Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In the Eye of the Beholder

Last night a friend tagged me in a Facebook post about being beautiful. I needed to upload and post 5 pictures of myself where I feel at my most beautiful. I cringed. I had a small panic attack. I am not known for posting "selfies" online. I have a lot of image issues.

Let me explain:

I have very crooked teeth. I have had them my whole life. There was never enough money to afford braces so I learned to live with the smile. I was told to cover my mouth, smile with my lips closed, anything so no one could see my teeth.

I am not a small woman, never have been, never will be. I have rolls, always have. I was told how much prettier I'd be if I lost weight. I've tried, but I LOVE food.

I wear glasses. "Guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" was something I heard repeatedly as I went through high school. I got contacts and wore them constantly. Guys didn't make passes at me then either.

I wear make-up and do my hair...when I feel like it. My grandmother always had earrings in her ears and her bright pink lipstick on her mouth. "You never know who you're gonna run into."

My feet are a size 11 huge. Dad used to say we'd be better off buying me gunboats to wear. I've never been horribly self conscious about them, but they are substantially obvious.

My eyelashes are short and stubby. I have one pupil that is larger than the other. I have a double chin. I have thinner lips. My cheeks are chubby. My "trunk" looks like a hoarder is hording way too much junk in it. And I get easily distracted. Maintaining focus is hard for me. My life is in constant creative chaos.


I've been told my smile is beautiful and lights up a room. So what if my teeth are crooked? It's a smile uniquely mine.

I'm a bigger girl. That is one thing that will never change. However, I eat healthier foods, I don't snack very often, and I am learning to take care of this body of mine. It is a body that has been called voluptuous and sexy on a few occasions.

I wear glasses. I can't change that. I need to see! Years of contact wearing destroyed the blood vessels in my eyes enough that I've been told that even wearing a pair of contacts for 10 minutes could cause me to lose my sight. So I buy flattering frames to make me look like the sexy nerd girl that certain men like to flirt with.

I put my make-up on when I'm feeling insecure. I put it on like a light mask to hide myself from the world. If I'm not wearing make-up around you, then I feel secure enough to let you see the real me. My hair is colored (because the gray makes me look too old), but rarely is it straightened, curled, or done in any way. I like the waves that have come with age and the bounce that is there.

My feet? Well, I can't change them. So, I put them in cute shoes...when I can find them. When I do find them, I tend to buy multiples simply because I can't always find cute shoes in my size.

As for the rest of me...well, I can only change so much. Most of it I have to live with. And I'm learning...I"m learning to see the beauty in myself.

Let me share some things I've learned while I did this little challenge:

We are not made to be perfect. We are made to be unique and individuals. Our bodies are ours. They are what makes We don't need to look like whatever celebrity is popular at the moment (not a pop culture sort of woman) because even THEY don't look like themselves. Air brushing, touch-ups, professional make-up artists and hair stylists, SPANX, etc. keep them looking like their "natural" selves. The things we see as flaws in ourselves are what the people who love us see as beautiful. We are imperfectly perfect just as we are.

The friend who tagged me in the post stated how you fall in love with someone's laugh, the way their eyes shine, the way they talk with their hands, or the way they move. We can't necessarily see someone's beauty simply from a photograph.

To wrap up this post, I'm going to quote an old adage: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I'm not beautiful to everyone and that is okay. BUT I am beautiful to someone...a lot of people if the comments on my Facebook post are any indication. Beauty isn't merely in looks. It is your heart, your compassion, your intelligence, your wit, your mischievousness, your confidence, and so much more.

So go forth and shine like diamonds, you beautiful beings!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged


Pronunciation: /inˈteləjəns/
The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills

If there is one thing I hate above all others, it is when people make the assumption that I am stupid or uneducated based on what they assume I read, watch, and/or listen to. Let me explain a little bit about me:

I am an author of paranormal romance. I have been working on a BDSM series. I also have written contemporary romance.
I love to read romance. It is one of my favorite genres. It doesn't mean that is ALL I read. I enjoy lots of different genres: horror, sci fi, non-fiction, chick lit, urban fantasy and LITERATURE. I have read every James Herriott book ever written. I own hardcover copies of The Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, The Portrait of Dorian Grey, Portrait of a Woman, Don Quixote, Tom Sawyer, Peter get the idea. And I've read them all.

I am, basically, a music junkie. I listen to everything from classical to rock. Beethoven, Mozart, nature sounds, Celtic Thunder, Pink, Josh Groban, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Luke Bryan, Rhianna, Enrique Iglesias, Tanya Tucker, and the list goes on. I grew up listening to country music and it is the music I listen to most often. It is comfort food for my soul. Doesn't mean I'm some dumb hick. Just means I'm comfortable there.

