Monday, December 9, 2013

Coyote Lake Park

You know, I take more pics than I post on this blog . . . like lots . . . and we've been on way more hiking trips than I've documented here.
I guess life just sneaks up on me and I forget.

Right now, an army could sneak up on me, and I wouldn't notice until it was far too late.
You see, I was told last Tuesday that, passed Friday, my nannying services would no longer be needed. They had signed the Sweet Nanny Child up for preschool, where she would remain during the day while her guardians worked. She was ecstatic, her guardians were ecstatic, and I was left with rather mixed feelings. THRILLED sweet nanny child would be making friends in a more structured environment, sad that I probably would never see her again or see her grow, really grow.  Plus, the extra money was always a perk.
So, Friday, I say goodbye, and Sweet Nanny Child was so excited about the thought of preschool and the movie she was watching that she didn't even hug me goodbye.
But she did leave me with the worst headcold I've had in ages.
Lord have mercy.

I have to prop my nostrils open with anti-snore nasal strips in order to breathe, you know, on top of all the meds. I'm exhausted but can't quite sleep, and every time I stand up, I get whoozy.  It's weird. Are all colds this bad as you get older?

Anyways, last Monday, Chris and I decided to return to Coyote Lake Park and try to take pictures of the sunset.  You see, because we live in a valley on the wrong side of the mountains, the sunset is a little hard to spot in all its glory.  On top of a mountain, however, oh gee and golly.  I can't breathe.

So we hike, and we discover a least twelve deer wandering nearby who really didn't mind we were around.  I mean, they weren't frolicking up begging to be stroked or given nibbles, but they let me take plenty of pictures.

An even bigger accomplishment? Chris let me bring the tripod and get pics of US.  Peeps, we haven't posed for pictures since our wedding day four years ago.  I mean, besides group shots for my mom on birthdays and holidays.

Is that a right of motherly passage? The posed group shots? Do all moms do it?
Chris likes to tease me when I bring my camera places or my phone to document things. I feel like part of it's because, in an attempt to be a blogger, you know, people like pictures. They like to see things. Even the little insignificant things. I just wonder if that means I'll end up doing that--making everyone stop for photos. I hated that as a kid--you'd be having a perfectly lovely time doing whatever nonsense you fancied with a pal, and, suddenly, here comes an adult with a camera, "Look here! Smile! Say cheese! No, put your arm around each other like you like each other!"
The honest to goodness truth is that we kids DID like each other, but we hated being interrupted for the camera. One day, I'll value it, I think. Or my kids will, grandkids, something.

How about you? Do you take pictures of everything? How do you feel about having your picture taken? Posed or candid?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

All about those lovely ladies on my sidebar . . .

Peeps, it has been too long. 
Too long. 
Okay, you mommy bloggers, HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?! I mean, seriously, let's be real. I'd come back from a day of nannying, make dinner, and just collapse. I mean, my brain is gone. I finally understandd, to some small degree, what my mom meant when, at the end of the day, she'd hold up her hands and say, "Sorry, but the brain shelf is full."
And I was only chasing that child around for eight hours a day.
Seriously, moms, you're awesome. 

But, this post isn't about me.
It's about my sponsors! They're all wonderful, talented, fun ladies that you totally need to check out! I asked them to send me links to their three favorite posts and answers to these three questions: 

  1. Can you describe yourself and your blog in one sentence?
  2. If your blog's personality were a color, what would it be and why?
  3. If you're not blogging, what else do you do for fun?
 And they answered!  So without further ado . . .  

1.  I'm scattered, but fun and artsy.

2.  My blog is my space and I feel lavender. I guess my blog is too. It's just the color I'm most drawn to. It invigorates me and calms me all at the same time.

3.  When I'm not blogging, I like to take pictures, try new recipes, read.... I'm a homebody. I love to be home with my guy and our critters. It's the best!

