General, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Learned a Life Lesson at the Beach

This past weekend, I spent some time on Tybee Island down here in GA, with some friends. It was a typical summer day down south, which means that it felt like 110º in the shade, and the sun was blazing from the time we got there at 8:30am to the time we left at 2:30pm. Now, the beach is not my favorite thing in the world, but I love spending time in the water, and I was hoping to read an entire book, so I went along for the ride.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a proud BBW, or fluffy, woman. Extra stomach rolling over my waistband, a couple of chins in most pictures, 1.5 chins on a good day, some arms jiggles and thighs that spread like water in a pie tin when I sit down. I have since come to terms with the fact that I will never be a size 2, and have even come to realize that it’s not an obstacle in my dating life, which I long feared that it would be. I am always upfront about my body type, and if men don’t like it, they don’t have to talk to me. It’s really that simple. Still, as much as I have accepted my appearance and who I am, and am still working on body positivity, I sometimes worry how I will be perceived in the world because of my weight.

Hence why this weekend was such a major win for me.

How to Have a Beach Body-

Going to the beach, I was wearing a sports bra, athletic shorts and a long t-shirt that I sometimes use as a sleeping shirt. When we got there, I was determined not to take my shirt off, even though I knew it was going to be hot and everything that I was wearing was designed to dry quickly. As far as I’ve come with comfort with my body, and can even take my clothes off and have sex with a man, I didn’t want to expose my naked stomach to a bunch of strangers and beachgoers. I had images of men, women and children, even the lifeguards pointing at my large stomach and yelling “ewww!” and “gross!” and all over varieties of things that would make me feel self-conscious and not welcome on the beach because of my weight and would send me running back to the tent we set up in shame and disgust.

I got hot, wanted to go in the water, and still wanted to have something to wear for the car ride home, so I decided to take my shirt off and go in the water. As I walked to the water, I just had all the words of hatred and disgust in my head, people screaming and yelling “ewww! why don’t you cover yourself up? there are children here!!” and other kinds of nasty things at me. There were moments when I wanted to turn around and run back to my shirt, just to silence the voices in my head. (And by the way, this was not a long walk to the water.) While I loathe saltwater, I wanted to hurry up and get covered so that everyone would stop staring at me (all in my head, remember). Every step I took, the farther away I was from the water or my shirt, was another opportunity for someone to notice me and be disgusted.

But no one said a word.

I walked to the water undisturbed, unharmed, and possibly unnoticed, just another beachgoer who wanted to beat the heat and hang out in the ocean. No lifeguards screamed at me for people at risk, no mothers attempted to shield their children’s eyes, and no men came up and spat in my face and told me they were never going to date me. Just a young woman, who wanted to hang out and swim, and enjoy her Saturday at the beach, and not bother anyone. I wasn’t told to leave the beach and get my disgustingness away from everyone, and I had a relaxing time in the ocean and on the beach with my friends. And, I’ll tell you a little secret, I actually enjoyed how my body and fluffiness felt in the ocean waves: all free and easy, flowing with the movement of the ocean, and just doing whatever it pleased, taking a day off for itself too, just like me.

This experience was an eye-opening one for me, in a different way than normal. Everyday, I walk around with this body type, in clothes and dresses that make me feel beautiful, and people usually notice the confidence that I have, if they notice me at all. However, walking on the beach, with nothing on but a sports bra and some shorts, I felt exposed and open in a whole new way. But still, no one said anything. I realized that people have their own lives, their own families, and their own things to focus on other than one person walking down the beach leading with her stomach. While looking at the internet, you see people shaming large people all the time, most people in their daily lives don’t really care all that much whether or not the person walking past them is overweight or not. The voices inside my head are the things that hold me back the most, not the people on the street who make comments about my weight because, honestly, most people don’t care. I spent so much time worrying about whether or not people were taking time out their lives to look at me, when I should have been concerned more with myself and how I was feeling. I was taking a huge risk by exposing my naked stomach to the world, and I should have been proud of myself for that, and only thinking of the positive things. And, after realizing that no one else really cared but me, I was proud of myself. I took myself out of my shell a little bit, and I was ready to show the world how confident I was.

