13 for '13: A Bucket List

Here we are again, curvy lovers (that is to say, lovers of this curvy little blog).  We find ourselves at the end of another year, having survived a few more apocalypses and approaching January 1st at an astonishing pace.  It’s time to reflect on any progress that may have been made and make a crazy amount of promises for this fresh new year that’s upon us. 2012 was a bit of a rollercoaster.  Definitely not my favorite year by any stretch, but not really the worst, either.  I know I cried quite a bit, but I definitely laughed a lot too.  I felt my whole world slipping out of my hands and I think I took some positive steps to take back control and get my life back.  If you don’t remember (and I wouldn’t blame you, it was an entire year ago), here were the resolutions for 2012:

1.)To exercise consistently 2.) To continue donating my excess possessions to people who need them 3.) To either move or learn to love my apartment 4.) To direct a kick-ass version of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change 5.) To go on a real, live, leave-the-state vacation with my husband

And surprise! I did all of them!  I moved more this year than I ever had in the past, I donated a SHIT LOAD of things to Goodwill/Salvation Army/friends in need, Jer and I moved OUT OF OUR HORRIBLE APARTMENT and into a beautiful new space with lots of windows and high ceilings, ILYYPNC earned some pretty fantastic reviews and was a blast to direct, and Jer and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Columbus with some of our favorite people.  (Okay, it wasn't the beach…but it was fun, it was not work, and it was out of the state.  It counts.)

Quite a year, when you put it that way.

So, that being said, let’s tear off the rearview mirror and stare boldly into the upcoming year.  In 2013, I have a few simple goals and a list of 13 things to do to fill the twelve months ahead.  I decided to do broad goals and specific tasks this year just to switch things up from the usual Fab Five that I’ve been working from.  Goals are things I need to remind myself of every day (or almost every day) and the tasks are to satisfy my need to check things off of a list.  This idea (and the title of this blog) are borrowed blatantly from the fabulous and wonderful Elizabeth.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, add that to your list of resolutions and read about her life.  You'll be glad you did!

Enough chatter.  Down to business.

The Goals:

a.)    Catch my breath

b.)    Trust myself

c.)     Have an adventure

The Tasks:

1.)    Learn Italian (conversational is fine, but be on the way to fluent by December)

2.)    Finish Mack&Moira by July 1st

3.)    Walk more than I drive

4.)    Visit at least 2 out-of-state friends or family members on their turf (I’ll take bids and bribes for who it is!)

5.)    Compose and post 20 blog posts.  Yes.  20.

6.)    See at least 5 live performances of different genres

7.)    Improve my healthy recipe repertoire

8.)    Construct a solid and agreed-upon outline for Henrietta

9.)    Read 24 books

10.)  Participate in NaNoWrimo again

11.)  Travel outside the US

12.)  Write at least one sentence every day

13.)  Complete certification with the IAWP

 

It’s going to be a hell of year.  It’s going to be a year where I take my own advice and be a little braver, be a little more adventurous, and get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

But enough about me—I want to hear about your resolutions!  It’s my favorite part of this annual post.  Leave your thoughts, ideas, love, and comments below!

XOXO, Emily

Brave

I’m having a quarter-life crisis. I’ve been thinking of ways to convey this, the proper words to choose and how exactly to form my thoughts and feelings for at least the last three weeks. How silly of me to NOT realize it was wasted effort because I could never convey my own thoughts and feelings as succinctly and beautifully as Nora Ephron.  (I mean, really, who the hell can compete with Nora?  No one.  That’s who.)  What makes this particular cri-de-coeur so much better is that it is Nora’s words, read and performed by Meg Ryan in a lovely scene from You’ve Got Mail.

Ugh.  Look at that sentence.  Seriously.  Why do I bother?  Take it away, ladies.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?”

This sentence is the story of my small, valuable life.  I love the people (and kitties, of course) in my life and I love the organization I work for and I think that I should be pretty happy.  And actually, a lot of the time, I am pretty happy.

But it’s not the happiness that comes from knowing you took a huge risk and are reaping the benefits of your courageous choice (at least, I don’t think it is.  I’ve never actually done that, so I can’t speak from experience.)  It’s the happiness that comes from being “okay”.  From using most of the degree your parents spent a fortune on.  From a steady paycheck and a relatively new car that you haven’t driven the tires off of yet, kitties to snuggle and a partner who makes you happy.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a happiness that doesn’t suck.  Especially when you compare it to the rest of the world with the war and starvation and Republicans running all over the place.  I really have nothing to complain about.

But of course, the times when I seem to have nothing to complain about are always the times when I can’t shut my mouth.  So here’s my issue:  Just like Kathleen Kelly in that eternal classic, I do live a small life.  And I know that I like it, but I also know that I haven’t been brave.  I’m not a brave person and I never have been.  When I was little, I did everything I could to avoid getting dirty or hurt (including WALKING down the stairs when I could have slid down in a sleeping bag and almost broken my ankle like my brother did); in high school, my greatest offense was staying out past my 10pm curfew because I was eating Grilled Stickies at Eat N Park with my theatre friends.  And in college, naturally, I was everybody’s mom.  98% of the time the DD (even when I’d request not to be) and it’s a trend that has continued into my adult life.  Some might say that I wasn’t being a spineless lamb, I was being responsible.

Unfortunately, when you look back at your life, those often tend to feel like the same thing.

And I’ve certainly had opportunities to be brave.   I could have fought harder with my parents about where I wanted to go to school, could have moved somewhere that wasn’t safe and back with said parents after college.  I could have chosen to struggle and pursue a really difficult and unrewarding job as a journalist (which I would have hated) or a freelancer or something along those lines.  But I didn’t.  I sat back for a year and let life just happen to me.

For whatever reason, while life was happening to me, it decided to be incredibly kind.  (Very out of character for life, up until that point.)  It dropped a great job into my lap and an even greater boyfriend who I decided I liked so much I wanted to marry him.  (Have to hold onto the ones you don’t have to work for…just in case life decides to shuffle them around to someone else.)  So I didn’t really think about things like defining my happiness and identifying with You’ve Got Mail quotes (except, of course “It may not have been personal to you, but it was personal to me.  It was personal to a lot of people.  And what is so wrong with being personal anyway?  Whatever a thing is, it should always start out as being personal.”)  Is it just me, or is that the greatest movie ever? Honestly, there’s a quote in there for almost every occasion in life!

Anyway.

Life was good.  Life is good.  It is.

But it’s not what I’ve always wanted.  Not entirely.  Am I keeping a roof over my head?  Yes.  Am I married to a man I love with all my heart and who—for reasons I can’t possibly begin to comprehend—loves me for the truly bizarre, self-absorbed lunatic that I am?  Yes.  (I know, right?  I still don’t believe it.) Am I healthy and well-fed and able to keep my car on the road and feet in my shoes?  Yes to all of the above.

I’m also exhausted, grinding my teeth, and fairly certain I’m developing an ulcer.  You know what I’m not doing nearly enough of?  Writing.

That pesky thing that’s kept me from truly falling in love with the idea of any other profession.  I knew when I was eight years old that I could never really be a doctor or a lawyer (although I toyed with the idea of the latter for quite a bit) or a florist or even a teacher because all I’ve ever wanted to do was write.

So, write!  You’re probably thinking, looking at your watch and rolling your eyes if you’ve heard this ten million times (looking at you, husband.)  What are you sitting around here, bitching at us for?  Sit down, shut up, and finish your novel!

Hence my dilemma.  Is the path I’m currently on one that is perfectly respectable and one that makes a  lot of sense?  Yes it is.  Do I love what I get up and do every day?  No, I don’t.  Am I doing what I’ve always wanted to do since I first understood the concept of wanting “to be something” when you grew up?  No.  At least, not on the days that I’m too exhausted to write.

