Thursday, September 24, 2009

On my mind

So, we've been working hard in our house to be healthier. Part of that, for me, means I'm back to the water-almost-exclusively plan. For two weeks I drink nothing but water, with milk for cereal, and then after two weeks I will occasionally have something else to drink, if I want it. I do this for a couple of reasons: No one in the world needs all the extra calories we take in when we drink sodas, sweet tea or even juices everyday. You also get nutrients from tea and juices, but the sugar gain outweighs the benefits and most of us don't drink just a serving (1/2 cup). Juice packs alot of calories, but you don't get the benefit of the fiber you get when you have a the whole fruit or vegetable. I'm not saying juice is evil, I just prefer to eat a whole fruit/veg and have a glass of water with it. Plus, I'm fuller, longer, and with good stuff. Another reason I, in particular, need to drink as much water as I can is that I am a kidney stone breeder. It's been years (knock wood!!!) since I've passed a stone, and even longer since it's landed me in the hospital, but I can tell you that it is, by far, the worst pain I've ever felt, and I've had two babies. Naturally. I'd rather have a baby than pass a kidney stone. And, since no one knows what my stones are made of, I don't know what to avoid. Better safe than sorry. After two weeks, I'll add hot teas, especially green, back into the mix because I tend to put less sugar in hot tea than cold, sweet tea, and I'm always happy with one cup, whereas I can drink gallons of sweet tea in a day. I've done it.

During these two weeks, I'm not going to change anything else in my diet. I don't like to break my neck and try to change everything at once. I feel that it sets me up for failure. So, I do steps, changing habits and thought patterns gradually, one at a time, building on success and gaining momentum.

Another change I've been working on for a while now is eating fish. Note, that doesn't say eating MORE fish, just eating fish. I've never enjoyed fish, but I want to learn to if nothing else for the health benefits. I started eating some non-vegetarian sushi a couple of years ago, but I hardly count that as it's a very small amount of fish. Recently, I tried some tilapia while out with friends, and I was blown away with how wonderful it was. Mari loves fish and spent some time as a pescetarian , so she's always encouraging me to give fish another shot. I decided that it was time for me to be a grown up and give fish a chance. So far, I've ordered fish twice while out to eat, and I've made fish twice here at home this week. Once it was for dinner and once for lunch. Granted, none of these small forays are perfect, but I've enjoyed every single occasion. Today, I had a Lean Cuisine Parmesan-crusted fish meal for lunch, and I finished it wishing I had a freezer packed with it. It was just amazingly tasty, and the flavor of the fish wasn't drowned out by something else! I actually liked the fish!!! I've got more fish in the freezer, and I'm so encouraged that I may have a tilapia filet for lunch tomorrow.

So, we're eating healthier (lots and lots of veggies! very lean meat! no added oils or fats! FISH! water, water, water!) and we're exercising more. All in all, it's a good thing and I love that Jason is on the bandwagon, too. It's so much easier to make these changes when you're not the only person in the house making them or when you don't have to make a meal for them and meal for yourself.

Now, I don't know if this is related, and if it is, I don't know how, but along with this is an urge to travel. One of my life goals is to live in another country before I die, and maybe even live my life out in another country. I love my country, please don't mistake me, but I also love my world and I've seen far to little of it. Though I feel I have an open and accepting mind, I know there are ideas, people, places out there that I cannot even imagine, and I want to experience that. I want to be immersed in other languages and be forced to learn them in order to survive. I want to live in a bustling Japanese city, a sedate and beautiful Austrian town, on a deep green hillside in Ireland, on the edge of a vast rainforest, within sight of the Egyptian desert, in the Outback, Morocco to Moscow, Paris to the Pacific Northwest, Tehran to Tahiti... I want to live anywhere I can because I want to be a citizen of the world. I think when I work toward making my body healthier, my view is always on the whole and how the systems work with each other, so perhaps it's natural that my thoughts and view would turn outward to see how our world is a reflection of my body. As above, so below, ya know?

So, I sit here and my feet are eager to be off. I want to travel, and I want my children to travel. I want them to see the world, to love it and want to protect it. I hope they will learn to value people (including themselves) for what they are: fallible, imperfect, ultimately lovable, full of grace and worthy of redemption. I hope they will see that different ideas, ideologies, religions, viewpoints, voices, are not only ok, but absolutely necessary. Most of all, I want them to see nature, and feel the full force of Nature, to feel small next to a redwood, and huge when an ant crawls up their shoe, to know they are nothing special, but everything that is amazing. I want them to be filled with pride and humility, and I know that traveling can give that to you. It's a subtle mix, to be sure.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Swap, swap, swap.

