Be April

Habits are funny things. Some research says a habit is formed in 28 days, others say 21, and now some crazy fool (just to help us feel more defeated) is saying 66. I think all you have to do to make a habit is start somewhere. So in February of last year, that's exactly what I did.

I was unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. It didn't seem to fit anymore. Even though I'm typically a happy person, I hadn't been happy in quite some time. A few years ago I decided to get real mad about a few things that unfolded in my life. Somehow I thought being bitter made me "deep" and being happy made me naive. I fought what was natural and worked on being scrappy instead. No one believed me, but that's not the point. Fake it 'til you make it only takes you so far. Then you're left at the end of the road wearing a shell and feeling less like yourself than ever.

On the bright side, when something authentic happens? You don't really have as much control as you'd like to think you do anyway. You simply put one foot in front of the other. You do the research, you buy the groceries, print the 5k training plan, sell tons of your stuff, and even wait for the holidays to pass so you start on the date that gives you the best chance for success. But I believe, when you start working in the right direction, it's easier than all the forcing you were trying to do anyway.

I made an active choice to be happy. I make it every day. Many days I fail (miserably). It isn't rocket science. It's a habit. So today's tip is the easiest one I've learned. Be April. Or Michelle. Or Brian. Or Jack Bauer (if you actually ARE Jack Bauer). Stop impersonating a life you thought you were supposed to live or a person you thought you were supposed to be. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's exhausting. Start small by doing something huge. Just be yourself. Don't let anyone but you determine who that is going to be. It's the only skin you've got, so use it. 

Disclaimer: This blog comes with a silver lining. There are real moments that are awful. More than I'd like to admit. I'm not a ridiculous ray of sunshine when the timing doesn't call for it, but more often than not there is SOMETHING positive you can take from every situation. You make the choice. In this space, I've decided to bring a little sunshine even when I know there are a lot more rainy days ahead. That is how rainbows are made anyway. If you find that naive and obnoxious, I thank you for checking this out. If you don't, stick around...even if you learn nothing, I promise you'll at least leave with a smile.

- April

We Shall Dance

Occasionally, even a movie about dance, comes out with a line you’ll never forget. I took some liberty in changing the word marriage to love, but personally I think it’s more fitting anyway. You don’t have to put a ring on it to “get it”. Susan Saradon answers a question in Shall We dance:

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet ... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But when you love someone, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things ... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

I’ve been a witness to a few beautiful events over the past couple of weeks. Some exciting, some hopeful, and one tragic. I’ve been a part of celebrating life at almost every stage and I’ve realized how lucky I am to be there for it. Not everyone has friendships like this. But to me, they mean everything. I would do anything to make their wedding day perfect, I would buy the largest bubble in the world to protect my friend’s daughter on her 2nd birthday, and I would quite literally lay down my life to take away the pain when my dear friend’s mother passed away. But I can’t do that. I can only repeat and follow through on the two simple words I’ve come to learn is all we have to offer… “I’m here.” As the one giving the comfort, it feels like nothing. I feel helpless and quite honestly useless, but when those I’ve had to lean on in return say the same to me…it means everything.

At Biggie’s (or as I called her, Miss Fancy) funeral yesterday and in almost every thought I’ve had since I got an email on April 30th that treatment wasn’t working, I’ve been acutely aware of the cycle of things. Birth, Life, Celebration and Memories, and eventually death. I don’t like the loss of control or not having a choice in when these things happen. I want to know why. I want to understand How THIS could happen. I can’t. It’s not my place. But when you truly love someone? Friend, companion, lover, or otherwise…you’re there. You laugh together, you forgive together, you celebrate together, and you cry harder than you ever thought you could because you just don’t want them to hurt. Ever. It’s beautiful and scary and a hard way to realize, you’ve grown up.

