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Who run the world?

The 5 women who have inspired me.. whoa. That’s a really long list to narrow down. Lately, there have been some heavy influences from some amazing women, luckily, I’m able to call the majority of them my friends. Oh, I didn’t put my Mom on this list, mostly because I would turn into a pile of tears and keel over sobbing. She’s pretty freaking great and I love her a whole bunch.

I’m going to start off by talking about two of these women because not only do they know each other, but they do incredible things for people.

alexis_meg

Meg Fagundes.

Meg, sassy as ever.

Meg, sassy as ever.

THIS WOMAN. Okay, so Meg’s been through it and back, and is one of the people that I’m so grateful to know. We met at the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit last summer when my friend and I introduced ourselves on the dance floor the last night of the conference. She’s an MFT who is working toward her doctorate and who works with inmates and juvenile sex offenders. I’ve never felt so welcome, so accepted and excited to know someone. We kept in touch afterward and lucky for me, she lives in San Diego which is only a couple of hours away. She has invited me into her house, trusted me to keep her kid and cat children safe for a couple weeks while she was out of the country and has allowed me to use her as my go-to yoga resource. She is incredibly open about her struggles and her life, and you’ll feel like a better person just because you know her. If it sounds like I’m gushing, it’s because I am.

Meg, I know you’re going to read this, and I can’t even put into words how happy I am to consider you family. You’ve made me laugh/cry, you’ve inspired the courage I needed to get back into the yoga studio time and time again, you’ve made me cry in public countless times and you excepted me for who I am from day one. haha, I’m crying in public as I type this, I shouldn’t even be surprised. You’ve inspire me so much, and you’ve supported me through so much this past year whether you knew it or not. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey, just as much as you are a part of mine. You are one of the most honest, caring, open, accepting, loving, hilarious, generous, cultured, well-read, silly, dorky, appreciative, driven, diligent, and well-respected humans I know. I love you foreverrrrr, and I promise to bring cookies every time I come visit.

Meg’s TEDxWomen talk: http://youtu.be/81hy3AZjkr4

Alexis Jones.

alexis

Alexis, she really is that girl.

This fantastic woman created I AM THAT GIRL, which is pretty much the coolest non-profit geared to making sure that women and girls know their worth. She’s incredibly well spoken, caring and genuine. Her book, I AM THAT GIRL, is also part of the reason she’s on this list. If there is any book I recommend to women of all ages, it’s this one. It’s not a self-help book, it’s not an inspirational book, it’s a book that will knock you on your ass while firing up the drive to go out, kick ass at life and take names. She spoke on the same panel as Meg did at the summit I attended… along with Sophia Bush, Yael Cohen of FUCK CANCER. I sat near the front of the room, but off to the side, thankfully. I ended up quietly crying throughout the entire thing. These women who aren’t much older than me sat there and told me that no matter what, I am just fine the way I am and that I can do whatever the hell I wanted. It was the talk the best friends and sisters have when times are hard. Talk about an inspirational panel. When I found out that she was also writing book, I made sure to hunt it down within two days of it hitting shelves. I have her words tattooed on my arm because her words are powerful. They shocked and spoke to me as I read the very first sentence of her book. I am so grateful that I was able to cross paths with her, even if we didn’t actually get to meet each other at that event. It’s the little things you say and the small gestures that matter, and I hope she knows just how much she’s hit home with the girls and women who have read that book.

Oh, and that TEDx talk that Meg spoke at? Guess who hosted? Yeah, Alexis. I know, right? How cool are my friends.

IATG_shoutout

This happened too, I still can’t get over it.

Okay, now on the rest… let’s hope I can stop crying in this Starbucks. haha, who am I kidding.

Jaclyn Mullen.

jaclyn

Talk about a self-made powerhouse. I met J at a day long seminar called Women Empowered that Stephanie (read about her a little later) invited me to. She has become a one woman marketing machine and is really really good at what she does. Not only does she work with her own clients, but she’s a jet-setter who hosts small seminars all over LA and around the world. At the event, she retweeted something I posted and I introduced myself later that day. We exchanged information and made sure to stay in contact. She has become one of my biggest supports and cheerleaders as I work toward starting my own business and building the life I want doing what I love. To say that I’m excited to see her on Saturday is an understatement, and there aren’t enough good things I can say about her. I am so happy she’s in my corner and that I decided to say hi to her that day, she’s been a game changer.

