Writing Is Like Decorating A House

Someone wanted to know if I was “burnt out.”  See, I spent two years writing and publishing non-stop and now for the past eight months, I’ve written nothing except for a couple articles.  Correction: I’ve published nothing except for a couple articles.  I’ve written plenty- a novel here, a half-finished novel there, and a poetry collection I’ve been hemming and hawing over because “how honest do I really want to be with people?”

And I’ve figured it out.

When I first started publishing my work almost three years ago, I was hurting.  I’d just broken up with my boyfriend, I found out I wasn’t going to be able to afford university, and this glittering life I’d allowed myself to believe in for a nanosecond was crashing down.  So, like I’ve always tended to do, I wrote out my frustrations.  I wrote out my pains and my dreams and my failures and somehow, all that nonsense turned into a full-fledged novel.  Which turned into a trilogy and a few poetry collections because yeah… writing is how I process everything.

That was year one.  That was the year I stopped the bleeding, slapped on a few band-aids, took a breath, and moved on.  Then came year two.

Year two was surgery.  Year two was digging old shrapnel out of wounds I didn’t know I had.  It was the year I climbed the pull-down ladder to the attic, dusted off painful moments and memories I had boxed up and hid, and finally dealt with them.

That was the Banewood year.  That’s when my speaking voice and writing voice finally differed and my brother finally read my books.  That’s when words flowed, holes were patched up, and each book left me excited for the next one.  Admittedly, it took me awhile to realize that, with each book I wrote, a new injury was being unwrapped and brought to life to be properly sewn up and healed.  But I eventually figured that out and while I was left with a little trepidation as to what would come next, I continued on with my storytelling and emerged on the other side feeling more whole than I had in a long time.  Which brings me to today.

Present Day: My dirty laundry has been aired.  My house has been emptied and cleaned and now it’s time to decorate.  Only like with real decorating, it’s not as simple as going out and buying just any old lamp.  You’re not just decorating a house; you’re building a home and I want my home to be beautiful.  Which is why I wrote a novel and then tossed it, only to repeat steps one and two a few months later.  That’s why I have a completed poetry collection that I could technically release, but it feels too much like a paint color I haven’t quite decided on yet.

I’m in the decorating process with my writing and I want to make something beautiful.  More than that, I want to make something honest, but after years of keeping my heart guarded, opening up and being that honest is, well, terrifying.  But I’d like to get there.  It’s going to take time- just like leveling the pavers in the garden takes time- but I’ll get there.

Until then, just know that I’m still writing.  Know that I’m not burnt out; I could never be burnt out of writing when it’s a piece of my soul.  Just know that I’m decorating.  And know that, as soon as I’m done decorating, when everything is in order, I’ll invite you over for a dinner party and we’ll have a marvelous time.

Until then,

An “Average” Girl’s Thoughts On Body Talk

Dressing a body is hard.  Plus-size, thin, curvy, pear-shaped, Amazonian tall, one-boob-larger-than-the-other; dressing a body is hard.  Any body.  So I, for one, think people- especially women- need to stop acting as if our body or body type is the minority.  As if we’re the only ones who have it hard, because that’s not true.  Every body has struggles in one way or another and I think it’s time we agree, as a whole, to stop acting as if we’re the odd ball out when it comes to the “body club.”  Because there’s no club.  There’s life.

Disclaimer: I’m what you’d call “average.”  5’5″, 143 pounds, 36C, size 6 dress, size 7.5 foot.  Some bigger women call me skinny; some skinny girls would call me their “fat friend.”  Mostly, though, people classify me as “average/curvy.”  That’s fine.  I’m average.  But before you think “average” is the Disney princess of sizes, here are some fun facts about the “average” me.

  • My size is usually out of stock.
  • When you’re curvy and average, clothing companies seem to assume wide hips = tall, which means I used to* end up with an extra foot of material when I bought jeans.
  • Buying jeans sucks.  Buying pants in general sucks.  If they fit my butt, they don’t fit my hips.  If they fit my hips, they’re too snug on my thighs.
  • Thanks to ever-changing clothing sizes, the rule of thumb when buying vintage is to double your current size.  So, fun fact: I’m Marilyn Monroe size.
  • Speaking of vintage, the 40’s/50’s were made for my body type, but buying quality vintage can cost some serious $$$.  But gosh damn, does it make my bod look amazing.
  • *I say “used to,” because I used to be a size 12.

