Unpopular opinion of the year, but I had generally not been a big proponent of the Dove campaigns for beauty. I found it quite hypocritical that a company making beauty products for women tried to tell women through real beauty campaigns they didn’t need beauty products…
Needless to say, I did not take them very seriously. At least until today.
Dove’s newest campaign actually changed my view on entire internet sensation that I’m guilty of and have still judged endlessly: the ever trending “selfie”. The definition of a selfie according to the Oxford dictionary:
A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
The selfie was just growing in popularity during my late middle and early high school days. My MySpace was filled with photos of friends taking selfies. You would take them from above you to make your face seem skinnier, or lean down to highlight your cheekbones, or use too bright of a flash or sunny lighting to shade any acne or blemishes on your face. It’s an art, really.
And this art has only grown in popularity since the days of MySpace. I have younger kids from my tutoring days that post selfie after selfie on their Instagram and Facebook pages. Who am I kidding? I have posted more than a handful on social media as well. In the last few years, I’ve found myself teasing people who post them too often, or wondering why my generation has become so vain. Heck, the media has been perpetuating these stereotypes calling the millennial generation narcissistic, self-absorbed, and lazy.
Dove’s new real beauty campaign says nope to all that. Selfies are a way for all of us – not just the celebrities, the models, and the media decision makers – to decide what defines beauty. Instead of only the people in the magazines and on TV posting photos of themselves, we can all take photos. Having the power to put our own pictures on social media allows us to redefine the cookie cutter version of what has defined “beauty” for years. No longer do teenagers and women have to strive to look like the ideal woman: tall, thin, either extremely blonde or deep brunette, big eyes, big lips, small nose, no blemishes, etc, etc, etc. We can instead strive to look like ourselves, highlighting the parts about ourselves we like most.
Take a few minutes to watch the video. It may seem silly to adults older than millenials, but it’s worth it to remember that when you see a selfie, it’s a girl recognizing her own beauty and having enough self-confidence to share it with the world. Having a consistently positive view of one’s own appearance is one of the healthiest habits we can all have.
And in honor of the selfie, here’s one of me writing this very post.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli
What do you think of Dove’s newest real beauty campaign?
And it may have been one of the bravest decisions I’ve ever made.
I have never been more out of my comfort zone then on the day I walked into the Fairbanks Crossfit Box (the gyms are called boxes, I still don’t understand) and decided to pay the crazy monthly fee for a gym I had no idea if I’d even like or get the hang of. But I was worried if I tried a class and felt uncomfortable, I wouldn’t follow through. I paid first, and on a bitter cold Wednesday after work, I went to my first beginner’s on ramp course.
Fitness is such a huge part of my life, and awesomely enough, my husband’s life too. Although I’d love to be one of those adorable couples that runs and lifts together, my husband does PT at 6am and occasionally hits the gym on his lunch break, too. The last thing he wants to do is workout a third time with me after he’s done with work. I, on the other hand, am not in the military so PT in the morning is out. Additionally it’s against my beliefs to wake up at 5am to run or lift anything. Instead we keep working out as an independent priority. Mostly.
I had joined Planet Fitness after arriving in Fairbanks but I was growing bored, and the cold was making me want to go home and cuddle with my husband instead of work out. For the weeks leading up to my first day of Crossfit I was dreading the drive to the gym as I tried to create new workouts each day in my head. Working out regularly when I had no warm weather or big event to prepare for is tough stuff. I was losing motivation fast, which is what led to me standing awkwardly in a gym made from a giant warehouse filled with men and women throwing weights over their heads and doing pull ups and burpees as record speeds as I watched in awe. I was relieved to find by the time my first class started, I was in great company with only two people in my class of ten or so with prior lifting experience. The rest of us had never tried lifting weights and had spent most of our days working out in regular gyms, running, or not at all.
In case you’ve been living under a rock and have not noticed this exercise cult sweeping the country. Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program focused on improving strength, cardio, and flexibility (according to Wikipedia and my new coaches). The workouts of the day target your entire body and have you breathing hard from start to finish. They’re quicker and take less time than at the gym because you are working so much harder, and I have learned after just three weeks: it’s addicting. Someone else is planning my daily workouts and the strength program, all of which change daily, and it has me beyond curious on my way to the gym what’s on today’s schedule. It’s hard as hell, but the environment is so encouraging. The coaches know my name. My fellow crossfitters are so determined to crush old records and better themselves, I can’t help but want to do the same.