Size doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. Weight is a personal choice, and a personal thing. People have a lot of other things to worry about than what I look like. I am proud of myself, and proud of who I am. God gave me a big personality and He gave me a big body to hold it all in. And I thank him for it every day.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Faith, General, Life Talk

#GodsPlan: The Story of a Social Worker

Standing in front of a classroom full of teenagers, all ready to judge and whine whenever I ask them to do something more than listen to me, can be terrifying any day of the week.  But, this is what I signed up for when I started as an employee for the Prevention department of my local rape crisis center.  And in 4 years, I have never looked back.

I never wanted to be a crisis worker.  I didn’t have visions as a little girl of growing up to be sitting next to a hospital bed at 4am, dressed in whatever presentable sweatpants I could find and the comfiest sweatshirt that didn’t double as a sleeping shirt, next to a crying woman because she was being subjected to an invasive gynecological exam, only this side of more intrusive than the rape she just experienced.  There were no big dreams at high school graduation of talking people into revealing details of their most recent sexual encounter, their deepest fears, their innermost demons, just to get them to a place of a cool calm in order to get through the rest of the day.  Never did I think that I could spend hours of my life desperately fighting back my own fears and insecurities to check on a stranger and help them stay alive just one more night.  And yet, here I am.  All because I answered the phone.

Standing on the stage at my high school graduation, I was bright-eyed and looking to the future, planning to go to college to be an English major, following in the footsteps of my heroes like Rory Gilmore and Ryden Malby (and yes, I know they are both Alexis Bledel characters), in order to be a publisher like Ryden and my 9th grade English teacher once dreamed of being and discovering the next great American novel.  I would have one of those college romances that my parents had and grow up happy and secure with all my dreams coming true and never having to be afraid where my next paycheck was coming from.  I was going to turn into the real-life version of Alexis Bledel and be glamorous and suddenly my blue eyes would be brighter and more electric and boys would trail after me and I would love it all.  Simple right?

God decided that there was another path for my life to take, even though it took a while for me to realize it.  College was a period of change for me, and I changed my study goals from women’s studies to criminal justice, trying to find the right spot for me.  Eventually I landed in the human service studies field, only because I wanted to be a police officer, and that was the closest field of study that I could major in and still get the skills I needed.  I was in the throes of learning how to help people and about all the different facets of the community, all in the pursuit of catching the bad guys and solving crimes for the victims, when God intervened.  He sent me a phone call, one that had a victim on the other end, and I learned what I was truly capable of.  I learned how much of an impact one person can have just by being a voice on the other end of the phone, a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand in the lowest time of someone’s life.  And I was hooked.

I learned a new part of myself, the helper, the healer, the steady rock that could be next to someone hurting so deeply.  And learned my own strength, and the support that I can offer another human being.  I have never known that part of myself.  Now, I’m addicted.

4 straight years I have been in social work, and I am constantly finding new challenges.  Now, I have moved on to helping people, as well as teaching Prevention education, with a crisis line volunteer position on the side.  Words cannot describe how amazing it is to spend so much time with someone, helping them through the darkest times of their life, only to make it a little bit brighter at the end.  The world is a dark and lonely place, where people struggle every day, and I relish my job of being a shoulder to some of the hardest times and having a front row seat to the true strength of humankind.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

General, Life Talk, Real Talk

I’m Back, Y’all!

Wow… I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve written a post on this blog.  And y’all, I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve opened up the WordPress writer, looked at the multiple drafts that I have saved and tried to write one of them.  And yet, I always stopped, put it away and moved on to something else.  And now I sound like my blogosphere isn’t important to me, and yet, y’all so are! So, despite my prattling, here we go with some updates.


Job:

I have recently decided to give up one of my jobs, which allows me to have more time to look for a job that makes me happier, but also gives me the fear of quitting one job with no backup plan as to how I’m going to make up that extra income yet.  Still, in the last two weeks, since I turned in my resignation, I have been happier at that job, and actually feeling like I have something to work towards, now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Nothing against my co-workers and bosses; I just got tired of the things that I was doing and being in a job where I know that’s not going to be a career choice.

