This is wonderful:
This is wonderful:
So last week I went out to try a new fitness center in town. It was great, actually. I enjoyed the class I took: the staff seemed nice and enthusiastic, the center clean, the circuit training fast, efficient and fun. This morning I was greeted by an email from their head trainer, one that encouraged me to spark fitness change in myself by “getting disturbed at the body I have.”
I’ve lived too long being disturbed by my body. I spent my entire life, for as long as I can remember, hating my body for being too fat, too awkward, not strong enough. I cut myself down at every opportunity. I loathed myself, inside and out.
In the last four years, I found a safe space, between my husband and sports, to work through that garbage. I’ve spent hundreds of hours training, learning to move my body through space, make it do my brain’s will. I gradually came to love moving it, feeling the first initial spark of grace and competence — though for the first several years I stomped it out from frustration more often than I nurtured it — and slowly, surely, kindling it into something more. Lately, I can even say I like my body, which for me is a lifechanging statement. I like its strong curves, the beautiful cuts of tricep muscle, the shoulders that make my friends exclaim when they hug me. It’s a journey that’s been nothing less than miraculous; ask anyone who remembers me from even five years ago. Ask Paul. I am sad it took me until 42 to get to this point, but I am grateful beyond measure that I came to understand this truth before my body started giving out in major ways.
These days I have been working out not because it is work, but because I love it, I really *really* love it. I love how my brain feels solid, stable, calm after physical activity, in ways that nothing else can help. Every time I reach for a soothing food, a glass of wine to “unwind” — I hope to achieve that feeling of wholeness. But here’s the truth: none of that works for me, at least not for more than the moments in which it happens. I’ve changed my diet enough that more than one drink or a small sweet treat leaves me feeling gross and out of sorts the following day, and the only thing that cures it is more movement, more being mindful and present inside of myself, not seeking escape routes.
I find myself returning to movement because it feels right, because I have discovered the joy of motion, because strangest of strange things, I am coming to love myself. I learned to love myself because my physical journey was fueled by love and enthusiasm and positivity from Paul, from my friends, from my teammates, even from my opponents. All that love eventually wore down all that self-hate.
And I’m not going back to that mindset, ever. And you don’t have to, either. Move because it feels good. Find physical activities that make your body and brain happy and do them. Push yourself to find a healthy place because you love yourself and want to be better, to feel better.
Just do it: Love yourself.
For the last several years, my hiking / paddling /skiing buddy R has been trying to get me to head up north with her during the winter for a skiing weekend. I always balked, thinking the driving would be bad, or that it’d be too far, or that the cabin would be too primitive (R likes to do things like spend an entire weekend living in a snow cave). This year, badly in need of a change of scenery, I finally took her up on her offer. She invited a few other folks along, and we had a great time of it.
The Michigan DNR has several dozen rustic cabins for rent, and after some hit-and-miss with the website, we ended up with one in Cheboygan State Park, one that we hoped would have a good view of Lake Huron. Boy, did we luck out:
Despite the 15F outdoor weather, the cabin was lovely inside, with four double-bunks, big wooden tables and chairs, hooks for hanging our food to keep the mice out of our packs, and a fat cast-iron woodstove that easily warmed the entire place. The DNR stocks the firewood, and previous travellers left matches and paper scraps, so we had no trouble keeping the fire going all weekend, banking it when we left (though after the first night we did have to institute a “whoever gets up to pee has to put a log on the fire” rule). A big hand-pump was ten feet to the left of the front door, and was somehow in perfect working order despite the freezing temperatures. The privy was fifteen steps to the right of the front door, and didn’t smell at all, because of the freezing temperatures.
The following morning we got up, fixed a giant breakfast, and then went out for some snowshoeing to the coast. The path was beautiful and bright with reflected sunlight, and pine boughs laden with ice made tiny rainbows wherever you looked, clattering like tiny windchimes.
The panorama is stunning — if you look really closely you can see the Mackinac Bridge faintly in the center left, and the Nine Mile Lighthouse on the right. We couldn’t dally long, though, because the wind coming off the lake knifed right through our clothes. It was much more pleasant behind the first row of dunes.
