Swimsuits for All

I do not like to shop…  But I especially dislike shopping for swimsuits.  I know, you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t know what she’s talking about, I LOVE shopping for swimsuits!”  But really, I would venture to guess that just about every women hates to shop for swimsuits.  I know, I know, there are many women out there with tiny, perfect bodies, small waists, thin thighs, no muffin-tops, etc… and THOSE women must like shopping for swimsuits, right?  I bet not, and here’s why:  women are cruel to their own bodies.  I”m not necessarily talking about physically cruel (although I have been plenty cruel to mine.)  I’m talking about mentally and emotionally.  We bully our own bodies worse than we could ever dream of bullying someone else.

Okay, I’m making an assumption that other women naturally think the way I do…  and that really isn’t fair.  So I’ll just narrow this to myself: I bully my body with all the negative thoughts that swarm my mind, specifically directed at it… my precious body.  Swimsuit shopping gives me the unique opportunity to nitpick parts of my body that normally aren’t even seen.  Butt, upper arms, belly, inner thighs… they are all up for criticism in the dreaded swimsuit.  

I was at a family event this past weekend for the 4th of July and one of my dear, sweet relatives made a comment about how she would not be going into the lake because she doesn’t feel comfortable in her swimsuit.  “I just need to lose a few pounds,” she said.  Noooo!!!  It’s a beautiful day!  It’s the 4th of July!  Don’t miss it because you’re embarrassed about how your body looks!  I wanted to shake her and say, “Put on your damn swimsuit for the love of Christmas!”  

I have had the same swimsuit for something like five years.  It’s a one-piece suit made by Spanx (yeah, you know what those are).  I love the Spanx suit, but it was starting to look a little worn with age.  I have purchased some different suits during the last five years, but have never really had the guts to wear anything other than the safe, Spanx suit that I know will suck in my belly and cover all the appropriate lumpy areas.  But I went on a cruise earlier in the year and I decided it was finally time to get a new suit.

A few weeks prior to the cruise, I took an obligatory stroll around the swimsuit section at Target.  Who’s done that before and actually left the store feeling good about yourself?  Every suit they have on display in the front aisle is a teeny, tiny, itty, bitty bikini.  If you want to look at the real suits, the ones that someone over the age of 14 might actually wear, you have to go all the way to back wall where they have ONE rack of suits over size 10.  And you’ll be lucky to find one there either.  Trust me, I’ve looked.  

So I knew that I would have to look online if I was going to find anything acceptable.  Enter the power of Facebook marketing.  Facebook is one smart cookie.  It knows A LOT about me…  and you… and pretty much everyone (Big Brother is watching you!)  It has something called an algorithm (remember that computer science class in high school??) that tabulates your likes and dislikes and figures out what you want to see.  Facebook knows that I like body positive pages and that I tend to shop for plus-sized clothing and it suggested to me SwimsuitsForAll.com.

I did some research, enough to know it wasn’t a scam, and decided this was where I was going to purchase my suit.  The swimsuits were reasonably priced, not super cheap but not overly expensive (I had gone to the Lane Bryant site first…  holy moly are those expensive!) The site allowed me to choose different sizes for my top and bottom (yes, I purchased a bikini and I’ll get to that in just a bit).  I wear a size 18, so rather than try to squeeze my butt into an XL at Target, which is essentially like a size 14, I was happy to see that, not only was my size available, but it was not the largest size they offer.  In fact, they offered plenty of sizes even larger than mine.  

My order consisted of two bikinis and a one-piece swimsuit.  Note, I have not worn a bikini since I weighed 145 lbs and was starving to death in the depths of eating disorder hell.  But, there is this new thing called a high-waist bikini bottom that might be the most flattering suit around, next to the one-piece.  I like all three of the suits I got, but my favorite is a green and blue, polka dot, high-waist bikini.  It is flattering, it covers my child bearing, stretch-marked belly, and most importantly, IT FITS ME!  I don’t look like a stuffed sausage in this suit…  It’s a miracle!

No, it isn’t a miracle, it’s just a welcomed sign of changing times.  We (meaning us bigger gals) now have more options for where we purchase our clothing.  It’s time to stop body shaming and nitpicking.  It’s time to stop mentally bashing yourself for not having skinny thighs or a flat tummy.  It’s time to buy a swimsuit that actually fits and wear it with pride, because your body is beautiful, just the way it is!  I’d take today’s body over my starving, 145 pound body any day…  and that feeling is fabulous!



Kudos to you, Kudos to me

It is Saturday morning and I am up early.  Actually, this is pretty normal for me.  I get up earlier than necessary every day.  But today is a special day, because it’s the first of the month!  Okay, I realize that this is not so exciting for most people, it’s really just another day.  But this is the day that Younique announces it’s monthly Kudos offering.  So, I’m up early, I’m excited, I’m PUMPED for the upcoming month!

It got me thinking about the tiny spark of life that this little makeup business has brought to me.  I saw something the other day that said: You do not sell mascara, you sell hope.  When I first read this, I shrugged it off as just another motivational quote.  But, upon further review, this actually makes sense.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have a purpose.  I have goals.  I awoke this morning energized and ready to conquer the world, and that is something I have not had in…  well…  ever.