It's no secret, I love swapping. I love giving, and receiving ain't too bad, either. I like to blog about the packages I send out so that I can later tell my partner what my thought process was. This is my latest package sent out for the Reducio Sock Swap (Round 7), and the theme was "Aboard the Hogwart's Express!" I decided I wanted to do a traveling/back-to-school slant to this, so I collected items to that end. Here's the whole shebang!:

On the travel side, I sent travel playing cards in a case, travel stickers, travel-themed stitch-markers (which I made), a magic towel (no traveler, or hitch-hiker should be without one!), suckers and a luggage tag in the shape of a frog, which is one animal students are allowed to bring to Hogwart's.

On the back-to-school side, I sent hand sanitizer, recycled pencils, a highlighter, a Sharpie, a calendar, a pencil case, tic-tacs (the her House colors, and no one should go to school with bad breath!), feet-shaped paper clips (good for the travel theme, too), and a few patterns, because we are always looking to learn somethign new. :)

Of course, we always include two hand-made fiber items. This time I sent this little knit bag that I improvised from my Virtue Bookmark pattern:

The back, plain stockinette:

The front. See that tiny cable?!? I could die! :D :

After I made thi bag, I showed it to Xay and his response was, "That looks great! You must be Reducioing again!" LOL I love that he has been drawn into my fandom. :D

And, this little, tiny sock, which is all stripey! I love tiny stitched things!

I sent the package off with a note from my spoilee's Aunt Clara, the Pretty Witch. I gave no other clue as to who I am, but I figure that's a pretty big one considering my Rav name is pretywtch. :) I really hope she enjoys it because I was VERY lucky to get one of my fave Rav people as my partner! I can't wait to see what she thinks! :D


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random thoughts.

I haven't blogged in a while, at least, not a blog that contain my thoughts and doings. I'm not sure why that is, other than the hermity feeling I get at this time of the year and when I'm at home alot. I find that the more I'm at home, the more I want to be at home and I start to get in a place where I hate the thought of leaving the house. I just become a homebody in the truest sense and I want to dig in with my family close around me. I've been like that lately, and coupled with that is a drive to create! create! create! Hence all the patterns I've been posting. :) So, I've been very active, but not out and about alot.

The past Saturday I finally found the gumption to work on a costume for an upcoming show. I'll reveal more of that later, but I'll say this: it's for Southern Mirage, in which we are hosting Mira Betz. This is our first themed show, but I certainly don't see it being our last. The theme is fairy tales, so all the performances are created with that in mind and the performers seem to really be enjoying having a framework to drape their ideas on. I love working with a theme, so I'm glad to know this is fun for others, too. I have tons of interesting ideas for themes, so we'll see about using those when the time comes.

Speaking of costumes, Xay is having a hard time figuring out what he wants to be for Hallowe'en. It's a struggle for us every year to find something he wants to be that is possible for me to make without pulling my hair out. I need to figure something out for Corwin, too... Sigh. I've got some old costumes of Xay that might work for Corwin, I've just got to pull them out and try them on. I always get that "hand-me-down" guilt, though. I never want Corwin to think he is an afterthought or doesn't deserve something new. When he's old enough to voice what he wants to be, then we'll start worrying about making new stuff for him. For now, I hate waste and excess, so it's reuse, reuse, reuse!

I'm probably going to wear the same costume for trick-or-treat that I'll be using for Southern Mirage. Doesn't that sound intriguing? Will you be looking for a bellydancer on the streets this year? lol Well, it won't be me. I don't dress like a typical bellydancer even when I am dancing and I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those cheap polyester things the costume stores pass for bellydancer in a bag. And, with this outfit, you probably wouldn't even recognize it as a bellydance costume. I tend to look at costuming more from a theater aspect than from a bellydance aspect. We try to incorporate items that would make it as bellydance, but we're not in any way restricted by bellydance. It's nice working with a troupe that appreciates your visions and gets excited enough to not only work on them with you, but bring in ideas and viewpoints you would have never even dreamed of. This number is a good example of an idea that really is a conglomeration of our ideas. Mari provided the character, Brandi provided the song, and I provided the style. It's a total mash-up, but I think we are going to pull it off nicely. In other words, I'm very lucky to be in Alchemy. :)