Stephanie Rudat

I love women who laugh.

I love women who laugh.

I randomly started following her on Twitter after seeing her posts retweeted by another account… fast forward to a year-ish later when I got the meet her. I was on Twitter while at Fourth Estate and I saw that Stephanie posted that she was there as well – I knoooow, three of these women all came into my life the same weekend… I can’t deal with it either. We tweeted each other a couple times until we were able to figure out a good time to sneak out of the main hall and meet up. I remember standing there trying so hard not to fangirl all over the place. I love strong, outspoken women, especially when they use their voices for justice and to help others. Stephanie is key in that. She’s not afraid to speak about the causes and organizations she’s involved with. We talked for nearly a half hour and I realized that I had just met one of the coolest, most daring women ever. She’s been a catalyst for different organizations, she’s super supportive of those around her and she’s not afraid to speak out against injustice all over the world. She’s freaking great.

I’m running out of words to express how amazing all of these women are… I still have one more!

Brittany Gibbons.

fierceness, embodied.

fierceness, embodied.

I have always ALWAYS had issues when it comes to body image and how I view myself. It’s gotten a hell of a lot better the last couple years, but it’s still such a journey. I am so grateful to be a part of a HUGE community of women that have been brought together by this woman via Facebook. The amount of acceptance and similarities between all of us in that group is staggering and in our tiny little internet world, Brittany is our fearless leader. She’s been a source of inspiration for countless women (and I’m sure guys too) because she’s a bad ass. She’s not afraid to have fun, to talk about the weird stuff, to express how hard she loves and is a fantastic writer. In reading through her website I’ve taken a few steps forward on my rough journey of self-acceptance. I bought a bikini for the first time ever and wore it this summer. Twice. That’s the first time I’ve worn a bathing suit in a decade. I’ve learned that no matter what you look like, what size you wear, what color your hair is or where you work, you’re worthy of love, respect – from yourself and others, and you’re worthy of great things. I can’t thank her enough and I really hope that I’ll be able to go to the grown up summer camp that she hosts so I can hug her and say thank you.

Brittany’s TEDxBGSU talk: http://youtu.be/81hy3AZjkr4

—-

I could go on and on about these five courageous woman, but I can’t today. I’m out of words and I don’t want to ugly cry in public. I love you all so much, thank you a million for all the advice, support and comfort you’ve given me. I am forever indebted to you all.

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fat.

Fat.

I don’t remember the first time the word was said to me. I don’t know if I overheard someone saying it, using it to describe me, or if it was a self-directed jab.

I wish I knew.
I wish I knew where that feeling came from.
I wish I knew so that I could make it stop.

With the exception of when I was born and the few months after, I was never a small person. I was taller, I was bigger, I was faster, I was stronger. When I was younger, and sometimes still, I just wanted to fit in, to swim with the rest of the fish and not stick out. I wanted to wear the same clothes, to not feel like a fish out of water constantly.. and to not be in the middle of every class or team picture because I was the tallest. I just wanted to be in the front row and play shortstop, not in the middle of the back row and stuck out in the outfield because no one could hit that far, you know?

I was made fun of a lot growing up, but I never considered myself bullied, and I think that’s partly because people were just talk, they never put their words into actions because I was a head taller. There were some mean kids, and they said mean things, and I’m extremely lucky that I don’t remember a lot of it. I don’t know if I just pushed it from accessible memory, or if it was more self-imposed than anything.

In our culture, the word “fat” carries so many things. It carries strife and anxiety. It carries fear and self-hatred. It carries a feeling of inadequacy and self-loathing. I really don’t like it. In Spanish, when you’re called “Gordit@” as a kid, it’s more of a factual statement. Sometimes its even a term of endearment from your grandma, but in English… nope, not so much.

Being called fat did a lot of subtle damage, I’m finding. I’m still trying to get over and through my own struggles with my body and how it does, or doesn’t, work, and it’s hard. Very hard, actually. The one thing I have learned is that no matter how hard it is, taking even a tiny step forward and out of the shadow of a word is breathtaking in all the right ways.

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27.

There is less than three weeks until I turn 28.