And I know why I am feeling so “sparky”.  It’s because, through my success, I allow others to be successful and, most importantly, I am helping other women to feel beautiful, inside and out.  Let me explain.  I was talking with my Younique sponsor yesterday.  She is a lovely person…  really, she is the kind of person that I look up to because she left her comfort zone to try something new and it made her happy.  That’s what I strive to do.  Anyway, as we chatted, it suddenly hit me…  if I succeed in my goal, then she will succeed in hers.  It is not all about me.  I am not alone in this journey.  My success only helps to further others in their goals.  This is brilliant!  It’s literally one of the most non-selfish things I’ve ever done.

All the Younique presenters preach about building up other women…  and actually, this is THE BEST PART!  Yes, we succeed financially by the success of others, but it’s more than that.  We succeed in life by building others up.  And really, that’s the biggest win of all.  For those that are stumbling through life, seeking meaning and purpose, we offer hope.

Today is the 1st of July 2017.  And I am PUMPED to find out what the monthly Kudos is in exactly 29 minutes.  I’ve got goals to reach, and those goals don’t just help me, they help other women too.  And along with way, I can help others to get out of their comfort zone, try something new, and in the end, feel absolutely beautiful, inside and out!




Breakfast at Tiffins

Actually, it was an early supper at Tiffins, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reference a classic.

Last fall, I took a trip to Disney World with my husband, children, and mother-in-law.  I was putting together a photo book of our trip and I thought I would share a particularly interesting experience we had there at a restaurant called Tiffins, located in the Animal Kingdom.  

About six months prior to the trip, when we were instructed to do so by the travel agent, my mother-in-law and I made “sit down” meal reservations for each of our days in the Disney parks.  We made this reservation having no idea what this place was like, but it was one of the only places where we could actually get a reservation.  If you’ve ever planned a trip to Disney World, you’ll likely understand this problem – all of the good places where the princesses serve you tea are taken.  We certainly could have done some more research on the place, but that seemed unnecessary at the time.  It’s Disney!  How bad could it be!? 

On the day of our arrival at Animal Kingdom, we had, of course, slept in – meaning we were running late for our first Fast Pass (for those who don’t know, that is a device that lets you cut in line, for lack of a better description).  The lines to get into the park were long (to put it mildly!) and the security screening took a good 20 minutes longer than expected, leaving us with about five minutes to make it all the way across the park to our scheduled date with the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We made it, despite some grumbles along the way about the quick pace.

This rushed morning start caused us some timing issues.  We had planned to eat breakfast prior to the safari, but had to settle for an early lunch afterward.  This left most of us hungry enough to eat a dead rhinoceros, a fitting expression considering we just got off of a safari preaching the horrors of rhino poaching.  We were hungry, and as any pack of true Disney World novices would be, we were embarrassingly unfamiliar with the inner workings of our meal plan.  That said, we quickly made our way to the nearest food stand and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly on pizza.  Delicious pizza, I might add.  

At about 11:15 am, we found ourselves just one hour out from our first sit-down reservation of the trip at Tiffins. We called to change the reservation time, and thankfully, they had an opening at precisely 4:05 pm.  That should have tipped me off that something was amiss, since it was next to impossible to get into places such as the Princess Tea Room, or the Crystal Palace, or almost any restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  But we considered it to be good luck and went about our day.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with laughter, roller-coasters, and dinosaurs as we explored the rest of the park.  And the time eventually rolled around to make our way to the dinner reservation.  Our party of five walked into the entryway of Tiffins right on time and were greeted by a lovely hostess from New Zealand sporting an adorable short haircut and a familiar “down unda” accent.  She smiled politely at us and assessed us from head to toe before asking if we were there to claim a reservation.  

I should take a moment and briefly describe the state of our group.  My daughter and I, after being soaked head to toe on the Kali River Rapids, had both purchased cheesy Mickey Mouse t-shirts at one of the many park stores.  My son sported a hat that looked like Mickey’s hat in Fantasia’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, complete with mouse ears.  My mother-in-law had on pink mouse ears and a sweatshirt that said “I’m not retired, I’m a full-time grandma.”  She had also forgotten to bring her regular glasses to the park, forcing her to wear her prescription sunglasses, even while indoors.  My husband looked the most normal of us all, with a button-down plaid shirt, blue jeans, and absent any sort of mouse ears.  That said, Tim’s attire, under any other circumstance, would have been considered subpar for the clientele of this restaurant.

The hostess leaned into her computer screen for several seconds before saying, “Ah yes, here is your reservation.  It will be about five minutes before we have your table ready.”  With a sweet smile, she asked for a cell phone number that she might text when it was time to go to the table.  At about 4:15 pm, we received a text telling us that our table was indeed ready and the hostess lead us into one of several dining rooms.  ALL of them empty.  Not a soul in the joint except for those enthusiastic cast members and our damp, sweaty, dirty, rambunctious crowd.  It didn’t occur to me until later that the whole “wait for the text” thing was just for show.

We were seated at a little corner booth in a large room with vaulted ceilings.  The walls were painted terra cotta and adorned with African-inspired artwork.  The table was set with upside down wine glasses and oval salad plates along with heavy silverware.  As we took our seats, the hostess from New Zealand made sure that we were aware that the decor was picked specifically to fit the theme of Harambe Village (as if we knew what that was!)  There was also a large-scale installation of wall art that consisted of stereo wires wrapped in bundles and scattered about the walls.  My daughter asked me why, if this place was so nice, were the wires sticking out of the walls?  Actually, quite a logical question!

