Wednesday, December 27, 2017

So you're interested in bullet journalling...

From my 2017 BuJo
I've mentioned bullet journalling on my blog before, but never really went in-depth into what I do, so I'm taking the time to talk about it now, since I've seen some of my friends express interest :) 2018 is rapidly approaching, and the new year is always a good time to refocus and get organized again.

Bullet journalling (or BuJoing for short) is basically an organizational system. It is highly customizable, and you can tweak it to suit your own needs, but the very core of it is the use of bulleted lists to plan and log your life.

Bullet journalling mainly consists of two parts (that can be separate, or totally meshed together): the calendar/planner part, and the "collections" part. The planner part is pretty self-explanatory--this is where you write down your appointments and To Do lists--but collections, if you're not sure what they are, are really just lists of anything you want to keep lists of. People will keep lists of books they want to read, books they HAVE read, meal planning lists, bucket lists, gratitude lists, shopping lists, etc... Your bullet journal essentially becomes part planner, part journal, depending on how you want to use it.

Usually when people ask me about bullet journalling, I like to first point them to Ryder Carroll's video. (Ryder Carroll is basically the creator of bullet journalling, but I mean, I'm sure people have been using bulleted lists forever and ever.)

Bullet journalling is awesome because, again, it's highly customizable, and you can do it in anything--you can shell out for a $20 Leuchtturm or Moleskine, or you can use a composition notebook from the dollar store. You can even use a premade planner (if you're less interested in customizing the spreads), and you can decorate it as much or as little as you want.

But of course, if you're brand new to bullet journalling, it probably doesn't help much to just tell you, "Hey, it can be whatever you want it to be!" You probably want some ideas, right? So here's a glimpse into what I do.

I should note that I am highly fickle and easily distracted by pretty things, so I've switched back and forth a LOT between a Leuchtturm dot grid notebook and a Happy Planner, depending on my mood. The advantages of using an actual notebook are that you can customize it however you want to and you can change your format whenever you feel like it, while the advantages of using a pre-made planner are that you don't have to spend time drawing layouts (because they're already printed for you), and if you're not so good at artsy stuff like I am, you can usually find ones that are already pretty and cute (like Happy Planners or Erin Condren planners).

Nonetheless, regardless of what I'm using, this is my basic bullet system:

This is a horizontal-format Happy Planner
- Triangles for events/appointments (basically, anything with a time attached to it)
- Squares for tasks that can be done at any point during the day
- Dots for notes
- I color in the triangles/squares when the item is completed
- I cross out the item if it is cancelled/no longer needed
- I put a > sign if I'm procrastinating postponing the item until another time.

That's all. Three signifiers to remember, and easy to remember. I used to color-code my items, but it started to be a bit too much to carry so many pens around all the time, and I missed just being able to use color however I wanted to (artistically), so now I just reach for whatever pen is handy and I just use that. Sometimes (as you can see above) I separate out my timely items from my non-timely items, or sometimes I will separate out work items from personal items, but I always use these bullets.

Also worth noting: I like to write out my plans day-by-day. I have a Future Log (where I write down all my upcoming stuff), but other than that, I like to sit down at the end of every day to write out my plans for tomorrow, and I try not to go beyond a couple days ahead. I find it soothing and creative, and it's a good way to check in with my calendar to see what I've got going on.

So, for 2018, I do in fact have a bullet journal set up (as well as a Happy Planner that will stay on my desk... I'm incorrigible), so here is a glimpse at some of the other things I have set up in my Leuchtturm:

I decided that having a Future Log AND a Monthly Spread was redundant (for me), so I set up a two-page spread for every month of 2018 at the very beginning of my notebook. Obviously, if I use up this entire notebook before the end of the year, I will have some re-copying to do, but at least this way, I can see my entire year, in case I need to make grand plans :)

(Narrator: She did NOT need to make grand plans.)

I also have a smattering of collections: monthly bills/expenses, meal lists, a spice rack inventory (because I often forget to check my spice cabinet before I go grocery shopping), etc. This page is my "What books are coming out this year, and did I preorder them yet, and in what format?" spread. When I get closer to the fall, I usually make spreads for planning out holiday dinners, Christmas knitting, etc. When I'm traveling, I have a page dedicated to my packing list. Stuff like that.

And I really like having a tracker set up for the month, even if I'm terrible at sticking with it. I really want to keep trying to build good habits, and filling out my tracker at the end of each day gives me a chance to reflect, and it also shows me in a very obvious and easily-readable way when I'm not sticking to my goals.

In addition to all of the above, I like using my pages for random notes, quotes I like, lettering practice, journalling, etc.

So, if you're a beginning bullet journaller, I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you out a little? Here is some advice, from me to you, if you're just starting out (or thinking about it):

  • Make a list of what you actually need/want in your BuJo. That Instagrammer may have a really cool spread that tracks the daily weather, but if you really don't care about tracking the daily weather, then why do it, no matter how cool it looks? 
  • That said, other BuJoers are doing really cool things, and it's great to get ideas by checking out other people's posts. My favorites are Boho Berry (IG/Youtube/blog) and Minimalist Bujo
  • Only shell out for supplies if you want to. You don't NEED to. It is suuuuuper easy to find yourself suddenly drowning in pens, stickers, and washi tape, and it's very fun to decorate your BuJo, but just know that you don't HAVE to, and try not to feel pressured to.
  • Come up with your own bullet system, one that is easy to remember and that actually makes sense to you so you don't have to refer to a key every time you write stuff down.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to just cross things out or even start over on a new page if you DO make mistakes. I have so many notebooks where I haven't written a damn thing in them because I'm too afraid of being not-perfect (oh, the possibilities of a blank page!) but in my bullet journal, it just is what it is. Especially since I'm not trying to be an Instagrammer.
Above all, do what works for you. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. 

I hope this helps! However you decide to get organized for the new year, good luck to you, and I hope you accomplish all your goals in 2018 :)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"The plan is to fan this SPARK into a FLAME": Deadlifts for Doernbecher recap, health scares, and looking ahead

photo by my brother, Khoa
IG @ngophotobiz
Hire him, he's cool. And he's my brother.
Now that I am done with catching up on grading and winter break has officially begun, I can now take some time to reflect on recent events! (Literally... I just finished my grading about half an hour ago and walked around the house, arms up "Rocky" style in triumph, before sitting back down at my computer to start this entry.)

This weekend was QUITE A TRIP.

Saturday was Deadlifts for Doernbecher. This was my second time competing in D4D, and I have to say, this year was so, so, so much bigger than last year. Which is not to say that it was small last year, but this year D4D was held at Ancestry Brewing and featured pro lifters (men and women) coming in from all over the country. Standing in the warm-up area in the back, I was shaking in my Chucks just being around them and watching them get ready.

Because I'm not going to lie, I kinda want to BE one of them someday. I know I have forever and a ways to go, but if I think about all the sports I've ever done, powerlifting is probably the only sport I have even a remote chance of being good at. (It was definitely never going to be swimming, running, or roller derby. Is napping a sport? I'm probably not even good at that.)

