self love

Some Sunday Selections

I normally (er… used to normally?) hook up links to my blog during my www. Wednesday feature, but since I’m SO far behind, I figured I’d roll ’em all out here on this lazy Sunday. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve already been up for three hours listening to the Arctic Monkeys and planning blog entries.

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+ I LOVE short stories. There is something about them that is so special; here’s a list compiled by Refinery29 of 30 you need to read… bookmarked and ready to go over here!

+ My friend S posted or sent this McSweeney’s article to me forever ago, and it just knocked me off my feet. It’s a perfect picture of our mental health care system right now, as written by a lady writer whose been through it all. She’s also witty as hell, so read it if you like charming-as-hell writing.

+ Not that I know anyone like this (cough… me), but I’ll just leave this here for anyone who might understand the 11 struggles of being a highly sexual being.

+ Through pure chance, I am apparently a combination of two of my lady heroes’ body-type wise: KimK (hourglass) and Angelina (carrot), and I could not be happier. I also adore how many body types they address in this article. #Refinery29JunkieForLife

+ I will never tire of this highly paid teachers salary math problem floating around on the Internet. Spoiler alert: teachers are so, so, SO underpaid.

+ BLESS THIS POST: 15 things you don’t owe ANYONE.

+ Just sayin’, this dude ain’t a marriage counselor for nothing. He understands why women (or men) leave and/or cheat on the ones they love: lack of attention/gratitude/listening.

+ Because I miss it every day, here’s a compilation of 26 Office quotes that will make you laugh. There are thousands more if you just WATCH THE SHOW!

+ I was appalled to find that the Neutrogena products I’d been using for YEARS were exposed as being horrible for you/NOT WORKING this year, especially since I’m (for the most part) vigilant about sun exposure. EWG has an extensive list of sunscreens that actual work, while also being good for your body.

+ God, I hope this scientifically-proven method of decreasing procrastination works on my concrete-stubborn procrastination tendencies.

+ This beauty article makes me feel so validated about my brow tendencies. Here’s how to keep your brows on FLEEK… and get ’em there if you don’t feel satisfied yet 🙂

+ Please enjoy this puppy photo to brighten your day, or you know, make it brighter.

via jjae

via jjae

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Hopefully I’ve caught up enough to jump back into the www. Wednesday pattern later this week! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, lovies ❤

Smashing Your Boxes

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Pic via my bff, BB, from Austin, TX

Our perceptions of ourselves are probably a little skewed. Let’s be honest: most of us are probably our own biggest fans. Still, I strive to be mindful of my flaws (and let others know about them) in an effort to get to that sought-after self-actualization that Maslow guy was always on about.

That being said, I constantly feel I’m being thrown into these little boxes of inaccuracy, and that inaccuracy just drives me up the wall. I’m bogged down by the weight of the people who refuse to look beyond the borders of the walls they’ve imposed upon me before they’ve even seen the second layer of who I am. Yeah, sure, I’m that girl you got really drunk with one night six years ago, but that doesn’t mean I’m only a girl who drinks. That is a mere glimpse of my character and the experiences that have shaped it.

Just because I dressed in a crop top and shorts last Saturday doesn’t mean I’m rockin’ that look on the regular, nor does it imply that I belong in some kind of derogatory “slut” box.

Just because I lost my cool on a few folks who–frankly–probably deserved it, and you happened to witness said incidents, doesn’t mean I belong to be herded into your “dramatic ladies” category.

I forget my words sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m automatically and always required to reside in your box labeled “idiocy.” I could go on for days about how painful it is to be so categorized in such a small space when I want so badly for that person to know each and every tiny detail of me.

It’s hard, because none of us WANT to care what other people think. But when someone else’s VIEW of you is so skewed from the REALITY of you? That’s hard to ignore, especially when the person matters to you, yet they refuse to look past the boundaries of their self-created boxes on boxes and into your core.

I get bitchy sometimes, but I’m overall a sweet, loving person who just likes being honest. I go mad from time to time when people seem to be doing something wrong, but that doesn’t mean I want to live my life with that energy all. the. time. I am clumsy and foolish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pull myself together to be poised and serious should the occasion call for it. I’m a bit of a mess sometimes, but I actually spend the majority of my time in an organized (somewhat vanilla) routine that keeps me down-to-earth.

