Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Days

** Have you entered the giveaway for the "Operation Beautiful" books? Go HERE **

There are many, many days when I struggle with what I could (or should) be writing here. Then, the other day, I came across something that a lot of the NZ bloggers that I follow seem to have taken up. It's called "30 Days of Me". The theory is that you are supposed to do 30 days of posts about yourself. In a row. I think it originated on this blog - Pebbles' Blog.

Well, I don't to annoy people by having a post appear every single day and quite frankly I think that I'll probably annoy myself if I did that, so I'm going to do it, but they'll be spaced out a bit. Here's the things you're meant to answer:

Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself
Day 02- The meaning behind your Blog name
Day 03- A picture of you and your friends
Day 04- A habit that you wish you didn’t have
Day 05- A picture of somewhere you’ve been to
Day 06- Favorite super hero and why
Day 07- A picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you
Day 08- Short term goals for this month and why
Day 09- Something you’re proud of in the past few days
Day 10- Songs you listen to when you are Happy, Sad, Bored, Hyped, Mad
Day 11- Another picture of you and your friends
Day 12- How you found out about Blogger and why you made one
Day 13- A letter to someone who has hurt you recently
Day 14- A picture of you and your family
Day 15- Put your iPod on shuffle: First 10 songs that play
Day 16- Another picture of yourself
Day 17- Someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why
Day 18- Plans/dreams/goals you have
Day 19- Nicknames you have; why do you have them
Day 20- Someone you see yourself marrying/being with in the future
Day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy
Day 22- What makes you different from everyone else
Day 23- Something you crave for a lot
Day 24- A letter to your parents
Day 25- What I would find in your bag
Day 26- What you think about your friends
Day 27- Why are you doing this 30 day challenge
Day 28- A picture of you last year and now, how have you changed since then?
Day 29- In this past month, what have you learned
Day 30- Your favorite song.

So eventually, I will make it through them all. And in between I may even manage to get other posts in.

Thanks for stickin' around y'all.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On a Mission - The 3rd and final chapter..complete with GIVEAWAY!

Part 1 -- Part 2

So we've talked about our perceptions of beauty. We've talked about the quest for perfect that we all seem to be on, in however small a way.

I'd like to tie those two together today with a video that someone shared with me. It's sad, it brought a tear to my eye. I sat with my 8 year old daughter and watched it. Not because I wanted to scare her, although that may have been an added bonus, but because I wanted to see her reaction and I wanted to have a discussion.





She was horrified. She was saddened. She was confused. She was worried.

She wanted to know why the girls in the video wanted to be so skinny. She asked why their mommies hadn't told them that they were beautiful and smart...."You know, like you tell me all the time Momma!"

I didn't have an answer for her. I still don't.

We talked about why some girls feel like they have to look like that. I let her lead the discussion and eventually we ended up in the inevitable position of talking about how pretty some movie stars and singers are. I Googled some of those "before & after photoshop" pictures of the celebs and she was shocked.

I'm sure there will be more questions to come. I'm sure that as she gets older and listens to some of the girls at school, she will perhaps begin to doubt her own self confidence. I hope that it will be short lived. I hope that I will be able to foster a healthy sense of being in her and that I will never have to watch my daughter starve herself into oblivion.

My hope for my daughter is that she will always be happy with herself, whatever she chooses. I don't just mean with her body, but in her life. I hope never to identify my daughter in an article like the one Dan wrote, it was bad enough to see myself.


Well folks, this is the end of my "On a Mission" series of posts and I would like to give something away to you.

I have TWO copies of the "Operation Beautiful" book to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me who in your life (you or someone else) is beautiful....and why. You can leave ONE comment PER DAY for the duration of the giveaway.

Open to EVERYONE. Contest closes Friday 8th October.


P.S. There's also a giveaway running over at my other blog "Looking For My Feet"...feel free to swing by and enter!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

On a mission - Part 2

Part 1 of "On a Mission" can be found HERE.

**********

The stuff I want to talk about in this second half came about because of yet another post by Dan Pearce at Single Dad Laughing. This post has been well received all around the world. It has made people laugh, it has made them cry and it has opened up many channels of communication. More than 100,000 people have visited the post, it has been shared on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter and sent via email. It took Dan a long time to write and took me a long time to read through because it kept making me stop to think. And cry. The post is called "The Disease Called 'Perfection'". If you haven't yet read it, you should. If you have read it, read it again. Please. Then come back here and we'll talk.

I'll wait.

Did you see anyone you recognize in that post? Did you see yourself in that post?

