We All Lose Our Way

20150328_140727I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about the intersection of body positivity and health. I get on the soapbox and talk about it’s possible to live in that intersection without sacrificing your self love or your desire to be your healthiest self. There is a way to meld these two together in harmony. It’s all about checking your motivatations and not making any decision purely to chase the unattainable goal of the perfect looking body. Thinness isn’t health. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Here’s the thing. I’m feeling like a fraud lately.

Ever since I went on stage for my first open mic, I’ve been battling the old voices. I thought I was strong, and ready to take my next step into the world. But, I worry. Will my weight keep people for appreciating my humor? Will people give me a chance? Will they still be able to relate to me, and what I’m saying, even if I don’t “look pleasing?” Do I need to start wearing make up at every show, and update my wardrobe?

It has motivated me to start working out at home. This is something I have battled forever. “Traditional” exercise has always made me feel weak in the past. But, that has changed. I am up to doing 100 squats, 100 crunches, and 85 push ups. I’m going slow, but it is feeling amazing.

But I know I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m doing it in hopes that, eventually, it will start changing some of the dimensions of my body. I’m hoping, on top of all the healthy stuff I am already doing, this will help my body begin to conform to a more “acceptable” shape.

20140823_085751There is some truth to my rationalizations. I’m not hiking right now, it’s too cold and wintery for me. And, it doesn’t stay light late enough for me to go for walks after my husband gets home. Plus, I’m not dancing as often. So, I need to do something at home while my son is at school. I need to keep my stamina up so I can hike and hunt waterfalls this coming season.

But, I have to admit, my head isn’t in the right place, either.

We all get lost on our journeys. No one is prepared for every twist and turn. The trick to is find your way again. I’ll get there. So will you.

2015 Recap – 2016 Goals

IMG_56396246643012015 was a banner year for growth. For me, for my son, for my family. I’m happy to attribute so much of this growth to really thinking about what I wanted my year to look like. Here is my Recap/Scorecard of my 2015 Resolutions:

My Son:

-I will focus on having positive interactions with my son: I would actually say this was a real success. My husband and I both have worked hard to find ways we can get into our son’s world. 

-I will focus on supporting my son’s therapeutic goals at home: Maybe, not so much. This year has been about making his home his sanctuary, and a place to be who he is. 

-I will work on incorporating at least one-hour of non-screen time into our routine: Something we are still working on, but we have definitely focuses on this throughout the year. 

-I will work on providing my son with more time outside everyday: I have absolutely gotten more comfortable with taking him outside, especially by myself. When we have good weather, we do a pretty good job of getting out to a park at least 2 to 3 times a week. I’m having a tough time with this when the weather is poopy, but I think most parents do. 

-I will work on getting my son potty trained: Ha! Hahahahaha! Maybe next year. 

-I will work on getting my son to eat at the table: I call this a no, but it’s not for lack of traying. 

20150909_181618I will continue to eliminate “sippy cups”, replacing them with real cups for every meal: I completely forgot we were still using sippy cups last year. We’ve been sippy cup free for what feels like ever!!!! 

-I will continue the Family Park Tour with hopes to complete in 2015: We did get some parks done. Unfortunately, most of the parks we have left on our tour were closed to the public for most of the spring/summer. This should be completed in 2016. 

Home Life:

-I will find ways to create new, positive memories, with my husband at least once a week: I was better at this in the beginning of the year, and fizzled out after a while. I think the biggest problem I have is I’m stuck trying to do what society considers dates and alone time. This doesn’t really work for us. We don’t get a lot of alone time. We have to make due with what we have, and what money we can spare. 

-I will work on making my work at home a higher priority: This ebbs and flows for me. Certainly something I could stand to work on. 

20151101_155233-I will continue to learn how to fuel my body, and my family’s body, in a more nutritious way: I will call this one a success. I have really gotten better at getting away from processed food and incorporating more fresh things into my family’s diet. 

-I will put more effort in learning how to cook, by cooking a new meal from scratch at least once a week: I feel like I have mastered this step, for sure. I feels weird if I’m not cooking dinner at night now. 

Personal:

-I will continue to explore the concept of being body positive: Duh! I love my BoPo journey. 

-I will continue to find ways to be active every day: Not so much. I did get a lot better about participating in “active” activities. I no longer assume whether I can or can’t do something. 

-I will attempt to battle my uneasiness with traditional exercise: Wait, I was suppose to do this? Oops. 

-I will continue to seek out new experiences that challenge my beliefs of what I am capable of and what I may or may not enjoy: Absolutely! I’ve really grown into myself this year. 

-I will continue my goal of seeing every accessible waterfall in Oregon: Of course this happened. I only have two waterfalls left in my close vicinity. They definitely are getting checked off my list in 2016! 

