Tears, Fears, and Finding the Truth

I hate going to the doctor’s office. No. Hate cannot describe the anxiety and stress that a seemingly simple doctor’s visit inflicts upon my psyche. Yearly check-ups have always resulted in tears, shame, and ultimately a need to shelter myself even further from others. The source of these problems was always my weight.

You see, I’ve always been overweight. Apparently the way that American doctors try to get kids to shape up and lose weight is to scare them and make them hate their own bodies so immensely that they will somehow try to change it. Unfortunately, this method never worked for me.  While they were warning me about diseases and complications that my weight would inevitably cause in their eyes, I sat there terrified and beginning to hate the body that I was born with. They told me I must be doing something wrong. I would face the Inquisition of Pediatric Doctors. Are you eating right? Of course, I love fruits and vegetables! Are you exercising? I’m never still; even when I’m sleeping! Are you stressed out? Well, I am now because you’re telling me I’m flawed. Nothing was ever good enough for them. They told me I would struggle. Gym class and social success were two obstacles they often listed for me. They would hypocritically recite what they were trained to every year: “This weight does not make you any less of a person. It does not take away from the great person you are. But, we need to take care of the problem right away.” Thanks, doc. That’s reassuring. I’m not a terrible person, I just have a problem. I’m fat. If I don’t fix it now I will be a social outcast and never make it anywhere in life.

Obviously this was not helpful in any way. I began to hate myself. I would avoid mirrors at all costs because I didn’t want to see that horrible image reflected at me. I tried every diet known to man and even stopped eating certain meals. It wasn’t healthy, but I’d do anything to stop these doctors from tearing me down. Nothing worked.

My body and I have always been in a battle. It was never me. It was what other people saw, but I did not feel like it was mine. I was always great at sports (not so much when it comes to running miles), but I loved being active. I could do almost anything that everyone else was doing, but it still didn’t please my doctors. They repeatedly ran tests on me to make sure my weight was suddenly going to kill me halfway through the year. And, guess what! All of these tests showed that I was perfectly healthy, just had some extra body weight. My blood and cholesterol were perfectly healthy; sometimes even in better shape than my average peers. They worried about my blood pressure though. Somehow they didn’t realize that their body-shaming was the reason my stress and blood pressure sky-rocketed every time I stepped foot in their pastel colored offices. Not to mention the fact that I have a tourniquet phobia (and what do you think a blood pressure cuff is?) Every year I would have to grin and bear it. I struggled to stay calm, brave even, for the doctors that would tell me I was defective. I couldn’t look my mother in the face during these visits. She could see the hurt in my eyes and that is when the tears would break free. No one ever told me that it was okay to love my body as long as I worked to keep it healthy.

It’s still hard to love who I am, to love the person I see in the mirror. I have good and bad days. Often I look at others and wish I could trade bodies. But, I’m finally realizing that I’m being silly. Having a different body will not fix my problems.  I have now come to see that even girls with “perfect” figures are unhappy. It’s all about my attitude. I’m growing to love my body because it is beautiful. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my full-figure.

I hope that sharing my story will help others to fully appreciate their beauty. Everyone’s body is different. We all have quirks that we’ve been told are unacceptable, but I want to tell you they are wrong. You are beautiful. You are unique. Your body is amazing. It lives, moves, and is a part of you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough. Love yourself and everything else will fall into place. Find whatever makes you happy. Nothing else matters.

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2009

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2013

Don’t Apologize for Your Body Either

Please click on the link below and take the time to read this article.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/i-will-not-apologize-for-my-body-anymore/

This is an article on Thought Catalog called “I Will Not Apologize For My Body Anymore” by Jamie Ann Royce. I think many people have felt what this woman expresses in her writing. No matter your size, or even gender, we often feel as though our bodies are not acceptable. It’s time to change that way of thinking. It may take a while, but every action against the phenomenon of body shaming is a step toward a better future. Spread the body love.

Snack Attack

You know those days when you get hungry around 3:30 for no obvious reason? I do. Today was definitely one of those days. So, I decided that instead of snacking on processed junk food I would make an easy little meal for one.

I love basil! It is my favorite herb to use in cooking. The recipe I made is a simple pasta dish using basil pesto as a sauce.

