Learning From a Tragedy

While I normally try to keep my more recent posts light hearted and funny, I’ve learned that life is not always cooperative with this notion. Sometimes life is heavy. Sometimes it smacks you in the face and kicks your legs out from under you. No matter how you live your life, it will still find a way to knock you off your feet. As my family faces yet another tragedy, and our inner strength is put through another test, I can’t help but wonder how I’m supposed to stay positive during this. While my family has always been the type to use humor to cope, underneath the tense laughter there is an unmistakable air of heaviness and sorrow. Needless to say, this past week has been an emotional rollercoaster. My theme for 2016 has been about inner strength and bravery, and it seems that life has taken this as a personal challenge. While I have been struggling to remain positive through all of this, I can’t help but look back on my past week and see what I have learned.

  1. People reveal their true colors during a tragedy. Some people’s aren’t as pretty as you thought. The people you thought would be there for you just simply aren’t. Others have some of the brightest you will ever see. You will find that some people are much kinder than you ever thought possible. Some colors will change. People will realize things about themselves and may even discover strength or kindness they never thought they had in them. Sadly, some are uglier than you could ever imagine. Some people will be crueler than you ever thought humanly possible. This is a sad fact that I have discovered exists very close to home, but do not let these people dull your own colors.
  1. No matter how good of a person you are, the world will still find ways to torture you, even when you don’t deserve it. It always seems that those with the biggest hearts and kindest spirits are the ones left suffering the most. This can cause a lot of internal struggle, something I’ve been struggling with. What I’ve concluded: Don’t let this keep you from being a good person. The world will always be there to knock you down no matter how you live your life, so I personally would rather live it kindly. There are many times in my life where I have regretted being rude, disrespectful, insensitive, and just plain mean. However, I have never regretted being kind. Yes, I have been taken advantaged of. Yes, I have been taken for granted. And yes, I have put my trust in the wrong people and given others more chances than they deserve. But I have never looked back and regretted being nice, helpful, or kind. Always be nice to others, you never know when you are the only one to show them kindness.
  1. People will talk about things they don’t understand or know the whole story to. This can hurt. A lot. But don’t let those people make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. It isn’t your job to tell everyone your story unless you are ready to. It is also not other’s people’s place to share your struggle with others without your consent, nor is it their place to fill in the spaces of your story with their own version of the truth. There are times when it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.
  1. People will get angry with you. Never feel bad for taking your time to deal with your struggles. If the people in your life can’t accept that you need to go through your own personal process in your own personal way, you don’t need those people in your life. They will only bring you more pain and frustration later. Everyone processes and feels things differently. We all need to understand that no two people have the same heart or the same mind.
  1. Tragic times can bring out the best in people. This has been especially prominent in my relatives and family friends. It is amazing how many people you discover have hearts of gold. I have seen so much inner beauty show through in people this past week. It amazes me how many people are willing to step up and offer their help in any way they can. Whether this be bringing food, offering a place to stay, or even a simple “You are in my thoughts” or “I hope the best for you and your family,” it can go a long way when times are tough. I wish people could be this kind to each other all the time: the world would be a much more beautiful place.
  1. Unfortunately, tragic times can also bring out the worst in people. There have been people that have been so cruel, that I can’t figure how they sleep well at night. As if life isn’t hard enough, there are people that make it worse. I will never understand how people can be so unbelievably cruel to others in this world. It is a sad fact that people will kick you when you are down. All you can do in these situations is hope that the kind people in the world outnumber the cruel people. Use these people as a lesson: do not become the people who hurt you. Instead, become the people who helped you as well as the people you needed when you were struggling.