 Read Kate's favorite posts: Mirror to Chalkboard Makeover, Spice Rack Makeover, and Vintage Cookies.
Find Kate on:  Bloglovin' - Twitter - Facebook - Instagram

Drewe Llyn from Palms of His Hands

1.  Some people stop to smell the roses; some people don't even realize there are roses; but I stop, smell, sit, and watch the butterflies flitter all over the garden.
2.  If my blog were a color it would be pink.  Why?  I don't know. I just like pink.  :-)

Find Drewe on:  Blogspot

Samantha from Everyday with S&J 

 1. My blog is a reflection of my life, an online journal if you will, about the ins and outs of what makes me, me (including but not limited to: crafting, recipes, book reviews, random thoughts, and life happenings). 

2. If my blog's personality were a color it would be sparkly gray. Does that sound boring? I say gray because really my life isn't THAT exciting, it's mostly normal, but then every now and then there is something fun and pizzazzy (is that a word?) thrown in there that makes my blog great, and that's where the sparkle comes in. 

3. When I am not blogging I am watching a lot of television, reading books, playing with makeup, or cuddling with the hubs and pup. 

Read Samantha's favorite posts: The Story of Our Proposal, Honeymooners, and A Little Rant

Find Samantha on: Bloglovin' - Twitter - Instagram 

Anda Alexandra from Home of the Twisted Red Ladybug

1. LadyBug who is an Expat, Travel Lover, Photo Maniac - Living in Magical Krakow - Born and Raised in The Vampire Land but not afraid of Garlic ;) and with a blog to match her liveliness :)

2. Green and Red for sure :) Green as it is my fav color ever since I was a wee lass and red from the awesome ladybugs who inhabit the page ;)

3. Take thousand and thousands of pictures of people and places around me :) reading and watching period movies in my spare time and roaming around cities in search of new streetart and delicate places one of a kind :) 

Find Andra on: Tumblr - Twitter - Google+ - Facebook - Pinterest

Now go check them out! I know they'll brighten your day!
Have a lovely weekend, guys!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Sometimes, it just kind of hits me.
And it's the shock of it that hurts the most.

I was digging through the closet in our guest room, searching for some of my old teacher supplies to use with sweet nanny child, and I found something I had almost completely forgotten.
This giant red and blue pirate octopus.  This adorable stuffed toy that had made me squeal when we spotted it at Target. We had just had our first ultrasound, and Chris was all beaming and proud and wanted a photo album.
Because we had our baby's first picture.
The only picture.
But we didn't know that yet.
Then we saw this octopus.
I was a little apprehensive about buying it because it might not have "matched" the nursery theme we were considering, but Chris said, "Screw it. The theme is stuff we like. Do you like the pirate octopus? Good. Then it matches.  We're buying it."
Baby's first stuffed animal.
I carried it through the store like a six-year-old. Giddy. Giggling. My baby didn't even have fingers, and it had a toy. A great, big, happy, eight-legged buccaneer cephalopod. 
That's the start of an epic childhood, right?

Now, it sits in its Target bag, stuffed on top of a box of Christmas decorations.  It still has the tags on it. I don't even really remember what it looks like besides the colors. I think it wears an eyepatch. I don't want to take it all the way out, really look at it. There's no point.
Not because I'm not healing, and not because I'm bitter. Because suddenly it hurts badly again, and I want to cry.
I hate crying.
It's messy and vulnerable and upsetting. It's necessary, I get that, and I know I can feel better afterwards, but not that night. Not right then.
Really, there are times when I just don't think I can cry about it any more. I cried so much in the beginning, those first few months. I think I've allotted my annual tear quota.

Then I opened the chest of drawers, looking for a pencil bag, and, right on top, were the baby clothes my in-laws bought us, one week after our ultrasound.  A little pair of baby Converse sneakers (to match the ones Chris and I wear--we always said our babies would wear Converse), a bright green Saint Patrick's Day onesie, and a little froggie beanie I had picked out when we went shopping together. 
Laying on top.
Still with their tags.
And it hurt again, a little worse this time.

I shoved the drawer closed and moved to another.
It burned. 