What You’ll Need:

  • Basil pesto (I make my own and use about 2 Tablespoons)
  • Farfalle pasta (a.k.a. bow tie pasta)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • A kitchen in which to cook it!

If you don’t already have pesto you will need to whip some up. I used the following recipe from The Food Network and it made more than enough:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/basil-pesto-recipe2/index.html

Next you will need to boil some Farfalle pasta according to the package directions. I made an entire package, but you can cut this down to the desired number of servings.

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Some lovely boiling pasta.

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After the pasta has finished cooking, strain it. Add the desired pasta back to the pan in which you cooked it. Add a few tablespoons (or more if you wish) of pesto and stir.

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This is what it should look like after the pesto is mixed in.

Then place in a bowl, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, grab a fork, and dig in!

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End result. Doesn’t it look delicious?

I also like to spice this recipe up by adding fresh cherry tomatoes (cut in half) with the pesto. When you warm them up for a short time they taste absolutely divine in this recipe.

Cheers!

Project of the Day: Dictionary Poems

I’m always looking for new and exciting inspiration for creative writing. I was taught this method in my high school creative writing class and hope to pass it on to you. For this project all you will need is a dictionary, some creativity, and a place to record your poetry.

This project also gives me a chance to show off one of my favorite family possessions. In our house this book is lovingly known as “The Big Red Dictionary” or simply “The Dictionary”. It is from 1979 and has never failed to help me whether I need to look up spelling, definition, or to spice up my writing.

The Beast

The Beast

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Showing its age.

This project is super simple. You choose a page from the dictionary and use one of the following variables (or a mixture of them all) to write a poem:

1. Words from the page (creating alliteration)

2. Definitions or words found in the definiton

3. Pictures as inspiration for a story

When I wrote my first dictionary poem I was terrified of the alliteration. I thought it was childish (and many still hold this opinion), but it can be a great way to break free from your writing routine, or slump as I like to call it.

I was given a page containing ‘f’ words and immediately everyone thought my poem would be vulgar. I, however, focused on one word in particular, and painted a quite gloomy yet honest picture. I hope you enjoy it:

Fawn

In a faraway place

Known to none but myself,

Lays a featherweight fawn.

Left alone by his blood line,

Failing to fight for his life,

He is unfazed by his fate

As he slowly becomes fertilizer

For the fragile earth.

As you can see I used many ‘f’ words such as: fawn, faraway, featherweight, failing, fight, (un)fazed, fate, fertilizer, and fragile. I also used the definition of ‘family’ with “his blood line”. Being the self-deprecating writer that I am, I hate this poem. But, it did help me to find a new muse.

It’s a real shame that dictionaries aren’t as utilized as they once were. Computers and spell-checks have replaced the good, old searching-through-hundreds-of-dictionary-pages method.

I encourage you to pick up a dictionary and carve out the poems hiding within!

Folk Music Exploration

Recently I’ve been listening to wide selection of folk music both pure and mixed with a rock flare. After falling in love with artists (shown in order below) such as The Decemberists, Mumford & Sons, Iron & Wine, and Johnny Flynn (to name just a few), I decided to trace this genre to the beginning. What I discovered can only be described as serendipitous.

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I started a while ago with Simon and Garfunkel because I already loved their music. I had no idea that they helped to forge the folk music genre. Their lyrics are deep, free-flowing, and catch your attention. I definitely recommend checking them out if you’ve never heard them before.

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About three days I ago I decided to look into the man that is often credited with starting the Folk revival in the United States: Bob Dylan. I did an internet search to listen to his music and was quite surprised with what I found. I knew he was well-known for his succulent verses and brilliant lyricism, but I had no idea how his music would make me feel. I had been having a terrible week. Everything was sinking at once. When I listened to Dylan I felt like he understood. His voice enveloped me with it’s warm, roughness and assured me that everything would be okay. It always is. Yes, he agreed with me, “Times they are a-changin'”. But, he told me to fear not. He has felt what I am feeling. Others have been in my shoes. There is no need to let it get to you. “Chin up” he told me with a smile. 

His music was a breath of fresh air (even though it’s decades old). I cried listening to “Mr. Tambourine Man” and I can’t explain why. It wasn’t something tangible. It was his essence. The desperation is his voice, the purity in his instruments. They stirred my soul.

