Let’s Talk About Body Image

Just like fashion trends, the concept of the “ideal body type” comes and goes throughout the years. During the Renaissance, it was voluptuous curves. In the Victorian Era, corsets were used to achieve tiny waists. With the “Roaring 20’s” came the slight, boyish figure. In the 30’s and 40’s, a slightly muscled look and more natural looking curves became all the rage. But since then, the “ideal body type” has been shrinking. Of course, there are many, many women today (and there always have been) who don’t care about any “ideal body type” and love the body they’re in, no matter what the media currently portrays as perfect. Today, more than ever, more women are rejecting the concept that there is one body type that every woman should try to attain (and good thing, because that’s preposterous).

But the idea of one kind of body that everyone wants is still harmful, especially to impressionable, young, insecure girls. Girls who are just growing into their bodies and noticing the changes that are happening as they become young women. Noticing the differences between them and their girlfriends. It’s a hard thing growing up in a world where everyone is so different, yet those differences are not appropriately represented in the media. It’s very easy for a girl to lose sight of the reality that every body IS different and that’s okay, and think, “I wish I had bigger boobs/a smaller waist/smaller thighs… like THAT girl.” I think the most dangerous thing a person can do is compare themselves to someone else. You are not someone else; you are you, and there’s a reason for that. No one can be you like you can. I think the most attractive people are those who own their body type and are completely comfortable with it. No matter how thin or thick or tall or short you are, confidence makes so much of a difference.

For example, I was definitely insecure about developing breasts later in life than most girls I knew. A boy in my 8th grade math class called me “boobless” more than once, and even though that was incredibly stupid (I mean, it’s not like I can control that…), it still stuck with me. Throughout high school and college, more well-endowed friends would complain about their back pain or how hard it is to shop for clothes, then ask me, “Do you want some?” If breast tissue were a thing you could just share with your friends, like a clothing swap, in high school, I would have gone for it. I hated being small. But today, at age 23, I have gone up literally one bra size since buying my first bra, and I don’t mind at all. In fact, I love my size. I can go bra-less one day if I so choose without any wardrobe malfunctions or discomfort. I can sleep on my stomach. I never have to worry about accidental cleavage.

Though it’s taken years, I have come to love the skin I’m in. I am a naturally thin person and that’s fine. I have larger hips in proportion to my chest, and that’s fine. I’m not distinctly short or tall and that’s fine. The few things I want to change are, I think, pretty reasonable things to want: Defined abs, higher stamina so I can run farther and just have more energy throughout the day, muscled thighs, for that rash on my face to go away… But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t achieve these goals. I don’t work very hard toward them. I have other things to worry about. I recognize that I was not given this body because of some cosmic mess-up. It was on purpose. This body was given to me to care for and to love, and I am doing the best that I can. If you are struggling with accepting how you are shaped, know that I think you are beautiful, no matter what you look like. The only ugly people are those who cut down others because they don’t fit a certain mold. Or for any reason. But you, you are beautiful. Just like you shouldn’t cut down others, you definitely shouldn’t cut down yourself. You deserve better than that.

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The Best Years

I’m catching up on Glee this week because I was only given 3 shifts at work. I just watched the episode in which Sue finally shuts down the Glee club for good and so everyone who’s ever been in it comes back to sing together a few last times. Graduation is within days. What stuck out to me was how Tina stressed so much about how she’d never see anyone again and her life would be meaningless without Glee club or her high school friends in it. It seems melodramatic now, but when you were in high school, didn’t you think the same thing, if not to a lower degree? When it’s happening, it seems like that’s all there will ever be. School and the friends you’ve grown up with are all you know. The outside world is scary and doesn’t seem real until you’re out there in it. 

For many kids, high school is built up to be the best years of your life. “You’ll have these friends for years to come,” they say, but how true is that? Aside from my brothers, I invited exactly 3 people from my high school to my wedding. I am Facebook friends with maybe 10 people from my high school. I didn’t end up marrying anyone I dated from my high school. I run into people I knew from back then and I don’t know what to say. I’m a completely different person than I was back then. In fact, I’m thankful all the time that life didn’t end at high school graduation. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do. I had no idea how to be a good friend or a good partner for a husband. High school seems like a lifetime ago and I’m so glad.

