When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

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This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

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Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

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Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

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On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

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Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

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It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

That time we were almost cast for TLC

Have you ever experienced one of those moments where time seems suspended in midair and you observe the situation you’re in from a slightly removed perspective and know somewhere deep in your bones that this is a pivotal moment? A moment with a fork in the road and it could change your life completely if you go one way, or it could stay the exact same if you go the other?

Well did that EVER happen to the Sisterhood last week!

Roughly a month ago, we were contacted by a development company called Crybaby Media out of NEW YORK CITY (yeah, New York, New York!) regarding a mandate that had been sent down from the TLC and Lifetime networks to find and cast families with four or more sisters for a new docu-series they were looking to develop.

You can imagine our surprise when our wee-baby, fairly personal blog put us on the map and got us noticed. Reading and re-reading the initial email we were all pretty convinced we were probably being duped and that it had to be a scam of some sort. Our mama was just worried we would John & Kate Plus 8 the crap out of our lives if we participated.

....I can see why she would be concerned.

….I can see why she would be concerned.

As with all big, scary, exciting news, we met immediately to discuss our stance and if we wanted to proceed with the Skype interviews they had requested and aired our concerns. We decided to see what the show was about and what we would be giving up to participate.

To say the initial process left us feeling like we were in good hands would be a stretch – scheduling conflicts and poor communication led us to really question the legitimacy of the opportunity. After expressing our concerns after being stood up and emailed after the fact to reschedule us – again – things seemed to take a turn for the better and we were finally able to Skype with McKenna from Crybaby Media.

The initial interview was for McKenna to get to know us more and see if there was enough about us as a Sisterhood that people could relate to and was the rawest of the process. We nervously accepted her call as we heard Skype ring through our set up laptop at the bottom of Julia’s basement stairs where quiet, decent lighting and stacked seating were available.

McKenna was friendly and warm which put as ease fairly quickly. She got right into it and asked us to round-robin introduce ourselves and give a snapshot of who each of is, our lifestyle, age and position within the Sisterhood. We were asked to describe each other, our childhood, our parents, what we do together for fun, what we do apart that makes us unique – the typical kinds of questions you would expect for a reality-based series participant to divulge about themselves. After about 20 minutes of us cautiously answering the required questions, McKenna let us know she would like to pass us through to the second stage and interview, which would be taped and then cut down to make our 2-4 minute ‘pitch’ video to the network.

We logged off the call with instructions for follow-up and instantly burst into a common commotion of chatter throwing around concerns, questions, statements and ideas for how to get all of this to process through our overloaded brains.

What just happened?

Did our little blog just set off a series of events for us that we could have never imagined? Did we even want to participate now that we knew what we’d be sharing with the world? How would this affect our lives and relationships? There were so many questions and unknowns it was hard not to get too ahead of ourselves. We were still reeling from even being found on this wide world of the internet and to be honest, our concerns for our little lives were beginning to surpass our interest in being cast.

Maybe a little too real for reality TV?

Maybe a little too real for reality TV?

After confirming our follow-up taped interview, we were provided a general guideline for the questions and style of answering in order to get a good cut for our final video. When the day of the taping came we met early to discuss what had come to the surface for each of us over the two days between interviews. We were sure to be honest with one another about what we were comfortable discussing and what we would rather not shed light on just yet – surprisingly there are still things about us that we are just not ready to let our readers learn just yet. We determined a good rule of thumb to be if we were comfortable writing about it here, we should be comfortable being honest and open about it on camera.

Our taping went really well and I think I speak for all of the sisters when I say that we might have benefited from the structure and style of the conversation more than anyone. In the 45 minutes of taping we were able to learn a little more about each other, what we want out of this blog, how we view the world, our childhood and each other uniquely from one another.

Most importantly, we uncovered that we wanted to raise our blog to be a community for people to come and experience what it is to be a part of such a tight sisterhood, to feel not so alone with the battles they wage daily, and to know that there are a bunch weirdos out there stumbling through this insanity that we call life just as awkwardly as any one.

