Steady

Clouding up my mind today has been the people who, and the ways in which those people, made fun of me when I was younger. See, I ordered a laser hair remover from Costco, and it just arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I am fucking PUMPED this thing is here–it’s something I’ve wanted since I learned laser hair removal is a thing–but I’m also having a little bit of post-traumatic stress from thinking about why I want to epilate so badly.

So here’s a story for nothing more than my own catharsis. Let me guarantee you this upfront, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned by reading farther other than a deeper look into my psyche.

I, like a lot of people who grew up to have a shred of empathy in their shriveled little hearts, was made fun of a lot growing up. I was a kill ’em with kindness kinda kid in elementary school, and when these other kids recognized that I was just genuinely nice and smart (they very often thought I was mentally challenged because I had a lazy eye and a droopy face–not that that would have justified cruelty) some of them stopped being too awful to me.

Case in point: in 7th grade I had terrible acne (I hit puberty a few years before most of the other kids, so I got to experience the face explosions first) and there was this boy who called me “pizzaface” or just “pizza” because I was Italian, greasy, and, well, I suppose it looked like I was covered in pepperoni. I didn’t even like pepperoni! It was so unfair! I felt all the shitty feelings about it, but I found a way to kind of laugh it off. Then that kid became one of my best friends, and even when I moved away, we still talked and saw each other for a few years after that. So yeah, basically I had a shining, win-em-over personality.

But once I was a teenager, my personality didn’t matter so much anymore, and kids were into playing the long game. Also, enough of that bullshit really wears you down. Teen-aged angst buoyed by being made fun of for things way out of your control and a huge dash of social anxiety is a pretty good recipe for character-killing-serum, but I do still vividly remember the first time I was essentially bullied when I went to a new school in the 8th grade.

I was in some sort of computer class. This was the very early 00s and most of us knew more than the teacher, but “keyboarding” was still inexplicably on the curriculum. I was sitting next to this girl who was very sweet, very pretty, and also very, very dumb. She was a cheerleader and seemed to be one of the happiest people around (ignorance truly is bliss), so even though I thought I should feel bad for her, there seemed to be little to feel bad for. Anyway, this story isn’t really about her–she was actually one of those rare people who was really popular, but also really nice. No, no, this story is about Jeremy.

And yes, Jeremy is his real name.

Jeremy was, and I assume still is, human fucking garbage. I know you can’t know this for sure, you only have my words here to go off of, and at the time I didn’t know this either–I was new to the school and didn’t really have any friends yet–but I hope I can sway you with this anecdote upon which you will judge the whole of Jeremy’s worthless, POS character.

So prettydumbnice girl needs help, and the instructor has already written her off as a moron, so I’m happy to oblige because I’m not an asshole. I’m leaning forward in my chair to look over her shoulder, and she’s actually getting it. I love when you show someone something and then they do the thing and their face lights up with realization. That’s such a good feeling! And here comes Jeremy to ruin it.

I’m tapped on the shoulder, turn, and there’s his stupid fucking face, but at the time I didn’t know what a stupid fuckface he was, so when he goes, “Can I tell you something?” in this incredibly serious tone, I think something sincere is going to come out of his mouth. No idea what, but to 13-year-old, kind, helpful, empathetic me, I am thinking, Oh, this person might also need help, what can I do? and I tell him, “Of course!”

“You have the hairiest back I have ever seen. I mean, seriously, just the hairiest. It’s like you’re a monkey.”

He delivered this in the same sincere, flat tone, staring right into my eyes like I wasn’t even human. Like he was just practicing being mean. So since this was the 00s, low-rise jeans were hardcore in, and as I was leaning forward, my lower back was exposed. At the time I had no idea how hairy my back was–I mean, I’d never seen it, obviously–but it suddenly became the center of my goddamned universe. I had known my eyebrows were way too bushy thanks to previous teasing, but quickly discovered so much more of me was hairy–too hairy–and all thanks to that comment.

And don’t worry, I’m not writing off Jeremy because he just said one mean thing to me. I watched him be an utter dickface over the next five years to a plethora of people. He’s earned every shitty name I’ve called him here plus about a thousand more.

