In a memory from years ago lives a girl in braided pigtails and mix – matched shoes who learned early “different” was meant to be an insult. It only took years of pointed laughter and averted glances for the insult to become armor. Dressing in vibrancy, a little to clumsy for grace and much to quiet for rebellion, the pigtails were replaced with hair dye, the shoes with tattoos.
The same girl learning how to be a woman wrapped different around her shoulders like a cape and strode into a life she wasn’t quite sure how to live. Finding comfort between pages and on a television screen, different was often replaced with anti social and guarded. Words that were meant to hurt had stopped hitting their mark at the middle school lockers, because it’s hard to harm someone who uses different as a weapon.
With a sword at her side, doing what she loved had always seemed so much easier than following the rules. I don’t know where exactly that brave woman got lost. Unlike a movie, it happened so slowly, it was impossible to catch. One morning, the woman who had never once second guessed her seemingly crazy decisions, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the girl staring back.
Her sword was broken, cape torn and dirty, and for a moment, a woman who fought depression twice and won, wasn’t sure tomorrow was worth living. I can’t tell you when exactly the sword was fixed. There was not a finalized moment when she stood and remembered who she was. Maybe it was her favorite TV show or maybe it was her family or maybe it was just her – finally realizing that just like different, broken was never an insult.
Still not completely whole and not entirely sure how to walk when she can barely crawl, I can’t tell you when all of her pieces will fit together again. But that girl with pigtails in her hair and different in her genes will return and she she does, shield your eyes.
The sun comes up another day and I’m still here. I’m still here physically – my heart is pumping blood and my hands are typing these words. My thoughts are in a magical land. They’ve been there for months now, running free with Dragon’s that swoop in to save the day and girls who brandish swords and smile in the mouth of their prey. It’s safe here, with Monsters so easily killed and lifetimes that can last forever. Here, I can lock myself in a room with thunderous voices that keep the darkness away. I can throw away the key and my Dragon’s spew fire any time danger approaches.
I’ve been hiding, is probably a better way to put it. It’s not so poetic, but it all boils down to this – lately I’ve grown to hate reality. There are no shiny perfect princes here, no hoards of trained giants to clobber your enemies – here, I mostly feel alone.
I stopped writing about reality when it became too hard to put my thoughts into something so painful. Doing so broke me even further, because writing about the real and the raw and the jagged is exactly why I love writing so much. Telling real stories about real people, learning the thoughts behind actions, delving into the why and the how – there is nothing I have ever loved as much as painful writing. But I stopped because no one was reading it, because I was bleeding onto pages for only myself and somehow that felt wrong.
So why am I here now, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. There is going to be no fine tuning here, no fixing this draft to make it perfect. What I write, I am going to submit just as it is, because I need to return to writing the real, and I never will unless I just do.
The world recently lost a woman who never should have left this soon. She was a beautiful light, a ray of sunshine on any cloudy day, such a selfless person that she made you want to be better just by being around her. And it turns out, as much as I thought I was bleeding for no one, I was wrong. To not know that she had been reading my words all along cut deeper than I ever would have thought it would, but it also opened my eyes.
I am going to write every word that has ever tumbled into my brain and I am going to write it even when the audience is only me. I am going to tear these words from my heart and let them spew wherever they fall on the page, because this is where I feel the most whole. Because I know she is still reading over my shoulder, and I will not let her down. Because the world needs more real, more broken and damaged amidst all of the photoshopped and perfect. Because writing is who I am, and I’m no longer willing to sacrifice that for anyone.
I’ve been thinking long and hard for the past week on whether or not I wanted to speak on what is currently happening in America. I have such a small platform and it’s unlikely my words will reach many, if any readers. But that is not a good enough reason to stay silent.
I was born and raised in a very small, rural town. Here, I was sheltered from the harsh realities happening just outside of my safe borders. I have always felt very lucky to be raised the way I was. My family was not well off financially by any means, but we were always happy and I always felt loved, which is most important in a child’s upbringing. I never felt that I was lacking anything I needed until I moved.
For two years I lived in a much more populated city where the people there were all different than me. I went from having no friends of color, to almost all of my friends being a different race than myself. This was the first time I noticed my white privilege and recognized the danger of the bubble I had been raised in.
