Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Worst Enemy to Creativity is Self Doubt

This is a post I have deliberated writing, but in the aftermath of the huge amount of support and I love got my extraordinarily personal post, this one seems pertinent.
Besides the support I received, I also got criticism for posting something so personal. And I agree, a blog is not a diary. Many of my posts do not reveal information like that AT ALL, and I chose to post that one for a very specific reason. I decided if I wanted to use my blog to someday help and reach people, I also needed to post the ugly things that happen. Not just the pretty clothes and the funny stories, but the ugly things.
 But next point - I also received an email from a girl in Europe informing that I wasn't skinny enough to be bulimic and I was clearly doing it wrong.
A blog is written by a human being with real feelings, pain, psychological disorders, relationships, joys, emotions... need I go on?

Blogs are not written by robot Stepford wives. Anything you say to a blogger is said to a real live human being who has feelings, just like you do.  Anything you say to a blogger, imagine saying to your best friend, your daughter, your husband, your wife.  A blogger is just as real as those people in your life, even if it doesn't seem like it because the internet is weird and seeing someone on a computer screen doesn't seem the same as talking face to face and it is easier to offer criticism and judgment to someone through a keyboard.

 A blog is written by a real live human being who choses to share her inspiration, struggles, and beautiful, sometimes ugly life with strangers.  It's scary.  The reason I started blogging was because I found that writing was the only way to work through some pain. Then I found an amazing community of blogging women and my own blog audience began to grow. And I wanted to branch my blog out into fashion, theatre, singing. I was totally inspired.

 It's a daily pleasure to get emails letting me know that now some people are similarly inspired by my blog! Little old me's blog!

A blog is a peek into someone's life.  A peek through the blinds. A snippet. And it's weird because we read this person's story every day.  We know what is happening (or at least what they've shared), and we feel connected to them. It's not creepy to know things about a blogger who you meet, that's just how it works.  Bloggers don't think readers are creepy for knowing things about them which they share with the entire universe via the web.
I love you all and I love reaching out to you. Inspiring you in the same ways I have been inspired by other strong women is an incredible role that I never thought I would fill.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee...

Sandy Dumbrowski. Iconic musical character. Sweetness embodied. Olivia Newton John. Gidget. Good girl gone bad.

These are all things people think of when they think of Sandy. But really, who is this character? And why does it matter?

Because let's be honest, the storyline of Grease is is fairly weak. But for some reason, people love it. Shows sell out. People know the music by heart. But if the story is so weak, why is that? It's more than the catchy songs, big production. Grease is clever. It's cleverly and wittily written and the characters are incredibly well developed for a musical. These great characters are what brings people in.

There are ton of tidbits in there for character development if you care to look. To be fair, the first time I did this show, I didn't look this hard.

But now that I'm older - and have spent a fair amount of money on acting classes - there is SO much to see.

Doody has a line to Roger about how is old lady actually dragged herself out of bed to open a can of sardines for him since it was the first day of school. This clues us in to dysfunction in the home. Marty's whole solo, "Freddy My Love," is all about using boys and her looks to get money and gifts and how she has about 50 boyfriends. It practically reeks of daddy issues. Nearly every line Jan has is her trying to keep the peace, telling the audience that she does this a lot, meaning her parents probably fight all the time.

Now. Sandy. Who are you?

When analyzing a script, we look at three things.What does the playwright say about me? What do other characters say about me? And what do I say about myself?

The playwright tells me that I am sweet, naive, wholesome, and look like Gidget. Ok, so that's skeletal start,, some stepping stones.

Danny tells the boys I'm cute. The other girls continually refer to me as Sandra Dee and too pure to be pink. And Sandy herself says things like, "just because we're steadies doesn't mean we'll go all the way." This tells us she's fairly strong and seems to stick by her values and thinks for herself. These are all things I can glean directly from the script.

Now, until last night, I kind of forgot to play Sandy as strong. Just because she's naive, that doesn't mean that she's weak.

Whoops. Duh.

When John reminded me of that, a light bulb kind of turned on. She's strong, which is why she can goad Danny into trying out for the track team, why she can try to beat up Rizzo, why she can scream at Danny, and why she doesn't go all the way at the drive-in.

Now, you could argue with me that the whole point of Grease is that she changes for a guy, but hear me out! She changes into the infamous Bad Sandy of her own volition. No one makes her do it. No one gives her the idea. She makes the switch because she wants to (So, Grease haters, just calm down). She makes the switch because she thinks it will make her happy.

Now to the nitty gritty of my Sandy. The specifics of who I am in this role.

At the start of the show, Sandy is 17 years old, a new senior at Rydell High. Her family is upper middle class and live in the suburbs. They are conservative Catholic and Sandy grew up going to Mass every Sunday and Wednesday. Mr. Dumbrowski is a doctor and he got transferred to the hospital in the city mid-summer. She didn't want to spend every summer day in the house with her mother so she would escape unpacking by going on walks to the beach and the boardwalk. Her first little rebellion was her summer romance with Danny, the precursor and foreshadowing to the rest of the show. They would spend days swimming, wading, boating, building sand castles, roller skating, things of pure romance. Her father has no idea, but her mother has an inkling, because Sandy seems so happy, especially for just having moved to a new town.

She has also met Frenchy, through their mothers. Since they are neighbors, her mother brought the Dumbrowskis a housewarming gift as soon as was appropriate and the two girls hit it off.

Sandy is all set to go to Immaculata, the all girls Catholic school, but her father gets in a shouting match with the Mother Superior (thank you, script, for telling me their religious stance!!) and she get dropped right into public high school.

