Fat Activism Conference

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In which she falls apart

I haven’t been writing. I could write lines and lines of why that is and not a single one would matter really. Tonite I write in search of something; solace, substance, truth, peace… It feels incredibly selfish in light of all that goes on around me to focus on what I’m learning about myself and why that matters, and it is. But it does, matter, that is.

It’s been exactly five months since I left everything I’d grown to know as home and comfort to set out on this adventure. The irony of this moment is that when I began to envision making this adventure a reality, I felt completely confident and comfortable doing so because I knew myself, I’d become the most authentic me, living life out loud, taking advantage of opportunities without fear or trepidation, and loving the heck out of myself and others. What was missing in my authentic self, was experience, exploration of new places and challenges, and a very honest desire to use the gifts and talents I possess to do work that supports opportunities of growth for others.

Here’s the crux…. Somewhere along the path of this adventure, when things started getting really challenging, when there was trial and hurt and sorrow, I unpacked a less authentic version of me, I hadn’t experienced in years. Those who knew me well in the ‘90s will recognize this self. Angry, hurt, afraid, cynical, frustrated, uneasy. I didn’t like this self much in the 90s and I really am not enjoying her now and neither is anyone else. Here’s what, I know that this is not who I am at my very core, but throw me into a situation where everything that is familiar to me is completely indiscernible as present in my life and those walls go up and authentic me sits quietly inside while this version lays waste to all who shall dare to approach. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is honest.

I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges and changes, the culture shifts, quieter life, the loss of my animal companion. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgment. I’ve tried to be accountable for that. I’ve misjudged other’s communications, intent, and willingness to forgive, move on and try another day. I’ve led with pride when I should have followed with curiosity. And maybe most importantly, I’ve hid myself in ways that have hurt others as well.

I don’t know what this means. I’ve never before been this aware of the fluidity of authentic self between those layers of protection that we keep “just in case” but which can wreak some of the worst havoc when they reappear. Truth is, its definitely all a part of who I am. Each day is a practice in peeling back those layers and shedding that skin to grow ever increasingly authentic. I know there is more change on the horizon. I am hopeful for what both this insight and the coming days brings. The one good thing about things falling apart, is the opportunity to put them together again.

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Desolation by design

Somewhere near Barstow, CA

Somewhere near Barstow, CA

If I gave or even had the impression that this road trip adventure would be easy, I was wrong. It’s not. I knew (in my head) it wouldn’t be…logic and all. But damn if I didn’t just throw my heart right in, free-fall in to the deep end.  After three weeks in the NW with my BFFE (Best Fucking Friend Ever; aka Buffy), a visit to Portland friends, and my mom and sister in Seattle; followed by two days back in the Bay Area, I drove away from everything familiar in to the desert. As I was headed south through Cali, I had this thought: “damn, I love this place.” And I do, I love Cali, I love the people and the weather and I love the person that I became while living there. I love that while living in Cali I gave myself permission to be my authentic self; a blending of the young girl from sleepy, Nebraska; the well-educated career-focused woman from Oregon; and the all-out, life-is-too-short-to-work-too-hard, social justice minded, activist, party gurl from Cali. I really like this person I’ve become and I’m liking even more the person I’m becoming.

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t think more than once today about turning around and going back. “Go back where?” asked a friend. A very good point. When I arrived at my destination tonite, one of my host’s roommates helped me with my bags and asked where I was coming in from?   “California” would have been the simple answer. But some answers, especially right now, just aren’t that simple. So I laughed. Later, he stepped in a surprise Leila left in a dark doorway and so I’m guessing that I’m probably not his favorite house guest and it doesn’t matter where I came in from anyway.

Also, the inevitable desert experience as spiritual pilgrimage metaphor of all of this is not lost on me. Not even in the least. And I have many many more miles of desert to drive.

So, today I panicked. Just a little bit, I phoned a friend who talked me through it and I drove on. Tomorrow (well not tomorrow), soon will be another day of driving in the desert. And I’ll deal with that when it gets here.