The menus were leather-bound and complex.  Many of the items were foreign to us and and had fancy names that we couldn’t pronounce.  The children were restless after the long day with all the waiting around.  The formality of this place was lost on them…  they started to get loud.  The waitress was not impressed…  Everyone managed to order something and it took a good 20 minutes before any food actually arrived.

By the time we left, we were still hungry – let’s just say that the portions were not up to our expectations.  We had used up TWO of our meal vouchers without even knowing it (like I said, we did NOT understand our meal plan).  And finally, we later found out that the chocolate souffle that everyone had for dessert (because we had no idea what the heck any of the other options were), must have been laced with something too rich for our bowels…  because the toilets in our little hotel suite worked overtime that night.

When all was said and done, it gave us a good laugh.  We fit in at Tiffins about like the Griswold’s would have on their epic trip to Walley World.  Live and learn – and do your research!  Next time, we’ll stick to the pizza buffets…  that’s just more our style.



VBS or Kindergarten Cop??

I had an interesting experience this past week that taught me a thing or two about expectations… and frankly, it humbled me.

For the last three years, I have been one of the organizers of our parish cluster Vacation Bible School.  Honestly, when I agreed to do it for the first time, it fell into the “this will put my anxiety into overdrive” category.  But at the time, I was making some major changes in my life, trying to be a more positive person, so I figured, what could be more positive than taking part in VBS?  It gave me an opportunity to meet some new people, be more involved in church, and do something fun with my kids.  So, I signed up…  and it has been quite an interesting three years.

The first year was somewhat successful.  The four of us ladies who accepted the responsibility of doing this had little to no experience with this sort of thing, so we were essentially flying by the seat of our pants.  But considering the inexperienced nature of our little team of coordinators, it went pretty well.  We did a five night VBS going Monday through Friday night for two hours each night.  There was a supper served with each session and the final night had a pot luck with a little program put on by the kids.  Could it have gone better?  Of course.  But for the most part, it went pretty well.  Chaos was kept at bay and the children were relatively happy during the duration.

The second year, we decided to try something a little bit different.  One of our coordinators met up with a church in a neighboring cluster and found out that they had a treasure trove of VBS decorations that they were willing to let us borrow.  So, we used one of their past program ideas and recreated the ancient city of Babylon.  There was a Bible study in the parish hall, the craft project was done in the city of Babylon located in the parish house, and the music was taught in the sanctuary.  The kids were divided into three groups by age and rotated through the stations in the same five-night format that we had done the year prior.

This one worked pretty well.  We had learned from the prior year what crafts would be best and what food was easiest to prepare.  And everyone LOVED the Babylon setup.  The only problem was that it took us FOREVER to set up and tear down those decorations.  Then, we had to drive them back to that neighboring parish…  which was a solid hour drive (one way!) away.  For the four of us ladies who all have full-time jobs and full-time kids, this was just not realistic to do again.

So in February, we all got the familiar email that it was again time to plan VBS for the year.  This time, we made some changes based simply on the fact that we had put so much time into the prior year program that we wanted to make it a little bit easier.  We found a two-day VBS kit online and purchased it.  Then, we opted to combine the two days into one, four-hour day camp that we would hold on a Friday.  The theme of the VBS was a camp-out, which we figured would be easy to decorate for and still fun for the kids.

First, I should give you a little insight into my frame of mind regarding stuff like this.  I am not the kind of person who is comfortable with the unknown.  I want there to be a set agenda and I want things to go as planned.  Unfortunately, that’s just not how the world works…  which is why planning VBS makes me so anxious!  In the months leading up to VBS, it sits in the back of my mind like a little toad, occasionally croaking out threats of all the things that might go wrong.  I’ve learned that it’s best to ignore the little toad, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t there.  Anyway, enough of the toad metaphor, VBS is something that makes me nervous.  Actually, planning ANYTHING makes me nervous.

So back to this year’s VBS.  It started off okay.  Thursday night we prepared the parish hall and decorated in our camping theme.  We opted to have both the craft and the Bible lesson in the parish hall instead of in different buildings due to some construction on the adjacent street.  Then there would be games played outside.  Similarly, the kids would break into three groups and rotate between the three stations.  And actually, we had 12 more kids signed up than we had the prior year…  which we thought was a good sign.

The first thing that went wrong was the weather.  It was cold and rainy.  I ask you, in what part of the world is it cold in June??  Apparently, in Minnesota.  I’m from Texas and June is just not supposed to be cold.  Sooo, the games had to be moved into the parish hall…  meaning all three of the stations were right in the same room together.  Which lead to the second problem – proximity.  This is a big hall, but not THAT big.  As the morning progressed, it became harder and harder to hold the attention of the campers who were trying to do Bible study because of the games going on right next to them.

The final, and most detrimental problem, was the craft.  Note, we chose to do one of the craft options that came with our VBS kit.  It’s not like we went rogue and opted to do some craft that was totally off the wall…  this was in our kit!  It was a little lantern made out of popsicle sticks and wax paper that the kids would decorate.  It was to be glued together with these things called glue dots and then a small tea light would go into the center.  When lit up in a dark room, it would shine through the wax paper in pretty colors.  In theory, this seems like a good idea (And it was in our kit!  Did I mention that??)

