Sweater Dress: The Look

20151008_194012I wrote previously about the day I purchased my first sweater dress. I learned a lot that day, especially that not all clothes are worthy of my body. But, this dress certainly was.

I will admit I’m not a huge fashion person. I tend to live in clothes that are more worthy of a #OORL (outfit of real life) hastag versus the #OOTD (outfit of the day) loveliness most of my counterparts are posting these days.

Fashion, generally, makes me sad for one of two reasons. The first, is it reminds me that I do not have a large amount of income to devote to developing and maintaining an amazing closet. I always feel like, when I do really try to pull an outfit together, that I am usually missing some vital piece of the vision (usually the shoes.) Secondly, I still battle with the difference between hiding my physical flaws from the world and wearing what makes me feel comfortable and pretty before I look in the mirror.

After getting this sweater dress, and finding everything I ever wanted in my current wardrobe to pull it together, I was reminded if something amazing about fashion. Finding clothes that are worthy of my body, and really taking the time to get dressed, is a way of honoring my body and investing in it. I suppose I cannot do the moment real justice with words, but I will say it was empowering.

The selfie I sent her with the text, "Did I do this right?"

The selfie I sent her with the text, “Did I do this right?”

I also wanna give a shout-out to one of my best friends. She walked me through the entire process of trying to style this dress. A sweater dress, in many ways, is one of the most unforgiving and difficult wardrobe pieces a person can wear. Since it was my first, ever, I desperately needed someone to hold my hand through it. I appreciate you (and love you!) Thank you for making this outfit happen. ❤

Alright, so on the the knitty-gritty. I really own no brand name clothes, so I’m not sure it will help to tell you the brands of these pieces. The dress was purchased at Ross. They have quite a few short sleeved sweater dresses on the rack right now. The dress is a 1x.

The belt actually came with a dress I got at a clothing exchange a year or so ago. I wear the belt more than I wear the dress. I’ll admit I don’t wear a belt very often, but I am slowly beginning to understand their benefits, especially in a case like this.

The leggings were from Wal*Mart. Though, they may be one size too big these days. I found them bunching up and getting loose after 20 minutes if I didn’t keep an eye on them.

1444349916240The shoes! These were the most commented item, for sure. I have had these shoes for almost a year. To be honest, I don’t remember which discount shoe store I purchased them for. They were, originally, part of my anniversary outfit this (last?) year. Occasionally I find reasons to bring them out.

My make-up was very minimal. I just wore lip gloss and mascara. Seeing as I never wear make-up usually, this made enough of an impact for me. I accented the mostly black/grey outfit with a pop of red in my earrings and my bracelet. The earrings were purchased at the Saturday Market in Portland last year.  The bracelet was an amazing, handcrafted, gift from a friend for my birthday a couple years ago.

The best thing I wore was my confidence. I never once doubted how amazing I looked that night. My husband and I had an amazing date, and got to spend a couple hours really enjoying Downtown Bend, and each other.

 

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How I Survived My Trip To The Chair

I know I talk a lot about my journey in terms of body positivity, but my experience today is technically unrelated. I hope you’ll bear with me while I go down a totally different, maybe even weird, path.

dentist-674654_1280I have a horrific Dental Phobia. Every one asks if I had some horrible experience, and I can emphatically say, no. (If you don’t count some interesting experiences with having braces in High School.) For some reason, I am thoroughly convinced that during a dental procedure someone is going to drop something into my throat. I am going to be unable to breath and die.

Yes, I have consulted a mental health professional.

Well, today I had my first root canal. I’ve been crying the last couple days, and in general terror. Even though the rational part of me knew I was going to be okay, the anxiety-girl in me was 85% sure I was going to die.

I even wrote one of those “in case I die letters” yesterday. It took some of the edge off. I also took some sick pleasure in some of the contents. I give you the first paragraph:

“If you are finding this, then you are discovering I wasn’t crazy. This is the only time in this whole thing I’m going to gloat about that. Congratulations world, you ignored my fear of dying in a dentist chair. And that’s how I went. Thanks.”

Please tell me that’s funny. I’m laughing about it right now. #darkhumor

I’m sure you’ve figured how it turned out. I’m typing with a mouth that kinda aches, and a heart that is still beating. So, why am I bothering you with this startling confession of my own out-of-control anxiety?

