DIY Sports Skirt & Leggings coverup from an old t-shirt

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings Coverup, #reuse an old t-shirt | Living Consciously Blog

Let’s get straight to the point here: I teach or take fitness classes almost all week long. I usually pack my classes in while my kids are in preschool or at home with my husband, and since those are the only kid-free time periods that I have, I often run quick errands either right before or right after class. While I agree that leggings are not pants from a style perspective, I do happen to still be dressed for Lagree fitness or yoga at those times. As an instructor, I have strong opinions about the type of workout pants that I chose, but that is a subject for another post. Suffice to say, baggy pants are not a good idea, either from a participant or an instructor’s standpoint. I wear workout leggings that provide compression, support, moisture wicking, and do not get in the way of twisting, flexing, and moving. So leggings as pants it is, at least when I go grocery shopping at Whole Foods after class on my way home.

During the winter months, I am more than happy to slip some warmup pants over my leggings for extra warmth, but when I have tried that in the Texas summers (110 degrees most of the time), I felt like I was suffocating within the first few minutes, and that was in the air conditioning! Attempting to be in a car that had been sitting in the sun for 2 hours was just right out of the question wearing 2 pairs of pants. I’m already carrying snacks, water bottle, yoga mat, grocery bags, even a cooler on some days. So carrying a whole extra change of clothes is equally out of the question. And why would I put on clean clothes when I’m all sweaty from class or when I’ll just have to change when I get to the studio? For the past several years there has just been no solution to the leggings-as-pants dilemma for me.

As I was cleaning out some old workout clothes last week, I came across several old fitted t-shirts. They were in good shape and fairly neutral colors. I had been drooling over this yoga skirt on Etsy but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I wasn’t sure of the logistics. The skirt doesn’t have a waistband and relies on tucking the top of it into your leggings or yoga pants. How would that even work?

I was willing to try cutting up the old t-shirts to try and make a DIY sports skirt and leggings coverup. Here is what I did.

Supplies:

Old t-shirt (see optional step below if it is wider than your hips)

Sewing machine, thread

Scissors

Something to use for a drawstring

 

Step 1: Cut right below the armpits to make a tube with the bottom already hemmed.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 1, cutting | Living Consciously Blog

Note: I chose a shirt with very little design. If your shirt does have a design and you don’t want it, you might try turning the shirt inside-out and re-hemming the sides from the other direction. That could be handy anyway if your skirt needs to be narrowed to fit your hips.

Optional next step: The ideal width for this t-shirt tube is the width of the widest part of your hips. So again, you might want to re-hem to make it more narrow. I didn’t have to do it with this t-shirt because it was so narrow already.

Step 2: Turn the waistband under. Try it on at this point and look in a mirror, holding it up with your hands. You want the bottom of the skirt to hit just below your rear end. If you go to far down the upper leg, it just looks weird. You might have to cut more off the top to make it the right length. If you are a fancy sewing person, you can use pins to pin stuff here. But t-shirts are very good at holding shape and you probably don’t even need pins!

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 2, folding waist for hemming | Living Consciously Blog

I turned mine under a little asymmetrically to allow for my rear end. If you have a rear end, you might want to do this too. My angle is not as severe as this picture looks, though, because I am actually just a terrible fashion and sewing photographer.

Step 3: Hem the waistband, leaving a gap for the drawstring. I took several pictures of this because again, not a sewing photographer.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, waistband and drawstring | Living Consciously Blog

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, closer shot of waistband and drawstring opening | Living Consciously BlogStep 4: String the drawstring through the tube you made, using the gap you left.

DONE!

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings CoverUp Final product | Living Consciously Blog
Completed sports skirt leggings coverup. I am staring off into the distance not only because I am so impressed by the skirt but also because when I smiled for this picture it looked really weird and creepy.

Super easy and fast! It definitely took me longer to try to take pictures of this process and the finished product than it took for me to make the skirt.

Other optional steps might include tapering the waist (this would be done before Step 3. I didn’t do it in my first skirt, but I’ll do it on subsequent skirts).

