As Naomi Wolf points out in The Beauty Myth such assumptions affect women in general. Wolf questions whether cosmetic surgery is really a choice in the context of a society that routinely reduces women to appearances and sexual usefulness. For women diagnosed with breast cancer, societal expectations to look and act the part of the thriving breast cancer survivor/fearless warrior (while appealing to some) may add to these pressures in ways that are just as disempowering as those from decades ago that forced women to keep breast cancer hidden beneath a veil of secrecy.

Ca-ching!

I would rather redefine femininity in the face of a diagnosis that is so closely tied to body image, a diagnosis that shoves societal expectations smack up against the individual woman and her one precious body, one that forces us to make decisions that are uncomfortable at best.

And, I would rather not keep quiet about it. 

When I heard about The Grace Project, I contacted Isis Charise, the photographer, quickly. I wanted my portrait taken. I feel compelled to ‘represent’ for all the women who opt out of reconstruction. I feel compelled to ‘represent’ a beautiful image of the female body, no matter how ‘unconventional’.  I feel compelled to help the women who are diagnosed after me, to understand that reconstruction isn’t for everyone, and for those who cannot or will not reconstruct, I feel compelled to simply live in my body as it is shaped without putting on breast forms or presenting an image that is not my own. 

Since my diagnosis, a sea change has begun, we Flat and Fabulous have begun to band together to support one another. Had I not stumbled upon Sentenced2Live‘s portrait, and seen the ease and confidence with which she used her body, I would not have thought I could opt out of reconstructive surgery in the first place. The strength that Barbie exhibits in her Scar Project photograph has been a balm to me-and to be a Marine too? Barbie has a strength and hutzpah that I admire deeply. Seeing Margaret Smith in Fitness magazine a few years back strengthened me beyond measure. Reading about Jodi Jaecks fight to swim topless in a public swimming pool helped me normalize my flat and beautiful chest and to experience and evaluate the battle we women face when we make decisions related to our bodies that goes against the mainstream.

And I assume that, at least in part, all of these women did this work for people like me.

So when the opportunity to participate in an awareness raising project like The Grace Project came around, it was an easy decision. I opted in! I am committed to helping improve my own sense of body image while helping to normalize a simple, beautiful, less invasive form of reconstruction. This option makes me (and us) no less female, no less beautiful, and I see no need to ‘make like’ I have the shape of breasts. Societal expectations be damned (I am sorry to swear, but I mean it).

I prefer to be the role model I needed when I started my ‘breast cancer journey’.  

And I choose to do it while remaining in alignment with my own values, needs and standards.

If ever you find yourself being told you have breast cancer, know that you can choose what is right for you, regardless of what you may be told. Flat is an option, as is reconstruction. Not wearing forms is an option. Switching out your breast forms every day with a new size is an option (yowza!)! Just don’t allow yourself to be talked into reconstruction if you know it isn’t right for you. 

MellyIsisPortrait

And remember, your body is beautiful, no matter what.

Introspection and Organization

DSC_0021 This little being teaches me quite a bit. Peach is very adaptable, she seems to accept what is, she does this with a strong sense of self possession. Peach knows what she likes and dislikes. Peach is learning to trust and love and become calm and confident about her surroundings. I love watching her release the traumas of being an outdoor city cat. I can say without hesitation that Peach really dislikes the sound of snow plows, trash trucks, and any of the other large metal monsters. I cannot imagine her out in the city wilds, and I am oh so glad we found each other.DSC_0022

Because Peach spent a few years on the streets, had some kittens and then came into human care and was spayed improperly, I feel, we both feel, that is David and I feel, Peach is a precious being who may not live as long as other cats with an easier start. And this too is a special point of connection for me, for us. Having been diagnosed with cancer, I now know that my time here on earth may be shortened, I am now more prone to recurrence, my morality has been shown to me and I no longer think I am invincible. Staying in the moment and cherishing my time is really the only way to live. Peach teaches me the age old lesson to Be Here Now, and to release the traumas of treatment, of daily life and to consider the tenacious beauty of this moment, no this one, no…

And she does this by unfolding slowly and with great aplomb. Peach came to us on January 4, 2013 and it took just one year for her to begin to see the value and feel able to ask, then settle into my lap for a nice warm sleep. Every small step is cherished and appreciated. I love this little being. We love this little being. Peach helps us heal and love one another. Peach is amazing. 