While trying to count how many of my Facebook friends went to Highland, I got distracted and began looking at people I’m not friends with, people I haven’t seen in several years. Many of them had their children as their profile pictures. One of my closest friends in 9th grade gave birth to a child in our junior and for a short time, I knew that child and was looking forward to her growing up. Today, I stumbled across my former friend’s profile. I was shocked that I couldn’t remember her child’s name. She must be 8 years old now. 

I feel no nostalgia for high school. I definitely feel nostalgia for college, where I met most of the people with whom I have become very close friends. Being independent, having someone to hang out with every minute of the day. All of the great restaurants within walking distance. Even being in a higher learning environment. This post-college stage is difficult, but it’s still way better than high school. No unnecessary drama, no hours upon hours of homework every night, no standardized tests, no immature backbiting and cruel mocking. We are just growing into our bodies and minds, learning how to be humans in the real world. If high school was the good as it got, life would be pretty awful. Even if high school was amazing for you (because you were either popular or cared what NO ONE thought), it is not the best years of your life. If anything, college is it! But then you have the years after you’ve struggled for a while and are finally settled down in the career you love, giving purpose to your life! That sounds infinitely better than high school. 

 

How much have you changed since high school?

Dreaming Uncomfortably

I was with a man on a dock. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know where we were. There was a lot of yelling. Suddenly, the man said, “Someone’s being attacked by a shark!” Someone was. We pulled him out, but much of the meat of his left calf was torn off, and he was losing a lot of blood. There was a lot of yelling. The ocean was in a small room and we were on a bed. The shark swam away down a hallway, and the man who was there before disappeared. Just as the injured man was about to pass out in shock, an elaborate spinning device appeared hanging from the ceiling. It looked like the end of a giant screw, about 3 times the size of my head. It turned and began moving toward us at terrifying speeds. My heart was pounding and I backed up against the wall, knowing that there was no way out, trying to brace myself for the impact, which would surely kill me slowly and extremely painfully. Somehow, I knew that the device was sentient and intent on hurting us. Why? Who knows? I was screaming.

I woke up. My body burned under the covers like it always does after a nightmare and my eyelids struggled to stay up. It was 8:22. My adrenaline had woken me up, but I was still very tired. Kurt wasn’t beside me. I could hear voices of Worf, Data, and Picard, from the living room. Apparently Star Trek is his remedy for sick days. I fell back asleep, didn’t dream anymore, then finally pulled myself out of bed at 10:30. Star Trek was still playing and Kurt was sleeping on the couch. I wondered how many episodes he’d slept through. I wondered if it had affected his dreams.

 

The night before last, I dreamed that I just wanted to take a shower, but things kept getting in my way. I couldn’t read the labels on the bottles, there was tons of soap but no shampoo, the boy whose bathroom I was using decided to get in the tub, naked, and just chill with me. It wasn’t a sexual situation; it was just odd. I just wanted to shower. Then the water wouldn’t work. Then the curtain disappeared and we were in a room full of people, who all wanted to talk to me. 

I woke up and realized that I’ve had this dream before, but differently, and many times. More times than I can count, I dream about just wanting to take a shower, but nothing works. I try to take my clothes off, but I still have more clothes on. There is no soap or anything. The only shower I can find is a showerhead hanging from a ceiling in the middle of a giant room full of people. The water is too cold, or won’t come out. People keep trying to get me to go places and do things before I can shower. It’s so strange and so frustrating.

I talked to Kurt about this last night. He thinks I dream about this because it’s how I feel about trying to find a job in my field. I guess it makes sense. It very often feels like I am grasping at straws. I feel like I am doing everything I can to do a very simple thing, but it’s turning out to be very complicated and very difficult. I feel like nothing I do works. But I just have to keep trying. The world is not against me. I just haven’t been trying hard enough. Hopefully these dreams will go away once I can come to terms with the fact that the search for a fulfilling job that uses one’s skills, passion, and education is just as difficult for everyone else, and yet it does happen. Just… some progress would be nice.

