My Last 8 Selfies

A lot of people associate selfies with vanity, or narcissism, and sometimes, maybe that’s the case… but certainly not all of the time.

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Hello, friends! I was recently inspired by a very lovely mama over on the It’s A Mum’s Life 2016 blog to post my most recent, eight selfies. For those of you still living in… the age of pre-smartphones, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a selfie as “an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.” A lot of people associate selfies with vanity, or narcissism, and sometimes, maybe that’s the case… but certainly not all of the time. Continue reading “My Last 8 Selfies”

“We Can Do Better”

“Let’s all learn from our mistakes, and try to be a better person than we are today.”

Hello, friends. I want to talk about something today that is very near to my heart. It may be triggering to some, and to others, you may not even care. Today, I want to talk about bullying. Specifically, cyber bullying. Recently, a very funny man named Wade, who I regularly watch on YouTube, and who I follow on social media, made a post to his Tumblr page that tugged at my heart. In his post, Wade spoke poignantly about how we, as a generation who spends much of our lives online, treat other people on social media, and shed some light on the ever growing issue of cyber bullying. Continue reading ““We Can Do Better””

Daily Prompt 6/18/2016 | Perfection

Remember, perfection isn’t perfect, it is fake.

[In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 6/18/2016 | Perfection]

No one is perfect. No one. Of course, no matter how often we tell ourselves this, it can be difficult to convince our brains that it is true when we pass by magazines in the stores and see women with flawless skin, shiny hair, zero cellulite, tight stomachs, perky butts… you get the idea. I’m guilty of tearing myself down every time I go out in public, and see pictures and videos of these perfect, beautiful women, that I could never look like. Well, the truth is, no one can look like them, not even themselves.

Photoshop, endless filter options, and apps like Facetune make it all too easy to alter pictures, whether you are just trying to erase a few pimples, or giving yourself thousands of dollars worth of digital plastic surgery, and it is just not fair. It is not fair to the men and women whose appearances have to be altered so much, just to be considered beautiful, and worthy of publication, when they were already beautiful. It is also not fair to the men and women who see these ads, and get tricked into thinking that that type of beauty is attainable, and that they need to spend their money to try and reach it.

You don’t believe me? Here are just a few examples:


It is all a lie. Models, singers, actors and actresses, reality TV stars… no one is ever thin enough, but if you are thin, you’re not curvy enough. Your skin is never clear enough. Your hair is never blonde enough. Your eyes are not blue enough. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. Men and women, young and old, are being told that nothing about themselves is good enough, and that they need to buy all of this STUFF to look good, but it is an impossible feat. Even these people, who were deemed worthy enough to grace the covers of magazines, and star in commercials, were not perfect enough. No one is perfect enough. No one.

I know I might be beating a dead horse here, and being a total hypocrite, but really, we need to stop focusing so much on how we look. Your eyebrows do not need to be on fleek, your winged liner does not need to survive a nuclear holocaust, and if you don’t have a thigh gap, then embrace your glorious thighs. If you’re 14, you’re told that you need to look 21, and if you’re 30, you’re told you need to look 22. It isn’t fair, and it just isn’t possible. You don’t need big boobs, you don’t need a huge ass, and you don’t need washboard abs. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with wanting to better yourself, or lift your self-esteem a bit, but do it for you, and not because you think it is how others want you too look. You are worth more than that. Love who you are, and others will love you as well.

Remember, perfection isn’t perfect, it is fake.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 4

I was a bit anxious about being mostly nude around other people, but a funny, older woman put me at ease by cracking some jokes, telling me a funny story about her husband, and chatting to my little guy while I wrestled some dry clothes on him.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here.]

Hello, friends! Yesterday was an absolutely lovely day, despite ongoing thunderstorms and several tornado warnings for our area. We had made plans to go to the Princeton Metro Center, where there is a gym, pool, kiddie pool, etc. (similar to the YMCA), after Liam’s nap, which ran much later than usual, but we also wanted to wait for the storms to pass, so we didn’t have to drive in the rain. As I said, Liam’s nap ran pretty late, so it was nearly 2:15 when we texted my mom to let her know that we were ready to leave. Of course, she was miles away, and had just gotten her lunch, so it took her another 45 minutes to get there. We left as soon as she showed up, and drove the 30 minutes to the Metro Center. It only cost $11 for a family pass (which allows access to the gym, pool, and basically everywhere else), and it was probably the best $11 I’ve ever spent in one place.

