Weight and Self-Image

When I was growing up, I was always “the skinny one.” I had the supersonic metabolism that meant I could eat anything and stay thin.

I operated within this belief into and through puberty. I noticed weight gain as I my body became that of a woman’s. Since I’d always been told and seen myself as “skinny” in the way a child’s body is skinny, I saw my beautiful new curves as just fat. Fat fat fat fat fat. The self-loathing began.

I wasn’t fat, by the way, not at all. I was still thin, and curvy. Looking back now I see that. I see that my body was beautiful the entire time. Comparing it to the weight I am now, I could laugh until I cry that I thought I was fat, when I was gorgeous and perfect the way I was.

Gaining weight after finishing puberty was crushing. It started after I left my first college and retail job, and began my desk job. After awhile I decided to do something about the way I felt about myself. I began working out most days of the week and eating as well as I could.

Then I broke my foot, which has set me back immensely. I am now working out about three times a week, and eating better, and I’m noticing not only weight loss, but toning and muscle gain.

Maybe I don’t have to be “skinny.” Maybe I can just be healthy and curvy and happy. I’m going to keep working, and hopefully those size 8 pants will fit again soon. But if they don’t and I learn to love my new body on the way, that’s fine too.

 

Favorite TV Series

Parks and Recreation

This show is so genuinely funny it’s impossible not to love it. Though the first season was, admittedly, as my boyfriend says, a bad ripoff of The Office, it came into its own in the second season and kept the momentum going for seven seasons total. Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope is the feminist icon of the twenty-first century, and the plethora of strong female characters and the male characters that are accepting and supporting of them are excellent.

 

Friends

Though this show is admittedly somewhat problematic (see: lack of diversity, homophobia, etc.), it’s also the precursor to every following sitcom, and still makes me laugh aloud, even after seeing each episode a dozen times.

 

Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99 regularly and frequently has me in tears and stitches from laughter. It’s goofy, clever, and touching all at the same time. The cast is fantastic, and each character and cast member is as strong as the others.

 

Archer

I’ll admit, I hated this show at first. It was controversial and irreverent. It was its astonishing cleverness that won me over. The jokes are so, so, unbelievably witty that I’m caught off guard, which is some of the best laughter there is.

 

Westworld

Look, a non-comedy show! Westworld, though a remake, is a wonderful program. The effects are fantastic, and I love the fact that no expense is spared in the making of this show. It’s dark and the plot twists, and the suspense is delicious. This show is a little gory, but not overly so. It’s definitely cathartic.

Graduation Gift Guide

As summer approaches, so does graduation season. Whether graduating from college or graduate school, these are all great presents for the grad(s) in your life.

Gift cards

You can never go wrong with a gift card, and definitely not with cash. A lot of times college and master’s or doctorate graduates already have many of the things they need. Starbucks, grocery, movie, etc. gift cards are always helpful!

Combination churchkey/wine opener

You’d be surprised the length people go to open beers and wine bottles when they don’t have one of these. Make their lives easier, and just give them what they “need.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

This book is a great resource for anyone leaving what they’ve always known (i.e., school) and going into something entirely new. Why not set up your grad for success in their future endeavors?

Stationery

Stationery is definitely handy, especially for all the thank-you cards that will have to be written for gifts received. They’re handy for any occasion: birthdays, thank-yous, congratulations, anniversaries, etc.

Tool Kit

Again, you’d be surprised what people will turn to if they don’t have the proper tools. I myself have used scissors as a screwdriver and any number of things for a hammer. Getting real tools was a godsend. I’d especially recommend an electric multi-tool with various interchangeable heads.

Keurig

While it’s more than likely that your grad has one of these, if they don’t, it’s a handy machine to have. A Keurig will ultimately save your grad money on their Starbucks habit – especially if you didn’t get them that Starbucks gift card! Just remember to give some pods with the Keurig if this is the gift you choose. The Keurig is almost useless without them.

Phone Chargers

With the way phone chargers get lost, stolen, or damaged everyone could always use extra phone chargers. It’s an excellent, useful, and cost-effective gift you know your grad will appreciate.

 

Easy Ways to Keep Your Spaces Clean!

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.” And it’s true, when things are clean and organized we tend to feel almost like gods for making it happen. But how quickly the mighty fall. Having a dirty and/or messy space can feel overwhelming, which can lead to the worsening of the problem. Below you will find my tips and tricks for keeping your space clean and organized so you, too, can feel like a god.

Pick up immediately.