I did. I saw people from my past and even some from my present. I saw myself from a couple of years ago and even some small bits of my present self floating around. It was kind of sobering.

My mother was there, trying to be perfect for the people around her, never taking time for herself, justifying her husband's behaviour to herself and to everyone around her. She spent many of my formative years trying to please everyone, trying to make everyone happy. If she fell short in that pursuit, you could tell it affected her in a big way. I never really appreciated how much she did for us (none of us did), until I was older with kids of my own. I spent a few years doing this myself.

I'm sure that some people would tell you that my husband was the belittled, unappreciated man. He may even tell you that himself. For some years there, as ashamed as I am to admit it, he worked hard for our family and all I did was pick fights, nag and bully. I was going through a hard time in my own head but wasn't ready to admit it, instead taking it out on him. It's possible that in his desire to hide the imperfection in his marriage, he stayed. Thankfully, we are now in a good, happy place.

We were the couple with debt who still went camping, still went to movies, still got take out....all because we (I) didn't want to say to our friends "sorry, we can't afford it". It's hard when all your friends are making better money, buying better things and having fun....and you don't have the money. You want to seem perfect, you want to fit in, and to tell anyone otherwise is scary.

"Perfection"......it's not all it's cracked up to be. Dan had it right, it's a pandemic. People everywhere trying to something they're not.

I've been that mom, trying to keep up with the other moms. Crafts, play dates, classes, clothes...it all gets to be too much.

I've been that overwhelmed woman driving in her car and considering driving into a wall. I really have. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that my children would then have to live with a very REAL example of how IMperfect their mother was.


It scares me, just as much as it scares Dan and the thousands of people who have shared his words, how focused on being "perfect" we have all become. I am thankful that I am starting to outgrow it. It is partly due to age, I no longer have the incredible NEED to be liked by everyone. My new mantra is "if you don't like me, that ain't MY problem". It is partly due to our new location, New Zealand is not a "keep up with the Joneses" country. But it is mostly due to the fact that I am very aware of how damaging this quest for perfection can be....and I don't want my children to be sucked in. I don't want anyone's children to be sucked in.

So here's my question to you.

WHY?

Why do we feel like we have to be everything, to everyone?

Why do we put so much pressure on our children to look right, act right, be....."perfect"?

Why do we put ourselves through the things we do, to make OTHER people happy?

WHY?

Surely we should be trying to make ourselves happy first. If we aren't happy in our own lives, we can't help anyone else.

I want you all to read Dan's post as many times as it takes to really GET IT. It's important. We need to stop this stupid Perfection Infection. It's ridiculous. And it needs to stop.

It needs to end before anymore children kill themselves, before anymore young women make poor decisions that cost them their lives, before anymore men and women stay in marriages that are making them desperately unhappy.

And please, remember this one thing:

Imperfect is the new perfect.

Also, it's kind of beautiful to be imperfect and have flaws. So embrace yourself. Be yourself. Screw the rest of them.

UPDATE: Dan has posted a response to his own post called "The CURE for 'perfection'". Please go and check it out.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

On a mission - Part 1

What is your definition of beauty?

Is it the faces you see on the street every day -- the elderly people with faces lined with wrinkles and laugh lines, the little kids who smile as they skip past you, the woman in her 20s who is fresh faced and on her way to meet her boyfriend, the mother hurrying past you with 3 kids that looks like she could use a break?

Or is it the faces you see in the media every day - the actresses with the teeny tiny waists and professionally done hair & make up, the singer who just had a baby 2 months ago and has already lost the 60 lbs she gained, the model who is in her 50s but would like everyone to believe that she's aging gracefully despite the many rounds of plastic surgery she's had?

Does it have to be one or the other? Can it be both?

As a female living in this world, I think we are under far more pressure to look good, be thin, have great hair, wear the right clothes and make up....all while managing the rest of our lives. When you flick through a magazine, you don't see pages and pages of men in their various states of dress getting picked apart by the so called "experts". There may be one or two, but it is primarily the women.

Their fashion choices are torn apart, their weight is CONSTANTLY under scrutiny, and ooooh look she's got cellulite! *gasp*shock*horror*

The pictures on those pages, the faces on the commercials....they. are. photoshopped! They aren't real.

The thing is, a lot of the celebs that you see on those pages -- Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, the list goes on forever! -- ARE already gorgeous. So why do they need to be enhanced, tweaked and "improved" when their photos are put in a mag?

Why? Because society has a twisted idea of what beauty really is.