As for the movies/tv shows I watch, I seldom have time to sit and watch anything. When I do, I turn to the shows and movies that feed me in an emotional or mental capacity. I've been on a Netflix kick for the last month. I've watched shows that make me laugh. The world is such a dark place these days so I go to my list and find things to watch that make me smile. I had a The Ranch marathon (Sam Elliott, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson) and laughed out loud. I fell in love with Grace and Frankie (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin) and I'm working on The Gilmore Girls because I LOVE this show. The mother/daughter dynamic hits every emotional chord a person has...especially if that person is a daughter. I have watched every single episode, but I can watch it over and over again.

You see, I'm not a person who believes in wasting my time. I know what I like, how I like it, and when I like it. I don't do something because everyone else does it nor do I listen to the critics. If I did, I would never discover new bands, new authors, or new shows. But I don't believe the world or social media should dictate the things I allow myself to enjoy.

Here's the reason for this rant:
I have someone who believes it is okay to put me down simply because of the things listed above. I've been told I limit myself because I won't "explore" what this person thinks I should. I don't have unlimited hours in my day to lay around and watch television or read books that don't interest me. Like I said, I don 't believe in wasting my time. My time is a very precious commodity these days. I spend it doing things I love with the people I love. This doesn't mean that I'm unintelligent because of my likes or dislikes. I think I'm incredibly intelligent, but I don't feel the need to reiterate it on a daily basis. I have wisdom and knowledge. I study up on the things that have a direct impact on my world or those who reside in my world. I don't believe I need to use million dollar words to impress upon people the level of my intelligence. I have made some very poor decisions in the last couple of years because I listened to people who didn't have my best interest at heart. But I'm also a big believer that this doesn't mean I have failed. It simply means I've learned from that experience. I've started listening to my heart and following it where I need to go. Here is where the old adage of "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" comes into play. If you have never made a mistake, that is awesome. However:

There are so many varying degrees of intelligence and no one has the right to make you feel inferior. We all know things that others don't. Some of the most intelligent people I know never graduated high school or went to college. And some of the most unintelligent people stand in front of a classroom of students who are hungry to learn, but cannot instill knowledge.

So, do you wanna share? Tell me about the lessons Life has taught you because you truly only fail if you never try. Show me I'm not alone here!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fighting the Fear


I hate to admit it, but I am scared. I am fearful of so many things and I allow them to hold me back. Being insecure is part of my comfort zone. Being insecure is all I've ever known. I meet people with confidence and think, "Wow! How awesome are they?" But to be confident, I'd have to believe I am good at something, that I have something to offer the world, that I matter. And I'm aware that for my life to begin means that I have to step outside of my comfort zone.

I'm scared of failure which I allow to keep me from writing. If I don't write, then I can't fail, right? WRONG!! I'm failing myself by not trying. I'm aware of all of this. However, with my depression weighing on me like a Mack truck, I just wanna throw in the towel. Instead, I write my blog posts. I put all of my feelings out into the universe and release them. I am hoping that my scattered and random thoughts will make sense to the people who need to know they're not alone.

I get up every day and go through the motions of my life. Walk and feed the dog, shower, eat, get dressed, go to work, go home, walk and feed dog, eat, crawl into bed, talk to my sister, and pray sleep comes easily. Some days, I go to bed laughing. Others, I cry until I'm exhausted. And the rest? Well,I allow my brain to run wild and tell me all sorts of horrible things. 

I chuckle as I write this because I have so many people fooled. If you met me on the street, you wouldn't believe that I'm the woman I am. You'd see my smile and think "She's so confident." We'd speak and you'd say to yourself, "She's so friendly." You may overhear a conversation with someone I know and think "She sounds so funny and intelligent." But it is the fear that you are missing.

You're not seeing the fact that it took me two hours to work up the courage to leave the house. You don't notice the white knuckles as I cling to my keys. You've missed the routine of parking in front of the store so I don't have to interact with many people. You don't see the fear behind the smile and the thought process of "Please don't let anyone talk to me!" And gods forbid if someone should reach out to touch me! 