We all have fears. Some of them are completely rational, some of them are absolutely fucking insane. Sometimes facing our fears is as much about the build up to the event as it is about the event itself. Finding the courage and strength to step past that point of no return and to do something incredibly scary is a wonderful thing. Okay, for me maybe not incredible in the actual sense. I spent an hour and a half in a dentist chair. I did get to listen to a podcast. It was about politics. I’d say that’s ironic, but I think the two go together really well.

20150110_152314But, I’m on the other side, and I feel incredibly empowered. I realize now that all the tears, and sleepless nights, and general anxiety were worse than the actual process itself. And, maybe, I can take on some other things that absolutely scare me. My list is long, and not very distinguished. But, the one that has been popping in my head this afternoon is my new years resolution to do stand-up comedy. People say I can be pretty funny, but, I’m scared. Not as scared as choking on a dental drill, but nonetheless.

I faced my fears today. I pushed through the hyperventilation, tears, and inability to sleep. It wasn’t easy. But, boy was it worth it. Of course, my mouth is going to feel better. This has given me a sense of strength I didn’t quite feel before. I have officially lived past my self-imposed expiration date. It’s empowering to think of all the other things I can survive.

So, from one scared girl to another, you got this. Let’s face our next fear!

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A Story Of Body Discrimination

shopping-cart-53797_1280A friend of mine was shopping the other day for meat and cheese. She was standing in the check out line and decided to grab a bag of Doritos to go with her work lunches. While still standing in line she hears, “Ma’am?”

Then again, “Ma’am?”

After the third “Ma’am”, she turns around to see someone is trying to speak to her. It was a “perfectly dressed” young man trying to get her attention.

“You know, they put those there for THAT reason. For mindless, no will-powered, fat, morbidly obese people, like you to buy.”

My friend was shocked and said, “Excuse me? As you can clearly see I’m holding lunch here. If I choose to purchase chips to have with lunch, so be it. Who are you to say what I can or can’t buy, anyway?”

angry-man-274175_1280“It is my concern! You are fat and ugly and killing this planet. It’s my duty to point out your wrongs.”

A man in the line came to my friend’s defense, and told him shut up or he will be picking himself up off the floor.

The young man replied, “You’re just helping these fat people stay fat.”

My friend said, “I’m well rounded, happy, curvaceous women whose happy living in my skin. I did not say things to purposely hurt others. You, my friend, are not. Whose’s soul needs the work? Not mine.”

Stand Up Against Body Discrimination!

I was just thinking the other day that maybe I was starting to bark up the wrong tree. Maybe the world had become a more tolerant place for people of all body types, and maybe my focus should be elsewhere. Then, like a lightening bolt of truth, this story shows up on my Facebook feed. This happened in my town. The town that hands out bumper stickers that say, “Be nice, you’re In Bend.”

This story is a prime example of why we cannot stop fighting for body acceptance. We must continue to empower people to stand up to these emotional terrorists. We must support all people, and let them know that they are allowed to be happy living in their skin.

girl-672254_1280As for the troll, he is proof there is a long way to go. It makes you wonder how many people who “looked healthy” he didn’t call out. Did he criticize every high processed, non-nutritious food choice every shopper made that day? I highly doubt it. And, when did being fat cause global warming, anyway? He was participating in the last, socially acceptable, form of discrimination. Verbally abusing someone is never okay, no matter what they look like. I applaud everyone who stood up, my friend and the Good Samaritan. I also applaud of those who responded to her story on social media with support and love.

We must take our power back. Please stand with me in saying that this gentlemen’s behavior was unacceptable. Not just for my friend, but for everyone who experiences body discrimination. This happens daily, even hourly. Somewhere right now, someone is being treated with the same disrespect and spoken to with such hate.

Stop BodyDiscrimination!This is the 21st century. How someone looks does not make them, somehow, a lesser person. Just because someone does not conform to the unattainable ideal of beauty does not mean you have the RIGHT to tell them what they can or cannot do. Fat people are human beings.

Stand up against body discrimination. Everyone deserves respect.

The Healthiest Thing I Ever Did Was Become Body Positive.