We all didn’t express it then, but we were all filled with anxiety of the changes that may come into our lives if we were picked up by the network and it wasn’t an eager anxiety. Personally, I made sure to pray on it that if this was not meant for us or would not bring only light and love into our lives it would be removed from our hands to choose.

Please? Or, no thank you?

Please? Or, no thank you?

A day later we received an email stating we had been passed on and ironically enough were told we were not nearly “outrageous” enough for the casting – which if you’ve ever been to one of our family events you know this is not entirely true – however, we did take that as a compliment when we considered the network that had put out the mandate.

Can you IMAGINE if we had made it through!?

When we all found out about not making it to the next round there were shared expressions of relief – we weren’t exactly sure we were ready for TLC… or if TLC was ready for the likes of us.

So for now, we are your humble community blog, focused on sharing our lives with whoever happens upon us. Who knows what the future brings though – stranger things have happened!

~ Toni

The girl with bad skin

I have started, stopped and erased the beginnings of this post about 5000 times and I still am not sure I want to write it.

You see, no one wants to admit to or highlight their flaws, especially ones that have been dealt with and endured for years by being masked as best they could be so the whole world wouldn’t notice. But I figured, there just might be someone else out there that needed to hear this, needed to relate, needed to not feel so alone, so here it is.

Up until about four months ago, you could not have paid me any amount of money to leave the house without applying a skillfully placed mask of makeup to cover up the skin on my face. You could not pay me to wash my makeup off when just relaxing at home for fear of my fiance not finding me attractive. You could not pay me to not wear makeup when working out, even though I knew how silly it made me look. You could not pay me to go on an early morning road trip without wearing makeup or go to the beach without making sure my skin was perfectly covered up, making me more high-maintenance than I ever wanted to be.

You could not have paid me, because I had severe adult acne and I HATED the way my face looked and felt.

While I always thought I had ‘bad skin’ because of the joys of puberty and chose to wear makeup from grade 8 on, I had no idea what bad skin was until I turned 26 and all hell broke loose. What used to be one or two blemishes, turned into cheek-fulls, a jawline packed and temples covered. My face was consistently swollen, red, and in so much pain. I wore my hair down 99% of the time so I would be able to somewhat shield my skin from onlookers’ eyes as no matter how much makeup I put on, the texture and surface of my skin was still a mess and I was convinced it was all people could see when they looked at me. I carried myself differently, almost always with my head down so others could not see on first glance what my face looked like. I felt like I was known as the girl with bad skin.

On top of how it made me feel about myself, I hated how it made Michael feel when he would forget and grab my face to kiss me and have me pull away with tears in my eyes from the pain.

It didn’t matter what I did, what latest, greatest product I used that promised to heal me, no matter how much money I wasted trying to figure out how to find balance in my skin, nothing worked. I had used every product imaginable, been poked, prodded and burned by micro-needling and laser therapy that was supposed to be a miracle treatment (it wasn’t… far, far from it!), fiddled with many natural remedies and sat in my dermatologist’s office more times than he or I care to admit, bawling my eyes out about my skin and how it was affecting my life, my confidence, and even my desire to plan our destination wedding. The very thought of being on a beach with my family and friends and having to get up early every day to cover up my face so no one would see the mess of my skin was giving me anxiety. I wanted to be carefree, relaxed and completely easy going that week, not worried about how my makeup was holding up so no one would see my real face.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer... even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer… even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

I had had enough. I was 28 years old and should have been long grown out of this stage in my life. I thought crazy things about why it wouldn’t go away, like it was my karma showing on my skin for something I’d done in the past, or that it was my body punishing me for choosing not to have children. Crazy, crazy things!

This past October, I again found myself in my dermatologist’s office, in tears, desperate to fix it. He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me it wasn’t that bad, at the very least not the worst he had seen and asked why I was so upset. I responded, “You clearly have never had acne in your life, nor do you really understand how much pain I am in, how much my skin hurts, stings and throbs all day.” His sheepish expression told me that he hadn’t really been putting himself in my shoes, and that he definitely hadn’t ever experienced any sort of skin problem before. He reminded me about the option of Accutane, but not until the spring due to some of the more dangerous side effects that can be magnified in the winter months. I had always been dead-set against going on such a controversial treatment, but I was desperate. Devastated that Accutane was the only available option left, I told him I would try it. To carry me through until Spring, he prescribed me a topical treatment that shared some of the same properties as Accutane and suggested I look again at some other areas of my life that could be contributing to my flare ups.