Her father's fight with the Mother Superior tells us that he is a force to be reckoned with, and this is reinforced by Sandy's line during the ill-fated ear piercing about how he would probably kill her for this. Now that could just be an excuse, but that's a pretty weak acting choice. If I delve a little deeper, I could decide that her father is the man of the house and he wants to have an immaculate household. He would be furious if Sandy were to do something to tarnish his reputation and his anger scares Sandy a little bit. I don't think he's an abusive father or husband, but I would imagine he yells if dinner is not just right or there's mud on the tile.

There is a lot to these characters, especially Sandy. She wants to fit in with these Pink Ladies, but their behavior is so outside her realm of understanding. She still has her values, but it conflicts with her desire to belong and to do well in school - that's why she does a Biology project with Eugene. People just pull her around, though, each telling her the best way to succeed at Rydell. Rizzo tells her its through smoking, drinking, and piercing her ears. Patty tells her its cheer leading. For a girl who grew up sheltered and in an all girls Catholic school, public high had to be a shock to the system.

Sandy is a strong, sweet, naive character who really just wants to find her place in this new town. I understand only too well how it feels to define your feeling of belonging around a boy and to have it shatter around you in a second and to leave you floundering. I understand feeling like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole and trying to stand by your values in society. Everyone understands that and that's why Grease is a best seller.

Her transformation into Bad Sandy makes me think of that scene in Easy A where Emma Stone walks down the hall in her new duds. People notice her. And it's not that her personality has changed - she's still smart, witty, silly Olive, but she put on new and crazy clothes. I feel like Sandy really did that.

Sure, Sandy became a little rougher and she punched Patty in the face (though she did hit Rizzo too, so that's even a new thing for her). Maybe she is just saying yes to all the aspects of herself.

I'm a nice girl, but I like wearing tight pants. I have big curly hair. I swear sometimes. Maybe that's not such a terrible thing either. Maybe it's just a people thing.

Maybe Sandy isn't divided between Good Sandy and Bad Sandy just because she says "What the hell!"

I'm pretty sure she's just Sandy.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is it: Warm? Comfy? Cute? Or "olive" the above?

Another fashion post! I promised to be better about writing these (Ashley!) so I wanted to get this one out there too! I really liked this outfit, like a lot. I felt cute and fairly pretty.

I'm going to share a little secret.

Ready? Here we go.

Sometimes putting together outfits is really hard. I have been lusting after these pants for months. Literally. And then finally they were on sale and in my size, so I snatched them up. And then I got them home and thought, "What on earth am I going to wear with these?"

So I turned to my favorite online toy. Pinterest. I have a whole board called "How to Wear This? Inspire me!" And that is where I put ideas for mint jeans, white dresses, red leopard print dresses... anything that might be tricky to style on a whim or that I just want to spice up the look of. And that board is massive. There are so many pins on it of hundreds of different ideas and looks.

So that's my dirty little secret.

I also plan outfits out in advance. One - it is helpful since I am so busy. It's nice to know what I am wearing, to set it out the night before, and to just put it on in the morning. No matter how late I am, if I have my clothes and jewelry set out, I can always have the illusion of being prepared. Two - it helps keep me awake in geology after a late rehearsal night and an early morning. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

So yes. I paired olive green with navy blue with this outfit. I also pinned my scarf with this gorgeous ornate turtle brooch.

I got this pin at the funeral of one of the wonderful older ladies from the church I grew up. She loved turtles and she had a massive collection of turtle things and knick knacks, and she wanted everyone to take an item or two to remember her by. So, I love this pin and I love to wear it.

My little brother got me this scarf for Christmas a few years ago. He has good taste.

I got my sweater from the little boys' section of Goodwill for $1. So that was a GREAT find. It is wool and has this cute understated cowl neck.

Olive jeans are great for fall weather. In my pictures, I am wearing my knee high black boots (from Target), though about halfway through the day I switched to leopard print flats (also from Target). It wasn't pouring rain that afternoon and I want to get as much mileage out of my flats before it starts to snow and rain for six months.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Tribal Print For Days!

I have been experimenting with all sorts of new looks and styles, recently with mixing prints.

I have always been a little in doubt of whether or not I can pull of all sorts of prints and colors, but the wonderful words of Coco Chanel reminded me that I can wear whatever I please. So without further adieu, here is my exciting tribal print outfit.

It was also a fairly inexpensive outfit. I have been getting really good at shopping cheaply, but still with quality this semester, as I have been working on being a better budgeter and more conscientious about my spending.

The tribal shirt is from Ross and was about $6. The scarf is from Wal Mart and cost me $4. The camisole I got from a thrift store for $0.50.

 The boots are also from Wal Mart. The children's section, to be specific, and they're about a size 13. But that's ok, because they cost $15. So it was a good deal. My jeans are from Maurices, and those were expensive ($35) but I have kind of become a jean snob. A part of me realized I should probably be buying jeans that will last me a few years.

  My hair was real easy too. I parted it down the front and swept them back over my headband. I also combed the back back smooth so it  look nice and not lumpy. I twisted the sides so the back and the bobby pins so it looked artistic and nice instead of thrown together. 

So that is the tribal print outfit. This is a very simple blog post, no deeper meaning at all. 

But sometimes those are good too! 


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sweaters and Boots and Scarves, oh my!

Hello, everyone!

I just want to start with a huge thank you for the huge amount of support and love I have been getting since my last, very personal blog post. It has been overwhelming and inspiring and I am honored that I was able to touch of you so. 

I am doing fairly well. Both the counselor and my doctor are pleased. The doctor is especially glad that I have put on a couple pounds and you can no longer see the vertebrae in my spine. 

So here I am. And I am enough. 

Today, though, I want to talk about fall. 

MM. Oh fall. I love it. The leaves are changing. The air is crisp. Pumpkin spice is back. It is scarf, sweater, and boot season. And let me tell you, I have been rocking these three fall fashions. 

