Category Archives: Mind•Body•Soul

Battle Scars

An artistic alternative to living with mastectomy scars

Every woman should take pride in her body. After a mastectomy, many breast cancer survivors find it difficult to look at their bodies in the same way. The procedure is invasive and life-changing, but it is often necessary in the fight against the disease. Each survivor handles this differently, and some have decided to cover their scars with tattoos. One local artist has made an offer to help those who wish to pursue that path.

monicamoses1Monica Moses realized she wanted to be a tattoo artist after she got her first tattoo. One of the first females to pursue the profession in Roanoke, she remained with the same shop for fourteen years. An international award winning artist, she tattooed people all over Europe and the United States during that time. She opened her own studio, Electric Eye Custom Tattoos, early this year in Floyd.

Recently, one of her long time friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy. As a result, Moses was inspired to offer free tattoos to breast cancer survivors who wish to cover or work around their scars. “[My friend] is a strong fighter and one of my heroes. I have tattooed mastectomy scars before. If these women can battle that and survive, then it is the least I can do to help them feel beautiful again.”

Any scars that patrons wish to cover must be at least three years old because there is a high rejection rate. However, if scars are more recent than that, she can tattoo around them. Whether a patron is a breast cancer survivor or not, she wants everyone who visits her shop to walk away with a creation of which they can be proud for the rest of their lives.

“I do custom tattoos here. Each tattoo is drawn specifically for the person who receives it– down to the lettering.” In case you are wondering, that means your tattoo is not just a picture on the wall that six other people have requested. Patrons should come prepared with an idea of what they want. The task before Moses, as an artist, is to bring their idea to life.  She can also recreate any piece of art for her customers.

monicamosesTattoos help tell the story of your life.  They can be as interesting or as mysterious as you wish for them to be. For breast cancer survivors, it offers a different type of illustration to a story that they not only bravely fought, but survived.

If you are interested in seeing more work from Moses, or if you would like her to create something for you, call (540)467-8578 or visit her Facebook page.

Have a Riot: The Anti-Diet

Written by Beth Herman

Winter will not give us a break! Noses that drip and stuffed up ears. Fevers that reach 102 degrees, and pink eye that requires two prescriptions and three weeks to relent. An impassable driveway. Temperatures below 40 degrees three weeks in a row. Snow, snow and more snow. But the most annoying thing about this endless winter?  The hash it’s made of my running schedule.

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I’m an unimpressive runner.  Very slow, I stop to use the bathroom every 20 – 30 minutes, get lapped by runners younger and fitter, and passed by those larger and older. I’m not winning medals or breaking any records.But so what! Running makes me feel like a rock star; strong and lean, and I drop it into conversation every chance I get.

Quite simply, I am in love with running. Thrilled with my increased energy level, I adore the couple of uninterrupted hours it gives my husband and me to talk every other morning.  Most importantly, running has kept me fit without the stress of dieting, which is not easy at 51 years old.

What this involves is a shift of perspective. Instead of obsessing about what that brownie, cupcake or extra helping of mashed potatoes will add on the scale, think instead of how what you eat affects your workouts.  You don’t have to run marathons. Walking, Nia, or tennis will do. Thinking of yourself as an athlete, your food choices are filtered through that lens. I want those cookies but I am not supposed to have them, becomes, I need to eat some turkey to properly fuel myself for my workout in an hour.

 

Negativity and denial, dangerous issues when it comes to weight, are removed from the equation. Here are some ideas:

1)      Allow yourself to fall in love; cultivate an interest in walking, running, yoga, or nia.  Read everything you can on the activity, as if you were preparing to learn knitting, Spanish cooking or bird watching.

2)      It’s never too late to start. I didn’t begin running until my mid forties.

3)      Take ego, appearance and weight out of it. Thoughts like, “I have to do this because it will help me to lose weight,” are negative. Do your regular workout as a result of your commitment to the activity.

4)      Begin with baby steps: I started out running up and down my driveway, now I can go up to 90 minutes at a time.

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5)      Find a mentor. People enjoy helping others pursue a shared passion. My guru was a single woman 21 years my junior. An accomplished runner who had run every U.S. marathon at least twice, she came to my neighborhood once a week, keeping me laughing and distracted as we hauled up the hills of my development. She lives in Europe now with her husband and new baby.These days when we get together it’s over a meal and a glass of wine- and I don’t even count the calories!

 

In addition to being a runner, Beth Herman is an artist and essayist.