Turns out, this was not a good craft for us.  Perhaps our groups of kids were too big.  Perhaps this was just something that was better suited for older kids.  Or perhaps it was not something that could have been done in the time frame at all!  Either way, the craft was a disaster.  We ran out of glue dots SHORTLY after we started the first group and the issues just escalated from there.  In reality, it was just way too hard of a project for our kids to do.  The craft was so difficult, that it backed up the station rotation to the point of utter collapse.  Before we knew it, we were on the brink of disaster.

It was kind of like that scene in Kindergarten Cop…  have you seen that movie?  Here’s a brief synopsis.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is an undercover cop and his partner becomes ill forcing him to pretend that he is a seasoned Kindergarten teacher.  When he shows up to teach his first class, he realizes quickly that he is out of his league, the kids take over, and chaos ensues.  At one point, the camera pans to a closeup of his anguished face while he screams, “Shuuuuuut up! Shut up! Shut up!” at the top of his lungs.  Later, after he collapses on the bed in his hotel, his partner pops in to ask how it went, to which he replies,”Go away…”

Okay, so it wasn’t quite that bad…  but it was close.  Eventually, we had to pull out the glue guns and glue those blasted lanterns together one at a time while the children ate lunch.  We did manage to get them all through the Bible study portion, which I suppose is the most important part, and we got them fed.  So there, you could say those are two wins.

In reality, it was probably not as bad as it was in my mind.  But it really taught me something about expectations.  When I expect a certain outcome, odds are pretty good that the actual outcome will fall short of my expectations and no matter how much preparation I do for something, there are always going to be little wrenches thrown in the system that will cause me to have to think on my feet.  That’s just the reality of life, and I need to be ready to do that feet-thinking.  The children had fun (mine did at least), so I suppose that’s all that matters.  But I’m not going to lie, I collapsed on my bed later at home just like Arnold did and muttered “Go away,” when my husband asked me how it went.



Goals: A Girl’s Gotta Have Them

I’ve been thinking about goals recently and it occurred to me that in my personal win/loss column for accomplishing goals that I’ve set, I’m about 3 for 8,432.  I have a tendency to start things and not follow them through.  So shoot me!  Who does follow through with their goals?!  Actually, there are a lot of people who do, and you know what they are called?  Successful.  That’s what they are, Successful.  Apparently, you can’t be successful in life if you don’t set and achieve your goals.  Really, that is the very definition of success… literally.  Google it and see:  Success = the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  So, I better get myself some goals… yikes!

Trust me, I am no novice to goal setting.  But I am a novice to goal REACHING.  Let’s face it, goals are scary things and no matter how easy you make them, it’s always easier to just give up on them.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve set the weight goal.  I’ve written it down on sticky notes, set reminders on my phone, made lists of how I’ll get to that weight and what I’ll do when I’m there, made detailed spreadsheets on how I will count calories and exercise…  Over and over and over again.  And there have been a few times where I have reached the weight goal…  but never for good.  Perhaps this is just not the right type of goal for me.

I recently started this little makeup business and I’m soooo excited about it.  But as I was reflecting on goals today, I realized that I simply don’t have any of them.  And I’ve got to change that.  So you, my beloved blog followers (all three of you, LOL), will be my guinea pigs for testing out some goal setting and goal reaching.

I’ve heard that goals need to be clearly defined and tangible.  But perhaps I need to look at the broader scope of what I want.  What do I want from this business?  That’s the $64,000 question.  We’ll start with a few things that immediately come to mind:

  • I want to love my little business with all my heart and enjoy working it EVERY DAY
  • I want to be the kind of person that people want to know and want to do business with
  • I want to expand my little world, meet new people, and see new places
  • I want to surround myself with other positive women
  • I want to feel accomplished every day

These aren’t the type of goals that have a tangible ending, but they are the type of goals that I can work toward accomplishing anew every day.  What do they say?  Progress rather than perfection.  I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity that I have.  It kind of just fell in my lap.  So, we’ll see where it takes me…  and hopefully, the art of setting goals will get a little easier.




Weight, Weight…  Don’t Tell Me

Question for you:  Would you rather be skinny, or would you rather be healthy?  Most of us assume that “skinny” and “healthy” are one in the same…  at least I always did.  But come to find out, they aren’t even in the same universe.

I ask because I was recently at the clinic for my annual physical, waiting patiently in the lobby, when the anxiety over the dreaded weigh-in started to sink in.  The nurse who came to take me to the back was bubbly and happy…  too happy for someone who weighs people in and takes their measurements for a living.  Weigh-ins have always been a source of stress for me, even when I was just a little kid.  As an adult, I have tried every diet plan under the stars, and every diet plan has a different catch or tagline or what-have-you.  But the one thing they ALL have in common is the weigh-in (cue the horror movie sound clip – donDonDON!!!  Screaming in the background).

When I was in college, I did Weight Watchers for about six months and lost 27 lbs.  I went to the same meeting  every Wednesday at 5:30 pm.  “Hi, my name is Becca and I’m fat…”  That’s not really how it goes, but you get the drift.  And actually, I wasn’t fat.  When I started there, I weighed about 30 lbs less than I do today.  They should have some sort of prerequisite mental screening before they let people join those places because if they had, they would have never let me through the door.  I was clearly caught up in the throes of eating disorder hell.  Of course, I only know that now, and it’s not something I can expect the common person to spot at 50 paces.  Weight Watchers took me in with open arms (Of course they did! I was a paying customer!  Who were they to tell me I was already a healthy size and no, we won’t take your money?!)

