Arming ourselves with body positivity

Last weekend Hip Circle Empowerment Center hosted its third annual body positivity photoshoot.  This year’s focus was arms, with a dress code of sleeveless tops and dresses.

Having just made two sleeveless dresses, it didn’t occur to me that some women are self-conscious about their arms. Then on July 14 going sleeveless even became a political issue in congress with women striving to change the dress code that doesn’t allow for sleeveless dresses in the Capitol’s House of Representatives lobby.  

I like my arms, especially now that they are toned from wire bending and Moxie Boxing. We had a blast striking various poses in front of the new Main Street Station Mural (more will pop up on Hip Circle’s web site). The fabulous Zinta Jauntirāns-Vogel took all our photos.

I knew I would bump into friends and was pleased to meet new power-women. Some are studio regulars, and others just found out about the shoot and decided to join in. We even tried to get passers-by in sleeveless outfits to take pictures with us (they declined).

Unlike the bikini shoot that sparked this annual event, I had no jitters during the day. It was more about deciding which dress to wear! One person had bought a top especially for the occasion.

A little girl who had been made self-conscious of a farmers tan refused to join. She later wanted to be part of some photos, but the rule was that she had to remove her cardigan. As the shoot progressed and we asked her about Wonder Woman’s power poses, she warmed up to the ladies present. Just as the group session wrapped she decided to join in after all. Now she is happy to leave the cardigan at home on hot days.

Here’s to the next empowering activity. I missed the shorts photoshoot last year, which also has fabulous messages.  Check out the various classes, workshops and events Hip Circle Empowerment Center organizes and see if one or more of them resonate with you.

Photos copyright Zinta Jauntirāns-Vogel

Hip Circle Empowerment Center just turned non-profit. Their mission: “Through dance, fitness, and community we empower ALL women to believe they are strong, beautiful, and worthy of attention.

Vision: The Hip Circle Empowerment Center is a safe space for women of all ages, backgrounds, and economic status. It brings together women from across societal boundaries for shared experiences. Through dance and fitness, women are empowered to joyfully inhabit their bodies. Through personal and professional development, women are empowered to courageously accomplish their goals. Through involvement in the studio community, women are empowered to confidently make their voices heard.”

Making Plant Stake Critters

I have distributed plant stakes at 3 locations this week, which means a lot of stake-making happened over the past month.

Staying focused to pick up more wire was indeed a danger zone during my hardware store trip.

Something compelled me to make stakes late last year, but then winter happened and ornament production kicked in. With spring/summer finally emerging, I decided to make more dragonflies and also play with ladybug designs.

I had to allocate enough pieces for Evanston Made, my own Pop-ups, a Sacred Art Consignment, and the new Hip Circle Empowerment Center Retail Zone.

There are popular colors, and then I keep finding scraps I want to play with, so it required some focus to get it all done. Shopping sprees also provide more fun colors.

I created a design on my Now That’s A Jig for the dragonfly. The ladybug is just two rounds and then I hand-bend the wings and the dots.

Then I cut out the patterns and place them on my palette to be waxed.

I fuse the paper layers onto the wire.

After that, I cut the paper or fabric to size.

It is easy to poke my eye out in the process, but so far so good. I also keep discovering new scratches on my arms…

Some stakes are embellished with alcohol inks, and I have one dragonfly hanging out on my porch to test all that for weather-fastness.

Rain causes a little bit of rust, and we’ll see what the sun does in terms of heat and fading.

Stakes are hard to photograph, so I need to figure out the setup for that if I load them to the shop.

Bouquets need a better backdrop as well.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the old bottles to use as a display.

So I scoped out Everlasting Fire Studio’s new glass vase designs that they debuted at a recent trunk show.

Based on my stake height they created two larger versions for me, and I love this much more than the recycled pieces.

I will still use the bottles as ‘car seats’ for my critters.

On Tuesday I dropped off my pieces at the former Hip Circle Studio.

Tonight the Hip Circle Empowerment Center makes its debut (changing Hip Circle from for-profit to not-for-profit) and the Women-Powered Retail Zone will be open for business.

I made special pieces for the occasion.

Class-goers have already admired all the gorgeous goodies by The Collage Cafe, Rita Shimelfarb, Golden Sapphire, See Jane Sparkle, Strait Jacket, Maike’s Marvels, Chai Wolfman, and Rock These Socks. We’ll be up for a month or two until the retail Zone features other woman makers, so you’d better shop during their new business hours.

The Women-Powered Retail Zone is open: 3 to 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,  1 to 4 pm Fridays, 15 minutes before & after all classes/workshops, and during the Custer Fair June 17 & 18. Here’s to my creatures flying off to new homes.

I also tagged a bunch for the Evanston Made pop-up shop at the Evanston Art Center, which opens tomorrow evening to the public.

All that spread-sheeting and number tracking has me looking forward to making more fabric versions next.

Establishing a fitness routine

In May I joined Hip Circle Studio to develop more of a fitness routine.

HipCircleMagnet

Because winter was so long and my social life had me attending numerous potlucks and barbecues my summer clothes remained snugger than last year and I knew I wasn’t naturally walking and stairmastering  the winter padding off like I had in past years.

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I started with CardioBelly, which promptly got me recruited for the Custer Street Fair flashmob. After a 6-year hiatus from bellydancing, the moves are still a bit rusty, but they do come back with practice.

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For a bit more toning I added Moxie Boxing to my routine, which is a fun class of kicking and throwing punches while holding small weights in your hands. No gloves required.

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Right after my birthday I was talked into sampling Kettlebell AMPD, but that workout is still a bit intense so I am going to give that another whirl after my body has adjusted more to the other muscle moves I put it through. This one session did happen to be picture day, so I am a poster-child for the time being.

KettlebellPosterChildphoto copyright Hip Circle Studio

We get stickers after each class and thus far I have attended two fun fitness parties that serve as a reward for filling a card with 5 stickers. Each party features a local business and offers a fun activity.

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When the studio went on summer break I dug up my jump rope and purchased a matching pair of shoes (and pants that didn’t shimmy down) to motivate me to jump by the lake.

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Initially I stumbled through 5 minutes, but after a month of thrice-weekly intervals I am up to 8 minutes of jumping with occasional zen moments of no tripping for a minute or 2.

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I hope to keep it up as the weather cools down (possibly in the laundry room, which won’t be near as scenic).

LakeRope

To warm up I do some of the floor exercises at home that we do in class as well, and on rainy non-class days the Bikini-ready Fast DVD comes out, which I can complete much easier now.

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When I picked that up years ago I tended to shut it off at 15 minutes from exhaustion. The home workouts are only 20-30 minutes, but still make me feel better than if I just rolled out of bed without any movement.

BikiniReadyFastDvd

My arms feel more toned and I know I have more stamina to walk. I haven’t dug out the scales from my closet because I still believe in Alexandra Jaye’s notion, but I will be monitoring the skinny pants waistline on a monthly basis.

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This coming month is all about nutrition, monitoring the ratio of my veggie intake vs. carbohydrate intake, which I know needs to be reversed. Even if I don’t go back to the ‘skinny’ size again, I know being healthy and fit makes me feel better about me, and gives me more energy to enjoy the rest of my life.

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You can peruse Hip Circle Studio’s schedule at www.HipCircleStudio.com. Zumba is fun too, and every class is filled with lovely women, empowering words, and fantastic playlists. Who doesn’t like to break a sweat to “I’m Sexy and I know it”?

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