I realize that I didn’t give many details on what my family is facing. That is because the point of this post is not to gain sympathy or pity. It is not to get people to feel sorry for me. The purpose of this is to show how much light tragedy can shed on different aspects of life. It is to reinforce how important kindness is, because we live in a world that is so overshadowed with hate, it is easy to get caught up in it. Life can be brutal, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. I know it is a cliché, but be good to those who mean something to you. You never know when the last time you see their face will be. You never know when it will be the last time you see them, the last thing you say to them, or the last text message you send them. Take it from me, I went through it seven years ago and I am going through it again. Don’t take your loved ones for granted. You will never look back and regret all the times you told them you loved them, but you will regret all the times you didn’t. Stay positive, stay strong, and stay kind.

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The Busty Battle

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One common thing I hear when girls are talking about what they wish was different about themselves is that they want bigger boobs. I have a message for those girls. EMBRACE YOUR NON-GIGANTIC BOOBS! My enormous chest is something I have been insecure about for most of my life: since the fourth grade, when I started getting boobs. (Let me just insert here that I hate the word breasts. I don’t know why.) Now I don’t use the words “enormous” or “gigantic” lightly, because I’m not talking DD big. My boobs sprouted when I was 10 and have continued to grow for 10 years (I sincerely hope they have finally stopped) landing me at a size 32/34 I. I joke and say the “I” stands for “I need a bigger bra!” I think it goes without saying that I was always more developed than my peers all through middle and high school, and this remains true now in college. This has not made life easy. (If you have read my post on my insecurities, you may remember that my bust is one of them.) In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has commented or questioned me about my boobs, I would probably be able to pay a semester’s worth of rent. Here’s just a little insight to the life of a busty girl.

  1. Finding a bra is next to impossible once you surpass a D. It seems that relators assume that if you have a need for large cups, you also have a need for a large band. In my case, this caused a lot of problems in high school. When you are a DD, band sizes usually start at a 38 and go up from there. If you are lucky, you may find a rare 36 DD in a dull purple that you are forced to buy simply because you have no other options. Once you hit DDD, forget it and move on. The bigger your bust gets, the less options you have for bras. Even stores such as Victoria’s Secret have a very small selection for larger sizes. (Does VS carry my size? NOPE!) I spent my senior year of high school in a bra with a broken underwire that was a cup size too small, because I didn’t really have another option. I spent the next year and a half squeezing into bras that were several sizes too small. Finally, this past year, I found a store that carried my size. Nordstrom became my saving grace, and blessed me with three bras that actually fit properly. One of them was even a sports bra! I hadn’t owned a decent fitting sports bra since the ninth grade. However, these glorious gifts did not come cheap. Those three bras cost about $250- I think they are laced with gold. Next, I shall attempt to find a swimsuit top that fits. I don’t have high hopes.
  1. Everything you wear has cleavage. Unless it’s a turtle neck, you’ll probably be showing off your bosom one way or another. If someone tells you that your clothes show off too much of your chest, challenge them to find you something that doesn’t. Maybe they’ll have better luck than you. As far as I know, all attempts to hide my colossal chest have failed. I’m starting to think there is no way to hide them. Also, forget about shirts with a design or wording on the front: it’ll just end up distorted.
  1. They are REALLY HEAVY. Your back and neck HURTS. All the time. We are talking approximately 10 pounds… per boob. It’s like carrying a small child, but you can never put the child down… because it is attached to you. This is especially difficult when you want to work out, particularly where running is concerned. People will say they understand your struggle. They don’t understand. Not even a little.
  1. The joys of sexual harassment. Thank you middle school for exposing me to this at an early age. When you are the only girl in your grade that has outgrown a training bra, people are going to notice. Those people were, of course, the middle school boys! I quickly lost track of the number of times my boobs were poked, grabbed, and “accidently grazed.” Every day, at least one prepubescent boy was trying to touch my then C cups. It didn’t stop there: I was also the root of many jokes and snide comments. I had many nicknames, the most memorable being “Bouncy House.” At the time, I did my best to laugh with them and brush it all off. However, I still tried my best to hide my prominent chest. When it was happening, it all seemed like harmless fun, but looking back I see it for what it really was. Sexual harassment. I have learned a valuable lesson from this realization: Just because someone is laughing with you, doesn’t mean what you’re doing is okay. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to make light of the serious issue that is sexual harassment. However, I cannot change the past, and I am the type who chooses to laugh about the things I cannot change. It’s how I keep my sanity.
  1. They catch EVERYTHING. Every crumb gets stuck in the abyss, making Nature Valley granola bars a real hassle. If you drop something, particularly food, chances are your monumental chest will catch it. I once lost a French fry in my cleavage- it took a solid half hour to find it. I also have burn scar from when the inside of my pizza roll fell out and my monstrous chest caught it… when it was fresh out of the microwave. In short, the perk: they catch things. The downside is that sometimes things get lost in there.
  1. The endless questions and comments. How I do deal with the endless steam of boob related conversation? What goes through my head when I am fielding these questions and comments? “Your boobs are so big” Yes, thank you, I hadn’t noticed. “How big are they?” Huge. Next question. “Are they heavy?” What do you think? “Why don’t you just get a reduction?” Oh, I hadn’t thought of that! Thank you for your amazing insight. “How do they get so big?” I don’t have time to explain genetics to you. Ask a biology teacher. “Can I feel them?” Can I feel your face with my fist? This list is endless. Getting questions about my bust has become a second nature to me to the point where it no longer offends me. It just provides entertainment and a fun story for my friends later.