I am not going to speak specifically on the horrid things happening in America as I speak. We all know what they are and we all know how wrong it all is. My own timeline has been filled, rightfully so, with name after name and story after story. I am not going to add to those voices today, as there are so many people of color who can tell their own story much better than I ever could. I will never be in those shoes.
What I can speak on though is the importance of recognizing the danger of growing up sheltered as a white person. It is so easy to sit back in these tiny towns where anything barely happens and preach that racism does not exist. It is so easy here to pretend that inequality is a thing of the past when you’ve never seen it first hand. It’s much harder to widen your own reality and accept in that of others, but it is so crucially important right now.
The best way I have seen it explained is this. As a white woman, I am faced every day with worries that a man will never have to think about. I was raised to always look over my shoulder when walking alone. Before I was allowed to go to friends houses or parties my dad taught me how to properly take down an attacker and run away. I was given a cell phone for the sole purpose of calling 911 if I ever needed to. I can’t walk alone at night without fear that a man on the other side of the road watching me means to cause me harm. These are things men of the same age as me rarely have to think about. Yet they are my reality.
The same exact thing is happening with racism. I, as a white woman, will never know the fear of being pulled over and thinking it’s my last day. I have the highest respect for good cops, but I have also never had to worry that the day I get pulled over for speeding could also be my last day on this earth. I’ll never have to explain to my kids how to properly walk on the streets because of their skin color, and the list goes on. These are all realities that I will never have to face, but they are still realities, and I can not just pretend that they don’t exist.
During the two years that I lived in a very populated city, I was treated differently than my colored friends on many occasions. I could tell stories for days, but that’s not the point of this post.
If you, like me, come from a tiny town where the majority of people there are white, I beg of you to widen your world view. I beg of you to open your ears just a little bit to what your friends have to say, and I beg of you to be open minded. It’s not easy to change your mind on something that has been so ingrained in you, but it is possible, and it is the only way we are going to incite change.
So here we are; the end of another year. Facebook posts and tweets from various people all seem to decide the same thing about you – you were a tough year, 2019. I don’t often take the time to look back on a year as each day seems to flow into the next, but with 2020 on the horizon, lets give it a shot.
You had a bumpy beginning. Rocky, I had just started a new job and was concluding one I had only been at a year, but didn’t see going much of anywhere. As I started this new job, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. Like if I would even excel there. Let alone like it. But I settled in pretty well, and career wise, you weren’t too bad.
You also held a lot of tears though. I missed home and family a lot. I made the decision to stay in CT one more year, a decision I wrestled with for quite some time.
I bought a new car. I bought a couch. I became much more confident in my driving. I became much more confident in myself.
My body changed a lot. My self esteem too. But I’m happy to say I’m at a good place with both where I don’t feel too eager to change anything.
I was reunited with an old TV show I once loved dearly, and reminded why I still loved it so much. You also brought a strong wave of depression, and this trusty TV show brought you through it once again.
When you drew to a close, you did so beautifully. A much needed visit in Vermont surrounded by family, smiles, and laughter.
2019, I don’t think I could have asked for anything else. I’ll miss you. But 2020 promises some big things, and I’m going to make it happen.
Over a year into living in a home that’s not my parent’s, I feel like I have finally found a place of comfort. The first half of a year was terrible. I cried almost every night. I was sure I was not cut out for this “adulting”. For someone who never went away for college, I was 21 living with my boyfriend, four hours away from everything I knew for the first time in my life, and I was terrified. But moving away from home was also something I had always wanted to do, so I had to find a way to enjoy it. That didn’t actually happen until almost eight months after moving.
My first tip is to make your house your home. One of the hardest parts of having your first apartment with little money is the comparisons you make between the one bedroom you’re living in, and the beautiful three bedroom your mom kept. Push around the furniture in your living room until it’s exactly how you like it. Decorate the walls anyway your management allows. I hung white and blue Christmas lights around my living space to add a softer lighting, which made me feel more at home on nights that I was seriously homesick. Buy a cheap throw blanket and toss it over the back of your couch. My first couch came from a retirement home auction and a bean bag chair serves as my lounge chair. I found cute throw pillows at Walmart and made sure our bean bag chair was one of my favorite colors. Make sure your living space makes you feel at home.