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The larger pool area was quite busy with other families, but the kiddie/wading pool was completely empty. I had never been to this place before, and was immediately drawn to the adorable, detailed, under sea paintings that covered the wall by the kiddie pool. It was large also quite large, and there was a basket filled with various, tiny pool toys for the littles to play with. I was nervous that Liam would be upset at the water, since he had never been in a pool before, and it was a bit cooler than a bath, but after just a few minutes of nervously clinging to me, he began playing with the floating toys, and splashing around happily. He even stumbled a few times, getting chlorinated water in his face, and it didn’t bother him one bit.

Unfortunately, since we left so late, we only got an hour and a half of swim time in before we had to leave for dinner, and I honestly didn’t want to go home. Showering off in the locker room while holding a shivering toddler was quite the ordeal (my mom decided to just take off and not offer any help), and while I initially wanted to get us dressed behind the curtained area, I opted to just put my insecurities aside, and get us dressed in the locker area, like everyone else. I was a bit anxious about being mostly nude around other people, but a funny, older woman put me at ease by cracking some jokes, telling me a funny story about her husband, and chatting to my little guy while I wrestled some dry clothes on him. I honestly don’t mind being surrounded by nudity. It has never bothered me. I’ve never been the prudish or modest type, though I struggle with my own insecurities with my postpartum body, and being nude around others. I felt comfortable. Sure, there were young, fit girls in the locker room, but there were also moms, and grandmothers, of all shapes and sizes. I felt oddly comfortable.

It was empowering!

After we were all dressed and dry, we went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant near my mom’s hotel. Despite hearing great reviews, we were very disappointed with our overall experience. The staff were very friendly and attentive, but the floors were dirty, and some tables desperately needed to be wiped down. It wouldn’t have bothered me that much, except that there was only one other family there besides us, and the staff were all just standing around talking. We had no problems ordering, but when we got our food, we were surprised at the small. The prices were similar to other Mexican and Mexican-American restaurants in the area, but the portions were much smaller. We were also disappointed by the fact that Liam’s food, a grilled cheese and fries, did not get to our table until nearly 10 minutes after the rest of us had gotten our food. Kyle finished his very tiny enchilada before Liam even got his sandwich, and we were all left waiting on him. Overall, not the best experience, but the food did taste pretty good.

After dinner, we did a few laps around Target, where I saw one of my good friends, Olivia, who told me all about her new internship with a coroner’s office, and how much she was enjoying it. We also bought Liam a new swimsuit, which you will see in the next post!

All in all, it was a nice day. I had missed swimming so much, and it felt so good to be in a pool (even if it was just a kiddie pool!) after nearly 7 years. We went back again today, but you’ll have to read the next post to hear about that!

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Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Daily Prompt 3/14/2016 | A Fleeting Moment of Confidence

There were rapid-fire holiday and birthday get-togethers, and I found it harder and harder to control myself around all of the sweets and savory foods. So I didn’t. The weather had gotten gloomy, and sucked all the energy from my body, and I slowed down on my exercise, until I stopped completely.

In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 3/14/2016 | Fleeting

I have a very love/hate relationship with diet and exercise. As some of you may already know, from the middle of October to the end of December, I decided to make some changes, and started eating a mostly vegan diet (I still ate eggs). I didn’t do it for any moral reason, and I don’t care if you eat meat, or don’t eat meat, I did it for me, to be a healthier individual. I struggled a bit at first with giving up dairy, as a large part of my diet tended to include cheese, or milk products, but I found that giving up meat was pretty simple, as I never really ate much of it, and didn’t really crave it in any way.

Not only did I make this change to my diet, but I also decided to actually DIET during this time. I downloaded a free app called Lose It!, which I had used previously to lose weight, and began tracking my daily calorie intake, as well as my weight loss. If you are counting calories, and want a free, simple app to help you out, I highly recommend it. Between this complete overhaul in my diet, and counting calories, I found myself struggling to stay on track early on, as well as struggling with cravings. I had many, many slip-ups and cheat days for the first month, and kicked myself over it, feeling guilty and disgusted with myself. I tried to keep junk food and dairy out of my fridge, but that becomes incredibly difficult when you live with a dairy crazed carnivore who wouldn’t touch a vegetable if would save his life. Every other day he was bringing home cookies, or ordering pizza, or bags of chips, and it was unbearable. I even asked him to stop, but he never did.