I’ll try to update this post with pictures of future skirts, if you make one from this tutorial, I’d love to see it – post it on Instagram and tag me!

Yoga Teacher Training in 2015? GoFundMe!

Jenny's YTT GoFundMe | Living Consciously Blog

I have a big announcement today: I have finally decided on my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)!

It’s not at all what I would have thought.

When I first approached the idea of doing YTT, it was as an extension of my part time job teaching Pilates the past several years. I have enjoyed teaching so much, and have grown so much in my yoga practice since I’ve been doing Lagree fitness (the workout that I teach). However, my heart has always been with yoga. You can read more about my fitness journey in this post and this one.

Beginning in September of 2014, I dedicated Mondays while my children were in school to visiting yoga studios, meditating, reading, and listening. I was listening to see where I would be guided when it came to YTT. Was it something I should do at all? If so, when — now? Or when both children are in kindergarten (2016)? In what program should I enroll: fitness-centric, full out Sanskrit, a hybrid of the two?

In my exploration of the different types of yoga training, I stumbled across Holy Yoga. As I mentioned in my intro to Amanda’s guest post about Holy Yoga, the first time I heard of it, I literally laughed. And I know that a lot of my yoga friends and current clients might be laughing now (please see the FAQs, below). But I found that it was not much different than the yoga I’ve always done, except that before savasana, there is Scripture read instead of reading from the Bhagavad Gita or the teacher sharing personal thoughts. In Holy Yoga, the teacher may pray over the students in lieu of OMing, a practice which is beautifully explained by Holy Yoga founder Brooke Boon in this video. For me, this is just a natural extension of the faith that I already have. I already do these things in my mind during yoga.

200 Hours is a lot of hours to do anything. As I meditated on the potential directions my YTT could take, I was more and more lead to believe that what is right for me is to be trained in a manner that is an extension of how I already live and think, because I have to be fully fulfilled in my own spirit to be able to pass that peace and joy on to my students, regardless of their personal faith (or lack thereof). In other words, even if I do not end up teaching in the Holy Yoga format all the time, I want to attend a training in which I feel that I can be fully invested. I simply would not feel the same connection to a Hindu-based program, as I am not Hindu.

It has been difficult for me to accept something so “Christianized” sometimes. I am not so far removed from my years railing against the church that I can’t remember some of the fear, some of the exclusivity that I experienced. The last thing I want to do is exclude people, to become what I hated so much all of those years. So please know that I am choosing this training for me, to develop my own love and compassion for all in a manner consistent with my beliefs, the ones that you hopefully know me to have already. If I can grow more in love and knowledge through this training, I can bring that experience to each of my yoga participants. This journey should be the opposite of judgement or exclusivity.

There has been a shift in what I thought that I was looking for: in looking for a part time job, I actually found a ministry. What had started out as a way to earn extra money in a one-income family has become what some might label “a calling”.

I made this decision in the way that we are so often encouraged to dream: “What would you do if money was no object?”

It’s a great exercise, but once the decision has been made, we have to return to reality. Money IS an object. And YTT is not free.

I thought long and hard about the ways to go about this, and I’ve decided to share this opportunity with you. With everyone. Despite how scared I am of what you will think.

I worry that you will think “this is not really yoga” or that you might think “you are not really a ‘Christian’ if you’re going to teach yoga”. For a wonderful answer to both of those concerns, see the FAQs below and please take a moment to read this piece from Stephanie Moor on Mind Full Collective about caring what people think.

If this is truly a ministry, I will have to rely on others. I will have to trust. It will not be about my timing. So difficult for someone who has control issues! But nothing is impossible. To this end, I have set up a GoFundMe web site where I can collect the necessary funds for my Holy Yoga training.

On the GoFundMe site (the URL to Share is http://www.gofundme.com/JennyYTT), there is a breakout of all the costs associated with Holy Yoga YTT, including textbooks, flight to the immersion week, and childcare. There is also a shorter version of the background that I just shared with you.

