Take that, Miss Chen!

My first memory of phys ed was Miss Chen yelling at me for not being able to serve a volleyball over the net. It was grade 6, my first year in a new school, and I don’t think I’d ever held a volleyball before. In fact, I don’t recall having physical education classes at all prior to that year. The small town elementary school that I’d come from was overcrowded. When I was in grade 1, the gym had served as our classroom and after that, I only remember going there for school-wide assemblies.

Miss Chen also taught us health. She was an odd and intimidating person. I remember her standing at the front of the classroom doing callisthenics while she taught. Her explosion on the volleyball court did nothing to persuade this uncoordinated, timid child that physical education was a good thing.

In high school, I was the gawky kid who hated phys ed, all except gymnastics. I remember the year that each student had to plan, practice and perform her own gymnastics routine to music. I chose the 1967 hit, Love is Blue. Though I wasn’t able to manage some of the more difficult gymnastics moves like walkovers and handsprings, I remember that my routine started with an arabesque and incorporated other ballet poses and moves that I’d learned in the dance classes that my mother had insisted I take when I was younger. My teacher loved it. It was my shining moment in phys ed! She even wanted me to enter my routine in the high school talent show that year, but I was too shy.

Over the years as a teacher in a small rural school, I taught almost every subject at one time or another, but never phys ed. How remarkable then that one evening this week, I found myself in my basement teaching a couple of friends the exercises that I begin my days with as well as the weight lifting routine that I follow three times a week! Me, teaching anyone phys ed? Wow! Take that Miss Chen!


How often do you wash your bras?

logoAccording to a survey published in the most recent issue of Chatelaine magazine, 90% of the 1029 Canadian women questioned had washed their bras in the past week. That definitely left me wondering about the other 10%! It also prompted me to wonder how often we ought to wash our bras and whether I wash mine more often than I need to.

This is not a topic that I ever thought I’d find myself writing about, but I did a little digging and here’s what I discovered.

Lexie Sachs, a product analyst in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s textiles lab pointed out that how often you ought to wash your bra really depends on how active you are. “Every few wears should be sufficient, but it does depend on your activity level,” she explained. “For instance, if you’re outside on a humid day and end up sweating a lot, you’ll want to wash your bra sooner.” That seems like a no brainer to me.

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York based dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, says that while there are no steadfast rules, you should ideally be washing your bra after every two or three wears. If you go a week or longer, he says, “you’ll really have an accumulation of dirt, oil, sweat, and bacteria.”

According to Mary Begovic Johnson, a senior scientific communications manager at Procter & Gamble, three wears is the limit. She says that a general rule of thumb is that the closer something is to your body the more frequently you should wash it. “Since bras are in intimate contact with your body we recommend washing them after three wears at the most, more often if you perspire heavily.”

Phew! Apparently I’m right in line with the experts as I almost always wash a bra after wearing it three times.

Perhaps just as important as how often we wash our bras, however, is how we wash them. I admit that during my younger years, especially when I was busy raising children and teaching school, I threw mine in the washer along with everything else. I did hang them to dry, however, as the heat of the dryer will wear out the elastic in no time. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan for a year that I started caring for my bras more tenderly. Compared to most Japanese women, I’m an Amazon. I knew that the likelihood of me finding bras to fit in that country was slight, so mine had to last the year. Consequently, I washed them by hand. Once I saw how well they lasted, I never went back to throwing them in the machine again. If you wear an underwire bra, hand washing also prevents the wire from escaping and getting caught in the drum which could lead to a costly repair bill.

bra-bagIf time is an issue, however, or you simply hate hand washing, most most modern washers have a gentle cycle or even a hand washables cycle. Just pick up a mesh bra bag, like this one from Woolite, to cushion the bra and stop it from twisting and losing its shape, as well as from snagging other laundry items. Also, don’t forget to reshape your bras before you hang them or lie them flat to dry.

So, how often do you wash your bras or is that too personal a question? Do you hand wash them or put them in the machine? Inquiring minds want to know!