We had to hike all our food and gear in and out, and R had the foresight to bring a kid’s snow sled along, which allowed us to bring an unholy amount of food and drink in with us. Fie upon freeze-dried food! Nothing but the best on this trip, and with six women along, we had roughly 300% more food and 500% more drink than what we actually needed.
The second day we decided to head up to Tahquamenon Falls in the UP and do some hiking around there. The falls are, if possible, even more spectacular in the wintertime. We did a short hike along the river and were astonished to see a pair of river otters sporting in a clearing, leaping on and off the ice into the black water.
As the short day gathered into night, we had an excellent meal at the pub, and then headed back to the cabin. The following day held a bit of hiking, but was mostly a long slog home through foul weather. Though the return trip was pretty rough driving, the overall success of the trip inspired most of us to make it an annual occurrence.
After the SCOTUS legalized gay marriage, the city of Kalamazoo held an equality celebration rally at Bronson Park. Paul and I have a friend who’s a pro-gay-marriage Lutheran minister at the local ELCA church, and The Rev asked Paul to come down and play some music at the rally. Kalamazoo mayor Bobby Hopewell had already married two couples by the time I arrived at the park, and I got to witness two more marriages and a couple of vow renewals. It was an absolutely beautiful day.
I started this about two months ago as a short-story exercise, and it’s taken me this long to finish it. It’s not much, but it’s still comics. One foot in front of the other.
I’m very sorry to report that I won’t have a table at SPX this year, after all. For more details, please check my post on the Fiery Studios site.
Last night I drove out to Ann Arbor to pick up the test run of the Old Ghosts print-on-demand edition. I was very pleased with the results (full report on the Fiery Studios site), and celebrated by going out for one of my favorite foods in the world, tonkotsu ramen. Jim Ottaviani and Kat Hagedorn were polite enough to indulge me in my noodle cravings.
Have some Kamala Khan and Lockjaw to start your year off right. Gotta say, G. Willow Wilson has totally turned me around on Lockjaw. Always thought he was too dorky.
After three months of looking — the Gilberts found the stratoballoon! Or rather, a local farmer did, when he saw the orange parachute start to get sucked into his combine. Thank goodness he was able to stop the machinery before the capsule got mangled too badly. Check out the report:
The Gilberts also got featured in this great news story on our local CBS affiliate. But my favorite part is, as I expected, all the beautiful, beautiful data. Mark’s written some in-depth posts outlining all the different metrics they were able to track, and plotting them in fascinating ways. He’s put together 2-d graphs of the flight data, mapped its GPS data on Google Earth, and then gives a writeup on how he got all the data into and out of the SD card that did all the logging. So cool!
Congrats, Gilberts, on a successful end to an incredible, two-year journey! I’m glad to have been a small part of it.
Over on the Fiery Studios blog, I’ve added my SPX Con Report. This is also probably a good time to mention that I’ve updated the layout of the Fiery Studios site The Fiery Studios Store now has a proper shopping cart, and you can download PDFs of all three books for less than on other sites.
You may have noticed that the JanerBlog also got a facelift recently, and now both it and the Fiery Studios site are properly responsive, meaning that you can read them easily on your phone or tablet. The Vögelein and Clockwork Game sites should also follow soon.
Go have a look!
Hey you guys, want to see how the Clockwork Game Deluxe Hardcovers are going to be made? Check out this tour of Bessenberg Bindery that I posted as an update on my Kickstarter! Jon Buller was gracious enough to let me completely geek out all over his workshop and take a ton of pictures. I have always been fascinated by seeing how things are made, so this was a real treat, and I’m excited to share it with you.
Leaking faucets irritate the snot out of me, so tonight I took about an hour and disassembled both my studio faucet and the upstairs bathroom faucets. No more drips! It makes me feel so happy that armed with the internet’s instructions and a well-stocked toolkit, I can do handy things around the house by myself.
Signal boost of the week goes to Sydney Padua, who just announced that Pantheon books will be publishing a graphic novel of her amazing webcomic, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage! Congrats, Sydney!
The snow is on the ground. The skis are in the car.