While I am absolutely terrified that I will soon be losing a source of income and will soon have more free time on my hands that I can so easily waste and while away all throughout the day while I attempt to figure myself out, I know that this was the right step for me.  God was right behind me, guiding my hand, and showing me that if I took this leap now, He would be beside me, helping me see the path that He has chosen for me.  While I am scared and confused right now, this was a necessary step towards the true happiness that He has set aside for me and the opportunities that will soon come my way.


Travel:

In the past month, I have been to 3 different states besides my resting town of Savannah: New Jersey (my native state!), Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  Each state offered different opportunities and laughs, disappointments and feelings.  I went to see my best friend graduate from college, and spend some time in my hometown, and interview for a job with my college sorority.  So much emotion and happiness in all three of the instances, despite not getting the job.  I love traveling to different states, especially when there is so much love and light on the other end, and I got to see the sunset from 2 planes and 2 beautiful heights.  It was quite magical.


Blog Changes:

I’m feeling like some of the things that I have planned for this blog aren’t going to be as amazing as I initially thought them to be.  So, some slight revisions coming our way soon!  Anything you wanna see?


More posts and updates coming soon!  (And hopefully I finish Cheryl Strayed’s Wild in the process).

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A quote that I love oh so much always

Thanks for sticking it out with me!

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Uncategorized

Self-Care Sunday: The Beauty of Music

Walking through the outlet mall with my roommates yesterday, I was struck by what a perfect Saturday it was.  Georgia weather was cooperating with the month of May, and it was sunny, no hotter than 75°, with a gentle breeze blowing, making it just cool enough to wear a sweatshirt, but also for this Jersey-born girl to take it off and walk around in a tank top and yoga pants.  Separated from my roommates by something shiny in the Vera Bradley store, I took advantage of the opportunity to walk around by myself, earbuds in my ears, listening to some music that I have recently downloaded.

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I have been playing with the idea of creating music playlists based on moods: one for happy moods, pensive moods, maybe for a depressed mood and definitely for the mood when it is a perfect Saturday in the springtime where the weather is cooperating and you just feel peaceful and calm and like your life is aligned exactly how it’s supposed to be.

For me, music has always been an escape.  One of my favorite things to do is drive around where I live and blast the music while I drive with the windows down, or bring earbuds on a long car drive, just to pass the time while the world flies by outside.  No matter where I’m at in my life, I can always find music to describe what I’m feeling, what’s just happened to me, and where I might have found myself on a given day.  So, today, for this Self-Care Sunday, I wanted to share some songs that are speaking to me right now, and hopefully they will give you some inspiration too.

  1. Almost There by Anika Noni Rose
  2. Quarter Life Crisis by Olivia Lane
  3. Drinking with Dolly by Stephanie Quayle
  4. Own It by Bailey Bryan
  5. Livin’ a Dream by Sara Ann Garrison
  6. No Such Thing as a Broken Heart by Old Dominion
  7. Saltwater Gospel by Eli Young Band
  8. Speak to a Girl by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
  9. Welcome to the Party by Kelleigh Bannen
  10. Odds Are by Kalie Shorr

This eclectic mix is keeping me afloat right now, and maybe you will get something from these songs too!

Happy Sunday!

Stay fearless, friends (3)

General, Life Talk, Real Talk

A Conversation… On Stories

-When you talk, you are only repeating what you know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.--Dali Lama

For the past week, I have been listening to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, where he describes what it was like growing up as a mixed child in South Africa during apartheid and its aftermath.  Trevor’s father is white Swiss German, and his mother is black South African, which was illegal under apartheid.  So, much of his audiobook is centered around his struggle to fit in with the other kids and even his own family, due to his skin tone, his social class, and even which racial group with which he chose to identify.  I’m not going to give it all away, but it introduces an interesting perspective into the racial divide, not just in the United States, but throughout the world.

Speaking of the United States, I recently heard of an incident that happened at my alma mater, one that greatly saddens me, and makes me once again reconsider whether or not the school that I chose and loved so much for 4 years was really the magical place that I thought it was.  Basically, a fraternity chapter president used a racial slur against another student outside a party, and has since shocked my student body and alumni community.  Nor is it the first time that I have heard of something like this happening at my school.  My freshman year, in fact, just weeks after I started college, incidents of racial slurs where happening across the campus.  And I know that this has been happening before then, and since then, to marginalized groups across the country and the world for centuries.