I was losing weight, slowly, but not at the rate that I wanted, so I started exercising. I was already going on somewhat regular walks with my son, around 2.5 miles each time we went out, but with the weather getting colder, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would be forced to stay indoor. At the recommendation of a few friends, as well as my mom, I started looking up beginner Zumba videos on YouTube, and was instantly hooked. I was able to burn several hundred calories in 1/4 the time as walking, and it was fun. The weight started to melt off after that.

I lost 10 pounds. Then 15 pounds. Then 25 pounds. I had already reached my pre-baby weight, as well as my lowest weight since college, and I felt great. My skin had cleared up from the lack of daily in my diet, and I was able to buy clothes, several sizes smaller, for the first time since getting pregnant. I even began considering buying a bathing suit, and shorts, for the first time since college. I am not joking, I haven’t owned a bathing suit in 7 years, or work shorts in probably 5 or 6. I felt good, and I looked good.

For a fleeting moment, I was the happiest I had been in years.

Then, the holidays came. I tried to have some self-control, but no one in Kyle’s family seemed to understand my struggle with my body, or my diet. Despite being very open about my dietary restrictions, and politely turning down their cooking (they are the type of folks who cook everything with ten pounds of butter), they would just repeatedly tell me to “Just have a cheat day!”, or “You look fine, just eat!”, and it drove me nuts. Even when I did eat, his grandmother would keep pestering me to eat MORE, or actually BRING ME PLATES OF FOOD when I politely declined. She would get offended when I said no. I hated being forced to eat, but I allowed it to happen, just to please her.

That was the start of the end.

There were rapid-fire holiday and birthday get-togethers, and I found it harder and harder to control myself around all of the sweets and savory foods. So I didn’t. The weather had gotten gloomy, and sucked all the energy from my body, and I slowed down on my exercise, until I stopped completely. Over the course of barely two months, I gained back 9 pounds of the 27 total pounds that I had lost. I noticed the definition in my legs and waist going back to being flabby, and the new, smaller clothing that I had bought stop fitting me in a flattering way. And once again, I hated myself.

I tried to get back into my diet several times, but no longer had room on my phone for my calorie tracker app, and used that as an excuse to ballpark it, which ended in failure. I would get stuck eating my son’s leftovers from his meals, and using that as an excuse to eat other meat or dairy items, as I had already lost it for the day. I made a lot of excuses, and it showed. It showed all over my body.

The weather has started to warm up, and I have been able to get outside to walk more with my son, and he is finally old enough to play with me at the park. This has given me hope, and determination, to try to get back on track. My birthday is in a month and a half, and I have decided that I want to lose 10 pounds by then. I ate a vegan diet today, and managed to get a good walk in with my kiddo, as well as a brief Zumba workout (I am astonishingly out of shape from my time away from it). I felt great… until Kyle got home, made two amazing smelling pork burritos, and only ate one of them. He was going to throw away the other… and I ate it. Granted, I didn’t go bonkers on the calories today, but I ate a burrito that was basically nothing but meat and cheese, and I hate myself for it.

As I’ve written about in the past, self-control is my biggest downfall when it comes to anything. It has ruined everything in my life at some point. I love eating healthy, and I love exercising. I love fruits and vegetables and salad and cooking… but between the weather, my empty bank account, my un-supportive, carnivorous husband, and my horrible lack of self-control, maintaining any sort of healthy lifestyle is a massive struggle.

I’m hoping my self-hatred can outweigh my lack of self-control… otherwise, I fear I will never be happy with my appearance. And I can’t live like that anymore. I miss my fleeting moment of confidence.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Daily Prompt 2/20/2016 | Dear Self-esteem…

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 2/20/2016 | Shape Up or Ship Out

“Write a letter to the personality trait you like least, convincing it to shape up or ship out. Be as threatening, theatrical, or thoroughly charming as is necessary to get the job done.”

Dear Self-esteem, can we talk for a minute?