Living with a huge chest has been no easy task, however I can’t help but look back and laugh about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, I curse my younger self for all the times she wished her boobs would be bigger, and I would trade them in for a nice set of B’s in a heartbeat, but reality is harsh. My massive set isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about that. The only thing I can really do is learn to embrace them, along with all the other parts of myself I don’t like. This is not always an easy thing to do, and some days it is easier to accept them than other days. However, we all have parts of ourselves we don’t like. We all have something about we wish we could change. So let this be a lesson: what you desire may be someone else’s antagonism or insecurity. The grass is not always greener on the other side, so keep working on your own grass, because to another person, yours IS greener. Never stop trying to love yourself.

Evolution of Painting

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The picture on the left features a painting I did when I was 14. I remember painting it on my kitchen counter one afternoon, and feeling so proud of myself when I was done. I felt it was the first time I truly saw what I was capable of painting, and I never thought I would be able to ever paint anything better. I used six colors (most of them glitter paints), one brush, and a sponge to paint it. It took about two hours to complete. It was the first time I can remember losing myself in a painting: drowning out the world and letting the creativity consume me. I went into that painting without any idea on what to paint. I just let the brush guide me instead of me guiding the brush. That painting was my proudest possession for years afterward, because I figured nothing I created would ever amount to that painting. It hung over my bed for years, and I would often stare at it thinking about much I loved it, but also wishing I could paint something that good again.

Six years later, I still feel a sliver of pride when I look at it, however I am more surprised of how much my paintings have evolved. I have painted numerous paintings and have also tried my hand at drawing and sketching. I don’t paint as often as I used to, and when I do my perfectionist tendencies often get in the way. (I’m working on it). But when my paintings turned out, I get this weird feeling of pride and happiness.

The picture on the right is my latest painting completed a little over a week ago. Again, when I look at this, I can’t help but feel a little proud of myself, especially when I think about how far I’ve come. The entire painting was done free hand and took about three weeks to complete. Granted, I didn’t work on it everyday, but it definitely took more time than the one I painted in 8th grade. It turned out much better than I thought it would, and my roommate liked it so much, she wanted to hang it in our living room, which is where it is now.

Looking at these two pictures side by side has made me realize a few things about art. First of all, don’t set yourself in the belief that you have reached your full potential. I mean this in art and in life. You can always improve if you chose to. Secondly, art is hard because your toughest critic is always you. No one else can see the picture in you head that you are trying to create, so no one else can compare your art to this idea of perfection. So focus on the positives of what people are saying: your art is probably much better than you think it is. Most importantly, don’t stop creating. No matter how good or bad the end result is, never stop creating things. Your creativity is a huge part of what makes you you, so don’t lose it. Let’s keep creating beautiful things together and make the world a more beautiful place.