So, IT WAS GREAT. Despite my nerves, despite my doubts, I hit all three of my attempts: 405, a nervous 455 that didn't feel great, and a triumphant 470 which is essentially a match to my previous PR from March 2016:

I was happy enough to even celebrate on the platform a little. :) Because you know what? I wasn't sure it was going to happen. Even though I've hit that number before, the fact that I haven't gotten remotely close to that in the almost-two years since definitely has had me wondering if it was a fluke. Maybe I got lucky that day. Or maybe I just didn't have it in me anymore. I don't know. My brain is SO not nice to me. I am constantly plagued with impostor syndrome in nearly all aspects of my life, so I've spent all this time wondering if maybe I've "lost" it or if I never really "had" it to begin with.

Thus, it was extremely gratifying to know that yes, I still have it in me, and that actually, I might have more. The 500lb pull that I started wishing for so long ago, that I had started to give up on mentally, suddenly returns into my line of vision, and now that I am BACK to being so close to it, I want it.

First place in my category <3
I left that day with a plaque, which is AWESOME, but even more importantly, I walked away with a rekindled belief in myself. I left with faith in my abilities and my strength again. I left with a strong sense of "Yes, I can do this!" and "I'm not a phony!" and "I still have more to give to this sport!" And those things are not easily won, for me.


And then on Sunday, eating a celebratory hamburger and fries for lunch, I had a severe allergic reaction that landed me in the ER.

It's a meal I've had before. I mean, I haven't eaten at Red Robin in months, but I have eaten there before. I have eaten this exact Black and Blue Burger and Sweet Potato Fries before. But never have they caused my throat to tighten severely, or for my lips to itch and get bumpy, or for my tongue to swell up in my mouth, or develop hives all over my body.

To be clear: I don't blame Red Robin or anything. I had zero idea that that would happen, because I've never had that reaction to anything before. Was it even the food? I don't know, but it was likely the culprit, because it started as I was eating.

The ER nurse told me that it's possible to develop allergies even in adulthood which makes me feel... not so great. Because now I have some potentially life-threatening allergy and I have no idea what it is, and now I get to experience the fun of trying to avoid it without actually knowing what it is. (Yes, I'll be contacting an allergist soon. Let's just say I won't be going back to RR for... ever.) I also now have to carry an Epi Pen in my purse at all times (JUST LETTING Y'ALL KNOW), and we have one in our house too. Just so I don't... you know... die.

So in the course of 24 hours, I went from feeling ultra powerful and strong to being totally felled by sweet potato fries :/

Yeah, IDK either gurl
I've been on a course of antihistamines and Prednisone all week. I'm tired because of last weekend,  and I'm tired because it's the last week of classes before Winter Break, and I'm tired because I have a TON of Christmas gift stuff to do, BUT... I was not too tired to sign myself up for my next competition.

I decided that I needed to ride this wave of motivation and empowerment and to set my sights on my next goal while I'm still feeling good about myself. I know it's not going to be easy, and it's going to require a lot of work and commitment, but after all this time, I am really feeling ready to make this happen. I WANT my name on an official USPA result sheet. Whatever numbers I end up putting up, whether they're good or bad or whatever, it's about time that I just COMMIT, because it's a step in a direction, rather than standing still, which I feel like I've been mostly doing. (And it's nobody's fault but mine--I've had a lot of changes happening in my life this year, and I just haven't been able to be consistent.)

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my goals are, but yeah, my immediate goal is to show up. Record a squat. Record a bench. Record a deadlift. Have officially-recorded lifts at a sanctioned meet.

My next goal (not chronologically, but in terms of priority) is to go for that 500 pull. That's not to say that squat and bench aren't important to me, but you KNOW I've always been about the deadlift. I don't have a great bench, and I'm trying to rebuild confidence in my squat because of my bum knee, but deadlifting is my THING, and I want to hit that number. And I'm being told by people who know better than me that it's within my reach, so I should listen to those people and actually go for it. :)

And then tertiary to that is to go for a competitive total. An ELITE total.

Above my desk, where I'm literally sitting right now, I have this inspiration board--a real-life "Pinterest," if you will--that mainly just has pretty pictures of makeup postcards, since I keep my laptop at my makeup table. It's my vision board. But today I added this sheet that I made two years ago. (I mean, I printed it out today, but I've had it saved on my computer for two years.)

It's the USPA's spreadsheet of standards/classifications for women, and I have it narrowed down to RAW 198 and 198+ (because I don't know as of yet which weight class I'll end up in), with the standards for Elite, Master, and Class I highlighted, and my now-two-year-old PRs written in. (Well, now I can definitely say my deadlift number still stands.)

Even if I never beat my dismal bench, even if I only ever match my squat and deadlift PRs, I would at least record an elite total. And that's something. I would love to record that number officially (though, of course, I would love to BEAT that number officially). Maybe even break some records.

How's that for a vision board?

So yeah, I've got my work cut out for me, but I AM EXCITED. I HAVE PLANS. And I have a slew of people cheering me on and ready to help me go for it. So tired as I am, I am feeling STOKED, and I feel like I CAN DO THIS. I just need to find the strength within myself to stick with training so that I can make this happen. DON'T LET ME BAIL. I'm saying that to everyone right now. DON'T LET ME BAIL.

Also... don't let me go to Red Robin anymore either, please.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why even try?

This weekend is Deadlifts for Doernbecher, the annual deadlift competition that my gym hosts (here's my post from last year), and as can be expected, I'm excited about it but I'm also a little nervous because I have high hopes for my numbers this year.

This year, there will be a bunch of elite guest lifters attending as well, which adds to the pressure. I am eager to impress, and would love to someday be considered one of them. (I know I have a long way to go.) There are women a good 40 pounds lighter than me who can pull a good 40+ pounds heavier than I can, so knowing they'll be there is definitely a heaping of humble pie, if you know what I mean.

It's funny--no matter how well I do at any given training session, I follow so many stellar lifters on social media that I never feel like I'm good enough or strong enough. Which in turn sounds ridiculous, because... good enough for what? Strong enough for what? For myself? For people who know me? I'm pretty sure NO ONE I know is going to laugh at me for having pathetic numbers. (Well, possibly for my bench.) And yet, here I am, pushing for the approval of... I don't even know. Being surrounded by such excellence really places my own accomplishments in rather harsh perspective. Why should I be proud of myself for this lift when all these people can totally do better? Why even try?

It's not a healthy worldview, to only want to do something if I can be the best at it, and I don't actually live my life like that, but I can't say that I don't have my moments where I'm like, "What is even the point of all this?" The truth is, I didn't start doing this to be The Best (whatever that means), and if I want to not make myself miserable, that should never be my driving reason for doing anything. Because all that really guarantees you is misery. (Unless you're, like, Serena Williams. In which case, being The Best is just a fact of life =P)

So here I am, a few days out from my next competition, trying to talk myself out of feeling intimidated and comparing myself to other people who (honestly!) have trained much harder and longer than I have. In truth, I took two or three weeks off during training for D4D because I was sick, and I still was able to do this for my last heavy workout last week, so I should stop beating myself up so much about not being an ELITE LIFTER, and just enjoy what I'm doing while I am still able to do it. Just like how, right now, I can't run at even my slowest speed from when I used to run marathons, someday, I will not be able to lift this heavy anymore, and I'm going to wish I had taken the time to pat myself on the back and be proud of what I have accomplished already, instead of constantly looking ahead to the next PR.