I found out about the fraternity incident while I was at work, and I suddenly started thinking about if I were in the shoes of the administrators.  What would I say?  What would I do?  How would I find a way to relate to people who are so different from me?  Reading the previous paragraphs, you might be thinking that this post is simply reactionary, another supposed “activist” responding to an incident that happened at a school she loved, and that might be so.  Some of you might think that this post is just another white girl trying to prove how “open” she is and just putting the attention on her while marginalized groups are getting their problems swept under the rug.  And with all the attention-seeking people in the world, I don’t blame you.  But, I’m hoping that at least some of you reading this will take in the spirit in which it’s intended, a young woman looking to learn more about the world around her.

Now, as a white, straight woman who was born into the upper middle class, I don’t pretend to know what people outside that specific group of humans have experienced.  Nor will I try to speak for anyone who isn’t me, especially someone whose life experience I don’t know anything about.  But, as a straight, white woman, I very well know that I know nothing about anyone’s experience outside of mine, and that I have been very lucky to have been sheltered from some of the unpleasantries that marginalized people have had to experience.

I have always said that when I went to college was the first time that I realized how sheltered I was growing up.  Not that my parents didn’t try to teach me about diversity and what makes people different, they did, but the circumstances where I grew up prompted not too, too many of those lessons to go to heart from 5-18.  I grew up in an upper middle class suburb of New York City, mostly white and Asian, very few Black kids.  In fact, the one black kid in our class was a bit of a side show sometimes.  But when I went to college was definitely when I learned that people have voices more powerful than that of the white, straight man, and that we can stand up for each other.  But still, with all these incidents happening on my campus, and on campuses around the country, to racially diverse, to LGBTQIA, to women, to the disabled, I stop to wonder.  (I know I talked a lot about race in this post, but all groups are marginalized and I am thinking about all of them.)

My question is this: where is the outrage?  Where is the sitting down and listening to each other, hearing each other’s stories?  I’m looking at you white people, straight people, men.  Everyone who enjoys the privileges of being at the top of society in some way, shape or form.  Marginalized groups have enough outrage for 3 lifetimes, and they have every right to be so outraged.  But yet, where are the people rioting in the street saying “why are we continuing to do this? Why are we giving them more reasons to be upset and furious instead of being upset that we are still acting like cavemen?”  We should all be infuriated that we are still living in the days when people who are different from us are marginalized and treated as inhuman.  Why do we not care about this?!?!?!

So, here’s what I want to do.  I want to understand.  I want to learn.  I want to take some time to hear your stories and experiences, things that are different from mine and things that I may have seen growing up.  I want to hear what it was like growing up gay, bisexual, transgender, Black, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Libyan, Iraqi, Buddhist, anything.  Share them in the comments, share them in my contact page.  Help me learn.  I want to learn more about the differences between myself and my fellow humans, and learn to appreciate, understand and cherish different experiences.

Much love my friends

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Self-Care Sunday

Self-Care Sunday: Take Yourself to Dinner

Ah, here we are to Sunday again.  Hopefully we will just get the post in before midnight, and we can still count it as Sunday.  A little late this week, but I still want to be loyal to my series.  So, here we go.

Tonight, dear reader, I had a date.  A long overdue date, and one that I was really looking forward to.  It was a date that I should have gone on a long time ago, and one that I constantly put off.  I had a date with myself.

I eat by myself most of the time.  My roommates and I eat dinner at different times, or I take my lunch breaks alone so I can decompress from working, even on the weekends I don’t often eat with people.  However, even still, taking myself out to dinner is a completely different thing.

All weekend, I have been craving Applebee’s, but I couldn’t get someone to go with me.  So, I decided that I would take myself to dinner and use the time for reflection and peace.  With me, I took along Jamie Tworkowski’s If You Feel Too Much, a book that I have been yearning to read since I bought it almost 2 years ago.  And tonight, the time that I had set aside to spend with me, I thought would be a perfect time to read it.  While I can’t read a 200 page book in an hour (not for lack of trying), I already know that this is going to be a special book.  Jamie has an amazing story and an amazing spirit, and even just reading the 30 or so pages that I have, I can tell that it’s going to be a special book.

