You Can’t Be An Inspiration If You’re Just A Copy.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. I spent 30 years feeling like I was never going to find it. Success was something other people found. The pretty people.

3rdHere’s the thing. There are people who can try something random, do really well at it, and suddenly make a career. I spent my whole life watching it. In school, there were other kids who excelled. They were just good at Math, or History, or English (or whatever.) I was not. That’s not to say I was horrible stupid, or a bad student. But, I didn’t graduate a valedictorian either. There were kids who just excelled at PE. They could just run quick, or catch a ball, or whatever. They just had a body that was naturally made for that. My body has never found success at the physical things.

Even as an adult. You see people who just excel at whatever. It seems effortless. Co-workers who seem flawless, who knock every project out of the park. Moms who seem perfect. We are all surrounded by examples of adults who climb mountains, cook amazing meals, and having amazing career trajectories that seem to zoom towards the Moon itself. (You know, adultier adults.) Of course, social media’s ability to show only the highlight reels of our lives help create the illusion.

I used to envy these people. As a kid I would cry in my bed because every skill that came across my path I seemed to be (at best) mediocre. Until I was almost 30 I felt ugly, dumb, and worthless. I told myself not every one can excel. That’s just not how the world works.

Here’s the thing. My problem was I chasing after what everyone else was good at. I was judging myself poorly because I did not have the same skill sets as other people. And, it’s true. I’m not a great housekeeper. Math is my achilles heel. I’m not incredibly outgoing, or athletic.

14067483_1071660089596598_6985437552672611737_nWhat turned my life around was learning to accept myself, not for what cookie cutter society was pushing at the time, but for what I am naturally great at. I do not fear a stage, something few others can say. I always ran away from being in the center of attention, for fear of being an “attention whore.” I have intellectually dirty sense of humor. These traits, when accepted and utilized, have led me to opportunities and success 16 year old me would have never believed. (Though, it’s not like I’m anything that special. Yet.) Once I stopped chastising myself for wanting to be behind a microphone, I realized I was meant to be there. Laughter is the best medicine, and I am on my way to being a healer.

Recently I had a woman tell me that I pick up everything I do so quickly, and with such ease. I looked over my shoulder, because I assumed they were talking to someone else. The world has come full circle, and now I seem to be what I used dream of.

You know what I’ve learned? It’s not as easy as it looks. What looks like talent on stage is reflective of actual work. The hours I spend every day writing. The time I have spent watching, and re-watching every performance I’ve ever had, picking it apart and looking for ways to get better. Giving up what little spare time I have (I’m still a mom and wife first) to read comedy writing books and organize shows.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say about success, is that comparison is the root of all heartache. I wish someone would have helped me understand that a few decades ago. Maybe I would have stopped fighting my actual gifts and abilities, in favor of trying to be a cookie cutter version of what everyone else seemed to be. Besides, what may seem like effortless talent maybe be the product of arduous labor. When used correctly, you can easily confuse work ethic with natural talent. I also still have a long ways to go. Talent may open a door, but hard work is what gets you in the next room.

DSC_6398verticalInstead of trying to be the next Kardashian, Jobs, Whoopi, or Prom Queen remember: They don’t have YOUR unique combination of skills and abilities. Trying to be like other people only ignores what YOU are good at. You can’t be an inspiration if you’re just a copy.

In the words of my favorite fictitious teacher: Take chances, get messy, make mistakes! Explore everything in the world, not just what’s cool. Find out what you’re good it. We all have a natural talent for something. When utilized correctly, that natural talent shines. And, working hard at what you’re meant to can sometimes feel like hardly working.

What are you good at?

 

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A Wayword BoPo Sheep

20150822_111131I am struggling with my body positivity. I’m not sure what else there is to say. The soaring confidence I used to have in the body positivity movement doesn’t seem to be coursing through my veins like before.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the movement. In fact, I still believe it has done tremendous things for my life. I would have never embraced my ability to dance without it. I never would have explored the forest, waterfalls, and hiking in general with out it. I certainly would not have found the confidence to get on stage and try stand up comedy with out Body Positivity.

