Love Your Skin Now! 

LL recently wrote about Loving The Skin You’re In. I suggest you go read it, or re-read–spoiler, the article was about getting up and getting out and moving–but seriously, go read it!!! It’s VERY motivational! 

I want to reiterate that idea: Love the Skin You’re In! But I also want to remind you that you should love yourself now. Just as you are. Your body is like anything else in life: a result of choices; unique; amazing if you believe it is!
My body type is tall, curvy, overweight (according to BMI, I’m obese). I’m 6’1″ and people are in awe and at times jealous. I’ve made choices. I like to eat, and I love some exercise, but I don’t like to make time for it. This is ironic because LL is a pilates instructor, my roommate is a gym enthusiast (and just came home stating she dead lifted 200lbs–go, girl!), one of my best friends is a dancer and gym bunny, and another bestie is a trainer and a spin instructor. They ALL encourage me to get out and work out–and I admittedly make jokes and faces at them. What can I say–other things take priority.  Here’s me April 2015:
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Apple shaped–whenever I gain weight, I gain it all over–I have fought weight since hormones kicked in when I was a teenager. I have an crazily distorted body image (I forget I’m tall and just view myself as “big”). I’ve also learned how to dress myself so my squishy parts are camouflaged. When I was a teenager, I thought I was fat. I was a size 14 when most of the other girls were size 3s or 5s. Shopping in women’s sizes at 15 years old sucked. Pants and long sleeved things are always too short. I remember a specific incident when I shopped in the hip juniors fashion shop, bought a pair of Z Cavaricci shorts, that frankly barely hid my lower lady bits. I brought them home, and was immediately told to return them. I did–but for a pair exactly the same, but in a different color.  Those got returned as well, this time with parental figure towing me, and then a trip to JC Penney’s women’s section where I was bought bright coulattes–quite the opposite of what all kids my age were wearing. Needless to say, I was unhappy for so many reasons. As an adult, I mostly derive feeling I was fat. Probably because I insisted I was a 12, and the shorts that were too large were also too tight in the waist and I never wore them. I know that the phrase, “you’re too big for those shorts” was used for all unfortunate purchases during this incident. I’m pretty sure I gave up on myself sometime in high school. I know I tried again in my 20s to reimagine my body. But my body image has always been so distorted. My mind is a fun house mirror–the one that makes you look like Violet Beauregard AFTER she blows up like a blueberry. Every time I walk in front of the mirror, I hope I’ll see the other type of funhouse mirror–the one that stretches you and makes you look super tall and skinny.
Looking back at pictures from high school, I wasn’t ever that big. Tall yes. Round, no. I did get rounder as I got older. In fact at one point I was 270lbs–which on my frame was very plump. I struggled into size 20 pants. I was in a few plays around then so I know my measurements.  I was shocked when my waist took almost the entire measuring tape around my waist–56 inches.
I now walk as much as I can, I try to swim 2-3 times a week, and walk a little extra when I can. Even though I’m now down to a size 14, 223lbs, I’m just a little bigger than I was in high school, but I still have that distorted image of myself as Violet.
I’ve created a reality of my body that isn’t true. It is a daily wrestling match with my brain to actually know what I look like and to Love The Skin I’m In. It’s difficult. How do you fight the distortion?  Fight it with truth. Get down to the nitty gritty. Get naked.
Find a full length mirror you trust, and take it all off.
This is really hard–especially the first time. Because you are not allowed to pick yourself apart. The new TV show “Younger” Sutton Foster is about to go on a date and asks Debi Mazar about a “cleavage wrinkle”. To which Debi replies: women have such a distorted body image, stop creating issues that aren’t there.
Look at yourself. You beautiful snowflake!  Yes, there are things that could be changed, but the life you led and your genetics brought you to this. Don’t pick yourself apart for the first minute. Look at all body parts, all sides. Those oversized parts encompass joy. Those undersized parts are freedom. Those wrinkles are proof of wisdom.  Stretch marks show experience. Changing your body isn’t instant–even with surgery. Remember there is a healing process in THAT as well. Nothing is instant. The physical things you don’t like about yourself now took time to put there. I have my mother’s thighs and my father’s stomach. But I have MY memories–my friend’s birthday where we ate until our stomach’s hurt, my Christmas holiday in the Dominican Republic where French fries and margaritas were delivered to us on the beach, my dad’s pot roast whenever I’m home–my most favorite food. I have stretch marks on stomach and thighs to remind me of how unhappy I was at 270lbs and a reminder not to return to that–and I’m reminded to be happy at the 50 pounds I’ve lost.
Before you put your clothes back on, pick three things you really like about your body. It could be that you love your pinkie toenail on your right foot, it could be you love the shape of your belly button. Small details are ok. Hold on to the positives. When you start beating yourself up, use the three things you like as a mantra to remind yourself that you do possess beauty. You are a snowflake. Different. Beautiful!
Now, if you want to change things about yourself–DO!  But, unless you’re willing to actively and HEALTHILY work on yourself YOURE NOT ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN!  This negativity will only harm you more. Physically and mentally. Read this Danielle LaPorte article on positivity.
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To review:
1) Stop the negativity–towards your own body, and the bodies of others.
2) Get naked. Literally face the truth, your truth.
3) No matter what, find positivity about your body.
4) LOVE YOURSELF
5) Change it or don’t, just know you are the only one in control of how you look and feel.
…and someone hears Trumpets
Clare
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Art credit: Cheryl Richardson.