-I will try to do an open mic comedy at least once this year: I wrote about this briefly. Though, there was a development right after posting. They have brought Open Mic back! So, this will be added to my 2016 goals, and will be checked off on January 5th. Yay me.

-I will focus on staying in contact with friends, making plans with them, and not putting meeting new people ahead of my current friends: This is another one of those that I could probably have done better. But, I also did a pretty decent job of not putting new connections ahead of current friends, either. 

-I will work on expressive more positive thoughts and opinions, while suppressing my desire to express negative ones: I feel like I do a relatively decent job here. I’m sure I have room to grow. I am certainly guarded who I speak negatively to, and even more selective when it comes to what I’m negative about. I think being involved in the Body Positive community helped me with this quite a bit.

-I will continue quit smoking: I think the majority of the year I was smoke free. Though, I can’t say that about myself right now. 

-I will find ways to put money into a savings account: Ha! Wait, what? 

Hobbies:

-I will find a way to monetize at least one of my hobbies (open an etsy store/participate in craft fairs, tutor people in line dancing, create and monetize a line dance youtube channel, do social media work for companies, ect.): Didn’t happen. Not even close. I love my hobbies, and what I do. I do want to try to branch out into youtube videos though. It is time. 

-I will continue to line dance at least two nights a week: Do you even know me? I think I maybe missed a handful of evenings. 

cropped-ipockolypse-e1440388096419.png-I will attempt to choreograph a new line dance once a month: This didn’t happen much. I’m still trying to evaluate where I went sideways on this one. 

-I will let go of my desire to manage COG and the sub-groups alone, and will find someone interested in being an admin as well: Not only did I this, I managed to pass on the responsibilities to someone who is amazing. 


 

Truth be told, I feel like there was quite a bit learned about goal setting in general for 2015. When your looking at goals for an entire year, it can be hard to keep track of them. The goals that were broken up into more accessible, measurable, pieces stuck in my mind better. 

I also had a wonderful light bulb moment thanks to Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym. Her approach to habit goals is almost revolutionary. I’m excited to use her method for 2016. I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about my goals, and how I format them to fit this model. I’m excited for what I have come up with.

2016 Goals

 

The numbers are based on thinking about the year as 10 months (instead of 12) or 50 weeks (instead of 52.) I have a couple one and done goals, but the rest of the are measurable and track-able.

I also started using Habitica. It’s a web & phone app that “Gamifies” your life. I love playing games on my phone. I love RPG’s. I love anything that rewards me for adulting. I feel like this is a real step up from the boring To-Do lists and trackers I’ve been using. I will be using a Google Drive spreadsheet for my long term goals as well. (And I made myself a daily for that, so I get points for it. Yay!) I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s on your goal/resolution list for 2016? Do you have a plan?

 

Why It’s Okay To Feel Shamed By Your Shamers.

girl-517555_1920I wish everyone had the ability to look their body shamers in the eye. Unfortunately, so many of us are left feeling the weight of the words spoken by ghosts. We cannot react, because it provokes them. We cannot respond, because it only gives them more material to work with. This leaves us primed to never find closure.

So many of us are left feeling the weight of other people’s words, knowing that someone out there can take our biggest challenge and use to sabotage our progress. That’s what my saboteur did to me, anyway. They knew everything I was insecure of, and everything I have worked towards. They knew every negative self-talk tape I’ve been trying to erase in my head for over a year.

I would love to say that those tapes are still erased and buried. Alas, they just now have a new voice to them. It’s the voice of someone from the outside reinforcing the all the topics I worry about. My weight. My dancing (And how it makes me visible for everyone to see.) My marriage.

I hope the following words will carrying more weight, since they come from someone going through it. It’s not okay for anyone to tell you that what a body shamer (or any kind of shamer) says is not important, or that it’s not worth your time.  It’s not okay for someone to minimize the struggle and the hurt.

As someone who has to stare in the mirror and overcome, not only my own negative self-talk, but now the written words of others, I want you to know that feeling the shame they wanted to inflict is normal.

This doesn’t mean our saboteurs are right. It doesn’t make their actions anything but more despicable. But, acknowledging and owning your emotions will make it easier to work through them. It is an uphill battle. I believe you should get back up, move forward, and not allow the hurtful words of small minds keep you from living a rebelliously radical life.

Coming from experience, I can tell you fighting against your feelings of hurt and shame only make the walk up the hill harder. Acknowledge it, then it it go.

My best piece of advice, and what I am working on at this very moment, is to put a moment of love and support in the world every time I feel my experience causing me pain. I not ready project love and support to the anonymous people at the center of the hate cloud, but I can project love elsewhere. To my husband. To my son. To my friends. And, even to those in the same situation.

