Sex or sport?

LogoI’m not really a sports fan, but one thing that has caught my attention recently is the controversy over uniforms. I know that this is a much talked about topic on social media this week, but I decided to add my two cents’ worth here.

The Norwegian women’s beach handball team garnered support from scores of fans when they protested the European Handball Federation’s misogynist rules by wearing shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms during a championship game against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championships in Bulgaria last week.

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The shorts that the women wore were deemed “improper” and the team was fined €1500! The second photo shows the approved uniform.

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Something is very wrong with this picture! According to the International Handball Federation regulations, “The beach handball female player’s uniform consists of tops and bikini bottoms…the women’s tops (a midriff design) must be close fitting…with deep cutaway armholes on the back. Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms…with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be a maximum of 10 centimetres.” On the other hand, the rules state that male players are to wear shorts, 10cm above the knee, that are not “too baggy”.

Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I’m so tired of living in a world where there are different standards for men than for women; where women are admired first for their sex appeal and not for what they’re capable of doing.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Shortly after the news broke, American singer and songwriter, Pink, took to Twitter to voice her support for the Norwegian women and promising to pay the fine on their behalf. While the European Handball Federation hasn’t backtracked and withdrawn the fine in response to the negative press, they have acknowledged the position taken by the players and announced that the fine will be donated to the Norwegian Handball Federation. They did not, however, state that fines wouldn’t be issued in the future.

The Norwegian gals aren’t the only ones to reject the sexualization of sport. Germany’s women’s gymnastics team is wearing full-body unitards at the Tokyo Olympics instead of the high-cut leotards worn by other teams. They first donned this new look in April at the European championships in Basel, Switzerland. At that time, the German Gymnastics Federation released a statement saying, “The aim is to present themselves aesthetically without feeling uncomfortable.” Perhaps the European Handball Federation needs to listen up! Gymnastics attire with full or half sleeves and leg coverings are allowed in competition, as long as the colour matches the leotard.

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The question is whether or not other elite athletes will follow suit (pun intended)? Change will only happen if the women themselves say “no more” to sexism in sport.

Ferry Point

In the very early 1900s small settlements sprang up across the Canadian prairie, but with the coming of the railroad many that weren’t located close to the new railway lines disappeared or were moved. One of these was Ferry Point, so named because of the ferry service that shuttled settlers back and forth across the Battle River at that location from 1902 until 1907 when a bridge was built. 

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Though it was once home to several businesses including a store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a pool hall, and a feed mill, the last major building in the community, the Ferry Point Hall, was moved to the nearby town of Rosalind in 1921. Now, there’s nothing there to mark the spot except a small unserviced campground operated by the Ferry Point Historical Society. 

Though it’s less than an hour from here, I had never heard of Ferry Point until last night when I decided to search for a new place to go kayaking. Upon arriving this morning, we discovered that the campground has an excellent spot for launching a canoe or kayak. 

There are many stretches on the Battle River where a person could do an all day or even overnight paddle, but that requires a lot of planning and a second vehicle, something that we don’t have. Instead, our trips on the river are always in and out, back to our starting point. We usually begin by paddling upstream, saving the easier downstream stretch for the return trip when our arms are getting tired. As we made our way upriver, however, we discovered that it was shallow and very weedy as far as we could see. It was a haven for ducks but just about impossible to paddle! 

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After about 15 minutes of tangling the paddles in the weeds and making very little progress, we decided to turn back and try going downstream instead. Though there were still weedy patches, it was much better and we enjoyed a good outing, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch in the boat, and paddling a total of about 7 km.  

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If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that I’m fascinated by the old decaying buildings that dot the prairie landscape. Though there are none left at Ferry Point, we passed an old house very close to the road a few kilometres to the north on our way to the campground. On the way home, I asked hubby to stop so that I could take a few photos. One end is leaning precariously and it looks like it could come tumbling down at any moment! 

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If walls could talk, I always wonder what stories these old houses would tell. Who climbed those corner stairs? What joys and challenges did their lives hold? 

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Today the old house is home only to the flock of pigeon who, surprised by my sudden appearance, flew from the windows when I came close. I was as startled as they were! 

Are you high maintenance?