Sadly, those days appear more often than they do not.

I have the ability to change my life…but it’s terrifying.  What if I make these changes and devote myself to my writing only to find that I’m actually not very good?  I know it’s going to take an excessively long time to get published (if at all) and in the meantime, I’ll have to deal with a large amount of rejection and criticism and honestly?  I’m not nearly as tough as I look.

What if I just end up working a dead-end job to have the time to write books that no one cares about and most people never get a chance to read?  What if all I’m actually meant to do is pour words into a computer and occasionally the internet and never get see even the slightest glimmer of success?

Here’s what I know:  I’m not really happy right now with the way things are.  I’m terrified by the idea of defining myself as a writer who does other things to pay the bills as opposed to a woman with a good, steady job and a good, steady paycheck who happens to write on the side.

Like, really, really pants-shitting, terrified.

And the other thing that I know, or at least feel like I know, is that something is telling me to make a decision and for the first time in my life, I feel like being brave.

 

The Liberation of Emily's Legs

  These are my legs:

They are short, and chubby, and according to someone whose voice has been living (rent-free) inside my head for far too long, they look like sausage links when I am wearing tights.

Because of my short, stubby, sausage legs, I take smaller steps than most of my friends, I don’t run very fast at all, and it takes me a lot longer to get places than some people.  These legs are covered in scars, cellulite, and have pores that are too large so they always look like I need to shave them.  In short, they are not what most people would consider “great legs”.

I have hated my legs since I was six years old (when, coincidentally, the sausage link situation was brought to my attention).  That’s almost twenty years.  Twenty years of actively hating and waging war on one-third of my body.  For as long as I can remember, I have wanted and wished and begged and bargained for thighs that do not rub together to create angry, screaming red rashes.  Or for calves that fit inside sleek, zip-up boots without leaving zipper indentations.  Or for deliciously un-dimpled knees.  I have kept them hidden beneath long dresses and denim capris and pants, pants, and nothing but pants for as long as I’ve been choosing my own clothing.  They spend most summers pasty white because they are hidden from the sun; they are covered up with a sarong at the beach where they were the last parts to be exposed and the first to be hidden under clothing again when it’s time to leave.

I have exercised.  I have done squats and thrusts and outer thigh presses and inner thigh squeezes and ronde jambes and leg circles.   And you know what?

My legs look the same.

They are stronger, they are perhaps a bit more toned, but they are still my legs.  My thighs are still wide and still rub together, and all the exercise in the world will not remove the cellulite.  They are just my legs.  Nothing more and apparently, never going to be anything less.

This used to disturb and frustrate me.  It just didn’t seem fair that I could have all the drive and ambition in the world—and even all the discipline to work my legs so hard—and get next to nothing in return.  It was just a big cosmic joke that I was destined to stomp around on these stubby trunks, being playfully mocked by my loved ones and quietly loathing them until the end of my days.

But seriously.  What the fuck?

What’s wrong with my legs?  Medically, physiologically, functionally?  Nothing.  Not a damn thing.  They are fully functional and in great working shape.  They have no squeaking parts, no rusty joints.  They don’t even hurt when it’s about to rain.  And they’re still both attached to my body and react appropriately when my brain sends them a signal.

So really, what am I complaining about?

And they’ve done more than just work without issue for twenty-four years.  These legs were able to steer a thousand pound horse around a ring and on a trail when they were only nine years old.  These legs walked the rest of me across the stage at my college graduation.  They reach my feet to the pedals of my car every day so I can drive around the state and try to raise money to fund a cure for cancer.  These legs can do Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and run on an elliptical machine for forty-five minutes before they start screaming for me to stop.

Maybe they don’t fit into zip-up boots or size 6 jean skirts.  Maybe my knees will always be dimpled and my cellulite will always jiggle when I’m power-walking to catch up with one of my long-legged friends.  Maybe my jeans will always have the hem trodden down in the back because the “Regular” inseam is too long (But dammit!  That Petite inseam is just too damn short!) and maybe my thighs will never know what it’s like to have their own space to breathe.

Maybe.  Probably.

But you know what?  My legs have done a lot for me and have never asked for anything in return.  This is the summer I buy some shorts and show them off.  This is the summer they get to spend some time in the sun and finally know what my shoulders have been talking about all this time.  It’s time I gave my legs a big hug and say to them, “Legs, I love you and starting now, I’m going to act like it.”

Be a superhero

January is a big month for me, and it should be for you, too. Especially if you’re a woman.  (If you’re not a woman, you should still listen up and pass this info onto the women in your life.)  January is the time of year where I save my life. Yep, that’s right.  I make a choice to save my own life every January.  It’s pretty cool, I’ll admit.  I feel like a low-level superhero in my own comic book life.  Maybe a mid-level superhero, actually, if I factor in what my job consists of.  I like to think that maybe I’ve saved a life or two along the way.  I hope I have.  But that’s not what I’m talking about today.

Want to save YOUR life?  It’s easy, I promise.  Just call up your gynecologist and schedule your annual exam.

Don’t scrunch up your face like that.  And I don’t want to hear any excuses.  None!  I know it’s no fun.  I know that everything Eve Ensler’s Angry Vagina complains about is 100% true (cold duck lips, tit-scratching paper gowns, Nazi-steel stirrups…all true!) and I know that it’s embarrassing and not something that women like to think about.  If all of these excuses came to mind, I have some advice for you:

GET THE FUCK OVER IT!

No, I’m serious.  Get. The. Fuck. Over. It.

I’m not going to apologize for sounding harsh (or even ask you to pardon my language) because that’s how strongly I feel about this issue.  And now I’m going to tell you why.

Here’s my mom, Peggy.

On Friday, January 20th, she will have been dead for four years.

The news of her diagnosis came in stages.  First, she had an abnormal pap smear; then, she told me they discovered a mass and wanted to biopsy it.  After that decision was made, it just made more sense to have the full hysterectomy.  And after all of that was done, the news was handed down that she had cancer.

And 17 months later, she was gone.

When she was going through treatment that wasn’t responding and we were getting slammed with one piece of bad news after another, I thought that perhaps she had something that was just too strong for the chemo and the radiation.  Something resistant and rapidly spreading that they simply didn’t have the technology to treat yet.  If she could only hold on for a few more years, just keep fighting, they would figure it out, and she’d be fine.

It wasn’t until after she died that I learned the truth.  My mother hadn’t been to her doctor in at least three years.  Maybe longer.  It’s likely that her body had been fighting that cancer for much, much longer than any of us realized.  By the time she was diagnosed, her cancer was at Stage 4, and she really didn’t have a chance.

Is four years long enough to stop being angry at her for missing those appointments?  No, it’s not.  I don’t feel the anger as strongly as I did before; mostly I just feel sad when I think about all she’s missing in mine and my brother’s lives.  But it’s still there, the anger, the hurt, the confusion.

It’s one appointment a year.

One simple test.

So go to the doctor and save your own life.  If not for you, consider it the best gift you’ll ever give your children.

Sorry Jennifer Hudson...

I'm going to sound like a hypocrite.  100%.  You're getting that warning now, so that you have plenty of time to back out of reading this post without my doing too much damage to the image you have of me in your mind.  So go ahead and click on back to whatever you were doing if you're not into my occasional hypocrisy. All-weather readers still here?  Okay, can't say I didn't warn you.

I don't like Jennifer Hudson since she lost all her weight on Weight Watchers.  There.  I said it.

*Imagines a loud, public outcry of people asking questions, press-conference style*

"But Emily, she looks great!  What's wrong with you?"

"Emily, aren't YOU a Weight Watcher?"

"Don't you want her to be happy and healthy?"

Pipe down, everyone!  I'm going to explain what I don't like!  I just wanted to get that bold statement out there before I went any further.

