Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One Little Word - Action & Inaction

A major realization for me this year in relation to One Little Word – Action – it in turn related to the opposite of my word: INACTION. I’m still working through all the potential and possibilities, but an early discovery and adjustment to my schedule toward this is meditation. Initially, I was trying to tick off this box, this meditation “to do” in the evenings, thinking that it would be a great way to end my day. But I was getting overwhelmed with all my Daily Practices piling up at the end of the night.

So when I shifted this practice to my lunch hour, my sole thought was to accomplish it without having it stacked among other practices. But holy shit has this small scheduling change ever made a huge difference to my overall day! Just taking 10 minutes for myself in my car allows me to regroup and start my afternoon with a fresh and clear mind.

Some days I can tell that I really needed it – that time I shouted at the app for example – and I may not be 100% focused for those session, but they still have a huge impact on my mental energy.

About the app
I use Headspace, which is a free app…for the first 10 sessions. Which, to be honest, is a great start and you can get a lot out of those 10 freebies. I’ve been doing them pretty consistently for a few months, and I am still enjoying the free sessions. All I need is a guide, a reminder, and I am not looking to more into more complicated or specific meditation just yet. If you’re looking for an app to help you get started, I would definitely recommend this one. Cute cartoons, soothing, slightly accented voice…it’s nice and I feel like 10 minutes is totally doable for most people. The app is free to start, and very easy to use, so it is fairly accessible as well.

I am thinking about “Action” & “Inaction” in terms of self-care right now, incorporating each into each other, and thanks in part to my current volunteer training sessions, I have been thinking about accessibility as it relates to self-care, and what messages we get from society around self-care. Audre Lorde was a writer, feminist, womanist and civil rights activist, and she has a great quote about self-care that is stuck in my head: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

She was speaking specifically to her role as a black woman, and while I don’t want to separate that aspect of her work and writing, I also think this quote can apply to other marginalized identities and poor folks. When privileged people seek self-care, it appears in a magazine with a glitzy headline or in Mom’s groups on Facebook with a lot of emphatic head-nodding and encouragement. And when a poor or marginalized person does it, they’re considered lazy or selfish, spending money on something they “can’t afford”, a luxury item.

Self-care is not a luxury item.

We also put a lot of emphasis on the idea that self-care should cost money. Whether we’re talking about yoga classes, spa days, shopping sprees, or whatever other “buy this and feel better” message we are inundated with in our daily lives. In reality, all that is needed for self-care is a thing you love to do, which can be as simple as a snuggle with your dog, a quiet moment in your car before you head to your next shift, going for a walk with your friend or partner.

We don’t do a good job teaching people how to engage in self-care, but we are a capitalist society so we are really good at telling people to buy things and putting a monetary value on everything. And as an extension of that, putting a status marker on it.

Taking time for ourselves – especially as women, especially in a society that (over)values productivity and work, especially in a society that tells us that as women our role is to serve and care for others – is a radical act, because it is not valued unless it is done within approved societal parameters. That is, unless you buy something, or reinforce your role as worker or as caregiver.

And yes, I realize that I am snarking on capitalism over here, at the same time as I am recommending an app BUT why not use the tools of our oppression to break those chains?!

Okay. That got a little heavy at the end there. Many people have explored this topic more eloquently and in more depth than I have here. I have posted links to some of those articles below. Please feel free to add more in the Comments! I am also on the lookout for more info on the intersection between self-care, politics, feminism and oppression!


Further Reading:
Caring About Self-Care
Self Care as "An Act of Political Warfare" (exploring a quote from activist Audre Lorde)
The Politics of Self Care
For Black Women, Self-Care is a Radical Act

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Fat/Fit Diaries - Magic Vest

First things first. I haven't weighed myself in many (many years). At least 6 years I think. I don't care how much I weigh, and I don't think that particular metric ever helped me:
a) Feel good about myself
b) Find inspiration or motivation to "eat healthy", or exercise, or "lose weight" or blah-blah-blah

In fact, I think weighing myself was a huge barrier to feeling positive about my body, being inspired and motivated to be healthy and to think about what I was doing (or not doing) that might impact my mental and physical health over the long run.

