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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

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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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My momma told me….

Today’s post is getting up a little later than I had planned, but oh well, at least it’s there. There was a brief discussion on this topic late last night in CGG and I thought today would be a good day to write about it myself.

Things you wish your mother would have told you about body image

Yuck. Already, just ugh. I don’t want to write about this, but luckily, my mom is pretty rad and we talked about some of it the other day after Brittany posted the prompts, and well, I’m doing it.

1. My idea of beauty will be ever changing

I wish I had understood this concept a lot earlier. I’ve only realized it the last year or so when I started seeing how cruel we can be to ourselves and each other. As I’ve gotten older, and stronger, I realize that beauty isn’t something that one person can truly define. It’s a collection of things, of intangible, wonderful, driving things. I can tell you what it isn’t. Beauty isn’t a thigh gap. It isn’t perfectly shaped and sculpted eyebrows.

Beauty doesn’t give a shit about the clothes you wear because it finds a way to show itself by the light in your eyes.. there’s nothing you can do about it.

2. Varicose and Spider Veins run in our family and they’re awful

I think I always knew that I had a predisposition for these things, but it never really sunk in. Varicose and spider veins can plague someone for different reasons. They both can come from injury, standing for long periods of time, and about a million other reasons. I posted about being lumpy before (here and here) but this is a different kind of thing. Varicose veins can be painful and they’re part of the reason I don’t like wearing shorts. They’re weird and lumpy and really really veiny. Spider veins look kind of cool, but like, not really. They’re red, purpley things. Sometimes they look like spiders, or their webs, or sometimes they just leave nasty coloring around your ankles that makes you self conscious. I’ve been debating whether or not I should look into getting the varicose ones removed, the procedure has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and it’s not supposed to be as crazy and painful as it used to be, so who knows… I have to figure if it’s really worth it first.. Spoiler alert: it probably isnt.

3. Shopping is not nearly as fun as they make it seem on TV. 

Getting new clothes is never really something I look forward to because the process of going to 23847942 stores and trying on 238746709325892470 things until I’m red and sweaty is roughly 0% appealing at any given time. Granted, sometimes you luck out and you try something that surprises you (like I did at Old Navy a week ago!) but that is RARELY the case. US sizing is so odd. It’s just a bunch of arbitrary numbers that are supposed to make sense, but they really don’t. I wish we used more of a UK/European way of sizing clothing, and you know, like, just used the actual measurements of something because then it would be consistent and shopping wouldn’t be such a bitch all the time. I mean, it probably still would be, but I think a lot of the stress would disappear. 

 

Anyway, I’m off to have dinner with my psuedo grandpa on his birthday and enjoy the start of my weekend.. Here’s to writing more and enjoying the weekend. xo.

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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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If beauty didn’t matter, I would…

Sports broadcasting, in a heart beat. 

Crystina Poncher! Go Beach!

As I read through the different prompts that Brittany posted for this month’s Write Your Face Off, I knew the answer to this one without a question and knew it had to be my first real entry.

The idea that a woman can know and understand the world of sports is still incredibly foreign to a lot of people, and if, for some reason they should be on TV talking about it, they should basically be runway models. I was an athlete. I lived and breathed the different sports I played, and to think that I am not worthy enough to talk about them, intelligently because I am a regular woman is beyond my realm of thinking.

When you’re a young girl who plays basketball, or soccer, or runs track, who do you look up to? What happens when you’re watching a football or basketball game and your sideline reporters are gorgeous, pencil thin women who can (sometimes) hold their own with the material, but when you look in the mirror and you don’t see the same type of person that’s on tv? What happens to that dream? It’s pushed aside. It becomes an afterthought. Maybe radio or a columnist… but really, why would they take you seriously? 

I may not like Erin Andrews’ voice, but I have nothing against her… I just wish I could have her job. Yes, I will continue to watch her and other women (like the awesome Long Beach State alum Crystina Poncher) interview the players and coaches and give analysis, but it’s always with a tinge of envy. Not in a cruel way, but because I know that dream of mine was fleeting and won’t come to fruition.

Luckily, I have a few more dreams.. and I am in the process of pursuing a couple of them because they don’t rely on the social constructs of what women should look like… it’s pretty rad.

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OMG We’re back again….

Yes, I really did just name this post after a Backstreet Boys song. Hate all you want.

Thanks to a lucky new friend who’s also a budding writer, I’m back in the writing groove. I’ve decided to start a bit of writing challenge, so you’ll see some clumps of posts go up over the next couple days, and then hopefully just daily after that.

