Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The post in which I diss another writer's opinion on sexuality in fitness trends

Words in red are mine.
Have you ever noticed that fitness trends geared toward women tend to be a bit sexualized? You don't say!
While we support a woman’s choice Did we appropriate the Planned Parenthood slogan? to get fit any way she chooses, we’d love it if the following sexualized workouts and fitness trends disappeared, like, yesterday. Like, you just gave away your inexperience in life, my dear.

1. Mermaid tail workout

Yes, you read that right. Well I do have my bifocals on. Cliché alert. The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego hosts a weekly class called Mermaid Fitness. The class is a “high-intensity, full-body workout” that’s basically “circuit training mixed with an ab workout on the side of the pool,” Well and Good reports.
“You’ll swim laps to get your heart rate up, and I also included standing stationary movements, like squats and arm exercises with a beach ball,” Veronica Rohan, a fitness instructor at the hotel, adds.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with donning a tail and getting sweaty, There's plenty of weirdness about donning a tail and getting sweaty! Plus, neither the fitness instructor nor the publication you quoted said anything about a tail. but last time we checked, mermaids were considered highly sexual, human-luring creatures. Did you check with Disney, though? So, it’s a bit odd that this sexual fetish is now considered a great way to burn calories. We’ll just stick to swimming laps in the pool in our swimsuits. If you like that kind of boredom, sure.
We should note that the class is open to men, too, which does relieve us slightly. Well I'm glad one of us is relieved. That actually makes me wonder why men would want to don a tail. Still, though…

2. Pole dancing

This exercise trend isn’t new, but it is still really annoying. We’re all about learning how to feel sexy, but there’s just something about these classes that creeps us out. First, is pole dancing that good of a workout? A question asked by someone who has obviously never tried it. Couldn’t you get similar results by going to a pilates or yoga class? I've done all three kinds of classes, and in a word, NO. Second, strippers are highly sexualized in a negative way Is being highly sexualized ever done in a positive way? in the United States. So, until they are respected by the masses, Bwahaha! Are you holding your breath for this to happen? Not if you perpetuate the ignorance with an article like this. perhaps we shouldn’t name a class after what they do to make a living. And third—and this should go without saying—if you’re doing this workout because you want your partner to think you’re sexy, think twice. Because the person you’re sleeping with should appreciate your body and moves for what they are—not because you’re taking a strip aerobic class. Uh, so nobody should take a class to look and feel better, and maybe even feel more confident in bed? We should just be grateful for the status quo the way the orphans in Oliver Twist weren't supposed to ask for more gruel?

3. Super-hot workout selfies

The Greatist recently published a great piece about how fitness “gurus” and  models from all walks of life are embracing the following motto in the name of losing weight or firming up: “If you do it, you’ll look great naked.” Sure, everyone wants to look good when they’re in their birthday suits, but isn’t fitness really about health? Does it have to be one or the either?
“#Fitspiration has turned into full-blown, soft-core porn workout videos of girl after girl deadlifting in bootie shorts,” Greatist reports. “These videos clearly inspire more calories burned from fast wrists moving than any other part of the body. Hahahaha! Best line in the article, but you didn't write it. You can’t actually work out to them, as they quickly cut from one shot of a girl doing a handstand in a thong to another girl bouncing up and down doing jumping jacks in a bikini.”
And now the cop-out — err, disclaimer: Now, even though we are a bit weirded out about these exercise and fitness-inspired trends doesn’t mean you should be. Because if you feel comfortable doing these types of workouts and they make you feel good about your body, then go ahead and do the workouts! Just make sure the organization or class you’re taking is all inclusive and supports bodies and people from all walks of life. I should worry about that? I can't just go and work out? Should I pause at the door and gauge if the class supports bodies and people from all walks of life, then turn around and leave if the ratio of fit to fat bodies is off?
From "Three Sexualized Workouts that Freak Us Out"

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dancing, sewing, gardening, yoga—it's all about finding God anyway

Yesterday I was digging around in my spare bedroom where I imprison piles of thrift store clothes and vintage linens that swallowed my story about some day glorifying them into the stars of my upcycled etsy shop. Some of them have been waiting for years. Each time I go in there I hear flea-thin voices shrieking, "Pick me! Pick me! I'd make a great ruffle."