LogoWhen we travelled to Europe two years ago I learned that I could easily fit everything I needed for three and a half weeks away from home in a teeny, tiny carry-on, but when we take the vehicle, moderation or minimalism go out the window! After all, there’s a lot of space in a large SUV! On the way home from our recent trip to Jasper, we spent the weekend in Edmonton with our son and his family. I took some good-natured teasing from both hubby and son when they discovered that I’d packed six pairs of shoes for one week away! I was laughingly told that I’m high maintenance.

That led me to wonder… what makes a woman high maintenance? One definition I found online says that a high maintenance woman “places a strong emphasis on her own image, wants, needs, and desires. Her feelings are her highest priority, and she expects everyone around her to conform to her self-created worldview and value.” Ouch! That’s certainly not the kind of woman I want to be!

As often happens, the idea for this post took me down several online rabbit trails looking for information about what people really mean when they refer to a woman as high maintenance. I found lists that included traits such as needy and controlling, self-obsessed, hard to please, always plays the victim, wants you to be her personal chauffeur, makes you feel like her errand boy. Interestingly, most of these were written by men. I can’t help wondering how many of them were coming out of a bad relationship when they wrote these things!

I also found several “How high maintenance are you?” quizzes that assign points to traits such as wears high heels every day, owns 20+ pairs of shoes, wears makeup daily, takes 15+ minutes to apply makeup, buys high end makeup, has painted nails, wears acrylic nails, has nails done professionally, has a regular pedicure, gets a massage regularly, wears a lot of jewelry, carries a designer purse, etc. According to those, I am definitely NOT high maintenance!

Clearly, there are women (and men) who excel at self-indulgence and others who take absolutely no interest or pleasure in their own appearance. Then there are the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle. Not only do we not really know for sure if we’re high maintenance, we probably don’t even care! Instead of worrying about whether or not I’m high maintenance, I prefer to focus on what kind of person I am. Am I a person of integrity? Am I kind, compassionate, and self-controlled? Do I exhibit patience and humility in dealing with others?

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And now, about the six pairs of shoes! I took my hiking shoes, my walking shoes, my white leather sneakers, a pair of casual flats, and two pairs of sandals. I wore all of them except the dressy sandals which I would have worn to church except that it was cool and rainy that morning. Instead, I wore the flats. Come to think of it, I actually had my water shoes with me too and wore them when we went kayaking. And my rubber boots were in the back of the vehicle! They stay there all summer in case they’re needed when we’re camping.

Don’t anyone tell my husband or my son that I actually had eight pairs of footwear with me! 🤣

Family and fun in Jasper National Park

After more than 15 months of life limited by Covid-19, Alberta lifted all restrictions on July 1 and declared the province “open for summer”. With barely over 50% of the eligible population (those age 12 and over) fully vaccinated, we’re skeptical that this will last, but in the meantime we’ve made spending time with family our first priority this summer. Since the beginning of July, we’ve enjoyed visits with both our Alberta kids and their families and last week we headed off to Jasper to spend some time with the oldest member of the family. My aunt, the last remaining member of my parents’ generation, is 97 years old and is very special to me. After spending much of the last year alone in her own home, she recently moved into a seniors lodge and is absolutely loving it!

While in Jasper, we were also able to enjoy two of our favourite summertime activities, kayaking and hiking. With hundreds of wildfires burning across western Canada, smoke hung heavily in the air partially obscuring views of the mountains, but there was still much beauty to be seen. 

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A quiet paddle on Pyramid Lake


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Pyramid Island

While enjoying our peaceful morning paddle, we saw an elk grazing in bushes alongside the shore and had the opportunity to observe a pair of loons feeding their half-grown chick. Unlike the air above, the water was so clear that we were actually able to watch the birds swimming below it’s surface! I wasn’t able to get a clear photo of the youngster, but one of the adults stationed itself between us and its offspring providing me with great opportunity to photograph it at close range.

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There are many, many hiking trails in the Jasper area, but we decided to do the Valley of the Five Lakes again. We first hiked it four years ago with our oldest son and his family. While I remembered the spectacular views of the lakes, I’d forgotten that the trail is quite steep in places. With roots criss-crossing it and many rocky outcrops, good footwear is advised. 

