Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

Every morning I crawl out of bed and stumble stagger my way through my bedroom, trying not to trip on a cat, into the bathroom where I fumble for the lights. I stand there on unsteady legs a moment while I squint bleary eyed into the suddenly bright light that surrounds me. The world slowly comes into focus as my eyes adjust to both being awake and all the blasted light once again. As my vision clears my eyes lock onto the mirror and my own reflection is the first thing that greets me causing me to frown.

I would love to say that my negative reaction to my own visage in the mornings is due to the fact that I am just being cranky about being awake. I would love to say that it is caused by the way my curls have matted down to one side of my head while the other side is standing up at strange angles making me look a little like Yahoo Serious. I would like to say that it is the pillow lines that are still set into my cheeks that cause me to frown.

I know that none of that is true.

I know that those excuses are just that; excuses. I know this because I have a similar reaction pretty much any time I look in the mirror. I know that typically the best I get out of an encounter with a mirror is the thought of 'Close enough', 'This will have to do', or 'As good as it is going to get'.

Most of the time I stand in front of a mirror it turns into a time for me to catalog my flaws. There is the obligatory gut check where I suck in my gut as much as humanly possible, turn sideways, and then with a breath let my gut back out so that I can lament how fat I am. There is the fingers brushing through my hair trying to adjust it so that it looks somewhat flattering and less like the mess it is. There is the squinting at my face where I notice every bump, blemish, line, and the increasingly dark and puffy circles that live under my eyes.

Now don't get me wrong, sometimes I look in the mirror and am satisfied with what I see. Some days I am having good self esteem, and good hair, and put a lot of effort into my makeup and outfit, and I think 'Damn I am fabulous'. Some days that happens, just not most days.

I know that I am being stupid. I am being completely ridiculous when I look in the mirror and judge myself as harshly as I do. I know that I can step away from the mirror and feel good about myself and who I am and how I look. When I can't see me I can have confidence which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The thing is that we are always our own worst critics. Every single person on this planet suffers from this problem. If you show me someone that looks at themselves in the mirror every day and sees nothing but perfection I am going to call bullshit. They are lying to you or taking so many mood altering drugs that they are chemically blocked from thinking negative thoughts.

Time and time again I hear my friends say that if anyone treated them the way they treat themselves they would beat them up. Most of us would not stand for someone constantly telling us that we are fat and ugly and imperfect. Most of us would tell that sort of person to take a hike. Most of us would call that sort of relationship an abusive one that we should get out of.

Of course we can't break up with ourselves. We can't end a relationship with the person in the mirror without suffering some sort of psychotic break. We have to learn to accept ourselves, flaws and all, and learn to love what we see.

I am not certain this is a task that we are truly capable of once we are adults. All the self hate and loathing and judgement is so ingrained in us that it seems like an impossible cycle to break. How do you love yourself when all you have ever been taught is hate?

At faire, as costumer for the cast, I inherited a lab called Smoke and Mirrors. The purpose of the lab is actually to share tips and tricks with the other women on cast about how to make it through the hot sweaty day of faire and look picture perfect the entire time. It is a lot of talk about hair product, makeup, and chafing prevention.

The surface maintenance is not the only thing the lab covers. The lab goes deeper than that with one simple exercise which always proves to me that women don't love themselves or see themselves clearly. I do not know who started this exercise, but it is truly a thing of beauty.

We all stand in a circle facing in. One person is picked to begin and they turn to the person on their right and tell that person one thing that they find physically attractive about them. You can tell them anything you like about them as long as it is a physical aspect of the person and is positive. The person receiving the compliment has the harder task of simply saying 'Thank you'; no more, no less.

Taking a compliment and just saying thank you is so incredibly hard. Our instinct is to deny what we are being told. Our instinct is to make excuses for what they say. You are told you have perfect skin? You want to tell the person that it is actually really oily, or that it is just the makeup you use. You are told that you have amazing hair? You want to tell them how it takes hours and tons of product to look like that, or point out that it is frizzy and you have terrible split ends.