IMG_5639624664301When I first started to identify with the body positive movement I was neck deep in myfitnesspal.com and counting calories. I began to wonder if it was really possible to focus on losing weight and become “body positive.” It almost derailed my journey to self acceptance.

I was stuck in a logic loop that said that in order to become healthy I had to change my outward appearance. I couldn’t love my body, or myself, until I hit a certain weight. Luckily, the dark side of the health industry did not win the battle for my soul.

Of course, as I’ve talked about in my previous posts, focusing on becoming body positive has lead to a healthier lifestyle. The conundrum really solved itself. Unfortunately, I hear all too often about women who love the idea of loving themselves but they have too much weigh to lose.

Becoming body positive is not about ignoring my health, or pretending like the rules for healthy living don’t apply to me. Fruits and vegetables are still an important part of my diet. Soda is bad for me, and I’m doing very well with kicking it to the curb and detaching from the sugary teet. I still struggle with finding well rounded, healthy, meals that appeal to everyone in my family. I am confident I would be having these struggles either way. It’s the way I go about these struggles that has drastically changed.

In my previous post, I talk about how I’m winning the war against emotional eating without having to wage a single battle.

It’s about health. Honestly, it’s not about losing weight anymore. I no longer buy into the 20150822_111131mind-washing BS that I have to be a certain size to enjoy my life, or to be viewed as a decent human being. Because I’m learning to love my body, and all the wonderful things I can do with it, I want to treat it with care. My focus on eating better comes from a more caring and loving place, making it easier to focus on. It’s not fueled by shame, fear, or rules.

It’s about doing things I love. I’ve found physical activities that motivate and inspire me to move my body. I don’t know if I would have found the confidence to explore hiking and dancing without the body positive movement.

I hope you notice what is missing. My health goals aren’t about conforming my body to  the unattainable standard of beauty. It’s about living life to it’s largest potential.

We should all want to be as healthy as we can possibly be. We only have one life, one body, and treating it with care is so important. The problem is that we live in a time when so many people confuse healthy with skinny. Not every skinny person is healthy. Not every fat person is unhealthy. Health is not an outward appearance thing. Being healthy is not about how pretty you look. Once I separated pursuing health from pursuing beauty, it made it much easier to focus on trying to live a healthier life.

I have to admit, most of my lifestyle isn’t about pursuing healthy habits at all. I hike because I love the outdoors, and the feeling of exploring something new. I walk because it’s a great way to socialize. I dance because I love synchronizing my body with music. (Let’s be honest, I also like to pretend I’m a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.) I found hobbies that recharg my soul. Yet, because of these hobbies I exercise, and sweat, more every week than I used to in a year.

The healthiest thing I ever did for myself was become body positive. I can honor my body’s unique needs without guilt and shame. I realized that my path to being healthy is something very personal and specific to my body. I could explore what options were right for me.

Roar

It’s okay to be body positive and focus on a improving health. Being body positive means being free to find the path that is right for you, and works with what your body needs. The movement is all about recognizing that every body is different, and each person has different needs and health issues. Whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled and happy, go for it.

It’s your life. It’s your path. It’s your decision. Don’t believe that you have to hate yourself in order to be healthy.

 

My Tribe Is Key

I have been incredibly blessed by the Body Positive Movement. It has opened my eyes to who I am and who I can be. It’s a lifestyle change, in many ways. I’ve changed the way I see my body, and the way I treat it. I speak to and about myself differently.

10516644_10152622729965189_613538588093801573_nAs a learn and grow into a more confident, well-rounded (boo-ya) woman, I’ve been blessed to have an amazing support system. Any goal becomes more accessible when you have a strong team behind you. Whether it’s challenging your mentality, or any challenge for that matter, it’s the support system that gets you through the humps. Supportive, understanding friends will cheer you on and help you feel stronger. My tribe of friends are my inspirations on this journey.20150214_185614

I am also incredibly blessed with an amazing husband. I am reminded, almost daily, how beautiful I am to him. He tells me that I look as stunning as they day we met. My partner loves me for who I am as a person.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I am. Some have people in their lives advocating the exact opposite of self-love. Not everyone has caught up to the idea that society’s skewed messages about body image and beauty are created and maintained by industries that need IMG_8319women (and men) to hate their bodies in order to survive. In the face of such opposition, it would be hard for anyone to improve their self image.