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First Lake

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Second Lake

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Third Lake

We enjoyed the view of Third Lake, my favourite of the five, from a pair of iconic Parks Canada red chairs. Read more about these chairs, found in national parks across the country, here

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Fourth Lake

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Fifth Lake

For clearer smoke-free views of the lakes with mountains in the background, take a look at this post from our previous hike. 

There’s also plenty of beauty in Jasper National Park that can be seen from a vehicle. We spent an entire afternoon on a sightseeing drive with my aunt as our guide. She toured us around Lakes Edith and Annette close to town and then decided that we should head up the longer road toward Maligne Lake. The air was a little clearer up that way which was nice. I especially enjoyed the views of Medicine Lake. 

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Medicine Lake

At Maligne Lake, we enjoyed a coffee/tea break on a patio overlooking the lake where we could watch tour boats come and go. 

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Maligne Lake

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Auntie Norma, an avid hiker into her 80s, handled the short trail from the parking lot like a pro! I’m sure no one who saw us would have believed that she’s 97. On our way back to town, she had no sooner expressed her disappointment over not seeing any wildlife when we came upon some Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. IMG_2693

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The icing on the cake, however, was a mama black bear and her very young cub! Unlike many tourists who threw caution to the wind trying to get a perfect photo, I took mine from the window of the vehicle!

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Supernaturals

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As many of you are probably aware, Canada has been reeling in recent weeks over the “discovery” of the buried remains of hundreds of children on the grounds of former Indian residential schools across the country. I use the word “discovery” loosely because our Indigenous people have been trying for years to tell us about the horrors that went on behind the walls of these government mandated, church run schools between 1828 and 1996. What shocks me is not the discovery of the bodies, but the fact that there was such widespread ignorance among the Canadian population about this sordid chapter of our history. I had to remind myself that this is something I learned about only through first hand contact with residential school survivors when I lived in the north and through university level studies. I have purposely avoided tackling this issue on the blog because it’s a very complicated one and I don’t want to add to the chatter unless I can do so in a meaningful and restorative way.

Instead, today, I want to introduce Supernaturals, a new culturally focused Indigenous modelling agency launched in Vancouver, B.C. this spring. “Our mission at Supernaturals is to celebrate and make visible Indigenous peoples at a high level in media arts, culture, community, land-based wisdom, and the global market,” says co-founder Joleen Mitton, herself a veteran Nehiyawak (Cree) model and the founder of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.

“Indigenous people are in high demand right now, and we want to be at the forefront of this new wave of cultural awareness supporting our own people in an industry that has traditionally been very difficult to thrive in,” explains Mitton’s partner in the business, Patrick Shannon, a member of the Haida nation and the founder of InnoNative, an Indigenous B.C. based film production company.

Supernaturals’ goals extend beyond modelling. They aim to uplift communities and emerging Indigenous talent through skills development, employment, and healing as well as by addressing the issues of representation, mental health awareness, and poor cultural sensitivity in the modelling world. They provide clients the opportunity to be a part of healthy reconciliation within the media, fashion, and modelling industries.

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Supernaturals launched with a roster of 8 models and the group has quickly grown to include 7 more. Well on their way to success, the agency has already landed an interview with Vogue Magazine and a contract with Roots Canada!

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Fashion Friday may be somewhat hit and miss over the next few weeks. After more than a year in virtual lockdown, we are committed to spending lots of time camping and with family this summer. At times, I won’t have access to the internet.

New Missions: The Next Generation

In 1983, the late George DeTellis, his wife, Jeanne, and their children 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, 38 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.

For just $35 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.

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We started sponsoring Marie Kethsia in 2004 when she was a 10-year-old student in third grade. In a country where only 2% of the children finish high school, she went on to graduate! Knowing that she didn’t want her education to end there, we were able to arrange to provide a scholarship that enabled her to pursue training as a laboratory technician. It was a proud moment for us when she graduated last December. Now a beautiful young woman in her 20s, she has completed her practicums and is actively seeking employment in her chosen field. Though our financial commitment to her has come to an end, we have been Facebook friends for the past few years and will continue to keep in touch.