Personally, I've been looking to live more simply. I've been cooking alot, which is wonderful because I absolutely adore cooking and baking. I'm glad it's getting cooler so I can bake more. By cooking more and more myself, I'm able to control a bit more what my family eats. For example, Jason is eating two vegetables with every evening meal now, which is a complete 180 from this time last year when he ate vegetables maybe twice a week. He's been a real trooper, making a valiant and concerted effort to eat healthier and he says he's getting to where it's easier. I've discovered that frozen veggies in the steamer bags work best for us. They taste great, are easy, and are the healthiest way to eat cooked veg, so it's a real win-win. I've also been using leaner meats, and lots and lots of whole grain in everything from steamer rice to snack crackers. I'm trying to pack it in everywhere so that we feel fuller faster and eat less.

A while back we got a Wii Fit, just in time for my gym membership to expire. I enjoy it, for the most part, but it's kinda boring and the fact that you can't queue up forms in yoga just kills me. You spend twice as much time getting to and from the forms as you do actually in the pose. I can't wait for the new version to come out, which is supposed to allow you to queue. But, it does have some fun games, and it's gotten my whole family thinking about fitness and what it really means to be healthy. Jason and I want to make sure the boys exercise regularly, so it's a habit for life. This is one good way to make it fun, and they can do it even when it's raining outside. :)

Another development on the fitness front is that we got a used recumbent exercise bike from craigslist for a mere $45. It's not perfect, but it works well for us, and I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to go upstairs and get a workout in. I prefer an elliptical or treadmill, but I'm no snob. It's also very quiet, so even if one of us is sleeping, the other can work out. I'm really grateful for it. :) Also, taking a shower in your own bath after a workout and not an impersonal, slightly creepy gym shower? Rock.

Because I can't not talk about fiber stuff: I've got two more for-sale patterns in the works right now. They are a coordinated set for cooler weather and soon they will be ready to go out to testers. I hope I can find testers for these. They aren't traditional, though I think they are cute. Obviously. ;) I designed them with a neo-Victorian, steampunky feel to them, so they are a little edgy. But, like anything, you could easily adapt it with simple color choices. Also, for one, I'll have four variations and two lengths which build on one another and you can mix and match, so you can really make it your own. I think they are unisex designs, too. Fun and funky, but functional, too. I hope they are successful! I'll be sure to post here when they are available on Ravelry and in my Etsy shop. Can you tell I'm working hard to try to contribute to my family while not having a job? It's very hard, but I'm really working at it. I love being home with the kids and getting to work at something I really love, but we need to eat, too.

I'm frantically working on holiday/birthday/new baby gifts and will update when I get some of those done. I'm also working on my first cardigans, one in knit and one in crochet. These will be for myself because I can justify buying $15 in yarn for a sweater more than $30 for a new sweater. Plus, to say I made a sweater? Very, very cool. I'm super intimidated, though. I get nervous with big projects because I'm afraid I'm going to screw it up, then all the time, effort and love will be for nothing. This is a huge fear for me: wasted time and effort. Why? Granted, I'll learn something either way, but to do all that work and have nothing to show for it is really discouraging for me.

More on the bellydance front: I've been disgusted with bellydance and the bellydance community as a whole lately. There is so much cattiness and just plain mean-spiritedness in the bellydance community, and it's infecting the Augusta scene like a canker. Part of this is because the number of bellydance troupes and soloists in our small area has exploded lately, outnumbering almost all other dancers and companies combined. That seems like a good thing, and in some ways, it really is. In another way, local festivals are glutted with bellydance artists, and I feel like the public will soon be saturated. Also, with so many dancers and so little market, there is alot of backstabbing, gossiping, undercutting both financially and of reputations.

Being that Alchemy was one of the first troupes in this area and the very first Fusion troupe, we're proud that we've paved the way for others to get together and express themselves and push the envelope in dance here in the CSRA. However, being first also paints a big ole target on your backs, sometimes with your own students. We've always tried to be as professional as possible and as generous as we can be with anyone and everyone. We've also worked to invite other dancers to our shows, events, and stage, sometimes giving up stage time at festivals and shows in order to give other dancers a time to shine.

Now, that's not to make us sound like we are the mother Theresas of the CSRA bellydance scene. We've made our mistakes, trusted the wrong people, given too much or not enough, but we've always tried really hard and we've had no one at all to turn to for advice or leadership. We produced our first show with in six months of forming Alchemy, and pulled it off on a shoestring budget and no experience. That show celebrated it's fifth year this past June. So, we've had some successes, too.