I encourage you to do your version of praying, meditating, and asking questions to see if donating to my ministry is something you might feel led to do. I know that you might have questions, and you can email me any time at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com. But first, please check my FAQs below.

Namasté

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you plan to do this training?

I will not even enroll in the program fully until I have at least half of the entire amount needed. I would prefer to be fully funded before enrolling. Here is the schedule of trainings in 2015. I would do a 9-week session online followed by one of the week-long immersions. There is no timeline, since I am not yet enrolled. If I do not have the funds in 2015, it will be 2016…or even later.

I have wanted to take yoga from you, but I do not share your religious beliefs! If you get certified through Holy Yoga, does this mean you will only teach classes with a religious angle, effectively excluding me?

Absolutely not! I have practiced religion-neutral yoga for 11 years and taught Pilates (which is also philosophy-free) for 2.5 years. I can teach yoga with or without the Holy Yoga format. Yoga is a wonderful way to challenge the body and still the mind, regardless of your personal beliefs. It is beneficial for healing and promoting flexibility. I hope to eventually teach in mainstream studios as well as in the Holy Yoga format, you should have the ability to select which classes you would like. If you hire me to teach at a specific location, you can specify what format of class you would like me to teach.

If you’re spending all your time in Holy Yoga on bible study, is it a less intense anatomy and asana training?

Not at all. The Holy Yoga training program fully meets & exceeds the requirements of the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga School (RYS), although they are NOT actually a certified RYS (more about why here). Holy Yoga training provides all of the comprehensive anatomy, safety, and asana training that is received by any other Registered Yoga Teacher 200 Hour course. The Holy Yoga certification is actually a 225 hour program, the bible study is added on in addition to the 200 hours of yoga instruction (not taking away from the 200 hours). Watch a testimonial from an instructor who has also experienced traditional trainings.

I DO believe in God and I’ve heard that yoga is from the devil!!

Personally, I began doing yoga when I was not following God or involved in a church. It was in the silence of yoga that I found God’s presence, despite my own running away. That does not seem like the devil to me. But people more eloquent than me have addressed this issue. Here is an excerpt from the Holy Yoga Training introduction manual:

Most Christians do not dislike yoga because they are educated about it, but because they are un-educated. We seek to educate in the light of the three modalities of yoga; the breath, meditation, and physical expression. While the word “yoga” does not appear in the Bible, if you look at those three modalities of yoga through the filter of the Word, you can see what the Lord says about the importance of them. The “yoking” comes together in Mark 12:30 where it says to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. It is the bringing together of all He has created us to be for a full immersion into worship. We tend to approach God as we do the rest of our lives, compartmentalized and fragmented. Holy Yoga is about being fully immersed in the worship of our Lord and Savior. Our training does, indeed, teach the history of yoga and its principles. However, the intent of doing so is to educate you so that if you are challenged, you have the knowledge to answer potentially difficult questions.

I also have another, much longer PDF document that goes into some theology and reasoning that I can email to you if you would like to contact me personally (email below).

What other questions do you have about my training? Please feel free to email me at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com or leave in the comments below.

You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Using the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice

Using the Lagree Megaformer to improve your yoga practice | Conscientious Confusion

I’ve been doing yoga for around 11 years now, and I’ve been a Lagree fitness instructor since May of 2012. Before Lagree, I was content to get a little bit of a good stretch from yoga. Since I have developed significant core strength, balance, and overall muscle tone from using the Megaformer over the past 2 years, my yoga practice has really amped up! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I love participating in daily yoga challenges. Far from converting me from yoga to Pilates, Lagree fitness and the Megaformer have dramatically improved my yoga practice. I now do yoga every single day, and work out on the Megaformer 3-4 times per week.

For those of you who are looking for a way to really take ground in either your regular fitness regimen, or specifically in your yoga practice, I made a short video of some moves you would do in any Lagree studio on the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice, enabling you to do inversions and balance poses, as well as build strength safely.

Using the Megaformer to improve your yoga practice {video here}

Filmed at Ultimate Pilates Plano (where I am an instructor!). Come see us for our $10 first class!