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Four and a half years ago, when Khetsia was nearing the end of high school, we decided thatRodolson 2019 it was time to begin sponsoring another child. Rodolson, who lives with his family in a different Haitian village, was 7 years old when he joined our New Missions family. Now 11, he has just completed grade 6. We look forward to receiving his letters just as we did Khetsia’s.

Since we are no longer supporting Khetsia, a new era began today when we chose yet another child to sponsor. At 7 years old, Dayanah is just a few weeks older than our youngest grandchild. Isn’t she adorable? She just finished first grade. We’re anxiously waiting for her introductory packet to arrive to learn more about her and her family.

Our relationship with New Missions truly entered a new generation a few months ago, however, when our daughter and her family decided to sponsor a little boy named Wendy!

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If you are not already sponsoring a child or children through another organization, I strongly urge you to consider New Missions. For little more than $1 a day you can make a huge difference in the life of a child, a family, and a community.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Halfway there!

On May 2nd, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th anniversary on October 2. Some days I really look forward to walking. Others, knowing that I’m going to be reporting my progress here on the blog is the only thing that gets me up and out the door!

This month, I’m a couple of days late posting an update because we’ve been camping without internet for the past few days, but I’m happy to report that by July 1, I’d logged another 63.59 km. That’s over 20 km less than I walked in the first month, but I’ve walked a total of 150.66 km. Two months into my five month challenge I’m already halfway there! At this pace, I should be able to complete my 300 km well ahead of schedule.

Again, most of my walking has been on the streets of town, but we hiked just over 9 km while camping at Big Knife Provincial Park in mid June.

In last month’s update, I mentioned that I needed to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. I tried on several different pairs, but as soon as I put these ones on, I knew I’d found what I was looking for!

It was obvious immediately that these were shoes I’d be able to walk many miles in! They’re very supportive, but incredibly lightweight, and as the name implies, they’re like walking on a cloud! That’s thanks to the flytefoam cushioning in the sole and the soft gel unit in the heel. I also love the fact that at least 20% of the primary material of the shoe’s upper is made with recycled material!

So, even on those days when I don’t really feel like it, I’ll keep on walking and report my progress again next month.

Inspiration for a hot day

LogoI often get outfit inspiration from other fashion bloggers. Back in April, when I saw this post from Jennifer Connolly, writer of A Well Styled Life, it sparked an idea for me.

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I bought a similar poly cotton dress at one of our local thrift stores several years ago, but until now I’d only used it as a cover up at the beach. I dug it out of the beach bag, washed it, hung it in my closet, and waited for the heat of summer to arrive here in Alberta. This week’s heat wave was the perfect time to try it out.

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As you can see, there are several differences between my dress and Jennifer’s, the most obvious being that mine is sleeveless and the stripes are much narrower. On closer inspection, you’ll see that the hemlines are also different. When we’re inspired by the way another woman dresses, the idea is not to copy her, but to take elements of what she’s wearing and make the look our own. I started by pairing the navy and white dress with a pair of black sandals, but I also tried it with my white leather sneakers. 

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If I was to step out of the shade where the photos were taken, I’d also want a hat to shield my face from the sun. 

And though it was much too hot for a jacket when the photos were taken, I really like the way the dress looks with a jean jacket. 

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One thing I did learn from all of this was how comfortable a dress like this can be on a really hot day. We rarely get a week like this one with temperatures in the high 30s C (90s F) but from now on, I think I’ll make sure that there are at least one or two casual dresses in my summer wardrobe.

PS. Happy Independence Day to all my American readers! We celebrated Canada Day on the 1st. 

 

How did pink become a girls’ colour?

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Our grandson, Simon, loves the colour pink. He always has. Last week he was so excited to have finally grown into this pair of his sister’s hand-me-down shoes. He proudly wore them to school, but only once. The next morning he sadly told his mother that he would never wear them to school again because he was picked on so badly for wearing “girl” shoes. He’s in grade one. In my opinion, there’s something seriously wrong with a world where a little boy is bullied for wearing his favourite colour to school.

So how did pink become a girls’ colour anyway? It hasn’t always been. Historically, pink was just another colour worn by men and women alike. In many parts of the world, it still is.