I won’t lie and say that 27 was easy, it was anything but that. To put it lightly, 27 was:
– scary.
– an adventure.
– hilarious.
– terrifying.
– sleep deprived.
– the worst.
– not so bad.
– a learning experience.
– stupid.
– funny.
– stressful.
– enlightening.
– annoying.
– eye opening.
– frustrating.
Most of all, it was a year for me to grow. It has been my year to figure some shit out, to explore, to experience, to learn, to get rid of the things (and in some cases, people) that made me feel awful, and it’s been the year where I’ve really learned what I like about life, myself and those that I choose to spend time with.

It hasn’t been my favorite, but it’s been a hell of a roller coaster. My birthday is May 1, but the real roller coaster started in January of 2013. Here’s a quick run down of the last 15 months:

January 2013: got fired on my Tia’s birthday from the place I worked at for almost 3 years for reasons that baffle me still.
February/March (it all blends together): went to a lot of basketball games, had fun at the LBSU men’s basketball end of season banquet, and was removed from a bridal party for reasons that still don’t make sense.
April: finalized all my plans and bought all other necessary things for my NYC/Euro-adventure. Panicked about the trip. Went to Jewels of the Night and had an interesting time, but it was fun nonetheless. Switched from android to iPhone.
May: turned 27, had a nice dinner with family, prepped for the trip. Got scared about the trip, wondered if it was even a good idea anymore, worried about money, stressed so much I caused spasms in back that we’re so debilitating it hurt to breathe, and then I flew to New York City on the red eye out of Long Beach on my Mom’s birthday. Spent four amazing days with The City. Went to The Great Googa Mooga festival in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Saw my friend Kristin and my old teammate Roy. Explored with my German housemates. Got blisters. Lots of them. Flew to Venice, Italy and arrived to a happy Jen and Scott who housed me for a week and showed me parts of the world that I continually long for. Saw and tasted Parma, Bassano del Grappa, Marostica, Vicenza, Verona and Venice before flying into Alicante, Spain on May 30. Surprised my friend Elissa for her hen night. Made amazing international friends, saw people I hadn’t seen in 15+ years, laughed, had awkward conversations, used more Spanish in two days than I had in 15+ years of bilingual-ness, ate, and drank amazing things.
June: saw Elissa marry the most excellent man, danced, ate, laughed, drank (a lot – hey, it was a wedding), fell in love with rosé, went shopping, hugged and loved the family I felt like I lost for what felt like forever. Panicked over inaccessible internet and train tickets, stopped sleeping well. Took a train up the coast of Spain from Alicante to Barcelona. Freaked out due to exhaustion, being alone in a new city, and a fiasco involving my phone not working, the keys to the place I was staying and communication that wasn’t working. Met my new hosts, talked about Vampire Weekend over dinner. Explored nearly all of Barcelona on foot, took a bunch of pictures, realized I was okay on my own, fell in love with speaking Spanish and in turn lost my thought that “I wasn’t good enough to use the language.” Bought a second suitcase, packed and flew back to NYC after 4 days in Barcelona. Ate/drank the most delicious burger and beer in T5 of JFK while waiting for my flight. Got home to Long Beach late and was hungry (I know, right?)… Went to IHOP and devoured an omelette. I missed American breakfast. Slept off my jet lag, came down with a serious case of wanderlust and discovered Bikram yoga and the amazing benefits of it.
July: relay for life. Andy and Tori got married!
August: went to Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Summit, met amazing people, realized that I needed to work somewhere or do something I loved. Figured out what I’m scared of overnight. Reconnected with the best gal pal a girl could ask for in Andrea, net Thomas, (Andrea and my 18 year old boyfriend at 4E), met someone I looked up to and established a great friendship and semi-mentor. Got a job supporting video games via social media. Loved the social media side, hated the hours (graveyard), the dead-end-ness of the job and the content and attitude of the games and the customers.
September: renewed my season tickets for LBSU men’s basketball, worked, understood how offensive some people are in the gaming industry, started job hunting again, became better friends with an old coworker from the bookstore.
October: slept 10 hours over the course of week, had a migraine the majority of the month, went to Artisinal LA and had a blast, met The Fancy Boyz and made fast friends with them and other bakers. Realized that the money I had put away to help me start my baking project was still there and it was there for me to use to build my dream. Slept, worked. Realized that just because you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, you’re not exactly obligated to stay friends with them when your life goes different directions or your belief sets don’t really match up.
November: basketball season!, homecoming, spent more time with friends, went to San Diego and realized how awesome Meg and Jake are, slept, worked,
December: slept, worked, looked for jobs, did yoga in my backyard, went to basketball games, Christmas, realized that missed enjoyable holiday celebrations, my friend Scott passed away.
January 2014: worked, slept, went to basketball games, went to San Francisco for Scott’s funeral and was lackey enough to have one of my best friends go with me, had incredible amounts of fun on the first roadtrip I have taken since the car accident in 2004, sent a really dumb text message to the wrong person and inadvertently found out where I stood with them, was let go from work, job hunted full time.
February: more basketball, met one of the dad’s of a player when he was trying to upgrade his ticket and I had extra, had fun, did yoga, looked for jobs, didn’t get a job because they thought the reason I was fired a year ago was weird, was reaaaalllllyyy mad/pissed/frustrated/annoyed that place was still haunting me.
March: basketball! Went to the Veronica Mars PaleyFest panel and then went to opening day of the VM movie the next day with Latoya, laughed a lot, watched more basketball, left for two weeks in San Diego house sitting and hanging out with Sabrina, Meg’s daughter.
April: reconnected with basketball teammates from high school over great food in San Diego, came home from SD, saw my cousin, his wife and their daughter while they were in town for a Disneyland trip, had a promising interview and hung out with Latoya, all in a matter of a week.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to a graduation party, a bridal shower, Artisinal LA, applying for my DBA for my baking project and getting the ball rolling for the job I WANT while searching for one that I need to pay my bills. Then I turn 28 and open myself up for even more adventure, travel excursions, fun and whatever else might come my way. I’m looking forward to this year a whole bunch. I hope it’s as good to me as this last one has been.