Tell me in the comments: what yoga poses do you find most difficult in your practice?

I will do my best to post further videos on how to build your strength in that area using the Megaformer.

Contentment vs Lack of Ambition

We’re reading Sheryl Sandberg’s inspiring book Lean In for book club this month. I know, I’m late to the party since I’ve actually already heard her speak at BlogHer 2013 in July. But I wanted to wait to read the whole book until I had the opportunity to discuss it with some really smart and thoughtful ladies in my neighborhood while drinking wine. I have found this book to be extremely balanced, and not at all about how we all need to be CEO’s or how women need to kick men’s butts in the workplace.

I particularly loved how she highlights that not all of us who are not CEO’s or even full time employees at the moment have made that choice due to lack of ambition. Sometimes it is because the way we are living our life right now is just right for us at this moment. This is a yoga principle as well — being content with where you are right now and accepting both your limitations and your current accomplishments.

"Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire." - Sheryl Sandberg

I’ll be at the Texas Veggie Fair 2013!

I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be doing 15-minute Kids Yoga demos in the Kids Veggie Village of the Texas Veggie Fair 2013 in Dallas, Reverchon Park, on October 20. The Festival runs from 11am to 6pm, but the Kids Yoga demos will be at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30. So, every hour for most of the day!

From the Festival’s web site:

The Texas Veggie Fair is put together by an all-volunteer team of Dallasites who are passionate about building + engaging the local community interested in the benefits and promotion of a plant-based diet, environmental causes + animal welfare. Get ready to be rocked with food, products, live music, speakers, games, activities + information which celebrate choices that do not inflict pain and destruction to animals, people or planet.

Will I see you there?

Texas Veggie Fair 2013 | October 20, Reverchon Park, Dallas TX

All the Drama: on the Internets and IRL Episode #4

All The Drama On The Internets

I have not posted this week yet because there has been so much drama and sadness, and then a little anger thrown into the mix, both on the internets and in real life. As you know, I am typically a very peaceful person so it has all been inside my head. I’m going to give you a bulleted list of things that are currently bringing me down so that I can clear my head and focus on hope.

Petty Nutrition Mis-information

#KFCKidsMeals. I am going to start with the most petty drama on the Internets and I am going to make this one quick. KFC paid for a bunch of bloggers to come out and try their new kids meals and tweet about it. They decreased the overall calorie count of the kids meals to 210, and that was a main talking point. Nevermind that the meals are still nutritionally vacant, fried, and full of PHO’s, artificial colors, and nothing resembling a real chicken. Some people got mad that bloggers would even pretend these meals were good for people. Other people defended the bloggers. Arguments ensued.
Hope: Let’s all just agree that if you are convinced by the hashtag #KFCKidsMeals that fried meat-composite is a good nutritional choice for your kids, you are gathering your information from the wrong sources, my friend.

Blows to Feminism

Steubenville. Specifically, the reaction of the city and the media to the verdict. Instead of confirming that justice had been served in the conviction of two young football players who raped a 16 year old girl and posted photos of the rape on social media, or at the very least remaining neutral, I was horrified and depressed that the reaction seemed to be sympathy for the men. It was all, “Oh, they were such good football players and now their careers are ruined! What a shame!”. There was also a huge backlash on Twitter blaming the victim of the rape. What a shame?!! Shame on HER?! Are you kidding me? What a shame that our country has so little value for that 16 year old girl and such an apparently low value for women’s sexuality in general. What a shame that women are still seen to be at fault for sexual attacks. Shame on us for raising boys that still believe that women are objects to be used and tossed away. They had an awful lot of confidence to post those pictures and it not even occur to them that anyone would have a problem with it.
Hope: I was encouraged by this post from A Holy Experience about 25 Things Our Sons Need To Know About Manhood. Oh look, I have a son that I will be raising to fight against this kind of treatment of women.