It had taken me by surprise, you see. When I know something's coming, something in me steels itself. I didn't even realized I do that--prepared myself, put on an extra bandaid or two. Here, I had no time. I didn't even remember where we had stashed them.
Because that's what we did, you know.  For weeks after the news, we left the baby stuff out, on display almost, because we didn't know what to do with it. This odd mixture of a happy memory and leaving it because we didn't want touch it.  Then we hid it, because the house needed cleaning and I couldn't take it the empty cheeriness any more. It was over. There was no point. 
It hurt.

It's been almost five months. I can talk about it, now, without tearing up.  I don't make it a secret, but I don't go shouting to everyone I meet at every chance I get. It's not some badge of honor or agony or anything.
It just is.
In explaining my upcoming (at some point) surgery, sometimes I have to explain that it's the result of a miscarriage.
It doesn't hurt to say that.
It's just a fact of life.
It happened.

Then I see those tiny little things, and it hurts to remember how excited we were.

Did I ever tell you that we even bought a crib set?
I'm not a fan of most crib sheet and bumper sets--they just end up feeling cheesy, but I found one online that made me all giggly and happy. I could see the whole nursery--for a boy or a girl--coming together.  It was on sale, so Chris told me to buy it.
I did, ordered it from my phone right there in my OBGYN's waiting room before we went back and saw the heartbeat that first time.
That only time.
The set came in the mail, and I immediately called my mom and sent her pictures because it was perfect.

The baby bedding sat in the guest room, exposed, for a long time after the silent ultrasound.  It was easy to shut the door and ignore it. Then I grew accustomed to it. It was just part of the scenery.
When my mom came to visit, I took it out and showed her. Because one day we do want to use it. Because it's still stinkin cute. 
And perfect.
It's on a top shelf in our closet, so high you can't see it unless you're looking for it.

I think things are a little more raw than usual because I saw a hematologist to clear up the surgery bloodwork. You know, just to get a thumbs up to get surgery.  There were more blood tests. Once again, chatting with the pleasant lab technician, hearing that I have "nice veins," and watching the needle go in and fill six vials with the deep red fluid that gives us all life. My arm always feels tingling and cold afterwards.  I wait a week and a half, return to the doctor, and he gives me my results.
My blood, apparently, is an over-zealous clotter.
It doesn't mean anything about my health, really--it's a condition that appears and disappears without explanation, one that may or may not carry with it any symptoms.
I'm one of those without symptoms.
Except one.
The condition causes miscarriages.

So now we have answers.
It was my fault.

He tells me that it doesn't necessarily have to be this way, forever. That, if I take a baby aspirin a day while pregnant, I might carry full term.
That everything could have a happy ending.
The hope makes it a little brighter.

That, really, had it not been for this growth--this freak-of-nature dermoid requiring surgery--we never would have known about my blood. That we could have miscarried again and again and again without answers. Maybe we will anyways, but now we know why. Now we have a plan, something to do.

You see, there's always a plan. Something to do. Even if that something is just waiting.
Because God is good. All the time. Even in the dark, messy, crappy stuff. 

Life hurts.
Sometimes, it downright SUCKS.
But the hope of a purpose? Of something beyond myself?
It keeps me from curling up in bed and never getting up. 
It gives me the hope and the courage to keep smiling.
To talk about it.
To hurt. 
And to heal. 

To be okay.

I don't know my future.
Someone else does.
And that's more than okay. 
Life is still good because He is good. 
We have hope because He gifts it. 
We hurt, we heal, we hope. 
And He always is. 

And He is always good.
Even when we feel utterly abandoned.
There is always light.
In the end, the middle, above, below, glittering through the cracks, sometimes so small you barely see them.

But light is always there. 
Because He is always there. 

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, 
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
 the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
--Habakkuk 3:17-19a

Saturday, November 16, 2013

To Christmas Card, or Not to Christmas Card?


You guys all know the formula: some day that's been marked on the calendar for weeks, Mom rounds the whole family up in semi-matching outfits and marches them outside for the best possibly lighting. There you meet a willing friend ("willing" meaning that they've either been tricked, paid, or blackmailed into the situation), or a professional armed with a camera.
And you pose.
And you smile.
Until your cheeks hurt.
Possibly both sets of cheeks if you're in one of those awkward squatting positions utilized to fit everyone in the picture.