Celebrating Women Everywhere!

Ladies, I would like to remind you that Saturday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.

Without the progress that we have made in the last century, we would not be able to celebrate the achievements of many female entrepreneurs, politicians, doctors, celebrities, and activists. The way we view ourselves as members of a community would change entirely.  Our imaginations would be stifled, and our dreams would likely burn out long before we began to pursue them.  There are many famous women who deserve celebration, but I want to remind you that YOU deserve just as much recognition.

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Perhaps you are a single mom, juggling two jobs and the responsibility of raising your children.  Or, you are a student, waitressing your way through college.  Maybe you are a cancer survivor, learning to face each day with the ability to enjoy your moments of happiness—without constantly living in fear of the future.  The fact that we wake up and face each day with determination—even just a sliver of it—in a world where anything can happen, is worth celebrating.  We balance the things we need to do to survive and the things that mean the most in our life on a daily basis.  This may not always be graceful; it may not always be pretty, but the fact that we keep trying makes us strong women worth celebrating.

I am lucky, because I have had so many strong female role models over the years.  However, there is one that I will not be able to thank in person tomorrow.  My aunt, Joyce Young, was one of the strongest women I have ever known.

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Joyce Young

One of eleven children, she made it her personal responsibility to make sure our large family stayed connected after my great-grandmother passed away.  At times she worked two jobs, kept up her house, and still found time for her husband, son and extended family.  She would have given her last dime to anyone in need—no matter how hard she worked for it.  Although she will never be famous, she influenced the way I work and interact with other people.  There are days when her memory and the desire to make her proud inspire me to push forward.

Make the most of this opportunity to thank the inspirational women that you know.  Pick up the phone and call your mom, sister, aunt, grandmother, or friend and thank her for all the sacrifices she has made in her life.  Remind her that she is an amazing person, and congratulate her on her accomplishments.  Also, please know that I am celebrating YOU, and that I appreciate every contribution you have made to our area and our world.

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Feel free to share your stories about the influential women in your life in the comments below.

 

Winter Blues

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—the one that only you can see. If you are experiencing any type of mood disorder, you may feel as though you have very few options to pursue. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people live with seasonal depression, borderline personality disorder, postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, and more.
You may be surprised at the number of successful women who live with these problems. For years, we have been taught to hide our illness like dirty laundry. This is despite the fact that medical science has proven them to be the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Like many of you, I live with an anxiety disorder. It is made worse by the thought that I have to hide it from everyone that I meet. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to control it.

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Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It sounds cliché, but you will see yourself handling stress much better. Search for websites like Go Woman Go to find other women experiencing similar problems. You may discover that their empowering stories, like that of founder Lashinda Demus, will inspire you to keep going. Chances are, they will also remind you to be optimistic, instead of anticipating the worst possible outcome of every situation.
Try a sun lamp. It benefits those experiencing seasonal and nonseasonal depression, among other disorders. Eliminating harmful ultraviolet radiation, it brings the short wavelengths of sun light indoors. Consult your physician to make sure the treatment is right for you, especially if you are taking any medications. I have recently purchased one, and I am already noticing an improvement. My energy levels have increased, and I am almost as energetic as any other twenty-something. Additionally, I find myself waking up earlier without an alarm.  You can find one on Amazon.

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Most importantly, please remember that having a personality or mood disorder is not something of which you should be ashamed. There is no reason you should be unsuccessful as a result. It may take some time, and more than one visit with your doctor, but you will find a course of treatment that makes you feel better. Until that time, seek out those facing similar issues. Build your support system. There is nothing more comforting than someone who understands that although your illness is invisible, it is very real.

The Plus Size Problem: Revisited

Written By Kacee Eddinger

February is Body Awareness Month. To celebrate, I want to build off of one of our previous articles, “The Plus Size Problem.” Both the plus size problem and the Body Positivity Movement both go back further in time than you may realize.

The Body Positive Movement began fifty years ago, alongside second wave feminism, as the Fat Acceptance Movement. It started as an effort to combat social and legal inequalities surrounding those who do not conform to a slimmer body type. This movement led to the promotion of healthy ideals regarding different body types.  Societies like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and Health at Every Size(HAES) were formed.

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Since then, designers have created fashion lines dedicated to plus size clothing.  Despite setbacks due to the diet and exercise culture of the 1980s, the Fat Acceptance movement did not disappear. In fact, a new group, The Body Positive, was created.