Here's the thing: Jennifer is, was, and ALWAYS HAS BEEN a beautiful woman.  Absolutely beautiful!  Don't remember what she looked like before she went all Skinny Girl Margarita?  Let me remind you:

And yes, she looks AMAZING now.  Really, she does.  Jen, if you read this (which, of course, you don't) don't think that I am not super impressed and super proud of you for making the healthy choice and working so hard to lose all that weight.  Really.  Kudos, girl.

But she was beautiful before the size two clothes and all of the commercials and the major glamification that she'd gone through in the last year and a half.  And this is why I don't like her anymore.  Because since she's lost all this weight, it's like her life before that didn't matter.  Like she had some disability that she's since been cured of.  It's a MIRACLE!  It's a REASON TO BELIEVE!

No, it's not a bloody miracle.  It's hard work, will power and, (I'm just going to say it) probably a great personal trainer.  It's great for her that she's happier and more confident now, but that's NOT ALL SHE IS AS A PERSON.  She's a mother, an actress and an amazingly talented singer!  Why is she only doing interviews about her weight loss?!  Why is the most intelligent thing she has to say these days along the lines of, "I'm so excited to wear any outfit I want that I can't sleep at night."

Really, Jen?  You can't sleep at night because you're so excited to get dressed in the morning?  Forgive me while I roll my eyes at your unbelievably petty comments.

But who am I really angry with?  Hollywood, obviously.  The press in general.  Shame on them for doing this to all the plus-sized beauties in the industry.  Remember American Ferrera?  She used to look like this:

And now she looks like this...

Is the girl in the second picture a better actress that the one in the first?  No.  Is she more beautiful?  More worthy of attention?  No.  Is she even a different person?  NO.  She's the same woman.  She a beautiful, capable, talented, woman and she was 80lbs ago.  Just like Jennifer Hudson and just like every other woman who has been made to feel like she needs to lose weight to feel validated as a person.

STOP DOING IT, SOCIETY!  Stop putting the pressure on people (men, you're included in this too) to be skinny and super-fit to be noticed and considered beautiful and popular.  STOP IT!

Just once I want to see a gorgeous, plus-size model or actress STAY PLUS SIZED!  Keep yourself healthy, keep yourself in shape and don't eat crap that will kill you (re: McDonalds) but STAY PLUS SIZED!  There are chubby little girls with sausage-link thighs and Charlie Brown cheeks that need you to look up to, to help them feel beautiful, to make them feel less alone.

Be there for them, please.

Rant over.

*Gets up from press conference stage in a dramatic fashion*

 

 

 

Next year's To-Do list

Well, this feels a little bit more like progress, since my last post was a month ago.  I really do try to think of things to fill this blog, but it's difficult.  Haven't really put my finger on why it's a struggle, but it is more than it isn't. Anyway, to live in the here and now, it's that time of year to reflect and look ahead for what you plan to do or hope to accomplish in the next year.  My dear friend Elizabeth just posted her New Year's Resolutions and I thought it would be beneficial to do mine as well.

So, let's reflect:

Resolutions from 2011:

1.) To feel healthier and more in shape (√) 2.) To learn to bake a perfect cheesecake (√) 3.) To save enough money for an October wedding (√) 4.) To get married (I threw this in there for a gimme) (√√√) (That one gets 3 checks because it was the best day of my life.) 5.) To take a few more steps closer toward my goal of loving my body (√)

I wasn't actually sure I'd accomplished the last one until I read over my posts from 2011.  And then I realized that somewhere along the line, the self-hatred and self-disgust has been slowly slipping out of my system, especially since starting this blog.  I'm not saying I'm giggling with glee over my cellulite and don't still look at myself and think that I have work to do, but it's definitely a more positive feeling than it was a year ago.

And with that, I look ahead to 2012.

Resolutions for 2012:

1.) To exercise consistently 2.) To continue donating my excess possessions to people who need them 3.) To either move or learn to love my apartment 4.) To direct a kick-ass version of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change 5.) To go on a real, live, leave-the-state vacation with my husband

There are other things I want to do as well (write more, eat less pizza, visit with my out-of-Warren friends, etc.) that could also go on the list, I suppose, but I like the idea of 5 specific things that I can work toward in the new year.  5 is a nice not-round number; it's manageable, but significant, and best of all, everything on the list fits on one hand.  Always a good thing if you count on your fingers as much as I do.

So that's that.  My to-do list for 2012.  It's a working list, as always, so there's plenty of room for additions and subtractions and it might not even look the same come next December.  (Also, in case you didn't know, this is my website and I can change things any way that I want--so if you come back to this post to call me on not keeping one of my resolutions, there's no guarantee they'll even be here.  Muahahah!)

Talk to me, friendships, what does your resolution list look?

 

Seeking...

Welcome to the next chapter of my internet presence!  From here, I will be posting all my creative works as well as my blogs on this website.  One, simple, easy-to-find location.  I hope you'll spread the word, tell your friends, and update your subscriptions (don't want to miss anything, do you?) So while I'm still moving in, arranging the furniture the way I want it, and deciding on wall color...I thought I'd do something wild and crazy and unexpected.

I thought I'd update my blog!  What's on the agenda?  Weight loss, of course.

Why do we want to lose weight?  To look and feel better.  If you ask anyone that question, the answer they give will be somewhere along those lines.  It's a perfectly good set of reasons--it's definitely why I always keep up fighting this never-ending, uphill battle.

But there is another reason, as well.  And if no one else wants to admit to it, that's fine.  I'm shallow and I proudly admit that one of the best things about losing weight is having people comment on the fact that you've lost weight.  Like I said, I know it's shallow, but it's also the truth.  At least for this girl.  The other best part is looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, "Damn, girl!  Keep it up!"

Okay, maybe you're not the type of person who ever says "Damn, girl" when they talk to themselves, but I admit I do it quite often.

So here's the issue: I've lost twenty pounds since July. 2-0.  In writing, that's a lot of weight.  And I suppose that on some people, it would be a lot of weight to lose--at least enough to be noticeable.  But not on me.  This saddens me.

I'm still wearing my old clothes, for the most part, I am still struggling with exercising regularly and controlling portion sizes, and--worst of all--NO ONE HAS NOTICED.

Okay, not no one.  But a small enough number of people have commented that it feels like almost no one has noticed.  I keep looking at the numbers on the scale and looking at my clothing and trying to figure it out.  Is the scale broken?  Am I really not losing all of this weight?  Is all of this hard work for nothing?

Why can't I see it?  Why can't I rise above my shallow need for praise and compliments and know that what I'm doing is good for me and will make me a healthier, happier, person in the long run?

*Sigh*  I don't know.  But I've noticed that it's dampening my drive and my motivation to get back into my size 14s.  It's not a good way to be feeling, heading into the calorie-packed holiday season.

Perhaps I'm posting this hoping for validation.  I know I'm posting it hoping for motivation to keep going, to persevere and get to the other side of December without too much damage being done.  I'm sure this has happened to people who are not me.

Want to tell me about it?

Now!

Whoops. It's July...and my last post was in April. I've been neglecting this again. *Deep inhale* Okay! *Cracks knuckles* Let's do this...

Since the Fourth of July is nearly upon us, I feel now is as good a time as any to talk about my own independence and share something I did a few weeks ago.

Kayaked.

Oh yeah. Me...full figured, self-conscious, aquatically challenged EMILY got into a kayak and propelled herself upstream.

And. I. Didn't. DIE!

Okay, I didn't go very far, but the distance I went was upstream (at first, obviously I had to come DOWN stream to return to my loved ones) and absolutely exhilarating. This may sound silly to people who live around me and have grown up on the river and don't think twice about getting in a one-man boat and rowing down the Allegheny, but it was--in case you couldn't tell--a huge deal to me.

