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Needs minor improvements/repairs:
Arwen, Lord of the Rings (sleeve embellishments need redoing with better Tulip paints)

Needs full re-do:
Athena, Saint Seiya
Lina Inverse, Slayers
Yue, Cardcaptor Sakura

No deadline/new:
Pyrrha Nikos, RWBY (armor version)
Pyrrha Nikos, RWBY (Jedi version)
Kirara, InuYasha (ballgown version)
Goddess Palutena, Super Smash Brothers
School uniform, Umi Ryuuzaki (Magic Knights Rayearth) -- nearly completed
Star Guardian Soraka, League of Legends
Lyn, Fire Emblem
Erza Scarlet, Daimatou Enbu (Grand Magic Games purple duster)
Yoruichi, Bleach (orange jumpsuit)
You'll note that I've changed my cosplay wish list.  Part of it is being more realistic about my body type, time constraints, and comfort levels at conventions--I can't both be press and walk around in full armor (I've done that, and running a camera while worrying about your costume is very stressful).  I've gained weight, changed proportions, and can't use my old patterns without alterations.  I've added simpler, more comfortable costumes because--let's face it--I'm getting older and can't as easily cosplay 15yr old anime girls.  My dayjob is becoming more and more complex and time consuming, which is a good thing for my career, but bad for my cosplay hobby.  Thus, the changing of the list.

Also, I'm trashing (getting rid of) Irelia.  I know I spent a lot of time and effort on her, and money as well, but I'm not happy with my progress.  Because I'm in such a rush for the convention, I'm making mistakes I can't remedy, taking shortcuts I shouldn't, and basically am racing through it without properly fitting any of it.  It's stressing me out, frustrating me, and upsetting me.  I can't fix a lot of the issues because they're foundational, aka I'd have to start over from scratch, and I'm just not into Irelia enough to want to do that.  So I'll take the experience gained--I came up with a new technique during the process, which you can catch on our podcast--and simply move on.

I think I'll simply have to do less each year with what time I have.  For now, career comes first, so while I will still cosplay--I enjoy it--I will simply be doing it slower.
Needs minor improvements/repairs:
Arwen, Lord of the Rings (sleeve embellishments need redoing with better Tulip paints)

No deadline:
Athena, Saint Seiya (redo)
Lina Inverse, Slayers (redo)
Yue, Cardcaptor Sakura (redo)
Pyrrha Nikos, RWBY (armor version)
Pyrrha Nikos, RWBY (Jedi version)
Kirara, InuYasha (ballgown version)
Goddess Palutena, Super Smash Brothers
Sorceress, He-Man (2002 version)
School uniform, Umi Ryuuzaki (Magic Knights Rayearth) -- nearly completed
Star Guardian Soraka, League of Legends
Leanne, Fire Emblem
Erza Scarlet, Daimatou Enbu (purple duster)
Lenneth Valkyrie, Valkyrie Profile (may do Hrist instead)
Remedia Kalar, Toushin Toshi 3
Illudana, Venus Blood Empire
Fana, Aozora Majika
Sara, Injoku no Seiki
Yoruichi, Bleach (orange jumpsuit)
Deadline:
Cosmos, Final Fantasy Dissidia, All-Con (done, needs little improvements)
Sierra (Presea's sister), Magic Knight Rayearth, Project A-Kon
Pyrrha (armor and formal dress versions), RWBY, Project A-Kon
High Elven ranger, Texas Renaissance Festival 2015

No deadline:
Sorceress, He-Man (2000 version)
Kirara, InuYasha (ballgown version)
Erza Scarlet, Raitei no Yoroi
Erza Scarlet, Nakagami no Yoroi
Erza Scarlet, Sacred Archer (Priestess of the Phoenix movie)
Sailor Pluto, Sailor Moon
Aquarius Degel, Saint Seiya
Cecilia, Fire Emblem
Lenneth Valkyrie, Valkyrie Profile (may do Hrist instead)
Sivir (original skin), League of Legends
Coronation Leia, Star Wars
Kuzuha, Ina-Koi
Remedia Kalar, Toushin Toshi 3
Illudana, Venus Blood Empire
Fana, Aozora Majika
Sara, Injoku no Seiki
Phoenix, Final Fantasy (original interpretation)
Iron Solaris Leona, League of Legends