(Though yes, I am going to still hope for a PR.)

Wish me luck. (And moreover, tell me to stop freaking out because I'll be fine.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

If you can help...


This is the deadlift competition I'm doing soon. It's a charity meet to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital. It would be AWESOME if you could kick some $$ their way. We are all together trying to reach $25k. As of today, we are halfway to our goal.
Click "Donate" at the top :)

Thank you <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Tomorrow will be busy with lots of cooking, so I am taking a minute right now to reflect upon the good in my life.

It's been quite the year of ups and downs. Did I know, when I wrote my Thanksgiving post last year, that I would end up working in a yarn store, getting to share something I love to do with other people? Did I know that I would finally succeed in getting pregnant, after almost a year of failures that broke my heart every time, only to experience one of the biggest heartbreaks I've ever had to experience? Did I know that losing that pregnancy would open a door that led me back to teaching in a completely new way, that I think I actually really love and want to stick with?

I am grateful to be alive. Bottom line. At the VERY least, I am grateful for that, because if things had gone differently, if I had waited any longer to look into my symptoms or book an ultrasound appointment or whatever... I might not be right now.

I am grateful to be working, and not just to have a job, but to have one that I love, that I feel passionate about, that I feel fulfilled by. At this time last year, I was hoping against hope that I would be able to find some other path besides teaching, but I am LOVING what I'm doing right now. I love that the Fates have brought me here.

I am grateful that no matter where I go or what I do, I manage to find the most amazing people to be my friends. This year brought me new people to love, adding to the already-large squad of lovely people who hold space in my heart.

And I am so very grateful for the people who have been with me all along, some of you for decades. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm so lucky to love you.

So yeah, I am grateful not just merely to be alive, but to be living this remarkable life. Is it perfect? Of course not. But I have life. I have love. What more can I ask for, really?

Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving,


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Midterm lessons

We are nine weeks into the semester, and as I'm working with my students to get their grades up, I can't help but spend some time reflecting myself on what I'VE learned so far this year at my new job:

  • Some things aren't different, between teaching online and teaching in person. Some students are still adorable and sweet and enjoy coming to class; some students will still either ignore you or fight you on everything (and then complain about how low their grade is).
  • It's hard to work from home because it's hard to draw the line as to when to STOP. I don't LEAVE at the end of the day, thus clearly delineating a boundary between my work life and my home life. I don't have bells signaling when it's officially lunch. I mean, teachers at in-person schools also spend tons of time after school and on the weekends working as well, so that part isn't so different, but I'm saying that not having a commute doesn't mean that I'm working any less. 
  • Having to spend all day online and answering emails has made me spend a little less time on my computer and phone for leisure. I'm not saying I don't still go on Facebook or whatever, but it's gotten a lot easier to just put away my phone and close my laptop because, dude, that's quite enough for today.
  • I really miss being able to talk to coworkers in person. Whenever I needed to get out of my classroom and clear my head, there was always the English department lounge where we could sit and chat and just decompress. I do talk to my coworkers every day, all day (hi Kate, Aaron, and Mark!), but it's not the same as getting to check in with each other visually on a day to day basis.
  • I touched upon this in my last blog post, but I've taken the approach of helping my students and relaxing the rules a little bit, and it's made a big difference in my stress level. I'm not saying work doesn't stress me out, but not ruling with an iron fist means that I'm dealing with a lot less tension.
  • That said, it doesn't mean that I don't worry about my kids. I know that a lot of them are there for a reason, and that that reason might be absolutely heartbreaking. All kids come to our classes with their own stories (that are sometimes sad), but you have to think that if these kids for some reason were unsuccessful in a traditional school setting, then maybe it's a sadder story than you might think. And my heart breaks for them, because I can't check in with them visually either. 
  • I'm glad not to have stacks of papers to grade. I mean, I still have lots to grade, but they don't take physical form anymore. That makes my life a little bit easier. 
  • Classroom management is a little bit different, in that they are all names in a chat room in our classroom software. I don't have to see them asleep or on their phones or rolling their eyes at my terrible jokes :P but the fact that I can't see them means that I don't know if they're ACTUALLY there or not. There are plenty of kids who just log in but are actually absent. I'm not going to say that I love this, but on the other hand... my old school just had a lock down because a kid brought a gun to school, sooooooo... I don't mind my problems at the moment.
So far, I like it. I really like my job. I feel like it suits me, and I don't know if it's also because I have the benefit of a decade of teaching under my belt (so like, would I still like this as much if I were brand new?), but I don't wake up with that feeling of dread about going to work, and on the whole, I feel a little more confident than I used to about my teaching. (Though, Impostor's Syndrome still strikes hard and true.) I'm really glad I found my way here, and I hope they let me stay a little while :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The freedom in forgiveness

One of the constant struggles in teaching (one of the MANY constant struggles!) is coming up with a late work/make-up work policy and getting students to understand it, respect it, and stop asking for so many damn exceptions. Trust me, I've had MANY a conversation about the appalling entitlement of kids who keep ignoring the not-so-fine print (seriously! Boldfaced and underlined and caps-locked size 16 font!!!) and asking us to ignore the rules we've worked so hard to set out for them.

I've played around with how late to allow work to be turned in, and what percentage to dock. I've never allowed them to re-do or re-write. "Them's the rules, kid." I spell it out for them on the first day of school, and it's up to them to sort out their business out within my parameters. And I get frustrated when I have to constantly answer the same questions over and over.

Well, thing work differently at online school. At orientation and staff development, we were told that for SO many kids, we are probably the last resort in a long line of attempts at being successful at school. That if these kids couldn't make it with us, it's entirely possible that they might give up on school altogether. And therefore, we can't have the same kinds of rules that you might see at a traditional school.

I have to say, this made me nervous. Now I HAVE to allow rewrites? Now I CAN'T keep docking late points the later it gets? Now I HAVE to allow for flexibility in class attendance and deadlines?

I don't know if I was half-expecting that chaos would reign and I would be drowning in papers or what.

What I got instead... was this strange sense of freedom. When kids emailed me asking if they can have extra time, I said "Sure," and wrote their names down on a list. When I had to give kids low D's or F's because their work was not what I was asking of them, I wrote in my comments, "Please feel free to redo!" and I suddenly felt unburdened, like, at least now, it's up to them and they don't have to feel stuck with that grade. When I relaxed my grip and gave them more options, I ended up giving myself more options besides fielding angry/upset emails from students and parents as I tell them that there's nothing else they can do, SORRY.