Gaining one or two pounds - which can happen when you go camping, or eat a piece of cake, or have a few beers with dinner all of which are things I do often - sent me into a spiral of guilt, and shame, and negative thoughts.

So I put the scale away. And I started to lose weight. And I had precious extra bars in my mental and physical energy reserves to spend on positive things.

And I started to pay attention to how I felt, how my clothes looked and felt on my body, my energy levels, and my mood. Those were better indicators of my overall health than any numbers on a scale could ever give me.

But that doesn't mean I gave up more tangible metrics when I gave up the scale.

You see, I have this vest.

I like this vest. It was a triumphant second hand purchase many years ago. And it looks good, I look good in it! And you can wear vests open without buttoning them up, so that's how I wore it. It didn't matter that I couldn't button it up, because it still looked good!

But on my "skinniest" days, I could button it up...all the way up. What an energy boost I would get on those days! Magic!

But the true magic in the vest, was that even on the days I couldn't button it up, I still felt good!

I haven't been able to button it up for at least a year, but I did the other day. So I knew that I was back on track. But, I mean, I knew it already because I have been feeling better, more energetic, more positive and happy. And at the moment I finished buttoning up that last button, all those other feelings were more important.

But I don't need this vest anymore. I have moved past it, just like I moved past needing to see those numbers on the scale.

So I donated it to Value Village last week.

I had a moment of panic this morning when I saw how damn fine I looked in the first photo, wearing my snazzy Magic Vest. But I got over it.

It is, after all, just a vest.


Writer's Note: My attitude toward weight loss, exercise, eating healthy, and all of the talk and terms that come with that has evolved over the years. Society tells us that if we lose weight we are doing things right (and conversely, if we are fat, we are doing things wrong), and some of my previous posts might have seemed to supported those beliefs. I don't think anyone's worth is defined by the size of the clothes they wear. I also know that some people find a lot of inspiration and motivation in checking the numbers on a scale, so I don't want to diminish that. I just want to put it out there that there are other ways to feel good about yourself without buying into the "thin = happy" rhetoric.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Tell A Story: I Love Long Weekends

The Easter long weekend is a fun one! Even though we aren't religious, we still celebrate in our own secular "search for chocolate eggs and then eat them" way.

Grandparents + Facebook is always adorable.

Lucas wanted some quiet time with his new book, and Jacob wanted to play. So I presented a compromise and it seemed to work!

Sunday Catan! This is our go-to answer to "I don't know what I want to do today."

Tech Support Fail...there is supposed to be a VIDEO here. If you don't see one, well, that sucks. Not sure what's going on here!

My Dad is always trying to get me in front of the camera instead of behind it, but he's not the greatest with technology. So he took approximately 10 1-second videos of this game of Monkey in the Middle. He thought he was getting photos, so he kept hitting the button over and over again. He didn't ask until the very last "picture" why the white button kept alternating between a red square and a red circle!

Dan & I spent Friday moving with his stuff into the new place with the help of his family, which was exhausting, but also exciting!


Monday, May 01, 2017

Lisa Reads 2017 - First Quarter Update!

Lisa Reads 2017 is going strong, and I am excited to do more updates and recaps throughout the year. Something I learned about myself last year was that I struggle with "Book Reviews" but I also enjoy thinking about and remembering books I have read. So I am looking at this as a "stretching" exercise...stretching my mind and my writing skills in this area. Because I can't get better at something if I don't practice it!

I really saw a slow down in my reading toward the end of March and into April. So much so, that every time I got another "hold notification email" from the library I groaned. WHO AM I?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!

But I am back on track, and have read a lot of winners in the last few weeks! I still groan when a hold notification email comes in, but I just learned that my holds list is EMPTY! Which means I guess I need to start filling it back up or something...

Holy shit guys! Holy. Shit. I just noticed that 50% of the books I read since January were non-fiction! Last year I read 13 non-fiction books in total! Whoop whoop!

These three definitely topped my list of best/most memorable. A Year of Yes was just so dang positive and optimistic. Sex Object: A Memoir was a fascinating look into the life of a [controversial?] journalist and public figure. And feminist. And Better Than Before gave me some much needed insight into habits, despite her sometimes aggressive, "Type A" way of looking at the world!

