Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Time of Transition

We've moved!

I've had very little time to write, or really do anything except pack and unpack boxes. I forgot about the billions of beads that needed organizing. And my books weigh more than I ever realized. Just going through the craft room alone took several trips. Thankfully my fiance and I muscled through the process. Tiresome, but doable.

With a COVID filled school year looming on the horizon, I'm a bit anxious as to what my time will look like in the next month. That district-wide kickoff with 1,000 people in the auditorium? Somehow I don't think it will happen. But even IF they're able to make our class sizes smaller, ensure that all kids wear masks, and provide adequate PPE/cleaning procedures (HA), I have a lot of work to do to prepare my classroom and lesson plans. Michigan has had an upward trajectory of cases, so I wish they'd just let us get started with remote learning. Building an online classroom takes time!

I'll be pretty busy over the next week, so we'll see if I can crank out a blog post with updates about this fall. There's another online Costume On peeking around the corner, and it's going to be awesome!


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Current Books on my Shelf

I am usually a creature of habit. It helps with anxiety, and the planning really makes me productive. One of my most cemented habits is to read only ONE book at a time. It's weird, but I think of it like eating a meal. There's no way I'm mixing taco night with sushi night. I need time to digest and clean my palate a bit.

But the quarantine is a very strange time. I find myself snacking on different books, taking little bites here and there. To be honest I'm seeing these come together like some sort of fusion cuisine. So here's what's on my shelf right now, each with bookmarks. And by bookmarks I mean random things I find around the house because I'm too lazy to get a real bookmark.

1.  Michael Twitty: The Cooking Gene

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South: Twitty, ...

I'm still working through this book (and still fasting 20 hours a day soooo). It's not the sort of thing you can simply pick up and set down. One minute you'll be reading about a historic recipe, then you'll be staring at the genetic certainty of assault on female ancestors. He mixes his own experiences with family history and mountains of research. His writing is like a good conversation, and I hope I get to meet him one day. And maybe try one of his dishes? A fasting girl can hope...

2. Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have A Dream; 
I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World ...

I've read some of MLK's speeches in the past, but I've never looked so closely at his words. It's scary how many of his experiences are mirrored in actions today; white supremacist groups openly intimidate, police brutality, systemic racism, and etc. His words both inspire and soothe, heal and fire up. While he advocates for nonviolence, he is by no means saying that we should quietly wait for things to change. And if someone complains about another statute toppling over and how MLK would not have liked it, remember this...he didn't do anything violent, and he was still stabbed in the chest with a steel letter opener (resting on his aorta), had his house firebombed, was arrested 29 times, and was eventually shot to death. 

We tend to romanticize that time like there was this group of random white supremacist dudes running around, and the average white person was just beyond excited to end segregation. We try to say things like "but my Daddy had black friends," or "we had black neighbors growing up and we didn't do anything to them." Where I currently live now in Michigan, I am within 30 minutes of what was once a hotbed of KKK activity, with a cross burned on a black family's lawn in Howell as late as 1989. This history happened, let's stop pretending at least some of our ancestors were not apart of it.

3. Susan Migden Socolow: The Women of Colonial Latin America The Women of Colonial Latin America (New Approaches to ...

This was recommended by a friend, and while I'm still in the first few chapters, it is really helping my unpack my heritage. Since college, I have not done a lot of research about my Latinx roots. Being Mexican in Civil War reenacting isn't really a thing you see a lot, and with some of the comments I've heard personally/from others, I'm not often offering up that information. Being white-passing (with a white last name) means I'm not treated differently, and for a long time I was afraid to say much about it. Even researching makes me a little anxious, since I know a lot of depictions in the 19th century were not great. It's time I started digging in a bit more and learning about myself.

I ordered this one at the beginning of the quarantine. That was a scary time for me; I'd just cancelled my conference, school was closed for the foreseeable future, and people in the medical field (like my fiance) were getting sick and dying from a virus we didn't understand. There are people I know who openly called this virus a hoax and scoff at any rules to quarantine or distance themselves. They sneer at science and complain about events they have to miss, while I sat at home hoping my fiance would come home...I was angry, to say the least, since they had the privilege of sitting behind their computer at home complaining, but not actually having a loved one out there working. I've had to cut some of those toxic people out of my life, which again was jarring. I needed to breathe.