For the love of …

There have been times, recently, when I’ve sat in my apartment and not been able to fathom how to determine what is most critical to carry with me, what can be left behind in storage indefinitely and what to let go of. It has been slightly paralyzing. There have been brief moments of confidence and movement forward, but mostly there’s been a lot of shuffling things around and stressing out.

Last night I decided to make a list of the things I really needed to get done this morning before heading out to what I’m sure will be a lovely gathering of friends and acquaintances I haven’t seen in a long while. And I write this now having not only finished all those things, but having this amazing sense of feeling like this is actually all possible. A feeling I haven’t really, if I’m honest, had since I actually made the decision to go.

tumblr_lt6x1rKWuN1qf70r5o1_500It feels appropriate, on Valentine’s Day.

I spent the morning sorting through what I think is the last of the boxes filled with memories. Acknowledging that letting go of things and pictures is not at all the same thing as forgetting. And also falling more and more in love with my life. Life, as it is meant to be, hasn’t always been easy and yet what I know for sure is that my life has always been blessed by the most amazing people.

I have a great adventure ahead of me. I’m feeling lucky and also very much in love with who I am today, my choices and the people who make up this blessed circle of friends I will carry with me always in my heart.

Know Yourself

self-care

You may glance at the images with this blog and think it’s about food and move on. It’s not. Really. It’s about Self Care. Self care is a critical part of daily life. Most of us are really bad at it. We are really good at neglecting ourselves until we get to the point were we have no other choice. Those who are good at it, still have days, weeks, months where self care is not the priority. Life. Crazy Life, gets in the way. One of the best ways to care for ourselves is food. How much and what kind is neither of interest to this blog, nor anyone’s business. Our bodies need it. Food is a necessity. And so I pose to you that knowing yourself and what is going on in your life and preparing for that with the right foods for you is a major way to care for yourself when you might otherwise just skip right over it. The following are three tricks I use when I know life is going to be really busy and I still want to make sure to take care of me.

Fruit is yummy. I especially like berries, cherries, peaches and other kind of delicate fruits. I’m privileged enough to have access to and be able to afford basically all varieties of high quality fruit year around. Awesome, right? Well, when I’m busy I know I’m not going to have time to slice and dice fruit. Also these are the fruits that tend to lose their freshness more rapidly. So when things are busy, I purchase fruits that are easy to grab and go, like Halo Cuties, Fresh Fruit Cups, and Fruit Juices.

Halo Cuties

Halo Cuties

Fresh Fruit Cups and Juices

Fresh Fruit Cups and Juices

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comfort Food.
We all have those favorite foods that for whatever reason bring a sense of peace and comfort. One of my favorite is mashed potatoes. A super quick substitute: baked potato. I just grabbed a bag of bakers at Safeway for $5. Both economical and delicious. I encourage you to find short cuts to your favorite comfort foods so you can still enjoy them even when you are crunched for time. This is like a double dose of self care: comfort and sustenance.

Baked Potato

Baked Potato

 

 

 

 

 

 


Crockpot Dinners.
Did you know you can make lasagna in a crock pot? Yes! You can. I have a true fondness for crockpot meals. I love to walk in the door and smell dinner already cooking. I own two crockpots and have absolutely had both of them cooking at the same time. One of my favorite tricks is to prep full crockpot meals just after shopping, freeze the ingredients all together in a ziplock bag then pull that from the freezer, drop it in the crockpot, add some seasoning and come back home to a delicious ready meal that I can enjoy and then spend the evening relaxing or moving on to my next adventure.

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The best way to take care of yourself during the hardest times, is to know what you need and maybe, just maybe, try to prepare for that in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Star Light, Star Bright

    starlight-starbright-by-rob

    image by Robin Hallett

    I can’t tell you how many times as a child I looked up at the night sky and repeated these words, over and over at times oh so hopeful that my wish would come true. Looking back, my inquisitive mind thinks it might have been a good idea to keep a record which of those wishes actually came true, so as an adult I would at least have a statistical basis for wish making.

