Your Body is a Wonderland?


Your Body is a Wonderland?

Summer’s approaching (or so I hear) and I went on a lovely, but blustery walk today on my lunch break. That wind though! Yikes. SUN, where you at, bro? It came out a little today and for that I am happy. I’d love some consistency though. Can I get an amen?

Anyways it felt nice, so so nice, to get out and walk and think and ponder. And at first the thoughts were pleasant.

Hey, look at that bird over there! A squirrel!

That home addition is really coming along.

There’s a puddle there. No problem, I’ll jump over it!

And the thoughts stayed there for a little while. Lighthearted and innocent, like fluffy little clouds.

But then, it happened. My thoughts started to turn on me. Like an overwhelming current, I got taken away to that overpopulated island of thoughts called: MY BODY. Yep, it’s that huge mass of muddled thoughts that enters the minds of most women wayyy too often. I’m pretty sure I think about it 85% of the time. Like, it’s what I think about throughout MOST of my day. Isn’t that sad? And, at least for me, it’s usually never good thoughts. It’s self-deprecating and mean.

Let me say this. I’ve been doing pretty well in terms of taking care of said body, actually dammit, very well. Since February I’ve lost 21 pounds. And I did that all by eating healthy and exercising consistently. Hell, I even weigh what I did as a high school swimmer, when I was a Grenadier at good ‘ol EGHS. But somehow, that just isn’t enough. The body I’ll be “comfortable with” is still sitting high up on a cliff somewhere. The place where John Mayer wrote, Your Body is a Wonderland. I still see thigh gaps, toned arms and long elegant legs and think: you will never have those. “Your arms are still kind of chubby. Your legs are awkward and full-looking. Will that cellulite on the back of my legs EVER go away? Why can’t my boobs be smaller?” (<—-yes, yes I mean that last one)

And then comes the whole bathing suit nonsense. I tried my red bikini on the other day because (yay!) I'm going to Florida in June. And despite having come so far, I still felt disappointed. "Your tummy is still a bit pudgy. God, you're so pale. If only I had longer legs and arms, then maybe the fat could be spread out and you'd look more thin. Tonight, you seriously need to do more crunches." Yes, these are things I think to myself. And I know I'm not alone. Not even close.

So I'm walking along on this walk I was talking about earlier and I'm feeling strength in my legs that I didn't have pre-February. I feel lighter when I take strides. And both those things are great. Those are things for which I SHOULD be rewarding myself. And I've come a long ways in terms of my fitness. I push myself in Zumba so hard, I do weight training consistently, I can run A LOT farther and faster, I can do 13 push-ups in a row! I ordered a FitBit!

Great, but the mirror is still my enemy. That 2 x 7 foot square that stares back at me daily. Will it ever not be? It doesn't seem like it. And how do we as women fix something that is so largely ingrained in our culture? In the deepest roots of our society, there it is: body-shaming. Like a big black hole. Because that really is what it is, a big gaping black hole. Nothing ever comes from it but nasty, dark feelings. What's the point of it? I don't know, but there they are.

My point? I'm going to start focusing on the good. I'm going to try. I'm going to try harder. And I'm going to keep pushing myself fitness-wise because that's what feels good. I'll never stop wanting those toned arms, that flat stomach. And that's okay I think. But maybe, just maybe, if I think more often, you go girl, it'll start to sink in.

We are inching along. Every so often I'll see a "body acceptance" video tossed around on Facebook. An Amy Poehler Smart Girls campaign or something similar. Here's my contribution. If you're working out and eating healthy, give yourself a hearty pat on the pack. You go girl. You are doing what you should be doing. Your body is a wonderland.


Lost in the Cacti


Lost in the Cacti

Hey, gang! Athankya for coming back to my second blog post. Things are about to start getting really hot up in here, so I hope you’re ready. It’s Nelly circa 2002 in the club. Shirts are flying. Drinks are popping.

…wait for it…

…I just got back from Arizona. And it was sizzlin’ hot (see how I got ya there?) Yep, it was pretty darn hot. The whole “you could fry an egg on this” analogy was used many times. Well in traveling there, right on the outskirts of Phoenix, I got to see my fun-lovin’ brotherman Brian, his lovely, amazing girlfriend Erin and their dog Zane (guhhhh, so furry and cute). Yay for reunions and spending time with the ones you love. It was great. PLUS, they have a ton of roaming stray cats in their apartment complex, so I was really in my element 😉 I made a few kitty friends and came pretty darn close to bringing them home with me. All of us lined up in a cat gang. I didn’t though…le sigh.