Today for example was:
3x Kettle Bell Snatches (on each side)
Every minute on the minute for 15 minutes and if you couldn’t finish the workout within the minute, your penalty was 250meters rowing x the number of times you weren’t able to compete. Let me tell you, my heart was pounding with excitement when the timer started and everyone launched into the workout. By the end of the workout, my arms and legs were pounding with muscle aches.
Besides the physical challenge, Crossfit is also the first “thing” I’ve really joined since moving to Fairbanks. I don’t have too many friends here besides co-workers and the spouses of my husband’s co-workers, so it’s been both intimidating and fun to meet new people from the Fairbanks area who are as interested in fitness and health as I am.
My blog won’t be turning into a cross fit crazed, paleo loving girl. I couldn’t permanently give up pizza/pasta/bread even if someone was paying me. I mean, have you tasted pasta?
It is a ton of fun, a great work out, and I get to eat SO much food so I am going to recommend that anyone bored with their current fitness life or looking for a fun challenge give it a try! And no ladies, you won’t turn into some insanely buff body builder. Instead, you’ll be able to survive a zombie apocalypse and/or potentially even win the Hunger Games.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
– Jim Rohn
The winter blues are oh so real, and they have never been more real than this year.
The past three years I have spent the holidays with my husband (then boyfriend), and when he left there was always a low that followed for a couple of weeks but it was soon forgotten when college started back up again mid-January. There was so much to do again, working at least one job and attending classes full-time, that the winter blues disappeared rather quickly. And in Minnesota, although we can get nasty bitter cold, it usually follows by blocks of 20’s and 30’s that are sunny and pleasant and make for perfect winter activity weather.
Fairbanks is not quite as forgiving.
The darkness that plagued the holidays (thankfully we missed the worst of it due to our Alabama trip) still lingers, and the temperatures hit -30’s and ’40’s for about as long of blocks as the positive temps did in Minnesota. There’s also no college to distract me this year. Just the same 8-4 job day in and day out – which I’ll add I do still thoroughly enjoy but January is our least busy month because basically no one wants to leave their house (understandably so).
People warned me it would be. But I love my husband and he is the absolute light on the tough days. I don’t find myself blue every day. No on the days we’re above zero and I can see the sun, I can usually conquer any hurdle I face that day. It’s the bitter cold, cloudy days that really do me in. Yesterday was one of those days.
What bothers me most about the blue days is the fact that the next day, when I can see clear and not into a cloud of misery, I am boggled why I could ever be sad or upset. Today is one of the good days. Oh am I thankful for today. I just wish, so dearly, that this fantastic attitude I have today could somehow be found on the winter days that drag on. On the days that clients are irritable, and the weather doesn’t go my way, and my workout is terrible, and I cheat on eating healthy, and the sole dryer in our apartment complex is tied up for hours I wish I could shake my sub conscious and say,
“YOU ARE ALIVE. You are breathing, and you are living. And not only that but you are LOVED. You are so, so loved by not only the greatest husband you could ever ask for but an amazing family. TWO in fact since you married your husband . A best friend that listens to your every struggle and a multitude of friends who would be there for you if you ever needed it. You have a roof over your head, money in the bank, so many materialistic things you probably don’t need but you have been able to have through your own hard work. You are talented, pretty, and no you will not get fat because of one skipped workout and some chocolate ice cream. It’s okay. Relax. Dust yourself off. Kiss your husband. Stop crying. Today was hard, but life is so good.”
Man, oh man. Where is that voice on days like yesterday?
We’re allowed to have bad days. Every, single one of us. We don’t have to feel guilt or shame about feeling frustrated or sad. We’re only human. I just wish before the day was through, I could take a moment of reflection. I wish I before I could fall asleep I would dwell on all that I have, instead of all that went/is going wrong.
I think I need to develop a routine for the winter blue days that have been eating away at me more often than I like. A promise to not take it out on myself or my husband, and to accept that some days are simply hard. But there’s more to be thankful for. The day isn’t “ruined” because it’s going poorly. No, actually it could be saved by a laugh, in an indulgence in a favorite treat or activity, a quick workout before bed, a long bath with a good book.
I resolved for 2014 to become more optimistic, but maybe instead of trying to be super optimistic every day, I can just make a promise to try and turn around any bad days with reflection, gratitude, and something that makes me happy. Every day is worth making good. And the key in each day is to remember I make it. Not the weather, or the people around me. Me. I make the day good or bad.
I deserve to try and make every blue day, bright and beautiful.
Maybe I can resolve to refer to this blog post every day I feel blue.
So what’s making me feel full, loved, and thankful this week?
Aghhhh. Just looking at all five of these photos has me grinning. Self: refer to this blog post as needed.
“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
Then I don’t know what is.”
