Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finding Empowerment & Body Positivity

Debut of my new hair do!
If you can't tell by the photo- I am super excited!

This post was supposed to be out a while ago, but I am still super excited!

If you have been keeping up with me on instagram (Click the above photo caption for the blog insta) you know that I've been gushing over this, and I wanted to take time to write about why this- the hair cut itself- has been such a big deal to me. settle in for a longer post / 3 part read!

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PART1


I've been feeling... less than bold as of late.

With all that has been going on in life lately, all of the unexpected things and things that have been going less than desirably, I've longed to find my boldness again. In fact, I've been searching for it. I've been praying for it.

I think it's safe to say that since we moved, I've been feeling a little lost. It's hard to move to a place you never had any intention of moving back too. It's hard to go when you really don't want to, but the Divine Creator says "go".  I've basically found myself thinking, "Hey.... Jesus? You still there? I'm down here being obedient... but feeling hella lost.... Can you help a sister out?"

The truth ain't always pretty, and that's the truth of it.

Even though I came willingly, It's felt like I have been stripped of all these things and people and places I love... these things that I have invested myself in. These things that have become a part of me. A large part of that has been community. And now I find myself in a position where I am trying to figure out how to operate without all of that... and in the midst of it I have found it really hard to separate myself from those things... It's as if God is saying, "I want you without that stuff. Those things are not your identity. I want you- I can't get to your heart, to your soul, to examine it with all that stuff in the way. Let them go for now. Let me see you."

So I've been trying to extract my arms from around these things that I love... and its hard. I know it will be worth it in the end though, so I'm trying and complying.

This has taken a variety of forms... but one of the things I noticed about myself, after months of job searching, is this lack of value and purpose in my life.... and thats a problem. It led to me questioning a lot about myself internally and externally... and my already low confidence in our being here was being run even more ragged. Thinner than a threadbare bedsheet. I looked in the mirror one morning (quite literally) and said to myself, "Where have you gone?".

I know I know- Jesus has a plan.

But I did not see it.

I quite truthfully still don't.

But what I did find in myself that morning was a frantically waving red flag urging me to find that extra umph that has been missing within my me-ness. And the little bit of me-ness that was in there shouted, "THIS IS NOT WHAT THE LORD HAS FOR YOU! HE WANTS YOU TO THRIVE. FIND YOUR UMPH!"

So I began looking for ways to build myself up.

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PART2


I've been finding things I enjoy doing, and trying to commit to them in increments. Like meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises.... all of which are helping me manage my anxiety a little bit more.
Somewhere in the midst of this I also started paying a lot of attention to the body positive (also affectionately known as #BOPO) movement. Now, I've been wanting to write about body positivity for a while now- So this part I am particularly excited for! 

I've had body image issues for most of my life, and definitely for all of my adult life. Having the lovely PCOS symptoms of rapid weight gain and resistance to losing weight has not been a confidence booster in this area either.... BUT, I recently started thinking back to when something in the way I viewed myself first started to shift more positively. It was when I went to college and started moving to cities with more diversity. I started seeing more women around me who looked like me. Not just in skin tone or sharing in being multi-racial / multi-ethnic, but in body type. I started seeing women who were my size and body type, or bigger than me, who had this amazing relationship with their bodies and carried around such boldness, positivity, self love, and encompassing love for others that was also accompanied by this fierceness and ability to dress beautifully and confidently. 

Moving (physically / geographically) back to where this kind of stuff was extremely hard for me when I was younger, where I had no confidence in myself or my body image.... I was letting that all creep back in. And when I realized that I was allowing this to happen as I am now an adult and years removed from this,  I grew a little angry with myself.

At the beginning of the year, hubby and I agreed we would only buy clothes for ourselves this year that we needed and actually liked and felt confident in when we wore it. If we didn't need it or didn't like it- then we wouldn't get it. So, when we go shopping for things we need, we don't just buy things cause we need them- we buy things cause we need it and it makes us feel good. If it looks like trash- we do NOT buy it. This has made some shopping trips extra long, but it has been so worth it. It was my first step in confidence this year. More recently, I started looking through instagram and following people who post about body positivity, who are also plus sized women of color, and who are honest and real on their instagram pages. This has been not only fashion inspiration, but also really uplifting to my spirit. There is something about seeing other people live out their physical, spiritual, and inner beauty that makes me more confident that maybe I can do that too.


Now onto the #HairInspiration!