Be encouraged. Your heart is writing a poem on the world and it’s being turned into a thousand songs.

-Don Miller

The above is a quote from the foreword, written by Donald Miller.  Just one of those quotes that I want to write all over my walls for me to remember, mixed in with my other beautiful quotes.  If Jamie can inspire people to merely say these things about him, imagine what he has to say, and already, I am finding that out.

So, by now, you’re probably wondering why the heck I started off talking about taking myself to dinner and morphed into discussing a book.  I will tell you.  Because I was treating myself to dinner and peace, with a book that I wanted to read and taking some time that I had scheduled with myself.  It was long overdue, and I left it feeling refreshed and renewed.  I was taking the time to treat myself like a person, a person deserving of respect and care too.

  1. Treat yourself like a person
  2. Don’t be afraid of eating alone
  3. Do things that refresh you
  4. Remember that you and your body deserve as much respect as a stranger

Treat Yourself

Stay fearless, friends (3)

General, Life Talk, Self-Care Sunday

Self-Care Sunday: Being in the Moment

For my first self-care Sunday, I want to talk about the golf-cart ride my family and I took last night to see the sunset on the island.  We live on a beautiful island in southeast GA, full of palm trees and flowers, marshes and ponds.  Even though I may have moved out of my parents’ house, I still come back home every once in a while for dinner and the occasional golf cart ride around the island, or even a place to sleep every once in a while when I need to get away from the stresses in my life or babysit the dog (who doesn’t let anyone in the house but her immediate family).  While my relationship with my parents has improved exponentially since I moved out (though we still have our moments, believe me), I never realized how it can important for my self-care as well.

Riding around the golf cart tonight hunting for the best views of the sunset, I was struck by how beautiful God’s work really can be.  The amber light bathing the world was breathtaking, and all the wilderness in between the golf courses is always amazing; I just don’t always give it enough credit.  I don’t spend enough time enjoying the moment when I’m out in nature; I spend more time checking my phone for likes on my latest Instagram post or whether or not that guy I like texted me back rather than focus on what I’m seeing and how God is working in my life right then.  And it’s time to look up.

So today, I want to talk about being in the moment, enjoying the world around me and how spending time being present can be the best thing sometimes.  Despite all the pictures I took last night, I felt like, for the first time in a while, I was being present in the moment, and enjoying the way the sunset light bathed the world, and how being with my family made me feel legitimately happy and filled with love.  I spent time simply appreciating what I was seeing and what God had given me, and admiring the beauty around me.  Just 45 minutes in a Saturday, and I feel refilled and refreshed.

Check out a few sunset pictures:

After looking at such a beautiful thing, I started thinking of some new rules for me to live by, which I thought I’d share with you all.

A few new rules for me to live by:

  1. Look up from those screens.  Take the time to take in what’s around and realize that God is out there, every day, just begging for me to come back to His love and realize that He is sending me signals every minute of the day.
  2. Breathe.  Too often, I am moving around at a breakneck pace, always trying to find where I go next.  Never stopping to breathe, never stopping to realize that I’m moving too fast or that I might be putting too much pressure on myself.
  3. Remember that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Even if everything seems to be going wrong, life is stressing me out and all the odds seem to be stacked against me, I need to remember that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  There is no harm in stopping to enjoy a moment, breathing and feeling like, at that moment, God wants me to stop and enjoy what’s in front of me.
  4. Take a picture to remember the feelings.  Don’t be afraid to take one picture to remember the things that I’ve seen and to hold on to the feelings from those moments.  Take a look at those pictures when I’m feeling sad and lonely, and remember how full I felt full and complete.  I want to remember those feelings and know what caused them, so when I am pursuing the wrong path to happiness, I’ll remember.

There are a lot of things that I could focus on in my daily life.  But, it is also important to take time and enjoy the little moments, the ones that pop out every once in a while, the ones that beg for a full immersion in them to truly enjoy them.

Don’t pass up those moments, dears.  God is talking.

Stay fearless, friends (3)