Eventually, I will redo ALL of my current armor to make it look better as well as more sturdy.
For anyone wanting to see how I'm making my Sif armor pieces, I'll be filming myself tomorrow working on them.  I'll be working on gauntlets, pauldrons, and the breastplate.  (The greaves haven't been cut out yet.)  You won't be able to watch live unfortunately because I will be filming offline using our Canon; the footage will be shown in the next episode of CosPod, which will release the weekend of March 8-9th.  If you have any questions about armormaking in general, please feel free to ask.

I'll also possibly be working with magnets tomorrow, and I'll cover how I will be closing and attaching the armor pieces.  I'll also be talking about the mistakes I've made, and how I'm going to adjust the armor design because of them.  Mistakes happen in cosplay--all the time--and you can either fix them, redo the piece, or redesign around the mistakes.
All-Con:
*Yvaine, Stardust (Thursday)(if school allows me to go)
Arwen (Friday)(if work allows me to go)
Lady Sif (Saturday)
Yvaine, Stardust (Sunday)

A-Kon:
Cosmos, Final Fantasy Dissidia (Thursday)(if work allows me to go)
Yue, Card Captor Sakura (Friday)(if work allows me to go)
Erza Scarlet, Raitei no Yoroi (Saturday, Hall)
Secret Cosplay (Saturday, Stage)
Cosmos, Final Fantasy Dissidia (Sunday)

San Japan:
Lina Inverse (upgraded armor) (Friday)(if work allows me to go)
Athena (upgraded armor) (Saturday)
Deedlit (with armor) (Sunday)

On Hold:
Aquarius Degel, Saint Seiya
Titania, Fire Emblem
Sailor Pluto, Sailor Moon
Lenneth Valkyrie, Valkyrie Profile

Note that the On Hold costumes may come back in time for Anime North Texas in November.  We'll see how school, symphony, and work impact my schedule.
I'm going to put these down so I remember what I want to make and wear.

Some of them have question marks because it involves a lot of time-consuming armoring that, given school, I may or may not be able to finish before the convention.

All-Con:
Lady Sif? (Saturday)(need full pic of her shield!)
Yvaine, Stardust (Thursday)
Arwen (Friday)
Deedlit (no armor) (Sunday)

A-Kon:
Yue, Card Captor Sakura (Friday)
Cosmos, Final Fantasy Dissidia (Thursday)
Erza Scarlet, Raitei no Yoroi (Contest?)
Athena (upgraded armor) (Saturday)

San Japan/Tokyo in Tulsa:
Deedlit (with armor) (Sunday)
Degel? (Saturday)
Lina Inverse (upgraded armor) (Friday)
Titania, Fire Emblem?

I'm also looking at doing Janna from League of Legends, but I have no clue when I'd be able to get it done.  Being that most of my new costumes this year involve heavy armoring or props, it may have to wait.
  • Listening to: NBC Nightly News
I've had a lot of issues with gym vs home workouts.

To put it bluntly, gym memberships tend to be somewhat expensive as a whole.  There are a few exceptions (Gold's Gym, Planet Fitness), but generally they're somewhere between $30-60/month plus initiation and other fees. If you take classes, those have separate costs.  You might ask your employer if they have fitness discounts at nearby gyms, or if they are willing to subsidize memberships as part of their wellness programs.

What you get for that gym cost is pretty good: [usually] quality equipment that you can train on, communal motivation/environment for working out, and some gyms also offer classes or personal trainers to help you find variety in your workout.  If you're lucky, the gym might also have certified dieticians, a pool, or even a sauna.  The good news with a gym is that you probably will be able to continually progress--lift more weight--without exhausting the gym's resources.  (I think the Smith machine and bench press will allow absurd amounts of weight, something like 400+ lbs.)  You can also work out in a conducive environment--no screaming kids, no home pressures--and even watch a little TV. The bad news is that many gyms have limited hours and limited equipment, so you have to plan your schedule carefully and may need to have alternative exercises in mind if someone else is using the equipment you need. It can also be intimidating to see really fit people working out, making you feel insufficient to the task.  I should know, I've felt that a LOT when at the gym.