I can be quiet and loud, refined and wild, funny and sad, hyper and exhausted, gregarious and boring, all in the same day. But none of that means I am any less deserving of your time.

I might not be perfect, but I am a human. We’re complex characters, and if you think we’re going to stay in one box, especially a faulty one you chalked up yourself? You got another thing comin’, honey……… especially if you’re someone who can’t admit to being wrong about the most trivial of pursuits , let alone admit to being… GASP! Less than perfect.

Like me. Like the rest of us. Like the world who doesn’t live in boxes because we’re cyclical and nuts and amazing and horrifying and brilliant all at the same time.

And all of us, not just the ones in your “perfect even though I haven’t looked below the surface or given anyone else a chance to prove they might be as good (if not better)” boxes, deserve to been seen fully, deeply, completely. We deserve to be seen, period.

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Words via the lovely Ellen Hopkins.

How-To: Get Back to Yourself

Life throws us loops. Some are amazing, while others are absolutely devastating, but most loops fall in the massive, massive gray area in between. Regardless of where they lie on the scale, all these changes can take us out of ourselves. We start freaking out about something great happening two months away or we stress about where we’ll find money tomorrow. It’s like an anxiety record playing on a loop constantly, and eventually, it’ll catch up. My own stress, good and bad, has caught up to me big time. I think it’s important to remind you and I of all the best ways we can get back to being ourselves.

1. Take a day. Hell, I don’t care. Take 3 days. Take as many days as you need to feel like you’re not a live wire fallen in the middle of a rainy road. Do whatever your body tells you to do those days, and most of the time, it will tell you to sleep and drink a lot of water.

2. Do something you love without apology. Have a movie marathon. Read lots of books. Take a long walk alone. Sing at the top of your lungs to Beyonce. Combine all of these things at the same time. Whatever it is, do it only if you love it, and do it for you.

3. TREAT YO’ SELF! This doesn’t have to be a lucrative purchase, but on the other hand, it can be. You call the shots! Take yourself out to a movie or get your hair done. Go shopping with your friends. Make yourself realize you’re worth it.

4. Start some lists. You should at least make a list of things you enjoy doing and are good at doing — these won’t necessarily intersect, so make sure you’ve got two columns or some fancy Venn diagram. Next up: to-do lists, goals to achieve, goals for those goals, etc.

5. Hone in on “your things.” The point of all those lists is to try to rediscover what your happiest self enjoys doing, both for hobby and for money. Once you find these things again, focus on them intensely and deeply in an effort not to lose sight of the elements that leave you fulfilled and essentially yourself.

6. Plan and schedule. In order to keep your head about you after taking time for yourself and rediscovering your passions, try to plan and schedule not only your goals and happy activities, but time for yourself to recharge so you won’t burn out again… at least not any time soon.

7. Organize and purge. Once you have a plan and goals, make sure you don’t have any obstacles — physical or mental — in the way. Organize your desk, dump toxic people. Basically, clean house in every meaning of the phrase.

8. Slowly emerge back into society. If it wasn’t clear, steps 1-7 should all be done alone. These are things that shape YOUR life and no one else’s, so you should be solo for a while. However, it is important to incorporate your loved ones back in as soon as you’re done being a self-growth vampire.

9. If you’re still struggling, get advice. NOW is the time to ask your pals for a word or two. Seek answers from your parents or a therapist. Use the magic of online forums. Whatever it is you choose, just make sure you are 100% sure about where you’ll be going from here on out because…

10. Do “your thing(s).” …in order to properly do your things, aka LIVE YOUR LIFE, you need to be sure in yourself and your decisions, at least for the moment. You can tweak your plan, but only after you’ve begun to execute one.

If you’re a visual person, this is basically what the plan looks like:

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Regular Monet, right?

Weight Loss Journey

Two years ago, J and I decided that we needed to make a move on our physical appearance, lest we continue to fall off the wagon, no longer noticing the figures in front of us in the mirror. We had both put on holiday weight, so we got a joint gym membership and planned to eat better every night.