I was in a math class in college two semesters ago. I chose to sit in the back of the class, in the far corner. My nose was in my book. My earbuds securely in my ears until class started. I was getting in my zone. Then, HE walked in. You know, the one guy who has a smile on his face constantly and has such a charismatic personality that you can't help but smile back? Yeah, I got that one. He'd walk into class everyday and he'd want to chat. Being the only other person in class, we'd visit. Then, he did the one thing no one does...he put his hand on my knee and squeezed. Inside, I was losing my shit. Outside, he saw nothing wrong. This continued until I grew used to his touch, then he took my hand. He'd hold it for a brief moment. He always had his hands near mine, fiddling with my binder, twirling my pencil, just being the outgoing man he is. One day, he walk into class, borrowed my notes, returned them and he hugged me! And all the negative thoughts, the panic attack, the "oh gods, he's touching me" thoughts went silent. He just held on. Tightly. I hugged him back and attempted to let go. He did the one thing I never dreamed would happen to me...he held on when I tried to let go. I worked so hard to keep my shit together. I was close to a panic attack, but I didn't have one...until later. I went home from class that day and cried. A panic attack set in when I realized what had happened...I let someone get close enough to feel the rolls of fat on my body, to smell the essential oils I wear as perfume, to smell my shampoo, to notice my breasts aren't perky and perfect. I was petrified that this man would touch me again (and he did...a lot!!!!). He was constantly touching. This was hard for me because I am a person who CRAVES touch. That physical brush of skin against skin, body across body...I yearn for it, but to have a complete stranger (and a beautiful one at that) reach for me first was both amazing and terrifying. 

I am aware that I have lost weight over the last two years. I buy clothes that fit me now and look nice. I don't buy muumuus and large patterned items. I don't dress in all black anymore. Stretch pants and yoga pants are for home use only. I wear jeans and skirts, bright colors, things that reveal and show off my assets. I'm very proud of myself...however, I am still overweight. 

I fear standing out. I don't want people to notice me, but they do anyway. I scurry along the sides of a room like those furry spawns of Satan I hate so much (mice). When someone speaks to me, I often find myself looking around as if I'm thinking "Are you talking to me? Why are you talking to me? Why do you think I should speak? "

I'm scared to allow my voice to be heard. I don't want people to look at me and think "How stupid!" I know I have a brain and common sense. I don't consider myself intelligent though the man from math class thinks I'm smart! 

I'm on a college campus of about 4,000 students on a somewhat daily basis and I rarely speak to anyone. I sit in class with my mouth tightly shut (unless I'm called on) and take notes. Every semester, I will have 1 or 2 people I will speak to on a regular basis, but once the semester is over, I don't talk to them again. In this electronic age, I am more content to keep my earbuds in and my nose in a book for fear of people thinking that I'm too old, too fat, too stupid, too something, to be there.

However, I'm trying. Mr. Charismatic Math Man has me talking to so many different people that I have no choice but to interact. In fact, because of him, I may have made a friend (or two) who I actually text from time to time. I owe this man a debt of gratitude and maybe a plate of cookies.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finding Beauty in the Darkest Places

I've been struggling a lot lately. Finding my way is harder than I ever imagined. The yellow brick road is covered in debris and thorny bushes and the flying monkeys flew off with my machete. My clothes are ripped and torn from my struggle through the forest. My body is worn out and tired from all the fighting. My mind is trying to comprehend why I am having to struggle as hard as I am. I'm trying to keep from giving up, but, by gods, it is hard some days. I don't feel beautiful. I don't love myself. And I sure as fuck don't feel worthy of being loved.

I look beside me and the people who love and support me are cloaked from sight. While this is my own personal battle, it is nice to know when people are fighting with you and for you!

I was given some homework to do and I am dreading it because it is going to tear me apart emotionally. However, this is something that needs to be done...after all, I want you to see that I'm not just another name on the other side of the computer screen. I'm a real life woman with issues too numerous to count. Because I want you to see the struggle, I am posting this here for you.

What Makes Me Beautiful?
1. My darkness. It is full of the secret longings, desires, and loves I hold inside.
2. My smile. Though crooked and not perfect by any means, I've been told that it brightens a person's day.
3. My eyes. I love the hazel green that is shifting to a golden color. But I also love that I see the good in people.
4. My hair. It is currently blue black with sapphire blue and jade green streaks in it. This is the purest expression of me.
5. My ability to love. Even after being hurt as much as I have been, I still love to the width and depth of my being.
6. My hope. I have hope that life will better itself and I will be able to see that the struggle has been worth it.
7. My hands. They bear scars and show my age, but when one person I know takes my hands in his, I notice how easy it is for him and how we fit together so beautifully.
8. My imagination. It has kept me from becoming so entrenched in the dire straits of my reality.
9. My heart. Like my hands, it bears scars from the people I trusted to take care of it, but didn't. Yet, I still hold my heart out for the next person, offering it up as a sacrifice for them, hoping they see the true me and wonder if they can still love me just the same.
10. My inner dork. I am a nerd, but unless I really let you in, you'll never see. I laugh at the silliest jokes, belly laugh over derp derp dog pictures, and can't pass up a chance to have a good LOTR marathon.

So, part one of my homework is done. This was one of the hardest things I've had to do, but I've done it. I mean every word of it. Show me your scars and tell me about what makes YOU beautiful! Let's celebrate the beauty inside each of us!