Okay, maybe I'm painting a very negative image of the Christmas family photo op. Maybe some of you have awesome traditions taking candid photos. 
Or you love getting your picture taken. 
Or you just ALWAYS look great in front of the camera.

Or maybe you're like my in-laws and dress up the pets because it's more fun and canines are more cooperative than humans.
Last year, the dogs starred as Mary, Joseph, and an angel.

Or maybe you're like my family.
Where Thanksgiving day, everyone looks their best--in past years, color coordinated, but recently not so much--and we all pose in front of the same set of bushes at my Aunt Sandy's house with my uncle snapping shots of all of us posed and smiling.
My brother, sister, and I start making goofy comments and laughing for two reasons:
1. It makes long periods of pretending to be happy fun.
2. You're actually seeing GENUINE smiles on our faces.
My mother claims our strategy makes for longer picture taking. 
And it's true. Sometimes, it takes an hour or more.

 Chris ..... Well ..... Chris has never made a secret of his feelings towards the posed family photo. Over the years, you can tell how long we've been posing based on his facial expression. He begins looking a bit cheery and ends with a barely disguised scowl.
He really, really, REALLY hates long posed photos sessions.
It's funny because he loved our engagement and wedding photo shoots, but the moment any woman says, "Okay, I wan a family photo!"
He audibly sighs and rolls his eyes.
His eyes even have a sound effect.
It's the groan of bored misery. 

So, we'd kind of settled that we would never do Christmas photos or Christmas cards. It just seemed like one more chance to be awkward or pretend--Here we all are, looking our best, because we are totally this happy all the time.  
We'd possibly reconsider if, you know, our Christmas card were something like this.

Because Bill Murray is just kind of the best ever.

Then I found THIS post, and started thinking that, maybe just maybe, Christmas cards wouldn't be so bad. They might be fun even.
And then I realized maybe people really are just trying to get a nice photo of everyone together.
That maybe it's the only family photo of the whole gang all together.
Maybe it's the chance to keep loved ones updated--those who aren't on Facebook or online or anything.
And maybe it is just plain fun ;]

How about you?
Do you guys do Christmas cards and photos or not so much?
Why or why not?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Peeps, one day I decided to follow a trend and make a Facebook profile for my blog.
I'm going to apologize in advance: the only thing that posts there are automatic updates on blog posts.
Basically, that new posts now exist.
Because I never log on and do much else to it. Because I forget. 
And blah. 

I don't link every blog post to my personal FB because well ..... I don't know. I feel like they're two separate entities. Most people I know personally don't read my stuff, and that's okay. Maybe even preferable. Oh, I'll link a post on occasion, and there's always a link in my ABOUT page, but only a handful of close friends, a family friend or two, and my mom read (HULLOOO MUMSIE!!!)
And I'm okay with that. 
It's almost more private that way .... Which is just weird because the blog's open to the whole flippin' Internet. 
What a weird concept. 

However, my personal posts on FB are WAY more frequent than my blog FB posts and, in their own way, a little bit funny. 
Or way more funny, since a little funny is loads more than no funny at all.

In response to a photo advert for Audible's "Fifty Shades of Grey."

So there you have it people: my life according to the facebooking interwebs.
We should be FB friends now, right? ;)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Garlic and Thyme Roast Chicken . . . It's like a superhero for your dinner table

 For real, peeps, this chicken.
Put a cape on it.
It's here to fly in and save the day.
I'm not even kidding. 

That and every time I prepare a whole chicken, I'm bewildered as to why there aren't more chicken-based puppets. I mean . . . I don't know, maybe I'm weird, but it's like it's begging to be made to sing and dance. Maybe that's just how I cope with the thought that I'm putting my hands up that poor birds hoo-hah and ripping out its innards. 

That really makes you want to cook now, doesn't it??? 

Because this chicken is so worth it.  It's incredibly moist and flavorful, and, the mushrooms people. THE. MUSHROOMS. I was ready to propose right then and there and run away to wedded mushroomy bliss.  