Sorry, you actually don’t have a choice here, so listen up. Everyone around here is getting pretty fed up with how you’ve been acting lately. Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about? How about how you made Jan buy all that makeup to cover her acne, even though she knew that it would make it worse? Or how you make her try on every pair of pants that she owns 2 or 3 times before deciding on the pair that makes her look “the least fat”? Or how she sudenly has been feeling the need to wear shirts that cover her butt and thighs, even though she hates how they sit on her belly? Ringing any bells? Stop that shit right now. Oh, does her belly hang over her jeans a bit? Does that shirt color make her skin look red? Quit making her obsess with things like that, you wench. Did you forget that she had a BABY? She’s going to be stuck with that little muffin top for a while, and her hormones are going to be out-of-whack for a bit. Cut it out.

Here’s an idea. How about, instead of making her obsess over her stomach, and her butt, and her thighs, you motivate her to get back on the diet wagon? She was doing awesome, before you reared your ugly head, and made her start feeling hopeless. She lost 25 pounds, Self-esteem. 25 pounds! What have you done with yourself lately, other than make her feel bad? Exactly. So instead of whispering words like “fat”, or “muffin top”, or “tight”, in her ear, you whisper some words of encouragement? Maybe remind her that she weighs less now than she has in years, and that she has successfully lost all of the baby weight, and should be proud of herself, because she’s a badass mamma. Sound good? Great. Shape up, or ship out, bitch. We need to fix what you’ve broken.

Now that that’s taken care of, we need to have a nice chat with Self-control…

Sincerely,
The rest of the traits that aren’t assholes.

Thanks for reading, friends. 😉

Jan

Trichotillomania and Baby Eyelash Envy

Hello, friends. I want to share something with you that I don’t talk much about. It’s not a secret, per se, but just not something I generally talk about. I have trichotillomaniaFor those of you who don’t know what that long, bizarre word means, here is an even longer definition:

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.

For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.” ~ Mayo Clinic

This affliction is actually fairly common, and there are so many different degrees of severity. I honestly don’t know how long I’ve had trichotillomania, but I remember becoming aware of it around the 8th grade. My symptoms are not nearly as severe as some people that I know (I went to school with a girl who had to wear beanies to hide small bald patches from her pulling her hair out), which I am thankful for, and they pop up randomly, usually when I am stressed, anxious, or upset, but sometimes I do it out of boredom, and don’t even notice it. I pull my facial hair, specifically, my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I was younger, I had long, thick, black eyelashes. If you’ve seen pictures of my son, picture those beautiful eyeballs of his, on my face, with blue irises.

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Look at him! He’s perfect. He got those eyes from his mama.

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Circa 2008 or so.

These days, both my eyelashes and eyebrows are coarse and unappealing. My eyelashes are still long, but there are noticeable (to me) gaps between them, making them look clumpy. It makes wearing mascara difficult, because I then drive myself crazy trying to separate the clumps, and end up with black fingers. I also can’t wear eyeliner well on my upper eyelids because of the thick gaps in my eyelashes, and how thick the skin is at the root. I am actually incredibly embarrassed about these things. I’ve also, on more than one occasion, pulled my eyelashes out so violently, that it caused my eyelid to become swollen and red. Try explaining that to someone who doesn’t understand mental disorders.

Most days, when I’m home alone with the baby, makeup free, I am okay with it. I don’t mind the gaps in my lashes, or the coarseness of my eyebrows… until someone mentions my son’s lashes. My mother and grandmother, specifically, are able to get under my skin about this. It isn’t their fault, as neither of them know about my struggles with trichotillomania, and likely haven’t noticed the difference in my face, as I haven’t seen either of them in years, but it still gets to me. I sometimes find myself feeling jealous of my one-year old son, because he has these beautiful lashes, and I will probably never have that again. Coincidentally, my trichotillomania worsened after my son was born, but has gotten a bit better.

“He has your eyes! You always had such gorgeous lashes!”
“Look at those LASHES! Just like his mommy!”
“You had the prettiest eyelashes when you were younger, too!”

Past tense now, of course.

It can take several weeks to several months for eyelashes to grow back, though there are little tricks to get them to grow faster and thicker. Of course, the rate at which they grow back means nothing if you continue to pull others out in the meantime. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m also a compulsive skin picker (hurray, adult acne!), but that’s a whooole other problem. Just add that to the list of weird things that add to my many reasons that I suffer from such severe self-esteem issues.

Does anyone else suffer from trichotillomania? Were you aware that there was even a term for it? How has it affected your life?

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan