“Die, Vampires.”

Has anyone ever been tormented in their head by the things others have said about you?

Actually, you know what, that is a ridiculous question.

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TORMENTED BY THE THINGS OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEM. 

We all have had this experience, even if it was back in the third grade, when Johnny called you a stupid-face and told you to eat dirt. Johnny was an a- hole. I really hope you didn’t eat dirt… I would have been the kid that ate the dirt in silence, not told an adult, and then cried about it at home. But I digress….

Anyway, this really got me thinking about the narrative we have in our heads when our tormentors, bullies, relatives, coaches, etc., tell us things that are completely detrimental to our well-being. We may not be able to control what people say or do to us, but we have 100% responsibility for the way we react to it, and how it controls our behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, I have been a pushover most of my life. I’m still grappling with the terrible things that have been said to me. But recently, I got an idea. I read in a book that if you can imagine yourself achieving a goal as vividly as possible, you’re WAY more likely to achieve it in your life. So I thought, maybe that could work the other way around as well. Maybe I could replace my responses to the jerks with something else, something I wish I had said, and that can make me stronger now.

So lately, I’ve decided to change my narrative. Entirely through the use of imagination (yay Theater Degree!) I’m working on replacing my memory with something the a stronger, older, wiser me would say the the A-holes.

 

The following is a list of things things that have been said to me in my past, how I responded then, and the new narrative I am now using so I can move the eff on with my life.

Hater: “You’re too fat for the standards of this performance group.”  

Old Me: “Yeah I know, but it’s fine I’ll just be in the back where I can sing. I’m good at singing anyway, I’m not here because I’m good-looking.

New Me: “Hey! F*CK you! I made it just as well as anyone else. Also, I’m a beautiful, talented goddess, and my body is not your business.”

 

Hater: “I’m cutting you from this dance. You look like a horse.” 

Old Me: Continues to rehearse in silence until the tears pour out of my face uncontrollably.

New Me:  “You know, it takes a really specific kind of person to look a twelve-year-old in the eyes and compare them to a barn animal. Although, horses are majestic! So I guess that means I’m majestic! Would you like to do something else in this scene? Or can I call my mom and go home?”

 

Hater: “Do you think you could lose ten pounds before opening night? None of these costumes fit you.”

Old Me: (Awkward laughter) ” I’m sorry. I could try? ”

New Me: “I hear crash diets are really unhealthy, especially for fifth graders. So, should I put your name down for being held responsible for my early onset anorexic tendencies? I’ll just give you my therapist’s address and you can write her a check directly.”

 

Hater: “Your body is fine, it could just be… you know… firmer. More toned.” 

Old Me: Oh yeah, I agree. That’s why I’ve been trying to lift weights and eat more lean protein. Firmer definitely is better.

New Me: Continuing to eat cake. We’re breaking up.

 

 

Hater: Good luck trying to find someone who loves you as much as I do. You’re a lot to handle and I doubt anyone else will understand how to deal with you. 

Old me: Cries.

New Me: Those two sentences make absolutely NO sense! And my worth is not defined by whether or not a boyfriend can “handle” me. I can handle myself, thank you very much! Giggity!

 

 

Hater: Ugh, you’re so irresponsible and dreamy. Why can’t you pay attention and be smart?  

Old me: I don’t know. I guess my mind wanders too much. I’m sorry.

New Me: I’m a creative person and I’m very smart about a lot of things. My intelligence is defined differently than yours, and maybe you would realize that if you actually attempted to listen to me once in a while.

 

 

Hater: Your involvement in the Theater Arts is making you vulnerable to Satan. You’re doing the work of the Devil and you don’t even know it. That’s why you’re not happy, and you never will be until you change your ways. 

Old Me: Frantically searches the Bible for answers, prays to God to take away my passions and to change my heart to love more “Godly” things.  

New Me: You’re insane. If you don’t have respect for my passions, then you don’t respect me. We’re breaking up.

 

 

 

You guys, don’t get me wrong. The experiences in our past that sucked make us who we are. They are a part of ourselves that give us the fuel to live out our passions and connect to others. But if the a-holes in your past are holding you back from anything in your present, try to change the narrative and see what happens.

 

xoxox

 

 

Out of Options… 

Girls Be Like…

A Public Apology About my Fattitude

If I were to break down my life into categories that describe my experiences, there would be a handful of columns or pillars, if you will…

I’d say that there are bout five or six “Life Experience Pillars,” but here are few examples:

Pillar 1: Performing life.

Pillar 2: Romantic relationships.

Pillar 3: Weight Loss and Body Image

 

 

A lot of my friends think I’m absolutely nuts. The last time I could even be considered “big” was when I was ten years old. I went through a growth spurt as a pre-teen and have been a pretty healthy size my whole life. But the conversations that dominated my household during my most important years were always about the same thing:

Fat. Being big. Hating skinny people. Dieting. Low-carb. Low-fat. Size charts. measurements. Being put in the back. Feeling invisible. Size 2. Size 13. Hip size. Breast size. Hair color.

You can say that this is just how girls are as they are discovering their bodies, but in my house it was extreme. It was all we talked about. I know now that this was the result of insanely low self-esteem, and a common held belief by many of the women in my family that your worth was based on how you look, and nothing much else mattered.

This attitude sunk into the heads of the ladies around me. It really affected us and it’s infuriating.

I grew up believing I was “overweight” —and that it actually mattered.

 

 

I remember being taught in Kindergarten that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that the most important things in life were being kind and being a good friend.

So why on EARTH did that part of my growth and learning become less LOUD than the voices in my head that told me to keep losing weight?

It sure made adolescence a pain in the ass.

 

 

And you know what?

I’m 28 years old and I still bitch about it.

I still have to fight that little voice in my head that wants to start screaming any time I’m bloated.

I still look at “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days” articles on pinterest.

I still have to quiet the part of me that wants to punch a thin woman in the face while she happily eats a donut or two.

I still look at the beautiful dancers at my theater job and ache over how I will never look like them, when all I wanted as a child was to be a ballerina. I entertain those sorrowful emotions until I knock some sense into myself for being an idiot because WE SHARE THE SAME COSTUMES and I’m being ridiculous.

Maybe I am insane.

But what I want to express is this:

I’m sorry.

I’m so SO sorry for contributing to this unhealthy culture  regarding size and body image by complaining OUT LOUD about my size or what I look like. How SHITTY is that to other people?

I am sorry that I openly talk about having “fat days” like they’re a truly negative thing. They’re not. They’re just a thing that happens to everybody when they retain water. It’s not a big deal.

I am sorry that I whined a little about finishing a half marathon and not losing any weight. (That should NOT have been a thing in my head when I made a big life accomplishment. But it was. And that is a failure on my part.)

I am sorry for the amount of time I spend on this subject when I could be doing so many other things with my time.

 

And I think, most importantly, I am sorry for believing that no one else went through this kind of struggle. I’m sorry that because I see my friends being successful in their lives, I assume that they must never have this mental fight that I have with myself almost every day…

 

THIS IS A REAL THING PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE OF FAT SHAMING AND SKINNY-GLORIFYING.

 

At what point are we just going to decide that what we are, in this very moment, is good enough? That our bodies do not need alterations? That the only thing that should be propelling us to eat healthy and exercise is the sheer fact that it makes us happy?

 

I try to run because it makes me happy… I like the feeling of accomplishment. It should have absolutely NOTHING to do with a desire to be skinnier.

I would really like to kill that part of my brain that still believes that I run so that I can be skinny.

It has definitely shrunk over the years, but it’s still there.

 

I’m sorry that I haven’t just made a choice to halt the negativity towards the way I look and to just have a good time living my life.

 

The self-hate is not worth the energy. It is hurtful to myself, and it is hurtful to those around me.

I’ll close with this letter.

 

Dear Sad-Fat Dragon:  

I love you. I love that you have given me the passion and fire to encourage other women to love and accept themselves. I love that what once started as a negativity toward my body eventually led me to love physical activity. However, it’s time for you to shut the eff up and let me be happy with the way I look. 

Thanks,

 Jess 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note of Gratitude

Forgive me as the words spill out of me like the tears I can’t hold back. The past two days have been filled to the brim with reasons to cry, and I have. A younger me would have judged myself for the blubbering I’ve done over the past months, but forget it.

I am a different person now than I was before. Cells have been recreated, I have been hugged more, loved more, given more, offered more breaths of life to keep living and keep loving.

Why was I given more days to experience so much life, and breath, and beauty, when those not so far from my home, my community were not spared?

They wanted a night on the town– no different from my brothers and sisters right here in beautiful Long Beach. Long Beach, a place in which I have learned to become a better version of myself– my mind, and heart, and soul has been expanded because of this place that I chose on a whim, chasing after a boy.

But I look around me and I see how goddamn lucky I was to have followed that boy that broke my heart and tore me apart to a shell of a human so that I not only could rebuild, but so that I could be so closely connected to these beautiful people around me every single glorious day.

Everything is a gift.

Everyone of you is a gift to me.

Readers, friends, those who I will never meet– the vibrations of you matter more than I could ever comprehend.

 

And then, I am over here, experiencing what it feels like to be congratulated by my loved ones to put one foot in front of the other for three hours.

That’s not hard.

Sweating for pleasure is not hard.

Watching your community break down and cry is hard.

Watching your people argue over the definition of love and equality is hard.

Watching your friends feel pain and anguish over the fact that their neighbors might see them as less than any other human is hard.

Watching your people lose all faith in your country is hard.

Going for a long run is NOT HARD.

It was merely a lesson. A lesson that when we put limitations on what we are capable of doing, we can never change. It was a lesson that dedication and hard work can reap incredible results if you just don’t fucking give up.

We can’t give up on ourselves, and I know for a fact, that my brothers and sisters are so much stronger than I am on my own.

They have proven it to me over and over and over and over again and have given me a reason to run in the first place.

 

And although running is not hard, music is not hard, dance is not hard, and art is not hard — at least not in the way this ridiculous fight is hard,

I will run longer, sing more beautifully, dance with less conviction, and create with as much fucking purpose as I have in my tiny little human form because it’s everything I’ve got.

And if our steps, our struggle, our creation, our breath gives us a reason to celebrate who we are, then GOD DAMNIT we better do it.

Because that’s love.

I don’t care who you are, love is love, and we have the power to choose LOVE over hate and separation every day.

Every day we live is a chance to choose kindness and passion and love.

 

Thank you for inspiring me to run, sing, play, and create.

But more than anything,thank you for inspiring me to love greater than I ever thought possible.

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

taco-memes-full-of-tacos.jpeg

 

 

In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

whatdoyouwant.gifnotthatsimple.png

 

Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

iliketacos.jpg

 

It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

notebooktaco.gif

 

 

 

 

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

I have so many things on my body at any given time that remind me to stop being afraid.

I have a runners bracelet that says “Live Fearlessly.”

I have a necklace I wear almost every day that says “Fearless”

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Courage, 1st John 4:18.” (This verse states “There is no fear in love.” I got that one after my abusive relationship in college)

 

I am very aware that I am constantly terrified.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is that scares me so much. I mean, I have the fear of people being upset with me. I am afraid of disappointing others. I am afraid that people will find out that I’m not all smiles, optimism, and kindness. I am afraid that I don’t deserve the job that I have. I am afraid that I don’t deserve to dream bigger. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of choosing the wrong “right” as I try to figure out my own right and wrong. I am afraid of being overweight. I am afraid of depression. I am afraid of being unhappy.  I am afraid I will someday be a terrible mother. I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my half marathon.

I’m afraid that I don’t deserve what I have, and that eventually someone will find out that I am not deserving of it, and it will all be taken from me.

 

Usually I use humor and creativity to deal with all of this.

But lately things don’t feel so funny or creative.

Lately it just feels like work. Being social feels like work. Talking about anything other than the mountain of emotion that I have buried myself under feels like work. I’m not allowing myself to have any fun because the fear has turned into imposter syndrome, which has turned into a belief that I don’t deserve what I have, which has turned into self-destruction and lack of motivation.

I like to think that maybe I’m just exhausted.

Or maybe I am selfishly trying to blame someone for these flaws… Recently I caught myself in a very ugly state, while I was watching some kids doing a wonderful performance, and my thoughts were “Wow, I wonder what MY life would have been like if someone gave a crap about how badly I wanted to perform as a kid, and didn’t berate me for wanting to do things that cost money outside of school.”

Now, of course this isn’t true, but somewhere deep down, there is a little girl in my heart who still feels like her dreams and hopes are not worth anyone’s time. She put them in a box and buried them, so they wouldn’t bother anybody. (Let me clarify– SHE put them there. It’s no one else’s fault.)

Now that I’ve learned this about myself, pulling that box out of that mound of dirt sometimes feels like the most difficult thing in the effing universe. I have to dig my hands into the dry, cracked, soil that has grown solid over time. I feel like I’m sobbing into the ground , screaming at my younger self for ignoring that box for all of this time. Meanwhile the grime gets under my fingernails, I can’t stop staring at this dirt, and while I dig, people in my life walk by, and get dirt thrown in their face.

 

That’s a very dramatic metaphor.

But it’s sort of what I feel like lately.

 

Every time I didn’t stick up for myself, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to stay up late on the phone for the sake of someone else’s problems, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I put someone else’s needs before my own, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I watered down my creative ideas out of fear of judgement, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I lived according to someone else’s wishes and demands, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to drink too much, and punish myself by locking myself in a bathroom, I put more dirt on that box.

 

Nobody else DID this to me. I let them do it, and thus I put the dirt there.

 

 

At the moment, I’m choosing to take the time so I can just pause, and write all this down. Earlier in the week I posted that “Get Money” quote on instagram, because I was in all of this pain, but didn’t have the time to feel it, give it the attention it deserves, and attempt to figure it out. So I used humor to deal. Sometimes, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

Right now, I’m tired of digging. I’m tired of trying to answer the question “What do you want?” because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t remember what’s in that box in the dirt. I was always too scared to really look at it.

How do you ever know, really?  Maybe there’s nothing in it. If I learned anything from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and Dr. Seuss, the point is the journey, not the destination.

And maybe the journey doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows.

And maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped digging.

 

 

Huh.

That’s deep shit.

(See what I did there?… Deep? … Like, ‘Dig Deep’?…No? MMk.)