Here's why: A.) I was terrified. I am NOT a strong swimmer. After a near-drowning incident when I was four (thanks again for pulling me out, Dad!) I've stuck to the shallow end of the pool/lake/ocean, where my feet can touch. I could probably doggy-paddle to save my own life if things were really dire (and rescue was 20 feet away) but I wouldn't put money on it. B.) I was doubting myself. I am NOT an athletic human being. Never have been, probably never will be. Doesn't mean I don't try...I just know that nothing physical I do comes easily to me. Which, I choose to see as a good thing. To me, that means that if I really want to be good at something, it's because I KNOW I enjoy it and usually that means I work harder. Yay me! C.) I was self-conscious. I always thought I was too fat. Kayaking seemed like something impossibly tan, blonde, skinny people did to get between mountains they were going to repel down while laughing and not ever breaking a sweat. (No, really, that's the image in my head!) Actually, the idea of me being in a canoe or kayaking always conjured up this image from Shallow Hal:

It was one of those things that I filed away in my "When I'm thinner" folder and thought of longingly without ever really thinking I'd be able to do.

Stupid, right? But when I look back at my little soulful journey that began in October, I am beginning to realize that there were a lot more things in that folder than I'd like to admit. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure that everyone does that. "I'll be happier when I'm thinner." "I'll like photos of myself when I'm thinner." "I'll be more confident when I'm thinner" "I'll buy that dress when I'm thinner."

Sound familiar? Yes, it does. Don't lie.

Also thankfully, there is nothing that is preventing me (or you!) from taking a big Sharpie--in purple ink, obviously--to that folder and writing "RIGHT NOW" over top of its old label.

Be happy now! Like photos of yourself now! Be confident in your own sexiness now!! Buy that dress now! (And get it in YOUR size! Not the size you wish you were!) Doesn't that sound like a fuller, more satisfying way to live?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Not that easy. But it's definitely something to think about, right?

And sometimes, embarking on the "Right Now!" train of thought is not something you can start yourself. Sometimes, you have to say something out loud and see if the universe sends you some help.

In my case, the universe sent me Trina, who is loud and lovely and fearless and a little bit crazy and who rarely looks back.

We were at our bi-weekly barbecue at our river dwelling, kayak-stocked, magic man friend John's two weeks ago, thinking about packing up to leave. There were kids playing with boats in the river, paddling out to the middle of the river and back and, casually, almost to myself, I said, "I want to do that someday."

"What?" asked Trina, cocking her head in my direction.

I pointed to the kayaks. "That. I want to learn to kayak someday."

"Someday?" She looked around. "What's stopping you? C'mon, we're getting you in a kayak!" And before I could even protest any of my Darn Good Reasons (see above) for not being able to do it, she had pulled out a boat for me, instructed me on how to get in it, handed me an oar, and told Josh (resident expert) to teach me to use it.

Yes, we hit some snags at first. And no, I certainly won't be winning any races anytime soon. But I did it. I took something out of my "When I'm thinner" folder and I did it right then and there. I can't remember the last time I felt so genuinely, truly thrilled and proud and surprised at myself.

So, dear readers (if there are any of you left in between all of my absences!!) here is my challenge to you: Do something this summer to surprise yourself. Be bold, be adventurous, and above all else, STOP WAITING TO START LIVING!

It was just a small step into that little boat, but a big step for me.

Forever Curvy, Emily

Does pride come in this size?

So yes, this post is basically going to be a list of all the things that have been filling me with bubbly, shiny pride lately. It might be a little sappy and some of you probably won't really care about what makes me shiny and proud...but that's what happens when I don't blog for over a month. Right. Here we go...

1.) Tonight, I walked 3 miles in just under 35 minutes. That's a new best for me, and twice as surprising since I did it with glutes that were quite sore from my vigorous "Buns of Envy" workout yesterday.

2.) Yeah, I said "Buns of Envy" in a list of things I'm proud of. I'm not actually proud that I own a collection of workout DVDs entitled "Girls of Envy Workouts", but let's not dwell. Let me give you a little warning of the Girls of Envy. First of all, these girls, while looking amazing doing these workouts, are NOT fitness instructors. I repeat: THE GIRLS OF ENVY ARE NOT FITNESS INSTRUCTORS. This may seem like common knowledge, given the name and the fact that all of the "instructors" have appeared in Playboy at least once, but I'm all about fairness. I don't like to presume that just because someone is gorgeous and in amazing shape and has posed nude for big buckets of cash that they aren't capable of leading informative workouts.

But in this case, my presumption was correct. These girls are idiots. And hard to listen to...this is mainly because they speak exactly as you'd think they would. "Make sure you're squeezing your stomach really hard for this one." "Lean back and stretch your back. It's a yoga thing. It's called Child's Pose." "This one is really gonna kick your butt." It's difficult to take them seriously. It really is.

That being said, these are truly fantastic workouts. They are challenging and targeted and (according to the compliments I've been getting and the way my clothes are fitting) actually seem to work. But here is the secret: Trainer Commentary. I discovered it while looking for a "Music Only" workout option. The workouts are the same, just voiced over by the man who designed them. It's amazing what a difference this makes! This simple discovery completely renewed my faith in the GOE! I would recommend these workouts to anyone who can find them--I discovered mine in the bargain bin at a book store at the outlets. Truth.

Anyway, the thing that I'm proud about: despite their hilarious outfits and totally ridiculous way they lay down on the mats for crunches, I have spent at least four days a week working out with the Girls of Envy for the last six weeks! I am so proud of myself! And the best part is that I haven't even really been aware that I've been doing it! It's just become a part of my routine!

3.) That I even have time this week to sit down and write a blog about things I'm proud of. This weekend I have not one, but TWO Relay For Life events to staff and should, in fact, be going crazy right now. Miraculously, not only am I not going crazy, but these are two events that are on track to reach their goals. Yay! Events making goal AND getting a night off at the end of college Relay season? Oh yeah, Emry's learning time management. That's right.

4.) I've started writing chapter four of my "new" historical fiction. I say "new" like that because it's not new. It's almost a year old but I only write a teeny tiny bit at a time because I get busy and distracted and full of self-loathing. The first little bit of it lives here. It's called "Mack&Moira" and even though they are babies in the world of fiction, I am really developing an attachment to the characters.

5.) ^^That. What I just did there? I'm proud of that. It's been suggested by some fiances of mine that shall remain nameless that I don't share my creative writing enough. So now I have...I hope you'll read it and tell me what you think. I hope you'll like it too and be intrigued and tell me about what you hope will happen. But even if you don't like it and you see some places where I can improve, I hope you'll tell me about that too. (I'm looking at you, experienced writer friends!)

6.) That I blogged tonight. I forget how much I enjoy it. I hope you guys enjoy it too and you'll leave comments to tell me what you're proud of in your lives this week. Patting myself on the back and allowing myself a little peacock strut here and there is not always the easiest thing...probably because my years of Sunday school come rushing back and I'm filled with Catholic guilt thinking about humility and the dangers of vanity and blah blah blah.

But I'm learning that congratulating yourself on a job well done, rewarding yourself for a positive behavioral change, or even just saying "Hey, pretty girl!" when you look in the mirror isn't vanity. It's survival. It's a harsh, cruel world out there and sometimes, being your own biggest fan is the only thing that keeps you sane and pleasant.

Here in the Full Figured world, I love hearing how awesome you are and want to celebrate with you!