Yet, if I were to give a “State of My Union” address, I would have to say the state of my self-confidence is at a low. It’s not an all-time low. I still know I am in a better place mentally than I was when I started this journey two years ago. But, it is low.

The only thing I can pinpoint this dip in self-confidence is starting comedy. Specifically, watching myself on video constantly. I tape every set I do. I want to see how my material does. I want to see what nervous ticks I have on stage so I can work on them. The problem with cameras, especially when you have to prop them with beer bottles on a table, is the angles suck. I see myself, admittedly, at some of the worst angles in some the harshest, unflattering light. As I find less about my performance to beat myself up over, I find myself focusing on what I look like on stage.

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what your size is. It is important to think about your image when you are building a career like comedy. It’s important to think about what people see on stage. I have no guitar to hide behind. I have no distractions on stage. It is just me, microphone in hand, wanting to gain the trust of an audience enough that they are willing to find humor where they might not otherwise. What I wear, what I look like is important.

It’s important for anyone, in any field. There is room for personal flair, and for all body types. In whatever any of us do, it’s important to project confidence and look like you have your shit together.
12705568_10207076201757668_390478687671836899_nBut, I’m struggling with the duality of it. Does this mean that I need to worry about my VBO in jeans? The rolls that I have? I’ll be honest. It drives me absolutely nuts. If there is anything about what I see on camera, it’s my midsection that fucks with my mind more than anything else. Where is the line between ensuring I look put together and trustworthy, and yet embracing my body for what it currently is with love and respect?

I don’t know the answer. I am far from someone who can give advice at this point. Perhaps I need some.

It’s not fair to blame it all on comedy, either. That ordeal with Craiglist hit me harder than I ever wanted to admit to anyone. I still struggle with stepping in front of anyone without thinking about it. The struggle with online hate is real. Maybe I should have waited longer before entering a new career, a new community, a new spotlight before working through that. There are other factors, other influences, that don’t have the same BoPo philosophy. It’s also not fair to blame anyone by myself. I have lost my way.

I am a wayward sheep. The farther I wander from my herd, the farther I get from the habits that helped me love my body, and the closer I get to the habits that didn’t. I drink less water. I drink more soda. I put garbage in my body. I will say, this moment has helped me remember something vital about this movement. When you love something, you treat it with care. Body positivity helped me love my body, and want to take care of it. The farther I get from that, the more I don’t care.

I think it’s the feeling of failure that burdens me the most. How could I be such a proponent of a moment for two years, and the moment I really become tested lose my way?

And, I hate to talk about it. I don’t want to be one of those women that seeks input from others to feel better about themselves. I don’t want to be a woe-is-me about this. But, I wonder if it’s important for others to see the struggle. It’s not always easy, all the time. Every journey has up and downs.

Spring Forward

20150822_111131I know, daylight savings time is a real debate. Some people like it. Some people hate it. But, nonetheless, many of us are about to spring forward our clocks.

Why do we do this? We do this to try to spread the sunlight out to the more useful hours. It is said that the use of Daylight Savings Time saves over 10,000 barrels of oil a day. Say what you want, but it does save energy.

But, what does this have to do with anything you would care about? Well, this got me thinking about body confidence. I was thinking about how I come across situations in my life that take so much energy, especially in the battle of body positivity.

For example, I had headshots taken this weekend in the name of comedy. I found myself worrying about them. Would I look okay? Was it worth paying for a photographer when I’m not a model? The idea of being in front of a camera really shook my confidence.

When the time came, I had a choice. I could either waste energy on these feelings, or spring past them. I had to spring past my insecurities so I could truly enjoy the sunshine of the moment.

Okay, so it might be a metaphorical stretch. But, you get where I’m headed, right?

12705568_10207076201757668_390478687671836899_nIn the last 3 months I’ve had a lot of first times. First time on stage. First real gig. First head shots. All of these moments have come with significant body confidence troubles. My mind wants to put significant energy into how I look on stage. How my outward appearance might negatively affect how my material is received. But, I choose to spring forward, if even in that moment when I have to step on the stage or in front of the camera.