Here is a breakdown of three of my fall looks so far:


 This is my Beauty and the Beast Sweater. I got it at Hot Topic, on sale. I paired it with simple, dark wash skinny jeans, my brown knee boots, and those big orange metal earrings. 



This was a favorite fall outfit so far. These red skinny jeans are from the Wal Mart clearance rack and the ruffled button down is from the Storm Cellar, a local consignment shop. I also wore my brown knee high boots with it and styled my hair in a faux undercut.


Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I got this one at Goodwill for $1. The scarf came from my roommate's closet and I paired it with a red tank top and a pair of baggy jeans with sequins on the pocket from Wal Mart. I cuffed the hem, wore a pair of patterned tights underneath to show through the tears and pair of red flats from Payless.

SO. Yes. I love fall. Everything about it.

It has been raining here like crazy and the air just smells so clean and I am definitely planning a chili in the crockpot night here pretty soon.

I also love that it is show season. Grease is in full swing, so be prepared for pictures of that, and I got cast in another small show on top of that. And on top of that, I get to help design a production of A Christmas Carol.

So really, I am doing pretty well. Talk to you all soon!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Road to Recovery

The Road to Recovery                        9-14

I am broken. I am sick. I have body dysmorphic disorder. I didn't even know that was a thing until two months ago. I am bulimic.

I don’t really know how to get better.

I have spent nights sobbing on my bathroom floor because of a scale number. Hours pulling at what I perceive as flab on my naked body. Measured my waist, hips, and around my bellybutton hundreds of times. Been near tears during tap because my thigh has to jiggle to do a nerve tap. I have taken countless photos of:

My stomach from the front to see if it’s smooth
My stomach from the side to see if it’s flat
My profile so I can check on my double chin

I don’t really know how I got here. I feel like it probably has something to do with my ex – more to do with him than I probably want to admit – and then something to do with my brief summer romance, and something to do with comments other people make. And it probably has a lot to do with my fear of not being good enough.

    Not being good enough.
        Talented enough.
        Pretty enough.
        Smart enough.
        Thin enough.

Events that aren’t really necessary to go into at this very moment convinced me if that I were “thin enough,” I would feel better. I would feel more worthwhile, less lonely, and that maybe someone could fall in love with me again.

They would fall in love with the Shiny New Chloe, version 2.0
Completely rebuilt and redesigned, untarnished by bad relationships and past hurts and mistakes.

Yeah. That sounded good.

So I cut my calories down drastically (about 900 a day) and worked out like crazy. I was probably spending about 2 hours at the gym and biking about 2 miles a day. And that didn’t work. I gained more weight. So I tried that Fast Metabolism Diet.

Which worked. I lost the weight, all the way down to my goal weight. And it didn’t work: I was terrified to gain it back. I still felt like shit. I can’t even pinpoint the day that I thought purging was the solution, I really can’t. There were a lot of desperate days where I was stepping on the scale every hour or less.

I probably had just eaten something deliciously unhealthy, and felt so guilty about it that I had to get rid of it. I had to get it out of my body. I never sit down and decide that I will be throwing this meal up. It always hits me about 10-15 minutes later, when I think about it, and I decide, “Nope. That was way too many calories. Let me get rid of this, and I’ll eat something more healthy next time. Clean slate.”

I purged two nights ago because I ate a package of Sour Patch Kids, as dessert for my salad. I was so excited to eat these Sour Patch Kids and they were perfect – not too hard and not too squishy. And I knew as I ate the last one, that I was going to have to get them out. My stomach was churning and I cried and cried because that night I lost.

Some days, I can eat whatever I want and it doesn’t even phase me. Other days, I eat mostly what I want and it’s a battle to keep that chai tea down, but I remind myself that I work out and dance and there is no reason to not have that chai tea in the morning or the iced chai tea in the afternoon when it’s 90 degrees. I manage to beat that inner bitch and shut her up. And other days, that inner bitch hits me with a baseball right in the face and I lose.

And I guess that’s part of recovery.

The days I lose are hard. I don’t wake up knowing that it will be a losing day. I try to think that every day, I’ll win. I might be feeling great and wearing the cutest red and white shorts ever. And then some girl (and there is history between us – long story short, I am her punching bag) says, “Oh, somebody needs to put her thunder thighs away.” And that throws me into a tailspin.

Body dysmorphic disorder means that you perceive a flaw in your body and you cannot see past it or see any improvement in it. Meaning I can intuitively see that I have a thigh gap and that my legs are muscular and toned, but emotionally it is really hard to register that.

Am I always going to struggle with this? Because one summer of my life, I lost that battle with my critic and now this is how my life is always going to be? I am never going to be content with what I see? I am always going to fight this fight?

When I am lying flat on my back, I can stick my fingers well up into my rib cage. Intuitively, I know that that is probably not good. Emotionally, all I see is the pooch on my lower stomach. These two things overshadow and battle each other for my attention and that makes for a very conflicted, confused me.

Am I always going to fight this?

I can honestly say that I have no idea. I don’t know that it will ever go away, if I will ever have the easy relationship I had with food and my body again.

But I am on the road to recovery. And it’s a twisty, tricky, narrow, dark road. But I’m on it.

I finally told my parents the whole truth. And it feels so good and so safe to have them holding my hands through this.

I have a whole army of prayer warriors and people who love me walking alongside me.

I saw my counselor for the first time on Monday.

I am trying to let my raw throat heal, and my new voice teacher gave me some soothing sprays to try, as well as informing me that meditative prayer and affirmation were a required part of my warm-up.

And I actually have the desire to write about this. It is about 1:00 am and I cannot sleep because I so needed to get these words out.

And I know I have God leading the way out of this darkness.

An image that is very profound to me – and I have not a clue where it came from, a dream, a story, I don’t know – is the image of me. I’m on the floor in the bathroom, vomiting into the toilet. But I’m not alone. Jesus is kneeling beside me, holding my hair back, rubbing my shoulders, and then holding me as I cry. And he’s crying with me. Even in the darkest time, Jesus is there, suffering with us.

