Beauty in Imperfection

There is no such thing as perfect, but we live in a culture that claims that it exists. Currently, this is the second time I’ve tried to write this post. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it just “magically” dissapeared for no reason. So eff off inter-webs, I’m going to write my Goddamn piece whether you like it or not. I’m going to tell people, everyone, that they don’t have to be perfect to be good people, or be attractive. I’m going to let women know that they don’t have to look sixteen forever to be beautiful. I’m going to tell men that that they don’t have to look like a juiced up Ken doll to look attractive. People need to know that they can be beautiful without an insane amount of plastic surgery. So your shitty industry can kiss our cute asses. Asses that haven’t been injected with chemical-laden junk produced in your sterile lab. ANYWAY.

Beauty is found in imperfection. The only thing we can rely on is change, and move with it instead of fighting against it. It’s a far cry from 17, and sometimes I tear up going through photos, but we need to stay out of our “it’s just gone” mentality. You are not gone. You are still here. You are a little different, but you’re here.

My journey with health began when I was about 15. My mom put us on a no-sugar diet for a plethora of health reasons (all legit, really, just super hard to follow!) and went through the kitchen one day and threw out ALL products that had sugar in them. I’m talking salad dressing, ketchup, macaroni sauce…you name it. If it had sugar in it, in the bin it went.

For a while it was fine. We had tofu for dinner, fine. The new soy milk kind of tasted oatmeal-ish, which I liked, fine. But the sugar thing? I didn’t realize how bad I was addicted until I was rummaging through the cabinet one night and found a small jar of jelly my mom had overlooked. I ate the whole damn thing with a spoon. A SPOON. Not even thinking to make a piece of damn toast. YOU TELL ME that’s healthy and in balance.

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was going through sugar withdrawal. After the sugar high, the sugar crash, and the two pimples that showed up on my nose the very next day, I could finally admit that my body craved sugar much more than it actually should. I would binge on pop-tarts and penny candy when I could sneak them, and ignore everything they gave me to deal with. I knew better. I tried to balance our new juicing habit with healthier chocolate and home-made desserts, which I tried to convince myself were better for you. Not true…

These candies and desserts and little treats that are shoved in our faces every day are sabotaging even the best health efforts. It is incredibly hard to say no to something tempting that’s pushed in your face everywhere you go fifty times a day. How is that even reasonable? You can’t even go to get construction materials without being tempted for candy, snackies, and sugar laden energy drinks.

It is everywhere and it’s killing us slowly. It’s killing your metabolism and your drive. It’s killing your long-streak of healthy eating. It’s killing your resistance to unhealthy food choices. It’s killing your ability to say no. It wears on you. You know what is waiting for you wherever you are. In short, you can totally have a healthy diet and achieve many fitness/health goals VERY easily! The answer? Don’t leave your house! EVAR.

Of course, this is totally unreasonable and not suggestible by a long shot! I can’t not leave the house for more than one day, and I don’t think a lot of people can function like that either.

But we can do our best. We can fight our personal best. We can achieve something reasonable that is beyond our sixteen year old self. Before true puberty hit. Before we had children. Before we had a real-live job, or college, or started a business, or decided to support spouses and family members through huge undertakings. My body has rollercoastered beyond belief, and I’m finally (long time coming!) close to being happy with what I’ve achieved over the years.

True, starting out at 21 I clocked in at a slim 104. After getting married and going on birth control pills, I gained weight to 115. No big deal, until our first pregnancy saw me gain about 60 pounds. I lost almost all of it only to go through 2 miscarriages and a pregnancy. After having baby #2, I got down to 113 by the time he was 1. Add in a hellacious deployments and working my own business and helping with construction and no time for the gym , my weight fluctuated back up to 127. I’m not kidding when I say that two shitty men asked my husband if I was pregnant, as IF they are fucking perfect. A nervous breakdown led to me dropping 16 pounds in one month, and my brother bringing over pizza and telling me he wasn’t leaving until I ate at least two slices. Cue in a revamp of my life, a new gym membership, and new dieting techniques. I’m not where I want to be but damn, I’m not stuck in my old rut. I’m on my way. I’m healthy, I have energy, I can keep up with my kids, and I know I’m healthy on the INSIDE, which is the most important.