Prepping this sucker is incredibly simple. Prep the spices, rub the spices on the chicken, and put the chicken in the oven.  The trick comes once the chicken's cooking--to help keep it moist and flavorful, you have to empty the fluid from the bottom of the pan and dump it back over the chicken every fifteen minutes.  I put my chicken on top of this roasting insert that came with my crockpot and then placed them both in a casserole dish. I'm sure there's a better/easier way to do it, but I didn't have many options.  So, every fifteen minutes, I'd remove the whole deal from the oven, tilt it to the side, pour the juice into a little cup, and then pour it back on. Looking back on it . . . I probably should have REMOVED the bird, then poured the fluid, placed the bird back in the pan, THEN dump the fluid over the bird. 
Or .... Um .... USE A TURKEY BASTER!
But I was so puzzled at the moment, I wasn't thinking clearly. 

ANYWAYS, learn from my fumblings (and blurry pictures) and make this chicken. It's AWESOME.

  • 1 whole chicken (roughly 5 pounds)
  • 3-4 shallots
  • 3-6 big Garlic pods
  • 8oz - 16oz mushrooms (depends on how much you love mushrooms)
  • 1½ Tablespoon fresh Thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 cup of water

1. Rinse it and place the chicken with the breast up into a baking form.

2. Chop your shallots, mince the Garlic, and rinse your mushrooms. Remove the tiny thyme leafs from the harder “branches” so that you have about 1½ Tablespoon or so (I lean more on the OR SO side).

3.Take some of the garlic and thyme and rub the flavors into the chicken inside and keep them in there.

4. Tie your chicken legs together (or, if you find yourself out of string, you can try to toothpick them together like we did). Place the chicken on a roasting pan in either a casserole dish or a pan with a lip. Place the mushrooms and shallots in the bottom pan.

5. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top too and add the water into the oven pan. Place the dish into the oven at 425 F. for 15 minutes first.
 Remember what I said about make sure you do the easy thing? Remove the bird on its roasting pan, set it aside. Tilt the rest of the pan to drain the liquid into a measuring cup or bowl to the side. Place the chicken and roasting pan back inside the bottom pan, then pour the liquid on top.  Yes, it will be a little messy, but it's how you get an awesome chicken ;] 
(I really wish I had thought of that sooner)

6. After 15 minutes take it out and pour the liquid in the pan over the chicken several times and back into the oven for another 15 minutes at 425 F.
Tip: If you feel there's not enough liquid to keep your chicken moist, add a little more water and olive oil.

7. Again take it out and do the same again by pouring the liquid on top of the chicken. Place the chicken back into the oven for a last 15 minutes round!
Repeat this process as many times as necessary until your chicken is cooked.

7.  Your bird is finished cooking when the chicken skin is getting brown and when you poke with a knife into the meat and it is no longer raw (though you will notice that the meat might seem a little bloodier/juicier than if you were cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts).

Now cut up, dig in, and savor that delicious son of a gun!
Seriously, your tastebuds will thank you.

Also, be sure to check out all these lovely ladies on my sidebar! They are fabulous and keep some really sweet blogs! Give them a look!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Wrong Place for Shoes and Other Updates

Peeps, I'm posting this from my phone, and I have no idea how I feel about that.
I don't think I like it.
So if I miss an autocorrect malady, please forgive me just this once.

I always say I will blog more, and then something comes up. This time? It's employment.
That's right, peeps, Ima workin'!
Maybe not a fancy career or anything, but I'm now full-time nanny to an adorable four-year-old girl.  

Let me say this right now: moms are heroes. After only two days--count 'em! TWO--I came home so exhausted that I couldn't form coherent sentences and had a meltdown over wanting to avoid tricker treaters because, dagnabbit, my house was messy, I was hungry, and all I wanted to do was watch TV uninterrupted and eat something other than PB&J. Did you know "I need a nap" two-year-old-style fits are less than attractive on a twenty-six-year-old woman?? It was bad, peeps. BAD. All that to say, moms, you need chocolate and a mani-pedi like STAT!!! Husbands/Boyfriends/Whatevers, get on that business like NOW. Mama needs a break.