I read THIS post by Dan Pearce over at Single Dad Laughing and I found myself nodding along the whole time. It struck a cord with me because for years I have heard, from various sources (not all of them credible), that I can't be hot, I can't be considered beautiful or sexy....because I'm not a size 2 or even a size 12! And I started to believe it! My self esteem sunk SO low that even when my husband, who has loved me at my heaviest weight of 370 lbs, told me that I was beautiful and sexy, I didn't believe him. He couldn't possibly be telling the truth. I don't look anything like those women on tv or in the magazines, so I can't be what he's describing.

I woke up.

No, I don't fit the societal norm of what is hot/beautiful/sexy. No, I'm not a size 2 (nor do I aspire to be. A nice 12 to 14 will do me nicely). No, I don't have the fashionable clothes, the great hair or the gorgeous make up.

BUT!

But I am hot....because my self esteem has started to come up as I lose weight and I really LISTEN to what my husband is telling me.

But I am sexy.....because with that improving self esteem comes self confidence and dammit, I can strut my stuff!

But I am beautiful....because I am a good person, a good mother, a good wife and a good friend and I continue to work on those things on a daily basis.

I am all those things. And so are you. All of you (the men too!).

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not perfect.....but I don't want to be. I am not trying to be skinny, I am not trying to look like a model. My weight loss journey is purely for my health. I want to be healthy, I want to be alive. Any cosmetic benefits are pure gravy as far as I'm concerned!

As my opinion of myself has improved and the way I see myself has changed, I have thought more and more about how I can make other change the way they see themselves. But where can a person start?

I started with my daughter. I don't want her to grow up with the same body issues that I have been dealing with for years. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin, be confident with who she is and what she looks like and I want her to OWN it.

When she was 5, she came home from kindergarten and stood in front of the mirror and proclaimed herself FAT. I just about moved to Outer Siberia right then and there. Obviously being in contact with the outside world wasn't helping! But that's not the solution is it?

I told her that she was most certainly not fat, she was healthy and beautiful and smart. And I have continued to tell her that. Growing up with a fat mother, she is 50% more likely to have a weight problem herself. Add that to my list of motivations for my own weight loss. As I lose weight and exercise, she sees me making smart and healthy choices and is more likely to do the same. Already, she has entered her first duathlon!

But it's not just my daughter. It's my sister, my mother, my neighbours and my friends. It's strangers out there standing in front of the rows of magazines, sad that they will never look like Drew Barrymore. How do you make a difference with them?

Well. That's when I found out about Operation Beautiful.

This woman started putting up post it notes with messages on them. Encouraging messages. And she stuck them all over the place. People started finding them and then they started leaving some of their own. And it has grown. People all over the world are posting notes where people can find them. I've even been leaving them in various places.

It's a small thing, but it can make a huge difference to someone's day.

So my questions to you are these:

Are YOU beautiful/hot/sexy? (hint: this is a trick question, I already gave you the answer)

How do you foster good self esteem in the girls in your life?

How will you make someone feel better about themselves this week?

**********

Part 2 of "On a Mission"...coming soon!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Yo! Wassup dawg?!

Hi everyone! I feel like I've been gone forever. I guess I kind of have. It wasn't a planned thing, it just sort of happened that way. It's like I lost all interest in most things internet. Sure I was checking Facebook occasionally to see what colour socks y'all were wearing or how much your neighbour had pissed you off that day and, of course, I was making sure to update my own much watched status so that no one could possibly miss the fact that instead of having spaghetti for dinner we were going to have fettucine. All that interesting stuff that none of us could possibly go a day without knowing. You know the drill.

I even dropped in on Twitter and LiveJournal once or twice. I'm not even sure why I still have a LJ account, to be honest.

The blog thing? I just wasn't feeling it. I knew there was stuff I wanted to talk about. I knew there was stuff I wanted to get off my chest. I even knew that there was a couple of things that I could potentially be funny about. Or they could go over like a lead balloon. The thing is, all that stuff was there.

I. Just. Didn't. Care.

You know why?

Because MONTHS ago, on a whim, I decided to throw myself into the fires of blogger hell and submit my name and blog to these charming folks over at Ask And Ye Shall Receive. See, the idea is that you submit your blog and eventually, when they get through their backlogs of people eagerly awaiting their own slaughter, they will get to you. One of their "experts" goes through your blog with a fine tooth comb laced with nasty and tells you everything you're doing right and EVERYTHING you're doing wrong.