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Ooooops

This week has been a bit stressful, and in order to do the things I needed to get done, I had to neglect my blog. I’ve missed the last couple prompts of “on my mind,” “something beginning with ‘i,'” and “chair.” Today’s prompt is “fly” and surprisingly, it seems like waiting to write these all at once makes a lot more sense.

This past week has been spent stressing over a cover letter for a job application. This isn’t just any job to me, it’s a start in a new direction, a way into a world that I have finally realized is the right one for me, and a chance to live a little out of the ordinary. I already have an insane hatred of cover letters, and in some cases I don’t really understand the point. In others, like this one, I get it, but I instantly become the most insecure, incapable person while trying to sell myself in a half page letter that is supposed to convince a stranger to take a chance, interview and possibly hire me. No pressure, right?

So that’s what has been on my mind the last week, from last Thursday til now. Why now? Because I just sent it in. I sent in my application, and the only thing that I can do is hope that this amazing website takes a chance on me. Hell, I probably should just send them this blog entry and be like, “see? I right good.”

Back to the point, cover letters have been “on my mind” because I was stressing over this application, my “i” words are insecure and incapable because no matter how good at something I know I am, that fear creeps when I have to explain why I think I’m going to be the person they want in said cover letters.

That leaves “chair” from yesterday, and “fly” for today’s post. Here’s my set up at a local Starbucks:

My laptop, water, a drink, crumpled napkins, snack bags, my phone, chargers, and most importantly, the chair that has been my home for the past couple hours while I tried to hammer this out. This chair has been my inspiration to get this done because it’s terrible for my back and incredibly uncomfortable. The sooner I got my stuff done, the sooner I don’t have to sit in it. Makes sense, right?

I’ll write my post for today a bit later, I need to take a break. I need to let my brain calm down and do some yoga to help recover from all this sitting. I’m also not going to post where I applied or anything about the job, because in case something comes of it, I know I’ll be incredibly superstitious about it. If the reviewing parties read this post, thanks for looking into what I’m all about. I hope you like me!

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I’m lumpy. Part 1

What we see in the mirror isn’t always what other people see.
Most people know this.
Some people are vocal about the varying degrees of body issues, how it affects them and how they see themselves.
Others are not.

I’ve had varying views of myself, each of which have become more and more ingrained as I’ve gotten older.