Pycon. As a woman who worked in IT and programming throughout my corporate career, I was often the only woman in my department. I went to conferences in my early 20’s. I feel that, as a woman, I have the right to raise a complaint when I am sexually harassed (and I am…we all are, constantly). But the thing that depresses me is that Adria was fired from HER job for raising a complaint. Not just the man who made the remark, but the woman who was insulted was fired. What is this, 1960? The last time I worked in corporate America I had to sit through 2 days of sexual harassment training videos and exercises. Everyone did. Those videos told us that it was OK to report sexual harassment. I think we all know that we can be fired for what we blog, but Adria’s company knew she blogged at But You’re A Girl before they hired her. I feel like this case just exemplifies how women are really treated in the workplace. We want to think we are equals, but then something like this happens and I have to think that maybe we’re just wishfully thinking.
Hope: Sometimes when I get discouraged about women in the workplace, I read tweets from my friend Blessing @ThinkFeminist on Twitter. She is a huge encouragement! And there’s also the #workingmomchat at 7pm CST on Twitter.

My own perception of safety

In the last few weeks there have been 3 aggravated sexual assaults on women in our neighborhood. Not the kind that comes from domestic violence, but unexpected attacks from a single rapist (same perpetrator of all three, confirmed with DNA evidence) who had apparently been closely watching the women’s patterns and following them to find them alone. Two of these women also go to my church. One I knew personally. I am not full of fear because I still have a trust in God that whatever He allows for me is His plan. But I am discouraged because this seems to bear out the kind of feeling I got from the news stories regarding women. I know that in the Congo and in Uganda, rape is the #1 tool of violence. Are we heading in that direction here, even in Dallas?
Hope: Our pastor wrote a blog post addressing fear. Some of my friends organized a prayer walk in the neighborhood where all three rapes occurred.