– Chad Sugg
I love reading. Which makes sense considering I love writing. They sort of go hand in hand. And by sort of, I mean they do. I haven’t met a writer who didn’t love to read. If you love words, you’ll love them no matter how you utilize them.
One of my simpler New Year’s Resolutions was to read a book a month this year. Finish 12 books in 2014. In high school or middle school, that would have been a joke of a resolution. I could devour a book in just a day or two, and could easily finish two in a week if I was in a reading mood. I don’t even count the ones I had to read for class (many of which later became favorites). I read as often as I could until I got to college.
When I started college I hit a brick wall.
A brick wall filled with so much college reading material that reading for enjoyment was not joyful. On summer vacations and winter breaks, I had no desire to pick up a book. I did finish a few despite the homework. The Hunger Games in particular I remember reading on top of text books. But for the most part reading for fun was gone…
Then I did all that marriage/moving/career stuff, and it wasn’t until a few months ago on a date to Barnes and Noble that I found myself picking reading back up again. I bought the first in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the first book to the Game of Thrones series, and a healthy crockpot cookbook. The first two books I finished in a matter of days, eagerly purchasing the 2nd and 3rd novels in the Veronica Roth trilogy and finding myself contemplating my existence on earth after finishing Never Let Me Go. The Game of Thrones book was a little harder to get into, but you get the idea.
I finally have free time, so finishing a book a month should be no problem at all. I’m going to be honest about this too. I won’t even count the the entire Harry Potter series I’m rereading for the umpteenth time.
Even if you’re not into resolutions, I challenge you to read 12 books this year too. Even if you don’t like reading, or say you don’t have the time (turn off Netflix) I’m challenging you to read just 12 books. Why? I think George R. R. Martin puts it best,
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Here’s 12 recommendations that come with a signed seal of approval from me:
1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
3. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
4. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
5. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
8. Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
11. The Giver by Lois Lowry
12. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
(I wanted to add so many more to this list, and if you have a certain genre you like – I can suggest a multitude of books within that genre!)
And here is a list of 12 I want to read this year:
1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
3. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
4. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
5. MWF seeks BFF by Rachel Bertsche
6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
8. Watership Down by Richard Adams
9. A Little Princes by Frances Hodgson Burnett
10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
11. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
12. How To Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The first five on my list I actually already purchased from Alibris. If you’ve never used that website for book purchases, you are missing out! They sell books that national retailers weren’t able to sell due to bent or discolored pages, and/or already used books. I’ve never received a book from them I wasn’t able to read due to damage and the joy of reading comes at prices as low as $0.99.
What’s on your reading list in 2014?
I don’t share my writing with people I know in real life. I just don’t. Writing is my art. It’s a release of emotions and thoughts scattered unto a page that occasionally reads like three year old’s artwork and sometimes like I could be the next Pablo Picasso or Diego Velázquez. On Saturday, I took a leap and decided to share my my response to the “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” on Facebook. Mostly I felt like passing out when I clicked on the dreaded “post” button. But within about fifteen minutes, I was receiving feedback and my blog was booming.
By the end of the day I had received 248 views and 138 visitors. I do not have a viral blog. It’s me and a few loyal readers whose websites I also read loyally and comment about as often as they do. 248 views is a big deal for me. When I called my mom in excitement, she wasn’t the least bit surprised. “I’ve been reading your writing for years. I’ve always known you’re a fantastic writer.”
This post is not about to be me patting myself on the back over and over.
It’s a THANK YOU, to my family, friends, acquaintances, relatives, and anyone else who took the time to read my rather long response on a topic I feel strongly about. I have never felt so vulnerable, sharing a link to my blog with so many people who know me in real life. They know who I am in person, but knowing me through my writing is so very different. I use words as an expression for everything. The person I am when you meet me can be much different than the girl you can discover through my blogs, essays throughout high school and college, and short stories I’ve written for as long as I can remember.
And when I say as long as I can remember, I mean one of my earliest memories is me asking my mom what I should write about and her replying, “Write about what you know.” I have three ring binders filled with fantasy adventures and plot lines I had created. I was a strange child. I’m sure my sisters can testify. I used to mow the lawn, practice dribbling my basketball, and walk our dogs with stories and scenarios buzzing in my mind, sometimes mentioning them aloud just to hear how they sounded.
Ironically enough, most of the stories in my head stopped once I began to truly live my own. Getting my license, exploring more of the world on trips with friends, taking part in the adult conversations about current events and politics, falling in love, starting college, moving 3,000 miles away from home. I don’t really need to write the perfect story anymore. I’m living it. But the thoughts, ideas, and emotions are all still there and begging to be written down.