Reality, sort of
I'm not saying my job is easy street now, by any means. Teaching is teaching, and some things are the same no matter what format your classroom is. But emotionally, I'm feeling a lot better. I'm a lot less stressed out about "BUT THE RULES!" I'm not saying that I don't have deadlines or that I don't have a late penalty, but I can tell my kids "Hey, don't worry" and actually mean it because once it's late, it's late, and I won't dock any more than 10%, and you might as well take your time and make it good. And it's less pressure on them, but they still have to take the initiative to do it and talk to me about their late work or any rewrites they do, and I feel a little more like a partner than a taskmaster, and suddenly I'm working with my students instead of fighting them.

And I think that's how I've always wanted it to be anyway.

So in short... yes, work is hard. But it is going fairly well, and I'm happy to be doing it. I think for now, I have found where I am meant to be.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

This is what happens when you spend Saturday night at Target.

I miss running. I miss it with an ache that I feel deep in my chest.

Tonight at Target, I was walking past the activewear section (which is actually where I get all my workout clothes), and there was a huge display for running gear. "Keeps you cool while you run!", the tag said.

I don't run. Not anymore, I thought.

And there it was. That familiar ache and that stinging sensation behind my eyes. For a moment, I thought I might actually start tearing up, right there in front of the racerback tank tops made with wicking fabric.

If I miss it so much, why don't I just try to do it again, and start slow? My friend, I'm afraid at this point, my knee can't even handle a slow start; it hurts when I walk too much, sometimes. Or all I have to do is place my foot down wrong while I'm walking and I can feel a sharp pain that makes me catch my breath, and then I have to limp rather gingerly until it sort of works itself out.

At this point, I have to decide whether I really, really want to put my knee on the line, lose a ton of weight to take the pressure off of it (and we all know how easy THAT process is!), and risk giving up my powerlifting strength just so I can maybe do some 5k's or 10k's for another few years, possibly a half marathon if I'm lucky, and probably never another full marathon ever again. Note: there is nothing wrong with 5k's or 10k's, but you know that's not where my heart lies. I love the looooooooong run.

I envy 80 year olds that can still run, because I really think I've reached the end of the proverbial road in this sport. I could train to race-walk, I suppose, but again, that's just not where my heart is.

So I have to choose, right? And even though I haven't been consistently training this year, I do in fact choose powerlifting. With derby absolutely out of the question as well, it's kind of my only thing left that I can do, that I love. And knowing that I've reached a this-or-nothing-at-all point in my very short athletic life feels rather pressuring. Like, it took me so long to figure out the sports that I love to do, and now, I feel like I have precious little time left and I REALLY have to make it count this time. I'm in a situation where I feel like I have to double-down.

And I'm happy that I have powerlifting in my life. Again, I could definitely stand to show up more (or, at all, considering how hectic my life has gotten lately) and put in some consistent work, but in my heart of hearts, I feel like it's where I'm meant to be, the path I should be following.

But goddamn, if I don't miss running. I am stupidly sad watching other people run and hearing about other people's training these days.

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Even if it makes others uncomfortable I will love who I am." - Janelle Monae

My beauty blog has been on hiatus for quite a while now, and I'm undecided about when I'll get it going again (or even if). No, I haven't stopped loving makeup and makeup artistry-- I think what has changed most for me (aside from moving to an area where I don't feel the need to be so made up all the time, and not working full-time out of the house anymore) is that I've been feeling increasingly estranged from beauty blogging and social media.

Go ahead and check the Instagram page for any major beauty brand or retailer-- what do you notice about the models and influencers they regularly feature? You do get some racial diversity. You get some body diversity. You even get some gender diversity. You very rarely get all these things at the same time. And you almost never get anyone who looks like they're older than 30. (I mean, there probably are major influencers who are over 30, but they usually don't look it.)

I've said quite often that representation matters, and I see myself rarely enough. I feel like I'm seeing myself in the beauty world less and less. It hasn't changed my love for makeup, but it has changed my eagerness to be a part (however small) of beauty media. It's never very motivating for me to feel unwanted. Some people can take that as a challenge and run with it, muscling their way in and creating a space for themselves. Me, I want to slip quietly out the back door and go home, and change into some PJs, and watch some Poldark.

Besides, it's kinda nice buying some makeup and then enjoying it right away without worrying about getting some good product photographs before I get my grubby hands all over it. Or looking presentable for FOTD pictures (because sometimes I really just don't feel like being on camera!)

Anyway... this is but a small part of some more general thoughts I've been having about 1) my looks, 2) my age (I turn 35 soon), and 3) whether/how much I actually want to care about either of those things. I've never been afraid of getting older (but I guess I've always looked young for my age, so it's never been a concern), and for the most part, I've come to a good detente with my body about my shape and size. But every now and then, my insecurities rear their ugly heads (as I'm sure happens to everyone, right?)

Media (social or otherwise) has a lot to do with it. I can feel my self-esteem meter plummeting when I spend more time browsing makeup or fashion sites. Or seeing articles praising celebrities for their bodies, especially if they're super-busy moms/careerwomen who manage to DO IT ALL.

I Facebook-stalked stumbled upon the profile of someone I vaguely know through other people, and it was apparent from her profile (as my subsequent freakout on FB stated) that she and I were very similar in a bunch of different ways, but also she's younger, thinner, and prettier than I am, and though I don't really know her, I know that we have a lot of mutuals who really like her, and therefore, my brain also filled in that she must be more interesting, effortlessly cool, and likeable than I am too. (Brains are such awful things sometimes, aren't they?)

So yeah, that wasn't an especially fun moment of my weekend.

I gave myself some time to work through it (and thank you to all my FB friends who commented encouragingly! It really meant a lot!), and I ended up coming to a conclusion: So what?

So what if I'm not pretty, young, or thin? So what if I'm not effortlessly likeable and interesting? So what if I DO want to just put on PJs and watch Poldark instead of going to parties that I don't get invited to anyway?

I have a pretty great life regardless.

"Pretty" is subjective anyway.

"Young" is nothing I can do anything about.

"Thin" is nothing I care to do anything about.

And I don't think I'm an easy person to love, but I have a good amount of people who say they love me, so I must be worth it somehow.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, that perfect magazine girl who looks like she's got it all together. I mean, it's a farce anyway, right? Even the girls in magazines these days can't ever really be perfect magazine girls in real life (thanks, Photoshop!).

This is me. This is my reality:

I'm tired. Stressed out. Blemished. Scarred. I am flawed inside and out. I don't always do the right thing. I'm not always likeable or attractive. I definitely don't know how to be "hot." I don't know how to take perfect selfies, and I can't keep up with the beauty world anymore.

But you know what? I've got it pretty good anyway, even with all those things "wrong" with me. So I must be doing something right. And maybe I should just keep focusing on that.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Heading down new roads

Somewhere on OR-38. Gorgeous.
A lot has happened in the last few months (as you've probably read), and now I can add one more thing to the headlines: I'm returning to the classroom.