You have a little to pinch? Stop stressing or your body will hold onto it. This didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t come off overnight. You have thin lips? Well, you have awesome hair, and that’s way better! You have freckles? They are freaking adorable, please stop bleaching them! We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like, but we tend to magnify them to a proportion that isn’t realistic. Our imperfections make us what we are, who we are. If I didn’t have this extra few pounds with stretch marks, my kids wouldn’t be here. If I didn’t have unkempt hair and undone fingernails, I wouldn’t have as many projects done.

You can pop pills. You can drink energy drinks all damn day. You can live on fitness shakes and dream about real food to eat. You can eat a meal replacement bar when you could have an organic chocolate bar that will fulfill you instead. You can be as skinny as a rail, and look good on the outside. But on the inside–what do you have? You have an unhealthy body and a frazzled mind. You have a body that has no muscle, no sustainability, and no endurance. What is it worth to you?

Do not ever sell yourself short on the unstable and unrealistic platform of perfection, you have loved, helped, and changed so much more than you know.

val3

Cast Your Care

Lost in everything and nothing, this time blends together like a Delaware gradient sunset and I’m left turning the calendar pages and wondering how we got here so quickly. How disappointing to live to impress others, when the ones you really want to impress have loved you all along.
This afternoon I was talking with two of my girlfriends…we were discussing the role of makeup in our lives, and their daughter’s lives. Their daughters are both only 11, and seem to be wise beyond their years (homeschool, thanks…) and eager and ready to grow up and look more feminine like their own moms. But why? What does wearing makeup actually DO for us? Does it serve us? Or are we trying to impress people we don’t even know, or trying to impress people we don’t even like? It’s a scary thought, especially in today’s haphazard, unpredictable world. I related it back to myself, hoping to help these girls see that proving your worth is difficult as well as confusing, and in the end, not worth it to “need ” to prove yourself.
I started thinking about it one day after I was applying a full-face of makeup. I’m talking under-eye concealer, foundation, eyeliner, shadows, the works. As in, all of it. War paint. A mask. Is this usual for me? Um, no. You’d actually be hard-pressed to find me in anything more than liquid eyeliner and two swipes of mascara. I don’t like wearing makeup. I prefer myself with a tan, oil on my eyes and lips and…that’s it. Seriously.
I know, I’m Italian and I’m supposed to look like I’m going to the opera (or IN the opera) at all times, but I’m not. Don’t even get me started on the chemicals that are lurking into all the things that you’re slathering on your face…that is a whole ‘nother story. Ugh, anyway.
I was trying to illustrate a point where there was an event we were going to, and I put on my “war paint” and spent quite a bit of time plastering my face with skin-tinted mastic, trying to hide every blemish, trying to make myself look the part.
I thought to myself–what if I just showed up looking like I do every other day of the week? I could do that but then I tried to rationalize the makeup frenzy of:
* I never see these people so I have to look good
* I need to make a good impression on the people I haven’t met yet
* I need to look good so that it will reflect that my husband has a pretty wife
* I want to distract him from looking at other cute girls (duh)
* I want to (try) to be the most put-together-looking girl there (false)
* I want my husband to show me off because I’m so GD cute
* I want to feel “ready” and not intimidated by anyone (read: left alone)

What if I left this alone for a day. Or even a month. What if I showed up to any event, big or small, family or professional, with just my real-live face? No hiding, no wishing, just real authentic me, with a new outlook on how I’m to be perceived. Not proving. Not showing off, not giving you a visual resume.
For someone that has been wearing makeup alllll her life, and has enjoyed the ease of genetically applicable liquid eyeliner, this might be challenging.
I’m not saying that anyone shouldn’t wear makeup, especially if it’s her fun thing, or if she loves doing it, especially if it’s something they’re talented at. I know quite a few girls (and dudes!) who have made a lucrative career from applying makeup. That’s not what I’m getting at here.
I’m having my own issue with authenticity. If I don’t wear this every day…why should I on certain occasions? Is this another all-or-nothing deal? Is it real and authentic if I wear makeup say…seven days out of an entire year? Or am I fooling myself? What exactly am I trying to prove? Why can’t I just present myself the way I am every day of the year? What am I afraid of? What more can I bring to the table that people will like other than blemish free skin with smoky eyes? It’s just not me.
It’s not my fun thing, my hobby, or even a remote talent that I’m good at. I have to admit, my smoky eyes make me look tired, and I can’t apply blush to save my life. Contouring? No thanks dude…I cannot handle all the blending. Bronzer? My lucky Guida skin can sit in the sun for one hour and get a bronze. I cannot, however, live without chapstick.
I’ve made more steps to live more minimally and authentically. I’ve given away almost all my makeup to my girlfriends simply because it wasn’t being used. You know that stuff has a shelf life. It was also taking up precious space in my bathroom that I need for my 10 bottles of Infusium 23. I want to be done, but I know this process won’t happen overnight. I only want to prove myself to me, but that’s not an easy thing to own. I want to stop wasting my time.
If you have to try hard to prove your worth and show someone what you offer, you don’t need them in your life. What do you bring to the table? You ARE the table. You are a human, with life, with value, in and of itself. Otherwise, God wouldn’t have put you here.