Despite my newfound battle for stamina, it's been great. Really. :) It's just that life doesn't let up because now there's work,  housekeeping (or there should be .... My floors .... The vacuum is desperately needing to kiss and make up with my carpet; it's revolting), cooking, the new social life, AND YOU!! Yay blogging!!! So, after eight months of wasting time, I'm relearning how to manage my time without imploding into a puddle of exhausted goo. I'll get my stamina back soon ..... Lord willing .... And I bet I'll have lots of fun nanny stories.

 Like this one:
My wee little charge is playing with her Polly Pocket doll under the table because, apparently, that's the place to play ... Or I'm just naive to sneakiness because I've been out of the kid game for a while. Then I hear, "HEY!!! Hey you! Help!! I have a slipper stuck in my nose."
"You what?!?"
"A slipper! It's in my nose!!"
I had flashbacks to the story about my brother who, at age three, decided it would be a good idea to tear the buttons out if his toy phone and stuff them up his snozz. "Mommy, ABC up my nose!" He sneezed them out during the panicked drive to the doctor. 
So I pinched the empty nostril and told her to blow as hard as she could. In response, a tiny teal scuba flipper burst out of her nose, unfolding and twirling like an acrobat shot from a cannon. Success.
Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. Huzzah. No nose surgery today, peeps. Not on my watch.
We proceeded to have a discussion about why we PLEASE do not put tiny shoes up our nose. 

And that's my life now :) 

Those of you who have requested I make you buttons, I have NOT forgotten!! I am working on them, I promise! If anyone else would like to add a free sponsor button to my site, shoot me an email at ANYWAYWIND(at)GMAIL(dot)COM. If you don't have a button, don't worry! I can whip one up for you if you send me a picture of yours that you feel suits your blog. 
PLEASE make sure that it is a picture that I can crop or resize to 250x150 pixels (that's a rectangle that is longer than it is tall ;) ). Again, thank you so much! I have some wonderful ladies to introduce to you guys!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Holy guacamole, peeps, I did not expect this! Nope, not even at all--through Cara's lovely giveaway (CONGRATS, CASSIE!!!), my blog following has tripled.
Like it went from about 40 Bloglovin' followers to 124.
Peeps, I can't even.
I just can't even.

Also, if you click that source link and read the article, it's SO STINKIN TRUE


I know that still makes me a tiny blogger, but gosh this is just too awesome! Yay!

Now if I can just keep you guys reading . . . that's the trick, right?

Anyways, in a tiny celebration of new followers, I would love to offer you all FREE sponsorship on this here little ole blog.  Just email me at the NEW blog email:

Just send me:
  1. Your name
  2. Blog or shop link (or whatever profile you'd like--Bloglovin, Facebook, Etsy shop, etc)
  3. A 250x150 button
Let me know if you'd like to do a guest post, interview, or feature to get your name out there :]  I'd love to continue growing this space and, in turn, help you grow yours!

This time around, let's see . . . maybe . . . 10 blog buttons on my sidebar? Twelve? Hmmm . . . I guess we'll just see if we have any takers. ;]

Also, in the comments, let me know what you'd like to see more of here.  I know my posting has only been once or twice a week, and that's something I'm definitely working on, and I'm trying to add more photos and recipes when I can. But I'm always open for growth!

Thanks again, guys! You rock my face flippin OFF!!! Love you!

Here's to you, guys!
Here's to you.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beauty and the Pedestal

My mom likes to tell this story about me as a tyke, before fashion and weight and acne were even a whisper of a thought.

I am three-years-old,  fresh out of my parents' shower, and my mom finds me striking poses in front of her full length mirror.
In my birthday suit.
Proud as can be.
I had never seen fashion models, but, at that moment, you'd think I was rehearsing for my Vogue debut.
"Sarah, what are you doing?"
"Looking." I strike another pose, pause, and say, "Am I the prettiest?"
My mom's a very literal person.  So she thinks about it a moment and says, "Well, Sarah . . . You're the prettiest little girl to me. Every mommy thinks her little girl is prettiest."
I look at her--deadpan, irritated, incredulous. "So everyone doesn't think I'm the prettiest?"
Just like that, people.
Just like that.