It didn’t take long for me to really get into it and drop 20 pounds, putting me back down in the 120s. I was happy there, so I wrote about my journey at that point and expected that would be the end of that.

I didn’t realize then that weight loss and overall healthy living is a continuous journey. You should never stop. And no, I don’t meant that in an unhealthy, exercise-addicted way. I mean that you should always be living a life where you feel strong and damn good about yourself.

After I wrote that initial entry, I was pretty good for at least 6 more months. I didn’t exercise as frequently, but I still ate well and did get my gym on at least once a week. I maintained.

Shortly after a little break-up (which always curbs my appetite), I also found myself smack dab in the middle of a hospital room for FIVE days after I incurred a CRAZY infection post-wisdom tooth surgery. I had to undergo another surgery to drain it out, and just like that, I lost 5 more pounds because I could barely eat or drink.

This put me right at or a little below 120, which is as far as I’m comfortable going according to my BMI. If I go lower, it’s too dangerous. With that thought in mind, I got out of the hospital and immediately started eating ALL THE THINGS! I ate all of the sweets I had been missing for months because I needed to gain some cushion weight. In other words, I like having a window between me and that way-too-low BMI. I like my body to work, not suffer.

It took me about 6 months to gain the 5 pounds back. But oh, when I hit that 5 pound mark, MAN, DID MY METABOLISM SLOW DOWN! I stopped being able to eat whatever the hell I wanted without seeing it. And guess what? I wasn’t working out or eating well because I was finishing my first semester in grad school, moving into a new place, applying for jobs, trying to balance fam + bf + friends, and trying to, you know… SLEEP. That left no time for anything I wanted to do for myself, so I sacrificed taking the time to work on my body.

Right after the semester ended, I finally found a job for a nutrition program. I learned so much about the data of our food. It truly freaked me out, and I started being conscious about what I was eating again. I learned all the sneaky names of the shit ingredients they put in our food AND what the long terms I could never pronounce actually meant. I also picked up a new gym membership to put to use once they opened in September.

By the time October rolled around, I had gotten a handle on my ingesting of crap and my exercise regimen. But by October, I also finally, finally landed a teaching gig. Whew, boy.

For the first couple months, I kept going to the gym when I could and ate well. But any good teacher will tell you that you start sacrificing things for your students as you get to know them, and the easiest thing for me to sacrifice was my health plan. I started letting them come in during lunch to vent to me. I would stay up too late grading/planning and forget to pack lunch, then sleep in too long and not have time to eat breakfast. I would walk around the classroom all day, rarely sitting down. For about two months, I subsisted solely on what my students brought with them to the classroom and items from the vending machine. My body started giving me signs that nothing well was happening inside; my old health issues were returning with each pound I put back on. (Yeah, not giving your body supplement makes you gain weight, which is why I hiss at my girlfriends when they say they’re going to stop eating. It’s not healthy AND it doesn’t work.)

It probably won’t surprise you that in the middle of all this malnourishment and stress, my depression returned. It made it hard for me to do anything, especially go to the gym when I felt so anxious and sad. My SSRI kicked in about the same time my own common sense did: as much as I love what I do, I love me more.

This all culminated in February 2014. I was able to function again thanks to my medication, and I started going to the gym again. I decided to stop focusing on what I was eating until I, you know, FOUND TIME TO EAT! A month later, one of the other teachers made life 1000% easier by bringing Saka Dance into the workplace. This meant I could have more time to myself, and I would fill that time with eating instead of more grading. The papers could wait.

With my favorite combination of healthy eating and consistent, fun exercise, I finally made it back to the spot where I feel most healthy. I’d tell you the number, but frankly, it’s none of your business because you know what any person’s health journey should be about? Being the healthiest you, and not giving one damn what people think!

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So, here I am. It’s two years + some change later, and I feel great. That’s not to say there weren’t ups and downs, but it was all worth it. You know why? What I notice most about the last photo doesn’t really have to do with appearance, in a vain way at least. I notice that I am happy, laughing about J and I both trying (and failing) to push each other in the freezing water. I notice that I am running, something I wasn’t able to do for years. And while I’ll never be able to do much more than sprint, at least I finally can.

