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Runs with Scissors

March 30, 2019

Hello, Penny Black friends. Welcome to the ending of March and the anticipation of April. The worst of winter is behind us and the best of spring is ahead of us. Where I live, the trees are sprouting leaves, the daffodils have come and gone and the grass is greening up. My open windows allow the sounds of chirping birds to enter and if I forget to close the screen door, a few winged critters manage to make it inside, too.

The new appliances have taken their stainless steel places in the kitchen and have truly upped the value of that room. An added bonus: the space behind the refrigerator and range have been cleaned. I hope that counts as spring cleaning.

As beautiful as the weather has been, I have managed to spend time in my craft room playing with the latest Penny Black release, Timeless. There are so many possibilities mixing and matching the stamps and dies from this set, as well as adding in some products from earlier releases.

Signs of spring are showing up in abundance where I live and I finally spotted a robin in my backyard this week. For me, that is the official sign of spring. This bird from the Just Looking set can be colored in shades of brown, blues, reds or even yellows. I used multiple shades of brown and tan Copic markers for this card. I love that little tag stamp and die from the Lovely Birthday stamp set and the Lovely Birthday Cut Out die set. Those miniature sentiments fit perfectly on the stamped die. I’ve used the Stitched Stackers die set for borders and the Diamond Cut die to provide the perfect perch for my bird and his branch.

I chose Easter colors and the Cut and Stitch Circles die to showcase the rabbit from the Special Friends stamp set. There is a matching die for that set, too, Special Friends Cut Out, which I used to cut out the rabbit and flower. I’ve seen some awesome combinations of the images from the Special Friends set and plan to experiment more with each of the pieces.

Delicate Beauty is the appropriate name for the set that includes this flower. I gently colored it with Copic markers and allowed it to be the focus on this birthday card. Penny Black sentiment sets are always a good mix of fonts and greetings and I’ve added one from the Good Wishes set to this card. To add a little texture, I’ve used the Square Frames die as one of my borders. I have a “birthday book” for recording important birthdays which includes a pocket for each month. I tuck the right amount of birthday cards into each pocket so I am prepared for birthdays all year long. My system, however, does require checking the birthday book at the start of each month. I learned this the hard way lately!

Tai Chi

By now, most of you know that about a year ago I was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis (MG). There is some irony in the fact that it is one health condition for which exercise is the enemy. At first, I saw this as a silver lining to my MG cloud. However, after experiencing waking up many mornings feeling like I had slept folded up in a cardboard box, I realized my muscles were feeling the effects of idleness.

Knowing that vigorous exercising one day would result in serious disability the next day, I dutifully rationed out my physical activities to doing what housework I could, walking the length of a store when I chose to shop, and that old favorite, doing the laundry.

Then one day, Tai Chi entered my life. There is a man in our church congregation that has studied and practiced this Chinese martial art for more than twenty years and generously teaches a weekly class in our fellowship hall. The group was asked to demonstrate their ability for our monthly luncheon, known as Free Spirits. It was similar to the first time I was introduced to rubber stamping. I saw the grace, the fluidity and serenity and it was love at first sight. I wanted to do that.

According to the Mayo Clinic site, Tai Chi is a gentle way to fight stress. (Did I mention stress is a more serious enemy of an MG patient than exercise?)   Although it began as a martial art, it is now referred to as “meditation in motion”.   The steps are performed with no interruption between steps, accompanied by deep breathing which results in an almost ballet like continuous motion.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Tai Chi is low impact with minimal stress on muscles and joints and is generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It is especially suitable for older adults who otherwise might not exercise. Other benefits include:

 

  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improved muscle strength and definition
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of falls

 

While some of these benefits will not be mine to claim, I have already discovered how wonderful it feels to s-t-r-e-t-c-h my seldom used muscles while practicing Tai Chi. Just learning the 24 steps (of 100) that our instructor teaches and the group practices has been good exercise for my brain, too.

Improving balance is very important for seniors and Tai Chi combines the physical components needed to stay upright – leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes. Because you are constantly shifting your weight back and forth, you get more familiar with being able to balance in a number of different positions. One of the Tai Chi instructors at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, Stanwood Chan, says it is like practicing tightrope walking on the ground.

Last week our instructor, while happy with so many new enrollees in the class due to the demo at the luncheon, realized the experienced class members were being kept from the flowing, uninterrupted performance of the steps by the constant need for verbal instruction to us “newbies”. Thus, the class was separated into two groups: those who knew what they were doing and then the group of us that were really trying, but needed extra help. Thus, we “bluebirds” went to the other side of the room with an experienced class member and practiced our “Tai Chi Walk”.

Of the 24 Steps of Tai Chi that are being taught in our class, I have attempted the first three which have names such as: Opening; Read Palms – left, right, left; and Eagle Spreads Wings. None of my performances are fluid or ballet like, but I feel privileged just to be included in the class with some of the nicest people in our congregation.

Anyone dealing with a chronic illness rejoices upon discovering a means to improve independence and overall general feelings of well being. Upon being diagnosed with a chronic illness, life changes. Many activities formerly taken for granted become impossible and adjustments to how you live your life must be made. Any opportunity to interact with healthy positive people while doing something to make you feel better is welcomed.