So I went to the same meeting every week.  That was what they suggested:  attend the same meeting and weigh-in at the same time, every week.  If you missed a week, you had to pay for it the next week.  A whole $7…  (I don’t know how it works now, but I’m betting it’s more than $7 per week).  Weigh-in days were the most exciting day of the week for me…  Why, you ask?  Because I could really give this “diet” thing a go.  If I put my mind to it, I could go the whole day on just a few pieces of string cheese, some green beans, and lots of Diet Coke.

Oh, the joy of stepping on that scale to find out that it had dropped a few lbs from the week prior!  It was the greatest feeling in the world…  the feeling of control.  Yes, I had taken control over my body at last.  I had beaten it into submission and it would bow to my will.  I was superhuman when I could control my food intake to the point of near starvation.  And how did I celebrate after those weigh-ins?  By going out to eat at any number of my favorite restaurants and stuffing so much food into my poor body that I felt like I would burst.  You see, this was the one time of the week that I could just let loose and gorge on whatever delicious concoction I wanted, because I knew that I had all week to starve it back off.

The problem was, the skinnier I got, the harder it was to make the scale move.  That meant resorting to more and more disgusting behaviors in pursuit of the dieting Holy Grail – the dropping numbers on the scale.  It was an obsession, that scale was.  It ruled my life.  I lived and breathed by what the scale said every week.  It determined if I had a good week or a bad week.  It determined if I could eat the next day, or if drastic measures needed to be taken.

So back to the waiting room at the clinic.  You can see why I would not exactly jump for joy when it came time to hop on the scale at the doctor’s office.  Eating disorder recovery is a slippery slope.  I feared that knowing the number on the scale would throw my mental state for such a loop and that it would derail my precious recovery forever.

The bubbly nurse led me behind the nurse’s station where they keep the scales.  As I took off my shoes, I said in a panicked, shaky voice,”Look, I can’t know what I weigh.  It’s a matter of my mental well-being.”  She cocked her head to the side and gave me a quizzical look, similar to the look my dog gives me when I’m telling her why it’s not okay to piss on the bathmat.  “I mean it,” I said, “I don’t want to know it, see it, hear it, or even smell it.  And if it means you can’t give me my after visit paper thingy, then that’s fine.  Because I don’t even want it to be accidentally written on there.  Got it?” I asked.  She  nodded in agreement that she had gotten it, and just like that, the weigh-in  part of the whole experience was over.

I’ve learned over the past year of recovery that psychological health is just as important (if not more important!) than physical health… and it should not be ignored!  I always thought I was dieting in the name of “health”, but what I didn’t realize was that the more I pushed back against my body, the more unhealthy I became.  Maybe one day I will know my weight, but as of today, I’m done slaving away to the scale.

I end today’s post with a little fairy tale:  Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  She was a normal, beautiful girl.  As she grew, her body changed.  But she was still beautiful.  She was no longer a child.  But she was still beautiful.  Her thighs were not separated.  Her hair was not straight.  Her stomach was not flat.  Her breasts were not perky.  Her eyebrows were not even.  Her face was not slim.

But she was still beautiful.



Birds of a Feather Party Together

We have a bunch of pet birds at our house.  There are 15 chickens of various ages and sizes, three guinea hens, and two ducks…  and a partridge in a pear tree (no, not really!)  They live in a little chicken coop in our backyard, but they aren’t locked up.  They live there by choice, because we leave the door open so they can roam the yard at will.  But they always return to the coop at night, I suppose, because it’s their home.

After about a year of watching these birds, I notice that they tend to hang out in groups.  There are seven older chickens and they are certainly the most adventurous because you never know where you might find them (we have a very large yard and from time to time, they go into the woods behind the house as well).  Then there are eight younger chickens that were all raised together.  These birds like to stay close to each other and don’t venture too far from the comforts of the front yard and the coop.  And then we have the odd ducks…  I guess you could say that we have two odd ducks and three odd guineas.  These are the youngest of the birds, just five months old.  They were all tiny when we first got them and they lived for several months in our basement, tucked up under a heat lamp for warmth.  These birds do not separate for any reason.  They waddle around the yard in a little group of five.  Birds! Party of five!  It’s pretty cute because they act as though they are the same, even though they couldn’t be more different.

One morning, I was watching them waddle around, looking for bugs, never leaving the comfort of their little group and it got me thinking of my very first online party (yes, that was a silly segue, but that’s legit how my mind was working when I was looking at these birds).  I’ve been with Younique for about a month now, and my first party was two days after I officially signed up to sell the products.  I’ve always been a “stick to the box” kinda gal.  I’ve never had enough self-confidence, or courage, or gumption, or whatever you want to call it to do anything.  Literally, I have done nothing in my life.  Yes, I have a beautiful family and home, a career, a masters degree, a little Hyundai SUV (with a payment), and pretty much all that you could want in life.  But I’ve never actually DONE anything that I would consider to be a brave, or resourceful, or even really fun, for that matter.

So this was my chance.  I purchased the presenters kit, more for the good deal on the makeup than anything else.  But I realized after I tried all of it, that this stuff was AMAZING.  And, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops…  Buy this makeup, it’s wonderful!  So I figured that if I felt this way, maybe I could make a legitimate go at selling it to others.  I mentioned to my wonderful sister-in-law (for the sake of saving some characters, I’ll just call her my sister from now on because that’s essentially what she is), that the month of May offered double party rewards for party hostesses.  And she said, “Sign me up!”  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…  I started to hyperventilate a little at the thought of actually putting on a party for products that I literally just signed up to sell two days earlier.  For some reason though, I was able to keep myself calm about it (not something I am good at by the way, anybody else out there have anxiety?)  I thought to myself, “Self, you can do this!”  So, I set out to give my sister the best party I could possibly give her.