You are not alone. You are loved. This will pass.

Craigslist Chronicles: My Response

girl-850117_1280There are so many moving pieces to this story. It may take a me a few days to tell it all. I figure we might as well start with my response to a group of fat shamers who have been trolling the Craigslist Rants & Raves section.


 

 

I have promised myself for days that I wasn’t going to respond to any of this. I was happy to ignore your ignorance before you brought my second home into this.

Yes, I am the dancer you (3?) seem to dislike so much. I am grateful for anyone, and everyone, who dance with me. If I’m taking good leads, it’s because I’ve been kind to them and they are kind to me in return. The dance floor here is not a competition. I’m going to assume you are a competitive WCS dancer, which is why you are so focused on my technique.

That’s right, posters, I am dangerous. Dangerously lacking in a give-a-damn for your opinion.

I suppose I am a planet. Planet Awesome. Luckily my gravity is selective, which probably why you’ve never gotten close enough to get to know anything about me. I’m also blessed to not revolve around your bullshit.

My diet is none of your business. My health is no one’s business.

All and all, it’s cool you picked me to take your misogynistic bullshit out on. Maybe the fact that I have already started separating my self-worth from the opinions of others is the reason why I made such a tasty target for your forked tongue. A big girl with confidence, and who does not care what your whispering about in the corner? I bet that is frustrating.

bamboo-364112_1920Keep your focus on me, because I can take your shade. (I shine bright.) You are only proving that fat shaming is slowly becoming unacceptable. You’ll have to find some other way to entertain yourself (selves?). May I humbly suggest the COCC classes on interpersonal communication? Or a therapist? I’m sure there’s a monastery far away from my horrific fat rolls that will let you contemplate your outlook on life.
I am incredibly grateful for the statement by the Owner of Maverick’s. I have never felt anything but love and support from the staff and patrons and I feel incredibly grateful to have such a supportive and fun environment to express myself in. If you have ever thought of learning to dance, but have been worried about people being judgmental, please believe Maverick’s is a great place to start. This isolated situation aside, I have never had any problems. The patrons of Maverick’s are far from shallow, and even insinuating such makes me a sad panda.

Continue to come at me. I can take it. I hope out of this disastrous shit show we can grow some understanding. These kinds of things happen every day, to hundreds (thousands) of people. Being bullied and shamed because of how you look is no easy thing. There have been enough studies to show that shaming people for their weight is not a positive catalyst for change. In fact, it can trigger disordered eating habits, which have the potential to be life threatening. I’m strong enough to take these words, and I’m happy to do it if it means you (all of you?) are leaving other big girls alone for awhile.

As for my behavior on the floor. I’m not sure what that is about. But, I know it’s tough for some people to watching a big girl have a good time and even express her sexuality. But, it’s not my job to make you comfortable with my body. It’s my job to be comfortable in my body.

Again, maybe look into that monastery. Because I’m not going to stop dancing for anyone.


 

In addition, I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have come to my defense. I don’t want to spend too much time focusing on the negative without spotlighting there has been way more positive things said on the matter. This brings us to our first lesson of the Craigslist Chronicles: No matter how many negative things are said, always know that you have twice as many people who have your back and love you for who you are.

The Cure For Ignorance is Information

20150816_163745You don’t have to wander far into the body positive world before you find dissenters. You see them scream from the roof tops that they believe the movement promotes unhealthy lifestyles, using the the same arguments over and over. I have heard the phrase “promotes obesity” so many times that it seems cliche.

The only thing that really cures ignorance is information. Far more knowledgeable and resourceful people have tried.Yet, I feel like sharing my story anyway. Despite what those in the “health” and weight loss industries want you to believe, becoming body positive has lead to a healthier lifestyle.

First off, I am choosing to detach my self worth from my outward appearance. It’s not about loving what I look like at the moment. It’s about loving who I am as a whole. If I lose weight and look different, I will still love myself. Yes, I look in the mirror and tell myself I am gorgeous. I will find myself drop dead gorgeous no matter what my weight is. The cornerstone of the movement is that it I believe that every one (man or woman) has a right to feel this way as well.

Giving myself permission to be confident no matter my size has led to living a much healthier lifestyle. I participate in large quantities of cardio three nights a week. I was never comfortable working out, let alone sweating, in front of other people before. I was so focused on what other people thought of me, I was paralyzed. Thanks to the body positive 20150614_114923movement, I am no longer a slave to the opinions of others. I also hike, almost, every weekend. These hikes started as 1-2 mile walks. I am up to 9+ mile trails now.

Sure, I am fat. I can also hike almost 10 miles without a single problem. Am I still promoting obesity? Am I still lazy?

