The Girl in the “Popples” Panties

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I began to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. It was in the first grade during PE. Back then, thankfully, the teachers selected your teams rather than the other kids deciding who they “liked” the best. At that time, I wasn’t really what most people would have considered to be ‘chubby’, though I did have a round face that adults loved to pinch. It was during this fateful PE class that one of my classmates, one of the popular boys, would refer to me as Ms. Piggy. Now, don’t get me wrong, these days I love that sassy, frog-loving swine… but all that my first grade brain registered was “piggy”.

By 5th grade, however, I had “blossomed”. I could definitely see the differences in my body versus the other girls my age. While the other girls still had slender athletic bodies I was starting to get rounder and squishier. My mother, bless her heart, would tell me that I was just developing more quickly and that I had a cute figure. I certainly didn’t feel that way.

Though I was struggling with my body image, I always managed to have a strong circle of friends. I wouldn’t say that I was popular by any means in school but most everyone either knew me or knew of me. I wasn’t the girl that everyone wanted to invite to their birthday party, but I also wasn’t the girl who received negative ratings in the many “Slam Books” that were spread around. (Incase you don’t know what a “Slam Book” was, it was an awful notebook that listed the names of your classmates. You would then rate each of the classmates on a scale of 1-10 on how attractive they were or if you liked them. There were an unfortunate few who were brutally rated by their peers, I can only imagine how that would have felt.) I was just there.

As puberty began to hit most of my girlfriends and I in 7th grade, boys were becoming much more interesting and interested… well, in some of us. We all had our crushes as most young adults do. I sat by and watched as friend after friend began having their first “boyfriend”, their first kiss, their first “date”. As it became clear that no boys were going to be interested in me, I began to devote my crush energy to unobtainable boys; my older brother’s friends, out of state boys and anyone I could convince myself  (and others) had my affection. I made it to only one middle school dance, and that was accompanied by a group of girlfriends. The idea of going dateless to a dance even in middle school was far too uncomfortable and embarrassing to me.

The summer before high school a couple of my closest friends and I went to Adventure Island, a water park here in Tampa Bay. I had purchased a new swimsuit for the occasion… one that looking back I can say was probably better suited for an adult woman with a nice figure rather than a squishy teenage girl. It was a one piece bathing suit though looked like a bikini with the stomach area being a black see-through mesh and I thought it looked pretty decent. We were all having a great time and then I heard it. It came from another girl… one who was quite a bit older than me, I’m guessing in her late teens-early 20s, and who looked great in her 2-Piece. “She should NOT be wearing that!” I didn’t need to acknowledge her to know she was referring to me. I don’t think any of my friends heard the remark so I quietly filed it away in my memory banks, put on a smile and vowed never to wear that swimsuit again. And I didn’t.

High school is awkward for a lot of people. Everyone is growing and changing by that point. As a freshman you are thrown into the mix with peers who are close to being adults. There are high school dances, boyfriends/girlfriends, football games, proms and scantily clad cheerleaders… all of which can either make the high school experience a great time or an incredible esteem damaging time. My social calendar didn’t improve much as I entered into high school. There were no boyfriends to be had, I never attended even one football game, no homecomings or proms and I wished to look as cute in a cheerleader uniform as many of my friends did. I tried out for color guard and didn’t make it. I still had an amazing group of friends but often I’d find myself becoming a little more withdrawn at school whenever they weren’t around to lift me up, to make me feel important. I did notice that though I didn’t seem to be turning any high school aged  boys’ heads, I was getting a lot of attention from much older adult men. I even found myself dating someone 13 years my senior before graduating. I tried to convince myself that the high school boys were just that, boys, and that I was doing well by having “men” interested in me but I was never fully able to.

It’s been 16 years since my high school graduation. There have been many ups and downs in regards to how I feel about myself physically (more downs than I would say ups). Fortunately after high school I was no longer like kryptonite to men… I’ve been in my share of long term relationships and dated a bit as well.  I have been on about every diet known to man, I’ve even tried seeing a doctor and getting B12 shots. One thing remains constant and that is that I’m almost never comfortable with my appearance. I’ve never felt confident being naked or even in a swimsuit. I don’t know the feeling of appreciating my curves. I feel the need to apologize to anyone who has to look at me. I don’t really know what it feels like to feel ‘pretty’. My poor fiance has to hear about how horrible I feel and has to see me cry more often than he ever should.