So right now I’m about to go all “show and tell” on you and here’s to hoping you stick it out. There’s a point to it, I promise! One of my favorite things I did there was go to the Desert Botanical Garden with Erin. Two words: cacti galore! As a Chicago native, I simply had no idea that many varieties of succulents existed. Contrary to the midwest-minded me, there are more than just the standard, one-big-prickly-trunk-and-two-stalks-coming-out-of-it cactus. You know, that type of cactus you see on souvenirs and in your mind when you think “Arizona cactus.” The myriad of growing things reminded us of plants you’d see on Mars, or some other faraway planet. There are so many different kinds! Whoa.

So we got “prickly pear” margaritas and roamed around, and totally nature-nerded out the entire time. I got the opportunity to snap a bunch of photos with my fancy shmancy camera, too, which made me really happy. And (as if this could get any better) the garden was also home to glass artist Dale Chihuly (check it out). So there were all these incredible, soaring sculptures blended in with these alien plants. A bluegrass band could be heard distantly playing in the background which gave an awesome undertone to our margarita buzz.

We got lost a bunch of times since neither of us is good with directions (…and because the setup was confusing at best). HOWEVER, here is the thing, getting lost in there was a.w.e.s.o.m.e. Probably one of the most amazing times I’ve had in recent memory – the mix of nature and art and music! Erin and I were like kids that just stepped inside Wonka’s factory for the first time. We trekked through giddily, all the while letting nature’s poetry sink deep. Even if we had passed something in the garden before — “Hey, have we been down this row yet?” “Have we seen this?” — we were wonderstruck again. The colors, the sounds, the red mountains in the background fading in the midst of the dimming sunlight. Aw, mannnn, you should have been there.

Which brings me to the point of this post: people need to expend more time and energy in nature. Holy cow. Spending that day at the nature museum in Phoenix, AZ made me really realize again that there’s a big blue world out there. A huge one. And Phoenix is just a tiny speck on the map. I’ve been around the U.S., not a ton though, and I’ve only been out of it once to Mexico. Yeah, I need to get out more. We all do! If it weren’t for those damn, inconvenient things called ahem, work and money, I’d have my next trip booked stat.

But yes, traveling is awesome and everyone should do it as often as they can. You’ve heard this, we all have, but it’s definitely a totally valid piece of advice. Mother Nature is “where the party’s at.” Not inside some club or on the couch. Out in the thick of the trees, walking among the animals. The sunlight and the leaves and the wind blowing in your hair.

Going on that journey with Erin (both of us strong women! heck yeah!) was just another building block into helping me feel like an unstoppable force. And while my paycheck and work schedule isn’t exactly affording me the opportunity to backpack around Europe, I want to keep traveling on my radar. To remember its importance and validity. It’s easy to get stuck in the convenience of home, the internet and Netflix. Hey, I’m definitely guilty. But it’s so very important to see what’s going outside, to stroll among our non-speaking fellow organisms, to keep that child-like wonder of Dora.

Explore, explore, explore.

Girl Crush


So I have this theory that everything happens for a reason. It’s not a religious, kumbaya “God has a plan for me,” -type realization either. I say this because when I look back at my life, teetering now on the ripe ‘ol age of 26, things have happened and I’ve seen the reason for their occurrence. People came into my life to add something to it, and, if it was meant to be they stayed. Or they’ll come back, like Gandalf. This is something I firmly believe, and, at the same time, when I look up at the cosmos, I don’t think there’s some immortal white guy in a big chair staring down at me directing traffic. Sorry, I just don’t. 

But I do think things happen for a reason. And I’m going to give an example. And you’re going to like it, so buckle up. 

I’ve been hanging out more with some girls lately. Two of them, to be exact. Two awesome females each with unique style on their side. One I met when we were in high school or thereabouts, had a bit of a gap in between where we were doin’ our own thang, and then had our friendship rebirth once she applied to be my editorial intern. Ah, a match made in magazine heaven. We got along swell, and we worked great together. The other girl happens to be said writing girl’s friend and is also a writer. Both of them are equal parts lovely and rad. 

And here is why. 

These girls, we’ll call them Sam and Lana, have changed my outlook on female friendship. For the first time I wanna yell, “where my girls at?!” like I’m in some Destiny’s Child video. Heyo, waving my arms back and forth in front of a neon screen. I don’t want to put gum in their hair, slutshame them or write about them in a burnbook. Not that I have ever wanted to do that, anyway, but I’m trying to get at “typical” girl-on-girl behavior in an example of its nasty underbelly. No, this union between me, and Sam and Lana is all the real, dense mass of something blossoming. Something deep. 