Until the next curve,

Emily

Hugging my Inner Fat Girl

Running Revolution is about to start. This is the 12 week, women-only running program in Warren that is designed to turn non-runners into runners and help women who are already runners improve their times, speeds, and all-around running style. I signed up for this not having the slightest idea of what I’m getting myself into. Last Monday, I attended the Pre-Rev class and got my first lesson in running. I learned that I have the wrong kind of shoes, my arms are too stiff when I’m running, and that my stride does something called “overpronation” which means that when I am buying new shoes, I have to find some shoes that remedy this. Who knew? The class also included some horrendously difficult ab work, stretches and rolling around with a large cylinder of foam, and some goal setting with our fearless leader. This week, after turning in a 12 week fitness plan that I constructed, I believe we are going to do Pilates. Yay!

Something else I learned? I have a lot of repressed gym class memories. No, really, this isn’t me making a joke. We were sitting in the wrestling room of the middle school (not even the middle school that I attended, mind you, or I probably would have had an outbreak of hives) and all I could think about was former gym teachers and classmates and that overwhelming feeling of “Can’t do this...too fat...too out of shape...too short...not good enough...not fast enough...not strong enough” like I remember having the whole time I was in school. Not the kind of positive self talk that is needed when beginning a fitness regime such as this.

This made me realize two things:

1.) Smell is definitely the strongest sense connected with memory (as it was the smell of a school gym that triggered these thoughts and feelings) 2.) That despite my best efforts over the last ten years, that chubby, insecure teenager is still a part of me, still living inside my head.

I had almost forgotten about her over the past week, having my head full of stressful work stuff and wedding plans, while still trying to find the time to put my fledgling fitness plan into action. But this morning, after hearing about some serious negativity directed at me, she shuffled away from the corner I normally keep her in and stood in my place once again.

This is what she does. She comes out when I need her the least, when I should be able to toss my hair and say, “Who cares what those assholes think?” and really mean it. She comes out of hiding and she takes my place so that instead, I think, “It makes sense that they’d say or think those things. We probably deserve it.” It’s that part of me that is always waiting for the good things in my life to go bad, for my boss to decide someone else would be better for my job, for my friends to come clean and tell me they’ve just been stringing me along because they felt sorry for me, for my fiancé to tell me this was all just a joke that went too far. She’s the reason I always feel just the faintest hint of surprise when someone tells me they like me, they love me, they want me around.

In a perfect world, she doesn’t exist at all. In a perfect world, I overcame my teenage-insecurity on all fronts and am a totally well adjusted young woman with a lot of really positive things happening in her life.

Yeah well. I don’t live in a perfect world. Not outside my head and certainly not inside. I wish there was a way to get rid of her for good...to send her and her Backstreet Boys t-shirt packing somewhere where she can’t mess up my good vibes anymore. But I’ve tried that. I’ve tried not listening to her, I’ve tried banishing her, I’ve even tried directing her at other people and nothing’s changed. What I really wish I could do, though, really and truly, is hug her. I wish I could go back in time and visit her when she had that first thought of “Not good enough...not fast enough...not strong enough” and I wish that I could put my arms around her and hug that thought right out of her. I would tell her, “Don’t think like that. You are a beautiful, wonderful, loveable person. Those people who are making you feel anything less than that are so insignificant it’s unbelievable.” I’d show her how great her life is going to be after awhile and all the good things that are coming to her.

But since I can’t really do that—can’t go back in time and visit a younger version of myself—I guess I’ll have to settle for telling her all those things when I feel her lingering inside my head.

In the midst of all of this self-love, self-discovery, self-rejuvenation...whatever it is, I have come to realize that becoming comfortable in my own skin has more to do than just accepting my plus-sized curves. It’s not going to be enough to say “I like the way I look” if I can’t think “I like the way I am” at the same time. I want to accept and feel that I deserve the love people give me and all the good things in my life. I want to be happy just the way I am and know that if I make any changes, they will be changes for the better and only make them because it’s what I want, for me. Not because I want fit into someone else’s measurement or ideas.

So I’m going back to the Pre-Rev tonight, and I’m going to learn how to run before summertime. Because it’s what I want and because I want to show that chubby, insecure little girl just how fabulous we can be when we put our mind to it.

The Most Dangerous Game

What do you think this post is going to be about? Hunting human beings for sport? The Zodiac Killer? A review of the actual short story,The Most Dangerous Game? Nope. Wrong on all accounts. I’m talking about wedding planning. Let’s be real, we all kind of felt this one coming. Life-long hater of weddings, sappy romance, and all things bridal gets engaged and decides not to elope…you know there’s got to be a blog in there somewhere. Or at least a joke or two. This isn’t really a “full-figured” topic, but it’s definitely something I felt the need to share with all of you. And besides, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about anything. Okay, so, the next time one of my friends gets engaged and everyone is bombarding them with helpful suggestions, I’m just going to direct them to this blog.

Ready? Here we go! Things I have learned so far:

A.) If you want your Facebook to blow up, post the words “wedding planning” as a status. If you actually want to shut Facebook down for a few hours, post the phrase “I need help with my wedding planning.” If you’re in the mood to have 20+ responses to a status and a few dozen inbox messages from people who have been to a wedding once, then you should do that. Otherwise, avoid saying the “W” word on facebook.

B.) Plus sized women do not get more than two options for shorter dresses. Apparently, the world of Bridal Fashion does not feel that a plus sized woman should be showing off her calves and ankles on her wedding day. Big, poufy dresses that look like cupcakes? Sure, they've got those by the boatload! But something short and simple and flattering? Sorry Charlie. Of course, they have short, simple dresses that are flattering on Skinny Minnies, and yes, they DO come in plus sizes. But, as everyone knows, the cardinal rule of plus size fashion remains the same: Just because it comes in your size, doesn't mean that it's going to look good on you.

C.) Don't be surprised if a bridal show vendor yells at you. Yes, yells at you. There are likely a few reasons that this might happen, but my personal mistake came when I asked a cake designer if she would be able to make something that wasn't in her book of something she'd done before. Y'know, something original. She didn't take kindly to that. But you can't really blame her for not practicing good customer service to someone requesting something off the beaten path when there were people throwing money at her from all sides for white almond cake with white fondant flowers on top. Whatever.

D.) Cake-toppers are a complete and total sham. No, really! It must be nice to be a blonde woman in a cupcake dress marrying a sandy-brown haired man in a tuxedo...but unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone. What's that? You want both people to have dark hair? Well, I'm sorry but you'll have to go with an "ethnic" couple. Also, don't you think it's funny to have the groom chained to the cake, looking miserable? Or to make it look like the groom is running away but the bride has him lassoed or hooked with a fishing lure? No? You don't think that's funny? Well what's wrong with you? Everyone knows that no man wants to get married...that's what makes it funny. Obviously you have no sense of humor.

OH! And same-sex couples? They definitely have something for you! Granted, the brides or grooms will both look exactly the same, they won't be interacting at all, and they'll most likely be reaching their hands in the same direction...but you can get a same-sex couple on the top of that cake! My personal favorite was the "mature bride" topper that I found. I assume she is also what they would send you if you requested two brides for your topper. This bride is wearing a tasteful white pantsuit and has short, blonde hair. Very Ellen.

***

Here endeth the lesson, for now. There are many, many more things I'm sure I'll learn along the way, and I might even look back on this mildly hellish experience with a smile when it's all over. But for now I'm just along for the ride. If only wedding planning was as simple as dealing with the moral ramifications of hunting human beings for sport...

That New Year's Resolution Post

We all saw this coming. New year, new resolutions; time to sit back and reflect on 2010 and make plans and projections for 2011. In the full-figured spirit of resolutions, I figured I'd take a few moments and jot down a few of my own. First, a look back on 2010. Twelve months ago, I had just barely started my job in the nonprofit world, the boyf and I had just moved into together and my financial situation was, well, to say it was "in shambles" wouldn't exactly be putting it lightly.