(Step-by-step instructions on how to complete The Dark Heart painting coming soon)

My Latest Mishap

Every once in awhile, I get bored and restless with my same, boring routine. When this happens, I like to have what I call an “Impulse Day.” This is when I spend time doing spontaneous things and change up my day. After an Impulse Day, I usually feel refreshed and tend to have a more positive outlook on life: a “I can do anything” type of feeling. This past Sunday, the Sunday before finals I may add, I felt is was time for an Impulse Day. The impulse? My hair. It started innocently enough; just a simple hair cut. Having not had one since January, I felt it was time to try a new style, and even get my bangs back.

After my haircut, I felt rejuvenated and confident with my new “do.” But for whatever reason  I decided to take it one step further and dye it. While I was perfectly content with getting a nice soft brown color (My hair is naturally a bright golden blonde), something possessed me to take a different route. A route I have been wanting to try since I was four. Red. I’m not talking about a subtle strawberry blonde red or even an auburn. Nope! I went for what can only be described as bright ass red.

As I waited in anticipation as the dye set in, I couldn’t keep myself from wondering, did I just make a huge mistake? As I sat in my tub, rinsing out my hair, desperately waiting for the water to run clear, my panic become more prevalent. My brain was a back and forth argument between what did I just do to my beautiful hair and this is going to look great, its fine. When the water finally ran clear and my tub stopped looking like I had just committed a murder, I quickly dried my hair , and braced myself as I turned towards the mirror. I stood in shock. What were once gorgeous blonde locks were now bright red. My brain kicked in as did cognitive dissonance. I immediately started looking at the positives. It didn’t look that bad, it made my green eyes pop, and I could totally rock it. I turned to Snapchat, seeking validation from my friends. Aside from one telling me I looked like a lesbian, everyone seemed to love it.

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This lasted about two days. By Tuesday, I was done with the red. It was already starting to fade in some places and was looking patchy. My solution? I’ll strip the color! I went and got a kit that guaranteed to strip the revolting red out of my hair and restore my luscious blonde locks back to their former glory. As I sat for 20 minutes letting it process, I could hardly contain my excitement. I could fix my mistake! Everything was going to be okay!

That relief lasted right up until the rinse out process. After spending 30 minutes in the shower rinsing and shampooing over and over, I got out and was horrified to see that my hair was now a bright, dandelion yellow. Now what was I going to do!? Dye it again? Risk damaging my hair that I loved so much? After taking a few deep breaths, the shock and awe wore off, and I decided to live with the yellow. I didn’t want to risk putting my hair through anymore trauma, and once I stepped out of my harsh bathroom lighting, it didn’t look as bad. The brightness has worn off today, a day later, and it is actually pretty close to my natural hair. In fact, it looks as if someone tried to dye their hair my color, but was left with a blonde only a box could provide. (Trust me, it is much brighter in person than in the picture).

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As traumatic and stressful as this whole situation had been, I have decided to look at it as a learning experience. First of all, control your impulse days! Haircut good. Hair dye… BAD! Save dying the hair for a day when you have really thought about what color you want to rock. If it’s bright ass red, go for it! Hopefully your experience goes better than mine. Secondly, when things go bad, try to focus on the positives. It will help lessen the negative feelings, and if need be, your mistake may even be fixable. Most importantly, laugh at yourself. This is post is about me being able to look at a bad situation, and make it humorous. At least now, if you are laughing, I am laughing with you. Life is far too short to not laugh at your own silly mistakes. Own them, rock them, whatever you need to do to live with them. At this point, I will continue to laugh about my three days as a fiery redhead, rock my dandelion yellow hair, and be my perfectly imperfect self. I hope you all can do the same!