When we are hurt, He is hurt. His love is unconditional. And that is so comforting to remember and lock onto.

It would be so hopeless to be trying to get through this and think that there was no master plan. No big picture. But there is. Even if I have no idea what it is.

That is my life right now. And that’s ok. Because God has a plan for me. And I’m going to have one hell of a testimony to share when I kick bulimia’s butt.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I am sixteen going on seventeen...

"I'm Leisl. I'm sixteen years old and I don't need a governess." This is how Leisl choose to introduce herself to her new governess. She's sick of them, she doesn't need one, and she and Friedrich are the real people who hold this family together, with a deceased mother and an absent Captain.

Leisl is indeed a little spitfire - dancing in the garden with the telegram boy, climbing the trellis, organizing and helping the other children play pranks on the governesses. But what is underneath her outwardly defiant demeanor?


She remembers. She remembers her mother enough to miss her. She remembers when her father was happy and loving. She remembers the parties and music and dancing and the red coats of the gypsy orchestra all the way from Budapest. And so she knows how painful it is to have lost that. And she and Friedrich are the only two that know how much life Maria brings back into the Von Trapp Villa.

And she isn't sure if she wants that. Everyone knows right away that Maria is different than the other governesses. I always picture the others being like the scary ones in Mary Poppins, where Julie Andrews sweeps in to save the day again. But this young woman in the ugly dress isn't going to last long with the unruly Von Trapp children, especially if the Captain finds out about the singing. And is being happy again worth it, if they're just going to lose her?

Leisl doesn't need a mother anymore. She has decided that already. 

But she finds out exactly how much she needs a mother. How much she was wandering while she was just trying to be strong. Maria offers a  life buoy to her. Maria offers to keep her secret about being out too late with Rolf and becomes a confidante, breaking right through Leisl's walls and they continue to bond right up to the "16 Going On 17 (reprise)." Maria can see into Leisl's heart and knows exactly what she needs to feel loved and accepted. Leisl actually calls Maria her "new mother" to Rolf.

And for a lonely 16 year old girl, I think that says a lot.

My other half and I - This was on one of her Leisl nights. She's stunning.

Where do I find my similarities with Leisl? That was tricky. I am 21 year old in 2013 and she is 16 in 1939.

We're both vulnerable.

Anybody that has had acting training knows that the word vulnerable has such a deeper meaning than what we first think of: weak or insecure. She is anything but. She is strong and a leader of her siblings. She is intelligent - even though she doesn't understand when the adults and Rolf are talking about the politics of the Nazis, she listens. She knows that something is going on that she needs to know about. She has a huge capacity to love and she doesn't even give up on Rolf, even at the Abbey when he is wearing a swastika on his arm. 

Who doesn't do that? Hope with all your heart that maybe, just maybe, it will work out, even though you know that there is not possible way you can be together? 

She still reaches out to him and is crushed by his rejection, while Rolf is torn between duty and love, ultimately choosing love, knowing he can never be with her.

Leisl and Marta - she'll be 7 on Tuesday and wants a pink parasol

I have huge respect for Leisl. I couldn't have traveled the path that she does - climbing the mountain to Switzerland or even hoping beyond hope that Rolf could still love her. And he doesn't turn her in. They do not get a happily ever after, but they do love each other. My Rolf and I have talked about it a lot (we commute to Pullman together) and we tend to play the romance as both of their first loves. And he loves her, he does, and that's why he can't turn her in. Rolf has a hope that maybe she would come away with him and they could have their own life in Germany-occupied-Austria. And you can see that onstage.

Another thing I love about Leisl - especially in this production - is that she is sexy. She is sensual and she is just starting to identify that about herself. When my director told me that "16 Going On 17" is about seduction, I was floored. I had never even thought about that. And it totally is. Leisl wants his attention and she's flirting with him. And when she finally gets her kiss, she breaks back into being a little girl, with an excited squeal as he bikes away.

I feel like a lot productions play Leisl as all little girl, all innocence, forgetting that she is a young woman, who is not stupid, who is right at the brink of mutiny (according to Maria). I love that we are not doing that here. She is not a child and she is not an adult. She's stuck right in the middle, torn between being a little marching machine, a leap frogging child, or Rolf's dance partner for midnight promenades. 

Speaking of promenading, some other wonderful challenges of this show have been the dancing. There's crazy dancing in this show. "16 Going On 17" is gorgeous, with waltzing and lifts and arabesques and spins. It's stunning when we get it right. And it's right more and more frequently the more we rehearse. But incredibly challenging too. It's really hard to sing after a dance break and I doubt it is easy for Rolf to sing while he's lifting me.

There are plenty of things to take from Leisl. Through her we can learn how to take walls down and open up and accept love, both romantic and parental. We learn how to be vulnerable and strong. And we can learn how to be a feisty. At least I play her a little bit sassy at the beginning, before the audience really gets a chance to know her.

When the layers of Leisl are pulled away, we see someone dynamic, a character rooted in history. A character rich in, well, character.

Sound of Music opens this Thursday! If you are in the area, please come see this lovely show. The two casts are stunning and I am so blessed to be a part of it!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Would You Please .... ?

One more thought, though it is really a favor to ask:

If you read this blog, I would love it if you would please go and "Like" my facebook page.

Here is the link:

Please "Like" and "Share!" Thank you all so much! Have a wonderful Sunday!



A Very Potter Birthday!

**This blog post has no deeper meaning, social commentary, life lesson, or wisdom. This is purely to highlight a good time that was had last night, share a costume idea, and recipe. Enjoy!

A dear friend had her birthday yesterday and she threw a Harry Potter themed party. She pointed out that since we are all still waiting for out Hogwarts letters, we might as well celebrate in appropriate fashion.