Dating: Straightforward From The Beginning

I meet the most interesting species of adults while dog walking—one of my many eclectic survival jobs. Anyway, yesterday at the dog park I was talking with a dog walker—who is a super nice guy, handsome, buiiilt—he’s a nutritionist and is a bulky dude. I see him often and we chat about different things. Yesterday, our conversation moved to: how to approach someone they’re interested in, and how much is too much “bluntness.” His word was “bluntness.”  I followed up with saying I think there is a big difference between “blunt” and “straightforward,” and he agreed. The trouble many of us face when attempting to date is that there is a whole pool of candidates with different desires. Some are in the shallow end, just looking to splash around and have some fun, while others are paddling around the middle of the pool kinda wanting to commit but don’t want to go all the way to the deep end, and at the far end are the invested divers and lap swimmers—the ones with commitment in mind—in the deepest part of the pool.  I told Buff Dogwalker that I think that no matter what part of the pool you’re in, no matter guy or gal—straightforward is always the best. I’m not saying walk up to someone and ask in the first thirty seconds if they’re interested in sex and only sex.

Instead what I’m saying is try to push aside your nervousness (visit my blog from two weeks ago!) And yes, everyone is nervous or has some modicum of the anticipation of rejection, especially in the dating world.

Here are some steps to get into straightforward dating:

1) Observe!  Instead of focusing on yourself, focus out and read the body language and cues of the other person. Everyone should probably know by now that if someone is leaning toward you, or coming closer they’re probably interested. If women smile or look down, or play with their hair—they’re interested. If men lean, or puff up, strut, or offer to buy you a drink—they’re interested. If none of these things happen, they’re probably not interested, so move on. When it comes to ladies, well, we will laugh, or find a way to touch you, or lean in. Eye contact, especially when it is followed by blushing or a smile is an indicator for attraction for either gender. And likewise for disinterest, if either party seems distracted, looks over your shoulder instead of at you, or finds a reason to walk away, they’re not interested. It sometimes happens that someone stops you as you’re walking away, but don’t bet on it—but if they do—stay.

2) Engage! Once initial interest is established, create easy conversation. It’s really ok to have a few topics that you always talk about—people joke about weather being a conversation topic that anyone can talk about, but its true. I’d pick a few things that you can easily converse about. Try not to talk about things that you’re a super smarty on, or political or religious topics… those can happen down the road. Music, celebrities, movies, community happenings, cheese: all are interesting starters.

3) Be Straightforward! After you’ve chatted for a bit, if you’re still interested, you can bring up that you’re interested in dating, or a casual romance (aka, just sex), or that you’re looking for something long term. I’m not saying you’ll be guaranteed any of these, but you’re welcome to throw it out there. You’re also welcome to just see what happens. A safer alternative is to ask the person on a date, if they don’t ask you first. On the first date you can always have the “this is what I want out of this relationship” conversation. I internet dated for a year, and to be honest, at some points I didn’t know where anything was going. Sometimes dudes told me flat out that they wanted a certain thing out of dating, whether it be dating, relationship, or sex. Although, at the time it was a shocking conversation (and could have been brought into the conversation more subtlety and not as pointed), I really appreciated those men who said something like, “I really like you, and I’m interested in only BLANK right now. Is that something you’re interested in?” I know you’re probably saying something like: “but that just totally pigeon holes the whole relationship into one thing.” Well, what can I say, you’re right. BUT, if its said straight forward what the other person wants, you can make your decision now and move on if you’re goals are different.

In this fast paced society where we can find information on our phones at any given moment, order food on the internet to be at our door in 30 minutes, and talk to anyone instantly, why not be straightforward with your dating desires just see what happens? I’m not saying flat out ask for sex. I’m saying state your intentions. As in, “I’m not looking to really dive into a relationship right now, but I want someone to go on fun outings with,” aka: I’m just looking to date. Or, “I’m really looking to just find someone for fun tonight,” aka: I really only want to hook up. And finally, “I’m looking for something long term to see how it goes,” aka: I want to date and possibly have a relationship. Always add on a: “And how about you?” to the end of these.

Yes, this may seem blunt, but turn it around; if you’re looking for something specific when you go out—which you probably are (its really ok, and probably best to be honest with yourself)—just be honest with the person you’re interested in. I have so many hindsight conversations with girlfriends and guyfriends that all sound like: If I had only known that he/she only wanted to date, I would have been willing to do just that, but I didn’t know. Yeah, it’s a bit brutal, but if you’re honest and lightly straight forward, you’re not leading the person on. Do you really want to keep someone around who has a different agenda?

Buff Dogwalker ended our conversation yesterday, saying that he wished he had known that the woman he approached only wanted to sleep with him. She told him at the end of their second and last date, that he could have had her, and she wondered why he waited so long—according to him, he didn’t even try to kiss her at the end of date two, even though he wanted to, he was trying to be a gentleman and prolong the romance. Hindsight, he said he would have slept with her and cut through all the baloney if only he’d known what she really wanted.

Almost three years ago, I started a relationship with a guy, and I thought that he wanted a relationship. He lived out of the city, so it was rough. One day, I invited him in for a sleepover. I realized the night of said sleepover that we were just going to be casual. Since we never talked about it, I didn’t know. He decided that he wanted a relationship. Because we didn’t talk about it, we were focused on different things, and three months later after stringing each other along, it ended poorly. I’m still beaten up about it… “if I had only done things differently” floats through my head when I see a doppelganger of his walk by me on the street…

So there you go. Agree, disagree. Try it, don’t try it. I’m all for honesty, and I’ve Duty Dated enough that I’m done—I know what I want, so from here on out, I’m going to state what I want upfront. Maybe it will work, or maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll miss out on possible opportunities. From now on out I’m going to be honest with myself and my conquests, relax, and see what happens.  Because dating should be fun. It should be treated as a hobby. No one freaks out or overthinks yarn, book club, or collecting stamps.

–Clare

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