My second tip: explore your town. It’s tempting to stay inside and watch Netflix all day, I know, I’ve been there. But, step outside. Even if it’s only for an hour a week. Even if it’s only five minutes. Find someplace to explore and make a list of each you enjoy – that way you can always go back to one if you’re feeling complacent. You don’t fall in love with a place by sitting on your couch.
Next, don’t be afraid to fall in love with your new town. Sorry, no pictures for this one, but it’s probably the most important on my list. I self sabotaged for months after first moving. No matter how much I left the house, I always found something to ruin the day. I was always too tired, too hot, too cold – until I realized the problem was me. I was too afraid to fall in love with a place that wasn’t Vermont. What I had to learn over time was that a person can love multiple places at once.
Find things that remind you of home and fill your new place with them. For me, this was pumpkin spice candles and brewing a fresh pot of coffee every morning. I decorated my walls with pictures of my family and places back home I loved. This way I could always be reminded that those things weren’t gone from me, just a bit further away.
And finally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “nail” this right away. Often it appears that people move away from their parents and are instantly living their best life. That’s rarely what actually happens. Living away from home is hard. Crying is okay and completely normal. Calling your mom at one in the morning because you just wanted to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie and you can’t remember what her special ingredient was is totally fine. Take this day by day. Keep yourself busy.
Living on your own for the first time can be the most beautiful thing you’ll ever experience. You just have to get through the rough patches first. You’ve got this.
My boyfriend Blaine and I have been dating for four years as of yesterday, July 9th. In past years we have been on a much smaller budget, so dinner and movies was usually how we would celebrate. While this served it’s purpose and was enjoyable, this year we decided to spend a bit more and take a day trip to Block Island, RI. From people I talked to and blogs I read beforehand, I wasn’t really sure what it expect. All that I could really gather was this one consensus – it’s expensive.
Gathering this to be true – but also worth it – please continue on to read the events of our day, start to finish.
When Blaine and I arrived to the docks for our 11:50 departing ferry, it became obvious today may not go as planned. We drove around the Water Street parking garage in New London CT, finally finding an open space on the third level. The elevator broken, we ran down three flights of stairs and across the street, finally finding the ticket booth at 11:45 after five minutes of raised voices and arguing over whether we’d even make our ferry in time.
At 11:50 almost precisely, we boarded the ferry and found window seats near the far end of the boat. After turning around once to pick up a group that had missed the departure (so much for our worries), we were finally underway.
The hour and twenty minute ride was beautiful. I have always been in love with the ocean, so I was in heaven. We made sure to check out the very top, open level, which was gorgeous and boasted great views, but very windy, so we spent most of our time on the outside deck of the second level. Around us was open ocean, other sailing vessels, and the occasional bit of land rising from the water.
As the ferry approached the island, we rode along one whole side, lined with beaches dotted with people, dirt hillsides, and stretching acres of green grass. My first impression before stepping off of the ferry was that this island was very alive. This was only confirmed when we got off.
Upon exiting the ferry, we were standing in a parking lot facing very colonial style buildings and streets lined with bicyclists, mopeds, pedestrians, taxis, and mostly out of state license plate cars.
After stopping at the welcome center for a map of the island, we continued up Water Street in Old Harbor, in search of lunch. Hungry and not too interested in searching too long for food, we stopped in at a restaurant called The Surf, located inside the Block Island Beach House Hotel, on Dodge Street. This was a wonderful decision, though a quick one. Our outdoor table was right by the railing and looked directly out to the open ocean. Blaine ordering a burger and I fish tacos, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch, pricey for a young couple, but very worth it.
Fully and ready to explore, we began down Water Street, stopping in at the many touristy shops lining the street. One thing new to me was how free everyone was. People were dressed completely in bathing suits or swim trunks, in and out of stores. Others walked in the streets and crossed without concern. Music played from docked boats and shops alike.
After some consideration, and having not decided if we were leaving on the 4:50 or 8:10 ferry, we decided we would at least see the Southeast lighthouse and Mohegan Bluffs. This is where there was a slight wrench thrown in our day. Seeing the trek was only 1.6 miles, we decided to walk.
All uphill and very hot, both dressed in flip flops, we made it to the lighthouse, and decided to call for a taxi to bring us back to Old Harbor, quitting on the idea of Mohegan Bluffs, praying our 9 dollars cash would be enough, and both pretty discouraged and ready to leave at 4:50.
