The Heart of the Matter

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Photo by Suvan Chowdhury on Pexels.com

One of the biggest and most persistent criticisms of the body positivity movement is the notion that it promotes obesity and in turn, poor health.  Yes, there are strong correlations of high BMIs with heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and even depression.  “Fat and happy” is often a myth.

The reason that I am strongly body positive is that I want to feel good about myself as I make lifestyle changes that support my overall health.  I have always had a higher BMI.  “Skinny” is not in my genes, but “healthy” can be in my habits and my choices.

To that end, I want to remind women everywhere that February is Heart Health Month.  Heart disease the leading cause of death for women, according to the FDA.

According to the FDA, heart attacks manifest differently in women than in men:

The signs of a heart attack can be different for women than they are for men.

  • Heavy ache in your chest or back between your shoulder blades
  • Sharp pain in your upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unusual or unexplained tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling sick to your stomach

You can have a heart attack without experiencing chest pain or pressure. Women may also experience back pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, and nausea or vomiting.

Whether you’re lithe or voluptuous, ladies, please schedule a heart check up if you haven’t had one in awhile.  That saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is true.  You only have one heart.  Take care of it for a long, healthy life.

Assess your risk here.

From my big heart to yours, I wish you all a Happy Heart Health Month.  Keep your hearts happy and beating strong.

“Many sensitive people are loving warriors. We love, observe and care deeply. That doesn’t mean we’re going to take callous or abusive treatment or spend hours crying about it.

Secondly, we’re not all drama queens. We’re not all acting out our own versions of ‘The Princess and the Pea’. Not all sensitive people are prissy. In fact, we’re highly adaptive. There are some people who use their sensitivity as an excuse or weaponize their sensitive natures, but healthy sensitive people know and acknowledge their sensitivities and adopt healthy coping skills,”  Kristin West

Read more on my thoughts on How to Survive and Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person on Authority Magazine by Phil La Duke

Shopping While Plus-Sized

Shopping while plus-sized?  Feel frustrated in a fitting room?  I feel ya.  Limited choices often limit plus-size women from wearing clothing they really love.  With my busy life, it’s not unusual for me to attend several events in a week, in addition to meetings.  I am constantly shopping and trying on clothes.  As a plus size woman, this can be immensely frustrating.  Here’s some shopping tips I’ve come to live by:

Wear what you love.

75642445_543120503189762_2245747947067146240_nI can’t repeat this enough.  If an outfit does not put a megawatt smile on your face, if you feel insecure in any way, don’t buy it.  I only wear what I love.  I don’t wear colors I don’t like.  Shape wear may make you look better in a frock, but if you feel insecure in any way, I strongly suggest that you don’t spend the money.  Wear what makes you feel bold and beautiful and ready to be seen.  If you find your outfit hides “flaws” more than it makes you feel bodacious and beautiful, nix it.

If something works well, and it comes in colors you love, duplicate!

Shoe shopping drives me batty.  I wear an 11 W, so finding cute, comfortable footwear is always an adventure.  I always buy duplicates of shoes that I find comfortable, in several colors.  I do this with dresses and blazers too.  If it ain’t broke, I don’t fix it and I also don’t have to search as much for that elusive 11W.

Merge trendy and classic.

Let’s face it.  Most trends are showcased to the world in fashion mags on lithe bodies–bodies that don’t look plus-sized.  I look great in classic wear, but I want to be on trend as much as makes sense for me.  I never invest fully in the color of the year from head to toe or other fashion phenomenons.  I integrate what’s trendy that I like with what I know works for me.  Once again, if I don’t feel FABULOUS in it, I don’t wear it.

You CAN wear patterns.

polka dot blue and vermillionSo many plus-sized women lament the horrible patterns in shapeless designs that line clothing racks.  Because there’s so much bad available, we sometimes don’t  look for the good.  I love patterns when they are right for me:  polka dots, some paisley,  leopard print.  Sometimes I can do zebra print and snake print.  You will rarely see me wear horizontal stripes, because I am a broad broad!  Open your mind to some patterns, but it may take some hunting.

Don’t agonize.  Accessorize.

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I have a few simple black dresses that are mainstays of my wardrobe.  They could be seen as blah–but I offset the blah with some bling.  I love a great scarf too.  Accessorizing the tried-and-true is a fun way to revamp a classic wardrobe.

 

 

 

These are just a few of my fave tips for shopping.  Share yours in the comments!

 

Born Naked, Annihilated by Fashion…til now

Note:  These Botero-inspired, body positive fashion images are NSFW. They are also not safe for preserving outmoded paradigms of what a woman’s body should be.

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Kristin West in Global Intuition scarf & sneakers.  Photo courtesy of Yi Zhou Studio.