Shortly after that visit I lost my job which reduced the stress level in my life significantly and meant I didn’t HAVE to put makeup on everyday. I made the decision with Michael to go back on the pill to see if the hormone regulation would help. On top of that, I cut most dairy from my diet, increased my daily water intake, started sweating without makeup on at Moksha and religiously used the prescribed topical treatment day and night. I stopped picking and poking my skin and let it be as often as I could.

Slowly, but surely I started seeing fewer new blemishes and the old wounds healing, and every day noticing a bit more skin that resembled a face I could love and less of a face like Freddy Kruger’s. I was so happy that I wouldn’t have to take Accutane!

I don’t know what specifically, or what combination of steps taken was the key, but present day, my skin is the healthiest it has ever been. So healthy in fact that I rarely even have to think twice before I leave the house fresh-faced and makeup free, something I had only ever dreamed of being able to do. So healthy that people who have not seen me for months can’t get over how great my skin looks. So healthy that if I told you I used to have a face FULL of acne only a few months ago, you would not believe me.

I wear my hair pulled back in braids or a bun all the time now, walk with my head held high and my face proudly on display for anyone to see. Don’t tell Mike, but I even got hit on at the grocery store the other day, makeup free, something I never thought in a MILLION years would happen.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

But my favourite thing about my new, healthier skin?

Michael touches my face all of the time now – to kiss, to caress, just to love – and it makes my heart so happy it could burst.

It’s made me realize even more that the people that love me, for me, are not fooled by the misconceptions I have about myself and can look past my flaws even when I’m unable to separate myself from them. I’ve also been reminded that you should never give up on being an advocate for yourself. If I had not pushed back with my dermatologist just one more time, I highly doubt my skin would be where it is right now.

My skin is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But for now, I’m enjoying my new found freedom and confidence in this skin I’m growing into, and learning to love it regardless of its problems and issues… kind of like me.

~ Toni

Hug a terrorist

In high school, I clearly remember being taught that Canada is this beautiful land, full of different cultures and people, and that everyone added their heritage and history to our tapestry, making Canada a unique mosaic of people. And in the next breath, of course, we were taught that America, our southern neighbour, was a melting pot, where people’s histories and heritages were obliterated in a steamrolling of assimilation.

It might be true. And it might be false. The reality, though, is that these are polarizing ideas and they leave little room for exception. There is proof of racism and the demand for assimilation here in Canada, perpetuated even by our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is demanding Muslim women not be allowed to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. And there is proof of acceptance and ‘mosaic’ behaviour from our American neighbours, like the conversation-igniting campaign that Starbucks tried to tackle with their #RaceTogether scrawls on cups.

Regardless of where we live, what nationality we are currently claiming as ours, or how we choose to identify ourselves, we all have the same thing in common: we are all human. And this fact, again, regardless of anything else, is the most important and often the least remembered piece of any country’s puzzle.

A young Muslim woman, Assma Galuta, is trying to tackle the gap between reality and perception when it comes to race. She runs a YouTube channel where she posts filmed social experiments she has conducted. Her experiments challenge what people ‘know’ or ‘say’ about the Muslim faith and people, and what is real. Her focus is the universal commonality: we are all human.

In her first experiment, she asked people to finish her poster where she had written, “I am a Muslim, so that makes me…” She herself had put “kind” and “terrorist,” both terms that had been used to describe Assma in the past. Then, she stands on the street, asking people to write what they think a Muslim is.

The result is heartwarming – everyone who takes the time to write on her poster, leaves words of positivity and humanity. And most of them apologize for the word ‘terrorist’. It’s a nice story and a good news item for Canadians…at least, for a handful of Torontonians. The truth, is, though, she has been called a terrorist. She has experienced what she calls, Islamophobia, and hate directed at her because of her dress, her religion and her belief system. The reason for the experiment still exists – people mistreat people who are different, who act differently, who aren’t like them, instead of treating them as they really are: human.