This is in contrast to a home workout, which costs as much as the equipment you want to purchase.  The problem, though, is that as an individual, gym equipment is VERY expensive (gyms get a bulk/retailer discount).  Thus, if you want to be able to progress in weights, you'll have to have a large variety of weights available.  Chances are you don't have a separate room dedicated as a gym, so you'll need to consider your space constraints when looking at equipment.  (Things like the BowFlex and NordicTrack are popular for this reason.)  It's probably a good idea to have some form of weight lifting equipment, especially for women, to promote bone strength.  Also, when at home, you need to dedicate time to working out.  You can't start a set of deadlifts and get interrupted by your child asking for help with their homework--you'll never have a consistent workout schedule that way.  Also, if you live in an apartment or second-story abode, you need to consider that jumping up and down on your floor (think jump rope) might not be a good idea.  You may need to research alternative forms of cardio exercise.  The good news is that you don't have to worry about being judged (except by yourself) and you can watch/listen to whatever you like, and progress at whatever speed you like through your workout.  No need to worry about equipment not being available.

Granted, I have the home setup because it's cheaper than the nearest gyms to me.  I've been getting back into yoga and bodyweight exercises because that's realistically the only way I can progress in weight--dumbbells are VERY expensive to stock with a wide variety of weights, and I don't have space for a workout machine.  I haven't done quite as well as I should, and it makes me nervous about cosplaying characters that show belly or legs, because I have a lot of just-under-the-skin fat there.  (Women know this as the cottage cheese effect.)  With all the confusing studies about cardio vs weightlifting for losing fat, you really have to wonder who is right.  Thus, my next blog will be about choosing a good workout since that's what I'm working on doing.  For now...time for cardio and yoga.
Completed this weekend:

*Tracing on all four wing halves
*Ironed main body of cosplay
*Cut out sky blue accents
*Dyed purple fabric
*Cut, spackled, and braced core of weapon
*Cut foam covering of weapon

That's actually REALLY good progress for a weekend's work.  (Considering I also ran errands and did chores.)

What I have left:

*Lining for main body of cosplay (this broadcloth is a little too sheer for my liking)
*Make white undershirt
*Adhere foam covering to weapon core
*Prime/paint/seal weapon core
*Apply wire to weapon body
*Cut purple fabric bias/hem tape
*Detailing/applique on bodice, including bias/hem tape
*Cast central bodice gem
*Sew main body of cosplay
*Order wig
*Sew wing cover seams (second cover?)
*Finish sanding and prime/paint/seal wing frame
*Replace wing frame secure nuts/bolts with Chicago screws
*Create and attach four tasseled accents on overcoat
*Attach gem to ear cuff (which I already own)

I think in total, this costume will have cost me around $150.  I would like to use this as a teaching moment.  I know that beginning cosplayers would love to get their hands on this quality of cosplay for $50, or even under $100.  Please note that the materials ALONE cost me $150; that doesn't count the months of labor I'm effectively donating to myself or the materials I already had on hand (like the wing frame).  The wing covers by themselves, had I charged minimum wage for labor, would cost $198, not including the plywood frame they come on (which cost me $105 to purchase back in the day).  So when you go looking for that cheap cosplay, please don't be upset when you receive less-than-professional quality.  The biggest truism in cosplay is: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
  • Listening to: LO'D
Today's topic for cosplay health is taking things slowly.

This doesn't just apply to exercise, but I will address that.

Let's start with making cosplay in general.  It's best to take the creation of cosplay slowly for your health.  Why?  The main two reasons are stress and risk of injury.  Now, having momentum and rushing through cosplay are two different things--I'm referring to rushing through cosplay.  You tend to get more stressed out when working fast, and that's because of mistakes.  Even the best crafters make mistakes, and some of them can really set back your cosplay.  So, for less stress, work at a more moderate pace.  Working at a controlled, sedate pace also reduces the risk for injury, especially when dealing with sharp cutting utensils and piercing utensils (i.e. sewing machine needles).  You can seriously injure yourself by puncturing your finger on a sewing machine needle, by the way.  DON'T RISK IT.