We are born naked and when we die, our bodies are stripped, examined and prepared for burial. Between birth and death, we are contextualized and classified by fashion. It is our nakedness that is universal and transcendent. It is fashion that gives us a sense of time, space and place. Fashion changes. That’s its nature. Our nakedness does not change.

So much of fashion for women revolves around hiding, camouflaging, binding, masking and correcting flaws. Many of those flaws even become fashionable after a time. What’s considered beautiful to one generation is horrifying to another. Binding of the feet, whalebone corsets, and obligatory shape wear are all examples of how we try to minimize women even in the space that they take up in their physical, tangible life. We do this in the name of beauty and glamour, but the tacit message is that a woman is not allowed to take up too much space and must expect to suffer as part of daily life as a matter, of course, to be acceptable to those around her. Wallis Simpson’s famous quip, “You can never be too rich or too thin,” has stayed with women long after her death.

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Relaxing poolside in Global Intuition sneakers.  Photo courtesy of Yi Zhou Studio.

Idealized images of the female form have been around since humans began the endeavor of making art but over time, our ideas of what a woman should be and could be have grown smaller and smaller. Would the Venus of Willendorf be considered gorgeous today if we saw her living, nude, in the flesh?

Siegfried Kracauer famously said, “The photograph annihilates the person.” Indeed, we live in an age of hyper-inundation of images. The average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, many of aspirational models portraying fictionalized situations rather than actual people living actual lives. Kracauer also said,”…what appears in the photograph is not the person but the sum of what can be subtracted from him or her.” People are reduced to objects, things, ideas, sales pitches, and talking points instead of subjectivities. The average woman has been annihilated in this unrelenting tide of over-processed, idealized imagery of unobtainable standards.

Is body positivity just having a moment? Is it fashionable? Or is body comfort, body positivity, and body acceptance something that we can reclaim as women? Is fashion having a fat fetish moment or can we truly embrace women of all sizes? Can we truly and whole-heartedly say all sizes and shapes are deserving of being clothed well?

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Striking a pose in a couture gown by Aida Novosel & Global Intuition sneakers.  Photo courtesy of Yi Zhou Studio.

These photographs are deeply informed by Fernando Botero’s oeuvre. Botero often imagined bodies as round and full, comic even at times, as opposed to clean lines and hard, harsh angles. Can we too have a full circle moment? Is it possible to enjoy looking at many different types of body types in photography and allow for their subjectivity?

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Feeling beautiful and authentic poolside in Global Intuition sneakers.  Photo courtesy of Yi Zhou Studio.

 

We privilege chiseled perfectly toned, perfectly controlled bodies. This is what we hold up as the ideal. This is what advertisers sell to us. This is what so many women suffer for— trying to prove that they are in control of their lives by being in control of their bodies. It’s about proving to the world if you are indeed control of your own life. The sad history is, that even today, with remarkable freedoms for women, not all women have equal access to those freedoms. We are not always in control of our bodies at all times, all over the world.

Nakedness is also vulnerability. You’re not hiding, you’re not distracting, and you’re not camouflaged. You’re there with all your rolls, pooches, all your stretch marks, all your cellulite, freckles, and moles. Forty percent of American women are obese. That’s a large minority. Instead of pressuring these women to be more in control, to work harder, to do better, perhaps we should unbind our thinking. Perhaps we should drop our whalebone thought corsets and make fashion compassionate. Let’s be seen, heard and accepted as we are.

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Feeling comfortable in my body and in my Global Intuition sneakers.  Photo by Yi Zhou Studio.

According to the American Psychological Association, women are twice as likely to report that they’re stressed and then men. Instead of gouging women’s pain points as a means to sell them things, it would be far more effective to extend the everyday woman the compassion she deserves, whether she’s a size 6 or size 16 or a size 26.

Instead of belaboring whether a woman is visually attractive or sexy, it’s far more important to help every woman find what’s within her that’s attractive, vibrant, sexy and alive. That’s why body positivity is so important–not to make the range of what we find sexy and sexual bigger, literally, but to help people feel better about themselves in the world that often undermines our mental and emotional health and our well-being in the name of profit.

 

Getting Organized Month

It’s Getting Organized Month.  Already feel behind?

It’s already been an eventful 2020, and we’re just barely a week in.  We invest a lot of hope and enthusiasm for the new year.  It can seem daunting to have so many goals and aspirations and need to keep track and plan them.  I know one of the biggest challenges I have is forming new habits.

If you’re ready to toss out a traditional planner or date book or are fed up with keeping track of everything on your phone, it might be time to look into bullet journaling.  My bullet journal is part art journal, part diary, part calendar and part project management system.  It fits me…and if you’re a quirky creator, it might be fit for you too.  My #bujo is a bit messy and whimsical–sort of like me, with little hidden surprises.  I postponed bullet journaling for a long time because I was intimidated by how pretty and perfect some of them look.  Mine is perfectly imperfect for me!