We hear it all the time. Life is short. But when you see it first hand, it’s hard to think of anything else. So yesterday, we cried. And we laughed. And we celebrated loving an angel in the only way we know how. I won’t ever forget the way I felt when I first met Biggie. And I won’t ever forget the way I felt the last time I got to see her. Because I knew I’d just witnessed something and someone that would change my life forever. I was right the first time and I know I’m right now.

Remember to make everything you do with your loved ones count. The small moments are never small. I keep thinking about the time that lies ahead. I don’t know that there will always be happiness, but I know I won’t miss a chance to stand beside the “family” I chose. When we want to drink champagne, we shall drink. When we want to travel the world, we shall travel. And when we want to dance in each other’s presence and celebrate our lives, whatever life may bring, we shall dance. Right then. In that moment. And with wreckless abadon. 

You can’t call it history if we’re still doing it.

On the 5th of every month, bloggers from around the world are open to write about rights and issues concerning women. First started by Shine and Marie , we're hoping to bring a variety of women's issues to the forefront to make people aware of what's going on. For the month of May, we've chosen to write about Women's Reproductive Rights and Issues. Please join us in telling us your stories, thoughts, and ideas on a monthly basis. To read the first installment, click here.




The past is supposed to teach us to be better in the future. Learn from your mistakes, we're told. Grow, we hear all the time. But who exactly is the "we" in that statement? Today a group of us have joined together to stand up for reproductive rights and issues. Lately women's rights have taken a beating. In all honesty, they've probably taken a beating for much longer than "lately" and I've just been too ignorant to the information until now. I've got to be honest. I do NOT understand it.

I'm sure you've all heard this little gem before, "Those who can't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana

I want you to think about the direction we're moving in reproductive rights and not argue with me about abortion. I think you're right to an opinion is just as important as mine, but how do any of the issues below move us forward?

The argument behind all abortion is supposedly the sanctity of life vs a person's right to their own body. Yet these statistics (yes, I know you can make statistics out of everything) disturb me tremendously:

I am religious/spiritual/believe there is a power greater than me. I also believe He/She/It is shaking His/Her/It's head at us on a daily basis for the decisions we make in the name of "sanctifying life". When do these judgments apply across the board? Which "life" do you pick and judge? Lie to a high school girl to make her keep the baby, but then essentially make her a leper in the hallways through popularity contests centered around the "celibate" girls. Force a woman to sit through our judgment and keep the child, then blame her when she does not give the baby the attention every child deserves because it WASN'T her decision in the first place. 

Life IS precious. So is the freedom of CHOICE. I don't have to agree with someone's choice to fight for it or defend it. Give them ALL the facts. ALL the options. Then let them decide. If there is some great punishment at the end of this life by a creator, let Him/Her/It decide. Or let things come as they may. Life has a way of working out no matter what we do. We don't change the outcome. Women will have abortions whether we make new RIDICULOUS laws or not. Children will suffer more by coming into an unwanted life than the alternative. 

Choice is progress. We've got to do something together to stop people from taking away choices. Until it's YOUR life, kindly stay out of it.

Thank you(s), epiphanies, and a HUGE break-up!

This week, in my little corner of the blogosphere, I have been more touched, motivated, and thankful than I could EVER find a way to put into words. A couple days ago, I wrote down possibly one of the most vulnerable subjects of my life. You can read it HERE. Puh-lease, please, please read the comments below my post if you haven't! What I wrote started the discussion, but the amazing part was in the response. From the VERY bottom of my heart…thank you. To every woman that made me realize that I was not alone in feeling this way, to every man who was so incredibly sweet that I want to just wrap my arms around you and never let go, and to everyone who even took one minute to read what I wrote. I am amazed.

Beyond the support, something else happened. I'm even daring to call it healing. It may seem silly to say I didn't realize how many people struggle with this, but I really didn't. I didn't feel alone anymore, I felt empowered. I feel compassion for anyone that has ever felt like less because of their weight or their mirror. I read so many articles about the issue (here are three of really good ones: The best article I read anywhere!, Body Image Tips, and Teen Body Image Talks - Stopping the Issue at the Start), my eyes hurt. It made me angry. And anger makes me want to fix things. It won't happen overnight, but I'll be damned if I continue to accept feeling this way for the rest of my life.