Yep, I used to be a size 12.  So all this “body talk” is coming to you from someone who used to be a little bigger.  Someone who became so frustrated with how little there was out there that was flattering to my body, that I took to wearing baggy jeans and oversized sweaters because nothing else fit “right.”  But anyone who has met me in the past couple years would classify me as “curvy, thin, average,” so that’s all they think there is to my body story.  They think I’m one of those thin girls who can eat whatever they want and not exercise (bullshit).  They think I’m one of those thin girls who can wear whatever they want (bullshit).  They think I’m one of those thin girls who has guys sniffing at their heels because they’re thin (bullshit).

Ladies,- and men- we’re all different.  Everyone has a body type that is unique to them, so while we might fit into a general category, we’re our own subcategory.  There are no two bodies made the same.  There is no right and the fashion industry doesn’t give a damn about your body, only your pocket book.

So let’s agree as a group to stop picking on other body types.  Let’s agree not to comment on someone’s body unless you know their body history.  Let’s stop shining a spotlight on one “group” when we’re all on the same team.  Let’s do what our moms told us to do and not say anything unless it’s nice.  Let’s say nice things.

Like this: You’re beautiful.  You wear the hell out of those jeans.  That shade of blue makes your eyes pop.  HOW do you get your hair to stay put on a windy day?

Nice things.  Because we’re all beautiful, and beautiful people deserve nice words. :)


Self Sunday: #NoFilter on Me

I’ve been thinking about beauty lately.  Partly because Amy Schumer came out with a hilarious parody that shows how men really don’t know what “no makeup” means, partly because I’ve developed a little crush that has turned me into someone whose new obsession in life is “looking cute,” and partly because I’m always thinking about beauty.  Because beauty, just for me in my own life, has been a never-ending roller coaster of of “Awwwww yeah,” and “What the hell?”

A couple years ago, a friend was doing this “no makeup” photography series and I volunteered as a model.  Seeing how we live on almost opposite ends of the country- and she knew about my own photography background- she just sent me a short “to-do” list so my photo would line up with the others.  Basically: no make up, close-up portrait, fairly basic backdrop.  Easy, right?

In the end, I think it took me a couple weeks to finally send her that one. single. photo.  Because while she may have said, “No makeup,” she never said no hair, wardrobe, professional lighting and photography equipment, and- I’m a tad guilty to confess- no Photoshop.

Oh yeah… I Photoshopped the ish out of that photo.  Why?  Because I’d spent the previous four years in a phase where I wanted to hide behind my clothes, had taken up with a guy who had opinions about how I dressed and I heeded his “advice,” and I’d just emerged from the other side of that with an unhealthy fashion blog obsession, a desire to be stylish, and a need to be something I wasn’t.  I.e., I wanted to be perfect.  Or at least I wanted to look perfect, so I Photoshopped myself, sent her the photo, and enjoyed the wave of “Holy hell, you’re naturally gorgeous” that followed.  I didn’t feel guilty.  Even now I don’t feel guilty as much as I feel fake.

See, even when you use hashtags like #nofilter, #Iwokeuplikethis, and #makeuplessmonday, there’s no way to prove how honest you actually are.  Okay, so you’re not wearing makeup, you haven’t done anything to your hair, and you’re not using a filter.  Cool.  But you can still hunt down the best lighting, angle your head just right, throw in a strategic hand/pillow/cute stuffed animal to hide an unsightly pimple on your cheek.  There’s no way to be 100% certified au naturale, so we might as well say “#disclaimer: I changed my part because my hair was flat and I took the shade off my bedside lamp to cast shadows on the left half of my face because my left eyelid is hooded and I have a huge zit on my temple because #stress.”

And all of this popped into my head last night when I stepped out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror.

Now, among my friends, I have the distinction of being that friend.  You know, the one who is most likely overdressed, can come off as a bit of a fashion snob/beauty know-it-all, will never wear leggings as pants, and probably doesn’t even own sweatpants because #failure.  Yeah, I’m that friend.  But the funny thing is, that’s not who I really am.  At least now who I am now.

Once upon a time, I needed that armor.  I needed to be able to tell myself, “You’re wearing lipstick, heels, and your hair is fly; stand up straight and act like you belong here.”  I needed that. I needed to be confident in my appearance because I wasn’t confident in myself.  But now I am.  (or at least I’m getting there)

So when I stepped out of the shower and looked in the mirror, I realized I was looking at a version of myself my friends haven’t seen.  My face was scrubbed squeaky clean and my shampoo had left my hair on the crazy side.  I threw on a paint stained t-shirt, a pair of polka dot shorts, and slapped coconut oil on my face.  And I just stared at myself.

