the b word…

There are fewer, (non-vulgar) words that cause such angst and division among women like the “B word”.

Not THAT one… Bikini.

Half of women love them and can’t wait for sunshine and waves to don theirs. Some women, (fictitious, maybe?) solidify their bathing suit/bikini shopping as a true summer milestone adventure. The other half of us, don’t. Trying bathing suits on can be super depressing, but when you add in the idea of a bikini…

And it is an even harder thing because, though sometimes we women really feed our insecurities by the negative and mean things we are so certain the world around us is saying- when it comes to swimwear people do have opinions. Strong opinions…

Have you ever encountered one of those overly concerned types, who are so worried about your health/heart/lifespan/__________ that they just feel they must discuss your weight (or someone else’s) ? Maybe you are one of those people, feeling validated in your certainty that a person is overweight because they make terrible choices, are lazy, and you magically have just the right words to turn this all around for them? If this feels familiar, please enunciate the following words as you read them:

You do not know what you are talking about and need to zip it. Period. (if you’re like me, and you aren’t one of those “joy spreaders”, then soak in those words too, except replace YOU with THEY.) Why should you do this? Because it is true.

I’m not going to dive into statistics because we are all capable of googling and finding our own fact based research, but a few fun facts:

  • a seemingly fit, size four woman is absolutely capable of having raging cholesterol issues and developing type 2 diabetes.
  • If being overweight, (let’s all stop referring to people as FAT. no one IS fat, they have fat. We all HAVE FAT, and if you don’t, then rush to the doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. Also, if you are a woman, read the book Why Women Need Fat, because it is both scientific and enlightening…) were an immediate death sentence, there wouldn’t be so many people who are overweight. Why? There would be a lot more funerals.
  • There are genetics, environmental conditions, hormones, stresses, economic issues and several other factors that play into what a person weighs.
  • It is ignorant to assume someone sits around watching soap operas and eating twinkies.

Ok, I’m stepping off of my soapbox, because none of that is the point. What is the point? you may ask.

Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of what we imagine (or know) their BMI is. Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of our discomfort over their skin color, size, disabilities, sexuality, gender, etc.

Behind all of those things that we allow to cloud our vision exists a person. A lung breathing, heart beating human being with their own stories, their own triumphs and their overwhelming struggles. Let’s start seeing the people. Size does not matter, color does not matter.

Let’s just love. Let’s act in love. Let’s move, and think and see love.

Love.

In this weeks episode (39) of the Collective Podcast, Myself, Maggie, Jennie and Marion are chatting about why the Disney Princesses may not be so bad, we’re talking bikinis, self love, accepting things about ourselves that we don’t love and what exactly Body Positivity is… It’s a great chat and we hope you’ll join us!

That’s not the worst that could happen…

Rizzo sang all about the possibility of teenage pregnancy and how grim that outcome would be, in Grease. As a child of the 80’s, I ate an afternoon snack through many after school specials displaying the very horrible ramifications of a teen pregnancy. I even, SO MANY YEARS LATER, still remember a movie from the 90’s where Brian Austin Green played a teen dad and how very difficult his life was, because of this baby. We were a generation raised on the horrors of teen pregnancies.

With a childhood being shaped during the media onset and widespread fear of Aids, teen pregnancy still remained front & center in the worst-case-scenario educations so many American kids received. I remember encountering the rare teen mom, of my day, and becoming aware of how non mystical her life really was. The fear had shaped this idea so much larger than reality. While we were groomed in the fear of babies having babies, there were realities of sexually transmitted diseases that no one really talked about.

The special guest of this week’s podcast episode has an amazing story to share about one time decisions, choosing positivity and grace regardless of the struggles we have, and how teenage pregnancy is definitely NOT the worst that could happen…

Megan, a wife, mother, advocate and inspiration shares her story of living with HIV. She sets us straight on some misconceptions and really motivates me to not allow the negative aspects of life to keep me down. Follow this link to find the various options for listening, and then tune in to Episode {38}, and Megan’s incredibly brave story.

To Build…

It is Friday and that means I am again linking up with several lovely writers over at Kate’s Five Minute Friday spot!

(If you aren’t familiar, every friday we free-write for just FIVE minutes, prompted by one word. This week’s word is BUILD.)

~

The foundation was shaky, shattered, torn.

I was broken, this I knew.