    It’s been several years since I truly made a wish. By which I mean a wish verbally expressed, birthed from a desire deep down in the core of my being and pleaded to the stars above. It was my birthday yesterday, emboldened with the knowledge of Mercury coming correct and an assurance from a friend that the stars would certainly be on my side, I took whatever risk there was and made not one, but two wishes.

    The first of these wishes was for me, very personal and will go without sharing. The second wish was for you.

    Maybe I’m reaching by calling it a single wish, because within it were the many things I wish for you:

    • A life with no limits you can’t overcome; of abundance; full of all the necessities and enough of the wants.
    • A fearless life where you are emboldened to take chances and leap, sometimes without looking.
    • A life where you get to do what you love and love what you do and where you are doing it.
    • A life where challenges are welcomed adventures and opportunities for growth.
    • A life of acceptance: of yourself and others, without caveats, and with celebration of your uniqueness and gratitude for all that brought you to this place.
    • A life of peaceful presence where the past was, the future is not yet and all that is important is here and now.

    Most of all, I wish for you a life where you live your truth every day, without fear.

    How to Love a Fat Girl or Boy

    480900_451243814958361_1530752660_nI’m a major fan of the meme “how to get a bikini body.”  You know, the one that then tells you to buy a bikini and put it on your body, then you have a bikini body (pic).

    Well, I’m pretty sure that loving a fat girl or boy is similar.

    It’s ok, try not to go all huffy, hissy fit on me and start talking about how complicated love is and such. Love is not complicated. Relationships can be and I’m not in any way attempting to minimize that. Also, just like you can find articles that will tell you how to get a bikini body in just 6 short weeks, there are articles, blog posts, and other such stuff with lists of rules and suggestions about how to love a fat girl (boy).  If you feel you actually need these rules, they are a simple “how to love a fat girl” google search away from your fingertips right now. This, is not that.

    Fatties (aka fat girls or boys) are human beings. I know this because I am a fat girl. There’s nothing special or particular about us. All women and frankly, men have or have had body issues at one point in time, society basically dictates it. Some of us have lingering feelings and emotions about the ways we’ve been treated about our bodies, some of us don’t. Some of us may require a little more convincing that you really do love us, some of us won’t. I don’t think the variations are really that different from any other combination of individuals with different body types when coming together in a love, like, lust connection. I don’t believe that loving someone who is fat requires a special list of instructions (you may not agree with me and that’s ok). So basically, I’m going to keep it simple and direct. How do you love a fat girl or boy? Find a fat girl or boy that stirs that feeling in you that is undeniably about wanting to share your days and nights with her or him in all the ways a human being lives and moves through life and if she or he feels the same way about you, go ahead and love them. And be happy.

    That is all.

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    why I #selfie

    Reason 1: I can, I am amongst the privileged many who can afford the technology, time, and energy that being a regular taker of selfies requires.

    Reason 2: I’m fat. Yep, you read that right, I’m fat and it’s a reason why I take and post regular selfies. I believe that people of all sizes should be seen, not just in places where it’s expected and feels safe, but also in the unexpected, unsafe spaces. And that certainly includes places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Selfies, and selfies of a fat girl are not safe or exempt from hatred trolls. Nor are we exempt from fetish trolls and trolls who think we should be charmed and excited that a stranger (male or female) finds us attractive enough to message multiple times with unsavory and not anywhere near grammatically correct comments.

    Reason 3: Is related to reason 2 but goes deeper. While I can now proclaim loud and even proudly, without a quiver of my confidence that I am fat and completely comfortable in the body I live in now, that hasn’t always been the case. For years, and by years, I mean over a decade, maybe even two decades, I lived without a full length mirror in my home. I had been taught and believed that I should feel shame for the size of my body; that no one wanted to look at it, so, why would I want to look at it? And so, for years I didn’t look in a mirror to check my appearance, the outfits I was wearing, nothing. I applied the minimal makeup I wear with a hand-held compact mirror and later a small round mirror hanging on my bathroom wall.