This writing challenge is mostly about the body and body image and I couldn’t be more grateful that it came around now. Here’s the link if you want to join.. Brittany, herself: August Write Your Face Off

First few posts are going up tomorrow.. And they’ll most definitely be out of the order they’re listed in, so enjoy :)

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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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Be nicer.

Friends come and go, some relationships are in and out like the tide and others are just perfect all the time.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a lot of different interactions with different friends, and it’s been good for my soul. Some I see often, and others not so much. There’s something about being able to call/text someone you haven’t seen in months, figure out a time to visit and realize that although time has passed, that friendship is still strong.

Not many people know, but I was asked to be in a wedding this summer, and then about a month or so after I lost my job, was “un-asked” to be in the wedding. I did my best to take it in stride, wedding parties are hard to nail down, and things do change, but when you’re told that “you just aren’t a good enough friend” after helping pick out the bridesmaid dresses and help with other things, it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve come to terms with it, and while it sucks, I really don’t want to have people who push me out around. It was an eye-opening moment, even though I was terribly upset and irritated for a week or so. I hadn’t had something like that happen since high school when my friends said I wasn’t living enough of a “peaceful existence” to be friends with them. Basically, it was that I didn’t listen to the same music they did. (I know, right!?)

I felt like I was kicked while I was down, and I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t get angry, well… I did, but not in the way I expected. I figured I’d get all huffy and puffy, cuss a lot and throw things like I used to, but I didn’t. I was calm, I was sad, I was hurt more than anything, and most of all, I was disappointed. I’m not sure if I was disappointed in the actions of the other person, or in myself for “not being a better friend.” Looking back, I was just fine. I went out of my way to hang out, and help, and be around for happy hour and whatnot. I was there and I was present. The only things I couldn’t control were the feelings and mindset of the other person in the situation.

Nevertheless, that good ol’ comforting feeling of inadequacy crept in and started to degrade every part of me. Was I not wealthy enough? Was I too tall? Too large? Too unemployed? Too everything? I realized I was beating myself up left and right for reasons that I can’t really explain. None of this was my fault, but I made sure that I felt like it was, which made me more angry. This time, at myself. I shouldn’t be forcing myself to feel this way. I need to stop. Soon.

That inadequacy hung around until I went to Europe. Not while I was in New York, but the minute I landed in Europe. I’ve never been greeted with such sincerity, such compassion and lack of judgement. I was afraid that I’d be seen as a typical American, and that was my biggest fear. Luckily, I wasn’t. I was accepted, I was comfortable and I felt better about myself. Some friends of mine think I’m crazy when I say that I’ve never been complimented so much while I was in Europe, but it’s so true. Compliments here are usually a bit backhanded, “even though you’re so tall, I love your calves.” or, the best one ever, “you know, for a bigger girl, you dress really well.” I’m sorry, what? I can’t just have a nice style or something? I don’t know, I guess I don’t get it, but I don’t understand why we can’t just say a nice thing without cutting each other down at the same time. In Spain, I was told I was beautiful and intriguing by many people, friends and strangers alike (mostly at the wedding I was at so it wasn’t totally creepy). As soon as I landed at JFK before my connection home, I had to remind myself that I wouldn’t hear those things anymore. That I wasn’t the same person here, that I wouldn’t be received the same. So, sorry if I’m a little cautious when someone compliments me… I just don’t really believe it.

This post is kind of a whirlwind, but it all kind of came from this post by Everyday Feminism that seriously had me in tears while I read it. The idea that I’m a horrible person because I’m not tiny is ridiculous. I do my best to eat right and exercise, but no matter what I do, I don’t actually lose weight. My body starts to look different, but the scale doesn’t change. I can’t really help this, so I’m doing my best. I’m smart, I’m educated, I’m funny, I’m limitless and I’m loyal, but to a lot of people, I’m lazy, ugly, careless, undisciplined and whatever else you want to add to the list. Deep down, I know I’m not those things, but after years of hearing them, it’s hard to break a habit like that.

I’m not quite sure how to close this entry, other than downright begging people to be kinder and genuinely nicer to someone. If you compliment someone, do it with authenticity. Be genuine. Tell them why, not just “you look nice,” but why they caught your eye. It’s important, and we need to start doing it more. To each other and to ourselves… because, as Alexis Jones of I Am That Girl put it at Fourth Estate, if people knew the way we all talked to ourselves, they’d be appalled. Be nicer.