Our classes last for one hour and take place in the late afternoon. After not being able to complete the entire hour the first time I went, I have learned to conserve my muscle strength the morning of the Tai Chi class so I can use it to last the full hour of instruction that afternoon.

One of our class members is a woman in her eighties who has steel rods in her leg as a result of an old fracture and has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She has learned all 24 steps and lasts the entire hour. She is my inspiration and the reason I can’t give up. I hope never again to be sitting in a chair while she does the Tai Chi walk around the fellowship hall.

This little guy seems to have won his bike race and deserves some recognition. I love the Cheering Critters set with its winner images. When I saw the bicycle image, I remembered the Away We Go die set that includes so many transportation dies. There is something about a bicycle die that catches my attention. You may have noticed that I am mixing and matching border dies this week. No need for naked borders anymore!

The Penny Black large sentiments and messages deserve to be a focal point, but to keep the card from being boring, I have stamped the At Grace floral stamp as a background and stamped over it with the Joy sentiment from the Sentiments stamp set. The dragon fly embellishment is from the Flutters die set, a favorite of mine.

This week’s “Encore” stamp is Bubble Heart, again another of my well loved Penny Black stamps. It is fun to color and reminds me of Evelyn and Jack. Mixing the old and the new, I used the Lovely Border die to create the frame. Are you using some of your older stamps along with the new releases? Or an older die with a newer stamp? As Mikey says, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

Cooper had a date with Christina, his groomer, last week. While he no longer trembles in fear when we enter the grooming parlor, it is not his favorite place. He hates being wet and knows that a bath is involved when he sees Christina. I always comb Cooper out the night before his grooming and last week I was talking to him as I was combing and mentioned that he would be seeing Christina the next day. Instantly, he pulled away from me and scooted under the bed!

Now it’s time to stow the scissors and tidy the studio. Once again, it’s been a joy to share my work with you. Mr. RWS, Cooper and I have enjoyed a fairly quiet time lately with no disasters, kitchen or otherwise. There is a lot to be said about peace and quiet. I hope you have spent some time viewing Jill Foster’s videos demonstrating how she creates magic with the Timeless release. Joan Bardee has used Jill’s work for inspiration, too, which inspires me to “be more like Jill.” I also find inspiration in the work you post in the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery. Your comments and stories in the comment section of the Penny Black blog encourage me greatly. Until next time, stay well and happy stamping.

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies

Card No. 1: 51-416 Stitched Stackers, 51-499 Diamond Cut, 51-519 Lovely Birthday Cut Out, 40-696 Just Looking, 30-557 Lovely Birthday

Card No. 2: 51-508 Cut and Stitch Circles, 51-526 Special Friends Cut Out, 30-561 Special Friends

Card No. 3:  51-416 Stitched Stackers, 51-517 Square Frames, 30-541 Good Wishes, 30-559 Delicate Beauty

Card No. 4: 51-312 Away We Go, 51-333 Awesome, 51-375 Snowflake Stitch Frames, 51-416 Stitched Stackers, 30-549 Cheering Critters

Card No. 5: 51-006 Flutters, 40-680 At Grace, 30-544 Sentiments

Card No. 6: 51-484 Lovely Border, 40-272 Bubble Heart

 

Disclaimer: From time-to-time we have guest bloggers post on our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Penny Black Inc. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
19 Comments leave one →
  1. dawnnz permalink
    March 30, 2019 2:00 am

    Totally gorgeous cards today Judy. I’m glad you’ve found some exercise that works for your condition. I must look into try it out myself. I’m finding that now I’m in my 60’s it’s harder and harder to keep up with the exercise. Something like Tai Chi sounds perfect.

  2. Jan Pignanelli permalink
    March 30, 2019 2:43 am

    Tai Chi sounds perfect for you! Glad it’s bringing you joy—like making your spring time cards has done this week!

  3. SarahC permalink
    March 30, 2019 3:24 am

    Love your cards and you stories. Thanks for showing us a resilient spirit in spite of life’s rocky road. I look forward to the next installment.

  4. Andrea Hastilow permalink
    March 30, 2019 3:31 am

    Another week of fabulous inspiration from your cards, I thank you from the bottom of my craft draw & heart x Sounds like Thai Chi could have been a help a while ago, it would be now if I can do it from my wheelchair ? I understand your struggle in some degree, I discovered at 29 that after many years of just a sore back I actually had osteoarthritis of the spine & the worse part was already aged at 90’s but I was 29. Long gone has my ability to walk without falling, bruises cover my legs where pretty patterned tights used to. I’m now 46 & envy anyone that can walk around a garden & admire it close up. Here’s to not falling over but creating beauty. Thank you for sharing your life, I look forward to seeing you in my mail box xx

    • Judy Jung permalink
      March 31, 2019 11:26 am

      Andrea, I am learning to be grateful for what I have instead of resenting what I no longer have. I am glad we can stamp and color and cut and paste while sitting down. I understand your feelings, though. And don’t give up on those pretty patterned tights!!