Walmart is moving across the street

I know, it is petty of me to even write about Walmart in the context of rape and discrimination. Don’t worry, friends on Facebook have pointed out that they don’t agree with my outrage. But let me ‘splain. To me, this is a moral issue. Sure, I am concerned about our property values. Yes, I am concerned about the crime rate in our neighborhood. I am annoyed that Walmart didn’t have to ask anyone before deciding to build a 90,000 square foot store less than a 1,000 feet from my door. The traffic is going to be killer. But in the larger picture, to me Walmart is symbolic of things that corporate America is doing wrong which I refuse to support with my consumer dollars. I wish that no one supported Walmart for this reason. The culture of “cheap” that Walmart has created into a religion exploits workers in their U.S. stores and in the manufacturing plants that it supports overseas (since at least 60% of Walmart’s products are imported from China and other overseas locations). Child labor, injustice, discrimination, profitting from the poverty of the underprivileged and less educated… I could rant on and on about this, but instead I have created a Pinterest board on My Problems With Walmart. Check it out. Let me know if you have additional articles to Pin.
Bottom line, this is probably about my own weakness. I am afraid that if they build that giant store within walking distance of my house, I am going to be tired and hungry one day and I am going to cave in and go to Walmart. Then I will feel guilty for days for supporting Walmart. I don’t want that temptation.
Hope: If you do live near me, please sign our petition. We need the 2,000 signatures by April 4. Honestly, it might do nothing at all, but it’s our only shot.

~~~
Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest! Supportive and encouraging comments welcome. Flaming comments, probably going to be deleted.

BlogHer 2012: Part 2 of recap

BlogHer founders, BlogHer 2012
I’m officially BlogHer exhausted! Still sharing the love on Twitter and reading about people traveling home, seeing their kids, and unpacking swag. I got a moderate amount of swag but I was so busy this year that I actually didn’t make it to the Expo hall until the last day about 2 hours before it closed. Many vendors were completely out of handouts by then. Which is fine because really, many of the vendors I wouldn’t work with anyway (I am looking at you, LYSOL). The only one I was really sad to miss was SoDelicious, who makes my son’s favorite coconut milk. I heard they had coupons, but I never found them in the Expo hall.

We are going to power through a review of the rest of BlogHer 2012 because you and I are both anxious to get back to our regularly scheduled blogging topics, right?

Despite all the parties and socializing this year, I did attend sessions! A few were not my personal choice because I was Mic Wrangling, but I still enjoyed them. The first of the day was Advocacy: Blogging Across Issues and Borders. I am not an advocacy blogger or a Latina but it was interesting to hear women who were so passionate. Takeaway: This panel was a good reminder not to give up on blogging when it gets difficult, but to surround ourselves with others who encourage us to keep going.

BlogHer Martha Stewart

Of course, the big deal on Friday was Martha Stewart speaking at the lunch keynote. I am not going to lie, I stayed for about 5 minutes and then left. I really do respect Martha and all she’s done – she’s a powerhouse and soooo talented! But the lunch was so crowded and people were literally pushing each other out of chairs in the ballroom. I’m not a craft blogger, and I don’t do Martha-type stuff, so when I got claustrophobic I just left. I ate lunch next to this adorable baby right outside the ballroom!

Soshuga's cute baby

I was excited to see another Room Of Your Own about small blogs this year, since I am definitely considered a small blog by anyone who looks at size. Takeaway: In the Celebrate Your Small Blog session I was encouraged to keep doing what I’m doing and not be influenced to change my topic/convictions just to make more money or gain more followers. I was also reminded that I could probably work harder on ways to allow my followers to comment on the blog posts more easily from mobile devices.

Me, Carrie, and Alex from LateEnough (I was starstruck!)

After that session, I walked a few blocks and took a class at SLT NYC, a Megaformer Pilates class just like the ones I teach here in Plano. I love taking classes from other instructors because it gives me great ideas for new moves or moves I’ve forgotten. Of course, the class kicked my butt (in a good way)!

SLT NYC

I arrived at the annual Voices Of The Year keynote all sweaty and wearing workout clothes, but it was a beautiful and inspirational experience, as always. A big shout-out to my fave Fearless Formula Feeder who did a great presentation of her manifesto about feminism and formula feeding. If you were part of the Twitter fiasco following this keynote but did not actually get a chance to hear the reading, I’d encourage you to read it for yourself before taking a stance. I saw several people on Twitter misquoting things that Suzanne read in her post. It’s important to take this post in the context of its entirety.

After the keynote, it was up to my room to shower. I had several parties that night that I ultimately decided to skip so I could spend time with my friend Mica from MayBooks, who was in town for BlogHer as a vendor. We skipped the super crowded line for Hasbro and went to a cute Italian place with my roommate Jenn from Punky And The City.

Mica of MayBooks
All 3 of us spend dinner on our mobile devices 😉

It was 10pm when I got back to the hotel but Sparklecorn was just getting started!! I might have had a lil more to drink that usual, and danced way too late into the night.

Sparklecorn
The dark, thumping dance blob that is Sparklecorn

TheEcoChic and TheEcoChicMan gettin' down at Sparklecorn
Calley and her husband gettin’ down on the dance floor!

Rock on, Calley, Chris, Julie, Amanda, Alex, Carrie, and Blessing!

