From Portland Art Museum’s website about the art above: Throughout his career, Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976) has addressed the visual systems that perpetuate inequality and bias in bold, skillfully crafted works. Through photographs, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects, he invites us to consider the role of popular culture in instituting discrimination and how art can raise critical awareness in the ongoing struggle for social justice and civil rights.
In addition, PAM supported the creation of a new and monumental flag-based work addressing lives lost to gun violence in the United States in 2018 that served as the entry point to the “All Things Being Equal” January 2020 exhibition.
Today is the Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. On this day 156,000 troops stormed five beaches in Normandy, France, from the USA, Great Britain, and Canada. It is the largest amphibious assault in world history, and a day ago four-star Marine Corps general Jim Mattis wrote about it. He said, “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer’. Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis- confident that we are better than our politics.”
Thank you, General Mattis, for your brilliant and powerful words reminding us to summon our unity. Thank you, Hank Willis Thomas and Portland Art Museum, for your beautiful artwork.
We will look back on this time in history in amazement and wonder at some point in the future, but in the meantime, we need to take care of ourselves in order to have the energy to take care of others and our community.
Let’s start with the current reality of wearing a mask. This week I had the chance to wear my mask for four and a half hours three days in a row. Nothing, I realize, compared to all the frontline essential workers who have this reality all day every day, but it was eye opening.
I had noticed previously in the grocery store that my shoulders were creeping up towards my ears, and occasionally felt like I couldn’t breathe well. How can two layers of fabric incite mild panic? I haven’t the foggiest notion, but it happened to me. The minute I was back in my car I would happily tear off my mask and breathe that precious fresh air.
However, now that I am partially back in the gym, it is a requirement to wear masks and gloves at all times. This forced me to think about how to breathe and not allow mild panic and shoulder/neck tension to reign.
It was then that I remembered good core breathing. What do I mean by that? Well, you breathe all through your nose (in and out!) and allow your shoulders to disengage, while expanding the deep diaphragmatic muscle under the bottom of your rib cage.
Picture an umbrella sitting up under your rib cage, and as you breathe in deeply (all the way around the rib cage, not just the front!) the ribs expand as the umbrella opens…and as the umbrella closes, the ribs deflate too.
Awesomely, breathing diaphragmatically engages three internal core muscles- the transversus, the pelvic floor, and the multifidus. You are engaging these muscles and thereby stabilizing your core simply by breathing all through your nose.
If you were to go for a 30 min walk break, try breathing just through your nose in and out for the first 10 minutes. Try running and breathing just through your nose for chunks of time. Try recovering from an interval all through your nose even though you are breathing hard! Your shoulders will love you, your core will love you, and all of your cells will love you for all the oxygen you are sending out!
Let me know in the comments below how it feels to just breathe through your nose. Great? Weird? Relaxing? Oxygenating?