Here’s the thing. There is a large amount of people in the world who shame fat people for being in public. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if your fat there is a chance someone will take a picture of you and shame you on the internet. You are always at risk of someone yelling things, or making snarky comments. It takes a lot of confidence to overcome this. That confidence came to me through the body positive movement. I no longer worry about whether I will be internet shamed for being a fat girl on a trail, or on the dance floor. Without the movement I would still be staying in my house, feeling ashamed and alone. So, tell  me which one of these options is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle? The theory that says that I am a decent person who deserves to participate in the world? Or the idea that I am fat and therefore lazy, worthless, and shouldn’t be seen in public. (I’m looking at you, John Burk.)

Frankly, it’s easier to care for something you love. I have more interest in eating healthy and exercising because I love my body. This has lead to the development of healthy lifestyle choices in ways that are not intrusive, dangerous, or unmanageable. This means I20150810_124221 will be less likely to stop my healthy habits and yo-yo back. I am making these changes in small, sustainable steps. These will be lifelong habits.  I don’t care what size I am. I’m going to try to eat healthy regardless.

Here’s a crazy thing. Without so much shame and guilt hanging over my head every day, I eat less. I don’t reach for soda as quickly. When we do eat out, I never finish my drink and rarely do I ever finish my meal. I’m winning the battle against emotional eating without even having to wage the war. When I do slip, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t become this deep shame spiral of over eating. I have every right to enjoy a slice of cake.

We are living in a society where the minority (over 70% of women in the US are size 14 or over) get to shame and emotionally abuse the majority. The fashion, “health” and weight loss industries need us to hate ourselves. Their messages are the main reason why society has such a skewed view of beauty. Really think about how many companies would go out of business if we stopped hating ourselves so much. If we all just woke up one day and realized what we need to live a healthier, happier life, is to love ourselves. We don’t need expensive diets, work out tapes, shakes, or trainers to become better versions of ourselves.

IMG951083Look, if shaming people was a successful tool for the “obesity epidemic” don’t you think it would be over by now? Maybe it’s time to try something different. Come join us in an exercise in acceptance. Let us love ourselves without having to defend it. Don’t tell me that I am promoting obesity because I post pictures of myself at the end of a hike. How about just cheering the the fact that I accomplished a goal and go about your way?

Or better yet, mind your own business? There’s a novel idea.

Want to know the saddest truth to this whole thing? The fact that I felt the need to write this blog at all. I cannot believe that groups of people still have to fight to be treated like human beings. I shouldn’t have to write 1,000 words to prove that I deserve to be spoken to, and about, with respect. No one should have to prove they are not lazy or being unhealthy.

Honestly, that’s kind of my decision, anyway. Even if I was choosing to ignore my health, and being everything you accuse me of being, it doesn’t affect you.

Using the excuse of “health” as cover doesn’t excuse essentially discriminating against someone because they look differently than you. Some people has extreme health issues. There are thousands of reasons why someone would not conform to your idea of conventional beauty. That doesn’t make it okay for your to fly under the cloak of anonymity and be ignorantly hurtful. If you care, you’ll also care about the potential for emotional and mental damage. Don’t forget, fat people are still people. Just like you.

Stay in your lane. Focus on your own journey. In the meantime, I have to get ready to go dancing. That’s 5 hours of cardio (yes, with breaks every 20-30 minutes for water.) How lazy of me.

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Letting It All Go

20150809_151549

If you have kept up with my adventures at all, you know waterfalls are my thing. You probably also know that I always seem to gleam some sort of life lesson from each one I visit. I don’t consider myself an incredibly “crunchy” person. I certainly don’t understand a lot of the metaphysical, new-age spirituality, views on life. Yet, there is something about chasing waterfalls that brings a deep spiritual experience for me. Waterfalls feel magical. The water is incredibly cold but there is a tingle to is that I can only describe as magic. 20150809_155522

While dunking my head into Diamond Creek Falls, I felt at peace. I finally got permission, from who or what I’m not sure, to let things go. Maybe it’s because I was celebrating turning 30 and thinking about what I was leaving behind and what I was moving towards. It was like having weight taken off my shoulders, and feeling that weight flow into the river of the past.

I have always carried my past experiences with me. For the first time, I felt I could let them go. All those blemishes on what otherwise would be a happy life were washed away by nature. It’s okay to acknowledge mistakes, by myself or others, but I don’t have to care the weight of them anymore.

In that moment I acknowledged that the trials I have been through have made me the woman I am. I asked the universe for forgiveness for my wrong doings, and forgave those who’s trespasses still weighed heavy on my heart.

Now, a week later, I still have moments when I feel those old weights build up. It’s easier to shrug them off now. That was in my 20’s.