With the rise of body positivity, women have been embracing natural things about themselves, including hirsutism and even just normal hairiness (we are mammals,after all, despite what every razor commercial and post-apocalyptic movie armpit would have you believe) and I think that’s great. But I’ll never get over that feeling when I was 13, and even though I can openly talk about it now, it still hurts me. I’ve spent almost 20 years trying to remove unwanted hair, I’ve irritated the fuck out of my skin, I’ve bled, I’ve given myself chemical burns, all in the pursuit of hairlessness. Maybe now I’ll get there, or at least a little closer.

What did today’s yoga have to do with all this? Well, not a lot, or maybe everything. Adriene’s letter for today talks quite a bit about loving what you see in the mirror, working for yourself instead of on yourself, and I appreciate that, but part of conditioning your mind is often changing the physical things around you. This is part of my effort to do that.

And I realize it’s not a fuck you to the people who bullied me. Looking the way they thought I should isn’t a fuck you at all, “glowing up” doesn’t absolve me of feeling like crap back then or teach them a lesson. In fact, I’m sure nothing I do now or ever will affect the Jeremies of the world. Like I said, Dear Reader, there’s nothing to be learned from reading this blog, it just is what it is.

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Yoga for 2018

I’ll be starting off 2018 taking a new yoga journey with Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, and wanted to invite everyone along. I started 2017 with the Yoga Revolution, and I’ve talked before about how that literally changed my life. Now I practice yoga nearly every day using the Down Dog app or just a personal home practice, but Adriene will always be my number one yogi bae.

yogatrueimin

She has an amazing way of making you feel like you’re already doing it and like you’re guaranteed to succeed. You literally can’t do it wrong when you’re following along with her. If you ever thought yoga was too hard or you’d never be able to get in that pose, give her videos a try. She’s great at offering modifications and getting you to trust your body. I can’t say enough good things about her and really about yoga in general.

No matter what day you start, it doesn’t matter, just jump on the wagon whenever. If you’re new to yoga or if you’ve been practicing for years, I’m certain there will be something here for you.

The videos start January 2 and will be posted on her YouTube channel, and if you sign up, you’ll get a daily email of inspiration. If nothing else, even if you’re not into yoga and don’t plan to be, starting a daily practice of anything that’s actually dedicated to you and your wellbeing is, I think, a great way to start out a new year. If you’re looking for something really easy to start out with today, consider starting here:

If you join up, let me know how it goes. You can do this!

Namaste.

How To Not Fuck Up 2018

I’m going to be straight with you, Dear Reader: 2017 was pretty fucking great for me. I would be remiss to not call it super successful. While the things I did don’t apply to everyone, they certainly turned things around for me in a lot of ways. Am I am expert advice giver? No, but I’m not less of a good advice giver than the next fucko, so in that vein, here are my top suggestions for anyone looking pre-un-fuck 2018. Also, there are five suggestions here. You could call this a top five list. I won’t though.

Assess And Address Your Fucking Health

If there’s only one thing I could suggest everyone do right at the start of 2018, it would be to take a look at your physical well being and take steps to improve it. (But since I’ve got this handy little internet soapbox, I won’t be limited to just one. You’re welcome!) No, I don’t mean look in the mirror, grab a fat roll with dismay, fuck your knees up on the treadmill every day for the next two weeks, then give up into a bowl of raw chocolate chip cookie dough. I mean, actually take stock of how you feel on a daily basis. One of the things that shocked me the most when I lost weight was all the ways I felt terrible when I was fat but didn’t realize were so bad til I was healthier. If you, like me, are blinded to how great things could be, consider starting to track how you live your life on the reg:

  • Daily Food Intake – Just write it all down, there’s no use lying to yourself!
  • Daily Water Intake – Just TRY to drink a little actual water, okay?
  • Digestion and Bowel Movements – How are your shits, Dear Reader?
  • Energy Exertion – Are you getting off your ass–genuinely off it–and moving around?
  • Sleep – When do you get ready for bed, actually get in bed, actually fall asleep, actually get up?

Track what you can for a few weeks (there are a lot of great apps out there for some or all of these things) and include, at the end of each day, how you actually felt that day physically and emotionally. Don’t try to make changes, just keep an honest log. See how what you’re doing correlates to how you feel. Where can you make improvements? DO THOSE THINGS.