It is beyond me why I even bothered. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind, at the time I put my name into the hat, I was holding onto this dream that they might actually like me. In the months after I sent them my link, I forgot about them. And then? Then they popped up on my Analytics as a new link and I was curious. So curious, that I followed the link and .....

.... found this.

*pause for dramatic effect*

Yeah.

It hurt. It stung. It made me angry and sad and incredibly frustrated all at the same time. Because a big part of me.....knew they were RIGHT!

I HAD started doing a lot of those meme things instead of writing what was in my heart. I had started taking the easy way out and being lazy instead of saying what I wanted to say.

It pissed me off that they were right about so many things. I even responded....and deleted that.

I went through my own archives and deleted a bunch of posts. As far as these people were concerned, I shouldn't be doing this. And so, I didn't.

I lost interest after that.

But then I was sitting here the other night and thinking to myself.....who the HELL do these people think they are? Yes. I was lazy and took the easy way out. Yes. There was a lot of those posts and very few posts that I could look back on and say I was proud of. Yes. But there were a lot of posts I was VERY proud of, and still am, and they didn't even look at them.

These people sit there and pass judgment on the rest of the bloggers and yet we have NO idea who they are, no access to their own blogs to see if they're all hot shit or not and yet we're expected to sit back and take the praise and criticisms as they see fit?

Screw that.

I asked, I received. Fair enough. They didn't like my stuff? Fair enough. But the fact that I let it get to me that much drives me crazy. Screw them!!

This is my blog, I'll write about what I want, when I want, why I want and HOW I want....and if anyone doesn't like it, they don't have to come back.

I hope that after my long absence there is still a few of you here. And I hope you'll stick around, because I'm here to stay!

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Guest Poster: "Power Pooper!"

As much as it pains me that the only posts I've had in the last month are two guest posts...at least they are from the same fantabulous person. Please give Frantic Mommy another warm welcome!!!

**********


Have you had one of those days when:

A. You wish you would have never gotten out of bed.

AND…..

B. You are unsure how your husband makes it through his day without dragging his knuckles like a dang caveman.

A few years ago, I had one of those days. Actually I’ve had MANY days like that in my 21 years of marriage, but this one is forever etched in my beady little brain.

Princess Sara was a baby back then. Cute as a button, sweet as sugar, and the Best.Baby.Ever. She slept through the night at 11 weeks. She rarely cried, smiled a lot, and was as healthy as a horse. She is the perfect child….

with one exception….

….the kid crapped out half her body weight on a regular basis. They weren’t just dainty little poops like her petite little 12 pound body. They were huge, messy, and could choke an ox at 100 yards with the smell. Did I mention she was a “Power Pooper?” Seriously, her turds did not just squeak out, they erupted. The PSI (Poop-per-square-inch) was mind-boggling and even my daycare lady who’d been in the biz 20 years was amazed.

Any-whoo, the day I am referring to did not start off well to begin with. I woke up late, my zipper broke, and apparently I didn’t have another clean pair of pants in the whole stinkin house (fire the laundry lady! Oh wait..that’s me). Like most working parents, I had my morning planned to the nanosecond with ZERO margin for error. That’s when Princess Poopy Pants threw me a curve ball. As I trotted to her room, I could tell half a house away that Mount St. Crap Pants had erupted.

Quickly I scooped her up. I look at her face and note she didn’t look like Winston Churchill so I assumed the “grunting” and “evacuation” portion of her deed was over and all I need to do is to clean up this colossal Mud Slide South of Her Border. I laid her down, opened the Diaper From Hell, and leaned over her to reach for a handful of the 47 wipes it will take to clean up her tiny tushy..

….and disaster strikes.

My Mini Me unleashes Round Two of her Crap-a-Thon. Not a gentle gush, mind you. It comes out with the velocity and style of oatmeal being blown out of a canon. Instantly I am hit with a high-powered load of sh*t and that is rank enough to part one’s hair. In fact, it is IN my hair…on my nose…on my shirt…even on the bedroom door across the room.

I sh*t you not.

I clean her and myself up the best I can (which includes me stripping down to my bra) and take her to Daddy. I quickly inform him his beloved little dumpling has just befouled herself, her room, and her mother.

I was heading for the shower ASAP.

My husband looks puzzled. “Why?”, he asks.

Why? Are you freakin mental??? I have baby crap in my hair!

“Can’t you just comb it out?” he offers.

Ummm ….yeah. RIGHT.

It must be a bitch for him to keep his knuckles from being skinned all the time. Pass the Wooly Mammoth please.

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