I have no idea if I'm two or three here (probably closer to two . . . ),

Also, that Mickey went everywhere with me for a looooong time.
Every kid needs a good Mickey, right?

I don't remember where I learned what pretty was. I don't know when or how I had decided that beauty was the ultimate goal, but, at least by three-years-old, it's what I wanted. You know how little boys turn everything into a weapon? Even if he's never seen a single action movie, a little boy picks up a stick, and it is suddenly a mighty sword.  I think little girls are the same way; you put a little girl in a store, and she will automatically pick the shiniest, fluffiest, prettiest little dress and twirl.
We are born with our hearts longing for beauty.

I don't think society has to teach us that. It's the song of our little feminine souls.

Of course, society comes in, peer pressure, and the beast of comparison.
Comparison is like a drug for me: I hate it but I don't know how to function without it. I should, but it is a struggle not to focus on the pros, cons, similarities, and differences. It began as simple observation--looking and taking mental notes to learn how to look, speak, dress. To assimilate. And then it grew.

Once I was in high school, my already teetering ego took a dive because I was ignored by the opposite sex.
Tell me, why is it that the female self-esteem is so desperately linked to how attractive males find her? If you're religious, you'll say it's that whole "your longing shall be for your husband" curse, and if you're scientific it's all of that primal need to reproduce. Whatever it is, it's annoying.  To find your worth in a group of adolescents who laugh until they cry over fart jokes? Who smell like dirty shoes no matter how much they wash? And, for some bizarre reason, their attention can make or break your self-esteem.
It's the bane of pubescent females.

Females of all ages, really.

Eventually, I came to the popular conclusion that my body was all wrong. There must simply be too much of me to be attractive. Especially rump. I have always had a surplus of honkytonkbadonkadonk, if you know what I mean.
For years, I tried to vanquish it with diet and exercise (but not TOO much, because, let's be honest, I loved food and hated the outdoors . . . running in the outdoors especially, and, at the time, I was told that was the only way to exercise). Alas, everything would tone or shrink but that.
And yet, all I could think was, "If I can lose my butt, I will be thin, and they will love me."

Fifteen-years-old at one of my  piano recitals
P.S. Still have that cardigan. It's stretched with me.

After getting married, I put on roughly thirty pounds on top of my college years' Freshman Twenty. After three years of struggle and denial about my weight, we moved, I started working hard on my exercise, cutting portions, all that jazz, and I've lost almost all of the post-wedding weight. Freshman Twenty? I don't know. That might be here to stay. 
With all that, the thought still nagging my brain is "If I lose ten more pounds, THEN I will be happy with me."
Sometimes, though, I wonder if ten pounds is really an option.
You see, what the media never tells you--what society never explains--is that puberty isn't the end of physical changes. You go from a girl to a woman--a real woman--and then you create life (a wonderful gift), and it is possible that you will never look like your teenage self again.
More importantly, if you did, would you really be healthy and happy?
Or would it still be "Five pounds more, and I'll be happy"  while you wither away?

Part of my own issues, I know, stem in fear and jealousy. 
I know my gene pool.
We're curvy women.
We're women who bear children and wear the marks, blessed as they may be.
We're women whose bodies take time.
Me? I'm a woman who puts on weight just by looking at a cheeseburger for too long. 
I'm not saying that my weight issues aren't due to my own lack of discipline, but, golly, I was not handed the skinny DNA, all right?
So I look forward, hoping to one day have a successful pregnancy, and my mind always darts back to my pants size. "If I work out before and during, I won't gain as much, and I'll bounce back, right???"
My mind is constantly rolling in that direction.
Because I know I am not one of those women who just miraculously bounce back from things like that.
I can't eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and not exercise without wearing it. It's who I am. I am still learning to accept that. To understand that, one day, my body might not just bounce back. That I will probably never achieve my ideal self image. That, somewhere, left all on my own, I will always look in the mirror and think, "Five more pounds, ten more pounds, any more pounds. I'm not okay, yet."
And I know it's wrong.