cropped-img_9459-wm

Experiencing Confidence

It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not something that’s here to stay. Confidence. Getting Secure in yourself.

We spend over half our life just trying to figure out “who” we are. At the young age of 18, we’re expected to know enough about ourselves to actually choose an education path for a career. Most of us don’t even know what our true hobbies are, what our likes and dislikes are, and the most important question of “What makes you tick?”

Finding out what makes you tick requires a lot of trial and error. The only way to know if you truly love something or finding a passion is to try it. Finding something that didn’t make you tick is seen as a failure, when it should be seen simply as a “check-off” on the list of things to try and move on from.

How will you know if you never try? How can you equate failing and moving on if you tried? We’re so quick to say “fail” instead of just saying “it wasn’t what I expected, so I moved on”. How many situations can you say this about? How many people do you know that could benefit from this different frame of mind–including yourself? Often we turn out to be our own worst critics.

It’s a monumental task that sets a lot of us up for failure and disappointment. Many of us change majors and jobs or careers several times well into our 30s, and only now are people realizing that this is perfectly fine, and even something desirable.

Everyone has their own career story to tell. I know people that graduated with their BA only to go work at UPS because of the awesome benefits and great paycheck. I know people who graduated with a BA they didn’t even want just to apply for their commission. I know women who got their Master’s and walked away from their job to stay home with their kids. I know moms that returned to school to go after a better job to support their families.  Everyone’s story is vastly different from others, but there is one common thread–and that is that there is no “right” way to do this.

A short ten years ago, right at the start of the changing college scene, everyone was in such a hurry to graduate to get the best job possible. We were motivated, energetic, and worked like mad people. We quickly learned that the job market wasn’t what was promised. We would have a much harder time finding a job, let alone one we were passionate about, let alone with all the daydream aspirations of paid benefits, full pension, ect. We were basically on our own.

For some of us, this was a huge blow to our egos. We had strong, clear goals, and didn’t want anything to stand in that way. Our ego. Our confidence. Our young ages. Our educations that we wore like badges of honor. To look back and tell my 20 year old self that this isn’t all bad, that things will work out, and that you’d be so incredibly surprised, and that new things will always come your way.

You are so much more than your job, your career. You are a friend to your co-workers. You’re the person who others look forward to talking to you in the break room. You are a person, not a machine.

We try new hobbies, and make new friends. We lose interest, or have a falling out. No one ever sees it coming. No one ever sets out to make a new friend and keep in mind that they could end in a blowout and not speak anymore. People have an inherent good, and naturally seek out other like-minded people to share their time with. Friendships and relationships can be messy, we are flawed humans that have feelings that are delicate, no matter how tough of a facade you can build. Even though you may have been hurt in the past, your heart keeps you pushing forward and trying, because you know deep down you are capable of being a wonderful friend and are worthy of friendship in return.

It may have taken you a long time to get to where you are. You may have had to start over multiple times. Obstacles like job loss or malicious people could have stood in your way, but you persevered. Each small win adds another facet to your personality, and bolsters your confidence.

In my early 20s I was massively confident, remember being joyful and energetic, and through life’s changes and punches, flowing along with the tides of pregnancies, weight gain, weight loss, depression, anxiety, relief, success, achieving independence, job changes, career changes, income loss and gain, seemingly innumerable events that shaped my personality to who I am right now. I only say “right now” because I have no idea what the future holds. The only thing I can be certain of is that this will change many times over throughout the course of my life. I’ll have highs and lows, and now I can realize that confidence isn’t something that you have–it’s something that you experience.

Confidence ebbs and flows with time, with your life lessons, your situations and surroundings, and the experiences you travel through.

Baby steps. You will get there.

white-frames-2