Now, I haven't been very social the last couple weeks. I've been busy with rehearsals, weddings, and cutting fresh vegetables for this cleanse. That's really the only downside of this 28 day cycle - lots and lots of prep and cooking time. But really, that is going well.

But - back to the party.

As soon as I decided to just go and let myself have fun (meaning I was going to eat cupcake - diet be damned!!), I got really quite excited about it. And since costumes were required, I needed to put together a budget-friendly - i.e. free - costume.

I began googling costumes ideas and I was pretty set on going as Hermione. But all the Hermione costumes ideas had lots and lots of layers, and, in this Moscow heat, I just wasn't feeling that. And then I saw one Dobby-inspired outfit and I had found my look.

I removed the sleeves from a simple tan dress I had (and I did finish the edges, even though I knew Dobby's pillowcase was frayed. I wanted to be able to wear dress still).

I pulled on one tall sock, just like the one Harry gave Dobby.

And then I wore a knit cap, like the ones Hermione was making for all the house elves in Book 5. Something I really wanted to do was wear multiple caps, since Dobby takes all the lumpy hats, but I couldn't work out to make a stable cap tower that wouldn't be permanent. So I had to eliminate that aspect.

I also went with pigtails, to suggest Dobby's ears. 

A very simple costume, but people knew who I was dressed as so I would call it as success! 

To get into the house, you had to walk through a brick painted curtain labeled platform 9 3/4 and there were candles hanging from the ceiling. The birthday girl had made butterbeer, fire whiskey, and cauldron cakes. So it was regular Potter-palooza! 

Butterbeer Recipe: 

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butterscotch topping
2 tablespoons whipped butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups vanilla cream soda
Amaretto to your taste preference


Combine condensed milk, butterscotch topping, and butter and heat on medium until butter has melted and incorporated into mixture. Meanwhile heat cream soda and Amaretto in another heatproof measuring cup.

Combine mixtures and viola! 

I will warn you - this is really really sweet, so unless you're a sugar fan, this might not be the drink for you.

Last night, we had a Tonks, a Lupin, a Lavender Brown, a Harry, a Bellatrix, a Malfoy, a Slytherin first-year, a Golden Snitch, a Muriel (the Ravenclaw Sneak) and even a Fluffy! A Very Harry Potter Birthday indeed!

"So long has Dobby wanted to meet you, Sir!"
Go have some fun this week! 



Friday, July 5, 2013

Candid Thoughts on Body Image

I don't know if any of you read the Princess Diaries books when you were younger. I did. Mia spends the first few books trying to find "self actualization," aka trying to realize her full potential and find self love. Mia does eventually realize herself - she stands up to her psycho grandmother (these books are much less emotionally satisfying than the movies), falls in love, and, with the help of a team of stylists, conquers the dreaded triangle hair and realizes that she is in fact pretty.

One of these things is great! The other two, eh, not so much. She uses a boyfriend and her looks to find actualization as opposed to self discovery through her heart. And lucky for Mia, she is naturally blessed with long legs, blonde hair, a fast metabolism, and a perfect weight. The only things that make her awkward are bad hair and poor wardrobe choices.

In the musical, Hairspray, Tracy Turnblad, plus sized wonder girl, finds actualization through her dancing, singing, a boy, and realizing that her truly unhealthy weight is beautiful all the same. And this is totally true - I'm not saying she isn't beautiful - and this wonderful for all big girls out there to realize.


What about the normal girls? The ones that are 5 or 10 overweight and average height, average weight, average everything?  The ones that don't have romance just waiting around the corner or a TV show conveniently needing a dancer? No one cares about them enough to write a book or a movie about them. There's no glamour in average or in losing the last 10 pounds.

And that's bullshit. Sorry, but it is. Most of us do not have supermodel bodies or plus sized bodies. Most of us are normal. And no one sticks up for us.

I saw a meme this morning of three friends walking together, all of them wearing leggings as pants. You can't see any of their faces in the picture. One of them was a BIG girl, and honestly, she looked awful. The caption was "LEGGINGS: NOT FOR EVERYONE." And the comments section was in an uproar about how beautiful she was and how she can wear what ever she wanted to as long as she felt sexy. And then there were some comments about how only the super skinny girl in the middle was worth looking at. And then there were more comments about how people needed to leave the big girl alone and she can wear whatever she wants.

And she can. Fine. That's fine with me.

But writing this post is a girl who has struggled with her weight and body image her whole life. From a girl who encouraged not to wear her Bad-Sandy pants in a revival of Grease in high school because she had gained 5 pounds. And who gets cast as hookers because she just has "more curves" than the other girls.

What about girls like me? No one really cares about how we feel because we're not too skinny or too big. So we must just be fine. And it obviously won't hurt us when comments like "Oh, well, they only hire hot waitresses there," referring to a restaurant that did not hire them, get thrown around. Or those "motivational" e-cards that say things like, "Do not reward yourself with food, you are not a dog" or the infamous "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Lies. Nutella exists. And ice cream. And bacon. And a whole lot of things taste real good.

We don't have a right to say "Curvy and proud" and we don't get called skinny either. It's not breaking the social restrictions or brave for us to wear bikinis - I just agonize having to put the thing on and I force myself to do it to try to conquer this raging critic inside. And people still cast judgement on our not perfectly flat stomachs and the little protective pooch that won't go away no matter how many crunches we do.

We're the middle ground - the ones that people say would be "so pretty if we lost a couple pounds." I'm the one at the gym, every day, working my tail off, and still feeling like if I could just work harder, I would feel better and feel more confident.