It's funny--I can look at other women and praise their beauty, regardless of size, and mean every single word with all of my heart.  I don't think a heavier frame equals unattractive at all. These are GORGEOUS women. Women I praise and cheer on, even envy for their style and confidence. They wear they curves with Marilyn VAVOOM.
It's just that I'm not okay with me.

We are always our harshest critics, aren't we? Why?

With some friends for the Doctor Who season premiere when I was at my heaviest.

 How are we women so obsessed with weight? There are skinny causes, women-sized causes, somewhere in-between causes, big boobs, little boobs, butt, pancake, thigh gaps, super strength, super slender, before baby, after baby, new body, old body, the works.
We fixate on it in all facets.
If we're not bashing weight, we're praising it.  If we're not attacking it, we're defending it.
It's always there, this hovering minion that nibbles at our self-esteem or is thrown up like a shield.
I'm too skinny.
I'm too fat.
I love my body no matter what anyone says! That's the newest battle cry.
I'm perfect just how I am, and I love it.
How many of us believe it?  How many of us sincerely look in the mirror, smile, and proclaim, "PERFECT!!!" Not picking at every tiny flaw, every wrinkle, every scar, every hint of a muffin top, every too-slender thigh. Just looking, seeing, and loving. No hesitations. No improvements.

How do you get there? I want to be there.
I am so tired of this cycle. This round and round and round the bathroom scale. 
It shouldn't be about the numbers.
It should be about my body's abilities. Can I walk farther, climb higher on my hikes than I could before?  Is my heart healthy? Does it really matter if my thighs aren't rock hard or if my arms don't look "great" in a tank top? No, not even remotely.
I'm alive. That's what matters.

I never post mirror selfies, but, three weeks ago, I thought, why not?
So this is me, married weight shed, still wondering if it was enough.

Some people say the key to all this is to negate the concept of beauty. Praise a little girl for her brains and not her twirly skirt.  Read her books about strong women, and banish the idea of a pretty princess.  I don't think any of those things are bad on their own (I applaud tales of strong, life-changing females and brilliant minds), but, just like boys and the stick-swords, every little girl will find something sparkly and make it a gown.  I don't think banishing beauty is the key at all.
I think it's the balance.
Something, somewhere, has grown so totally skewed we can't see straight.  It's about the numbers or the straightness of a nose or the perfect color combination. Beauty has been put on a pedestal it can't possibly sustain. We claim it the key to happiness, and it's a weight it cannot possibly bear. It's tried, and the struggle has left it a twisted beast we'd never recognize. It was never meant to be THIS, this ultimate goal. 
It was meant to be a joy-bringer, an extra ray of sunshine, not the whole blasted sun. It's not fair to us or beauty.

It's about the existence of you--that you are not an accident. 
It's about knowing that you are a work of art.  You are not a mistake. Nothing about you comes even close to a mistake. You are phenomenal and you are lovely. Yes, even with all the imperfections that taunt you in every mirror and every photograph. Even if the girl in first period gets all the attention and your sister is effortlessly your ideal pants size. You are so lovely.
You are here for a reason, for some wonderful, brilliant, unique reason that only YOU can fulfill.
Yes, you want to be pretty. That's not a bad thing, on its own.  But is it the most important thing? To you? Who defines pretty? The airbrushed movie stars? The boys in science class who think picking your nose is a grand adventure? A machine without a soul that counts poundage? Really? Them? Oh boy, if that's the case we are in some serious trouble. Kiss society goodbye, peeps, it's not worth it anymore.

I don't have it all figured out in my heart.
In my head, it all makes sense, but believing it?  To look in the mirror every day and say, "You are not a mistake"?  That's a war that's raging.  Somewhere, I let my ideal image take the wheel, and it has crippled me.

Beauty was never meant to cripple. It was meant to enable.
To empower.
To make your heart sing.

When you look in the mirror, is your heart singing? It wants to. 
Step back, look past the flaws, and witness the incredible miracle that you are--of all the possibilities, the millions people and the millions of cells, these came together and made YOU, just as you are. It could have been anyone, but it was you. Perfectly and wonderfully you. You are not flaws, your weight, or your clothes.
You're a miracle.

And you are so beautiful.