The girl my friends know would never wear a t-shirt.  Nor would she wear athletic wear out unless she was actually working out.  And don’t you know it’s against the laws of fashion to wear jeans with sneakers whilst running errands?  But guess what I’ve been doing lately?  ALL of that.  Hell, as I write this, I’m wearing jeans that are a few days wear away from sporting four new holes, a Seahawks t-shirt, a Longhorns ball cap, not a stitch of makeup/perfume/etc., and yes, there are a pair of neon tennis shoes sitting on the floor by my feet because after years and years years of not wearing sneakers (or hell, owning them), I finally bought a pair.  Which is a story for another day. (yes, it involved a guy)

So #disclaimer: I’ve Photoshopped myself before.

#disclaimer: I used to dress up because I was insecure.

#disclaimer: I don’t dress up all that much anymore and for some unfair reason, whenever I am looking on point, that cute guy I’m trying to impress is never around.

#disclaimer: I will totally dress to impress a guy.

#disclaimer: I think we need to start being honest about what #nofilter means.  Because I don’t want the unfiltered-yet-still-attractively-presented version of you, I just want you.

#disclaimer: I’m learning to be happy with my unfiltered self.

#disclaimer: I’m happy.

Are you?



I Believe You’re Beautiful

We all have little physical imperfections.  Maybe your eyebrows are crooked, you have only one hooded eyelid, or you’re one of those girls who has dark hair and fair skin and has to deal with a baby mustache.  Funny thing is, most people aren’t going to notice these imperfections and even fewer will comment on them.  Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to pass through life unaware of your itty bitty, teeny tiny “flaws.”

I wasn’t so lucky.

Apparently, when my deck of cards was being stacked, it was decided I’d have people in my life who’d point out every single flaw of mine.  And I mean every. single. one.  To the point, I’m now incapable of not seeing those flaws.  I can’t look in the mirror without disassembling my face into little pieces I then group into piles labelled with the names of the people who pointed out those particular flaws.  I am hyper aware of all my physical (emotional, intellectual, etc., the list goes on) “shortcomings.”  I could point them out to you as easily and carelessly as they were pointed out to me.

Which is why I’ll never draw attention to another person’s “flaws.”

Yes, if your mascara is flaking, I’ll tell you, help brush away a few stray pieces, and then recommend a better brand that’ll keep up with your busy schedule.  But I’ll never tell you, “I don’t like your makeup.  It makes you look like a dumb raccoon.”  Nor will I ever tell you to wear makeup because you look “dead” or “old.”  (If you look especially pale, though, I will inquire as to your health)

I was told about my flaws more than anything else.  I heard negative opinions about my appearance more than positive ones.  I heard “You’re fat” more than “You’re beautiful.” (side note: the first time I can recall being called beautiful, I was 15 and it was my childhood crush. *swoon*)

So I won’t do it.  I won’t nitpick at others the way I was nitpicked at.  I’ll tell people they’re beautiful.  I’ll tell them their smile is amazing and that that shirt makes their eyes pop.  I’ve made myself look like a fool in front of my peers because of compliments I’ve given people, but it’s worth it.

It’s worth knowing that maybe, just maybe, my compliment will be worth holding onto.  That, when someone tells that person they’re ugly or fat, they’ll remember some stranger telling them they are beautiful.  Because when I was called beautiful for the first time, I held onto that.  When I looked in the mirror and saw flaws, I told myself, “Someone thinks I’m beautiful.”  Eventually, I believed myself beautiful too.

I believe you’re beautiful.  Hold onto that.

With love,

Sometimes Loss Will Take Your Breath Away

Sometime loss creeps up on you and steals your breath away.  I used to believe in those books and movies with characters who said, “You’ll get over it.  It won’t always hurt.”  But it does.  It just doesn’t hurt as much, nor as often, but it still hurts.

In the beginning, it always hurts.  You can’t breathe, it hurts so much.  Maybe you even consider ending your own life just to escape the pain.

Have you ever noticed, in books and movies, the person dying is always at peace?  They’re always so calm and accepting and, “It’s okay.”  No, it’s not.  Because when the curtain drops, they’re gone and their loved ones are left to build a life around a gaping hole.  They die, but we’re left here to reconstruct our existence.  There’s nothing okay or fair about that.

But somewhere along the way, you get used to that hole.  Pain and loss fill the void nicely, making it less empty, but it will never be whole.  The face that you try to fill it with will never be just right: the eyes will be the wrong shade of blue, the smile won’t have dimples, their hair won’t be that shade of dirty blonde.  But you’ll get used to the hole and you’ll build a life.