At conventions, it can be helpful to take things easy and slow while wearing cosplay.  Cosplay tends to be slightly more involved and layered than standard clothing (unless you wear three-piece suits all the time), so your body automatically has to work harder to keep you cool and balanced.  Running around and doing a bunch of action shots over a period of time just makes your body work that much more, which can result in dehydration, fainting, etc.  Not to say that you can't do some running or action shots--you can--but preferably not over an extended period of time without rest.  You'll do plenty of walking around the convention, believe me.  It's all about stamina.

Lastly, exercise to stay in shape for cosplay.  Work out at a decent pace, but not so much that you can't have an intelligible conversation with a workout partner.  (This does not apply if you are doing sprint or interval training, which is different.)  If you push too hard too fast, you'll wear yourself out before you can complete a quality workout, and quality is much preferred over quantity.  Yes, you'll grow muscle both ways, but your body recovers much better when you have a slower, quality workout.  This also goes for the weight amounts you use--you don't have to jump straight to attempting to bench your body weight.  Just because the person next to you can, doesn't mean you have to.  (Believe me, I've dealt with this a lot myself.  I don't always succeed.)  Hurting yourself is worse in the long run, and wounded pride heals.  Increment your weights slowly as needed, and if you have issues, consult a personal trainer or physician.  

As an old saying goes, stop and smell the roses.  :)  Take things slowly and appreciate the journey.
  • Listening to: LO'D
All 20 wing templates are cut out.  FINALLY.  Only took me forever because I had to cut out the curves of each individual feather on each template.  Eventually, I will be slicing the pattern apart to use as a mask to trace the edges of each individual feather.  If I'm ambitious, I'll somehow get hold of an airbrush and airbrush shadows on them.  I'm leery of using fabric paint and brushing them on because it will be too heavy of an effect.

I still need to redo the harness straps (they were given to me as raw cut strips of fabric that are fraying) and take apart the plywood pieces to sand down and paint (they are raw plywood right now, unsanded and full of splinters).  I took my rotary tool to one piece yesterday, trying to grind off the larger splinters and smooth the edges out a little.  I also need to slightly widen the screw holes for the Chicago screws I will put in them (right now, there are secure bolts, which are causing jerky movement).  I'm tempted to get a hacksaw to cut down on some of the frame bulk--it's heavy--but I don't want to knock out any of the structural integrity.

Bow pattern is done.  Need to cut the pieces out of foamboard, bolster the joint, and paper mache the core with wood glue.  Final outer layer will be craft foam with spackling to smooth the edges.

All white pieces of the jumpsuit are cut out.  I need to cut out the purple pieces so that I can dye them *shudder* and the blue strips so that I can start making bias tape from them.  Once I get going on the sewing, it shouldn't take me that long.  I just need to worry about applique this time around.  Yay for new techniques I've never had to do before.
  • Listening to: The Ed Show
Today's topic is on weight flux and the weight scale.

We've gotten past the holidays; this is what many people find to be the hardest part of the culinary year.  (In other words, you might eat too much during the month of December.)  January tends to be that time when people resolve to hit the ground running as far as exercise goes.  Since the goal is to lose weight, you might weigh yourself daily on the scale.

Hopefully the scale goes down.  But you'll hit a point where it doesn't--either a plateau or your target weight--and then you'll notice it looks a little like an echo-cardiogram.  Little blips here and there where your weight goes up by a pound, down by two pounds, up by three pounds, down by a pound--and that's just over the course of four days!  Heaven forbid this happens right before a convention, and you start worrying about whether or not you'll still fit into that awesome cosplay you slaved for six months over.  (Seriously, it happens to the best of us.)

I admit I've been a little obsessive about the scale since the New Year.  I did not overindulge during the holiday--I'm rather proud of that--but I did slack on the exercise.  Calories in > calories out, and I gained about 3-4 pounds.  Not much, but enough to guilt myself into hitting the ground hard again.  I weighed myself daily to see how I was doing, and I noticed a lot of flux.  I'd feel very guilty if I gained even a pound, and I self-congratulated over loss of a pound.