Watching Peach take her time helps remind me that everything takes its own time. I tend to be an all-in type person, I give my all to everything, I work fast, I have lots of ideas, I work hard, I want things when I want them. Cancer has put these attributes to the test, and I find I need to slow the churning of the wheels, I need to hold back a portion of energy, keeping some in reserve. And this is ok, good even, a welcome change.

Maybe, it is just great to have an animal, and relate to it. I love being Peach’s animal. I love watching her relate. I am learning more Peach talk, Peach words with every day.

In the meantime, I have been enjoying my studio time, I am working with a great friend to (hopefully) publish another book. My fabric line is going to be released in May, I have been working it! I know, I need to slow down and smell the roses. 

Ah, life!

DSC_0024

Printing is interesting. When I open up a print session, I want everything to be neat, clean and tidy. I want to know where all of my tools are, I need them to be clean, I need all previous unfinished print jobs to be organized (I like to visually colate what needs green, what yellow), so that when I mix up color, I am prepared with knowledge of how many pieces might need a bit of yellow.

It takes a good half hour to prepare, clean and colate color/print needs. As soon as that is done, the fun begins. 

I love process, love organization, printing my own cloth caters to both these loves and it gives me pretties to fondle and use in quilts!! It feels good to settle into a print session! When I make things, I settle into the most quiet, enjoyable mental place. I allow myself to work, I love seeing the pretty bits of cloth pile up. It is another way to slow time down to its essential element. 
MTestaDeFloral

This is a piece whose process I would like to expand, streamline and improve. I have since washed it and am underwhelmed with my color retention. I think this is a great idea though, so I wonder if upping the values used to print the background scribble would do the trick. 

More to come on this idea. 

I am off to have a full day of printing. I hope you are enjoying your day, wherever you are. I hope that you too have some moments of reprieve, where you experience exactly what you are doing and enjoy that feeling.

Commemorative Cloth Making

A few years ago, I took an indigo printing class by Dorothy Caldwell, which, if you are able, I would highly recommend. In this class Dorothy showed us some African commemorative cloth that she had collected while traveling. I instantly fell in love with the idea of using cloth as a means to explore current day topics or even topics of a personal nature. 

PortraitMellyDavid

David and I will be married for twenty years this coming August, a date to commemorate if ever I have experienced one. My love for this man is extraordinary, he is my best friend, my lover, my husband. I learn from him and with him. David is a phenomenal being and our relationship reflects the work and focus the two of us are committed to doing ‘for the couple’. I could not wish for anything more. David is a dream come true.

PortraitMellyDavid2

Twenty years of married life is nothing to sneeze at these days, so I choose to commemorate this milestone by printing 20 portraits of David and I (10 portraits each), which I will make into a quilt. I have not decided if this will need sashing, or how it might go together as a quilt, I like the idea of sashing to separate the portraits. In terms of it being commemorative cloth, I think that at least some of the blocks will need to be dated, a bit more information needs to be attached to the images in order to make it truly commemorative.

It is interesting to print portraits, to see the images come to life. And also to remember the moment of inspiration.

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I found this exquisite pair of goggly eyes on the street and had to bring them home. One night, David and I started goofing off and we each took a snapshot of the other wearing the goggly eyes. So you see, there are portraits within portraits here. I love that the difference in our heights is shown in the photographs and the eventual printed portraits. I always see David from this angle, as he sees me, so the image orientation is perfect. I also love that the image of David is one where he is actually happy, David does not show his cards very often.