Looks ARE NOT everything. That is not what I am trying to say in this post. What really matters is your heart and your capacity to love. But let's not pretend that looks are not a huge part of our culture. That little girls are not raised to want to look a certain way. That body image is volatile and can affect your very ability to love and be loved. Body image is what causes things like eating disorders and poor body image comes from everything. Something - an ad, a flippant remark, a movie - finds the chink in your armor. So this is important stuff to think about and to talk about.

I touched on the fact that I have body image issue maybe once or twice before, but most people don't know that it is really bad. I look in the mirror and analyze the flaws. I weight myself as much at 3 times a day and obsess over the number and the mere tenths of a pound I might gain or lose over a given day. I count calories. I work out. I tried to Purge once, but I couldn't do it.

And I know that I am not the only young woman to struggle with this. Society puts incredible pressure on young woman to be thin, but if you're not thin, it's okay if you're fat! Society will still come to bat for you most of the time. Big girls are supposed to be "Big and proud of it!" Even in fashion magazines from Seventeen to Cosmopolitan, it goes straight from thin to "curvy," and by curvy they really mean plus sized. There is not even fashion advice for me in our culture.

And I've been stewing about it and struggling with it for so long that here comes this blog post. I wouldn't be writing this or posting these pictures if it weren't something important to me. I'm finally saying that that is wrong.

We are all beautiful, but the normal, struggling, unhappy girl is too. And maybe she deserves some credit for all the gym hours and dieting that she does so she can make herself happier and healthier. Everyone deserves some recognition for trying to be as healthy as they can.

We have a new wave of celebrities, like Jennifer Lawrence, who aren't afraid of their shape. J. Law talks openly about loving food, and loving all the "bad foods" and the fact that she has been called obese by Hollywood standards. She is fit and healthy and a normal girl shape and she has maintained that without starving herself and still eating the food that she loves. She deserves huge props for that - I'm not even a star and I fight the urge to skip meals and cut calories because I am so discouraged. I love J. Law and I cannot wait to see what else she does. I don't think Hollywood quite knows what to do with her and I love it.

How do we find actualization when the world makes us feel like we are not quite up to muster? Well, we can have an f-you attitude and be ourselves so loudly that people have to take notice. But that just sounds exhausting.

Are we destined to unhappy and discontented? Wondering if every time we wear shorts if people are looking because they like our legs or because we jiggle a little bit? Are we just supposed to train harder and longer than everybody else?

I am generally in favor of just existing and loving ourselves the best we can. But it's not always easy. most of the time it is challenge, at least for me. And that's normal too, I think. Self doubt is a part of human nature and as soon as I figure out how to get rid of it, I will let you all know!!

But here we are, the host of normal girls. And let's take a little bit of our world back.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Anyone have any exciting plans for the 4th? 

I took a mini-break home, to spend this holiday with my family, and we followed tradition. We went to my very small town's parade and later tonight, we will head to the fireworks. My town always has a decent display so it should be a good time. 

Let's just talk about this heat! Crazy how it hit so suddenly, but it is much cooler up in Bonners than it is in Moscow. Moscow hit about 100 degrees last week with an insane amount of humidity - my curly haired friends and I had a real problem with that. But in all seriousness, it humid to the point that breathing was hard and, after getting out the shower, you'd dry off and by the time you get to your feet, you were soaked again. 

It was gross and I am relieved to not spending a couple days there. 

 What Am I Reading Right Now... 
   The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy. It's interesting and so far the diet is working alright. The concept is that chronic dieting really screws with your metabolism and makes dieting impossible. You start a new diet and your body goes into survival mode. She makes the acronym D.I.E.T. "Did I Eat Today" and presents three phases to losing weight and repairing your metabolism and apparently people can lose 20 pounds in the 4 week program (my mom did, so I am checking it out). It's very conversational and an easy read. So if weight loss has ever been a problem for you, I encourage you to check it out.