Blogging Goals

I started this blog in October of last year with the sole purpose being able to show editors, publishers, and writers that I can write, and not just about myself. My blogging up until then had been mostly personal, and I wanted something with which to connect with other writers and show that I can write about current events and other topics to which other people can relate. So far, I think it’s been successful. I have 67 followers and seem to gain new people nearly every time I post. I have developed a habit of writing at least a few times a week. Someone even linked one of my posts to their “similar posts” section under a post on their blog! People with hundreds or thousands of followers follow me and say I’m a good writer! This encouragement only makes me want to do better, to reach more people, because now I know that I can, with enough determination. So here are some goals I have for blogging:

1. Post at least 5 times a week.

2. Reach 100 followers by summer.

3. Spend at least half an hour reading and commenting on posts from the people I follow everyday.

 

I think these are pretty doable. If my whole point is connecting with people and growing my writing skills, these are the basic things I need to do, and I think I can do them.

What are your blogging goals?

Put Your Kids Second

Good thoughts for when Kurt and I have children. 🙂

The Samurai Husband

family So I’m a relatively new dad.  I have a beautiful two year old whom my wife and I love and adore more than anything in this world.  And that’s the problem sometimes.  It is so easy for parents to get wrapped up into the lives of their children and prioritize them over all else.  What’s wrong with that some of you may ask?

Everything.  And here’s why.

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Houston, We Have An Overreaction

I, like many people, have a tendency to overreact sometimes. Maybe more than the average person. I have screamed bloody murder upon stubbing my toe, not because that’s how badly it hurt, but simply out of frustration of what seemed like a multitude of things going wrong in one day. I admit, sometimes, I let my emotions drive me and consume me, making little frustrations a bigger deal than they really need to be.

But I have been reading a book called “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)” by Richard Carlson, and it’s been helping me a lot. Each chapter is a short few paragraphs about exercises we can practice in order to gain a little perspective on our problems and learn to deal with life as it comes and live in the moment. I’m almost done with it, and a common theme I’m seeing is “present-day living,” the concept that if you are not thinking about past events or possible future events, you are more able to enjoy the moment where you are, everyday. At the same time, it’s important to think, “Will this matter in 100 years?” Once you think this, it’s hard to get too upset about nearly everything that happens to us.

I would even go as far as to say, “Will this matter next week?” Too often, I find myself freaking out over things I literally will not remember 5 days from now. I do have an extraordinarily bad memory, but I guess that helps me, because imagine all the past hurts and anxieties I would dwell on if I remembered more! If I just took the time to think before I react, I could save a ton of energy and the feelings of the people around me. Kurt asking me nicely to sweep the floor because he had a super rough day at work even though it’s his turn does not warrant an argument. If I want to be more peaceful, I need to recognize that I have the power to react to things positively or negatively, then use that power for good. And yes, mom, I know that you tried to teach me this my entire childhood. You have succeeded. This book has not replaced you. I’m glad you taught me this. It just never sunk in before because I was an ornery teenager. I think it’s just now clicking because I am becoming more of an adult. I think the first step to maturity is recognizing you have a problem. Sorry it took so long.

When I Grow Up (continued)

In my last post, I expressed the idea that to be grown-up, a person must be happy with themselves and know who they are. I still think this, but that idea is just scratching the surface of what being an adult really is. A few highly respected adults in my life responded to my last posts with their own thoughts on the concept, and I wholeheartedly agree. 

First, my mom said, “Part of being “grown up” is acting and being responsible and respectful.” Yes! That was something I had in my head while writing the last post, but got carried away with one facet of my idea. Being confident and self-aware makes it easier to be responsible, being committed to responsibilities and seeing the fruit of those decisions builds confidence in yourself, and being respectful makes everyone around you happy, which makes you happy… It’s a cycle. All of these things work together. But yes, responsibility and respectability are definitely what make someone an adult, even before being happy. Or maybe what I meant was, being joyful. Finding joy in the things around you because you’re not worried about the here and now but about the future. Staying calm and hopeful in the darkest of times because you can see the bigger picture. 

Once you have become self-reliant and can do things for yourself, and actually do those things, like pay bills on time and work hard at your job, school, or whatever you’re doing right now to progress in life, you are an adult. When no one has to tell you to do what to do because you know and you do it happily. When you treat everyone with respect, because then people will start to respect you, and it’s pretty hard to think of someone as an adult when they’re not acting respectable. 