Well, sort of - I will be teaching full-time online. I'm not going to have a physical classroom, but rather, I'll be working from a home office, and teaching high school students from all over the state of Oregon through my computer screen.

The first order of business (besides doing all my HR paperwork online) was to head out to North Bend for our New Teacher Orientation.

Four hours away, in a part of the state that I've only heard of and never been to (Coos Bay), to spend three days as a new teacher who doesn't know anyone else learning about a new method of teaching that I've never done before.


(Though, I think the driving-far-away-all-by-myself part made me more nervous than anything else.)

I'm a creature of habit. I've spent all ten years of my teaching career at the same school. Sat through staff development in the same theater, looking out at (mostly) the same faces. Basically taught the same things from year to year. (Not always, but overall, I've stuck to the same books and activities.)

And even the school I taught at was in the city I GREW UP IN. So even before I spent ten years teaching at the same school, I spent my LIFE in the same community.

One of the Oregon dunes
In the days leading up to the training, I was texting my work wife/bestie and lamenting how I could not imagine having to sit through staff development without her by my side. I know I'm not the only new kid, but I haven't BEEN the new kid in a long time. (Well, I guess you can count my current retail job, in which I'm still the most recent hire, but retail is not the same.) And I would be a long way from home :/

I ended up having a great time. My introvert self even hung out in the hotel bar with a few of my new department members one evening. (It was Trivia Night and we took second place!) We met a lot of the leadership team and support staff and I got a good sense that the community that I'm walking into is a good one, with values that seem to line up with mine.

Online teaching is different, but not THAT different. I am still, in essence, teaching the same skills and concepts (and even some of the same books-- looks like Macbeth just seems to be my lot in life). The delivery is a little different-- I don't get to see the kids' faces while I teach, but I will still have to manage a bunch of them in a room (a chatroom, really), and I still get to be me and add my own personal stamp on things.

Coos Bay, right next to my hotel
The drive, by the way, wasn't so bad. It was long, but I thankfully missed any terrible traffic both ways, and it was spectacularly scenic. Oregon, you are a GORGEOUS thing. I kept getting distracted by the mountains and trees and various bodies of water (the Umpqua River, lakes, the bay). The temperature was a good thirty degrees cooler than what we've been getting here in Portland, so even though we were busy working each day that we were there, it still felt like a nice little vacation.

Next week is full-staff professional development (at a shorter distance away), and I'm feeling a lot better than I was a week ago at this time. I am excited. I feel refreshed and nervous and positive, in a way I haven't felt in a while, and even though I'm a little swamped with things to do in preparation for the school year, I am all abuzz with anticipation.

I guess taking a new road isn't necessarily anything to be afraid of after all. It might lead you somewhere wonderful.

(image source unknown)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Project round-up

I've gotten a lot of knitting done lately. Here's a look at my latest round of FOs.

Pattern: May mitten from Kelbourne Woolens' "Year of Mittens" series
Yarn: Cumbria Fingering from The Fibre Co.

Pattern: Haruni by Emily Ross
Yarn: Cormo Fingering from Sincere Sheep

Pattern: Fuss-Free Festival Shawl by Louise Tillbrook
Yarn: Lilt from Black Trillium Fibre Studio

Pattern: Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price (I made another one for my dear friend Jen)
Yarn: Independence from Spincycle Yarns

And of course, because I never stop, I've got some other projects in progress that I'm excited to see through to finishing :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

A new normal

I'm doing okay.

That's what I tell people, because it's the truth - I'm doing better than "miserable and sad," but I'm definitely not "cheerful and joyful" either. I'm doing okay.

I'm struggling to find my way back to "normal." There is something about that profound moment of seeing the plus sign on a pregnancy test that rocks the very foundation of your life (well, my life, at least), such that I can no longer remember what exactly I did to pass my days before I was pregnant. And now that I'm no longer pregnant, I'm trying to figure out how to pass my days again.

Oh sure, I probably wasn't doing much differently - knitting, reading, going to work, posting on social media, whatever. That stuff all looks the same. You know, outwardly. But inside, I've been so restless and confused, like my entire existence is fidgeting and doesn't know how to settle down. What was my life like before all this happened? Who was I? I still hold my belly when I sleep.

Is this my new normal? Is this how life is going to be until we (hopefully) get pregnant again? Or until (god forbid) we decide to throw in the towel. (We're going to keep trying. We are.)

I'm tired. I don't know how to be right now. I don't know what my life is supposed to look like right now. I feel like I'm in this suspended state of existence, just waiting for things to happen.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


On Sunday, May 28th, after days of nausea, exhaustion, and other symptoms (including a late period), I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. We were ecstatic, over the moon, after nearly a year of trying. Jolie was going to be a big sister!

By the end of January 2018, we would have a baby!

* * * * *

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 14th, after days of spotting, intermittent cramping, and lower-than-normal HCG results, I went in for an ultrasound, and was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. They rushed to me the ER immediately for surgery, where they discovered that the mass (that would've been our baby) had grown so large that my Fallopian tube was bleeding quite a bit into my lower abdomen, and I was pretty much on the brink of rupture.

By the time I woke up the next day (this morning), I wasn't pregnant anymore.

* * * * *

The short of it is that... this is hard.

It was hard for me not to share the good news when I found out, but some part of me just felt compelled to wait, like it just KNEW that something was off. I don't know. Maybe I was just being paranoid - if stressing out were a professional sport, I'd be the Golden State Worriers, nailing every worst possible outcome with pinpoint accuracy.

It was hard for me, then, as the "bad" signs start appearing, and my anxiety started to grow, and I felt like I just couldn't talk about it, because it was a thing I was still trying to keep secret. But it was so hard to be so afraid in secret.

And then it was hard for me, yesterday, sitting alone at the ultrasound clinic and hearing over the phone from the OB on call at the hospital across town that this baby I was just starting to get used to was basically on the verge of killing me, to the point that he wouldn't even allow me to drive myself to the emergency room - I was ordered to stay there at the clinic and wait for an ambulance to pick me up.

I've never ridden in an ambulance before. I cried the entire way there.

I cried as they told me that they needed to operate TONIGHT.

I cried as the OB went over the list of risks, such as completely losing my fertility (not likely to happen, but they HAVE to say this stuff to me, right?)

I'm crying right now as I write this, but I have to do it, because I need to put my thoughts and feelings into words. I've spent the last few weeks saying nothing, even though this pregnancy has taken up 100% of my thoughts, and do you know how hard it is not to be able to talk about something that is taking up 100% of your thoughts? It's so hard.

There's no one and nothing I can be angry at. I didn't do this to myself, and no one else did this to me. There wasn't one thing that I did or ate or breathed that made this happen. There wasn't one moment in this embryo's short life where things would've been okay, because it was never okay. It already wasn't okay before it even became an embryo.

On the one hand it's a relief that I didn't do anything wrong and the only thing to blame is really bad luck; on the other hand, knowing that there was nothing right that I could've done, being helpless at the hands of Lady Fortune, isn't very comforting either.