Somewhere along the way, you’ll be happy.  For an hour.  For a day.  For a week.  For a month.  For a year.  People will say you’ve moved on.  That you’ve healed.  But then a line in a song, an old dirt road, or a simple ring tucked away in your jewelry box will bring it all back.  You won’t be able to breathe.  Tears might even gather at the corners of your eyes.  For a moment, you will be breathless and that pain will return to you, as real as the day it first arrived, but somehow less sharp.  You’ve learned to live with pain and loss, so their edges aren’t as cutting.  You’ve shared a bed with them long enough, you can sleep through their snoring.

And that’s okay.  It doesn’t have to be like the movies where you get over it.  You don’t have to play at being whole; it’s okay to spend your life mourning the loss of someone who was as vital to you as a limb, or maybe even a heart.  But if you can, it’s also okay to let go.

Just know, it doesn’t make you weak if you choose to hold on.


Self Sunday: Sea Change

I am taking my worries to the sea…










A few months back, I was feeling as though things were going to change.  Just a thought, nothing more, but now May is right around the corner and I feel things quickening.  That thought is turning into something real.  And while I’m excited to see what’s coming next, I’m also a little worried.

I like options.  I like having a say.  But at the same time, if you give me a single job or task, I’ll do it and be done with it.  I don’t mind having only one road to travel; in fact, I often prefer clear direction as opposed to spinning life’s wheel of fortune.  Why?  Because I don’t do well with options.

Yet here I am, with plenty of options.  Plenty of avenues to explore, paths to take, yet every time I go to God to see which one I’m supposed to take, all I get is, “Pick one.”  I can pick if there’s two options; anymore and I feel like I’ve been left spinning on a carousel too long.  I feel like a bottle tossed to sea and now I’m waiting to see which current is going to lead me to shore.


Don’t Ask Me To Make Plans, Because God Is Going To Change Them

If I had to describe myself in three words, it’d be nervous, impatient, and happy.

I like to know what’s coming next.  Especially when I’m at a point like I am now where I feel a sea change coming.  It makes me anxious not to know what plan God has next for me, and even though I know I shouldn’t be anxious, I still am.

Chalk it up to my childhood.  Aside from a few moments that rocked my world (not in a good way), my childhood was fairly normal, albeit unpredictable.  My parents live God-lead lives and as a kid, I didn’t fully understand the concept of that.  So when plans suddenly changed or life just up and shifted, I was left feeling as though I had no say in my life.  And really, at the age I was, that’s kinda true, since I was young and my parents were in charge.  But since I never grasped why my parents could just “go with the flow,” I started telling myself not to plan.

I am a pro when it comes to not making commitments.  I felt if I made commitments, God would say, “Hey! I have a different plan for you,” and then whoosh me away to that.  So I stopped trying for things.  I stopped getting attached to friends.  I stopped wishing for big and impossible things.  Why bother when my life was ultimately in God’s hands?

That’s not good.  Trusting my life to God is awesome, but not making any plans?  No bueno.  I knew that, but just like I know I shouldn’t be anxious and still am, my habit of not planning anything was hard to break.  I still haven’t broken it.  But I’m trying.

See, now that I’m older, I understand what my parents were doing when they put their lives in God’s hands and let Him direct the wind in their sails.  I understand that now, but still… sometimes I’m 15 again and I think if I really want something, if there’s an opportunity I want to take, or an occasion I want to plan for, I feel God is going to take it away from me.

That’s not my God.  My God doesn’t give me the bad and withhold the good.  I know that.  Just like I know I shouldn’t be anxious.  Just like I know it’s not good to go your life without planning anything.  But still… it’s a cycle of thought I’ve been caught in for years and I’m only now trying to break out of it.

I feel if I want something enough, then that’s the first thing that’s going to be taken from me when God arrives with His “real” plan for me.  Which is why I’m anxious.  Which is why I want to know what’s coming next; I don’t want to invest my heart in something if it’s going to end up being “not what God planned for me.”

Yet here I am.  Trying for something, yet holding back just enough that, should God say this isn’t the path for me, I won’t be entirely devastated.  I won’t spend three hours crying in my bed.  I won’t rip up every journal I own.  I’m holding back just enough that my 15 year-old self is appeased, but that my 21 year-old self can still say,

“Maybe.  Just maybe.”

Slowly, but surely, I’m learning to hope.  And while I trust God has a plan for me, I’m learning it’s okay to make some plans of my own.  This is my life, and what good is it going to be if I sit around waiting for God to give me the go-ahead to live it?

Do you have problems making plans?