Interestingly enough, there is a modern artist that sounds astoundingly similar to Mr. Dylan. He goes by the name The Tallest Man on Earth. As soon as he opens his mouth you can tell that Bob Dylan is his biggest influence. Below are images of the similar artists (Dylan on the left, and The Tallest Man on Earth on the right):

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I highly recommend going out there right now and discovering all of the aforementioned artists. They will probably change your opinion about music.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” –Bob Dylan

An Open Letter to a Crush

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Dear Boy:

I can’t seem to find the words to say to you. Or, I guess I should say, type to you. I’m so confused. My brain is teeming with half-developed thoughts of who you are and what you mean to me. I hope this will clear few things up.

Firstly I want you to know that I love talking to you. Every time I see your name lighting up my phone my heart is airborne for a second or two. My thoughts begin to race. “What will I say to you?” “Why has it taken so long for you to text?” “Should I have texted first?” Then none of that matters because I am hearing about your week, supporting your triumphs, lending a hug for your failures. I really care about every detail about what is happening in your life. I hope the feeling is mutual. I fear it is not.

I guess you need to know how it was in the beginning. I had been hearing from my roommate about how perfect we would be for each other. We both shrugged it off. But, I think you should know it hurt on some deep level to see you become infatuated with my other, more beautiful roommate. I envied her and secretly wished I were the one you found to be so irresistible. However, I buried those negative thoughts because they didn’t help anything. Then, we somehow began texting. I remember the first night, we stayed up until around two in the morning playing the question game and getting to know each other.  You were worth the sleep loss. Talking to you was like catching up with an old friend. I fell asleep that night thinking that it was just a one-night thing, and that it would be the last time I would talk to you. I was wrong.

You texted me that next morning. I really wish you could have seen the smile on my face. That’s when it became real. You wanted to keep talking and I needed to know it wasn’t all a dream. Weeks went by and I absolutely adored how hard you tried. My roommate told me you liked me, but I never believed her. No one had felt that way about me before and I wasn’t willing to let myself get tricked. Your best friend and his girlfriend (my roommate) would discuss us. She pushed for something more than friendship, though we had never met. He told her to stay out of it. She didn’t listen. Whenever I heard that you were caught up on what to say to me I was flattered. I was no one to get nervous over, and you could never say anything wrong to me. As long as you were talking, I was hanging on to every word.

Then one night, while saying goodnight, you called me sweetie. Just when I was getting my thoughts in order, you shook everything up. Here you were, softly handing me a term of endearment. I had no idea what it meant. Does this mean you like me? Are you just being nice? I still have no explanation.

Summer came. You got a job and I enrolled in a summer class. Texting slowed to a weekly occurrence. I resent this because I felt like you had become less interested. Nonetheless I savored every exchange we had. Making plans for dates and ideas on how to finally meet in person. When you promised to show me the Star Wars movies I cherished the thought. A promise never meant so much to me. I began to think of you on a daily basis. I would hear songs you labeled as your favorites and I would drift into thoughts of our conversations. I couldn’t see anything SNL related without thinking of you and smiling.

I told my parents about you. I told my best friends about you. I wanted to share the idea of you with the world. I was starting to like you; a lot. I opened up to you, telling you things about myself that not another soul on this forsaken earth knew. I let you into the world I kept hidden from others. I have to tell you, I’m terrified. I know that the easiest way to get hurt is to care. And, I care about you. I’m afraid you’ll reject the precious secrets I’ve shared with you. Please don’t brush me off as trivial. I want to mean something to you.

You’re something I’ve never encountered: funny, sweet, kind, supportive, shy, passionate, and adorable. You deserve the best. You deserve more than what I can give you.

The distance is tough. It means I may never meet you in person. I can’t handle that thought so I push it away. I realize if we ever do meet, I wouldn’t be able to face you. How could I look into your eyes and possibly face rejection or disgust reflected at myself? What if I’m not the person you think I am? What if you hate me?

I want to meet you. I can’t.

I want to tell you how I feel. I can’t.

I want to believe you feel something for me. I can’t.

But, I will continue to try, because you are the first to give me a chance.

For you, I will.