I've been wanting to cut my hair or dye it. Part of me wanted to try something new like that lilac grey hair. Another part of me wanted to cut ALL of my hair off. That's right, all. I wanted to buzz it very short, like almost baldy short. Not because I had a distaste for my longer hair, but because it was time for a change. I've written on here before about how I feel a spiritual connection to the different ways I modify my body- be that tattoos, hair cuts / colors, piercings, etc... It was time for a change. I've been feeling weighed down and struggling to find my boldness.... I wanted to live loudly and boldly and not have to hide any aspects of who I am. I was starting to feel like instead of sharing my heart... I shield others from my passions, from things that I hold dear and who makeup who I am. I was starting to feel suffocated by this overwhelmingly large and looming thing that was saying that I couldn't be open about certain things I believe in or support around other people because of the context I find myself in.... And that is straight up trash.

Why should I hide any facets of who I am in 2018? Why should I care so much about how others will receive me? I was so focused on these things that they were impacting my ability to not just be bold, but to love myself. How can I find my boldness if I don't love my self? How can I love myself if I am so consumed with how others may choose to value or devalue me? They have no power unless I give it to them. If being myself makes others feel the need to devalue me, then those relationships are toxic and unnecessary.

So after a lot of back and forth in my head about whether or not I would look good as a baldy, I asked my sister if she would do my hair her length or shorter. She's going into the marines, and her hair is pretty short and she uses the clippers to do her hair herself.... So I asked. She didn't believe me at first, but when she realized I was serious she agreed to do it saying, "Well, I'll cut it longer than mine and then we can keep going shorter so we can see how you like it and stop wherever you want it!"

When the day came and I sat in that chair, I'll admit, I was sure of my choice, but still uncertain of the outcome.  My hair has been falling out and thinning along the sides and I've been getting not quite bald but thin spots thanks to either PCOS or stress. I'm fairly certain I have cowlicks and with short curly hair would it look alright? I had just handed the clippers to my almost 19 year old sister and said- "Go for it!"But honestly, if uncertain about the outcome, I still felt certain that the act would be liberating. I don't know how to describe it, I just knew deep down that I needed to do this to physically and symbolically get rid of all that stuff that I hide behind. As my sister cut my hair, I closed my eyes and let it all go.



When she told me to step out and check it out in the mirror, I knew I still had more hair than originally planned. When I looked in the mirror I was in shock. I loved what I saw. For the first time in a while, I felt excited about how I looked! Like, "uh huh baby I look great!" kinda good! I also felt a kind of freedom- no, empowerment- that has really been missing from my life for a while. My worries of having too fat of a face or not a round enough head disappeared.
My sister sat me back down and cleaned up the edges, and explained how to do the rest myself incase I decide to buzz it all off later, which I think I will do after rocking this for a little bit longer. I'm sure she thought I was crazy because of how overtly excited and exuberant I got from just that little peek in the mirror.
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PART3

So here I am a few weeks later, still thrilled about my hair.

The reactions to it have been mostly positive, although I have gotten a few funny looks and cries about cutting off my "glory", But I didn't do this for anyone else... and I think if there is anything that I want you to take away from this blogpost its that its ok to do something to empower yourself through your appearance. Appearance isn't everything, but you should be able to feel good about how you look and take pride in your appearance- regardless of your size or insecurities.

The body positive movement is really simple at its core- your body is your body, and its beautiful as is, and you should love it. As simple and as easy as that sounds, its really hard for a lot of people to truly live that out. And like with anything on instagram or other forms of social media, we usually only share the best parts of life- but those best parts CAN be used to encourage one another. I'm finding more people than I thought were doing this actually living a body positive lifestyle in real life. Does it mean they are positive all the time? No. Does it mean they never mess up or are negative about their body? No. It just means that they are striving to find the good in their body and appearance every day, that they are striving to lift others up and talk positively about their own (and others) body.

I love that the body positive movement celebrates all kinds of body types- from small to big, from disabled to able bodied, from light to dark skinned, from freckled to vitiligo.... it celebrates it all. And shouldn't we be able to celebrate that? I also love that it is changing some terminology- like fat being what it is, a description and a natural part of every body, but without a negative connotation. The word fat has been used as a weapon with means to hurt... which is ridiculous because everyone has some kinds of fat and consumes some kinds of fat, and there are many body types that are naturally bigger  that we target with such talk.

It's a lot easier to be happy doing hard things when you have love for and can like who and how you are. In addition, It's much easier to want to workout or to find joy in physical activity when you already love your body or feel positive about it. My outlook on my PCOS is naturally improved when I can still look at my body and say: "yes I have this thing, and it makes my body do things I don't necessarily like, but my body is still worthy of love and care. It is beautiful in its imperfection." Our perception of "skinny" doesn't equal healthy, just like our perception of "fat" doesn't always equal unhealthy. Being Body Positive means embracing who you are, despite societal praise or approval or disapproval as whats touted as beautiful (for you too, you fellas out there).

Your body is not something to hide behind, berate, teardown... by you or by others.

