Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Quest continues...

One year ago I started to walk in earnest. My goal was to get stronger - I didn't want to be one of those bent over old ladies who couldn't get themselves out of a chair.  I wasn't in terrible shape at the time, but I felt weak in so many ways. I set out on the all weather track at the local high school and found that I loved the rhythm of the oval.  I walked all summer and, much to my chagrin, they threw me off the track in late August when school started.  I continued walking with my daughter at the local Mall, but it wasn't the same.

That first mile one year ago was a little tough on the legs, and to say that I was a little winded would be an understatement. I decided to document my progress by using a stopwatch.  I have always been obsessed with track and field events and just timing myself made me feel like a "miler". 

Far from it, little grasshopper...

Fast forward - it's June again, and school is out.  The track is empty, unless of course you count the other wanna-be's out there like me. And this year I am more determined than ever to get stronger, but even more than that...I will be be 69 this August, and I want to be able to actually run a mile by my birthday. Yes, the whole mile...running.

Today on this beautiful Saturday morning, I'm back on the track.  

One year later to the day, my walking time has improved...

But I said I wanted to I've started to run as much as I can around the track 
for four laps or one mile...It's not much running so far, but here's my second mile 
and my first running attempt...

I know I'll never be a Jim Ryun, but there a lot of people even older than my 68 years who can run a lot farther than one mile.  I just want to be one of them. Stronger. Healthier. 

I finished this morning just in time for the arrival of some potential recruits...

Meanwhile...after the workout (also do lunges and stairs), a little nourishment by the pool...some proteins, carbs (yeah, I know) and morning caffeine (because "it doesn't cause cancer" now) and my "pills" - the tiny one for my blood pressure, the white one to keep the urinary track on track and the orange one (turmeric) just cuz it's supposed to be good for your liver and joints.

And then...let the games begin....

Scarves for the Women's Empowerment grads....

Laurel. Miler.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Curse

I've always wondered why such a natural process might be called a "curse". I'm referring to a woman's menses, her period. It's been given many pejorative names over the years - "ride the cotton pony", "on the rag", "leak week", and the less innocuous "my monthly friend" and "that time of the month". 

In fact, I'm kind of thinking that men have coined most of the subhuman phrases to basically devalue an albeit inconvenient but vital process for procreating humanity into perpetuity. Right down to the Donald's off color, ill-conceived and some what subliminal referral to what seemed like Ms. Kelly's period during a presidential debate, men (and women too!) have have blasted, sneered at, made fun of and grumbled over a woman's menstrual cycle through out history.  And here in our Western civilization especially, we women have largely ignored the jokes and ridicule partly because we have the "luxury" of handling our bodies conveniently and without great notice... and of course, with the help of a ceaseless array of products, pills, sprays and whatever else we might need. We breeze through our cycles and never miss a beat in our busy lives - we can "even ride bicycles and swim!" and we teach our daughters to do the same.  We don't even know the meaning of a curse.

Such is not the case in third world countries. Njeri was born in Kenya and came to the U.S. to further her education.  She is a mother, grandmother and on-fire Christian today and an active advocate for changing the lives of young girls in Africa through one means: sustainable, reusable sanitary pads.  She knows first hand the "power of the pad" because she was there.  She lived the nightmare growing up.

There are no menstrual products in most remote regions of the world.  Even if we do-gooders shipped cases of Always and Kotex products to Africa, they have no organized means of disposing them, let alone toilets to flush them (even though we know you're not supposed to do that!).  Young girls, from the first days of their period are taught how to handle their cycle but the only means available - grass, leaves, sticks, feathers, rocks and if they're lucky, mattress stuffing - anything to stay in school.  They are shunned and shamed by boys, so as a result they stay home and miss up to eight months of schooling over a three year period. Some girls have sat in a pile of dirt for those days if they have nothing to use, adding to their shame.  If they are really lucky, they have a make-shift barrier made from harsh animal skin strapped to their legs, while they stand to take tests at school. But even worse, many are forced into prostitution by men at the tender age of 11 or 12, trading sex for pads. We can't even imagine such a deplorable scenarios.

Listening to Njeri this past weekend talk about her organization's efforts to supple reusable, sustainable hygiene kits for girls in Kenya and other African countries was a real life reminder of why our sew fests have incorporated the Days for Girls ministry. Yards and yards of cotton and flannel are cut, stitched and serged into pads for girls.  A kit can last a young girl up to three years - that's three full years of education reclaimed.  These kits, as Njeri attests, can change a girls destiny.  She no longer has to skip school, she is no longer susceptible to becoming fodder for the human trafficking machine and her risk of contracting HIV is significantly lessened. She maximizes her dignity and value as a woman, increases her chances of becoming a contributing member of her community through education.

It rocked my soul to listen to Njeri.  Her words of encouragement to the sew fest ladies were moving. We ARE changing the life of a young girl somewhere on the other side of the world.  Just like our little dresses, these hygiene kits are a small sacrifice of time in order to give a girl dignity and a fighting chance for a better life. Who knew such a life could be impacted by such a small thing?

To learn more about Njeri's non-profit organization, go to Upendo Women's Foundation, which she founded. Njeri uses kits similar to those we make through our Days for Girls. Come to a Bayside sew fest and help make these life-changing kits yourself.

Laurel.  The Power of the Pad.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Just for Me...

I've been lost in the beauty of summer mornings and evenings lately, spending quiet time reflecting on my renewed efforts to live more in the moment. It's so easy for me to focus on "have to's", worries and struggles instead of doing things that bring me joy and peace.

This month marks the third anniversary of my collaboration with Suzan (aka FabricLady) and Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics.  Zan and I have a date on the books for later this month, but today I just felt like taking the drive to Berkeley to hang out at the shop - you know, living in the moment!  Normally it's quite a frenetic bustle on our scheduled "Fit and Fun" days - I bring completed garments, we have fitting and photo sessions, we peruse the new fabrics and patterns, have lunch and I somewhere in between, I usually have a little time to shop for fabrics to add to my stash. It's fun and exciting and hectic all at the same time.

But today, I just wanted to leisurely stroll the aisles, to see what might jump out at me.  I also spent some time talking with Tilden Yamamoto, an Oakland designer who was doing a sewing demo in a sunny window of the shop. It was cool to watch another sewist/designer's "process".

Zan's young and hip buyers at Stonemountain are bringing in the most unique fabrics these days- shelves of double gauze that had me drooling...ikats by the dozens all begging me "pick me!" I must have been thinking about the beauty of nature, as everything that caught my eye today was green.

And that's what I came home with....they are like little works of art.

Yummy double gauze - a Scout tee? And a summer dress?
 I need a little shift to wear by the pool...Love this ikat!!  
Think I'll use the batik to create a facing around the neck and armholes.

And let's pick up a couple of Indie patterns...

Love View B...probably use that double gauze tiny print above

It was a wonderful few hours in Bay...right up until the traffic on the way home.  Oh well...a day at Stonemountain with Zan and the staff is worth a couple of hours of frantic Friday drivers.

Can't wait to dive into these projects!!

Laurel. Are you "Green with envy"?
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