My 2010 New Years Resolutions were: -To pay off my credit card debt/to no longer receive collection calls and -To fill our apartment with real furniture (not Grandma hand-me-downs from 1975) and turn it into an actual home

I didn't realize it, but by August, I had not only kept my New Years resolutions but completed them in a checklist-like fashion. WAY TO GO ME! In 15 years of making resolutions, that had never happened to me. (I say 15 years because, although I am 23, I don't really recall the need for such things before the age of 8.) Which got me thinking...why did I do that? How did I do that? I did them without focusing on them much past their initial declaration and I found a way to work their completion into my life without realizing it. Of course I'd hang things on the walls eventually and replace the couch from Grandma with a real one and of course, paying off the credit cards was just a natural step on the way to financial solvency. I even managed to buy a new car. Didn't exactly erase my debt, but it's nice to be paying on a brand new car as opposed to paying for groceries I bought six months ago via Wal-Mart card. Ya know?

So my point is that if I can figure out a way to do this again, to make this year's resolutions as ingrained and second-nature as last years, maybe I'll surprise myself with another successful year. Just maybe. It's worth a shot, right? So, without further ado... Curvy Girl's 2011 New Year's Resolutions:

1.) To feel healthier and more in shape 2.) To learn to bake a perfect cheesecake 3.) To save enough money for an October wedding (mine!) 4.) To get married (I threw this in there for a gimme) and 5.) To take a few more steps closer toward my goal of loving my body

What are your 2011 goals and resolutions? Let me know below. All the best in the new year!

PS: Before I go, I do want to share with you this totally sexy plus-sized photo that I found today while searching for something else all together (as is usually the case.)

Had to share with you, curvy fans, because not only is this photo completely gorgeous and comes with a great message, it's inspired me to add something to my Bucket List that I really never would have considered before. But sorry, friends, mums the word on that one.

 Cheers.

Full-Figured Christmas List

Dear Santa Claus, How are you? Hoping you're well and not letting the stress of this busy season get to you. I've been a very good girl this year and have a few requests while you're checking off your list on Christmas Eve.

1.) A red Wii. I don't really know why I want this, I am just filled with childlike glee at the thought of owning one. If you can't do it, Santa, I understand. You may feel--just as the grown up in me does--that I don't really need one of these. You might be right. I'm just putting it out there.

2.) A house to rent in Warren. Note that I am not asking for a house, free and clear, just the availability of a house for rent. Three bedrooms, some space for storage, and in our price range. (Hint: if anyone reading this blog knows of someone renting houses in the Warren area, you can feel free to play Santa at any time!)

3.) Hollywood to either accept plus size women or not. I've given up caring which way they go at this point, I just want them to make a decision.

Confused, Santa? Allow me to expound. I am so sick of clothing stores, magazines, commercials, billboards, etc. telling us how they are creating things for "Every Body" and "Celebrating Your Curves!" Blah blah blah. That's nice, fashion/advertising world, it really is. But what I'm hearing and reading is a lot of talk. Not seeing so much with the action.

What do I mean? I mean find me more than a handful of movies or television shows where the main character is a plus-sized woman. Okay, easy-ish enough to do. NOW find me a movie or television show where the main story line for said plus sized character is something other than her weight or her appearance. I'm tired of watching a storyline unfold where a good looking man "proves his depth" by noticeably looking past her appearance and finding some other part of her attractive. No good. What is that telling plus sized women? That if, by the grace of God, someone somewhere ACTUALLY pays them any attention, they should be grateful because he obviously went through some serious soul-searching to look past her curves?

WRONG MESSAGE!

Truly, Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is a decent show, starring a normal looking woman who gets to have all the things that a bone thin woman would get to have on any other show. I want to watch her have a career and date and fall in love and interact with her friends and be funny and NOT focused on her dress size, or her struggle to lose 50lbs, or even how she overcomes current trends and learns to love herself anyway. No. Stop calling attention to it. Stop acting like being curvy is a disability or some built-in heartwarming human interest hook. It's not. It's not new or a novelty, either. It's just not what you, Hollywood, have been celebrating for the last...ever. There are a lot of gorgeous, plus-sized women out there who are tired of waiting to be represented by you and your kind.

Get on it! For all our sakes. It's Christmas.

Wishing you a very curvy Christmas, Em

PS: So far since joining Sparkpeople I've lost 4.5lbs. Not the most stellar of weight loss numbers, but it's about a pound a week. Pretty darn okay in my book. :-)

"Magic lives in curves, not angles."  -Mason Cooley

Two-Faced

No, I'm not climbing up on a soapbox to wail about how everyone lies and pretends to be someone they're not...blah blah blah. That's not what this week's blog is about. I'm sorry if that's something you're going through and thought I was going to offer some witty commentary on it. Maybe some other time. This, my friends, is about the difference between my faces. I have at least three. I know the blog is titled "two-faced" but that's because that's how many faces I see. There is the one that looks back at me in the mirror, and the one that appears on top of my body in pictures. There's that other one too, the one that everyone else sees, but unless I have an out-of-body experience, I try not to think about that one.

First, the face in mirror. I like her--I think she's quite pretty. No, really, I do. I like the weird multi-colored irises she has going on and her symmetrical freckles and the bright pink of her lips. All good things. I don't notice her chubby cheeks or double chin. I don't look at the rest of her and say, "She'd be cuter if she wasn't so pudgy." One step forward, right?

Then, the face in the photos. Her, I like not so much. Only occasionally when she has the perfect lighting and angle and professional photographer behind the camera. Even then, it's not guaranteed that she'll win my favor. Unlike the girl in the mirror, the girl in the photo has hardly any positive features worth mentioning. No pretty eyes or cute freckles or bright pink lips. In fact, the girl in the photos is comprised almost entirely of flaws. She's waaaaay to big for that guy who is standing next to her, her double chin is gross, her arms are too big and her mid-section too flabby. Eugh. Who wants to even take a picture of that, anyway?

Two steps back. Actually, rereading my uncensored honesty, I'd say that looks like three steps back. At least.

I try. I try really, really hard to find something positive about photos of myself. But usually, when I have to make a comment out loud, whatever I end up saying is a lie. It's not that the camera work is bad (dating a photographer so that's never been the case) it's the subject I find fault with.

Here's something I'm not proud of. Last summer, I found, in the dregs of my computer's memory, a photo of my mother and I from the last Christmas we spent together. My first thought? I wish my face didn't look so fat. This is probably one of the last pictures my mother and I would ever take together, and that's my first instinct? Really? Yes, really. I said I wasn't proud of it.

I guess I'm just feeling a little raw and a little vulnerable tonight. Normally, this is a time when I'd curl up on the couch, put up a melodramatic lyrical quote as a facebook status, and wallow. But tonight, I decided to share my little raw heart with you guys.

Thanks for listening.

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Here we are, Cyber Monday. Four days after Thanksgiving when all the guilt from a weekend of gluttony starts setting in. First, we gorged ourselves on Thursday on delicious food (twice on Thursday, if you're as lucky as I am to have two places to spend the holidays) and then (again, if you're like me) we all spent waaaaaay too much money over the long weekend on deals that were just omgtoogoodtobetrue.

Yes, a Monday morning with a pair of tight jeans and a dwindling bank account should be enough to make anyone feel less than buoyant. Unless, apparently, you're me.

What? What was that? Did I really just write that? "Unless you're me" ? Really?

Uh...yeah, yeah I guess I wrote that. I guess I wrote that because, well, I guess I kind of mean that.

Yes, I ate more than my fair share (okay, more than mine AND my alter ego Maria Lopez' fair share) of sweet potatoes and stuffing. Emphasis on the sweet potatoes. And I can't be ignorant to the calories I consumed the rest of the weekend or the money that I spent, but for whatever reason I'm not experiencing the usual self-loathing that accompanies this time of year.