So, even if it means being controversial- I can say:

I love my brown eyes
my curly hair
my fat face
my round tummy
I love my weird ears
my freckles and moles
my skintags
my weird toes
I love my thunderthighs
my big breasts
my small hands
my sparse eyebrows
I love my body.
these imperfections
these flaws
these passions
these piercings and tats
these scars
these scabs
these funky brain waves
thoughts
and hair
I love it all
Its who I am
Its beautiful
I love my body.
It takes me where I need to go
Its the one I have
The one that houses me
Its my temple
Its not for others
It's my body
The one God gave me
the one thats mine
a gift
to be treasured
I love my body
and all that it is
regardless of what it will become
or what it has been
I love my body
and all thats within it.
BOPO- a poem


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Instagram Post: One of those days... A Fatigue Day




I’m having one of those days....

Where everything hurts and I’m sacked by a fatigue so strong that makes it hard to physically move around and makes for a foggy brain function. Shout out to my PCOS & Hormones for hitting me like a bullet train this morning. 

Hubby had a hard time waking me, and I’ve had a hard time staying awake. I’m not complaining- just being real. It’s been a while since I’ve had a day like this, so it kinda caught me by surprise. It’s more than just being tired πŸ˜“ and the reason I point that out is because I used to be that person that listened to my friends with chronic illness and disorders... I heard them, but never really understood. It’s not something you can really understand unless you’ve been there I think. I didn't until I was there myself!



But my intermittent bad days and hard days- this is everyday life for some people. It’s a reminder to pray for them, and a reminder to rely on God for strength and to continuously look to him for my day to day grace. I’m still working on that Blog Post that I told ya'll was coming about body positivity, so hopefully I’ll get it out later today! 
If I can’t, know it’s coming soon!


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Saturday, May 12, 2018

On This Mothers Day | Holding The Complexities Of Mothers Day


Image courtesy of Simon Dalmeri via Unsplash

{I know that some of you read that title and did a double take- 
TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of loss, infertility, and death.
Please consider leaving a comment below if you read to the end!}


Tomorrow is Mother's Day....

The day that we celebrate and honor our mom's and shower them with a little extra love can be sweet memory makers... or it can be a day full of complex emotions. I've been blessed to have a decent relationship with my mama- something I know not everyone is able to say. This is at the forefront of my mind as I think of a friend with a complicated relationship with their mother, and as I think of the children of my husbands cousin who lost their mother earlier this month. There is both that to remember, that to celebrate, and yet that to grieve tomorrow.

This year is the first in a long while that I get to celebrate and celebrate with my mom and my mother-in-law. We've been out of state for the majority of our dating and marriage, so this is kind of a big deal. It also comes on the heels of a major surgery for my mom, so I'm thanking Jesus a little extra for her this Mother's Day. Last night, Freddie and I joined her to see Avengers: Infinity War to celebrate Mother's Day. Go ahead and laugh, but if there is one thing I know about my mom its that she likes action and superhero movies! Sure, we've had our ups and downs like any other relationship I suppose, but Mothers Days haven't ever really been of the tense variety for me.

That is... until last year.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, than you know that a little over a year ago I found out that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), and I have written quite a bit about the things I struggle with in relation to that... But I have never really written openly and honestly about this particular aspect of that: Infertility.

When I went to that appointment to find out what was going on with me, I thought I was either having an ectopic pregnancy, or maybe even a miscarriage. To be honest, I was just scared. I had been suffering from a ton of health issues leading up to that, and I was kind of expecting the worst. I had read about PCOS, and all the things that could come with it. The diagnosis was not surprising.... yet I was shell shocked. We had been talking about getting pregnant... so to hear that this could be harder for me (I even had a doctor tell me I might not be able to have kids at all, which isn't really true), was pretty hard. What made the following Mother's Day so difficult was that word- infertility - and the fact that this desire to become a mother had been growing so strongly within me.

After that diagnosis... all of the children and mothers in my life, through friendship & work, had become painful reminders to me of not just my desire to be a mom, but that which I was lacking. It was also a painful reminder that something was wrong with me- my body wasn't working right.
Because I worked with so many mothers and children, and so many women in my life were pregnant or had kids, I did all I could to push those feelings down and away. I didn't know how to healthily work through them, and I certainly couldn't just cut all of these people out of my life. I didn't know how to talk about it, It seemed too taboo. It was exhausting. So on mothers day... it all came to a boiling point. 

I did my best to be happy at church, to hug every last little one. I even had my picture taken with some of the kids as we were doing Mother's Day photos for the mom's and someone wanted me in a picture with the kids since I was a "spiritual" mother. I appreciate that photo so much now, but at the time it was a pinprick on my heart... and I couldn't wait for it to be over. All day long I felt like I was wearing the word "infertility" across my forehead, and "barren" across my waist. It was all in my head of course... but the fragility was so real. Church was so difficult that day. I wanted to run out of the building. I wanted to go home and hide in my bed in a nest of pillows and blankets. I didn't know how to talk with anyone in church about it, so I avoided anything but pleasantries to keep my heart from breaking in two.