Seeking to teach everyone to cherish their bodies regardless of size, the group has added the term, “Body Positivity” to our vocabulary. Although “Fat Acceptance” is still an important movement, this group encourages everyone, including skinny individuals, to value their appearance.  It advocates against the pursuit of an ideal that cannot be achieved instead of asking the general public to attempt to conform to it.bpm3

Still, there is a misunderstanding in our culture regarding body acceptance.  In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Jennifer Lawrence said, “I just think it should be illegal to call someone fat on TV. I mean if we’re regulating things like sex and cigarettes and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”

Much was said about Lawrence’s quote, from news stations, to blog posts, and many lauded the movie star for speaking out against fat shaming.

I didn’t hear about Jennifer Lawrence’s talk with Barbara Walters until the media storm around it had died down.  However, in a discussion with my friend regarding body positivity, I realized that Lawrence’s statement just missed the mark. My friend told me she thought my body was beautiful. “And it’s so nice to cuddle with people who have an extra layer to them!” she added. She was paying me a compliment, which I took, but I could hear dancing around something with her word choice.

“You know,” I said. “You can call me fat. It’s just an adjective. For me, it’s the same as saying I’m tall, I have brown hair and blue eyes. I am fat.”

For a long time, this was not so. From a young age, I was called fat as an insult. Fat people on TV and in movies were invisible or made out to be jokes. Nobody outright said it, but diet infomercials told me being fat was wrong. Everyone in them said they were so much happier now that they were skinny. My mother never called me fat, but has encouraged me to diet since I was nine.

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Being fat has never been easy. Since discovering body positivity, I have learned to love myself for who I am AND for how I look. I have found encouragement from those who told me I was both beautiful and fat– the two did not have to be separate ideas. Now, being fat is very much a part of my identity. That’s where Ms. Lawrence’s words fell a little short for me.
While Lawrence was trying to speak out on bullying and name-calling, she still implies in her quote that being fat is shameful and equates it with cancer-causing cigarettes. The truth is that identifying someone as “fat” should not be illegal, but fat shaming should be. Fat people should not be ridiculed for being fat, no more than a person with blonde hair should be ridiculed for being blonde. However, too often people are humiliated by others because of their appearance.  Instead, they should be encouraged to love their bodies; regardless of race, size, hair

color, etc.  It is important to emphasize this to young women—so they spend their lifetime loving themselves, rather than trying to conform to a standard that no one can achieve. It is up to each individual to stand up for body positivity and end “fat shaming.” Our responsibility, as women, is to support one another for who we are– not for who society tells us we should be.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Natural Hair Care This Winter

Harsh winter weather can be detrimental to all different types of hair, but the cold, dry air is especially brutal to Black hair and other types of textured hair. Natural hair, and newly transitioned natural hair, risk undergoing extreme breakage and damage when exposed to the winter elements. Need some help on how to upkeep the quality of your natural hair? Avoid damage this winter with these must have items and habits to introduce to your hair.

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  • An Efficient Protective Hairstyle

Protective styling, such as twists, braids, or locs, helps to retain length by stretching out your hair and encouraging growth. With minimal manipulation, you natural hair will be allowed to grow freely, eliminating the constant threat of tangling and breakage. Because your hair will already be in a style, all you have to worry about is maintenance–which allows more time to focus on moisturizing your scalp and roots! But be sure to only keep protective styles in for their maximum time limits–let your hair breathe! Keep box braids in for no longer than three months at the max, for example!

  • A Satin-Lined Beanie

Want to cover up your hair and keep your ears warm in style this winter? Invest in a satin-lined hat or beanie to keep your ends protected and to retain moisture on the go! You can find many of these online on Etsy or you could make one yourself with this easy online tutorial video!

  • Incorporate Heavy Products

Add heavier sealants and oils into your normal routine like shea butter to guarantee maximum moisture retention in the cold weather. You can find heavy shea butter at your local health food store.

  • Wash Your Hair Less

Unlike less textured hair, natural hair requires less frequent washing as it removes essential moisture from already dry hair. At least limit hair washing to every ten days or two weeks to limit drying out your hair even more.  Use fewer products to encourage healthy growth.

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  • Condition, Condition, Condition!