Then I realized what I was doing, and I realized two things: one, weight isn't the end-all-be-all of health.  There's no need to weigh yourself daily unless you're an Olympian.  Once a week should be plenty enough to follow a trend; otherwise, you may stress yourself out even more by seeing daily flux--which is normal.  Workouts don't burn identical calories, so even if you ate the exact same meal daily, you wouldn't necessarily end up at the same weight at the end of the day (including workout).  Two, I was stressing out more by dreading the scale than I was just telling myself that, for my own health, I needed to work out.  I know about how much I weigh on a given day, and that is a guideline I can work from.  It's okay to check it against the scale once in while, but it's not worth the extra stress doing it daily.  (Not to mention it doesn't paint an accurate picture of my health.)  Stress releases hormones that can affect your weight regardless of what you eat or how hard you work out, so the less stress, the better.

So if you're on the road to weight loss, fear not the scale.  But don't get too cozy with it either.  Flux is okay, unless it's being used in conjunction with the word Capacitor.  :)
  • Listening to: The Daily Show (repeat)
Today's cosplayer health blog is on variety.

Specifically, I mean variety in what you do for exercise.  Part of what motivates us is change.  Now, it doesn't have to be TOTAL change.  Even a single new exercise can be enough to keep us motivated and interested (aka not bored).  When you get bored, you lose motivation.  Losing motivation = less or no exercise, which = bad for your health.

It has been recommended that both genders undertake both weight training and cardio exercise.  Now, the number of times you do each will depend heavily on your schedule, physical condition and capability, and your doctor's orders (which are important).  As far as weight training goes, it helps to have various machines and methods available--basic machines, dumbbells, Smith machines, barbells, and self-assist sleds.  There's a few websites out there that act as exercise encyclopedias; I prefer www.exrx.net myself as it has a WIDE array of exercises and little animations showing you how they're done properly.  Then I pick and choose based on the schedule I build for myself.

As far as cardio goes...that's a lot more dependent on your environment, but I wanted to highlight one that most people may not know about: spinning poi.  Poi are basically two long socks with tennis-ball style weights in the bottom of each that you spin around your body in various patterns.  You can make your own with nylons and tennis balls (I'm not joking) or you can purchase a pair from numerous websites.  As a beginner, it's best to get the soft kind, not the kind that say "LED" and DEFINITELY not the kind that are designed to be lit on fire (cathedral, monkey fist, etc).  Why?  While the other kinds are more flashy, they hurt a LOT more when you hit yourself (yes WHEN, not IF), and you're more prone to frustration and injury.  I still practice with the soft ones most often, though I own a pair of standard cathedral fire poi that have covers for me to practice with.

Why poi?  For a couple of reasons.  It's a (mostly) low impact activity that promotes flexibility, smooth movements (kind of like tai chi, actually), and allows you to be creative.  It's also a group activity if you want to spin with others, is appropriate for nearly any age and physical ability, doesn't take up much space at all, and is very cheap in terms of equipment.  It can be done nearly anywhere, and poi are portable.  There are tutorial vids in many places to get you started (specifically on www.homeofpoi.com and on YouTube under user Meenik).  It doesn't hurt that badly when you hit yourself, actually, provided you're not trying to muscle the poi around and spin full-speed.  This is poi, not glowsticking (which is a separate art in and of itself).

I've just started back to spinning poi after nearly 2 years of not spinning (due to lack of space, lack of motivation, and injury), and I've found that it's almost as if I never stopped; I'm nearly back to my old form, and I actually have enough space in my apartment to regularly practice.  With luck, I'll be back in enough form to perform with my fire poi at TRF next year (assuming they don't put down a burn ban again).
  • Listening to: the news
Motivation.

I do not has it.

Today's topic is on motivation, losing it, and how to get it back.  I had motivation to work out for a long time for many reasons: working out makes me look good, feel good, keeps up my health, etc. etc.  However, since moving to my new apartment--where there is a distinct lack of health facilities anywhere close by with a reasonable cost--I have lost a lot of my motivation.  Not only do I not have a bunch of people all around me working out, motivating me with their efforts (and results)--I'm all alone now--but I'm limited in what I can do because I'm on the third floor (no stomping around or loud workout videos).