First, I contacted my sponsor.  If you’ve read my prior blog posts, you’ll remember that my Younique sponsor is a lovely gal that I marched in the band with, and I am soooo happy that she’s got my back because if it weren’t for her, I’d be lost with this stuff.  Anyway, she gave me some pointers and advice…  a little checklist and some pics and videos to share.  I am a list maker, so I made myself a little agenda for the timeline of this party.  It was to be a three-day event on Facebook and I was going to need to post at least five times a day to have any sort of impact on sales (at least that’s what all the online articles about direct sales over social media said).

Actually, I didn’t even know how setup a Facebook event.  A little background – I have been on Facebook since 2004, which is pretty much the beginning of Facebook time.  So I know plenty about this particular form of social media, but my knowledge is more like Tetris than Minecraft. I didn’t have a good “working” knowledge of how to do stuff on there.  So what did I do?   I Googled it, of course.  I’m not sure if you knew, but you can get the answer to literally EVERYTHING on Google.  At the very least, you can get AN answer, it may not be the right one, but an answer nonetheless.

With the help of my mighty friend Google, I was able to set up my event.  I spent an hour choosing a cover picture and positioning it just so.  I made my first post about my lovely party host and how this makeup was amazing… and I edited it about 15 times before I dubbed it grammatically sound enough for the public viewing.  And then, I was ready to party.  My sister invited all of her friends and away we went!

Except that literally nobody marked that they would actually attend this event.  Well, nobody except for me, and her, and her mother…  and my mother.  But, come to find out, anyone who is invited to an event will receive the notifications of the posts, whether they said they were going or not!  I didn’t know this until the second day of the party, but I decided to make the best of it and post my little heart out anyway, even if nobody else saw it.

The first day, I pretty much stuck to my posting agenda.  But by the second day, I was kinda getting the hang of it and became more willing to venture off my list.  I downloaded PicCollage and started making my own pics and showing some before and afters of me wearing the products.  I was out of town that weekend, so I made a little video while I was in the hotel room showing how to apply the mascara.  I was actually having some fun with this!  And I’ll tell you what the trick was – it was the fact that the products were so great.  I didn’t need to “up-sell” them in any way.  All I had to do was take a selfie before I put the product on, and another one after I put the product on, and voila!  Presto-chango!  Just like that, my skin would transform from splotchy and red, to smooth and even.  My eyelashes would go from so-so, to super long with the flick of my wrist and the wave of a mascara wand.

When it was all said and done, I had a BLAST doing that party for my sister.  And despite my doubts at the beginning, she actually got some sales, which meant that she got some free makeup…  and that always makes me happy 🙂  So it’s fortunate that I’m not a duck, or a guinea hen, or a chicken, set to travel in the same group and stick to what I know for the rest of my life.  Stepping outside of my little box and taking a risk by putting myself out there, is really not so bad.  Now I can’t wait for my next party!  P-A-R-T Why?  Because I gotta!



Go ahead, make my Dia!

I received my Dia Box in the mail yesterday.  If you don’t know, a Dia Box is sort of like shopping with a stylist through the mail.  When you sign up for Dia, you fill out a lengthy questionnaire about your personal style, fit and color preferences, lifestyle, work environment, etc.  Then, one of the Dia stylists picks out five items that are tailored specifically to your preferences, and ships them off to your doorstep in a nicely wrapped little box.  There are other sites like this, but I use this one because it caters to those us who are “plus” sized.  (Whatever that means, I like to think my size is pretty normal).  Regardless, I’ve had five of these boxes shipped to me so far and have had no real complaints.  Everything fits really well.  Everything is high quality.  And, most importantly, everything is picked out for me, eliminating the usual anxiety that comes with clothes shopping.

Some people like to shop, I get that.  I am not one of those people.  Even when I was skinnier (aka, living day to day with my most disordered eating behaviors), I always got anxious around shopping.  I think it had to do with the fact that I was never quite good enough for me.  Even when I was shopping at my lowest pant size, it was never quite small enough.  There was always some super skinny girl in the dressing room next to me trying on a size or two smaller.  The ideal size was just outside the horizon.  As the very definition of horizon would suggest, it was an imaginary goal that recedes as I approached it.  That was my ideal weight and size, imaginary, and always fleeting.

So, back to the topic, I don’t care much for shopping.  But with this incredible internet service company, I can have the clothes picked out especially for me and not worry about finding the proper size or asking the attendant if they have any larger sizes in the back.  This is stress-free shopping at its finest.

I received my fifth Dia box just yesterday and I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed when I first pulled the items out, one by one, and lined them up on the bed so I could inspect them.  Here is what they sent:  a pair of flared leg jeans, some green khaki shorts, a navy and white striped dress, a pair of navy pants, and a black knit sweater to be worn over something like a tank top or t-shirt.

The black sweater was actually that I liked at first glance.  The dress looked way too formal.  It had a high neck, no sleeves and a long skirt that went down to the knees.  The shorts did not look to be my style at all – I like my shorts short! (and not green) These shorts were mid-thigh (and green).  The work pants were just normal with a straight leg.  And finally, the jeans were something I had specifically requested NOT to have them send me anymore.  They’ve sent me a pair of jeans in almost every box so far, and since I can only wear jeans at work on Friday, this really doesn’t do me much good.