Also, on the one hand, I am grieving the loss of my child-to-be. But on the other hand, we might have lost me too. When they told me how large the mass was and about all the blood they found pooled inside me, I realized that I hadn't been very far away from never coming home to the child I already do have.

I don't have any profound realizations to impart right now, aside from the fact that I am glad I'm alive, and I am so thankful to everyone (like my family, my best friends, and my coworkers, as well as the hospital staff) who has stepped up for me, especially Jimmy who is still managing to be my rock even as he too is grieving. This was hard for both of us.

I just needed to share this, because it helps me to write about it. If I don't seem like myself lately, please forgive. I am home now, out of danger and recovering, trying to find my way back to normal.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Photo: Cassie Ngo
I got this tattoo almost ten years ago, I think. It's gotten harder to read over the years, and I should probably get it touched-up, but it says It takes strength to be gentle and kind. It's a line from the Smiths' song, "I Know It's Over," and regardless of what the rest of the song means, I liked it enough out of context to get it tattooed on my arm, as a daily reminder to myself.

I try to err on the side of kindness whenever I possibly can. (Maybe there's a little Hufflepuff in me after all, I dunno.) I choose kindness whenever I can, sometimes even to my own emotional detriment. I also internalize criticism and blame myself first, rather than unleash on other people. Maybe if I take the brunt of the hurt, then other people won't have to.

I know there are lots of people out there who would not do the same. They will protect their own self-interests and mental images, tooth and nail, and I understand that instinct. They might say that I'm weak, a soft touch, a "bleeding heart."

My heart may bleed, but I can take it. I'm not afraid of my emotions. And I am fortunate (privileged) enough to have access to the space/resources/time that I need for self-care. (I understand that not everyone does.) I'm not weak for caring. I'm not weak for loving. I'm not "soft" because I try to treat others gently when they need me to.

Never, ever mistake someone's kindness for weakness. It's easy as breathing to be apathetic; it takes energy and effort to be hateful; but it takes strength to be gentle and kind.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days: Learning to change

Okay, but how cute is my donut stamp tho?
30 days have passed of my 100 Day challenge. What have I learned so far?

- My most difficult area was actually sleep. I definitely do not sleep enough.
- I need to not buy Easter candy on sale.
- Giving up soda was not hard, but maybe it's because I've replaced that addiction with sparkling water, because now I drink that constantly.
- I am definitely not drinking 32oz of water straight-up per day, but I drink just about everything else (coffee, tea, sparkling water, protein shakes, etc.) and since I was sick for a few days, I had a lot of soup. That's gotta count for something.
- I didn't meet my workout goal, but I did START working out again, which is better than not working out at all.
- I tried to journal every day, for my own peace of mind, but sometimes I just wasn't into it. But I do pretty much knit or craft in some form every day, and maybe I should just consider that part of my self-care time. I like the idea of guided meditations, but I don't often have those silent moments to myself in this house.

So now... I want to kick it up a notch. Whatever I did this month, even if it wasn't the "right" thing, I did it mindfully and with purpose. (Yes, I ate donuts with purpose!) Now, I want to make sure I'm actually doing the "right" thing more often than not.

- I used to be good at working out consistently, and the way I did that was to schedule them like appointments.
- I have a treadmill now! So I can work out even if I can't/don't want to leave the house. I also have yoga dvds.
- I'm trying out a site/app called Real Plans, to help me with get creative and stay organized with making meal plans, so that I'll actually stick with them.
- Along those lines, I'm going to actually try to adhere to some nutritional guidelines I'm setting for myself. (I find that my body feels best when I limit certain food groups.)
- I used to make sure that I got enough sleep by going to bed at the same time as my daughter, and then reading while she fell asleep. I'm going to have to start doing that again, because 1) I haven't been reading much lately, and 2) it got me into bedtime mode, while still allowing me some Me Time.
- I'm thinking about trying to monitor my hydration without actually tracking fluid ounces, but I'm not sure of how to do that yet. I know urine color is a good indication, but I feel like that's not concrete enough for me, so I might try to research some more on this topic.

So yeah, it's been an illuminating first 30 days. Here's to the next 30 (or 31!) being even better!

PS - For the first time EVER, I hit 10,000 steps in one day!

A post shared by Thu (@acciobeastmode) on

Thursday, April 20, 2017

FO: Hawkshaw Cowl

Another finished project for your viewing pleasure!

This pattern is the Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price of Spincycle Yarns and uses two (different) skeins of their worsted weight single-ply yarn, Independence. I've chosen to call this my Unicorns and Mermaids cowl because the two colorways I chose, Goddess Above the Clouds and The Bee's Knees, remind me of unicorns and mermaids respectively. (My skein of Goddess literally matched my Unicorn Frappuccino yesterday!)

This was my first-ever brioche knitting project, and it was EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY. Thank you, Kate and Rachel, for making this experience painless! Brioche knitting creates a squishy, reversible fabric that resembles 1x1 ribbing, and when you do it with two colors, it looks AMAZING. I'd always been too intimidated to attempt it before (I don't know why, don't ask me), but I seriously can't resist Spincycle Yarns' colorways, and this looked like a quick, easy knit. (It was.)

The pattern says to stop when it's around 12 inches long, but mine is about 9.5 inches edge to edge. I cannot imagine this being three inches longer - it already feels like it's going to swallow my head. I also hit upon a really long section of teal in my Y1, and it looked like enough to make it all the way around for the i-cord bind-off without changing color (this was important to me), so it seemed like a good place to stop. The thick-and-thin texture of Independence makes it look a little funky at times, but it's such a beautiful, soft yarn that I can't stay mad.

It's squishy and warm and sooooo beautiful. Have a look!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

100 days of health and fitness

Ready... SET...
Okay, so it's probably not a secret, but in case you didn't know, I have not been making health and fitness a priority in my life lately. Either I haven't been feeling well, or I've been overwhelmed, or I just can't overcome my inertia - no matter the reason, my body (and as a result, my mind as well) has been feeling pretty lousy. I mean, to be honest, winter has always ended up being my "off-season" anyway, due to weather and illness, and ever since I moved up north, I've been in the doldrums even more.

BUT... it's now officially spring, and the sky is a little bit brighter, and I'm ready to pull myself together and get myself back on track. And what better way to do that than to do a fitness challenge?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some thoughts on the new live-action Beauty and the Beast

It's been a while since I've done a movie review on this blog! Usually, the only movies I bother to see and blog about are book-to-movie adaptations, and those usually go on my book blog. (I mean, technically, yeah, BatB could be considered a book-to-movie adaptation, but... meh.)

Okay, so fair warning: Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, and Belle is absolutely my favorite Disney princess. (See?) As a kid, I of course identified with her as a book-loving outcast. Also, I love the, uh, Frenchness (?), and I'm sure it had something to do with my decision to take French in high school.

Therefore, I was rather intrigued when I found out there would be a live-action remake, and I was SUPER excited to find out that my favorite princess would be played by another favorite bookworm of mine, Hermione Granger Emma Watson. (PS - Before I ever found out that she was cast, I had made a list/photo collage of Disney princesses as my favorite YA characters, and I totally had Belle as Hermione. JUST SAYIN'.)