A boy for his birthday!

Today is my husband Richard’s birthday. We quit buying birthday gifts for each other years ago, but this year I broke with that and ordered something really cute for his birthday.


His name is Rodolson. He’s seven years old and he’s in first grade in his home country of Haiti.

No, we aren’t adopting a child in our old age! Instead, we will be sponsoring Rodolson through an organization called New Missions which, coincidentally, is celebrating it’s 34th birthday today.

In 1983, the late George DeTellis and his wife, Jeanne, left the United States for Haiti with nothing more than what they could carry on the plane. They lived in tents pitched under a grove of coconut trees and started a church the first Sunday they were there. Now, 34 years later, New Missions, which also branched into the Dominican Republic in 2000, has over 30 churches as well as elementary schools, high schools, medical clinics, a Bible college, and a professional trade school.

Following the devastating earthquake of 2010 the United States military made the main New Missions compound their primary base camp for relief work in Haiti’s southern plain. Though many churches and schools were destroyed by the 7.0 earthquake, New Missions has rebounded and continues to thrive.

For just $33 a month, child sponsorship through New Missions provides a child with quality education, a daily hot lunch which for some is their primary meal of the day, and medical care. New Missions also provides a number of community development initiatives including clean water, vocational training and local employment, all vital in this poorest part of the western hemisphere.

Rodolson is not our first New Missions child. We have been sponsoring Marie since she was nine. Today, she is a lovely young woman of 22 with one year of high school left to complete and a dream of pursuing nurse’s training. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed exchanging letters with her and watching her grow. Now we get to do the same with Rodolson.


So, Happy Birthday to both Richard and New Missions and welcome to the family, Rodolson!


Shopping the January sales

logoI haven’t been to the city to check out the January sales yet and when I do go this year, I’ll be looking for bathroom fixtures and accessories because we’re planning to have both our bathrooms renovated soon. Hopefully I’ll also have a chance to sneak into a few of my favourite clothing shops to see what’s on sale.

I’m no stranger to shopping sales. In fact, I seldom pay full price for anything I wear, but just because something is on sale doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a bargain. I’ve written about the words that I use as my shopping guide before, but perhaps this is a good time for a quick review.


Do the shoulder seams lie in the right place? Are the armholes sufficiently high without cutting into your armpits? Does the garment pull across your shoulder blades? Is the length appropriate? Is there puckering or wrinkling anywhere? If you’re unsure about the fit, try on another size for comparison and if you’re seriously considering buying an item, don’t forget to check a three-way mirror! Don’t buy anything without first checking the fit from behind!


Does the garment suit your body type? Does it accentuate your good features and disguise the less desirable ones? Does the colour suit you?


Regardless of how well the garment fits and whether the colour suits you, if you don’t find it comfortable or you don’t like the texture of the fabric, you probably won’t wear it.


Does it fit your lifestyle? Where will you wear it? Can be worn with other items that are already in your closet? If you have to buy a whole new outfit to go with it, it really isn’t a bargain at all.

While we’re on that topic, let’s talk about what to do before you go shopping. Take a good look at your closet and decide what you’re going to look for and what you’re not. Are there any gaps in your work wardrobe or your casual wear? Are there items that are wearing out and need to be replaced? Is there a colour that seems to be missing? Shopping the January sales can be pretty overwhelming if you have no idea what you’re looking for and you don’t really want to come home with more jeans and sweaters if what you really needed was a new winter coat or a nice suit for the office.


Lastly, when you’re considering making a purchase, ask yourself if you’re going to enjoy wearing it. Will it boost your confidence and make you feel great? Also, don’t forget to be adventurous and have some fun while you’re shopping. The January sales can be a great time to try on styles and colours that you haven’t worn before.


One word

As a mentor for the Abundant Redemption course that I helped edit this past summer, I was given a thought provoking New Year’s challenge that you might also want to consider. I was asked to choose one word to inspire or guide me in the coming year and to choose a scripture verse to go along with it. As a lover of words, this was a perfect assignment for me!