I will never stop making myself healthier than I was the day before, but I am happy to say that I’m happy where I am. I feel better now than I did 10 years ago, mentally and physically. Most of the change you see is an internal one shining through to the outside, one that I will strive to maintain for the rest of my life.

My best advice to those struggling is not to give up; life’s gonna throw you weird curve balls, but you’ll eventually catch one. Read the labels on your food and steer clear of anything you can’t pronounce that isn’t a vitamin. MAKE TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR HEALTH! Most of all, make sure what you’re doing is healthy, feels good, and is for you and ONLY you.

xo

www. Wednesday

I went into the archives for some of these, and OH BABY, did it pay off! Enjoy these for now, ’cause I have some good ones on the deck for the next coupl’a weeks!

+ The most accurate post about baby names that make us want to punch (or at least vigorously shake) someone.

+ I have been obsessed with finding the perfect oil-cleaning regimen for my face and now own approximately 5 different types for different occasions. HERE ARE MORE TO ADD TO MY (AND YOUR) COLLECTION!

+ If you think you know what teachers do, you’re wrong. {Just like I don’t know what a bookkeeper does all day. Sit around, upset that they don’t actually get to be a keeper of a large library of delightful books?!? I HAVE NO IDEA!}

+ It’s no secret: if you’re from the South (specifically NC), and you don’t like David Sedaris, you’re not a true Southerner. Read this moving piece he wrote about his deceased sister. He’ll still find a way to make you laugh.

+ Mental health sufferers! Remember all those times someone said they didn’t believe you or they didn’t understand? GET THEM TO PLAY THIS GAME, aptly called “Depression Quest.” It’s an interactive video game that will make the naysayers see the light.

+ I have this list of 100 Reasons to Start Loving Yourself Right Now in my “Life” binder in my Inspiration Collection (something I’ll talk about at length here on the blog soon). It really is a good list of reminders, and it’s nice to see a lot of stuff on it that doesn’t normally show up on your typical “do this to get that” list o’ things.

+ Absolutely one of my favorite posts of all time: 27 Definitions to Words You Likely Never Knew Existed.

+ If you didn’t already know – ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD! – about my raging addiction to Welcome to Night Vale, please read this step-by-step process on how I got there. And now, the weather…

www. Wednesday

Have you ever had one of those days that ALWAYS felt like another day? Yeah, well, today was “Tuesday” to me… so here I am, realizing I almost missed www. Wednesday at 11:30 p.m.

+ The Skinny Confidential, who I only recently discovered, not only throws out some truth bombs about quitting yer’ bitchin’, but shows me that you CAN incorporate your personality into your blog, even if that personality happens to cuss a lot.

+ Grace Chon captures her son and her dog together in the cutest damn portraits you’ve ever seen. Prepare yourself for aviator googled babies and pets!

+ 25 things you should never stop doing for yourself. I think we could all benefit from reminding ourselves of these every morning! … though I will probably still wake up 15 minutes late after hitting snooze 79 times, so when will I have time for something that healthy and inspiring?

+ Just because this is an ad doesn’t mean it doesn’t hit all sorts of amazing soft spots in your soul. Watch these two women (who are strangers!) take their first flight together. I hope I can be like Ria all my life!

+ Fellow bloggers: someone’s been spying on us and compiled a list of how to avoid the trap that is laziness to stay motivated.

+ This bipolar article about Muppies really bothers me, which probably means I am one. What bugs me most is the coupling of the snobbish attitude of the author (talking shit about an entire generation of people, classifying us into categories half of us don’t even use or understand because we DO NOT FALL INTO THOSE CATEGORIES AT ALL) paired with her 180 degree turnaround at the end. I got whiplash. She went from saying we are little bitches wearing Lululemon (something I could NEVER AFFORD) to telling Boomers to “accept us for who we are” as “#innovators.” Yeah, we are hashtagging innovators who do things differently. And yes, there are plenty of Boomers, like my parents, who really ENJOY these differences among our generations. Generalization and flip-flopping, however, are not things either generation is a fan of. BUT in the spirit of TSC, I’ll quit my bitchin’.

+ And now, cute sloths squeaking.