Assess And Address Whatever The Fuck Your Problem Is

Okay, this is, admittedly, way more loaded than the header makes it out to be, but on at least some level you can do this! It might also take some tracking and honesty and a little soul searching, but what the fuck are you waiting for? Looking at your relationships might be a good place to start. What do you like about them? What do you hate? Why? How can you (and I mean YOU, not through the actions of others) facilitate the good things and lessen the bad things?

Example: I love Husband. I love being with him, talking, hanging out, but I hate fighting. Why? I don’t like how I feel during and after a fight, and I don’t like that if fighting is frequent or particularly bad it could really deteriorate our relationship. So what can I do to lessen those fights? Well, when I get angry, I get Italian Angry™ and it happens really fast. It’s sort of a 0 to 60 thing, then it tapers off almost immediately. My anger, yelling, saying hurtful things, all exacerbate a fight when, instead, I could take a breath, stay calm, and explain why I’m upset. We still may have an argument at worst, or a discussion at best, but both are healthy and lead to understanding and compromise. Husband isn’t perfect, but neither am I, and I can only change myself.

This is meant to be a focus on YOU. How can you be a better person? Everyone has issues, and no you cannot (and should not) compensate for everybody else, but you can work on yourself, so fucking do it.

Set Some Fucking Goals

Be they vague or specific, big or small, hair-brained or totally logical, set some 2018-fucking-goals for your 2018-fucking-self. I don’t mean resolutions, like this big floating concept that you plan to reach by way of…the universe making it happen or whatever; I mean goals. While the destination might be vague, the journey should be mapped out. Say I want to be more creative in 2018. That’s pretty damn vague, so how the fuck am I going to become Artsy Ashley 2k18? Well, I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, like I’m pretty bad at focusing in the beginning of a project, but I’ll wallow hours away late at night on something once I’m in the groove, so I need to set very specific times to get things started and done.

To reach that goal, a planned evening for me might look like this: 30 minutes to decompress after work (that means YouTube), 15 minutes to get set up and look through inspiration/get in the groove, 40 minutes to work on the actual project, and 5 minutes to plan for the next time and clean up. Those last five minutes are crucial for me because, like I said, I’ll just keep going and either burn through sleep time or just burn myself out on the project all together. If I go through the planned cycle, say, three out of every five weekdays, Artsy Ashley just might be born by summer. Of course, as the year goes on, I’ll need to modify that schedule, but the point is I’ll start out with a road map to get to that fucking end goal.

Downloading a habit app might really help you out here. I use the one in the link, but I don’t really play the game aspects, I just feel really good about leveling up. Before I go to bed, I check off everything I’ve done. If I’ve missed a number of things, I’m motivated to do better the next day. If I’ve checked everything off, I feel super successful and motivated to keep it up. You can use the habit app for health goals too. See, it all ties together.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Some Fucking Help

Humans very rarely do things entirely on their own. Even if you hire help, you’re still getting it. But you probably need help the most when you’re making changes and working toward something new. Getting thrown out of your regular routine is tough, and can be tough for the people close to you as well. If they’re used to old 2017 you, they may not take to well to 2018 you. That’s totally their problem, not yours, but letting them know you’re changing, and letting them know how they can help might, well…help!

You also may find yourself struggling at some point. Before I took on NaNoWriMo this year, I knew I would need motivation in the form of human encouragement. I enlisted Anachostic and another workmate to take part in the great wordening of two ought one seven. Without someone to run beside (and fall behind) I would have most likely stopped at the first smoothie shop on the way and just hunkered down for the winter. That is to say: I needed help. And I asked for it. And I got it.

Fucking Love Your Current Self And Look Forward To Your Future Self

I hated my body when I was overweight, but I still, even if it wasn’t a lot, loved myself. I loved myself enough, at least, to put in the effort to change because I knew the potential I was capable of.

I need to be kinder to people.

I need to start feeding my mind again.

I need to shit at least once a day.

All ways a person can change, all suggested with love. Especially that last one.

There’s this movement going on that suggests loving yourself means accepting the exact person you are right now, indefinitely, and you don’t need to ever evolve. If you think you’re perfect, well, good for you, but I don’t think that’s really what self-love is. If you really love someone, you should want what’s best for them. Sometimes that means giving someone a piece of candy, but that also means telling someone the truth, even if it hurts.

Love yourself enough to tell yourself the fucking truth.