After pondering for awhile, I chose still as my word and Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” as my verse. This well-known scripture has sustained me through some very difficult times over the past few years and I trust that it will continue to do so.


But why still? Why a word that at first glance seems to suggest inactivity, perhaps even lack of effort or progress? When I looked up definitions of still I found beautiful words like “deep silence and calm” “free from turbulence or commotion” “quietude” and “tranquility”. These are definitely characteristics that I want to exhibit in my life and in my relationships. I want to be calm in the face of whatever storms 2017 might bring.

I also discovered that still is a verb, an action word meaning “to quieten” “to settle” or “to soothe”. In 2017, I want to be one who brings stillness and calm into the lives of others, especially those whose lives are torn and broken.

As I further searched the concept of stillness, I came across a lot of new age thinking about finding it within ourselves or by being in tune with the cosmos. Sadly, though, there is no stillness to be found within our own souls unless the Lord resides there and it most certainly can’t be found in the world around us, a world characterized by economic crisis, terrorism, war and natural disaster. Psalm 46:10 tells us that true stillness comes from knowing the great I AM, the creator of the cosmos. He is the source of the peace and calm that I want at the centre of my life in the coming year and for all eternity.

What about you? Can you think of a word to inspire or guide you in this new year?

I resolve…

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Resolving to make dramatic changes with a flip of the calendar usually does nothing more than set people up for frustration and failure. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, but that’s simply a common myth. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology it actually takes an average of 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. In other words, if you keep your New Year’s resolution until at least March 7, it has a good chance of sticking, but how many diets and exercise programs are abandoned long before that?


In spite of knowing this, I’ve decided to make one resolution this year. I’m not happy with the amount of time that I spend on the internet and I plan to do something about it. I often wonder what my retirement would have looked like if it had happened before the advent of the internet. Quite different, I’m sure. It’s not that the hours I spend online are all a waste of time. I use the internet for a wide variety of purposes including reading the news, communicating with friends and family around the world, editing, mentoring, and of course, writing my blog, but how many times a day do I really need to check emails, Facebook and my blog stats and what could I be doing instead?

I could simply resolve to spend less time on the net, but that’s a vague and unmeasurable goal. I don’t even know how much time I spend online now, so how would I know if I was being successful? And what do I want to do instead? Back in my teaching days, I learned all about SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based or Trackable. With that in mind, in 2017,     I resolve to read at least two books every month. 

I love reading. I always have, but that’s one thing that’s suffered as I’ve gradually started spending more and more time online. I’m sure that I could quite easily read more than two books a month, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure nor do I want this to be a gruelling exercise. I simply want to make better, more enjoyable use of some of my time. I’ve already picked out the first three books that I plan to read, two novels and one non-fiction. I also have a list of several other books to begin ordering in through our provincial interlibrary loan system.

Now, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, why not share one or more of yours in the comments section.


Day or night? Home or away?

logoLots of cute pyjamas were worn around our house over the past few days when all of our kids and grandkids were home for Christmas. Other than the children in one family who like to wear them for the long car rides to Gram and Grandpa’s house and back, none of us wore them out in public though.




When we lived in China, it wasn’t unusual to see grown men and women on the street in flannel pyjamas. What we didn’t know until later when one of my Chinese students came to stay with us for a few weeks was that it’s commonplace for the Chinese to wear pyjamas whenever they’re at home, getting dressed only to go out or when they’re expecting company. If they’re just stepping out to pick something up at the street market or a nearby shop, it’s not unusual for them to wear their pjs rather than bothering to get dressed.

In Europe and North America, the fashion industry seems to want us to follow suit.  While they’re not suggesting that we should go to work or stroll the mall in our fleece onesies or our flannel pjs, designers are definitely urging us to turn fancy pajamas into glamorous streetwear.

While I could entertain the possibility of wearing a satiny pyjama shirt with jeans for a very casual look, this is not a trend I’m about to adopt. What about you? Would you go out dressed like any of these gals?

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