In her second experiment, Assma blindfolds a Muslim man, Mustafa Malwa, complete with brown skin and beard, and puts two signs beside him. One reads: “I am a Muslim. I am labelled as a terrorist.” The other reads: “I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug.”

Again, the response is hopeful – people walk up to him and hug him – men, women, other Muslims, white people, black people, HUMAN people. And it’s a shining ray of light in the dark days of young, black, unarmed men getting shot without provocation, of mosques getting vandalized, and of Jewish cemeteries getting defaced.

But, of course, this is not everyone. Not every person hugs him. Not every person will trust him. Not everyone can look at him and not see a terrorist.

And this is not a small thing.

It is in the way that the media handles violent attacks, labeling some terrorist and others not. Looking for mental illness and reason behind a murder of 149 people instead of looking for a religious political slant on a horrific plane crash because the pilot who downed the plane was white.

It is in the way we handle any difference, reacting in fear when we see a line of people waiting for a bus simply because they all have a different colour of face than we do. Being suspicious of someone because their skin is darker and their hair is longer and their outfit is something we’d never wear. Judging people simply because of their appearance, their religious affiliation, their beliefs, and their ancestry.

It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. So what can we do? How can we combat stereotyping, and culture-phobia, and hate speech? How can we stop perpetuating false ideas about other religions, other cultures, other ethnicities?

I would like to propose a social experiment. I won’t record it and I won’t post it. It won’t go viral online with millions of views and hits on YouTube. But I’d still like to give it a go, because I’m unsure what else I can do, as a privileged white woman living in Southern Ontario.

Assma Galuta's favourite quote.

Assma Galuta’s favourite quote.

I’d like to challenge you to see every person you come across as human. Not as black or brown or white or pink or purple or blue. Not as fat or gay or ugly or gorgeous or thin or fit or heterosexual. Not as a stranger or a friend or a neighbour or a fellow shopper. But as human. Notice their human-ness, what makes them the same as you, what makes them a person, what gives them the right to have all the necessities of life and the right to live it fully. Notice their breath, their heartbeat, their movement, their presence. Notice them. Notice other human beings. And focus on that piece of the melting pot or the mosaic or the country that you’re in. Stop noticing the difference and start embracing, and in some instances, literally hugging, the humans around you. Because they are just like you.

~ Julia

Can I hear it for some love, peace and understanding?

Everywhere you go there is racism. People judge harshly, quickly, and without cause. We hurt people who had nothing to do with the bigger picture, and too many innocent bystanders suffer.

One place I am going to highlight on is France, especially in light of what happened there this January. This is not to place blame but to recognize that nothing is always as it seems, and that there is more going on then we know. We just need to take a deeper look.

I just want to define something here, an Extremist (which exists in any religion or culture) is a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, especially in being politically radical.

Extremists, who were under surveillance last year, but got taken off of it six months prior to the shootings, were the root of the problem. Not Muslims.

A Muslim, as the Sufi spiritual leader Ibn Arabi says, is a: person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God…Islam means making one’s religion and faith God’s alone.

I have recently read an article in the New York Times, written about how Muslims, even if they have lived in a country for their entire life, do not feel like they are home, or that they are welcome.

Can you imagine living somewhere and not ever feeling like you could just live, just be?

Why is it in peaceful places does racism and biased reactions, based on one small group, instead of the whole, reign true? Why can’t there be peace without the violence and why can we not just see that everyone is wrong, and the only right in the world is peace, light, and love?

People judge so harshly based on religion or even just skin colour. We take the leap before we even slow down enough to find out who someone is and to know that they aren’t all bad, just like we aren’t all bad.

I want to stop time and just make sense of all the nonsensical violence, all because of pigmentation or the right to believe in who and what you believe. It will never make any sense. It will never get us anywhere judging people for something that is theirs alone and is in their hearts. You shouldn’t judge what you do not know, and I don’t know much, but I know that when you are walking down the street towards me, I am not going to judge you on the pigmentation of your skin and I am not going to judge you based on which headdress you wear. I am going to smile, keep walking with peace and love in my heart.