I don't want to read into it. It's like over-analyzing a string of good luck: almost guarantees that it will make it run out. So, whatever the reason, (my heart or my shoes...tee hee, sorry. Couldn't resist a Grinch reference!) without thinking about all that I consumed, I woke up this morning and went back to my fledgling routine.

This morning began with Jillian Michaels screaming at my to surrender my soul to the workout and leave behind everything I regret. Have I mentioned that she scares me? I prefer Yoga Meltdown because at least there she's trying to be zen and calming...she still slips into her old, crazy mode every now and then, but it's nothing like the 30 Day Shred. *shudder* I still have nightmares about the Shred.

SparkPeople update: last week I was down a pound. One down, forty-nine more to go, right? Okay, that sounds more than daunting. Way more than daunting, actually. Putting it that way makes it seem damn near impossible. I think I'll take this as I've done in the past...ten pounds at a time.

So, in that case, one down, nine to go. Wish me luck!

Oh, and before I go, allow me to further celebrate the holiday that just passed by offering some heartfelt gratitude. Those of you who left comments on my last blog and facebook or sent messages or e-mails...you have no idea what that meant to me. Really, almost every one of the comments that you've left have caused me to tear up at least a little.

You're fantastically beautiful people. Really, really beautiful. Thank you.

One last thing: something else I'm thankful for...

YAMS!!

This is not a diet.

THIS IS NOT A DIET. I REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A DIET. You know why? Because diets don't work. They don't. What's that, you say? Your cousin lost 36lbs in a month by eating nothing but steak and peanut oil? That's nice. Ask her what happens when she gives in and eats a crouton and gains 45lbs overnight.

That being said, I've joined sparkpeople.com. If you're not familiar with the site, I recommend you go over and check it out--it's full of nifty tools and like-minded people and (best of all!) it's free. Yep, you heard me. 100% free to the public.

No, it's not a diet (weren't you listening?!) It's a way for me to easily keep track of what I eat and how much activity I get without hauling around a notebook and losing track of keeping journal entries. The nutrition tracker is super easy to use; after you enter in all of your specifics (height, weight, goals, etc.) it gives you a target number of calories, fat, protein, and carbs to stay within for the day. You log the foods you eat and it tells you how "on target" you are for the day. Pretty sweet, huh?

So, if I'm blogging about learning to love myself as I am, why did I join this site and set weight loss goals for myself? I will tell you why. Because, despite this lovely blog and its lovely followers, I am not happy with myself. Mostly because I don't really feel as healthy as I once did (probably an indication that I am, in fact, not as healthy as I once was) and want to get back to a point where, if I don't feel like I look good, at least I can say that I feel okay.

So Leslie Sansone and I walk/jogged this morning for a half an hour, I signed up for SparkPeople, and I watched what I ate all day. Not rocket science. Gotta tell you, though, when it comes to wake-up work-out personalities, I'm not Leslie's biggest fan. Yeah, Jillian Michaels gets annoying because she's so intense (and also because her workouts cause my life to flash before my eyes) and yells at the screen with things like "This is you last circuit! DON'T PHONE IT IN! NO REGRETS! LEAVE EVERYTHING IN THIS WORKOUT! LEAVE IT ALL!!!!!" And well...that's a little scary.

But Leslie Sansone is just so damn cheerful! She's giggling her way through her movements and telling me, "Doesn't it feel soooo good to get up and walk this morning?! I'm so glad you joined me and said 'I'm walkin' today!' I just love to hear you say that!"

Leslie, if I were in charge of such things, I would still be in bed, weighing 140lbs and never feeling the urge to pop in your DVD. Sorry, bub, that's just the way it works in my head. I also didn't say "I'm walkin' today" for your benefit. That decision was made on how much time was available for a workout this morning and how much I didn't want to hear Jillian yelling at me. Chill your life and tone down the enthusiasm.

But anyway, my goals aren't astronomical. I want to be a size 14 again--that's all. We've had a long-standing love/hate relationship, me and size 14. When I was a size 14, all I could think about was how close I was to a 12 and how I would be happiest if I could just dip down to a 12 or (gasp) maybe even someday a 10! Size 14 was just an inconvenient, seemingly ENORMOUS roadblock between me and true fashion bliss. *sigh* Oh the innocence of youth. But like with most things, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The longer we've spent apart the more I've come to realize that it's the size at which I'm the most comfortable, and the size I was when I came the closest to really enjoying the way I looked.

Rereading what I just wrote, it looks like I'm missing the point of my own blog, doesn't it? I don't think that's the case (though please feel free, gentle readers, to call me out on this one.) There is a vague hope that if I can get back to size 14 and still impress myself by reaching a personal goal or two, it may do wonders for my self-loathing body image issues.

Call it a baby step toward loving all of me all the time.

And then there's this...

Yeah, this. I don't know how I feel about this. Mostly, I think that this woman is a crazy person who should be stopped. Where are her doctors? Who are these people who are telling her she's healthy? Why does she think she's healthy when she can only walk 20 feet before having to sit down? Why isn't her husband attempting to stop her so she doesn't leave their daughter motherless?

And most importantly, what is her daughter learning from all of this?

My mother struggled with her weight for most of her life--definitely all of the twenty years that I knew her. I can't lie and say that her perception of the way she looked didn't somehow color the way that I learned to look at myself. She was constantly buying exercise equipment and diet plans and fitness books and dvds and I remember as a child not being able to figure out why. To me, she was what most little girls' mothers are: the most beautiful woman they know. But she never saw that in herself and she was always trying to change the way she looked, to be thinner, to be more fit, she was always chasing some illusive "better" that was always just out of her grasp. I remember hoping, with each new plan she tried, that this would be what it took to make her happy, to make her see herself the way I saw her...but it never was. There was always something standing in the way of the way she was and the way she wanted to be.

I don't want that for my daughter--or son, for that matter--whenever he or she comes along. That's part of the point of all of this reflection, to get to the bottom of it and attempt to make a positive change so that I can be the right kind of role model for my children, and teach them how to love and accept and celebrate every part of themselves.

In that vein, let's get back to the inspiration behind this post. Do I feel a little hypocritical because this blog is about learning to love and accept myself, wobbly-bits and all and--although taking it too far--this woman is doing just that? Yes, yes I do. I'll be honest, I do find myself a little bit jealous that she can look in the mirror and not find anything she wants to change.

But there's another side to that. Another side to all of this that someone brought up a few posts ago. And that's that being obese--and that's what this woman is: morbidly obese--is a health problem. It can kill you. Being that overweight can...and in Donna Simpson's case, almost undoubtedly will kill her. For whatever reason, she keeps telling people that she's healthy and her husband thinks she'll be sexier the bigger she is. At some point, shouldn't someone be intervening and saying that she's just killing herself?

Granted, everyone is free to make their own choices and choose their own destinies and all of that, and she's obviously making a conscious choice in her ambition to weigh 1000lbs...but what happens when she dies as a result of this choice? Should we blame the men who are paying to watch her consume 12,000 calories a day via webcam? Or her doctors for not begging to her stop? (Although, who is to say they aren't already) Or just say "Well, there's another lunatic whose own crazy finally did them in."

Like I said earlier, I'm truly at loose ends with this one. There is something I envy about her positive self-image, that she's happy with the way she looks (aside from the fact that she wants to be bigger) and that she has people around her that love her just the way she is. How can she do that at over 600lbs and wearing a XXXXXXL while I can't seem to stomach wearing a size 16?

I guess it's a process. But while I'm anxious to get to a point where I love my curves and conquer my self-conscious ways, if I ever profess a desire to weigh 1000lbs, I'd like someone to come forward and kill me.

Now, as it is All Hallows Eve weekend, I can't leave you with something totally unscary. So, dear friends, I will ask you not to scream...