And then there’s my dad. My dad had a wonderful point about realizing how much influence you have over people and using that influence in a respectable way. Or maybe he was making the point that growing up is a thing you actively do by making a choice and not a place where you find yourself suddenly. Or even that it’s never too late to grow up! I got all of that from this story:

 “When your brother, Eli, was about four years old he asked me a question (I don’t remember the question) that I didn’t know the answer to, but I answered him with some nonsense that was over his head but delivered as if I knew exactly what I was talking about; He believed every word I said even though he didn’t understand it. He just trusted that I was Dad and Dad knows. I was just goofing around but he didn’t know that and he believed me. Immediately I had a very sobering thought: “My kids will absolutely believe anything I say. I could wreck them. I need to grow up right now.” I was 40 years old at the time.”

So, another thing to add to my definition: Using your influence wisely and caring for others. You could be 40 years old with children and a full-time job, but if you’re not carefully aware of the consequences of how you treat others and acting accordingly, then are you really grown-up? I don’t think so.When I was young I couldn’t wait to grow up, to be older. I was in a hurry to escape childhood. I tried to act older and even became embarrassed by the way other children my age acted. Looking back now I am saddened by my haste to be an adult.  

Lastly, my father-in-law, Bob also left a comment, with a great point that I have been advocating for years: “The wonderment of childhood and the feeling that anything is possible is a trait that would serve ‘grown-ups’ well.” When we lose that childlike wonder, life becomes a routine, a daily grind, a chore. Being a responsible, respectful (and respectable!) adult who uses their influence wisely does not have to mean never having anymore fun or never learning anything new. That would be so dull!

Bob starts out with, “When I was young I couldn’t wait to grow up, to be older. I was in a hurry to escape childhood. I tried to act older and even became embarrassed by the way other children my age acted. Looking back now I am saddened by my haste to be an adult.” I, too, had a time in my childhood when I yearned to be older, when I would have more independence. Not quite to his degree, though. Now, I love my independence, but I don’t miss having so few worries or cares, like I did as a child. I try to maintain a childlike view of the world, accented by the truths I know and the experiences I’ve had, and it makes me more positive. Children are so trusting. They have no preconceived notions of different kinds of people, they don’t even need a conversation first to start playing together, they are honest to a fault, and they find joy in the littlest things, like ladybugs and dandelions. I think, if we all let our inner child out to play more often, while still maintaining the important things that make us grown-ups, being grown-up will not have to be a social construct that means no more fun. It will mean the best years of your life. 

23 Little Things That Let You Know You’re In The Right Relationship

How I know my husband is the one for me! 🙂

Thought Catalog

1. You never feel weird being naked around them, even when you’re in bad lighting or on a day where you don’t feel so hot overall.

2. You catch them looking at you every now and again and they always have this really appreciative, happy look on their face when they think you aren’t looking. (Unless you’re being dumb and they’re looking at you with that “Oh, you” look they give sometimes.)

3. Your friends really like them, and there’s never that weird feeling of “Oh, the significant other is coming along, time for everyone to be serious and not have as much fun.”

4. People often ask you if they have a sibling or a good friend who is single.

5. When you’re talking to them about a bad day you had, they always listen and actually give some kind of feedback, instead of just staring at you with…

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When I Grow Up

The problem with the phrase, “when I grow up,” is that “growing up” is so hard to define. Yes, we are always growing and learning and moving through life, changing our perspectives as we become different people (at least we should be), but when are we grown up? Two common theories that I used to believe:

1. You are grown up when you reach a certain age. I think this is a common misconception, the one we believe as children, though I don’t know who fed it to us. Probably no one. We probably just looked at people we knew as “grown-ups” and saw that they had very different lives than we did, and thought “when I grow up, I’m going to like so-and-so.” I know I did. I wanted to be an actress, a singer, a pastry chef, a forensic investigator, an author, a wife and a mom, a small-business owner, a CEO, a painter… But I never thought about the far-off point in my life when I’d actually reach those goals. Looking back, I’ve realized that I’ve become some of those things in some capacity before I’ve decided I’m all grown up, because I really don’t think I am. I’ve acted in seven stage productions by age 15, published a book 18, got married at 22, was a regular member on two different worship teams by 21. If there is a specific age at which I can say I’ve grown up, I definitely haven’t reached it. Therefore, theory 2…

2. You are grown up when you achieve your goals. Awfully vague, isn’t it? Which goals? Your “when I grow up” goals? What if you never snag that dream career? You could change your mind and find something else you love. You could be stuck in hard labor your entire life. It happens. You should have many goals, small ones, like “I will live an at least moderately healthy lifestyle,” and “I will make a new friend every year.” Make goals you know you can achieve and that make you a better, happier person. But how many do you have to achieve before you’re grown up? There is no answer. Regardless, I think this is a more realistic and understandable way of thinking about the concept, albeit with a little twist (and this is my opinion): 