Later that night, after calling my own mother (states away), I let everything crash down. I gave myself room to grieve. I yelled at God. I tried to understand his purpose in it all... I couldn't. I sobbed through prayers for a long time in the shower. I didn't know how I was going to keep doing what I was doing with this weight on my heart. I love kids... I love mothers... I love church... and to try and hold that as well as such pain and confusion around if I would ever get to have my own kids, experience pregnancy, and live out the role of mother... It was a day I had to decide whether or not I would allow all of this to make me bitter. I chose against bitterness, and at the same time recognized that feeling these things and letting them run their course was probably the healthiest thing I could do.

This Mothers Day, I am a bit more removed from those feelings and working through this part in my journey to motherhood in a more healthy way. Still, Mother's Day comes with a handful of complexities for me. I am a lot closer geographically to my mom and my mother-in-law, so I get to enjoy spending time with them. I have grown in appreciation for spiritual mothering, and have been able to provide that to some who really needed it and to celebrate those who have provided that for me myself... Yet, unlike some will say, that doesn't fulfill this desire for children.

I find myself walking the tension between joyously celebrating / honoring my own mom and the women in my life who are also very much deserving celebrating, and this deep rooted desire that comes with questions and a little sadness and the reminder that I need to be ok with possibly never being in the biological role of mother... which to me, feels like a loss. And as I write these words now, I know I am not the only person who will have this kind of tension on mothers day. I might tear up tomorrow, I might be totally fine. Some of you may cry in the shower this weekend... That's ok.

I am learning to hold the complexities of Mother's Day in my hands. I am learning to let God lead me through these feelings and emotions that can be hard to express and understand. Motherhood is something to both celebrate, and yet can be something to grieve. Unfortunately, while our society has become a little more open about discussing issues pertaining to women, we still brush past things like infertility, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, still births... all of which can be very hard to be vulnerable about and unhealthy to try and work through alone, or even just with a spouse. I dream of a day where these things are not taboo or shameful, but openly discussed and talked about just as much as motherhood is celebrated both in society as a whole and in church.

One thing that I have found helpful is not just being able to talk to my own mother and family about these things, but becoming more open about my own struggles in church and random conversations with other women so that maybe they can be empowered or encouraged to open up as well. People don't always understand, which sometimes hurts just as much-  so use wisdom- but I'm in a place now where I am more compelled to share because I don't want someone else to have to go it alone or feel like there is no one who can support them in this part of their journey. Jesus is present in this too.

So today, the day before Mother's Day, I have prayers for those who will struggle through tomorrow.

"I pray for those who have lost a mother, whether that be due to a death, a lack of relationship, or a loss of relationship- 

I pray for those women who have lost a child, to a natural death, to gun violence, to drugs, to miscarriage or still birth, to loss of relationship-

I pray for those women who are still praying for their miracle baby, their rainbow baby, for things promised and prophesied-
I pray for those men who have lost and are grieving the mother of their children with their children-
May you hear the Lord tomorrow, and feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit
May you know in your heart of hearts and deep down in your soul
That Jesus is with you
He sees you
He knows you
all of your desires
all of those promises 
And the things that are broken
He longs to make them right
May you know his spirit
Stronger than ever tomorrow
And may he reveal himself to you
In a life changing way."
-A Prayer for those torn on Mothers Day

Me and my mama <3

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Instagram Post: Luna Bar Quotes On Greatness


via IFTTT

Luna Bar reiterating lessons I’ve been having pop up over the past couple of weeks...
And by popped up, I really mean that it feels like ‘lessons yelled at me’.
Lessons like this are hard to swallow these days, as I’m feeling pretty uncomfortable in almost all aspects of life right now... and it’s been that way for a while. Do you know the feeling of being uncomfortable in your own life? It’s not pleasant. It’s awkward. It’s like going through puberty all over again, or learning a new culture that was supposed to be your own.

It’s u-n-c-o-m-f-o-r-t-a-b-l-e.

BUT... HOWEVER.... IN THE MIDST....

I find myself thinking, “ok God, you better be doing something freaking amazing up there!” And I know that He is. He’s moving behind the scenes and doing all the things that only He can do. He’s offering peace in the midst of the uncomfortable messes I see around me and within me. He’s offering love and a hand to steady me. And in its own way... that is enough for me. I don’t want to admit that because I want the uncomfortable messes to lessen and cease, but I know that walking with Him has never steered me wrong and has always kept me and made sure I had what I truly needed.

Can I be honest?

Following Jesus is difficult.

ESPECIALLY when you are committed to authenticity in relationships and not just faking your way through religion and religiously just backpacking it through life.

Jesus is enough. Life is hard.

And these things and paradoxes can coexist in the same space and not cancel each other out.

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