Remember this? It was blue for boys and pink for girls and it was so nicely marked up by your pediatrician when you were younger… most people fit in all of these ranges just fine, some are on the smaller end, and some, like me, are literally off the charts. I’ve always known that I was taller and bigger than most people my age, but when I was younger, it was much more measurable. That top set of lines regards height. That top line is the 95th percentile. I never remember a time when I wasn’t about an inch above that. A head taller than the chart… and my classes until about 7th grade when the guys started catching up. 
Because of this, I was made fun of a lot and never really knew how to handle it. Sorry I was tall? It’s not like I could really control how fast I grew. By the time I was 9, I was 5’2″ the same height as my aunt (although she’ll say she’s 5’2.75″) and taller than my 4th grade teacher. At this point, I just wished I could blend in and be unseen. I was growing so fast that I ended up breaking a bone in my foot after I did a cartwheel because the connective tissue in my feet was so stretched out. In other words, my body couldn’t keep up with itself.  
Here’s an example.

1989. I was three. My cousin Catherine is 3 years older than me and we were practically the same size. We were/are still incredibly cute.

Anyway, I never really understood why I had to be the one to grow insanely tall. By 5th grade, I wore the same size clothes and shoes as my mom and was nearly the same height. Getting teased about my height has always been something I’ve encountered, even now at 27. “Wow you’re so tall.” is something I get more often than I’d like to admit. It’s one of those comments that you don’t really know how to react to because it’s not like you don’t know how tall you are, but you don’t want to be rude.

I still don’t really know why I grew so fast. I guess my body knew it was meant for big things? Growing that fast hurts, literally. Growth spurts, growing pains, all those things people talk about are real things. My joints ached, my body hurt so bad I could barely walk at times and there were many years of just general discomfort. I still have a lot of those same pains, partly due to so many injuries, which can come from growing so fast. My limbs are extra bendy and like to sprain themselves or dislocate for fun. Luckily not as often as when I was still playing sports, but often enough that it’s annoying. Either way, I have always had an issue with my height. Sometimes I feel like I’m too tall, sometimes like I’m not tall enough. No matter, it’s always been a struggle. In addition to my height, I have shoulders like a lineman, calves for DAYS that never fit in pants or boots and big feet. I don’t like it, I still struggle with how I look a lot, and like most, have good and bad days. A lot of how I view(ed) myself comes from a feeling of inadequacy, something that haunts me even still. I’ve never felt good enough. I used those feelings to drive myself deeper into sports, practicing longer and harder than my teammates, measuring success anyway I could until I would get hurt. Without that to identify with any more, I don’t feel whole, and that inadequacy comes sneaking back in. I beat myself up for a lot that I shouldn’t, but I’ll never really say what or when. Just know that it’s a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

——–

Fast forward through puberty when things didn’t seem to be going like other girls I knew, if you get my drift. Everything odd with my body was blamed on the fact that I “was an athlete” and the constant practice and exercise was affecting how my body was developing and cycling away. Okay, that’s fine, no 15 year old wants to have her period anyway. As I got older, especially after I stopped competing when I was 21, I knew something was up. My body was not doing what it should, what it should self-regulate to do after a decrease in strenuous activity, something wasn’t right.
Go to the doctor, right?
CANT.
I was 24 and no longer covered under my mom’s insurance. HOORAY. So let’s fast forward again, after college when I was employed at a (terrible) place that offered insurance. As soon as my insurance papers were turned in, I started researching local doctors because I had to find out what was wrong. During that last fast forwarding, I researched different things that could be wrong with me, scaring the bejesus out of myself in the process. I scheduled my physical and waited what seemed like forever until the appointment.

My doctor is amazing, and upon hearing the details of how things had never really be consistent and what I had been told (the athlete comment), she wanted to run a wider scope on my blood panel and see if that would tell us what was going on. Well, it didn’t. Along with the fact that I’ve never really been able to lose weight, she was tipped off by my slightly off cholesterol levels and high triglycerides. She explained what she thought it might be, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had seen this diagnosis thrown around when I was looking things up, but steered away from it because I didn’t have a lot of the outward symptoms (Mayo Clinic description). She requested that I get a pelvic ultrasound (ugh) to see if that could tell us anything about the state of my ovaries.

It did. When I got up from the chair, the screen was still up and I saw a version of this:

I knew exactly what that meant.

Here’s some reference for you healthy ovary folks or the ovary-less:

This post is getting insanely long, so I’m going to stop here, because I think it’s a good stopping point, and I need to get back to work. I’ll add to this soon, probably in a second post, because there was a lot that came with finally being diagnosed.

xx