Looks like my faves for this quarter were all genre books...horror genre to be specific!

Revival is a stellar graphic novel about zombies, but not quite the ones you expect. And The Borden Dispatches portray an older, wiser, spinster Lizzie Borden and her sister, examining an alternate - fantastical - story behind their parent's gruesome deaths. i.e. there be monsters here.

Well, I currently have SIX books out from the library because I am a sucker for punishment, apparently. And while the header up there reads "Currently Reading", it's more like "Haven't Started Yet, But I'm Hoping To At Least Crack a Spine Before The Due Dates", with one lone exception!

1) Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than you Ever Imagined by Scott Sonenshein (this is the only book on this list I have started reading!)
2) Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives by David Eagleman (for book club)
3) Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Daniel Kindlon
4) Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
5) The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
6) Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo


My complete Book List 2017 can be found here.
Leave your book and audio book recommendations in the Comments! Thanks!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tell A Story - Fashion Revolution Week

In honour of Fashion Revolution Week 2017 – April 24 through 30 – I thought I would do up a little post about how I try to incorporate the purpose of this week into my everyday!

But first, a little history!

Fashion Revolution Week began in response to the collapse of a Bangladesh clothing factory in April 2013 that killed 1138 people and injured many more. The workers knew the building was unsafe, but didn't know how to speak out and were afraid that in doing so they would lose their jobs. The awareness of HOW our clothing is made is meant to encourage people to ask their favourite brands "who made my clothes?"

I like to take it a little farther, and reflect further on "ethical fashion"...what it means to me, why it's important, and how I incorporate it into my closet.

I hate throwing out a perfectly good pair of {anything} if all that's wrong is a simple hole. I can fix holes. I have a pair of jeans that are literally the best jeans I have ever owned. I thrifted them, and I can't find new ones anywhere. I have patched them as best I can, and will continue doing so until they are 100% patch if necessary. And I'm no seamstress.

If you aren't confident in your own sewing skills to mend your clothes - example, I can't figure out how to "take in" any of my too big clothes - consider finding a good tailor! They aren't as expensive as you would think. OR you can check out a local "Repair-A-Thon". There is even one happening this weekend in my neck of the woods! For more info on the Change of Clothes event happening on Saturday April 29, click here!

This is my favourite way to be more mindful in my shopping habits, and stick to my (teensy) budget! While it is best to support independent thrift stores in your community, access is not always possible, so the Goodwills and Value Villages of the world make do. I will never let anyone make me feel guilty about shopping at Value Village because they are “for profit”, but I don't shop at Salvation Army because of their troubling anti-gay history.

I have a love/hate relationship with thrifting though, which you can read about in this post.

When you do have to buy new, try and support an ethical brand. Even better if they are a local, ethical brand!

Now, just because a brand says they’re ethical, doesn’t mean it isn’t just a buzz word to help them sell more t-shirts, so do your research! And just because a brand is "local" doesn't mean they are ethical either. I like Everlane because they break down all the background noise in the fashion industry, listing the factory and location their clothes are made in, and how much each item costs to produce. And they have been doing this for years, before many (any) other brands were doing it.

Something that I continue to think about is the affordability of ethical fashion. Most ethical fashion I find online sells items that are out of my price range. I can’t even imagine how marginalized folks who care about these issues are supposed to support ethical brands when a coat or dress can cost as much as a month’s worth of rent! I applaud members of the fashion industry who are working not only to make their clothes more ethical, but also who are working on making them available to more people.

Remember that the best way to bring ethics into your fashion is to BUY LESS!

Do you have any tips or tricks on how you try to be more ethical/mindful of what makes it into your closet?

Once these next couple of months calm down for me, I have committed to trying a 10x10 or capsule wardrobe for the summer. Essentially, you choose a limited number of items from your closet to wear on a regular basis, put the rest away, and see what happens! Over the past 5 years or so, I have been trying to better curate my closet, being more mindful of things I buy. I think that this is the next step in aligning my values with my reality!


Further Reading:
Fashion Revolution Week's main web presence
Poppy Barley Facebook Page > scroll down a bit to watch the panel they hosted the other day on Fashion Revolution Week!
Change of Clothes
Fashion Revolution Week YEG (on IG)