My heart lived, aimed, at the idea of a family and a home. My seventeen year old daydreams saw myself with a faceless husband doing household chores in a sleeveless t-shirt, laughing with a laugh which melted my heart. I imagined no lavish excess, just a simple roof over our heads and three beautiful faceless children. I knew they were two girls and one boy, and I knew that although I could not see their faces, this feeling they pricked deep within my core was the motivation for everything.

I sat, in a breakdown. Devastated, exhausted and so damaged from break-on-top-of-break, of my scarred girl heart. That dream propelled me forward, daring to believe there had to be something more than abandonment and loss.

And there was.

It may not have been how I had thought it would be, and it certainly was not all roses and sunset kisses, once I got there, but I did build a life, despite that terrible foundation. I learned the pain, and the redemption, in tearing out that foundation and laying a new, truth-bricked one in its place.

Together, that man (whose laugh I had dreamed up at seventeen) and I built a home. It was not composed of roof tiles and painted walls, but rather a space that moved wherever we did, warmth and rich in unconditional love, support and the freedom to grow as we needed.

This home was everything neither of us had known, as children, and just what we had needed.

~

(My inspiration for this piece is the song To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra. It is beautiful and it deserves a listen.)

She sparks joy…

February feels a lot like these sun-rays, peeking out from behind this tree. Is it time yet? She softly asks, and with a resounding YES, we who are Janu-weary come together and urge February out of hiding…

The thing is, even though I am now a resident of Pennsylvania, I’ll be honest- I don’t believe in that groundhog or what silly weather fears that the men in tall, outdated hats project on it. Leave it alone already, men in hats! It is TOO MUCH PRESSURE. Will there be more winter? ok. Will Spring come early? ok. (I’m pretty disinvested in the answers to these questions, except that the answer seems to be “spring”, so I might be a little more interested in things now.) More times than I can muster up the energy to count, I have heard “no snow in the forecast” and gone outside an hour later to see three fresh, sparkly inches blanketing the ground. Likewise, I have heard “rain showers for the next three days.” and spent the very next day hiking in sunshine.

Being a weatherman might just be the best job ever, you get to just make stuff up, be proven wrong and not only will you still get a salary, but people will still flock to listen to you… EVERY. Single. time…

Let’s be real- It’s going to do what it’s going to do. If they are warning of something catastrophic, or at the very least preparation worthy, I’ll prepare. But I won’t stress. It’s weather… TOTALLY beyond my control. Beyond anyone’s control… (Pennsylvania Hat Men, do you hear me? ANYONE’s control…)

I took a slight ranty detour there. I apologize. FEBRUARY… I, along with everyone else in the masses, am so happy to see her. Even though it’s still coldish, even though February often shows us that winter isn’t even close to done yet, it is.

If you’ve read here for long, you’ll know that while I don’t really put a lot of stock in Valentines Day, I habitually believe in giving Valentines. I don’t want an expensive gift from my husband, but I do love the excuse for a fun date. I don’t need a box full of cards and chocolate (or any) to validate my worth- but as a gift-giver by nature (and a hand written letter lover) I look for any reason to share love and so, I can’t hate the day completely. (as a Valentine to you, please accept this wallpaper download, this cellphone wallpaper download and this perfectly curated February playlist. These and much more were in my February newsletter, and if you didn’t already know that- then you should probably sign up so you don’t miss stuff! XO)

But also, in her handy bag of luggage, February brings beautiful flowers in the supermarkets, more sunshine (even if it’s bitter out), later sunsets, less days til March, better movie releases, fun tv events like the Superbowl (don’t care) and the Oscars (DO CARE), and countless little milestones to get us through spring. (These little milestones help us get to the next thing, unlike January, which just offers us this blank expanse of blustery cold depression and misery which drags on and on and on, forever.) Personally I find myself more inspired creatively, and more motivated all around. Helloooo, February!¬†

What am I planning to do, this month, with all of my new found inspiration/motivation?

  • bake Valentine sugar cookies (since the plague made me miss Christmas cookies)
  • order prints to fill my empty frames.
  • a fun/fancy date night with my love.
  • a fun brunch date.
  • mail hand written Valentines.
  • work on a creative project.
  • Michigan weekend.
  • get my hair done.
  • emerge from winter and connect with new people.

What are your plans, for these 28 days?

The darkness and the spice…

Some months really have the effect of reflecting back over their days and feeling like they themselves lasted a year. This month has been one of those...