Ditch the shampoo and co-wash regularly! Carol’s Daughter has a lot of products in stock to cleanse and condition your hair all at once! If you don’t already do so, incorporate frequent deep conditioning treatments to your lifestyle. You can buy products to deep condition with in your local beauty store or stick to hot oil treatments with Extra Virgin Coconut or Olive Oil (and any other essential oils if you’d like!) Apply warmed oil to your hair and scalp and leave on for about an hour. Then, simply rinse and co-wash!

Remember Those New Year’s Resolutions?

January’s almost over and you may have already forgotten about that to do list of New Year’s Resolutions that only seems to get longer. You haven’t gone to the gym five times a week like you were hoping to and yesterday you bought yet another pack of cigarettes. Don’t beat yourself up about not fulfilling all of your 2014 goals by now. The most common reason why New Year’s Resolutions fail is because we tend to set huge standards for ourselves and these goals are often bigger than they should be.

new year goals or resolutions - colorful sticky notes on a blackboard

Aim lower; start small. Don’t plan to change your entire lifestyle in a week, rather make small improvements to your lifestyle more frequently. If you want to live healthier, set a goal of eating some type of fruits or vegetables every day or incorporating less strenuous exercises into your daily routine, such as stretching every other morning.

Know your limits. We tend to set grand resolutions expecting to see a major change instead of setting realistic goals. People who live a generally hectic life should not set too many goals at once. Rather, try to change one behavior at a time. This can be as minor as wanting to have more time to see your friends and be social or talking to your family more often. Long term ideals often fall through the cracks–for example, if you wish to learn a new language or lose weight, just do a little every day. Resolutions will come through gradually; don’t expect sudden changes.

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Get a support group. It’s easier to work towards your goals with the help of friends and family on your side. Accept any help that comes your way which will also help with any relapses in behavior or stress management. Those on your side will make sure you keep going whenever you feel less than capable and can definitely throw a great celebration party when you achieve a goal!

Stay positive. So you were too tired to work out or hang out with family and friends–don’t worry about it. Mistakes are normal and can even give you more incentive to get back on the track. Thinking positively defeats those negative thoughts that can threaten any further progress. Come up with your own inner mantra and always keep on the bright side of life!

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We want to know, have you stuck to your resolutions so far?  What are your secrets?  Remember, there is no shame in failing, as long as you keep trying!

The beauty of holiday traveling

Vocalists from Perry Como and the Carpenters to Michael Buble have warbled about how wonderful it is to be home for the holidays. But who says you have to buy into that belief? Not being home for the holidays offers many advantages, including the opportunity to travel, visit far-off loved ones or just immerse yourself in total relaxation during one of the most hectic times of the year.

While families with small children may embrace the experience of decorating, cooking and gift-giving in the comfort of their own home, other groups – such as families with teens, couples without kids, and baby boomers who love to travel with friends – may feel ready to revel outside their home zone. Like traveling at any time of year, holiday trips are not without hassles, but the benefits can make the challenges worthwhile.

Here are a handful of reasons why not being home for the holidays could make the season bright:

* Total relaxation – Instead of hurrying to decorate your home, host a soiree, accept every invitation, prepare enough food to feed an armored battalion, and find exactly the right gift for everyone you’ve ever met, going away to a resort during the holidays can help ease holiday stress. Opt for a quintessential winter getaway and you’ll enjoy a snowy holiday season, complete with carolers, hot cocoa and holiday decor around every corner.

* Visiting far-away loved ones – Is there an adored cousin whom you just don’t get to see that much anymore? A brother who lives five states away whom you haven’t shared the holidays with since you both lived with your parents? Giving up being in your own home for the holidays affords you the chance to enjoy part of the season in the home of loved ones you see infrequently. While you spend the whole year with the family you live with or the ones who live nearby, the holidays are the perfect time to re-connect with family and friends who live far away. And, if you don’t want to add to their stress during the season, you can find plenty of great hotel deals in cities across the country.

* Savoring seasonal flavors without the work – Holiday cookies, pumpkin pie and elaborate dinners are an integral part of the season for many people, but they’re also a lot of work. Staying in a hotel or luxury resort during the holidays ensures you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite flavors of the season – prepared by a professional chef and leaving cleanup chores to someone else. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen preparing and cleaning, you’ll get to share those seasonal flavors with your traveling companions.

* Great travel deals – Knowing many people prefer to stay home for the holidays, top hotels and resorts across the country offer travel packages, deals and incentives to entice holiday travelers. Add-ons abound, from all-inclusive offerings with meals, parties and special dinners, to shopping packages that provide travelers with access to and discounts for premium shopping venues.