Right now, I have a pair of cardio videos and a very small set of free weights.  By the time I finish with the cardio--which leaves me sweating profusely given how warm third floor apartments are naturally--I feel like I don't want to do the weight lifting anymore, or at least as much as I used to.  Without a larger set of free weights, I feel like I'm limited in how much weight I can use for any given exercise--which gives me a lack of goal or feeling that I'm accomplishing anything, because I either end up having to go too light or too heavy (very few repetitions possible, if any).

Motivation basically boils down to having a goal that you feel is feasible for you to accomplish.  As long as you can still keep making solid progress on that goal, you feel motivated.  It's when you feel like you can't--or shouldn't--that you lose motivation.  Granted, you also have to -want- to make progress on that goal, meaning it has to be more of a priority, more of a goal, than something else, i.e. beating the latest level of World of Warcraft.  So that's a factor too.

Needless to say, I have new cosplays coming up for this year, and I want to be able to fit into them without having to constantly make alterations--or make looser clothing--but I don't seem to want it badly enough.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I need to figure it out--and quickly--so that I can get back to my usual form.
  • Listening to: The Colbert Report
"I'm happy to be busy," Williams says. "I'm happy to have a wonderful family. And I think also, especially for practicing musicians, age is not so much of a concern because a lifetime is just simply not long enough for the study of music anyway. You're never anywhere near finished. So the idea of retiring or putting it aside is unthinkable. There's too much to learn."

--Quoted from an interview composer John Williams did with NPR, linked here: www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecad…

Yes, that John Williams.  At first, I thought he was a rather arrogant, dismissive, flippant kind of person, but after listening to that interview, my view of him has completely changed, and he's earned a lot of respect from me.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment he expressed above, and it brought a smile to my face as I woke up this morning listening to it.  In fact, I think it's not limited to the study of music, but rather reflects learning in any cultural or scientific field (cosplay included).  A lifetime is never enough, and that drives me to keep going.  Perhaps, over all of our lifetimes, we can achieve something truly great by putting together everything we've learned thus far.

Speaking of studying...back to the CCNA grind.
  • Watching: The Last Word
The power of thought is a curious thing, to borrow a phrase from Huey Lewis.

Mostly, I've been blogging about physical health, but I realized I've been neglecting the mental side of health.  In the last couple of weeks and the last several months, I've really been coming to terms with mental health.

As cosplayers, we perpetually get anxious.  Whether it's making the perfect costume, going over the notes you're going to be lecturing on in that panel tomorrow, or just general convention anxiety, we get nervous.  We also get depressed when something just isn't going the way you want it to.  Anger, disgust, frustration, euphoria--we run the gamut of emotions and mental states.  This isn't limited to cosplay, either--our personal lives can affect how we feel about cosplay, as well as our health in general.

For example: I have been irritated for the last several months due to an issue completely out of my control.  I have tried simply ignoring it, or 'not letting it get to me', but sometimes despite the best of my efforts, it's really gotten under my skin.  When the issue rears its ugly head, I immediately get angry, frustrated, and irritable.  Any thoughts of wanting to work on cosplay disappear, or if I do force myself to work on it, my work suffers as does my morale.  Cosplay quickly loses its joy, and I have to put my work away before I destroy or harm it in a fit of rage and disgust.

Not only that, but I find myself feeling more tired, run down, moody, and drained when I have to experience this particular situation.  The stronger the feeling of irritation, the harder it is for me to get a good night's sleep, and the more likely the chance I will wake up feeling irritated as well.  You'll notice the 'irritated' mood icon at the top of this journal; the issue has appeared again, and I find writing about it cathartic.  I deal as best as I can.