Hence, this blog. It’s a compilation of my life really. It’s my own little story told through opinions and adventures and the occasional picture. So thank you for taking a peek inside and considering what I have to say.
Outside of excitement over my first successful blog post, my husband and I had an amazing Sunday skiing. He rented skis for the first time ever and of course, he was as good as me by the end of the day. I swear this guy isn’t bad at anything. I, on the other hand, attempted snowboarding last March and was so frustrated after an hour I begged the rental folks to let me switch to skis for no charge. They pitied me. Thankfully.
Here are a few shots from our day:
“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
I joined the band wagon and decided to write a response to “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”
I’m going to start by saying I could see myself getting along with the author if I ever met her. Her enthusiasm for traveling, optimism for life, and the occasionally sarcastic voice found in her writing are all things I can relate to. But I wish that on her quest to empower single women and let them know they don’t have to feel discouraged about not being married, she wouldn’t insult all young, married twenty-somethings.
There is a serious issue in society when so many young, single women feel that something must be wrong with them if they aren’t in a serious relationship or married by 23. I know for a fact had I remained single through college and a few years after, I would have received plaguing questions from my family about when I was going to settle down. Our family believes in marriage. Not as an institution, but as a commitment to a best friend for the rest of your life. I have a very close, loving family with marriages that have lasted lifetimes. Literally. My grandparents – both sets – have (had before my grandpa passed) been married their entire lives. My parents just celebrated 32 years. Both of my sisters are happily married. And oh…I am too. At 22 years old.
I did not intend to be married young. I actually intended to have many boyfriends, major in something that probably would have never gotten me a job, and travel the entire world. I ended up having one boyfriend through college, picked a major where I got a job within 6 weeks of my graduation date, and I’m now living in Alaska – somewhere I had never imagined in a million years I would visit and explore – and despite my incessant whining about the cold, is the most beautiful place on earth. I didn’t get married because I wanted to be exactly like my parents or felt I needed to “settle down”. I got married because I was in love and wanted to spend the rest of my life not settling down with this guy. I travel, I have a degree, I work at a full time job I enjoy, I cook, I blog, I work out, I go on hiking adventures, I shoot guns, I am a feminist, I learn more about who I am every day – I just do it with my husband by my side.
This response isn’t about me and my one very specific example. Because there are girls who marry young, choose not to move away from their hometown or travel often, and chose to follow their dreams in other ways and guess what – they are still happy and they have the right to be. Tearing single girls down for not being married is wrong, but so is tearing down married women for being married.
The feminist movement is NOT about women never getting married, or traveling for a decade without a man holding them down, or not having kids, or whatever concept our current society has created. No, the feminist movement is about respecting the choices of women – no matter what they are.
Again, I like this girl. More than likely I will follow her blog because her adventures in China sound amazing. But the parts in this specific post of hers that really rub me the wrong way:
“But then I look at my life, my relationships, and my future… and I realize that, I’m f#$@ing awesome. It literally isn’t me, it’s them.”
The first part of that is so true. We are all f#@%ing awesome. But pitting married people against you as the ones who have it wrong? Girl, no. This isn’t a competition. This isn’t a “I win because I travel” and “you lose because you don’t”. Life doesn’t work like that. They chose different than you. So you’re right it’s not YOU, but guess what? It’s not THEM either. It’s neither of you. No blame has to take place because of insecurities.
“Inexperience with dating, traveling, risks, higher education, career direction, SEX, solitude, religious exploration, etc… and it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.”
Ignorant statement. Very, very ignorant. You probably have me on “dating”. I can honestly say I have not dated very many people. I got lucky. I thank God every day for one of the very first people I ever dated being a winner. Traveling. Have you been to Alaska? Climbed Mt. Healy? Drove along the coastal sea from Anchorage to Seward? Hawaii? The X-Games? The Gulf Coast? Washington DC? Wyoming? Salt Lake City? Southern Arizona? etc. I have so many more places to visit, but I think I’m doing okay so far. Higher Education? I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota that I got in 3 incredible years. Career Direction? I love my job. I actually love it. I’m a media planner for an advertising agency and it’s a lot of fun. Sex? If you’ve ever been in a long term relationship, you understand why there is no argument here. I could keep going, but what’s the point? Stating that you have more “life experience” in your 22 years because you’re not married is ignorant. Life experiences are also not measurable, so it’s not only ignorant, but invalid.
“It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own.”
Uhm, no. Nope. I got married because I loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. That’s it. That’s all. No financial or emotional underlying intention. If people do get married for the above reason then they are most definitely doing it wrong. A lot of life’s highs and lows amplify when you can no longer be selfish and have to focus on another person’s well-being.
