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!

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. 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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. 

 

Continued Story.

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 It seems Peach has done another awesome thing. She found David and I, specifically. 

Last week I had several conversations with the veterinarian who ‘spayed’ Peach. It turns out, the spay was incomplete and uterine tissue was left inside her body. This tissue is producing estrogen. Peach needs to go into heat again, so that a specialist might be able to find the tissue and remove it. There is no guarantee that Peach will make enough estrogen in order to go into heat, but as this is the best case scenario, we hope that she does. If she does not, we need to regularly screen Peach for mammary carcinoma, in other words, breast cancer. Sigh.

I know that there are no guarantees in life, we have, just this moment, to live as fully as we are able. I love this little being and honestly hope she goes into heat again, that the surgeon can find the tissue, that we are able to lower or obliterate her odds of getting breast cancer. I am happy that she found us, that I can advocate for her. I am happy to love her. I wish that breast cancer could take a lesser seat of prominence in my life, but I accept what life has given me and us.

The veterinary office that helped Peach through her Trap and Rescue ordeal is shrugging off monetary responsibility for this portion of Peach’s care, though the vet who did the work, has said that she will pay for Peach’s re-spay out of her own pocket. I am glad that the doctor has taken an ethical stand, I am considering how to let the veterinary office know of my dissatisfaction. Speaking out is a new path for me and is directly related to my cancer experience. I have less tolerance for bad behavior now, and I want the world to be a better place, so speaking out is called for. There are many gifts related to the cancer experience and I bet part of the reason Peach found her way into our hearts, apartment and life.

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As I make more and more multicolor stamps, I am finding new and interesting ways to build images. Previously, I would draw the image, cut it out of a single piece of fun foam, mount and print the image. Now I am doing more of a call and response, I might cut a simple drawing in two colors, then cut additional layers to darken or shade an area of the image. Next I will work on incorporating textures into the background.

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 Creative flow is interesting. I work away at an idea as if a hound on a mission. Then I run up against a learning curve, as I did while working on The 20. This is when I switch gears, trying to access the intuitive thoughts that might solve the original creative conundrum. This post has two cogs in that wheel.

As I try to workout the Procion MX dye wash out troubles, I began making multicolor stamp portraits (the image of David in the middle of this post, and also this self portrait). Now, needing a break from the portraits, I have decided to carve a set of alphabet stamps. It is at times like this when I need to complete a project or two so that I can get back to what is really bothering me! This week will be geared toward finishing up my side projects and solving my Procion MX whoas.

 

Big Clean Sigh

As you may know because I have already posted to Facebook, my sweet Arrow passed away. This animal wrapped his double paws right around my heart, he taught me to love him, to communicate with and listen to him, he loved me deep into my bones. I felt as though no day were complete without lap time. For the last two days of his life, I watched him pass, poured love and care into him, told him all the things he taught me, told him all the ways I loved him.

I made an appointment to have the vet come and help him pass. I told him the plan, told him what time David would return home. I encouraged him to stay if he wanted to, or pass if he needed to. Arrow waited.

Arrow was a gift, a true gentle cat. He is sorely missed. I grieve deeply for him. I am glad he no longer suffers and I feel proud to have been his companion.

Farewell, little man.

Because I turn to large cleaning projects when I am at a loss for true direction, I have decided to clean, deeply clean, my studio space. Creative organization is conducive to productivity and we tend to forget this. Over the next few posts, I will discuss overall organizational ideas as well as specific tips and ideas to get you and your space hopping.

I have had terrific studio space and passable space, but I don’t think the space is as important as how you maintain it and intend to use it. The space I am working in now is passable, workable, but not ideal. My husband and I live in a classic New York City apartment. We have three main rooms plus what might serve as a walk-in closet or child’s room. My art supplies, sewing machines, cloth and workbench take up about 1/3 the total living space that we take up. So my supplies need to be organized, at the ready and easily available, so that there are no impediments to engaging with the creative process.

I inserted the above photo of my mother in laws sewing kit because it contains everything she needed to repair and label her families clothing. Thread in every color, pins and needles, a piece of wax, and woven labels (my father in law was in the service and all clothing needed labels sewn into them). So, as far as her sewing kit was concerned she had everything at the ready to help her Man out.

So, are you ready to go on an organizational journey with me? I hope so. Lets get obsessive compulsive together!

First things first:
Make a list of the creative things you do
Make a list of things you would like to do

I:
Use dye
Machine sew
Acrylic paint
Hand sew

Right now I am not acrylic painting because I use my workbench too often to dye and hand sew, I would like to remedy this.

In my next post, I will discuss assessing your space and ideas that will help you see through the mess. If you want to go on this journey with me and are interested in sharing photos of your workspace, exploring ideas to change things up together, comment on this post. I would love to feature your photos (use Flickr) and/or blog, here. Lets link up.

Hello Father.

Great things are accomplished only by the perfection of minor details. 

Will you please cook a special meal for me on a Friday night in the very near future? (Ask Mom the date).

A podcast, breast pockets, todays ramble.

This week Ricë and I recorded a podcast on ” Going Flat and the Breast Pocket Project” and if you have an hour, please listen to it.

 


Studio Melly is up and running, hand dyeing embroidery floss. I ran out of cards to wrap thread on, and so, began making my own. I am crazy. It takes as long to make your own floss cards than it does to dye the thread (not really). And I do love seeing all the colors lined up in their boxes. I lament they are plastic, but can’t live without the orderliness. So I am ordering these.

I can tell you, I am learning a thing or two, dyeing all this thread. It is an interesting process. 

I have been gifted with an entire set of Havel Scissors. I like them a lot. They are a nice compliment to my sewing shears, but don’t replace them. The blades have a serrated teeth that has the effect of being grippy. I like these scissors for their accessibility, they are in high use right now.  Because I have an array to choose from, each having  specific use, I can confirm, I like the embroidery scissor, it is a bit too big for my Sew-plies purses, but it is lightweight and has a nice grip.

I don’t have an affiliation with Havel scissors, I am just giving my own opinion.

This is a set of pockets that I started working on last night. They will have graffiti stitching. 

We walked into Dumbo, taking photos and talking. The morning was magical and we began our walk just before the hustle and bustle of ‘family wake up time’. We had our cappuccino, we walked, paused, took pictures, it was great.

 I don’t know what this building is called. I will find out.