Which brings us to the break-up. It's Friday. I've never broken up with anything on my blog, but taking a page out of the book of Shine, this break-up is gonna be a big one (TWSH). Diet companies, airbrushed magazine ads, and unrealistic ideals on outside appearances? WE ARE DONE. No more will I allow you to make me feel like crap about my jean size, my Jessica Rabbit rear end, or my cute little round face. It's mine. It's the only one I get and it's pretty adorable. I'm on to your antics. I know that diet companies have become a $40-100 billion industry based on "failure" or the perception of failure. I see the *Results not typical at the end of every article, diet advertising, and before/after photo you bombard us with endlessly. And I've had it. I may not feel better about this tomorrow. I'm not going to end a 19 year struggle with this overnight, but I'm going to turn my focus on kicking your ass instead of berating my own.

I'd like to challenge everyone to do a few things this next week, month, year of your life. Stop buying diet aids that promise unrealistic results. Stop allowing your friends to obsess (if you see it) over their "imperfections" and find a way to talk to them. Have the conversation. Stop being afraid to say it, because I promise you…we're all feeling it. Stop calling yourself "fat" when what you really mean is, "I'd like to work out more" or "I feel like I'm not living or promoting a healthy lifestyle". Realize that every comment you make could be affecting much more than just you. You could be aiding the struggle of the person sitting next to you and continuing a vicious cycle. We are all beautiful. We are not all Angelina Jolie. And thank God, can you imagine all the babies? If you see something promoting unhealthy expectations, don't buy it. Write a letter to the company, the tv show or magazine promoting it. And equally, promote the good stuff. Dove's Real Beauty Campaign or Glamour's Campaign to bring real life pictures into magazines are just a few rocking my socks off. People are aware of the problem. If we stop supporting the unrealistic expectations, maybe just maybe we can start seeing the beauty in who we are today and stop living for the person we'll be 5, 10, or 50 pounds from now.

This won't be the end of the talks about this on my blog, but I promise to return to regularly scheduled programming of ranting and useless lightweight ramblings here next week. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone the only way I knew how. In the words of MJ, "If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a CHANGE!"



The Skin I’m In

I'm not a terribly personal blogger. I've gone out on a limb from time-to-time when I post, but it's usually more of a rant than anything productive. Today that is not the case. I've written this post about 10 times, been too critical of it, been too scared to post it, then eventually deleted it every time. It's not like me to be very private about anything. I've always felt that if you had to hide it, something was probably still wrong. Well ladies and gentlemen, something is wrong. 

The issue of weight has presented itself in more forms over the last few weeks than I can even explain. LiLu started an incredible blog of support and community at In It To Gym It. Shine bravely posted many of her thoughts/issues in her own struggle here. I met Sketch and Carissa and heard their incredible stories of battling, losing, and even some days feeling like they've overcome weight issues. Then I started reading a book called, "Good In Bed". Since you probably won't click that link, I'll sum it up for you. Girl is overweight, dates boy for 3 years, they break up. Boy gets job at newspaper and writes article about "Loving a Larger Woman". Cue April crying twice before page 50. When I first read the article he wrote, I was so angry with him. How could he believe that loving a larger woman was some sort of gold pin he deserved for not being shallow? How could he think writing something like this was okay? Then I read it again. I read the last paragraph and I cried. Only, I wasn't angry at him anymore.

Excerpt: "And now that it's over, I don't know where to direct my anger and my sorrow. At a world that made her feel the way she did about her body – no, herself – and whether she was desirable. At C., for not being strong enough to overcome what the world told her. Or at myself, for not loving C. enough to make her believe in herself."