Happy 4th, all!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy

We all have times in our lives when we just have too much stuff going on. There are always deadlines, exams, due dates and just too many priorities to juggle. And when everything is going wrong, the world is screaming for your attention and you just don’t have time – the last thing you need to hear is to “just take a day off”. So here are 44 gentle ways you can take care of yourself when you’re pressed for time and attention. Enjoy! 
Say no to anything that is not important to you
Laundry, phone calls, demanding friends – this is not the time to be nice and “responsible”. Give yourself the permission to focus on what’s important at that very moment. Getting the unessential responsibilities off your schedule will not only create some extra time and space, it will also lighten the burden you’re feeling and help you keep up with it.
Ask for help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and you’ll quickly learn that most people around you actually love to be asked! It makes them feel useful and important. What usually helps the most is to get help to do the normal things; cooking, shopping and regular every-day tasks. However, don’t underestimate how important the people in your life can be when it comes to feedback, motivation and supporting your self-confidence regarding the work you’re doing.
Get enough sleep
An oldie, but a goodie. This old advice is not only essential when it comes to self-care, it is also absolutely essential when it comes to being able to do your best. Particularly important when it comes to exam periods and work stress, sleep will help you achieve. It’s easy to think that a few extra hours of work will do you more good, but it won’t. Sleep will.
Drink tea and water
Coffee will only get you that far, before it sends you down into tiredness again. While still being hot and comforting, tea and water won’t make you dehydrated and shaky. If you’re feeling tired and think you need a caffeine boost, go for cold water instead. Cold water will help wake you up! A good trick I found to help keep your water cool: put about an inch of water into your water bottle and freeze it. As soon as you are ready, instant iced water!
Listen to your favorite music
Calm music will help you calm down and upbeat music will help you up your game. Pick music that won’t distract you - for some people that means no lyrics. My sister favors movie scores, while I like Broadway musicals. Your favorite music will boost your mood and keep you happy, no matter how tired you are.
Eat healthy and green food
I know it’s tempting to order pizza, but it really pays off to take your time to cook and eat nutritious and healthy food. Not only will it help you achieve better, it will also boost your mood! Yet another perk of Pinterest, you have endless recipes at your fingertips. My sister and I keep the granola bars and oranges well stocked.
Take 5 minutes in the morning to just stretch and breathe
If you start your day in a stressful way, you’ll probably feel stressed for the rest of the day as well. Start your morning with 5 minutes of silence and ease. Do some yoga - and you can use either relaxing music or pump up music. Starting the day in a way like this will make you more relaxed as well!
You might be busy and think that every minute is valuable time to put into your work, but some extra minutes of walking might be a better way to spend some time. Not only will the exercise be good for you, you also get some important fresh air and daylight. Fresh air and sunshine are a natural boost.
Take 5-minute mini-breaks every hour
You can’t stay focused all the time. No matter how efficient you work, you’ll always get distracted, let your mind wander or end up spending time reading e-mail (and blogs) instead. A better way to spend this time is to get up from your chair, walk outside and take a 5-minute break. The change of place, the change of physical posture and the movement will make it easier to start again when your break is over. You’ll also give your brain a chance to relax and process information.
Break your self-care habits into smaller tasks and do one each day
No need to look like you’re constantly running after your life, even if you are! I always take the time to at least put on mascara, and, most of the time, eyeliner. I also never sit around in sweats. Being put together helps me feel more together. Shave your legs one day, paint your nails the next day, wash your hair the day after, etc. This approach also works with keeping the apartment tidy – just do one little chore every day and you’ll stay on top of everything more easily.
Make a plan of everything that needs to be done
Instead of juggling all your to-do’s and must-remember’s, write them down on a piece of paper. I use my planner religiously. Then make a plan of how you are going to manage everything before your deadline. Make sure you stick to the plan, every single day. Don’t fall for the temptation to start on tomorrow’s tasks today, trust that the plan will take you there, and enjoy some free time on the days when you finish your tasks early.
Make sure you keep in touch with your friends
Just a few text messages, tweets or the occasional coffee will make sure your friendships don’t suffer. You will feel much better when you focus on something else entirely, and it will prevent you from becoming a workaholic hermit. You don’t have to keep in touch with everybody, most people will understand that you’re busy. Just make sure you stay in touch with the people that make you happy and inspired.
Make room for rest
This one’s important. Make sure that whenever you plan to rest – really rest. That means that you will have to make a conscious effort to push all work-related thoughts and worries away. 
Spend your lunchtime as sacred you-time
… and enjoy your healthy food with a little journaling, blog-reading, or people-watching. It’s important to eat, but it’s equally important to be inspired, creative, silly, whimsical and happy.
Take a run or a long walk
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Any sort of exercise will release endorphins, your body will thank you and it clears your head so you can focus on all the important work that lies ahead.
Keep a planner
To make your life less chaotic, it’s a good practice to keep a planner. Make sure you write down every single appointment, to save yourself from unwanted surprises and missed meetings. Just remember to schedule time for yourself. Honor your appointment with yourself just as much as you would keep an appointment with anyone else.
Keep track of your achievements
It may seem like you’re never going to get over a busy period, which is why you should keep a list of achievements close at any time.Whenever you hit a milestone – write it down! It will be very useful when you’re feeling tired by the end of the day and know that you still have several more hours of work before you can call it a day.
Wear your pretty clothes
… and be busy with style! If you dress nicely, chances are you’ll feel better too. All it takes is 5 minutes in the morning, and with your most powerful, wonderful and pretty clothes on, you’ll feel like a million for the rest of the day.
…Or do some yoga at home. Even ten minutes of stretching is better than nothing, and will recharge your batteries (and your mind).
Take a hot bath
Nothing helps you relax like a hot bath. Use your favourite bubbles, turn off the light, light some candles and you’re good to go. One hour in the bath in the evening may be the best way to relax because of this simple fact: you can’t take your work and your computer with you.
Light candles
Candles have a relaxing effect. If you can’t light candles in your workplace, make sure you light them when you get home.They are just soothing, even sitting around your laptop with an essay up on the screen.
Have an "emotional emergency plan"
Ideally, you should have this figured out before you enter a really busy period. If everything goes wrong, and you’re maxed out, panicky or just plain exhausted – who do you call? what do you do? where do you go?
Do I need to say more? When stress builds up, take five seconds off and just breathe. Deep.
Do something silly
Don’t forget to have fun! Who said you can’t laugh, even though you’re busy! Make jokes, engage with you friends, read comics and just allow yourself to be silly for a little while. I promise it will boost your mood and a little laughter every day will help you through a really challenging time.
Now is not the time to play superwoman. Be nice to yourself and let your brain tackle one task at a time. Rumor has it that this is more productive in the long run…
Take the last evening off
The last night before your big D(r)eadline is the night to relax. Panicking in the last minute isn’t a very good way of taking care of yourself. And you don’t want to oversleep on your exam day, have dark circles under your eyes on presentation day because you spent the last night cramming. Take the last evening off and relax. You’ve done your best, there’s nothing more you can do.
Keep a tidy workspace
It will make you more focused, relaxed and less overwhelmed.
Create some routines
When work or studies take all your focus, it can be useful to create some new habits or routines to take some of the burden off your back. Make it a habit to cook a larger batch of dinner on day 1, and eat leftovers for the next two days. Use Sundays to prepare what to wear for the next couple of days. Wear your hair in a ponytail five days in a row. This is not the time to expect yourself to find lots of different and exciting outfits, hairdo’s or recipes.
Write things down
When you’re mind is working over-time, let it relax by helping yourself remember everything. Write down any ideas, to-do’s, must-remember’s and other things you have to remember. This way, you don’t have to carry the additional stress of remembering everything you need to remember.
Accept a little clutter and mess
Just let it be. Some dust and a little dirt has never hurt anyone. Focus on what’s important to you, you can always clean up the mess later. Just don’t go around and feel bad about it on top of everything else!
Allow your emotions to come to the surface
If you’re tired and sad, cry it all out. If you’re stressed, don’t try to put on a mask and hide it. Get it all out, all the frustration, the overwhelm, the anger and the fear. You’ll feel much better after.
Honor your limits
Set some limits and stick with them. A lot of tasks when we’re busy don’t have a set limit, like when you’re studying and being creative. It’s easy to feel like you’re never quite done. Set some clear limits for yourself and honor them. Say to yourself; “when the time is up, I’m DONE”.
Get more sunlight
Especially if your busy period is happening in winter, make sure you get your daily dose of sunlight if you’re spending a lot of time in gloomy libraries and workplaces.
Eat fresh fruit and vegetables
Keep some fruits and nuts close by and snack when you’re hungry. Don’t forget that cucumbers and carrots are great snacks!
Resist the urge to be productive all the time
You can’t be equally productive every single waking moment, so you might as well schedule some off time right away. Be nice to yourself and don’t expect to accomplish as much in the late evening as you do in the morning.
Limit your media consumption
… because your brain can only process a limited amount of information. When you need your focus to be on work, don’t overflow your brain with tv, news, newspapers, magazines and books.
Meditate in the morning
Ten minutes of stillness can make all the difference.
Block out distractions
Need to get some work done? Block your facebook, resist Pinterest, switch off your phone, and lock the door. If only for a few hours, you won’t miss out on anything, and you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.
Compliment yourself
Positive self-speech can seriously impact your mood. Instead of adding to the monkey-brain thoughts of not good enough, too stressed and panic – tell yourself you look good, that you’re doing great and that you can manage everything that comes your way.
Do the dreaded tasks first
There are always tasks you’ll love to do more than others, and it’s tempting to do those first. However, it’s probably better to alternate tasks. Do something hard, then do a task you like. That way, you’ll save yourself from all the dread!
It doesn’t have to cost much - coloring books can cost a little as a dollar or you can print off single pages online for free. But it is something mindless and enjoyable.
Reward yourself
Maybe not the best overall habit to get used to, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you need it to get through – reward yourself with gifts, chocolate and breaks whenever you finish a task. Maybe you need the treat anyways?
Postpone all major decisions
… This is not the time to change majors, cut your hair, or break up with someone (however tempting it is). Save the big stuff for when you’re calmer and can think clearer.
Accept yourself as you are
Let yourself off the hook and accept that you are only human. You are doing your absolute best, and you are doing exactly what you need to do. Trust your instincts and keep doing whatever you’re doing. You don’t need to change anything about yourself – trust that you are perfect just the way you are.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Life Lately