I am printing these portraits in pairs, I want each pair to have relationship to the other. I want to see more color, and although I do not want to print ‘skin tones’, I want to play with the color of the figures to mix it up more. The style of this set of portraits at the very least nods to Andy Warhols‘ portrait series, and because of this, I want to see some brighter more cheerful colors used in the faces, at the very least. More to come.

 

 

Dragon Lair.

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Let us take a moment. Above. You see a 13″ MacBook Pro, custom. Wealth. 

I am wealthy. And wealthy beyond measure, because…

Now, I can go mobil. To my favorite coffee shop. And you know what? I need to get out! I know how to work, head down, for hours, which has the tendency to turn into days, and… I find myself in pajamas for days on end. I love my pjs, don’t get me wrong, but. You get what I am saying.

David and I bought new computers this year. I am moving in! And moving on! Literally. Yahoo!

Watch out!

So anyway, my new Mac Book Pro 13″needed a tight fitting, Melly Made case!

DSC_0003

I am on a mission to learn to use the cloth I am printing. I have criteria, or maybe I should say, I am forming opinions, on how I want to use my cloth. I am focused on motif, color, ease of creation. I like to think about using my cloth with ingenuity and sometimes, striking differences in color and texture. I want the cloth to be the focus and not the quilt block design. Motif as communication device. Motif as story telling. 

So I made this MacBook Pro 13″ carry case! I am quilt savvy that way! You see, we already owned a zippered, padded case for David’s old 13″ MacBook, but they keep making these dang things smaller and smaller, so my new computer needed padding to kit out the zippered case. I made this as tight fitting as I was able. I actually like it better than the zippered case, but computers need packaging when in transit, and a snug fitting transit is better than loose. And now, I have a creative case using my own printed fabrics. Tada! I like being able to make do.

Now, I can easily travel, update my blog, write (hopefully) my next book and I do not need to be plugged into my desk and tiny apartment. I can get out. 

Oh and? The dangly eyeglass necklace? Do any of you wear and/or make these??? And if so, do you have a favorite finding to attach the glasses to the necklace? Please leave a link in the comments! I am interested in your opinions on this. I am going into the fashion district on Monday…

Findings Field Trip!

 

being human and having a body

I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago this week. This requires some acknowledgment and some introspection on my part. In this last year, I have come to a turning point; my body, it’s pain, is no longer directing my experience, neither mentally, nor physically. 

Thank goodness. 

Becoming used to being a flat chested woman is a journey. I have learned a lot about myself, it is almost as if I have been emerging from a chrysalis, unwrapping the leaves of societal expectation (breast cancer patients are encouraged and expected to reconstruct or wear breast forms). I am learning to love the shape I am. I am learning to embrace this stronger, more fortified version of myself. This is a fantastic journey, really. By opting out of creating a semblance of a breast, by opting out of wearing the shape of a breast within a garment, and learning to love my body, my way, I am rebuilding my idea of my self, body image and my personal capabilities. 

Cancer, the treatment to rid the body of cancer, is harrowing to say the least. Luckily for me though, during the time that I was going through the worst of it, I came to the thought that, if my body could withstand the almost lethal dose of medication called chemotherapy, what else could it achieve? 

I came to the realization that although my diet was pretty good, the one thing that I was not doing was exercise. Between opting out of breast reconstruction and wondering what this might do to my self esteem, I decided that exercise was a great way to create a mind/body connection. I imagined that connecting the mind and the body would help bolster my confidence and help me to accept the new shape of my body.

But how do you go from never really ‘investing’ in exercise to helping yourself embrace it? Exercise is drudgery, isn’t it? No, not at all. Actually, and I can say this in all honesty, now that I have been lifting weights three times a week for more than a year and a half, exercise makes everything better. My mood has improved, my scars do not feel as tight, I have a better understanding of what foods will pack on pounds, what foods will feel great. And lifting weights sure does sculpt and streamline your body, I must say, I like the aesthetics of weight lifting.

So back to it: how do you change the idea that exercise is drudgery? This is what I did: 

I started out by researching free workouts, fitness blogs, and basically, body types. I used YouTube for this. From there I realized that I like the shape that weightlifting can give the female form. Finding an exercise regimen that you like is key! 