    Until I started to selfie…

    Like most of us who selfie, mine began on FB. I came to FB mid 2008 while working at Stanford University. At first FB was a distraction with games and a way to connect to people I hadn’t spoken with or seen in years.  I didn’t really interact much and I didn’t post very many pictures of myself. And when I did, they were definitely not full body selfies.

    Profile pictures in 2009

    Profile pictures in 2009

    ONLY selfie 2010

    ONLY selfie 2010

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In 2010, I discovered a welcoming size-friendly–positive even–community that I became actively engaged with.  I had new friends and a burgeoning new social life. I started taking pics with friends going out and then in 2011, selfies prior to going out. As my confidence grew so too did my desire for more options in my wardrobe and thus more pics of me in new outfits.  It was an avalanche of confidence, acceptance, self growth and the beginnings of activism. I know not everyone agrees that selfies are a form of activism, and that’s ok. I wouldn’t say all selfies are, but I take mine with the intention of activism, a fat body being seen; being seen happy, healthy, active, relaxed, having fun, working.

    2011 Selfies

    2011 Selfies

    2012 Selfies

    2012 Selfies

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In 2013, my taking and posting of selfies increased quite exponentially (the following is a sampling).

     

    2013 Selfies

    2013 Selfies

    2013 Selfies

    2013 Selfies

    2013 Selfies

    2013 Selfies

     

     

     

     

     

     

    At the beginning of 2014, I started the new year with a goal to take a selfie in a different location every day.  This has proven to be harder than I thought it would be and I’ve not really kept up with that, but I have taken and posted selfies nearly every day. Some from interesting places I traveled for work or vacation and others just at home or out and about with friends or at my place of work. Again, I post them primarily, because I and others like me deserve to be seen. We should be seen enjoying life: going out on the town, bathing in bikinis by the pool, chillin’ on the beach, or shopping at the corner market. All bodies are beautiful in their own ways and all bodies deserve to be seen and acknowledged. If you can’t acknowledge my body, then you can’t acknowledge me as a whole person; and my body is more than just a part of my physicality, it’s a part of my psychology, spirit, and emotion. I feel and witness all things through not only my mind, but also my body.

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I guess I have a hope that by visibly living in the body I have now; truly living, not just accepting but embracing its differences, its strengths and its weaknesses that others will see that it’s a much better way to live than loathing ones body or pretending that it doesn’t exist at all because it can’t be seen in the mirror I’m looking in.  And if perchance my activism by selfie method does nothing at all to change the world or another human being’s perception about bodies, its done an incredible amount of good for my own body image, my own acceptance for my own perceived body flaws. And on the “bad days,” because yes, I still have them occasionally, I can look back at the legacy of self-acceptance and be reminded of another reason I selfie…

    Reason 4: I’m stunning…to the person looking in the mirror.

    2014 Selfies

    2014 Selfies

    Like Moths to a Flame: A Hard Lesson to Learn

    moth_light_500I was always that child growing up. The one who even though was warned the flames would burn me and even though I could feel the heat as I approached and my brain registered that the heat would definitely burn me, would go right ahead and stick my hand in the flame just to make sure. And sometimes, I would go back for more. Again, just to know for sure that the first time hadn’t been a fluke.
    It’s a pattern of behavior I’ve carried well into adulthood. And I want to say for the most part it’s served me well. I’ve taken chances where others have warned me (not out of mortal danger, but out of internalized fears and consistent messaging that people like me just don’t do those things) not to. I’ve colored outside of the lines my entire life knowing that it may get me a scolding from the teacher but feeling empowered by the freedom of non-conformity. And I’ve tested the painful flames of life and love without fear or trepidation and have retreated, singed or burned but stronger for having faced the flames. And, just as I have returned to the flame on the off-chance that it might have cooled even in the slightest bit, I’m a sucker for giving people second chances.  I’m not naïve; I know that the chance of me getting burned and individual people not having changed at all are almost always 100%. But the difference between a flame and a human is the potential to change and the hope I have for them to do so.
    I’m also a bit of a hopeless romantic. Combine that with the will for taking chances and you’ve got a perfect scenario for going up in flames.