Calling from a list in a free brochure I had picked up, of course the first we called was no longer in service. However, the lady who picked up said she would called a friend who was and call us back. We sat on the grass at the lighthouse for twenty minutes. She never called back.
Now pretty angry, and regrettably not really able to enjoy the scenery at the lighthouse in our current mindsets, we decided to begin the walk back to Old Harbor.
When we waved down a taxi about ten minutes down the road, our spirits immediately began to lift. The young man began making conversation, and upon learning we were from Vermont, told us he had met people from all over, but had never met a person from Vermont he did not like. Towards the end of the roughly 1.5 mile ride we worriedly asked how much the fare would be. He told us 12 dollars. We only have 9, but offered to run to an ATM and get the rest as soon as he dropped us off. He shook his head, saying he could tell we were good people and 9 dollars was just fine.
Moods lifted and a new pep in our step, we stopped at an ATM and took out some cash, bought 8:10 ferry tickets, then caught a new taxi to Mohegan Bluffs. It was well worth the anxiety and stress of the first half of the day. Breathtaking views, cool and refreshing ocean water, and a kind woman in a sparkly dress agreeing to take our photo. We spend a while there, just walking along the beach and sitting at the overlook, taking in the beauty in awe. Our initial trek had limited our time and therefore the amount of things we could see, but if I had come and only seen Mohegan Bluffs, I would have been satisfied.
Using the card our second taxi driver had given us, we called him back for a return ride into Old Harbor. Down a couple side streets we went into stores we had missed, I found a shirt, the only touristy item I had wanted to take back with me. With an hour and a half before our ferry, it was time to find dinner and use the remaining time to explore.
We found dinner at Harbor Grill, fish and chips for me, a chicken sandwich with fries for Blaine. We both treated ourselves to an adult refreshment, paid, and then spent the last half an hour walking along the rocks that jut out into the ocean, and along the beach.
The ferry ride back boasted an amazing sunset over the water, and the cost of the parking garage was substantially lower than I had calculated.
All around, we only saw pieces of the island, but it was an amazing experience anyway. The island was beautiful, the atmosphere unique to which I had only experienced the likes of in Hawaii, and the vibes magical. My only regret on completion of the day was having to step off the ferry and return home.
Yep, you read that title right. It’s crazy to think that the composition of one’s body and one’s happiness would go hand in hand, but in our society, that is exactly what we are conditioned to believe. Was the title click bait? I guess you’ll have to read to find out.
I am a curvy woman. There is no arguing that. I always have been, even when I was a size 6. Wide hips, big bum, big breasts, small waist – I was blessed (my words) with it all. And for a the better share of my teenage and young adult years, I was depressed (diagnosed). Do I believe there is a connection between these two variables? Heck no. Does society push it down our throats that there must be? Of course they do.
Unless you are rich and famous like a couple well known celebs, you are not supposed to have an ounce of fat on your body. They don’t come right out and say it, but the message is everywhere. Magazine covers. Movies. Television shows. Instagram. The list goes on but I don’t have all day and I’m sure neither do you. Now, don’t get me wrong. Progress is being made. Several influencers have made platforms addressing these very issues, with beautiful bodies and the souls to match. Yet still, young girls are led to believe that if you have a certain body type (flat stomach, big boobs, long legs all preferred) then you will be happy.
This is the biggest loud of BS you will probably ever be spoon fed in your life.
Let me tell you a story. Buckle in and hold on because we’re going to dive here.
As I said, I’ve always been a bigger girl. When I was younger, this wasn’t really a good thing. They weren’t yet curves, just little girl chub, so I was made fun of. I was told to eat less and exercise more. Yes, as a ten year old. As I began to grow into my body, fat began to go to places that society is okay with. That I was praised for. Until there was too much of it. Until it came around to my stomach. Suddenly, there was something wrong with me. Yet, I was still happy.
I was still happy until right after High School graduation. I hit a real low, and while there were many factors in my life contributing to this which now I find obvious, my mind then jumped right to my body. Why? Because I had been conditioned to believe there was something wrong with it. Because the girls in my graduating class didn’t look like me. Because the girls on Instagram didn’t look like me. The conclusion to me was obvious. I was unhappy because I was fat.