As my one roommate says “We all want one thing: to live.”

We will learn. I have hope.

We will learn. I have hope.

~ Andreah

Can we try a little acceptance?

Remember the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?

Well, I call bullshit.

It’s hard being plus-sized, and times don’t get any easier when younger generations seem to get harsher.

When you walk into a store, and hear people talk about you, your size and the way you look, it doesn’t hurt any less than when I was a kid and all my playground to high school bullies would comment on my size over and over again.

It hurts and the flashbacks aren’t any more fun than experiencing it the first time.

I am trying and working on loving myself, but when I hear from four teenage girls who I don’t even know, “Can she get any bigger?” I think it’s gone too far.

When you tell your child, while I am looking through the plus-sized section, not to eat too much because you don’t want to look like her, well I just say that goes too far, and although I don’t make a comment, and just try and brush it off, it still gets to me. It still hurts.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Made by epic designer Carol Rossetti

I just want to say one thing when people out in the world make me feel like a tiny insignificant speck of nothing – Screw you.

I like food, and although I am working on cutting down the fat, I love good, delicious, healthy-for-you food, and didn’t get this way by eating fast food. I got this way by having poor eating habits, not eating choices. I got this way by being severely depressed, wanting attention, and getting it through the wrong means. And yes, I am paying for it now, but I didn’t do anything to your child, you, or anyone around you, so why must you comment? Why comment on people’s lives, their weight, or anything else about them? Why can’t we all just be nice to each other regardless of what they look like, and why the hell can we not appreciate who they are?

That person who you are talking about? Yes, they may be overweight, but they can still hear you!

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That person may be wearing outrageous colours, but maybe it makes them feel good, and what right do you have to comment on how they look?

Granted, I am a firm believer for dressing according to my body size, but just because I don’t think I can’t make a tube top work, doesn’t mean anything about you! It means that I can’t flaunt all of me yet. I will get there, and I will learn to love my body, but it doesn’t happen overnight and weight loss doesn’t happen in one swift moment. Trust me, I know.

But one thing that would probably make everyone’s lives a ton easier is to stop judging based on appearance.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Stop belittling other people because you think it makes you sound better than you are. One day those teenagers are going to learn what it feels like to be on the other side, and the next time I may actually say something. That mom in that store may one day have an overweight child and will learn to accept their faults and love them regardless.

I may not be able to teach you these lessons, but I hope one day we all can learn to accept faults in ourselves, because that’s where we should be looking first.

I do want to end this blog post on a high note – that no matter what I think of myself and no matter what anybody says, I know Joe thinks I am beautiful; he says it to me every morning when we wake up and every night before we fall asleep.

~ Andreah

What motherhood means to me

I have been blessed throughout my entire life with a wide range of mothers coming in and out of my life, but for the most part they all stay. They come into my life when I need them the most, even if I don’t think I do. They help me through the hard things, and hold my hand when I need them. They adopt me and keep me in their lives, and are never surprised when I show up to their houses unannounced. They are the women who raised me (and continue to do so), and it seems like it really did take a village to raise me, and because of them I always find the strength to move on to greater and better things in my life.

Motherhood to me is acceptance.

Acceptance is something I have always wanted for most of my life. I have always wanted to be welcomed in and cared for, it is something even to this day I crave. As the youngest of four girls I felt alone quite often in my life. Not always left behind, but more just brushed aside at times, especially when I wasn’t too lovable. My mom had her hands full raising all of us, and I came around when the rules seemed a little bit more relaxed, and when they weren’t quite expecting another one.

“She was your little accident,” my grandmother had said.

“I didn’t accidentally have sex; she is my miracle,” my mother replied sassily.

My mother, from that first moment, accepted that I was coming into the world, and she has never stopped accepting who I am and who I am becoming. The next mothers I have known are the women at our various congregations of our church, all of them loving to watch me and guiding me in small, but meaningful ways. They are the women in my life who I still call my ‘Aunts’ even though there is no actual relation. These are also the women that my mother coins as her life-long friends. Helping her raise me with a shoulder to cry on when needed, complain to when I was being impossible, and being another ear for me to voice my opinion and give me some insight into what my mother must be feeling.