Now, by this I mean that instead of just kicking your shoes off your feet and leaving them lying around for anyone to trip on, put them away immediately. It becomes less of an ordeal later if you put in the effort when you’re already taking off your shoes, which is effort itself. You won’t have to later stop what you’re doing to put something away or clean a dish. It’ll already be where it’s supposed to be! Plus, if you put things off, it’ll not only make doing it later extra effort, it might be forgotten entirely. Making a habit of doing things immediately and when you think of them leads to tidier spaces.

Spend five minutes at the end of the day tidying up.

I don’t know about you, but I always sleep better once my space has been tidied for the night. A cluttered room can reflect a cluttered mind. If everything is put away before bedtime, I believe it symbolically tells your brain to put away the worries and cares of the day. Plus, you’ll wake up and there’ll be only one thing to do . . .

Make your bed first thing in the morning.

Making your bed is a small action that has a big payoff. Mainly, it makes your whole room look better in less than five minutes. Making your bed is a small accomplishment, which can lead to better self-confidence for the day because something was immediately accomplished upon waking. Also, if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have already tackled something not unpleasant, but not enjoyable either, which makes you feel productive and will likely increase your productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Have a designated cleaning day at least once a week.

Here I mean cleaning, not tidying up. Break out your Windex and Clorox, it’s time to get clean! Replace and wash your sheets and towels. Clean the entire bathroom and kitchen. Dust and vacuum your room. Doing these tasks once a week will ensure that filth does not build up in your spaces, and cleaning will therefore not be an ordeal done once a month – or less. It’ll be a quick endeavor you do one or two hours a week, and we all know that’s practically no time at all.

Basically, my advice is to stay on top of things. Don’t procrastinate. That’s how filth accumulates. You can do it!

The Benefits of Journaling

Dear Diary,

Today I’m going to talk about the benefits of journaling on my blog.

Journaling has many benefits. Among these are emotional benefits, which lead to physical benefits, and an increase in the amount and quality of what one writes.

So let’s start with that obvious. By committing to journaling at least once a week, you’re already writing one more time a week than you normally would. Writing is a craft best improved, like many others, through practice. Journaling is an excellent way to do so. Another reason journaling is a great way to practice writing and make writing a habit is that the source material is you. Your thoughts and daily doings and thoughts about those daily doings are what you’re writing about. This could blossom into something bigger.

Journaling is also a great emotional exercise. Why do you think movies depict teenage girls writing in their journals all time? Journaling forces you to look at your day and process your feelings about it. Emotional stability can help with stress and pain management.

Go find yourself a pretty journal, one that makes you excited to fill its pages. Get a pen you love to write with, so you actually write in it. And get to writing!

Cheer Up, Buttercup!

Do you ever wake up and it’s raining and the dog pooped in her crate overnight and you forgot a homework assignment and you’re down on yourself the whole rest of the day?

Me neither.

But, if that were hypothetically true for me, this is what I’d do to cheer up.

I’d name everything I was grateful for, even if it was something as simple as breathing and a full belly.

I’d walk my dog and be patient with her as she sniffed everything and searched for the perfect place to do her business.

I’d journal about how I was feeling, no matter how silly or stupid it seemed later.

I’d watch something funny, or at least some favorite of mine that’s uplifting.

I’d talk to a friend, whether in person or on the phone. I’d vent about my life, then be sure to ask and listen about theirs. Other people’s problems and triumphs are a good distraction from your own troubles.

I’d cuddle my dog and kiss her silky little head, knowing that her love is unconditional and eternal.

I’d list everyone I know loves me, and remember that they still love me, too, no matter how badly I feel or how badly my day is going.

I’d read an engrossing book and lose myself in its pages and story.

I’d eat something delicious and healthy. A full belly makes for a happier perspective.

I’d drink water. Being adequately hydrated means you’re more awake, which means you’re in a better mood, most of the time.

 

Sunday Morning Classical Playlist

En Bateau – Claude Debussy

By a Sleepy Lagoon – Eric Coates

Sailing By – Ronald Binge

Nessun Dorma (instrumental) – Giacomo Puccini

Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 – Edvard Grieg

The Blue Danube Waltz – Johann Strauss II

The Swan – Camille Saint-Saens

Gymnopedie No. 1 – Erik Satie

Romance – Rachmaninoff

La Mer – Claude Debussy

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

The picture you see above is the finished result of our belated third anniversary dinner. I decided, since it was cold and rainy on the one night we could do it, to have an indoor picnic in the tiny bedroom that I share with my little dog in the four-bedroom apartment I share with three other women, two other dogs, and a cat. My little bedroom was really the only space we could use for any privacy.

All you need to duplicate this is you or your significant other’s favorite recipe (the one that you can stand), a few things from the dollar store and cheap section at Target, and lots of love. (I know, I know, cue retching noise.)