I was up super early the next morning for absolutely no good reason. Oh well. I do have to say that the food at BlogHer was not as good as previous years, and there was a lot less of it. I had to actually purchase food, which I’ve really never had to do before.

First session in the morning (after opening keynote) was the one I was most excited about: Pro Tips: Branding and Blogging Professionally. I was stoked because my friends Jill and Gina were leading this panel!! It was a great panel, as expected – lots of laughs but lots of practical advice. Takeaway: Do not drink so much at Sparklecorn next time or you will forget what you learned in the panel your friends led.

Next I was back to Mic Wrangling for When It’s Time To Spend Money To Market Your Work. I am not going to lie, by this time my energy was draining fast. It was a good session but about 3/4 of the way through I almost fell asleep. Takeaway: When is it time to start spending money to market your work? Probably not yet, for me. All the panelists assumed you make money at all – hahahahaha….I don’t.

Although I dearly wanted to go up to my room and nap, I was also hungry so I went to lunch and the lunch keynote with Katie Couric. Surprisingly, this lunch was less packed than the Martha Stewart lunch. Huh? I thought Katie was amazing – very personable and her upcoming show sounds really interesting.

I met up briefly with Stephanie from City Moms Blog, who is the umbrella organization for Dallas Moms Blog (you know I write there too, right?). I would like to apologize to Stephanie for my zombie-like state. I was literally about to fall over. I barely crawled up to the 42nd floor where there were free massages being offered by RosaceaFacts.com. Then I oozed back down to the 26th floor and took a good long nap. Unfortunately, I was forced to get up so I could stop by the Expo Hall before it was time to Mic Wrangle the closing keynote. This is why I didn’t get much sponsor swag – it was so late in the conference that many of them were packing up. Oh well, I still got Beth Terry to autograph my copy of Plastic Free: How I Kicked The Plastic Habit And How You Can Too, which I have already started reading and IT IS AMAZING.

The closing keynote revealed that next year, BlogHer 2013 will be in Chicago and it will be in July (2-27) instead of August. So excited!

For dinner, I got to eat at a local Asian fusion place with all the wonderful women I met and some who I just totally admire/stalk like Gina The Feminist Breeder and her husband.

The Feminist Breeder and Hyphenated Husband (!)

Powerhouse of Feminist Bloggers
Powerhouse of feminist blogging: Think Feminist, The Feminist Breeder, and Danielle Elwood

When we got back to the hotel, I packed up for a super early exit (6am!) in the morning. I was so sad to leave my friends, old and new.

Saying “bye” to Calley for another year – our third BlogHer together!

Overall, this BlogHer was another new and great experience. I am exhausted more than I’ve ever been in past years, but I’m also seeing even more opportunities on the horizon.

If I met you at BlogHer and you have any great pictures or would like to say “hi”, please do! I miss you all already!

Balance and margin

Back when I was single, before and during the going-through-therapy-and-recovery days, I had a real problem with over-commitment. It was really a function of me finding my security in what people thought of me because I never wanted to say “no”. So I said “yes” even thought that meant double- and triple- and even quadruple-booking my days and nights. I was on the go all the time and I had a lot of breakdowns from overextending myself.

As I grew older and emotionally more healthy, I realized that I did not have to say “yes” to everything. I could create margin in my life and schedule down time. It’s true that I lost touch with a lot of my friends from my single days when I got married, but it wasn’t because I was so absorbed with my new life that I didn’t care about them anymore. I made conscious choices to focus my energies on only a few things, and put my husband as the #1 priority. Having a “doing nothing” weekend was very important to him, so we didn’t commit to too many scheduled things. I think this is about the time I started really living consciously, and I started this blog somewhere around then too.

New Scooter!
This picture was taken right around the last
time I had a full night’s sleep, in 2008

With the birth of my two small children, I once again went back to the “bare bones” of social and volunteer commitments. I hadn’t realized how much I’d taken on over the years, but I cut it back to pretty much zero after Little Sir was born, and again with Little Lady. The first year of her life I wasn’t working anymore, but I also never slept through the night, so dividing my attention in any way was pretty much out of the question.

I have my fingers crossed as I type this (it’s difficult!), but I think I can say it now: both my kids have been sleeping through the night regularly for almost 2 months now. Wow. It’s totally amazing. I am starting to find bandwidth in my day that was never there before. By the time my son started sleeping through the night, I had a newborn, so I have not experienced this feeling of sleep since the end of 2008.

With the sleep returns the feeling that I could be doing more. I should clean more, I should sew more, I can volunteer now, I need to start working out…on and on. In the end, it’s actually sort of immobilized me. I just want to sit and do nothing because there are too many things I could be doing.

It’s the long way of saying this is why I haven’t been blogging lately. I actually have some great things to share with you, a few products that I LOVE which I think you will love, and a new career-type endeavor for me.

But while I approach these new things, I do it cautiously. I want to keep the margin of peacefulness I’ve been forced to cultivate over the last few years. I really do think it is a gift, even if I’ve mostly used it to sleep.

Do you have any tips for balancing? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom or encouragement!