It is so important to learn that the only opinion that matters is our own. This is imperative when talking about body image and self esteem. That is why it is so important to have a support system that understands. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you. They are the sunblock against the harsh “BS rays” of the world.

3 Minute Side Trip

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It still surprises me that I have friends that are willing to trek through the woods with me, to places I have never been. It’s always an examination of the pros and cons of going someplace you have never gone before. These adventures always seem to be an exercise in perception. You can read about a hiking trail on the internet, and learn everything you can about what the people before you thought of it’s difficulty and length. This really only leads you to prepare for someone else’s adventure. I always find myself in disagreement with out how people classify trails. What most people call easy, seem more 20150809_154552moderate to me. What some people call moderate, I consider a breeze. Everyone’s abilities and fitness levels are different.

On this particular trip, I was expecting an easy 3 minute side trip to the base of the falls. There is a charming log staircase and a bridge crossing the river. It’s painted like a serene walk through some enchanted forest.

For my brave pack of musketeers however, it was more like 10 minutes of fear and falls. The trail hugs the side of a cliff at one point, and is barely wide enough to walk on. Right before the staircase was deceptively steep and caused all of us to fall on our rumps. The staircase looks like death when you first see it. The bridge is really just a large log, with hand railing on the first half only, that is held up by a scary tower of stacked wood blocks.

That “3 minute side trip” was full of adrenaline, gut checks, and moments where we had to choose to ignore our fears and move forward anyway. Even though it was not what we were expecting, I’m glad we had the experience. It was an amazing reminder that there 20150809_151532are trails that seem effortless to others, but are uphill climbs for me. It reminded me how much I love the feeling of my heart racing, my hands being clammy, and having to put trust in the world around me that the journey will be worth it.

Something about facing my own fears made that beer at the base of the falls seem like a victorious glass of champagne.

Life is not much different. There is no reason to spend any more time trying to prepare for other people’s journeys. I have no doubt there will be “charming staircases” and river crossings along the way. Contending with those challenges will make the reward worth it. It’s time to suit up and move forward.

You can read all about the specifics of this hike at the Oregon Waterfall Tour.

Thoughts on Turning 30

Maybe it’s the fact that I just finished watching Jon’s Stewert’s final show, but I’m feeling nostalgic. I suppose it was bound to happen. I turn 30 in three days. In some ways, the festivities start this evening. Tomorrow there is a party with my family and friends. Then sunday, some of my closest friends are joining me on an overnight trip into the wilderness. I will be spending my last day in my 20’s exploring waterfalls and around a campfire. I’ll be spending my first day in my 30’s waking up in the woods.

It makes sense that I have been distracting myself with planning this weekend for over a year. It’s been easy to ignore the reality of the situation when burying myself in details, woodworking projects, and over-posting on the event page for my birthday party. But, as I sit here still feeling the sting from The Daily Show, I can’t help but face the reality.

I will be turning 30 in three days.

Society has trained everyone that your 30’s are a whole new ball game. You are expected to have your shit together. You should be knee deep in your career, and successful.

There is something about facing my 30’s I didn’t expect. I really am starting to leave the angst of my young-adulthood behind me. It really becoming easier to embrace who I am as a person, instead of trying to change myself so much. I’m finding comfort in my skin, in my personality, and in my world view. Because of this, 30 doesn’t really scare me.

I’m excited for what I have ahead of me. It’s that sweet spot in the life cycle where your age rarely gets in the way of anything. Your not too young to be taken seriously, and not too old to learn new tricks.

I also have a new appreciation for time. It does seem to be going faster. I feel like I was hiking Proxy Falls for my 29th birthday just a few months ago. I feel like my son was just a little baby yesterday. I feel like my husband and I were dating just last year. It all goes by so fast. I need to make time for the things that really matter. I need to make time for the people who really matter.

My stepdad used to have this great piece of advice about skiing. He would say that if your not falling, your not learning. This has stuck with me through everything I’ve ever done. You have to push yourself past your comfort zone, to where you may fall. It is in that spot where you learn, and grow. So, I’m not sure “having my shit together” is something I really want.

As for the success, I have found it where it matters. In my son. In my husband. In my family. In my friends. In myself.

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