I realize this book is a work of fiction, but I've been there. I've been in a relationship where the man tried to make me see the beautiful things about my body. I'm NOT a big girl. I say I am all the time to protect myself from anyone else saying it first, but I'm not. I'm not thin, nor will I ever be. I'm athletic. I can still skate circles around girls half my size. Many men are still attracted to me. I'm also lucky enough to have friends that tell me I'm gorgeous all the time. This isn't the issue of the outside world. This is MY reflection of weight on ME. 

I grew up watching a mother (who is incredible, so don't you dare judge her for this) lose weight until she weighed 83 pounds. That is not a mis-print. At 83 pounds, she felt fat. I looked at her "feeling fat" and did the math. If 83 feels fat, what does 120, 130, 140 mean? I couldn't skip eating, so I ate and then purged. For years. I struggled with bulimia until I got caught and I only stopped BECAUSE I got caught. No one that has ever TRULY loved me has ever judged me for one minute about my weight. But I do. Every.Single.Day. 

I don't know how to fix this. I'm highly educated (now) about nutrition. I know that eating healthy and exercising is the ONLY way to achieve healthy weight loss and maintenance. I'm fully aware how to do it and that I am capable of it. What I don't understand is why I won't. Why I continually judge myself for not being thin. Why is this the ONE thing I've never gained control of in my life? Why do I look back at pictures when I had 8% body fat and remember EXACTLY how fat I felt when that picture was taken? Why do I let my weight affect everything?

And what scares me even more? Are the young girls I teach to skate at the rink. It doesn't matter if they are 8 or 14. I watch the skinny girls. I watch the athletic girls. I see them compare everything about their figures to one another. I see the "bigger" girls already becoming "funny" to compensate. It makes me sick to my stomach. I'd love to figure out the pattern so I could stop it. I'd love to help my friends feel complete in every body type they have. I'd love to know why, at the end of every day, we are each our own worst critic. 

Poisonous mixtures and the part where people start taking my advice!

<Women's Writes

Some of you have noticed I've been MIA from the blog world for a while. More of you probably didn't. Mostly I haven't been writing because I've had a little trouble writing anything that didn't come out like this...*$#&%&@!!! No matter though, I'm back today for a very important cause "Women's Writes". I think it's an incredible idea and even my laziness, frustration, lack of anything coherent to write wasn't going to stop me from jumping on the bandwagon.

When I was asked to write about an issue relating to women, I had grand ideas. Weight loss, society pressure, shopping, leadership....the list is endless. Then I realized this needed to be something I had actual experience with in my own life. So where did I land? Dating. Let me tell you a little bit about dating from a single, late 20's girl's perspective in the 2010.
It. Royally. Sucks.
A few years ago (after long relationship followed by long relationship), I decided to take some time to heal, grow, learn how to get over  some effed up things from my past, and MOST importantly...stop the cycle of "bringing up old shiz" in any possible future relationships. It seems that MANY men do not ever take the time to do this (yeah, yeah, I'm aware women do this too, but this is WOMEN'S writes hush). This ridiculous fear of the unknown is creating a never ending cycle of passing everyone's crap onto everyone else. We each add in a dash of our very own insecurities and we end up with a very poisonous mixture to pass onto the next unsuspecting victim.

Maybe everyone is just afraid of being alone. Maybe we've become so "connected" all the time that we've lost the ability to stand still for a minute and just let things happen. But I'd like to kindly ask you all to STOP it. Immediately. Take some time and put a little metaphoric Neosporin (i.e. spend time with good friends, find hobbies, work on what YOU did wrong in the relationship, etc) on that break-up/divorce wound. Stop looking for the next best thing and MAKE yourself the next best thing. Finding the opposite of everything that drove you crazy in the last relationship won't fix anything. Filling the void with a person who otherwise could truly care about you, will just ruin any chance of a foundation.