You are grown up when you are happy with yourself. You may not agree with this, because by my logic, a sixteen-year-old could be grown up, and no one will believe that. But it’s more than just being happy. It’s being confident and comfortable in your skin and in whatever situations life throws at you. By the same logic, a 45-year-old might not be grown up. You probably know someone just like this. Overly insecure, petty, lazy, etc. These are not mature or adult things to be. I think a lot of other things fall into place when you are confident in who you are as an individual and you really know yourself. Such as: Asking for promotions. Applying for jobs for which you may not have the experience but you definitely have the passion. Staying married for 50 years and still being in love with your partner. Being someone who helps others without needing to be asked or without expectation of reciprocation. The list goes on and on. Whether being happy with yourself is a result of being a full-functioning adult that contributes to society or vice versa, the point is that “when I grow up” is going to be different for everyone. Everyone has different life experiences and influences that cause them to reach certain milestones at different times in their lives, so to expect everyone to become grown-ups at the same time (and by the same definition!) is just setting many people up for years of unnecessary pressure and anxiety. The way I see it, life gets a lot easier when you accept that you don’t have to be a certain thing by a certain time. Just be kind to others and yourself. That pretty much covers everything else.

 

How do you define being “grown up”? Are you grown up yet? (I’m not!) Sound off in the comments! 🙂

Summertime Happiness

Summer has always meant something different to me in different parts of my life. Seems obvious, as our perspectives change, but I only just now thought of it that way. I was thinking of the fun things I want to do this summer, and realized that I couldn’t have done them when I was a child in Seattle, a teenager in Cowiche, or a college kid in Ellensburg. Summer as a newlywed working adult living in Seattle is very different. It means something else.

Summer as a child in Seattle in the 90’s meant splashing in the wading pool at Wallingford Park in my ruffled swimsuit, volunteers in blue shirts giving us free Capri-Suns and 6-packs of Austin peanut butter crackers. Tire swings above sand and wood chips, the rolling (always green) park lawn where we could play tag with children we didn’t know. Riding our bikes with and then without training wheels around the pathways, courtyards, and parking lots of Lincoln High School. Camping with my mom’s family in the mountains, in the big green tent that looked like it could have been a military tent, very simple, very old, and very sturdy.

In Cowiche, from ages 7-18, summer meant tall grass in empty fields, bare feet with callouses from running across a gravel driveway to a cheet grass-infested side yard. Riding bikes in flip-flops and tank tops, no helmets, on the shoulder of roads where the speed limit was 50. Running through the sprinklers, water fights with the hose with the spray attachment. Driving 20 minutes to the mall or the movies with friends from school or church. Basking in the sunshine and enjoying no obligations but household chores.

In college, summer could be one of two things. If I went home, it meant trying to mesh back into the family dynamic. It was board games and Guitar Hero with my brothers, Catchphrase for hours with the whole family, no regard for teams or rules. We got really good at it. Walks around the neighborhood and gardening with my mom. If I stayed at school to take classes, it was fro-yo with friends, aching to be outside when I’m class, aching to be swimming when I’m outside. Trying to stay away from the gnats that get stuck in my hair. Eventually, it turned into pre-planning for my wedding.

But now, I have summer as a grown-up in Kirkland. I had hoped to live in Seattle, but it didn’t work out. Maybe one day. For now, I’m happy with the suburbs. I believe last summer had record highs for Seattle, and this summer should be just as hot and sunny. Contrary to popular belief, Seattle actually has very warm and cloudless summers. I’m looking forward to making time for swing dancing until I sweat through two outfits, listening to buskers perform jazz at Pike Place Market, exploring the different neighborhoods, starting a video blogging channel, and working harder to find a writing or editing job. This summer will be Menchi’s fro-yo, new friends, lamenting grown-up struggles over iced Starbucks. Running through the classics on my shelf while sitting by the water on my days off, hosting guest after guest in our third bedroom, photographing 1890’s architecture down streets I haven’t yet explored. Gardening, just like my mother and her mother. Pulling up every weed, raking every leaf, planting new grass, then sitting down with some iced tea and surveying my progress. This summer is going to be great.

 

What will your summer look like? Leave a comment!