So, feel free to steal my poor metaphor (but good advice). Sometimes it feels like we can’t run from our insecurities. I think working through insecurities, especially those connected with body issues, can take a lifetime to unravel. There are so many societal messages that reinforce our negative self talk. But, instead of spending energy trying to ban them forever, maybe we can all start at trying to spring forward. We can tell our insecurities we will fall back on them after our tasks are completely.

Spring forward for your goals. Spring forward so you can experience new things. Spring forward so you can love yourself. You might be surprised what results you get when you spring past your insecurities, if even just for an hour.

Katy Ipock Headshot

Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Love

wp-1448999133321.jpgI used to spend the month of December in self-reflection hell. It meant I only had a month to get everything on my resolutions list done (remember that thing from January you’ve forgotten about?) It also meant having a month to think about everything I wanted to change about myself.

This year is different. I don’t need self-hate to motivate me into the new year. I don’t have to fight my body composition to win my self worth.

I know that putting pressure on myself doesn’t help me deal with my nervous habits.

I know that I will never fit the narrow definition of perfect. No one does.

Though, I’m disappointed I put off trying Stand Up Comedy. By the time I got the courage to try it, there was no longer open mic comedy nights. Either I’m going to have to travel to a bigger city (which I suppose is an option) or release this goal into the nether. It was one of the many lessons I learned this year: Some challenges in life you are never ready for. You have face them now, or never get the chance.

IMG951083I don’t need a new year to create new goals for myself. I have spent 12 months working on the goals that matter. I continue to work on my journey towards becoming fully body positive. I saw some new waterfalls. We did a couple parks for our park tour. I’ve even learned how to cook some great, healthy food. (This time last year, I was still slightly afraid of raw meat and my slow cooker.) 2016 will be another year full of loving myself as I am, and embracing all the wonderful thing I can, and already, do.

I can love and support without reservation, because I am worthy. I can befriend without fear, because I am a good person. Radical Self Love isn’t just about being able to love how you look in the mirror. It’s about letting go of any negative thoughts about yourself. It’s about believe you are a decent person worthy of the space (no matter how much) you take in this world.

If I could give my friends any gift this holiday, it would be radical self love. They deserve to see themselves how I see them: Beautiful, amazing human beings who light up this world. I wish they knew the differences they make in peoples lives, and how perfect they really are.

wp-1448999148219.jpgUnfortunately, radical self love isn’t purchased in a store, put in box, and wrapped up with a gorgeous bow. Radical self love is a gift you truly give yourself everyday, all day. When you look in the mirror, when you chase your passion, and when you give unyielding love to those around you.

Give your self the gift of freedom. Pamper yourself with the gift of radical self love this season. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy.

Trigger Put The “T” In Thanksgiving

girl-517555_1920“I should avoid eating any dessert. I don’t want to look like one of ‘those’ fat people.” – Me

“I really have to be careful about the portions on my plate. I suck at portion control.” – Me

“I should really just put vegetables on my plate, so I don’t eat a bunch of stuff I shouldn’t.” – Me

What.The.Actual.Fuck. I’m not going to say that I am a paragon of the Body Positive lifestyle, but my negative self-talk has been at an all time high lately.

I’ve taken some time to think about and I suppose I can understand why. I’m not sure how our society can be both obsessed about this one gluttonous meal and how this one meal will cause women (well, everyone right?) so much weight.

I’ve love to meet the unicorn of a person who can magically truly enjoy this meal without getting shade about it. Honestly, if your too skinny your not eating enough. If your fat, your eating too much.

The media lately has been saturated with horrible messages. If I see the “set your scale back 10 pounds” meme one more time I might scream. I feel like everywhere I turn I am either reminded that I’m expected to eat this huge meal tomorrow, or I’m expected to be scared and distant with this huge meal I’m suppose to eat tomorrow. It’s no wonder my mind has fallen back into it’s old safe place: managing how other people may view my eating patterns.