Listen up Mr. not-so-healed, not-so-broken-up, not-so-divorced (don't even get me seems I now have to request divorce decrees in writing). Stop hurting wonderful women. Stop answering the questions we ask with the answers you know will get you exactly what you want. We're not a prize, toy or game. We're human beings that just want the actual truth (at least the good ones do). We may not deserve a relationship or a fairy tale ending, but we do deserve to know that we can trust what you say. That when you say you're ready, we don't have to think for you. We can trust that you've taken the time, be that a week or a year or a decade and you've let go of your crap. WORK ON YOU. Then find someone else. It's really that simple.

And through it all, I still believe there is a right time for everyone. I believe there is a moment when you have in fact finally gotten over or let go of all the hurt you can and you're ready to move forward. I believe those are the relationships that work. The foundations that can survive any of life's earthquakes. And that if we each took a little more time to heal our wounds, we'd end up hurting a lot less people on our path 'o destruction. We'd spend more time talking about all the great dates we've had and all the great experiences we had when we spent just a little more time....single.

How I lost at least 50 lbs last weekend...and the plan to keep shrinking!

Think this is about getting skinny? Well it is! Just a different kind of skinny than you probably assumed, but I guarantee the health benefits are just as important.

Over the next month or so I'm de-cluttering my life. I've hired my friend Diana (by payment in wine and laughs). The woman is AMAZING! Sometime near the end of 2009, we all had a slumber party at her house. I went into full-on house envy the moment I walked in the door. This has happened in pretty much every apartment she's lived in that I visited, but I was more than just in awe. I wanted to feel the way I felt in her home. I wanted to feel like everything had a place. And life, at least in those rooms, was in order. I went home after our little shindig and sat in the apartment I love. I quickly noticed that I felt the weight of the entire space..and it was suffocating. I immediately sent her an email, asked for help, and said "I'll follow anything you say and pay whatever you like, just HELP please!"

Last weekend we finally got our schedules to synch up and made a date to attack my apartment. I will openly tell you that I'm not a domestically organized person. You could just stop at, I'm not domestic. My house is usually picked up (unless my life is in shambles) and I feel my home is inviting, but behind closed doors...I am just an "organized mess".  I'm learning that all the STUFF I have is a representation of how I feel in general. Life swinging out of control = shoes EVERYWHERE. Waking up late, not working out, drama in full effect? I'd be in shock if my laundry was not coming out of my ears. So I took a long hard look at all my clutter this weekend. If this is the representation of my's not pretty.

I threw away 4 bags of useless products and junk. Don't even get me started on the money that represents. Two bags and 3 boxes went to half price or consignment stores for a little cash, 2 bags and a crate went to my mom and one bag went to donate at goodwill. That's 50+ pounds of CRAP from just a closet and my bathroom....GONE. It felt incredible.

Hanging on to everything was just a lazy, indecisive mode I'd snuggled up against. I didn't know how to get rid of the things making me unhappy, so I didn't. I accepted being comfortable rather than making something better, even though I knew there was no longer any benefit. Pretty much like a bad relationship. The what ifs and the crap we deal with just to avoid change are astounding. Well not here! Not any more. We built all the starter systems and organization around what works in my routine. What is normal and functional in my life. We're going to flip my closet, sell some bulky furniture items, create systems that I can actually keep up with, and get some crap out of my life.

I've just started and there is a lot more to go, but I get it now. I understand how good it feels to have a plan and to set aside the time to make your home clutter free. It allows you to see a result and feel lighter with every box and bag that leaves your home. It allows you to LET GO. Not to mention the money it will save in the long run (yanno, like not owning FIFTEEN bottles of sunscreen because you don't realize you keep buying them).

So if you've been looking to de-clutter. If you're holding onto a bunch of stuff and/or looking for a few tips to make life a little simpler, stay tuned. I'm gonna provide pictures and tips and lots of cracks about some of the stupid choices I've made in my life (i.e. I'm pretty sure there was NEVER a time it was okay for me to wear a half top). And feel free to apply this as a metaphor to anything you need to get rid of in your life...I always do!

What do you need to de-clutter in your life?