Simply, we do not want to accept that other people find us attractive without any questions asked. To simply say thank you without making comment or excuse makes us accept that at least someone appreciates us for the way we look.

The things that are said always amaze me. You sit and watch each person and think to yourself 'well what would I say to her?' You think that they have the most amazing eyes in the world and are certain that is what this person will say, but are shocked to find out that they are admiring her lovely high cheekbones. Then you look and think, 'Yea her cheekbones are sort of amazing'.

Even more amazing though is to see the reactions of the women in the group. Women that I think are stunning with their sleek hair, dusky exotic skin, wide sparkling eyes, gentle warming smiles, graceful swan like necks, adorable button noses, and cheek bones of the Gods, are rattled to the bones by these revelations from their peers. Women who I would be certain have to be happy with themselves because they are so beautiful burst into tears because they are just as insecure as I am and are struggling to believe these things to be truths.

There is always a lot of hugging and crying at the end of this exercise, but I like to think we all come out of it a little stronger. I also love that months later, when I am trying to brush off a compliment, that my girls will fix me with a stern stare and parrot my words from the exercise; "What do we say?", "Thank you." I reply sheepishly knowing they are right.

Our society is overly focused on physical beauty. We are fixated on what people look like and trying to fit everyone into set ideals of what beauty is. In doing so we have irrevocably damaged ourselves to the point where no one thinks they are beautiful. Even women that are considered the most beautiful women on the planet are airbrushed in photographs to make them more perfect. We are always striving to meet an image in our minds that isn't real.

We should not be teaching our children that beauty is what is on the cover of the magazine. We should be teaching our children, and ourselves, that beauty is what we see in the mirror every single morning. We should be teaching ourselves that there is no 'ideal' beauty or proper mold. We are not little plastic figures coming out of a factory in Taiwan. We are humans and we are all so vastly different which is precisely what makes us so amazing and beautiful.

It is our differences and our flaws that make us desirable and attractive. When we all start looking like carbon copies we become ordinary and boring. In nature it is the brightest feathers that attract attention, it is the flower that is just a little different than the others that draws the eye. We shouldn't want to blend in, we should want to stand out.

So when I look in the mirror in the mornings, or any other time, I should not frown and be unhappy with what I see. Yes I am fat. Yes my hair does not behave in any way shape or form. Yes I have circles under my eyes from not sleeping enough.


I have long thick lashes that frame my slightly exotic shaped eyes that are a strange color that shifts with my mood from the brightest of greens, to the softest of greys, to the deepest of blues.
I have the most adorable little button nose.
I have perfect bow shaped lips and a warm inviting smile that reaches all the way to the corners of my eyes and lights up the room.
I have insane curls that induce jealousy and a widows peak that gives me a dramatic and classic look.
I have skin that needs little to no assistance from make up to look stunning.

I am beautiful and unique.

I know it is not what is on the outside that truly matters, but I know that what is on the outside matters still. I know that I am beautiful even if I don't always like what I see in the mirror. I know that I am seeing myself through tainted lenses and that when my friends look at me they see the truth. I know that they are the mirrors that I should be looking at for the truth.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

I am.
You are.
We all are.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Future!

I was sitting on the couch last night watching TV with the husbeast before bed when a commercial came on that caught my attention. I am not one to typically pay attention to commercials. I am the type who will fast forward through them on the DVR and get up and get some water while watching live TV. This commercial though managed to catch my attention.

Now one would think that the ad would have to be something spectacular. Perhaps it was something clever and cute like the little kid in a Darth Vader costume trying to use the force and failing until his dad uses the auto start feature on the car. Or maybe it was something amusing like the Mayhem commercials from All State. Or perhaps it was just for a product I actually care about.

You would be wrong if you guessed it was any of those things.

Actually the commercial itself was unremarkable. It was a car commercial and I can't even tell you what brand car it was for. I can tell you absolutely nothing about what cars they were showing or what they said were special about them. I vaguely think it might have been the one where the guy is trying to talk about the car without naming competitors and the text above the car is doing it for him (very rudely) causing him to throw a fit and walk away. Or maybe it was a completely different ad, I have no idea.