Photos

We took photos today, the boyf and I. He set up the lights and the backdrop and we had our own little Olan Mills photoshoot in the living room. We even wore matching blues...too cute for words, I know. I tried to be good. I really did. I tried really hard to look at all of the photos he'd taken and not hate something about myself. But if I'm honest with myself (which is the point of all of this) it didn't happen most of the time. In most of the photos he showed me, I thought "God, my hips are enormous," or "I wish my face wasn't so chubby," and I got angry with myself. That's why I'm posting.

Why can I look at a picture of Ashley Graham and say "She is so sexy!" and look at the reflection of a girl with her same measurements and think "She's disgusting." I know that the ads with Ashley and the other LB girls are Photoshopped and airbrushed all over the place, but that's not the point. The point isn't what I see in them, it's what I don't see in myself.

So badly I want to look at myself and say "Hi, pretty girl--lookin' good today!" But even when I try it, the words sound hollow and fake and vain. Feeling vain is probably the worst because it's not even real vanity!

But I did try something new today while I was looking at those photos. I tried to look at things other than the parts of myself I wished I could change. I looked at my eyes and my hair and once I even thought, "Look at how happy we look," before I started crticizing my appearance.

It didn't really feel like progress, but it didn't feel quite like self-loathing either. So that's...good, right?

But, so as not to leave you so pensive on a Sunday night, I will leave you with this gem I stumbled upon while Googling "cute couple poses" (again, I ask that you do not judge me for what I end up finding online.)

Anyone have a suitable caption? I'm coming up blank. BUT, since I wish to leave you neither pensive, nor emotionally scarred (as this woman's child will undoubtably be when they find this photo later in life) here is one of the photos the boyf and I took today. Actually, this is my favorite.

Cheers, everyone! Happy Sunday!

Complaints and Grievances

Okay, so there isn't all that much to post about at the present time. This week has been crazy and I haven't had all that much time to think about myself and my body image issues. But, I don't want to leave my loyal six followers hanging...so here are a few things that have been tweaking me lately. First: Allow me to first say that I am bitter. Bitter about boots. And not just any boots, either. No, no. These are cute knee-high, leather, high-heeled boots with really cute buckles around the ankles and just a general sexiness that I was lacking in my winter shoe collection.

I know what you’re thinking: Why so blue, curvy gal? There’s nothing to be embittered about; these boots sound delightful!

And they are. They ARE delightful. The only problem is that they don’t fit. And not because—like so many boots before them—they’re too small. No. These boots are too big! They fit perfectly in the actual foot part of the boot, but the problem arose when I went to zip them up the side and complete the look. My calves were swimming in them! I had a solid inch and a half on all sides! And it’s not like this is anything to celebrate, either. I mean, it’s not like I’m excited to find that all of my ankle presses and calf-specific work-outs have finally paid off. No, they’re the exact same size they’ve always been. In fact, I’m pretty sure from the knees down, I’ve looked the same since I was about twelve. I ordered these specifically from Lane Bryant (whom I love forever, don’t get me wrong) because my current zip-ups are known for the way they cut off the circulation in my legs. No good. So I order these “wide-calf” boots to avoid this problem, wait with baited breath in anticipation for them to be delivered, only to be faced with a terribly unpleasant truth. I am too big for “regular” boots and too small for plus sized boots. What sort of treachery is THAT!?

Second: I had my cat declawed two weeks ago and due to his complete inactivity and immense weight (17lbs: heavy weight champ of the world), his paws still haven't healed. This means, he's still wearing his plastic cone. Pathetic, really, bumping into walls and refusing to do much of anything other than sleep and shove his cone in my face in the middle of the night, demanding attention. Really, no one is more excited than I for the day when the vet says we can take this damn thing off for good. But the grievance came this morning when I made pancakes. (Pancakes, by the way = delicious, not grievance.) I finished their chocolate-chip yumminess and set the plate on the table where three seconds later, Radcliffe jumped up and stuck his whole head, cone and all, in the syruppy remnants.

A.) Ew. Sticky cat. B.) I had to take the cone off of his sticky head to clean up the syrup. C.) As soon as I did that and he'd taken a moment to adjust, he immediately began licking and biting at his paws. The ones he's not supposed to touch.

Third: This.

I stumbled upon this earlier this week and just looking at it now fills me with a rage only reserved for the poorest of fashion choices. This, my friends, is just wrong. How does it make you feel?

Tell me, I really want to know.

Something to Think About

So one of my best friends is getting married in May and--being the out-of-towner-bridesmaid--I was facebooked the link to the dress I'm going to have to wear yesterday. Fine, bright blue bridesmaid dress, whatever, la la la la. But, y'know how those damn wedding websites are. (If you don't know, the word you're looking for is seductive.) It's only so easy to waste a few solid hours of what would be a productive day off by clicking through page after page of dresses and shoes and color samples, saying to yourself, "Now, what would I choose?"

It's sick, really, the way they draw you in. Sick.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, no matter how or why I got there, I found myself on a page dedicated to the plus sized wedding dress selection. (No, I'm not engaged. Don't judge me.) I found a few that caught my fancy and, like any good online shopper, I checked out the reviews of each. All three of the dresses I was comparing had around 20 reviews--all of them positive. (Because really, who is going to give a negative review of a wedding dress. If you don't like it, you don't buy it.) One thing I noticed though, was that in about 80% of these reviews, the bride-to-be mentions not looking forward to wedding dress shopping.

Huh?

I read them all just to be sure I wasn't exaggerating...I wasn't. Most of the women who reviewed these dresses said that they had been apprehensive about even going into the store to try a dress on because of how difficult shopping is for them. They didn't want to be "the fat girl" surrounded by a room of size 2 dresses and being told that everything in their size would have to be special-ordered and probably end up costing more.

EIGHTY PERCENT!

Now, granted, David's Bridal is apparently a pretty slammin' place when it comes to carrying plus sized dresses in stock so these bridies were able to go home happy, which is wonderful. HOWEVER, the point I'm trying to make is before they went to DB, each woman who reviewed was apprehensive, disinterested, or--the worst--dreading going shopping. For her wedding dress. Her WEDDING DRESS! The one piece of clothing you're supposed to be excited to shop for, to have that moment where you step out of the dressing room and your mom and best friend get teary at how gorgeous you are.

This got me thinking about clothing and plus sizes and all of the drama that shopping entails. It's something I've been wondering about for years now and have never truly been given a straight answer. Why aren't plus sized clothes sold everywhere? Why are stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid necessary when we live in a country where the average woman is a size 14? Is this some kind of punishment? Are the fashion gods (ie: designers) so digusted with us and our expanding girth (which is a national health problem, I know. I'm not condoning it) that they're refusing to make clothes that fit us? Do they think that if the average store stops at size 12 then, in return, we will shrink down to fit?

It seems a rather not well thought-out plan of attack to me. And clearly not one that's seen any level of success as the rate of obesity in the US has continued to climb steadily for the past thirty years. Actually, we all started getting fatter right when the "supermodels" started getting stick thin.

Look at this photo of Cindy Crawford from early in her career: She's got boobs! And a bum! And she's all sexy! Not chubby or "full-figured" by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some definite curves happening there. Now, let's compare to a photo from more recent runway waifs:

Notice anything different? Actually, if she turned sideways, I wouldn't notice anything at all. I think she'd disappear.

So you see my point...or you don't. Whatever. The point I'm trying to make is that if we're all getting bigger, why are our those held up for display getting smaller? Shouldn't they be at least slightly proportional to each other? Do we hate ourselves that much to idolize and plaster our magazines and billboards and advertisements and television and films with people who represent 5% of the population? Women who look nothing like us? That just doesn't seem fair.

I don't know. It's just something that I've been thinking about for a long time. Maybe it's something you'll think about now. Maybe it's not. Either way, thanks for listening.

steps off soapbox, carries it off stage left