I tried on the dress first… and I was immediately in love.  It was one of the most flattering articles of clothing I have ever tried on.  It was fitted, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable.  The length was perfect and it made me look long (well, I am kind of tall already, but this really accentuated the height).  The shorts were next.  People who have never dieted (aka, naturally skinny people), don’t know what it’s like to have your thighs rub together, and this problem is often made worse by wearing shorts.  But these shorts were just long enough to avoid this uncomfortable issue.  It turns out, their length was their strength! (yes, that was a cheesy rhyme, I know.)

Next I tried on the navy pants with the sweater.  The pants were too short at first glance, but then, I realized that maybe they weren’t meant to hang down to the floor.  Perhaps they could look good just sitting at the ankle? Okay, so those were keepers because they fit beautifully and I could wear them to work.  The sweater was, of course, perfect.  It was just light enough to be worn in the summer.

Finally, I tried on the jeans.  Note, I already had a grumpy attitude about the jeans because I had specifically requested that I not be sent any jeans (we’ll set aside the fact that all of the jeans I have received from Dia so far, have fit me to perfection and made me feel oh so beautiful!)  So, like I said, I had attitude about them before I even put them on.  I read the styling card that comes along with the box and it said that these jeans were a customer favorite.  Hmm… I gave them a shot and tried them on.  And they fit like a dream.  It’s been several years since I wore a pair of non-skinny jeans so the fact that they were flared at the ankle did not impress me at first.  But after I put them on, I realized exactly why they were a Dia customer favorite.  They fit my bum perfectly, they were exactly the correct length, and the cut was super flattering.

What did I learn from this whole experience?  Sometimes I need to check my shitty attitude at the door.  I mean that seriously.  Not everything is as it seems on the outside and I sure am quick to dismiss something that I think might not be my style…  whether it be a box of clothes, or someone’s different beliefs on subject xyz.  After all, we’re all just trying to find our own style in this world…  there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help looking outside of our box from time to time.  Be more positive, accept the things that cannot be changed, change the things that can be changed…  and always, ALWAYS, trust in Dia!



Ode to Raymondville

I recently had a Facebook messenger conversation with a dear old friend of mine…  shout out to Nikki T!  Note, she isn’t old, but we’ve known each other pretty much since the womb.  It got me thinking about a town, way down in South Texas called Raymondville.  Population 11,284 according to the 2010 census.  This is where Nikki T and I grew up.  I moved away from Raymondville in the 3rd grade, but because of the miracle of Facebook, I am able to keep in touch with my good old friend (and a few other good old friends as well).

As I laid in bed last night, I started to have one of those old, childhood movies play in my brain.  You know what I’m talking about, the kind that keeps you up WAY past your normal bedtime but is just too good to stop.  I wondered if I could actually sit down and write all of the things that I remember about Raymondville, TX.  It’s been 10 years since I’ve been there, and 25 years since I actually lived there.  And I know many things have changed since that time.  But for old time’s sake, I thought I would do some recollecting about the good ole days.  Please, read this with a warning that these memories are coming from my little nine-year-old mind, so they may not be entirely accurate, but hopefully some of it rings true.

I remember the first home I lived in on Riggs Ave.  If you walked a few blocks away, you would come to the ballpark.  This was where I played t-ball as a child, and I remember the team that I played on like it was yesterday.  Hocott Implement was the sponsor and they were a John Deere dealership, so of course, we wore green.  There were swing sets and see-saws at the park and we had birthday parties there (not me though because my birthday is in January and even in South Texas, January is too cold for a birthday in the park).  And right at the edge of the park, was the city water tower.  It was painted bright blue and had a huge smiley face painted on the top of it.  It was aptly named, the Smiley Tower, and you could see it from all over the town.  A few blocks in the opposite direction was Shed’s swimming pool, where we went swimming almost every day during the summer.  That pool would be full of people every day because, I don’t know if you knew this, but it gets HOT in South Texas in the summer.

When I was about six years old, we moved to our second home on the corner of Wood Ave and 12th St.  This house had belonged to my Great Grandma Pearl and when she went to the nursing home, we moved in.  The house had these old hardwood floors and formica countertops.  My father’s gun repair shop was in the garage.  I recall that the yard on 12th St was huge, at least compared to the Riggs Ave yard.  And it was full of mesquite trees, some of the tallest mesquites I have seen.  In the front yard, there was a variety of flower bushes, leftover from Grandma Pearl.  The ones I remember the most were the plumbagos, with their tiny, cornflower blue flowers.

Just a few blocks walk down 12th St brought you to Raymondville High School.  I never actually attended this school, but as a child, I always wanted to!  We would walk there on Friday nights during the Fall and watch the football team play – the Raymondville Bearkats.  Their colors were blue and gold, and the marching band was amazing!  The stadium itself was named Burnett Stadium, after one of my very own relatives.  My Grandfather, Tuffy, was the head maintenance man for the Raymondville School District for many years and I remember visiting him at the maintenance shed as a child.

Next to the high school was the auditorium.  As a child, it was the largest building I had ever seen.  This was where we had our dance recitals for Sissy’s Dance School.  All of us little girls would get all dolled up backstage and wait our turn to dazzle the audience under the lights.  Even some of the mothers would dance.  I always wanted to wear pointe shoes, but I didn’t stay in long enough to do that.