From z-o-l-a.tumblr.com/

The Struggle Is Real

Another entry originally from my selfie-themed Tumblr, I thought it was important to share my struggle with adult acne in case it can help someone else out there!

My journey with adult acne began (and mostly ended) in 2010. I can’t pretend it wasn’t hard to go from being a girl who never had acne to the girl whose face was riddled with it. I was lucky to never find myself in the face of a bully, but I know not everyone has that experience. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to have someone point out the flaws all over my face that were already so painfully obvious in the mirror and in my head.

These are all unfiltered, zero-foundation photos. It is hard to let them go public as they are painful to re-live, but there is simultaneously something liberating about sharing them.

The day I went to the dermatologist.

The day I went to the dermatologist.

Day one of treatment.

Day one of treatment.

Day 2 of treatment.

Day 2 of treatment.

Day 3, and you can already see the red has faded to pink, and my skin has brightened, better lighting aside.

Day 3, and you can already see the red has faded to pink, and my skin has brightened, better lighting aside.

A couple of weeks out.

A couple of weeks out.

Right before the beach, I had a flareup again. I think it was preparing me for the inevitable worsening of acne brought on by sun and sunscreen.

Right before the beach, I had a flareup again. I think it was preparing me for the inevitable worsening of acne brought on by sun and sunscreen.

After the beach.

After the beach.

In August, after a summer of treatment. You can see a huge difference between the 1st photo and this one.

In August, after a summer of treatment. You can see a huge difference between the 1st photo and this one.

Starting to believe the acne will TRULY go away!

Starting to believe the acne will TRULY go away!

By the time I remembered to take an "after" shot, it was December. I have other makeup on, but no foundation or face coverage makeup of any sort in this (or any of the other) photos!

By the time I remembered to take an “after” shot, it was December. I have other makeup on, but no foundation or face coverage makeup of any sort in this (or any of the other) photos!

My solution was antibiotics and Epiduo gel. Yours might be different, but there IS a solution. Something is out there to help your skin, just like someone is out there to tell you you’re beautiful, no matter how many times you tell yourself you’re not.

Drop a line in the comments if you have any questions, need advice, or even just a friend to listen. I’m here for you!

Selfies

On one of my random million-and-five themed Tumblrs, I have dedicated spreading a love of selfies for reasons deeper than vanity. I don’t intend to flood this blog with them, but I do want to bring the same message of self-love from that Tumblr to this blog. Without further ado, my selfie creed:

I take a lot of self-portraits. They really and truly are just for me. I’ve been doing this since before the selfie became… well, a “selfie,” so now I feel weird, trendy, and vain by having so many of them. I kept snapping away, never knowing what I’d do with them, but the digital skeletons in my closet grew and grew as my shame did.

As harsh and heartbreaking life moments often do, I was recently reminded of the fragility of life. This has prompted so much movement within me, especially when it comes to wanting to celebrate my health and life while I’ve got them. In order to do that the right way, I’m going to have to stay true to not giving a fuck what other people think. No backtracking here and there like I always do. This time, I want to stay vigilant; I want to stay true to me.

So what if anyone knows my photographic secret? Why not share it if it’s part of me? Why let the folks who scoff at this kind of thing harsh my mellow? No excuses, I just like this shit. Some of the reasons for that are deep and meaningful, while others are as shallow as the day is long.

Some days I snap these photos because I like my outfit, face, hair or makeup; other days I want to record how fucking tired I look or how god damn disgusting I can feel when I’m make-up free during an adult acne flare-up. The shots are often fun, but sometimes they’re sad. Sometimes they’re sexy and beautiful, but mostly they’re just weird.

Some of this is self-indulgent. Let’s not pretend otherwise. However, I realized as I was queuing up the posts how ridiculously silly this idea is. How much fun, then, this could be for all of us! Especially if we learn to laugh at ourselves. And hey, wouldn’t it be the cherry on top if revealing my own battles with image and self could help someone else feel comfortable enough to love themselves?

Either way, if you’ve found yourself here, be kind. Not just to me, but to each other and yourselves. I feel confident you know that while some of these were taken out of vanity, a lot of them were born from raw, personal emotion and honest, happy fun…

Oh, did I mention there will be jokes?

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Credit lost, but this artist deserves so much of it!