So, this movie had a lot to live up to. In some ways, it hit, and in other ways, it missed, but overall, I enjoyed it. I still prefer the animated movie from my childhood, but there are definitely some things I really liked about this one.

Some scattered thoughts (and I guess I should give a spoiler warning, not for the stuff everyone already knows from the animated movie, but for the changes that were made):
  • I LOVED the introductory scene, about how the Beast became the Beast. That ballroom scene was fantastic visually, and OMG Audra McDonald!!!! Can we just have her sing EVERYTHING EVER?
  • Stanley Tucci, your Caesar Flickerman is showing. Just a lil bit. :)
  • The whole movie was extremely beautiful, like, visually. I loved the color palette, and even the wintry scenes were gorgeous. There were quite a few shots and sets that looked like throwbacks to the animated one.
  • That said, the CGI... made me scrunch my nose a little. The songs where we were basically just watching a bunch of CGI instead of real people (like "Be Our Guest" or that song that the Beast sings after Belle leaves) just felt off and less interesting to me.
  • Speaking of the CGI, I kinda laughed when I realized at the end that Bill Condon had directed this, because I was thinking to myself earlier in the movie that the CGI wolves looked like the wolves from the Twilight movies. (He directed the two Breaking Dawn movies.) I was like, "... Jacob? Stop trying to eat the Beast!"
  • I loved most of the songs that were new for this movie. I did not LOVE the ones that were used from the animated movie, because they had made some changes lyrically and musically. I didn't mind the musical changes, but like, I couldn't suss out why they changed the words, and I just wasn't having it. 
  • I'm also quite familiar with the dialogue from the animated version, and I didn't like how they kept some lines, but changed others for seemingly no reason. Was it to shorten the movie? But it's not like the animated one is particularly long to begin with. And really, I kinda felt like I was just watching a Cliffs Notes version of the animated one at certain points. (Do kids still use Cliffs Notes?)
  • But again, the things that they added for this movie were awesome. I loved the backstory about Belle's mother and about the Beast's upbringing (like, why WAS he such a spoiled douche?) and all that stuff. The Paris part made me tear up. 
  • Dude, Kevin Kline, I KNOW you can do a French accent. What gives??? 
  • Speaking of French accents, it was fun listening to Ewan MacGregor as Lumiere. I mean, he's no Jerry Orbach, of course, but he pulled it off.
  • I did think "Belle" was quite spectacularly choreographed/blocked/performed/everything.
  • Emma Watson's singing... :/ I'm not making that face because she's a bad singer. Rather, I think they must have run her voice through autotune or some sort of vocal processor, because it didn't sound like a real voice/purely her voice? I don't know, it just didn't feel like it was purely her, if that makes sense.
  • Not gonna lie... there were a couple moments when I was half-expecting to hear something Harry Potter-related. I do truly think Emma Watson was channeling some Hermione there when Belle sees the library for the first time. 
  • I definitely noticed and loved how this movie was not alllllll white actors. It's the sort of movie where it would've been very easy (and expected, not gonna lie) to have a purely white cast, but there was a great range of skin tones among the crowd, and many of the POC characters even had speaking parts. =')
  • Speaking of diversity and representation... I know it was a huge deal that they decided to make LeFou gay. When I first heard this, I was like :/ because, yes, representation is awesome, but LeFou is technically a bad guy, and yo, Disney, y'all been queer-coding your villains forEVER. (Feel free to google that.) However, they took this LeFou in a totally different direction and I ended up loving it. And I cheered after the garderobe scene during the battle. (You'll know when you see it.)
  • Also... and correct me if I'm wrong... I felt like they did NOT have Gaston react to LeFou in a gay-panicky sort of way? It would've been easy to have him be freaked out and weirded out every time LeFou came on too strong, but it seemed like he just kind of took it in stride. Which I appreciated, even though I'm not sure it was entirely in character. But thank you for not making people react to LeFou like he's gross or weird or anything like that. 
  • And speaking of that whole "controversy," I laughed a ton when I saw all the comments about Belle marrying a water buffalo, BUT... don't laugh... that scene where Belle is tending to the Beast's wounds, he's technically shirtless (though covered in fur) in his bed, and holy pecs and delts, Batman! I mean, I know he's some sort of buffalo bear creature and therefore it's kinda weird to be into him, but HE LOOKS LIKE HE BENCH PRESSES. Just sayin'. 
  • Fun fact: Hattie Morahan (Agathe) and Dan Stevens (the Beast) were both in a remake of Sense & Sensibility as Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars. You know who also played Elinor Dashwood once? Emma Thompson! Who was Mrs. Potts in this movie. 
  • And speaking of Austen-ish things, I don't know why, but the dancing caught me off guard. You would think that I'd be used to seeing those types of dances, since I watch so many Austen movies (and I'm not saying they're all the same dances historically, either), but I guess I was expecting the same ballroom dancing that was in the animated one. 
  • Not related to anything, but I really want one of those ear cuff things that Belle is wearing with the gold dress. 
  • Thankyouthankyouthankyou for not including "Human Again." I hate how they added that song to the animated version decades later, and I just really don't care for it very much. However, it's curious that they did reference Romeo and Juliet in this version, just like that particular added scene did. (Also, why is Belle so into R&J anyway? It's nothing like the favorite story she sings about, and it's like, depressing as all hell. Come on, gurl.)
  • The Celine Dion (?) song at the end was a nice touch. 
Okay, that's all I've got for now. I am still very firmly attached to the animated one, but I liked this one too - it didn't ruin the old one for me, and it even added some new elements that I really enjoyed. :) Yep, still my favorite Princess.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I want to be where your heart is home

Spring is just around the corner, but as far as I know, it will stay rainy and gray around here for quite a bit longer. We've had a few nice days here and there, but overall it's been the darkest, coldest winter I've ever had.

I find myself missing the California sunshine. I had an errant thought the other day that I really want to go to Disneyland. I mean, that's not unique or special - a lot of people love Disneyland and it's fun to escape into a fantasy away from your real life. But this time I actually was thinking about the getting-to-Disneyland part of going to Disneyland too.

I'm not really into long drives, and the drive to Disneyland is largely unexciting - just lots of brown hills and farmland, for the most part. But there's something in my heart right now longing for that vast stretch of sun-drenched freeway.

Of course, it's not just the sunshine that I miss. I'm pretty isolated up here - I have Portland-area friends and coworkers and gym buddies, but I'm quite a ways out from all of them and haven't really been up to socializing, to be honest. So I'm often just holed up in my cold house, knitting and looking through my social media feeds in between running errands and work.

And it's hard not to feel sad. I'm watching the people that I love living their lives without me, and it was my decision that made this happen. I don't know if it's the sky making me sadder than I normally would be, or if it's also because I'm feeling adrift and purposeless right now because I'm not currently teaching, or if social media generally makes me sad because of the FOMO it engenders, or... I don't know. Maybe some combination of all those things. I'm at a point where it hurts profoundly and I have to just close my window and distract myself with fictional worlds and people, instead of the real thing.