    When frightened tongues speak timidly of love turn sharply into blades and strike the fatal wound.

    imagesToday I’m nursing some pretty serious burns; burns that could have been avoided had I heeded not only the warnings of my inner circle of friends, but also my own internal instinct. But be it love or lust or hope; I could not for the life of me turn away from the flame. I saw the signs, I’d felt the heat more than once, I knew the potential…but I failed to see the firestorm coming and I put myself in its direct path.  The worst thing and what I find myself futilely dressing my wounds with, is how much I wrapped my sense of self up in this persons perceptions and treatment of me.  The signs that his own tragic past and “brokenness” would make him a challenging match as well as his potential for emotional manipulation showed up in the early stages of us getting to know each other over a year ago.
    Again, friends warned me after I would share my frustrations with them over certain interactions with him.  And yet, even though I was seemingly determined at the time to let him go I became pavlovian in my response to his texts and calls. I could not tell him no…and when he would reject me or turn me away anyway, I always blamed myself and made excuses for him.  “He’s a good father.” “He has a successful job that he loves.” “He treats me so well when we are together.” “We have great conversations and enjoy the same things.” “I shouldn’t have said that in that way.” “I shouldn’t have asked him.” “He works so hard, he’s just tired.” “My expectations are too high.”
    When he showed up places where he knew I’d be, with other women, I shook it off…”we aren’t exclusive.” “I see other people, too.”
    Sound familiar? Worse yet, when he both actively and passively rejected me, I blamed myself.  Questioning what it was about me…”he’s not attracted to me,” “he’s not ready for a relationship,” “I’m too [fill in the blank],” “I need to back off, expect less,” “what could I change about me that would change his mind, change the way he was treating me?”
    When he’d call or text, I was happy.  When he asked, I would go. When we spent time together, I was excited and looked forward to it…even though he’d often cancel at that last-minute or cause a fight that would lead me to not go.
    Friends told me to stop with him.  He didn’t deserve me. I was too good for him. I was a stronger woman than I was letting myself be with him…the list of reasons to not be with him grew and yet.  It was a train wreck I couldn’t stop. I mean I could have, I should have…but I didn’t. And oh how I wish I would have.  Because the pain not only from his actual manipulation and emotional abuse, but now from my self-doubt and bruised ego are nearly unbearable.
    Last night was the final blow: shortly after he whispered words of love, I was essentially dismissed like, well…a common whore. That’s how I felt, belittled and insecure, and shattered. He told me to go…and I did. I didn’t stand my ground or defend myself. I could have, might have had it been anyone else…I don’t let people use me or talk to me like he did. Not usually. I was upset, but not because I was leaving, because he wasn’t coming after me…I felt humiliated.
    I want to be angry. I do. And tomorrow I might be. I hope to be. Others are angry for me and I wish I could feel it too. I wish I could hate him. Instead of feeling heartbroken. But this is what emotional abuse and manipulation does to a person. I’m working on getting angry. I’ve blocked and deleted him from my phone. Because it may be a week or two or a month, but he will call or text. And if I saw his name, I’d pick up.  I know how that sounds. But I’m being honest with you and myself.
    I’m being honest with you, because I’m hoping to find some strength in the truth. By letting you know that although I consider myself a strong independent woman, I let someone get to me and use me in ways I would fight tooth and nail against for strangers even. I’m being honest, because you might know someone else who’s going through something similar and not understand why…and maybe this helps or maybe it doesn’t. I’m being honest, because I need to get it out of my head and I’m hoping to walk away and leave it here where it will either be read or not, but it is no longer inside tormenting me, continuing the abuse and manipulation.  I’m being honest, because it’s helping to uncover the anger. And I’m counting on that anger to drive me far away from the flame. To help me learn this lesson and learn it well.  To trust my instinct that the flame which is hot will indeed burn.

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