In the corner is a stack of opaque plastic tubs with lids. I haven't looked in them for eight years. Just because they were next to the fabric pile I was digging in, I took off the lids and looked.

And was thrown into an archeological dig uncovering long-dead hobbies. Stencils for wall borders that went out of style 20 years ago. Craft scissors that cut fancy edges in paper. Rubber stamps of juvenile images I outgrew long ago. I began buying all this stuff in the '90s every time there was a coupon for the craft store. Like every hoarder-crafter, I hadn't paused to think if I'd ever find the time to use the stuff, and the tubs had turned into a time capsule. These were my artsy aspirations in my 30s. Unfulfilled.

At least I learned this about myself: I was a maker earlier than I gave myself credit for. I tend to trace my maker urges only back to the turn of the millennium, when I made my first Halloween costume and took first place in the staff competition. It took two decades to recognize myself as a creative being shepherded by an analytical brain rather than a logical mind with sudden, unpredictable urges to make something.

These days my soul identity as a creative (apparently the truly creative leave off the noun and use the adjective solo) feels so solid that it's practically my religion. I fellowship with artists. I worship with my needle and thread. My service to humanity takes the form of each new thing I shape with my hands. Thinking this way redefines my creating from "me time" to respectable work time. The only thing missing is a regular paycheck, but to extend the church analogy, I get whatever change is tossed in the collection basket.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What is true worship?

Sunday. I woke up thinking how much more gratifying it is to live life as the Beloved. Complete, perfectly loved by the Divine, without the need to seek (imperfect) love from fellow createds. I have known that perfect Love. The moment came unbidden. It was a split second, just as my eyes were halfway open after meditating in a yoga studio in Modesto, CA. It was a Saturday in March 2013. I had been meditating daily for three months to alleviate the anxiety attacks that started four months earlier. What I felt was this: I was awash in approval, in favor, I was being seen (by God) at my utmost self, in whom He took delight. I write this now and remember that in Scripture, that was how Jesus emerged from His baptism. A dove appeared, a voice said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Oh my gosh! I have known that piece from the Bible since I was a child, and just now understood it in my spirit.

This afternoon, leaning against the dishwasher, I thought, "Why do they call it 'the sacrifice of praise'?" ("We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.") Is it such a big sacrifice to praise God? I guess if you didn't love Him it would be. But maybe "sacrifice" in this context isn't something that hurts, something that requires that we give up what means a lot to us. (Although yes, we'd have to give up our ego to surrender to God in faith. That would be a sacrifice of needing to be in control.) 

What if sacrifice means an offering, like in Old Testament times? I think that's closer to how it was meant to be read. Jesus, the ultimate Sacrifice, put an end to sacrificial lambs and other innocent animals, because He alone was the perfection that could please God. 

As we approach the throne of God to worship, we would be empty-handed if we did not bring the sacrifice of praise and acknowledge the extreme sacrifice made for us by His Lamb.

I was raised to believe that as a person born with original sin, I am tainted unless and until I have accepted Christ as my Savior. Then I can inherit the Kingdom as one of God's children. But that second part, being a child of God, well, I hadn't really given that much thought as an adult. To me it simply meant keeping a pure heart, staying innocent, guileless, faithful, kind—all the good stuff. You tiptoe to the throne, head low, hoping God the Dad is in a good mood, has seen you being good like Santa does, hears your troubles, grants your prayers very soon after you pray them.

But to worship as the Beloved! To simply open to the veiled truth that as the vessel of the Holy Spirit I am already and always filled with His perfect love, whether the emotional weather is stormy or calm, regardless of debt, deadlines, life-threatening illnesses or crude, rude, aggravating people getting in my face. Worship isn't merely a refueling of my spirituality. Love doesn't run out like that. Not perfect love, anyhow. It brims and overflows.

To worship as the Beloved strengthens me to spill unconditional love with every step, over every encounter with every person, animal, object, being, in every situation. To worship as the Beloved is to turn my face to the blinding light, keep it there, and keep seeing that Light in my darkest moments. It is to take only the minimum time possible to get past the jabs, the insults, the hurts, the slights, the disappointments in flawed fellow createds so that I can focus again on that Light, that completion that I am only in Him.

"He who began a good work in you
will be faithful to complete it in you...
You are his treasure
and He finds His pleasure in you." ~Philippians 1:6