Like many, I began the month with goals and plans. I set off January pretty proactively, despite still feeling under the weather. While there were things I put off until I felt better, for the most part I forged forward. One of the lessons that this month held for me what that I am not guaranteed to feel better, no matter how many “right things” I do to ensure it. (thanks, January! You’re a pal.) My list, written in terrible script on my kitchen chalkboard, looked like this…

  • get set up with a trainer and ready to get back into a fitness center routine.
  • reorganize my spice storage.
  • jump back in to The Collective podcast stuff, after a couple of months off.
  • make progress writing on my memoir.
  • learn to do something new.
  • make a pot of homemade soup and a loaf of scratch, crusty bread.
  • establish a weekly evening tradition.
  • continue adjusting to my husband’s non-traveling schedule.

Oh, friends…

Ohhhh, friends…

I could write it a third time, but I still feel like it wouldn’t be enough. There are so many quippy things that one can say about “best laid plans”.

  • I DID! (even feeling crappy!) And it was great, until said trainer had me do an exercise that I felt strongly I should not do. I pulled a muscle, caused major stress to my (bad, seemingly¬†80-year-old) hip. Good times…
  • I’m sure you’ve seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. While this was already a (desperately needed) goal, her show made me come face to face with the realization that how I had my tiny little cottage kitchen set up was NOT working. I was avoiding it because I felt helpless about how to fix it. Too much stuff/too little space, but try as we might, C and I could not get rid of anything else. We’d downsized so significantly and what remained was essential. It was a bleak 10 day attack. Stress and frustration became my new kitchen decor theme, (shout out to any of you 90’s young homemakers and the need to have a “theme”) and my husband began scripting funny comedy sessions about the ever evolving state of the kitchen. I insta-storied my low moments… It was truly, truly bad. But guess what? My spices are the best their going to get and the entire kitchen really is MUCH better.
  • done and done! We trouble shot some technical things, I connected with other podcasters. We started a Patreon and are REALLY excited about what’s down the road!
  • I did. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I am really proud of what I did put to paper.
  • FAIL. EPIC FAIL.
  • Done. Winter and soup are really the perfect couple. Well, and fresh, crusty bread plays a part, so I guess perhaps the perfect thruple?
  • For the month of January we settled on Fridays and began the routine of unplugging, grabbing carry-out for dinner and renting a movie. We LOVED it… Will it continue? I think so, at least on the Fridays we can.
  • You would be surprised how actually difficult this is…

So, there you go… a little account of my significantly flawed person, in this odd little month.

My truly biggest January lesson/revelation was that while I felt significantly depressed pretty often, I wasn’t alone. I would utter those words to a friend, and hear an emphatic agreement that they too were feeling depressed. This happened several times, and I was surprised, comforted and a little less heavy with each occurrence. It is a little ironic that the very idea of being bravely transparent and then accepting that you aren’t alone is the premise behind my podcast and yet, here I am going WOW! This REALLY works!

This month I read several books, but the book that I really connected with the most was In Pieces, by Sally Field. Truly raw and transparent pages chronicling not only the highest and the darkest moments of her life, but also her own flawed perceptions and reactions. Never soapboxing, Sally simply shares her truths. It was a brave undertaking, and it resonates.

A few things that I unexpectedly fell a little in love with, this month, were the American version of The Masked Singer on Fox, (I am actually pretty good at guessing, and their masks did NOT give me the nightmares I feared, so this is a win!); the film Juliet, Naked, (which I really, really loved and did not expect to even like it!) and this recipe for sheet pan shrimp fajitas. (I thought it would be ok, but we both loved it so much! It was so easy and so delicious!)

The only thing that didn’t really work this month, (other than my continued pursuit of cold medicine, and my waste-of-time new (now ex) physician) was that, in an effort to connect with other women locally, I bought a ticket for a ridiculous book club. The price seemed so extreme ($29) but the original description had made it seem like it came with the book, tapas & beverages at the venue (wine and craft coffee beverages) and so I thought it was worth a try. I received the book in the mail, (not a super great book and seriously the length of a pamphlet) and a little note talking about the food and beverages costing extra. I emailed the organizer to clarify my confusion and it was true, the ticket price simply included the book and (her words) the privilege of coming. Hmmm.

Wasted my time reading the book, wasted my money and decided I simply didn’t want to go waste my time at the actual meeting so I skipped it. You win some, you lose some. This was a definite lose…

How did your January play out? Did it pair nicely with your own goals?

What were your bests? (and equally important, was there something you tried that simply did not work?)