This book offers some practical answers to help me work through anxiety. There are good exercises to help me reflect on my own spheres of control, and how cutting out those toxic people benefits me in the long run. I'm going to bring some of these ideas into my classroom, whenever that may be.

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative by [Danielle Krysa, Martha Rich]

Quarantine took away my deadlines. Suddenly, there was no conference to make boxes for. No Greenfield Village event to occupy my efforts. My days opened into endless hours inside, mostly alone (my fiance worked nights for about 4 months straight). How can I craft or create when my mind is so occupied with fear and anxiety? Well, this book gave me some ideas, even pushed me into new directions. It offers helpful hints on how to break through some of those fears we have while being an artist. There's an emphasis on even failure creating something beautiful. To be honest, I've reread a few of these chapters over and over again. It's nice to feel inspired creatively :)

So that's what's on my bookshelf now. There's a few more books online I'd like to finish. Perhaps I'll finish one of these before my next purchase? Regardless, I'm enjoying the experience.


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Inspiration Sunday

We are in the process of moving right now...thunderstorms and packing and pandemic oh my! Also, I made the mistake of packing a box and picking it up. Yep. Apparently that's what it takes to throw out my back now? And that was the first day.

In any case we're busy, so I haven't had much time for crafting. Normally I'd have a few projects going at the same time, but with everything being packed away for at least a few weeks, I'm mostly limited to my reading and writing. I've had fun recently looking at textiles online. The design elements are inspirational, and I.''d like to learn more There's quite a bit of history behind the techniques, as well as questions that I have about design elements and appropriation from different cultures. I've got a stack of books coming in the mail that will hopefully help with these. I'm going to save them here for when I do get a chance to dive in deeper. Perhaps my rainy day textile looking will lead me down even more research paths!
File:Textile (France), 1851–63 (CH 18454813).jpg
File:Textile, 19th century (CH 18569425).jpg
File:Textile, mid-19th century (CH 18398855).jpg
File:Textile (England), late 19th century (CH 18384497).jpg
File:Textile (Spain), mid-19th century (CH 18563397).jpg
File:Textile (possibly Scotland), mid-19th century (CH 18457601).jpg

File:Textile (Japan), 19th century (CH 18348141).jpg
File:Textile (India), 19th century (CH 18344471).jpg


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Healthier 2020

There is a saying that I've noticed come out of the Great Quarantine of 2020, one that oversimplifies the situation (even if it does make me giggle): "3 ways to get out of quarantine; a hunk, a chunk, or a drunk!" While I don't think that joke is true for many (and it trivializes the very complex issues of mental health in a pandemic), I find myself somewhere on that scale.

At first it was panic eating. Every trip to the grocery store meant grabbing anything sugary. I baked so many treats and ate enough crap that even my high school self would have been proud. And those Zoom meetings with drinks? We were doing what we could to feel better, and I was coping with the fear of having someone on the front lines. Fear and anxiety make me eat and drink! But this is something I have done for as long as I can remember.

In spring of 2019 I received a red flag on my blood sugar test results. They were high, and if I continued with the current rate I would be in the prediabetes range at a very young age. This was slightly terrifying, since I watched my Grandma die from complications of her own un-managed diabetes. I was seeing a direct correlation between my eating habits and my health. I wouldn't wish her illnesses on anyone so I knew I had to make a change. I did make small ones here and there, but I'd always revert back to the old eating habits.

Fast forward to now. By the end of April my coping skills improved, and I signed up for a challenge online with my gym. I cut out most carbs and sugar, and began fasting 18-20 hours a day. Tons of salads and vegetables with lean meats. I still worried about the pandemic but instead of eating, I did yoga or tried a new recipe. In two months I lost about thirteen pounds, down thirty pounds total from the 2019 blood tests, Weight is just one measure, so I try not to use it as the main indicator of my health.

My new bloodwork results just came in this morning...and my blood sugar levels are low! Lower than they have been in nearly 6 years! I've been bouncing around the apartment all morning with excitement. I feel better than I have in a long time, so it's great to have that reflected in my medical chart as well. I still have weight to lose to be in the healthy range for my BMI, but I can do that with if I just continue what I'm doing now.

So back to that original saying...will I leave quarantine a hunk, a chunk, or a drunk? I'm going to go with none of the above, and say I'm healthier, happier, and less addicted to sugar :)
Image may contain: Kristen Mroz, food and indoor

Take care of yourselves! Stay safe and eat your veggies!

On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...