I found a few websites that I like and continue to follow like, MyOhMytv, Fit and Feminist, GoKaleo, Bret Contreras, to name a few. Reading about and keeping your mind focused by reading books, blogs and watching YouTube videos is great reinforcement of your commitment and you will learn a bunch, just make sure you find quality sources, I don’t suggest reading fitness magazines that promise to reveal your abs in 20 minutes, with a restrictive, unfun diet. Beside which, fitness and fashion magazines promote a body ideal that has negative connotations, you can trust yourself on your own journey to know when YOUR body looks and feels optimal to YOU.

But here is the most important part: It is crucial to to tell yourself as you begin to work out, that exertion feels good. Remind yourself that your body is an amazing machine, that you take part in maintaining and helping it improve. You are not a victim of your body, but a participant in its abilities. And after each workout it is essential to compliment yourself on a job well done. Writing these compliments down in a workout journal can help a lot.

Creating a mental atmosphere that supports active commitment and participation to exercise is essential. I certainly do not want to go overboard-there are no ‘beast workouts’ for me, I workout three times a week and all together, each workout takes no more than forty-five minutes to one hour. This is easy. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, preferably before 9 a.m., I lift weights, here, at home.

I am consistent.

I keep track of my reps and weight lifted so that I can look back on my progress and encourage myself to lift heavier when the time and numbers of reps seem right. I date each entry. I compliment myself (especially when I did not want to workout but did so anyway). And when someone compliments me, I write that down and date it too (I got a great compliment about the shape of my arms a few months back and I still enjoy seeing that entry in my workout journal).

I used to think that exercise was all or nothing, that if I didn’t do a workout, I would spiral into not wanting to workout ever again. This is not true. If I miss a workout, or two, or a few weeks of working out, I choose a date to begin working out again and I am patient and methodical about getting back in the game. I do not punish myself for needing, or taking a break.

I am grateful that my cancer diagnosis had the effect of encouraging me to invest in a fit body. Not only do I want to help my body resist disease, I want the confidence that comes with the commitment to getting my workout in. I want the strength of my glutes, propelling me down the street, as I rush to catch the subway, I want beautiful shoulders and I like having a metabolic ‘safety net’ when I go on holiday and eat one too many pieces of chocolate (you can’t out-train a bad diet, but if you are mostly clean in your food choices, all will be well). Most of all, I want a sense of body image that is filled with love and compassion and working out helps me connect all of these dots in the best of ways.

So, I thank my diagnosis for helping me integrate exercise into my life, but goodbye and good riddance! Let the door hit you in the ass, cancer! And hopefully, perhaps you, dear reader, might be inspired to exercise without ever needing to face the words, “I am sorry to say, we found ____________(fill in the dis-ease)”.

 

love in a cup

I have so many things I would like to talk about. 

Peach, for instance. 

Peach will have been with us for one full year on January 4. Peach is a wonder and a joy. She has a great and varied personality. She controls her person with grace and focus. Peach had a life on the streets prior to wrapping her magical powers around our hearts, which means she was an established being prior to meeting us. It has been such a fun journey learning her quirks, needs and love.

This little eight pound heavy weight loves her lovins’ her way; light, feathery-light strokes. Sometimes under the chin. And when she is done receiving pets? Stop touching her. She won’t bite but she likes to threaten to bite (I love this!), it is a sensitivity thing. She can only take so much touching. I can relate! Peach has great boundaries, she knows how to tell me to stop without calling me a jerk! :) Actually she is quite polite.

Sometimes Peach challenges me to chase her. I love this too. She likes to feel startled. Her tail goes bottle brush, she forms a Mohawk, and then she becomes sensitive and needs reassurance. 

See? Lots of personality.

Another thing about Peach? She shares well. She loves David in special ways. When he picks her up, he wraps his arms around her body. She gets a smug look and settles downward!!

I am so happy that we adopted Peach.