Please don’t take this post to be my saying that I don’t like myself as a person. I am not an unhappy person. Quite the opposite, really. I have spent a lot of my life, especially since I hit the milestone age of 30, focusing on emotionally and mentally getting myself in a state I feel completely comfortable with. The problem I have is that I have spent so much energy learning to be kind, compassionate and accepting of others that I have forgotten to learn how to be the same toward myself. Brian, my fiance, asked me recently after showing me some old photos of myself if I believed I looked good in the photos. I said that I did. He then asked me if I remembered how I felt about myself when those pictures were taken… the answer… I felt EXACTLY the same then as I do now. I felt exactly the same in highschool, in middle school and even back in elementary school… which teaches me that the problem is not my body it’s in my mind.

It’s time for me to start putting energy into learning to accept and forgive myself. This body is going to be with me for the rest of my life, though it may change in size, shape and color… it is still mine and I need to appreciate it. In some ways I feel this will be one of the most difficult lessons I’ve ever set out to learn.  I’m afraid of failing… but in the words of the late Maya Angelou, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” And that is exactly what I intend to do.

Today Was A Special Day!

Today is a special day for me!

You may not know me, but here’s a little tidbit about myself. I hate exercising. I didn’t always used to be this way…there was a point in time when I was at the gym everyday running a 5k on that treadmill. I loved sweating, I loved being toned and I loved fitting into smaller clothes.

Well, then I fell in love, got engaged, bought a house and 4+ years later I find myself to hate the conventional form of exercise. I enjoy being active…hiking, walking, camping, etc. but to actually set out to burn off the egg mcmuffin I had for breakfast? Not so much.

I’d really like to have the motivation back that I lost so many years ago. According to my doctor I need to shed a few pounds to keep myself from becoming diabetic since I’m predisposed to get it. Thanks genes! So I’ve been trying to get back on track…. and trying…and trying..and trying some more with no luck.

This week though…something changed. I’m not sure where the motivation came from..but it came!

My typical morning (pre-motivation week) existed of rolling out of bed with only 30 minutes to spare before I had to leave the house. It’d take about another 15 minutes of that time to find something to wear and attempt to make my hair presentable. Then I’d kiss the fiance goodbye and trudge down the stairs with the cat hot on my heels looking for breakfast. Typically I’d leave the house 15 minutes later than I should have.

Not this week though! This week I’ve managed to pull myself out of bed 30 minutes BEFORE my alarm would normally go off! And what did I do with this extra time? ZUMBA!!!!!  Boy, do I love Zumba. It is one form of exercise that never gets old to me. Though I’m sure I look like a marionette with an electric eel controlling my strings (a blind one at that)..I have so much fun. And I did this..not just one day this week..but EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Guess what? I’m going to do it again next week too, and the week after that, and the week after that! I don’t know that it will shed the pounds needed to avoid becoming diabetic…but it sure makes me feel fantastic everyday 🙂

So in honor of this very special day, I present to you a very special locket! One that needs to go in my collection very soon 🙂

Do you love Zumba too?

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Create your own locket at: ownyourlife.origamiowl.com

Is this real life?

I’ve never been ‘that girl’… the girl who dreamed of finding and marrying her Prince Charming while wearing a poofy Cinderella dress. Yet, somehow, I’ve found myself in what I feel is a modern day fairytale.

When I met Brian in 2010, I had been single for 2 years. Prior to my relationship drought, I had been in a relationship with someone who left me emotionally scarred very deeply. The first year of my singlehood was left trying to understand and give myself closure to the ending of that chapter in my life. By the second year I was focusing solely on myself and making sure that I felt strong and happy on my own… without the need to find it in another person. This was a great transformational year in my life. I learned so much about myself, I was in the best shape of my life and I felt like I needed no one. What I didn’t realize at the time was that though I had benefitted greatly from being single and learning to take care of myself, I had also become so emotionally independent that I wouldn’t let anyone break through the wall I had built around myself.