  5. March 30, 2019 6:31 am

    Another wonderful column. I feel like I’m talking with a friend when I read it. So glad tai chi is in your life. Your cards are wonderful. Partial to the at grace card because it’s just perfect!!

  6. Judy permalink
    March 30, 2019 6:59 am

    Thank you for making my Saturday! I read your column and appreciate your cards while doing laundry. Tai chi sounds interesting. I am diabetic, and should exercise more, but exercising makes my blood sugar drop. This sounds like something my system could handle. (Helping my husband split wood with our log splitter is definitely harder!) Thanks for the idea.

    • Judy Jung permalink
      March 31, 2019 11:24 am

      Judy, it doesn’t sound like splitting wood is a good idea for you!! Doing Tai Chi is a lot less physical exercise than LEARNING Tai Chi … if you don’t get it right quickly, you do a lot of repetition of the same muscles.

  7. ginger na permalink
    March 30, 2019 8:38 am

    Happy to see you today. I always enjoy taking stroll thru your cards. Happy to see the “encore” card. Tai Chi is a wonderful practice. Take good care.

  8. Jan Castle permalink
    March 30, 2019 9:26 am

    YAY for YOU JUDY!!!! Glad you discovered Tai Chi and something you enjoy. It is taught here at the Manor and after your post today will look into it – I know I don’t exercise enough because of my arthritis…thanks so much for the encouragement of your posts.
    Your cards are a real treasure…I especially like all the layering you did with ‘Just Looking’ as well as your take using ‘At Grace’. You are so clever…thank you for sharing your inspiration!
    Cooper actually looks like he is enjoying the grooming…oh what the camera can do – LOL!
    Have a beautiful week…look forward to visiting with you next week via the blog!
    Paper Hugs,
    Jan

  9. Sherry permalink
    March 30, 2019 9:57 am

    Judy, you are an amazing person and an inspiration both personally and ‘craftily’. I look forward to each post.

  10. Debbie P permalink
    March 30, 2019 12:51 pm

    Great cards. Love the bird card. The colours are fantastic. I love to read your post your stories are great. I.m glad the tai Chi is helping you. Until next time . Thank you.

  11. DebbieP permalink
    March 30, 2019 1:23 pm

    Thanks Judy for sharing another Saturday morning with us. Love your cards and always enjoy your stories. Glad you found an exercise that works for you.

  12. Jane Harrah permalink
    March 30, 2019 2:05 pm

    Your cards are wonderful and I particularly love the big sentiment card. Tai Chi is on my list and I want to learn it. I am envious of those that can do these types of movements. We got a puppy and his name is Cody. He is a Pit Mix with some beagle and probably a mess of other things. He is from a kill shelter in Scottsdale Alabama. He is now 5 1/2 months old and he says hello to Cooper. He wants to learn to be well behaved like Cooper. right now, he is just all puppy! thanks for sharing and have a good few weeks ahead.

    • Judy Jung permalink
      March 31, 2019 11:21 am

      Jane, happy to hear about your rescue puppy! Is it possible he is from Scottsboro, not Scottsdale? And don’t tell Cody that Cooper is usually very well behaved but exceptions are made for the UPS and Mail truck!!

  13. cmt permalink
    March 30, 2019 8:23 pm

    My favorite card this week is the pretty brown bird. Love everything about it. So glad you found Tai Chi. I was talked into taking it many years ago by two colleagues at work. One, a woman a bit older than me who buttonholed a newly arrived Chinese immigrant in our building. She said she wanted to study Tai Chi and did he know it. When he answered yes, she begged so hard for him to teach a class he couldn’t say no. The other class member was a young woman who had retired as a professional dancer and moved on to a job that was less painful to her legs, though she was still very agile. The poor teacher understood English well enough, but spoke very little. As he demonstrated each move, the dancer was able to perfectly mimic him on the first try. The older woman and I struggled mightily. All I remember was the teacher knew the word “NO” and repeated it often, but could really explain what we were repeatedly doing wrong. The class was one long stream of “no no no.” I think I would have liked it more if I didn’t have to watch the dancer doing it so perfectly. The poor teacher eventually begged off of teaching because his real workload was too great. I appreciate what great exercise it is, but, alas, never kept up with it. I suggest you just enjoy the experience and don’t let yourself feel as intimidated as I felt next to my dancer friend. It’s all good.

    • Judy Jung permalink
      March 31, 2019 11:22 am

      Love your Tai Chi story! There is a lot of memory work involved as well as physical motion … I envy those who do it well.

  14. Brenda S. West permalink
    March 31, 2019 12:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing another wonderful set of cards and your story. It makes me want to look and see if there are Tai Chi classes in my area. God continue to bless you, Brenda West

  15. creatingincolors permalink
    April 1, 2019 5:58 am

    I just love your sense of humor. Cleaning behind the appliances when you got new ones sounds like Spring cleaning to me! Now only if Cooper would enjoy his bath! Tai Chi sounds wonderful. I love your inspiration when you say your are grateful for all you do have. That batch of cards is wonderful too. Love the Timeless release.

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