“Do. Freaking. Something… other than “settle down” at 23 with a white picket fence”
This. This is my favorite line in the whole blog post because of how it relates to my life at the moment. I picked up my life and moved to Alaska at 21 (almost 22) years old after having just gotten married. It has been the most adventure filled 7 months of my life. We go on spontaneous hikes, ski/snowboard trips, sightseeing, and exploring all the time. But beyond that, we just turned down a really gorgeous 3 bedroom home we were intending to rent because we didn’t want the burden of having to take care of a house and a dog that we would inevitably purchase upon getting the house. We want to be able to look at each other and drive somewhere on a whim. We want to be able to jump on our snowmobile and explore Alaska without too many responsibilities holding us back.
Marriage does not equal settling down. It can mean that, if a couple so chooses, and if they do – why is that wrong? Why is that wrong if another couple wants the white picket fence, and the dog, and the kids? Why does that affect your life in any way, shape, or form? Why do you have to tear them down for that? My husband and I don’t want that. No ma’am. We might some day, but not now. We have a world to explore and mistakes to make and crazy adventures to have. But I refuse to tear down other 20-somethings who might be perfectly content with a white picket fence. Also, if two people do choose to buy the house, the dog, and have the kid – they are indeed doing something. Even if it’s not your concept of “doing something”.
“Millennials deserve the opportunity to develop ourselves, alone.”
We are the millennial generation. We deserve the opportunity to develop ourselves however we so choose. We are the generation of young people who were raised to accept everyone – no matter what someone else’s life choices are. Whether they choose to travel or never move from their hometown, get married at 22 or stay single until 40, gay or straight, college educated or not, tattoos/piercings/neither, regardless of skin color, political or religious affiliation, morals, values, etc. We are supposed to be the generation that doesn’t judge others.
To the girl who wrote “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged at 23”: We are millennials. We are not our parents or our grandparents generations. Stop acting like the vast majority of their generations and tearing down others for having different life choices than your own.
What I like best about ringing in the new year is how clean and limitless it feels. 2014 marks a new chapter with blank pages just waiting to be written. There’s no scribbles or scratch outs. No giant bold font with exclamations or smiley faces galore. No large describing words or cuss words. The pages are clean. White. Ready. Today I will start writing on them.
What do I want this chapter to say? When I look back from next New Years, what do I want to find?
Of course finding a more fit, diligently healthy girl would be nice. My fitness goals are important, but there are so many things more important than physical looks. The resolution I want to make my top priority this year is: to be optimistic.
I am not an optimistic person. I get discouraged easily and at 22 I have a tendency to have thoughts of despair when it comes to this grand life of ours and I’m simply tired of it. I’m tired of seeing the cup half empty. I’m tired of my incessant complaining about the weather and the darkness. I’m even tired of the fact that I get frustrated at myself for my pessimism.
In 2014 I want to see the world through child like eyes. I also want to see it through the eyes of a young woman who recognizes how amazing every aspect of our great earth is. I want to find beauty in crisp snow, in harrowing temperatures that bring the most gorgeous sunrises, and in a darkness that simply wishes it could have more sun but has to respect the tilt of the earth is not in its favor. It’s a tough job to be on top of the world but somebody had to do it. I want my attitude in 2014 to be on top of the world. There’s always room for sarcasm and laughter, but instead of complaining about the distance from family – thank God for this opportunity. Instead of wishing I had a washer and dryer directly in our apartment, go to the laundry mat with an upbeat demeanor. Instead of feeling miserable about that second cookie, savor every last bite. Our time could be up at any moment. There is no telling when a set of words will be my last goodbye to someone. I want to create such an optimistic, positive persona – that I will have no regrets when that day comes.
If I can accomplish this by the end of 2014, any of my other fitness or habit breaking resolutions I don’t fully achieve won’t matter. I’ll be far too optimistic to let it bring me down.
I rang in the New Year in a completely different way than I have since high school. No parties. No same group of friends. Just my husband, one of his battle buddies from work, his wife, and their two husky puppies. We played video games, cards against humanity, and drank champagne. It was bittersweet to see my friends out and about on social media, but it was also really nice to just be in comfy clothes with no make up on bringing in the new year calmly. I doubt this will happen again for quite some time considering what 2014 holds, so I decided to enjoy the calm for now.
Hope you like my fancy New Years attire. I’d like to say that’s not a foreshadowing of my fashion throughout the year but knowing me and this being Fairbanks…it’s definitely plausible.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
– Abraham Lincoln