I found myself scouring the online dating sites. Online dating was a way that I could talk to men without actually having to make a true emotional connection. I went on a lot of “first dates” during that year and I met a lot of nice guys… unfortunately I was never emotionally available to any of them.  When meeting people online I always insisted on a ‘friends first’ meeting. I didn’t want to go on ‘dates’ with people I hadn’t met before. A lot of the guys balked over that idea… and those were the guys I decided not to meet at all.

Brian and I struck up a conversation over mutual interests. Neither of us were looking for any sort of relationship. In fact, he seemed to be more interested in fixing up his single friends with me than actually meeting me himself. This made me infinitely more comfortable.

A few months later, Brian and I finally met with a group of his friends and a group of my friends. My attraction to him was immediate. He was confident, smart, quick-witted and strikingly good-looking. I’m not one to believe in love at first sight but I was certainly intrigued at first sight. I absolutely adored both him and his friends… knowing immediately that they were guys I could trust. They were like no one else I had met in the last year and I felt safe with all of them. We had a great night of bowling and karaoke.

I saw Brian once or twice after our first meeting at group gatherings but never anything romantic. I was having a great time and had made some great friends that I knew would be in my life for years to come.

A month or so later the guys were heading to MegaCon, a sci-fi/comic book convention, in another city. They were making a weekend of it for Brian’s birthday and he invited me. Having only known these guys for a month, I was surprised by the fact I was willing to stay in a hotel room with them for the weekend. I knew before going that something about that weekend would change my life. I wasn’t sure how or why I felt that way but I was excited… and right.

The first night at the hotel, Brian and I stayed up late watching videos on his laptop. We fell asleep holding hands. It was so purely innocent and sweet, I had butterflies. Was this the life-changing moment?

At the weekend’s end, we parted our separate ways… him traveling back to St. Petersburg with his friends and I heading to my neck of the woods across the bay. It hadn’t been 5 minutes since our parting that I received a text on my phone. “I like you”. “I like you too” I responded.  From that weekend on, we have been inseparable.

Falling in love is beautiful.

It was the weekend of June 8, 2012. Our room was absolutely beautiful, as only a Disney room could be. Brian had always wanted to stay at The Contemporary in a room with a castle view… so it was no surprise when I stepped onto the balcony and saw a perfect view of the Magic Kingdom. I remember thinking to myself how awesome it would be to be able to sit on the balcony with a glass of wine and watch the fireworks without having to fight the crowds. I started to relax and was ready for a fun birthday celebration for Brian’s mom who would be staying with us.

We made reservations to celebrate his mom’s birthday at Chef Mickey’s which is at the lower level of the resort. It’s a buffet style dining experience in which characters frequently walk around and interact with the guests. We had a dinner full of laughs as we posed with Tigger, Minnie and Goofy. This birthday weekend was off to a great start!!

A friend of ours decided to make the trip to Orlando to spend time with us at the resort to enjoy the fireworks as well. We all poured out onto the balcony to get our seats for the fireworks that would be starting in minutes. All of a sudden, everyone’s cheerful chatter quieted. Brian glanced over at me and asked, “Are you nervous?” I chuckled. “Um, no, are you?” “Yes…  and…” he dropped to his knee. It took me a few minutes to notice he had pulled a ring box out of his pocket. Everything at that moment completely disappeared other than he and I. My memory of all of the beautiful words he said to me is completely clouded due to the fact I was in complete shock by the moment (thankfully we have a video). The words I do remember in clear, pristine detail however happened when he took my hand and said “Will you marry me?”

After I rambled off a few “Is this for real?” “Nah-uh, you are not!” and “Oooooh!” I finally said “YES!” Minutes later the sounds of “Wishes” came drifting into the room and the first of the fireworks exploded over the castle. Though my focus was purely on the man holding my hand, my Prince Charming, the man I’d be spending my life with, those were the best fireworks I had ever witnessed.

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