In saying this I want to make sure to say I have felt a lot of my prior friendships with women to be strong. Very, in fact. I have another awesome friend, let’s call her Michelle, who started out as my random college roommate. I just spent the weekend with in the city and was reminded of why she’s been in my life so steadily since we met. She’s fun, understanding and complex. She’s helped me through very hard times in life. 

I think with Sam and Lana, for the first time in my life, I understand why the friendships I’ve made with women in the past lasted and why ones faded away. 

Minor segue, but I recently got out of an on-off relationship, and I guess it was for the usual reasons. Partner didn’t love himself. And I’m realizing that maybe I wasn’t loving myself properly, either. To give love, you need to have it for yourself first. That’s when the most loving happens. That’s when love really takes flight and kicks ass. And after I got out of this relationship, I realized that more fully. That which I was blind to because I love that person so freaking much. I still do. But nothing can ever truly grow if one person or both is stunting the self-love. 

So now, more than ever, I want to give love to somebody. And it’s because I’m loving and accepting more of myself. I want to show somebody how nerdy I can be over Star Trek: The Next Generation, how crazy cat lady-like I am or how I have ten different editions of the same book. Those things are damn cool and get with it or get lost! I mean, don’t go anywhere, you know what I mean. 

Sam and Lana started helping me believe that I’m a human being and that’s okay. I have faults, sure, everyone does in one way or another. But those quirks are what make you, you. They helped me see that I’m not a wandering, aimless machine. I have a say in my own happiness. 

Also, that I’m a good writer. And to be honest, that means so infinitely much. Because writing is where I find my worth. They read my short stories and said hell yes, please show me more of this. Fuck yeah, that detail there is amazing. Keep writing. 

And they are honest too. They call me out when they think I might be hiding something. Sheltering myself in my thoughts like a camper in a rainstorm. I still can’t escape some insecurities, just now writing this I went back and said “you should erase the ‘I’m a good writer part’ from above, that sounds pompous.” But isn’t that what we’re supposed to be saying to ourselves? That we’re good at something? Isn’t that how we get to the next level? The answer is yes. 

They believe in me. I feel the sincerity in what they write in comments on my papers. They really do want us all to excel at our craft. That which is the divine process of stringing words together to make them resonate with our fellow human. Good stuff. 

Know what else they help me understand? Sex. No and not in the dirty way you’re thinking…even better. 

Sam and Lana helped me own my fucking womanhood. They told me my clitoris is my friend, and if you want to ride the orgasm train to orgasmtown by yourself, you should do that and do it now. Hell, do it all day. Do it in your office when you have 15 minutes of free time. No, really you should. Not that I was a prude before, but I wasn’t exactly Madame Bijou at the Moulin Rouge, either. I still have things to learn ~winky face~

So get this: Up until very, very recently (we’ll call this day YESTERDAY), I had never had a self-stimulating orgasm.

I know, I know it’s actually kind of silly. I’m given this delightful collection of orgasmable parts and I’m not putting them to use when I’m alone. Ay, carumba! But that is all in the past now and hey, who knows, maybe I’ll get comfortable enough in one of my future blogs to describe how completely and totally, hmm, wonderful and liberating that was. Ahhh. 

Soooo… it’s great, thanks to Sam and Lana I’m working my way to being comfortable with my sexuality. And I think there’s important depth there because no, I’m not gay or bi or trans or the myriad of other things a human is capable of being (and that are all TOTALLY, completely fine for them to be). I’m straight, and I might be in the majority, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily all ooey and gooey and super in touch with it. I don’t watch porn because I’m scared, I don’t let myself get lost in sexy thoughts, I don’t explore. I’m ashamed. But I don’t want to be. 

There’s one more vital point in my knowing that Sam and Lana have a known place in my life. When I’m not with them, sharing our views at our weekly writing group, I feel like I’m missing something. A gap. 

And that’s what friendship is, that’s what friendship can be. Getting to a point with your fellow woman where you feel like they add something to your life, and, without it, you aren’t quite whole. And my current group of lady friends really fulfills that for me. Not only with Sam and Lana, but the other women in my life as well. 

I’ve thought before that I’m friends with certain women because we have things in common. We complain about the same stuff and that’s probably the extent of it. No, it’s really deeper than that. Much deeper. These women satisfy a part of me that’s hungry. Hungry for acceptance. Hungry for appreciation of my femininity and all that’s marvelously separate from a man. We’re all a part of this thing called existence, but being a woman is awesome. 

This is one of the things I’m going on a journey to seek and understand. I’m going to do that through writing this blog. 

Hey, hi, nervous wave. This is probably one of the most honest things I’ve ever written. I’m excited to start being more honest with myself. All ye welcome aboard.