What caught my attention was actually the voice over at the end of the commercial where they talk way too fast about APR and exclusions and 'well qualified leasies' whatever the hell those are. It was in that rambling mumbo jumbo that no one ever pays attention to or can understand, whether from speed or use of legal/car jargon, that I was caught.

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

I looked up from my laptop to the TV slightly slack jawed as that sentence echoed in my head. Let me say it again for you:

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

Gasoline models.

It shouldn't have struck me as so very odd, but it is. It suddenly occurred to me, even though I was already perfectly aware of this, that we live in a world where you can buy a car that is not solely reliant on gasoline to operate.

This is the sort of thing that still sounds a little absurd to me. I know the technology is not really new or anything, but the idea that it is being used is still a little fresh. I mean even until very recently having an electric car was not a normal thing. Now these commercials are talking about it like it has always been an option.

After a moment of being dumbfounded by this nugget of knowledge I turned to the husbeast who was diligently doing something on spreadsheets in space...I mean Eve Online.

Me: Did you just hear that?

Him: Hear what?

Me: They said 'gasoline models'.

Him: (A little confused) ...yea...

Me: Like as in gasoline models because there is totally another energy option readily available for your car.

Him: (Still looking confused) Well yea.

Me: We live in the fucking future!

He laughed at me, but in the end nodded in agreement.

This is the future!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Radio Silence

These past few months things have been very quiet on my end and I honestly feel very bad about it. While I have never been the best at keeping a set schedule here, I have always tried to get at least one post in a week if not my preferred two to three posts. Lately I have simply failed in this and left you, my minions, in silence.

It is not that I have become bored with this blog, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is I still love this blog and blogging in general. I want to write things and post them, I just haven't been doing it lately.

I have been telling myself that it was a matter of not having the time, but I know that is completely not true. I have plenty of time to write if I would just make myself do it. Of course normally I get my blogging ideas while I am sleeping, driving, eating, or pretty much anywhere I can not write, so that doesn't help matters.

The real reason I have not been writing is that I have found it increasingly difficult to remain positive of late. When I started this blog I resolved to keep my posts positive. I could get passionate or even angry on a topic, but I wanted to keep things in a positive light. I wanted to highlight as best I could the good things because we all seriously have enough negative in our worlds already.

When everything with my job got really bad last summer and continued through the fall I found it close to impossible not to say ugly and hateful things in this forum. I wanted to whine and bemoan my situation and share my general misery with all of you. Only I didn't.

Those nine months sucked so bad, but I didn't throw it out for all of you to wade through. I kept my chin up and put on a good face for everyone here. I used this platform as a distraction from the hellish job environment I was living in.

It was exhausting. Staying outwardly positive when you are inwardly miserable takes a lot more energy than you would expect. By the time the new year rolled around and my job was fixed I felt that I had used up all of my reserve positivity.

After my job righted itself I should have been happier and more able to keep the positive posts flowing, but of course nothing ever goes that smoothly. As my life at work came back to normal, my life everywhere else began to upend. No such thing as smooth sailing for me.

Faire was packed full of pointless stupid drama this year. People showed their worst side and purposefully, and seeming perpetually, hurt the people I love. Suddenly all of my energy was being focused on fending off the slander while remaining professional.

Once again I wanted to rant and spew vitriol all over the internet, but I knew that was not only not what I really wanted, I knew it was completely unprofessional. So I remained silent. All of my positivity reserves that were left were being put to good use in my day to day life.

Now I once again find myself in a place where the dust is settling and I seem to be on even ground again. I admit that part of me is just waiting for the next great upheaval. I want to think that this will be a nice deserved calm, but I am always cautious about what is next to come.

I am hoping that this will be the end of the quiet times. I have so much I want to write about and share with all of you, I just need to find the energy and resolve to do it. I know it is in there somewhere.

So thank you all for sticking with me this long and hopefully for some time to come.