The opposite can have an opposite effect.  Positive feelings tend to evoke a sense of euphoria, and it's easy to get carried away.  (Believe me, I know!)  However, the positive benefits to your health tend to outweigh the risks of negative feelings.  More energy, more motivation, better immune system, and better focus all come along with having a more positive outlook in general.  Now, I am NOT saying that anyone will be happy all the time.  There WILL be ups and downs, and I'm not going to make some trite remark about how everything boils down to how we deal with/perceive it.  I know better, and we're all human.  My point is that striving for a more positive feeling towards a situation--and life--can have helpful health benefits, particularly when it comes to calming anxiety.  A happier, calmer person tends to perform better, plan better, and handle stressful situations better, all of which are good things when it comes to conventions and cosplay.

My own background in depression and counseling runs deep.  I have been to that mountain and back; I have seen the depths of hell in the human condition, and I have seen the ultimate depravity that causes people to want to take their own lives.  (Note: if you are having thoughts of suicide--for ANY reason--seek help IMMEDIATELY.  I don't care if you talk to a best friend, a far-off uncle, or a random person on the suicide help line.  Just TALK to someone and let them know what is going on, how you feel, and hopefully it will better the situation you're in just a bit.)  So I can empathize with those who are having a rough time in their lives.

I've found that having a burden--even a single, minor burden--lifted from your shoulders does wonders for your stress levels and your positive vs negative outlook.  Being done with my first networking class has immensely helped me return to a more positive, and less worrisome, state of mind.  I'm still stressed, granted, but LESS stressed.  I've felt more energetic, and I've slept better.  So when negative situations occur, deal with them as best as you can and keep moving.  If you need help, GET HELP.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  There is no shame in seeking the help of a trusted person, whether professional or a best friend, if you need it.  Absolutely no shame.  When positive situations arise, try to make the best of them and take advantage of the positive feelings they bring.  It's good for your health--and your cosplay.

**You will note that I did not address medications such as anti-depressants and barbiturates (anti-anxiety).  Those are decisions to be made entirely with the consent and recommendations of a doctor, and each person will react to medication differently even WITH the recommendation of a doctor.  So my only comment there is to say: consult your trusted medical professional regarding any sort of medication to help with depression, moodiness, anxiety, or other such feelings/conditions.
  • Listening to: Whatever's on the TV
  • Reading: My CCNA class notes
In the past two weeks, I've received a schooling on the human digestive system.  Now granted, as a cosplayer who is getting into the world of competition, I've been trying to take better care of my body in terms of working out consciously (paying attention to my form, to the muscles being worked, etc) and eating better food.  However, I found that, despite one's best efforts, sometimes the digestive system stops working properly.  The body has a way of letting us know this with symptoms; in my case, I had a week of severe cramping, nausea, and vomiting.  I still had to go to work, but when I wasn't standing, I was usually doubled over in my chair trying to distract myself from the knot-tying agony that was my entire abdomen.

Now, for those in the medical know, this can mean anything from simple constipation to life-threatening intestinal blockage.  (If your intestines are blocked, you can't pass waste, and that's a problem.)  I didn't know this, but when I poked around online after a week of suffering looking for home remedies (because medical care can be expensive even for a simple doctor's visit), I found that this could potentially be serious.  So I went in to see my doctor; thankfully, in my case, it ended up not being so serious--except for the hit to my checkbook, which will be coming shortly when I get the x-ray bill--and as of this writing, I feel fine.  In fact, my size 10 jeans fit loosely now, which is shocking--I've lost another 5 lbs since having this cramping episode start.  

Granted, this is NOT the way to lose weight in a healthy fashion.  Vomiting is generally a no-no, and not eating at all is a very unhealthy way to lose weight since it starves your body of nutrients period.  If you're sick, that's one thing (go see a doctor), but if you're not sick, eat right and please don't feel that you need to throw it back up if you think you overate.  I have been there.  Consult a physician or counselor as needed.

Lastly, this is the takeaway of this particular blog: listen to your body.  If you start having odd symptoms that don't go away within, say, 48 hours, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong.  It is up to you if you try to treat the symptoms with OTC medications, but if you show serious symptoms at any time (like vomiting for half a week), please see a doctor.  Then you can get your body back to its normal self, which makes for a happier, healthier cosplayer.  Our bodies are pretty smart--and they know themselves well enough to know when something's not right.  Listen to them.
  • Listening to: Rachel Maddow
  • Playing: with my patternmaking supplies
The Unholy Triangle of food:

Cheap---Quick---Healthy  

Why is this unholy?  Because we end up only being able to achieve two out of three unless you happen to find fruit on sale.