I'm not sorry I decided to move, because I do think this is where I am meant to be. I just didn't realize how lonely it would feel. I'm already not good at reaching out to people when I have friends around to reach out to; it's even harder now, when I barely know anyone. So I just hide myself away instead.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Some people are never happy.

Article here
This morning I was looking at the above article about the new swimwear line from plus-sized model Ashley Graham. And I had some... thoughts.

And then I happened to glance at the comments section on the Facebook post that shared the article, and saw this comment, which pretty much stated what I was thinking:
This isn't swimsuits for all haha. It's swimsuits for women with big hips, a narrow flat stomach, and huge boobs. That's fantastic for the folks who look that way but all of us ladies aren't that blessed.
To which someone else replied,
Some people are never happy.
To which _I_ replied (in my own head), "No... we're not."

I mean, as the first comment said, "That's fantastic for folks who look that way." I'm happy for THEM, but no, I'm not satisfied. No shade to Ashley Graham--I'm not picking on her--but she is essentially a larger version of the same body type that is pushed on women by the media. It's GREAT that she's larger, and there should be more representation of larger women, but her body type still only represents a small slice of the population, so we shouldn't just stop there. I am technically a smaller size than she is, but my body doesn't look like that, nor will it EVER look like that (without drastic and/or unhealthy measures), because that's just not my body type.

A quick glance at Swimsuits For All's Instagram page does indeed showcase some different body types, so I'm not here to rail against them, specifically. I'm moreso angry about the second commenter. Because, you know how why models like Ashley Graham and companies like Swimsuits For All even exist? Because SOME PEOPLE WEREN'T HAPPY. There were enough unhappy women out there, who were willing to speak up about the lack of body diversity in fashion, that modeling agencies decided to start taking a chance on women like Ashley, and SHE saw enough unhappy women looking for swimsuits that she decided to start her own line.

Good stuff happens when people decide not to settle for "good enough." Good stuff happens when we keep pushing boundaries and breaking barriers, instead of just getting complacent. Good stuff happens when we voice our unhappiness, and they are not complaints or whining, but legitimate calls for more inclusiveness and better representation. So, no, I'm not just going to "be happy."

I want to re-emphasize that I'm not hating on Ashley Graham or her company, or accusing her or them of complacency, okay? (In fact, if you are able to, please support! Show the industry that companies like hers have a demand!) It's not her/them that is making me mad; it's random members of the public (and the media too!) who want to silence those criticisms and suggestions for improving our society and culture.

I'm going to continue to fight and speak out. Until all of us who are non-mainstream (in various ways, not just because of our weight) are no longer treated as lesser-than or invisible, I'm not going to be satisfied.

Friday, February 3, 2017

FO: Dragonscale gloves

Don't fashion me
into a maiden
that needs saving
from a dragon.
I am the dragon,
and I will eat you

Pattern: Dragonscale Gloves by Rachel Barlow
Yarn: Dream in Color's Smooshy with Cashmere in the colorway "Mermaid Shoes"
Quote: Requiem of the Moon Poetry

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lessons from a snow day

“The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”
― Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

As you may have heard, last week Portland (and surrounding areas, like where I live) just got the MOST SNOW EVER. Well, the most snow Portland has ever gotten in a really, really long time. (Other parts of the country probably wouldn't bat an eyelash.)

At first it was fun - a FOOT of snow to stomp around in, and no way to get to school or work? There were sounds of play and joy coming from all over the neighborhood. Even my dogs had fun hopping around the backyard before scrambling back inside to escape the cold. (And we had fun watching them!) It truly was a winter wonderland, and we all marveled at the giant flakes falling from the sky, forming a smooth, pure blanket of white on the ground. We finally had enough snow to build a proper snowman, not a snow-covered dirt snowman like the one in To Kill a Mockingbird. It was breathtakingly beautiful and awe-inspiring, seeing our normal everyday world transformed.

And then, of course, reality sets in. You know, the reality where you realize that you're running out of food because you didn't think there would be THAT much snow leaving you stuck in your house, and you live at the end of a tiny private street where you can pretty much bet that there will be no plowing or shoveling, and you notice that the only neighbors who've left their houses (judging by their tire tracks) are the ones who have 4WD vehicles, which your Prius is NOT...

This wasn't the first time I've had to drive on ice/snow (that happened just a few short weeks ago, though!) but the conditions this time were more severe. I'm not sure what's worse - the anxiety of driving on really icy roads, or the anxiety of possibly getting stuck on a thick patch of snow at a really bad time (say, at the front of an intersection when your light turns green - true story). Suffice it to say that, at this current moment, I do not remember what it is like to drive relaxed. I've been limiting my goings-out to nearby places (so at least if I get stranded, I'm not far from home), but every second I'm in my car, literally from the moment I pull out of my garage (because our driveway has been covered with packed snow and ice), I'm a bundle of stress.

I'm California born-and-raised, so what do I know about driving in winter weather? We freak out when it rains too hard! (Because our infrastructure just can't handle too much rain, just like Portland can't handle too much snow.) I drove as slowly and as carefully as I could manage, gearing myself up for nasty looks and other angry behavior from cranky drivers. (It's a good thing I gave up my California plates a while ago - I feel like less of a target now.)

But you know what? I didn't get any anger. This is probably stupid, but it really surprised me. I wasn't the only person leaving a TON of space between myself and the car in front of me. I wasn't the only one who started braking really early going into a red light. I wasn't the only one who accelerated really slowly when the light turned green. (I know this is basic Driver's Ed Safety 101 type stuff, but come on - there are a lot of drivers out there who risk their safety in order to get somewhere faster. Including me.) No one inched up on pedestrians trying not to slip walking across the parking lot. Every time a car or two ran a red light (because it was easier to keep going than to try to brake hard with all the icy patches), no one honked or behaved aggressively. We just... understood. And we let it go.

As the days went on and the ice and snow lingered, I realized that the whole world (or at least, my small part of it) was doing their utmost, first of all to be safe, but also to give each other time and space out there on the roads. Even though this has been some of the most stressful driving I've ever done, this was also the most patience and kindness I've ever seen exhibited out on the road.

It was like, we're all in this. It sucks for everyone right now, whether you drive a tiny hatchback or a giant truck that could climb over tiny hatchbacks. But instead of losing our cool and making things worse (and even more dangerous) for everyone else, we worked through it. I'm not saying that there weren't accidents or injuries or people who were jerks, because I'm sure there were. I'm not saying there weren't moments of frustration. But in the end, it was like, we handled it, not by bullying others out on the road, but by remembering that we're all in the same lousy situation, and if you can't do anything to make things better, then the very least you could do is to not make things worse for everyone else.

Today, it's a sunny 50 degrees, and the rain that started yesterday has washed away most of the snow. It's not fully back to normal, but we're getting there. I don't know how long this feeling of peace and good will will last out there, but I'm thankful that I got to experience it.