A few blocks in the other direction from our home (note, this was not a very big town and everything was essentially “a few blocks” away), was the First Presbyterian Church.  One of my very favorite pictures of my grandmother was taken in front of this church.  My mother and I went every Sunday and I attended Sunday school in the little classrooms right next to the church.  This was where I was baptized and I actually remember that day a little bit.  During Christmas, the church put on a hand bell choir that my mother played in, and the music was beautiful.

Downtown Raymondville (yes, there was a downtown) was quite the place in those days.  There was an old movie theater where we went to see a show and munch on a fire stick.  There was a bank, where my mother had worked for years, right across from the grocery store.  And just down the street was the old soda fountain where my parents told stories about hanging out with friends as teenagers.

This sounds a little bit like it’s out of the ’60’s, not quite, this was the ’80’s, and we did have the typical ’80’s amenities.  There was a Wal-Mart, although, not the kind of Wal-Mart you see nowadays.  This one didn’t have groceries and it was actually quite small, but you could get pretty much anything you needed there (other than groceries).  Right next to Wal-Mart was the video rental store where we rented Betamax tapes.  I especially remember watching reruns of The Monkees, over and over and over again.  In the parking lot next to Wal-Mart, was McDonald’s, where I played on the playsets and ate endless chicken McNuggets.

I attended Pittman Elementary, the same school my mother had attended when she was my age.  I remember the classrooms had these huge, tall windows – the kind that you don’t see in modern schools, only in pictures of those pre-World War II buildings.  And I used to watch the clock impatiently, waiting for my father to pick me up on his motorcycle so we could go to the swimming pool after school.

Every year, we attended the Willacy County Young Farmers Association annual barbecue at a local ranch house.  Your ticket got you a huge plate piled high with brisket, bread, corn on the cob, potato salad, and beans.  And every plate came with a whole jalapeno.  They had hayrides through the ranch for the kids and a barn dance with a band that played well into the night.

For only living there a few years, I sure do have some good memories of the place.  Just a little look into my childhood.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I tip my cap to Facebook, and all the lovely souls that I grew up with for helping me to remember those days.  The days before work, or bills, or children, or eating disorders, or worries, or any of those pesky things that come with adulthood.  The days when I was free to just be me.  Thanks for the memories Raymondville!



Glasses, the window to your soul… or something like that

I decided to get a new pair of glasses recently.  Well, I shouldn’t say that I decided, more like, my failing prescription mandated it.  Apparently astigmatism gets worse over time…  or at least mine does.   I started wearing glasses about 10 years ago when I realized that all that squinting at my computer would give me fine lines (yes, Vanity, you’re welcome).  Since I spend about 12 of my waking hours staring at some sort of screen, it figured that eventually, my eyesight would take a dive.

I’ve had many pairs of glasses since I started wearing them years ago, and they’ve all had one thing in common – they were cheap.  Yes folks, that’s me, I’m cheap.  I buy my goods from Wal-Mart, why should my glasses be any different?  The poor little optician lady at the counter tries to up-sell me on any number of fancy frames and lenses, but I always get the cheapest pair.  “I don’t need that silly nonsense!” I say to myself.  Just ground plastic lenses for me, thank you.

But this time was different.  This time, I decided to treat my eyes to something a little better.  I allowed myself to venture out of the $9 frame section and I picked out a pair of frames that I actually liked.  Then, when it came time for the optician to push her up-sell, I took it… and I ended up with the Rolls-Royce of lenses.  UVA/UVB protection, scratch resistant glass, and a blue light filter to put a little cherry on top.  If my eyes are going to get worse, then by God, it’s not going to be because of my cheap glasses!

When I went to pay for my lens extravaganza, I winced when she presented me with the final tally.  Holy moly!  I’d never dreamed of paying so much for a pair of glasses!  And then it struck me, how totally ridiculous this was.  I’m not willing to give my corneas the royal treatment, yet I’ll drop $260 on a Dia Box without flinching?!  (More on the Dia Box later, that stuff is amazing).  These are my eyes we’re talking about here!  A vital organ in my body, and here I am trying to shop them around like I would an airline ticket to Las Vegas.

It got me thinking about how many times I’ve put my body in second position.  Crazy diets involving exclusion of entire food groups, bingeing and purging, exercising to the brink of exhaustion, severely limiting calorie intake, mentally degrading myself to the point of near insanity…  all prime examples of how I’ve used and abused my precious body.  I can honestly say that prior to my recovery, I treated my dogs better than I treated my own body.  A sane person certainly wouldn’t starve a dog, or run a dog until they could barely stand, or force a dog to eat and then throw up.  A sane person would never berate a dog for doing something as simple and natural as eating.  But, for many years, most of my life in fact, that was what I did to myself… all in the pursuit of an ideal body that just was not meant for me (Or anyone for that matter… those girls we see on TV and magazines are not real!  I’m convinced of it!)

I’m better now.  It took quite a bit of therapy, nutritional advice, and of course, a fair amount of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.  But, as I found with the glasses incident, I still have times where I put my body in second place.  So despite all of my mental progress, I have to remind myself daily that I am beautiful, just the way I am, and that I deserve the best.  And for my healthy body, I am eternally grateful.

Plus, I got a rockin’ new pair of glasses that make me feel beautiful!