However, it's so sad to see people you've mentored go off and start running your name through the mud. To clap while the same people who trampled on your feelings are dancing, because it's the right thing to do, then turn around and find out they were rolling their eyes and making loud, snide comments about you while you were dancing. We work hard, every day, to try to bring our dance community together. I mean, really REALLY hard. If it were all about us, why would we ever share the stage with anyone?! We would produce shows that were JUST US or just our students, showcasing our choreographies, costuming, and storylines. We certainly wouldn't share coveted prime-time spots on the main stage at local festivals. We can easily fill a half hour with just Alchemy, but we invite students to dance with us, or other local dancers. Sometimes, even not-so-local dancers. Creating a happy, supportive, loving community that is trying to elevate bellydance and dancers is one of our main goals, and it says so in our charter. I'm not talking about style choices here, or how someone portrays bellydance to the public. We don't have, and wouldn't never want, control of that. What I'm talking about here is simple respect and consideration for those others in your community who are giving you time and space to dance, who are teaching you and giving you 110% every week, creating dynamic, fun and interesting choreographies for you to dance that are on the cutting edge of what bellydance is today. Alchemy tries really hard to consider and respect those around us, even sharing our stage with the very people who have raked our names through the mud and hurt us so deeply, with such malice and intent to hurt, that sometimes we wonder when we'll ever get over it. Don't worry, we are getting over it, and it gets easier every day.

All THAT being said, the living simply trickles down to my dance as well. I said to Mari and Brandi the other day that I'd rather love dance in obscurity than hate it in the spotlight. Though dance is an amazing gift I get to cherish every day, and sometimes share with others, if it's not bringing me joy, I can't do. No won't, because it's not a choice. I CANNOT do it. I'm not getting paid for this, all of our shows and workshop weekends serve only to fund the next one so at least it's not coming out of our pockets. Dance doesn't feed my children or pay for my husband's retirement fund. Therefore, if I'm not happy while dancing, I'm not getting anything out of it, and doing something you once loved that now brings up painful memories and feelings becomes obligation and tedium and torture. So, I'm getting back to basics. Alchemy, too. We're going to get back to the things about dance that we love and that makes us want to dance forever. That may mean less shows and workshops weekend produced by Alchemy. It may mean letting certain connections and commitments go. It may mean only dancing on stage once in a while, but making that once in a while so polished, so entertaining, unexpected, and innovative that the audience is left wide-eyed and breathless. We can do that, you know. Just lately, we've lost sight of why or how. I will have that back.

Ok, this has gotten long, and if you've stuck with me this far, I thank you for your kind attention. :) Leave me a comment, ok? I love hearing from you, especially YOU. I don't write this blog as an exercise in vanity or even to journal my life. I write this in order to reach out and connect to other people, to share my trials and insights. I've recently discovered that I've got alot of love and I struggle every day to give it all away. In alot of ways that has made me vulnerable and the hurts sometimes make me hard-shelled, but I working on that. Stick with me, ok? And let me know you're out there. I'm straining to hear the whisper in the dark.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet: I put my first for-sale pattern up on Ravelry! It's called Galaxy (pictured above), and it started out as a dishcloth, then I decided to add a tawashi option... then five variations grew out of the original pattern... then I realized it would work well for blankets, afghan blocks, hats and bags. I really love how versatile it is. :) The pattern is pretty clever, too, if I do say so myself. :)

I've had a few sales, which is really exciting and gratifying for a new designer. I've had patterns up on Ralvery for a while, all of which are also listed on this blog, but this is the first pattern that I've put out there for sale. This has been a big year for me on the fiber arts front as I also had my first pattern accepted for publication in June. Sometimes, I can't believe it! Here's a pic of the Green Bean, the pattern that will be published in a book of original patterns next year:

You can find the link for Galaxy on Ravelry here.

You can also find the pattern for sale on my Etsy page.

I feel lucky to have great friends and people who inspire me in my life. Friends like Donna, a fellow fiber artist, who always has a kind word of encouragement. Inspiring people like Jennifer who moved me to share my designs with her unabashed and generous nature. Of course, I also love and thank my husband and kids for putting up with my obsessive stitching, my talking about things they don't really get (crochet, knitting, yarn), and all the yarn laying around that you CANNOT TOUCH BECAUSE I'M DESIGNING WITH THAT! lol

YAY!! :D:D:D