The things I got from the dollar store are: tea lights, a plastic tablecloth, and wine glasses. The things from the cheap section of Target are: a bunch of fake roses in a glass vase, a short string of battery-powered lights, and more candles. Because I am a college student, I also didn’t have wine glasses, so those were procured at the dollar store as well.

I made the boyfriend’s favorite dish: chicken parmesan, or a variation thereof. I made the sauce myself, using no recipe at all, just prior knowledge from watching my mother and grandparents’ make endless batches of sauce. After heating the olive oil in a saucepan, I seasoned it with garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil, and added the onions. Then the canned tomatoes were poured in, and I crushed them with a wooden spoon in the pan. Unfortunately the tomatoes, being whole, had seeds, but this was overlooked during consumption. A splash of red wine, and I let it stew for a while on low heat.

The boyfriend helped with the chicken and the salad like the decent adult he is. I forgot the flour step of the breading and had him dip the chicken in egg, then Panko breadcrumbs. The chicken cooked in a pan for about five minutes, then was placed on a baking sheet, drizzled with sauce, and covered in mozzarella. He slid it into the oven, set at 350 degrees, until the coating was golden under the white and the red of the cheese and the sauce.

The pasta being boiled and the salad made (nothing special, just a lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, and diced apples, dressed with honey and apple cider vinegar), dinner was ready. Beverages were red wine for me, beer for the boyfriend – while I love wine and dislike beer, he’s a beer drinker to the core.

I had spread the red plastic tablecloth on the floor, and the boyfriend helped me move my trunk to serve as table to the center of it. I draped the battery-powered lights across the trunk, lit the candles, and we brought in the food. It was romantic with candlelight and delicious, especially so since we made the meal together.

Please feel free to like, comment, share, and replicate!

Five Favorite Movies

In no particular order:

  1. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Though this film is a Woody Allen film, I absolutely loved it. The premise of this film is strikingly similar to games I used to play and stories I used to write as a child. Plus, it takes place in Paris! With an all-star cast of characters we all know and love from the Lost Generation, this is a delightful movie.

2. Moonstruck (1987)

A classic, this film reminds me of my own family on the maternal side, albeit my family is much larger. A film that at first glance seems serious, it is a comedy that capitalizes on everyday hilarity and the awkwardness of family.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

One of the best movies of all time, in my opinion. Jimmy Stewart is charming, and the whole film you’re rooting for him, even when that means he doesn’t get what he thinks he wants or needs. Funny and touching, a film for the family, never gets old.

4. Rebecca (1940)

This is one of my favorite books, and one of the few book-to-movie adaptations whereI believe the movie told the story better than the novel. Though it’s difficult to believe that Joan Fontaine is as plain as the heroine in the novel, everything else about the characterization remains consistent to the novel. A great book, the story really shines in the form of a film. Alfred Hitchcock does not disappoint.

5. Ever After (1998)

A retelling of the Cinderella story. As previously stated, I am a sucker for a Cinderella story. The relative historical accuracy of this film is gorgeous and lends a sense of truth to the story. Danielle is feisty but obedient, because she desires what we all do: love. Her stepmother, played by the beautiful Anjelica Houston, is a formidable but understandable villain. The ending is most satisfying.

 

Four Favorite Children’s Books

DISCLAIMER: Though these books all feature strong female protagonists, this list has not been assigned a title that excludes any gender. It is important for true feminism that all genders see many different types of people in positions of strength, whether those positions follow traditional gender roles or not.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle

An excellent introduction to science fiction, this book is engaging, chilling, and enlightening. This book is important not only for this reason, but also because it stresses Meg’s worthiness, despite her lack of conventional beauty and traditional academic success. It showed how her intelligence was in other areas, and just as valid as any other type of intelligence. This book forces the child to think while it never lets them go until the last page.

2. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

(DISCLAIMER: Judge not this book by its movie, despite Anne Hathaway’s talent.) I’m a sucker for any iteration of the “Cinderella” story. Ella, though, is not the traditional Cinderella. Inflicted with a curse from birth that forces her to be obedient, Ella Enchanted offers an explanation besides traditional societal roles for her remaining with her abusive family. Ella disobeys to the best of her ability, and she is brave and charming and considerate. The book is full of adventure. A great read for girls and boys alike.

3. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Anne is the funny, lovable, imaginative protagonist of these books (yes, it’s a series – eight books long). Her imagination inspires the imagination of the reader. The descriptions of Prince Edward Island are utterly beautiful. A delight.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

I need not tell you why this book is important. Though this book is for the middle-school age reader and older, it is an essential read. Anne is wise beyond her years, even as she goes through typical and universal adolescent struggles. This book shows the resilience of the human spirit and keeps alive the legacy of one of the best writers of the twentieth century, who was struck down in an untimely manner, and torturously and inhumanely.