In six months I lost thirty pounds and five pants sizes. My stomach was flat for the first time ever. I had also hit the lowest depression I have ever been in. So, my body must still not be right. I began going to the gym more and more. I was building muscle where I wanted it. Finally, I was looking like those girls I followed on Instagram. I was also suicidal.
After digging myself out of this dark place with a lot of therapy and even more love and support from family, I began to put the weight back on. I was still going to the gym. I was still eating healthy. But I wasn’t being as restrictive or strict, because I was no longer eating and exercising to get a certain body type. And then I stopped going to the gym for a few months. I started drinking soda again and eating chips. And I gained all of the weight back I had worked so hard to get off.
At the heaviest I have ever been, 170 pounds (THE FEMALE AVERAGE) I am proud to say I am also the happiest I have ever been.
And so, I learned the hard way. Happiness has absolutely nothing to do with the size or shape of your body. You will not be any happier when you are ten pounds lighter unless you also change your heart.
It is completely possible to be as happy as you wish to be in this very moment. A hundred pounds overweight or twenty pounds under.
So here is my curvy girl’s guide to being happy. Step one. Stop placing so much value on the figure you see in the mirror. Step two. Realize you are made up of so much more than just the way your skin and fat have chosen to lay on your body. Step three. Make sure you are okay with the person you are when you’re body isn’t at place. Step three. Make sure your environment is a good breeding ground for happiness.
“Curvy” girls deserve to be happy. “Skinny” girls deserve to be happy. “Fat” girls deserve to be happy. And every single girl in between.
Sixth grade English class, first day of school. I wore a purple t-shirt with two penguins printed on the chest I had so enthusiastically asked my mom for whilst school shopping. I liked penguins. The teacher told me to cover up because I was attracting too much attention. Later in private elaborating that too many of my male classmates were looking at the black and white birds displayed on my top.
This is the first time I was treated like an object to be molded rather than a human being.
My dear mother taught my sisters and I that fitting into a box was for woman too shy to be themselves. She taught us to wear the bright colors, to choose the mix matched socks, to buy daisy duke shorts and crop tops and strut them like we were made to be worshiped. My mother taught me to own my body.
Sophomore year of High School, last day of school. I was dressed in all black, walking to my waitressing job fifteen minutes from school when a middle aged man across the street whistled at me and called me sexy. When I angrily told my coworker, he told me I was asking for it. My barely developed teen body shivered as my cloths were suddenly too tight, wishing I had a blanket to wrap myself in to protect me from his stare.
We live in a world where short skirts and tight tops are seen as provocative while cat calls and labels are portrayed as normal.
Senior year, another day at work. A costumer walks in. I will never forget the red of her lips, the way her hair curled back from her face, the form of her body hugged in a black dress. The click of her heels as she approached the counter as if she was made to be there. She spoke the English language in a way that suggested it had been written all for her. When she left, the air was stale.
I promised myself that one day, I would own the room exactly the way that woman did.
Since the moment we learn to talk we woman are surrounded by voices telling us that we are not good enough. Our bodies are not thin enough. Our hair is not straight enough. Our clothes do not cover enough. Or our clothes cover too much. From the second we learn to walk we are groomed into perfect little misses, ushered into cages, taught that if we do not fit into a certain box we will not fit in anywhere.
My sixth grade teacher was a lady. Unknowingly, with only a quick instruction, she set a wheel in motion I was afraid would never stop rolling.
2019, 22 years old. I am still trying to unlearn what the world has forced down my throat since childhood by spoon feeding myself the teachings of a very wise woman. My mother. Her silent example the reason for my loud mouth and overflowing opinions.
Not every woman is lucky enough to have a mother as loud and colorful as mine. So many women are ushered into the darkness, into baggy clothes and fake smiles, believing this is the world they were meant to live in. These women sadly never get to learn what it means to exist freely in their bodies. So many women convinced there is nothing more to this life than the mold they were forced into.
I am here to help you become the woman you might have never known you even had the power to be. Wear the clothes you want. Weather those be the tight jeans and crop tops or the baggy dresses and sweaters. Cut your hair the way you want. Tell everyone exactly what you think. Open your mouth when people tell you to stay quiet.
Own every room you walk into, because this world is yours for the taking.