Motherhood means listening.

I have a wonderful friend named Elena, and when I felt like I had nowhere to turn and was feeling overwhelmed in college, she and her mother were there to lend a third party unbiased listening ear to me. Whenever I see Birute, Elena’s mom, I still run towards her yelling, “MOMMY!” And whenever I am over and can actually get my butt out of bed, I still spend some wee hours of the morning sharing a cup of coffee and a little bit of catch up with her.

Motherhood to me means hugs.

I know that is a young thought, but think about it. Still to this day, whenever I am upset, have problems, or just feeling overwhelmed, all I want is a mommy-hug. There is nothing like a hug from a mother. It is warm, comforting, and just allows everything to lift from your shoulders. The only thing stopping me from saying that magic doesn’t exist is the mom-hug. It feels magical and is the one thing that feels like an instantaneous problem solver. Call me crazy all you want, but mom hugs are magic.

All of my various moms have had all of these qualities, they all accept me wholeheartedly, they all have listened to my various (sometimes overly dramatic, yeah, I admit it), problems, and all of them are always willing to give me that hug that I need so much on a constant basis.

However, motherhood, to me, is a beautiful, unconditional, all-encompassing love and the beautiful part? You don’t even have to be related to show this motherly love to people. I should know.

Thank you all my wonderful mothers, you know who you are, and I hope you know that you all are definitely counted as my blessings.

~ Andreah

Letting go of Shakira

No one is perfect. Everyone has their imperfections. But it seems that our own are more apparent to ourselves when we are looking in the mirror before leaving for work, or getting ready to go out.  We all have our ways of covering them up, or coping with them.

Myself, I makes jokes about my flaws, I mock myself, because if I do it, then it won’t hurt so bad when other people notice. I pointed it out to them, I am aware of my appearance, so they have to take notice of my bravery and blunt nature, and just accept it as me…right?

 

 

Here is a news flash, I wish I were thinner, and that my skin was flawless…

 

I wish I didn’t have to wax my eyebrows (damn you, Dad and those Portuguese genes)….

 

 

And so I have a prescription cream for my skin (although I will argue is does nothing), I have a grooming regime to ensure my eyebrows are two separate entities and not one, and I have started to work out.

Don’t we all have a list of things we want to change? Tweak? It’s no secret that Julia, Toni and myself have started to work out; they have introduced me to the love of running, and although I am not totally in love with it right now, I can see how when you start you just can’t stop.

For me, the joy I get from working out is the new perspective that it has given me. Before when I decided I should start working out, about the time Cody proposed, my goals were unobtainable, because not only did I want to lose weight, but I wanted to grow taller, a feat that I have not been capable of since the 8th grade, and I wanted to change my body type. I didn’t want to put the work in, I only wanted to pin pictures of women with amazing bodies and then by the power of osmosis, it would happen!

Since I started working out, I have stumbled upon more and more blogs about other people’s love affairs and break-ups with exercising and the movement to love your body at every shape on a site called Health At Every Size. The most recent I came across was a fellow blogger, Talkin’ Reckless, who publicly announced her break-up with exercising  Her post resonated with me! Not only a couple of hours earlier I was talking with one of my best friends Kim, who has been a major inspiration of mine when it comes to health and fitness, about how I was finally happy with my body, because I was not depriving myself of things, and that I understood that I will never have Shakira’s body, but rather my own version of it.

 

Today I am making better choices with what I put into my body by not focusing on the quantity but the quality. I am working out more and finding myself needing it, and wanting to work out for me. I am comfortable in my own skin, and love posting about the feats that I have accomplished!

I still have goals for my fitness; however they are realistic and I am setting myself up to accomplish them, instead of failing. I have found a new bond with the ladies I work out with – a sisterhood if you will. They motivate me when temptation is around every corner, they push me (and I need to be pushed) and they are there to cushion the fall when I stray off the path.

Like I said, I am comfortable in my own skin, and it feels AMAZING!

~ Jacqui