I’ve decided to initiate the next level of self-care. I’m going to spend extra time just loving and playing with my son. If there is one person in this world that will remind me that I am loved and worthy of love, it is him. It’s time for a new social media purge (sorry dieting friends.) I’m going to spend some extra time engaging in activities that connect me with my body (line dancing in the living room anyone?). I’m going to make sure to drink a little extra water, because I know I always have more energy when I do. And, I’m going to do some things that bring me joy (like make some Ice Balls.)

As for the turkey day meal, I’m going to try to frame it differently. It’s not about the meal. It’s not about the food. So, there’s no reason to treat this meal any differently that I would anything other dinner. Tomorrow is about family, and friends, and taking time to be thankful for all the amazing things in my life.

Lovelies: Don’t forget to love yourself. Add plenty of time for self-care in this busy season.

You are loved. You are worthy. You are beautiful.

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What The Fat Stigma Study Left Out

girl-517555_1920I’m sure most of you saw the New York Times blog about the Fat Stigma Study. I am absolutely thrilled that researchers are starting to look into the way society actually contributes to disordered relationships with food. We have a huge section of society that believes in the idea of “shaming people thin.” When, really, what they are doing is encouraging more unhealthy habits. When I am shamed, I generally have a greater desire to eat my feelings because I am experiencing an increase in negative emotions (and cortisol according to the study.) In the past, I’ll admit the shame has temporarily motivated me to do start some sort of exercise routine or diet. But, rarely were any of them healthy. Never did any of the stick.

Here’s is what I thought this study, and article, was missing: We can’t control what other people say or do. But, the biggest battle we can actually wage is the shame and guilt we bring on ourselves.

I’m no biochemist, but I’m pretty sure I experience the same sort of cortisol increase when I’m body shaming myself in the mirror. I know I get the same, if not stronger, triggered feeling after bullying myself about my body and my weight. Really, the journey to body positivity for me has very little to do with changing how the world around me reacts to my body shape. (I’m very grateful there are so many amazing warriors fighting the fight, though.) My challenge is changing how I see myself. My goal has been about erasing the negative self-talk tape in my head. Becoming body positive is learning to love myself, unconditionally, however I’m presenting to the world in that moment.

I can’t spend my energy focusing on what other people are saying. I have no doubt I would burn out overnight if I fought, and argued, and screamed every time someone said something that was decidedly anti-body positive.

But, this is what I can do. I can only say (and think) nice things about myself when I’m looking in the mirror. More importantly, I can spend some time naked in front of the mirror reminding myself there are very GOOD things about my body. I can embrace the many body positive bloggers, posters, instagramers, tumblrs, ect. I can ensure that my life is filled with an amazing amount of body positive examples. I can surround myself with friends and influences that are aware of how they speak of their bodies, as well as the body of others.

20150816_163745I don’t discount the study about Fat Stigma. I experience everyday how society is swimming in messages about what a woman’s body (and men’s) should and should not be. Every day I am reminded that a large sect of society believes I should be activity trying to lose weight. The thing is, I know that I’m not able to change society. I will never get the Don Drapers of the world to stop using women’s insecurities to sell EVERY PRODUCT EVER. I know what I can do, and that’s be the change I want to see in the world. I can speak kindly of myself. I can speak kindly to others. I can continue to work on erasing my own negative self-talk tape, and replace it with confidence-boosting speeches. I can surround myself with body positive influences, both in my media and in my friend circles.

I can accept and love myself, as I am, today. I can chase my dreams and goals from a place of self-love. I can exercise accurate self-care as a way of combating those nasty elevations in cortisol.

I am so glad to see a study come out that shows shaming, blaming, and stigmatizing Fat people has a negative impact. What I need to remember, and what I hope others on this journey remember, is we are sometimes are our worst bullies. The voice in our head, which is admittedly fueled by society’s bullshit, can also contribute to this negative impact.

Change your inner voice. Change your world.

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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.