I’m a Barbarian!

logoI’m fortunate not to have to leave the house to exercise. We have a treadmill, two weight benches and more free weights than I’ll ever be able to lift in our basement. As a result, thinking about what to wear to the gym isn’t an issue for me. I usually work out in a pair of yoga pants or leggings and an old t-shirt. As long as I look presentable enough to answer the door if someone rings the bell unexpectedly, that’s good enough for me. There are, however, three items that I do consider essential parts of my weightlifting wardrobe.

1.  Shoes

If I was a competitive lifter, I would want a pair of shoes with low compression soles designed specifically for the sport, but for someone like myself, a good pair of cross-trainers is an excellent choice. The soles, which are wider than the upper part of the shoe, provide excellent stability and support.

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2.  Gloves

Padded weightlifting gloves improve my grip and keep me from getting callouses on my hands.

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3.  Belt

Though there is some debate in the weightlifting world about whether or not a belt should be worn, I have always worn one and will continue to do so. The main reason is to stabilize and reduce pressure on my spine, hopefully avoiding back injury. Wearing a belt also forces a lifter to use their legs more than their back which is precisely what you want to do when lifting anything heavy.

Though it’s possible to purchase a pink or purple weightlifting belt specifically for women,  I’m not concerned about looking feminine when I’m working out. As I said, I do it in the privacy of my own basement where only my husband sees me. Besides, a girly belt wouldn’t say that I’m a Barbarian!

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Fitted or baggy? What’s your style?

logoIt’s kind of spooky how the spirits of the cyber world seem to know exactly what our interests are and how accurately they tailor the ads we see to those areas. Ever since I introduced Fashion Friday to my blog last March, the majority of ads that I see on Facebook and on the news pages that I read regularly have been related to fashion.

Lately, whenever I go to Facebook, this is what I see in the margin.

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I seldom wear dresses, but apparently the internet thinks I should and feels that I should be shopping for some new ones! It doesn’t seem to know my style though, so it’s offering me two strikingly different options.

The dresses on the Fashion Mia site are mostly what I would call fitted. When I do wear a dress, it’s usually for a special occasion and I want to look both feminine and sophisticated. Here’s a closer look at one from that site that I could see myself wearing. It’s definitely my style.

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The dresses on the Buykud site, however, are baggy and, in many cases, shapeless. Here are a few examples.

There’s nothing actually wrong with them. They’re certainly modest and they look comfy, but they’re not my style. In fact, I’d probably look and feel like a bag lady in any one of them and I suspect that my husband, who is rather fond of my shape, would be horrified! They’re simply not flattering; one of my essential fashion F words.

If I had been looking for a new dress this winter, I would definitely have considered this one that kept appearing on a Bay banner across the top of my favourite news site throughout the Christmas season.

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The Ivanka Trump lace-detailed sheath dress, available here, caught my eye every time it appeared. It’s definitely my style.

In the words of fashion icon, Iris Apfel, “I think the biggest fashion faux pas these days is looking into the mirror and seeing somebody else. It doesn’t work. You’ve got to know who you are.” You need to know your style which may be entirely different from mine.

What’s your style? Do you prefer fitted or baggy?

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.

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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.

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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.

Fit

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!

Flattering

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

Feel

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.

Functional

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.

Fun

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.

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One word

As a mentor for a 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.

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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?