Now that I'm undergoing a new health program at work, I have to pay attention to the level of carbs I'm eating vs. everything else.  I tend to eat a lot of carbs for three reasons: they're quick, cheap, and I can't eat red meat.  However, that's going to have to change since I found that my A1C test results were higher than they should be.

So I'm embarking upon a vegetable quest.  Veggies as a general rule seem to be cheap, and they're healthy, but unless you're snacking on them raw, I haven't really found any recipes that are quick.  By the time I get home from the gym, I'm usually very very hungry and not in the mood/lack the energy to make anything complicated to eat.  Also, I'm going to swap out white rice for brown, and I've already swapped out white dinner rolls for wheat rolls.  Small changes, because I refuse to overhaul my entire diet when I'm not eating badly to begin with.

I hate greens.  I'll eat them if I absolutely have to, but they're horribly bitter tasting.  Bitter is my least favorite of the taste groups, and I taste it most acutely of the four.  (It doesn't help that I'm a supertaster.)  I remember having steamed broccoli as a kid and choking because it was so distasteful.  Green beans were very similar.  Peas I lived with; my favorite veggies were always potatoes, corn, and carrots (which still had a slightly bitter taste to me).  Oddly, I like salad though.

That said...does anyone have any delicious, quick veggie recipes or resources?
  • Listening to: CNN Tonight
Within the last week, I have been smacked in the face with how stale and stagnant my life has become.  It's depressing in a very literal sense.  There are some aspects of my life right now that I have no control over, and those are the most frustrating to me.  So I'm doing my best to change what aspects I -do- have control over.  Hopefully I will feel refreshed in a couple of months after some changes.  

I am going back to school in a couple of months--in fact, the week of AnimeFest is when the class starts.  So cosplay itself may end up taking a back seat to studying for a time.  Don't worry, I'll still be contributing to CosPod.  But the actual creation of costumes may have to wait, especially since I am awaiting news of my FAFSA for financial aid.  We'll see what happens.  I'm going back to school for IT security training--it's a sort of change of career.  There's no way I can go back to teaching music now; that path is dead to me.  So now, I must move forward, but first, I must choose a path to take, and that path will be IT-based.  That is where I think the future lies.

With luck, this will mean extra income, and that will help a few more aspects in my life.

With extra luck, those aspects I don't have control over will work themselves out, and I can stop being so frustrated and angry all the time.
  • Listening to: The Colbert Report
I finally got back the full results of my physical back in April.  I couldn't be happier with the results; every single statistic tested, from triglycerides to cholesterol, was in very healthy territory.  Looks like all that gym work and diet had a good effect.

It's always nice every once in awhile to know that you're doing well, to have some sort of measurement to let you know how far along to your goal you are.  Yes, weight is a factor, but it's not the only factor to let you know you're healthy.  You could be skinny as a rail but have high cholesterol (genetic), or have a large skeletal structure/high BMI and be successfully competing in triathlons.  Granted, I have a phobia about needles (odd considering I'm a seamstress) and hate being stabbed for the sake of gathering my blood, but sometimes I don't have a choice.  So at least some good came of it.

Still doing my body wraps.  I don't have much more to lose around my midsection, and my thighs are already as thinned out as they'll go.  At some point, the wraps will stop being effective, and then I'll stop.  I'm still working out, and I've noticed that strength training brings a different kind of exhaustion than stamina training.  I seem to recover more quickly from strength exhaustion.  It's tough, because I really really want to eat a LOT more calories now, but I have to hold back because I don't want to gain back the weight I've lost.  Yes, a couple pounds might not seem like much, but when you're just below the borderline of having an overweight BMI, a couple pounds is too much.  I've been working on finding some quick meals I can make for dinner that don't require much in the way of prep since I'm usually 'starving' when I get home from the gym.  I'm likely to switch up breakfasts too, though I'm not fond of the cholesterol content of eggs as opposed to protein shakes.  Argh, need variety.