//clouds going on for miles//

The past couple weeks have been good. We had a brief period of sunshine, and now it is mostly just pouring rain. All day. I have been enjoying the time by cooking hot food, adventuring with my friends, riding my bike, working out, and just trying to be productive - though sometimes that is a losing battle. Overall, though, I enjoyed June. It was a good month.

Excited about... 
Getting my car fixed. I love biking the two miles two and from work, but, honestly, biking in the pouring rain is terrible. And now that I have my car fixed, I can do things like grocery shop, visit people, and drive home and to rehearsals. 

Even more excited about...
Wedding season! There are 3 weddings in my immediate close friend group this summer and I am so excited for all of them. This is the first time I have been able to go to my friends' weddings, and really the first large amount of friends who are getting married. I get to be all grown up and go to bridal  showers, bachelorette parties, and the ceremonies themselves, and I am just so happy for all these people I love.

Nervous about... 
IRTY camps. This week is actually the first camp I have ever lead myself, and it's going well. It's a little nerve wracking to be in charge of lesson plans, crafts, and games, and to be doing the prep work. But it is preparing me for The Merry Wives of Windsor camp, and in that one I actually have to prepare kids to go onstage in a professional show.  But I do love it, and children's theatre is definitely a job I would like to keep doing.

 //playing Shark Attack during drama camp//  fresh and clean summertime look//

Looking forward to...
Starting some musicals! Also, before those rehearsals get started, I am taking a mini-break home for a week or so, give or take a few day and I am excited to go, spend some time with my family, explore around beautiful North Idaho. I'm just looking forward to spending some time with my family, if only for a little bit.

As always, quite a few things. Rereading Peter Pan, started The Game of Thrones, and The Diviners by Libba Bray. I loved her Great and Terrible Beauty Trilogy, and when I found the new book, this one set in 20's New York, in a thrift store for .99,  I needed to buy it. And I really like it. It's taking me a long time to read, given that it quite hefty - too big to pack in my purse and read on the elliptical - but I do like it and recommend it if you enjoy witty, fast paced fiction. As a fiction writer myself, I love to read, read, read books in my genre. I love to examine their writing style and their favorite plot devices, and I think it is the best way to become a better writer. 

//books// walking during the brief respite from the rain// obsessed with this show//
 Hannibal. Holy smokes. Watch this show - only don't if you are not a fan of the horror genre. It is bloody and graphic, but it is masterfully written and extraordinarily well acted. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are incredible in it, making their characters real and riveting. Mikkelsen makes Hannibal a convincing and suave villain without making the police seem like morons. Obsessed.

 an effort to get into really good shape. And let me tell you, it has been a challenge. I feel like more of a challenge than it is supposed to be. Cutting and counting calories, keeping a food and workout journal, and then spending 2 hours a day working out to zero results, except for more weight gain, is really defeating and I am running out of new ideas for it. But I just keep plugging along. I have an unrealistic terror of getting to Sound of Music rehearsal, having to do the waltz lift with Rolf, and him not being able to lift me or hurting himself because I am too heavy. 

//Singin' in the rain // holy curls, Batman!! this is what the humidity does to my hair//