To learn more about bullet journaling, I highly recommend you check out:

bullet journal

Truth be told, my journal is a bit different than many examples out there.  Instead of grid paper, I use an old-school lined composition book and each page, front and back, is dedicated to the week.   Instead of pretty calligraphy, my journal is personalized with stickers and cuttings from magazines I like.  I added coloring pages.  Here’s one!

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I also really love re-purposing old magazines, cards and flyers.  Here’s a few examples.

 

If you are glued to your phone, and wondering if it’s even possible for you to go to a completely analog system, don’t stress.   There is a bullet journal app designed by Ryder Carroll that gives you bullet journaling on the go, if you’re not toting yours with you.  Also, I back up my journal before my week begins on Evernote.  That way, if my journal is in my car, or left at home, it’s still there for me digitally and I have digital record of my itinerary if needed.  If I am traveling, I also back up my travel itinerary.

I think one of the best things I’ve learned from bullet journaling is that I do have a habit of over-scheduling myself, mistaking busier for better.  Bullet journaling has helped me break large projects down into more manageable steps and help me spread workload over days and anticipate my busy-ness and business better.  I’ve also adapted the bullet journal methods to the editing of a documentary feature I’m working on!

Plan your successes in 2020!  I hope “Getting Organized Month” is a good month, and 2020, a productive, profitable New Year for You.  Your bullet journal doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.  It, like you, is a work in progress!  Here’s to making a masterpiece of 2020.

 

Your Eclipse Mini Tarot Reading

This reading combines the wisdom of the tarot with the astrological house most affected by the eclipse on December 26, 2019. Listen in to your sun, moon and rising signs to get the most complete picture of what the next six months have in store for you. Eclipses influence us for six months at a time and are the major themes of transformation. Check your sign for what’s ahead for you in 2020.

2:46 Sagittarius 6:30 Scorpio 11:45 Libra 15:23 Virgo 19:38 Leo 24:13 Cancer 30:10 Gemini 34:34 Taurus 39:33 Aries 43:18 Pisces 47:40 Aquarius 53:22 Capricorn

The Holiday Gift Guide is Out!

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Photo by Amy Texter on Pexels.com

I am so excited  by this year’s gift guide.

We often talk about “surviving” the holidays, and I took that to heart in this year’s guide.  Too often, the holidays induce stress, worry and exhaustion–and it doesn’t have to be that way.

This year’s unique guide features:

Stocking Stuffers–Affordable, upscale stocking stuffers for adults and kids

Everyday Glamour–Luxury finds at a great price, from couture clothing from Global Intuition, to fine porcelain from Herend.

Holiday Must-Haves–These are your survival supplies.  Read Chicken Soup for the Soul’s latest book on forgiveness while sipping on a delightful mixed drink.  Thrive during the holidays with these items.

Santa’s Little Helpers–This collection features services and gift memberships to services like Amazon Prime.

A Happy New Year–Come into 2020 primed to succeed.  These gifts focus on enhancing your creativity, productivity and well-being.

Click here to start shopping.  Clicking on the product description takes you to the product.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

The Old Injury. The New Perspective.

When I was in 3rd grade, I broke my left arm.  I fell off a swing backwards on the playground and snapped my left ulna.  The bone was set properly.  It seemed to heal quickly.

yoga bitmojiFlash forward a few decades, it’s giving me trouble when I do Wheel Pose during yoga.  I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with yoga.  I’ve settled into a  steady yin and restorative regimen.  I’ve always loved Wheel Pose.  I made an ambitious goal.  I was going to practice Wheel Pose every day.

It seems the old injury has come back.  I can’t get up into wheel everyday.  My left ulna needs a rest for a day and then it will cooperate the next day.  It took me a week or two to figure out why this was.  And then I remembered my elementary school swing incident.

Healing is an ongoing process.  Long after the cast comes off, long after you’ve done talk therapy, you may still have flare ups from an old wound, whether the wound is physical or emotional.  It’s okay to rest.  It’s okay to say, “not today”.  It doesn’t make you less than.

It seems my left forearm needs my patience.  If I force myself into the position, it hurts.  How often have we forced something that ended up hurting ourselves or another?  Probably more often than we’d like to admit.  We’re often told to toughen up, feel the pain, push past it or get on with it.  That’s not how we heal.  We heal by listening.  We heal by respecting our boundaries and limits.  Right now, I have three limbs that are consistently ready to do the Wheel.  My back appreciates the stretch too.  My left arm needs a little coaxing and permission to back off when its too much.

Compassion for yourself is trusting your process–even if its decades-long.