In the past, in both Europe and North America, most parents dressed their children, boys and girls, in white dresses until they were about six years old, which was also when they usually had their first haircut. The outfit was practical. White cotton could be bleached and dresses made diaper changes easy.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, age 2 1/2, wearing a gender neutral outfit.

In the mid 19th century, pastels became popular for babies, but at first they weren’t gender-specific. It wasn’t until just before World War I that pink and blue emerged as indicators of gender, but you might be surprised to learn that, at that time, pink was considered a boys’ colour and blue, a girls’! An article in the June 1918 issue of the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

Babies of the 1940s were the first to be dressed in the sex-specific clothing and colours that we’re familiar with today. The popularity of pink for girls and blue for boys actually waned in the 1960s and 70s during the height of the women’s liberation movement. Parents who felt that dressing their daughters in feminine or stereotypically “girly” clothes might limit their opportunities for success favoured dressing their children in neutral colours and fashions, but by the 1980s, gender oriented children’s clothing was back in style. 

It seems to me, however, that there’s a big discrepancy between what’s deemed acceptable for little boys and little girls. I suspect that many of the girls in Simon’s class wear blue to school. Are they bullied? No! Does anyone question their femininity? Of course not! Then why can’t a little boy wear pink shoes to school without being harassed?

Children aren’t born with prejudices about certain colours. That’s a learned behaviour. I lay the fault at the feet of fathers and grandfathers who were raised with the idea that pink is only for little girls and that a boy should never wear pink. Only when men become bold enough and secure enough in their own masculinity to take back the colour pink will it become just another colour again. Only then will Simon be able to wear his favourite colour without fear of being tormented.

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100 butt darts!

Every 28 days, without fail, a visiting nurse pulls up in front of our house and comes in to give me an injection of Sandostatin LAR. Today was the 100th of those butt darts!

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Sandostatin LAR is a long-acting treatment meant to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) and for me it has been an absolute life changer! No longer do I live with the stomach pains and diarrhea that plagued me off and on for several years prior to diagnosis. Though the effect of Sandostatin on tumour size, rate of growth, and development of metastases has not yet been determined, it is thought that it might also be of benefit in those areas.

Sandostatin comes as a powder and a diluent solution that must be mixed and administered according to very precise instructions which is why I haven’t been taught to inject it myself. Once the diluent is added to the powder, it must be allowed to stand for a minimum of 2 minutes and not more than 5 to ensure that the powder is fully saturated. Then, after gently shaking the syringe for about 30 seconds to ensure that the powder is completely suspended, the nurse has to administer it without delay to avoid sedimentation. Even following these guidelines carefully and using a fairly large needle (19 gauge), it sometimes plugs. On those occasions, she has to quickly change the needle and try again. On a couple of occasions it has taken 4 jabs to get the medication into me! My 100 butt darts has actually involved about 130 pokes altogether.

In addition to the benefits that the drug offers, getting it into me and not wasting it is of vital importance because every one of those butt darts costs $2358.52 CAD! In other words, over the past almost 8 years, we have pumped more than $235,000 into my posterior! You could buy a nice house in our small town for that much.

This is where I’m really glad to be Canadian. I pick up the Sandostatin at my local pharmacy every 4 weeks and don’t pay a cent! The cost is fully covered by the government and that includes the cost of having the nurse come to my home. A Mobile Administration Program even enables me to have my injection administered by a trained nurse anywhere else in Canada. A simple phone call is all it takes to make the arrangements. I have to take the medication, which has to be refrigerated, with me but I’ve found that an insulated lunch bag and a mini freezer pack do the job as long as I can put it in a fridge overnight. So far, I’ve had butt darts administered at all 3 of my children’s homes. Arranging to have it done outside the country would be more complicated and isn’t something I’ve tried at this point.

So, is getting my monthly Sandostatin a pain in the butt? Not really. As a child, I was terrified of needles, but I lost that fear a long time ago. Only once in awhile does really hurt going in. Today was one of those occasions, but it went in on the first try, so I’m not complaining! The injection site often feels bruised for a couple of days and a lump often forms that gradually dissipates over the next few weeks, but these minor inconveniences are well worth it when I consider the benefits. So, 100 butt darts down and here’s hoping that I can have 100 more! Or 200. Or more!