I am my own worst critic.

I’m struggling.

I thought I was over it, but I’m not.

Is it because I’m a Gemini?  I truly feel like there are two parts of me.

My ‘bad’ twin is Elsa.  My ‘good’ twin is Anna.

Over and over in my brain I hear them singing in reprise:

Anna: It’s okay, you can just unfreeze it!

Elsa: No, I can’t.
I — I don’t know how!

Anna: Sure you can! I know you can!
`Cause for the first time in forever,
Elsa: Oh
I’m such a fool!
I can’t be free!

Anna: You don’t have to be afraid…
Elsa: No escape from the storm inside of me!

Anna: We can work this out together!
Elsa: I can’t control the curse!

Anna: We’ll reverse the storm you’ve made
Elsa: Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!

Anna: Don’t panic!
Elsa: There’s so much fear!

Anna: We’ll make the sun shine bright!
Elsa: You’re not safe here!

Anna: We can face this thing together!
Elsa: No!

Anna: We can change this winter weather!

Anna: And everything will be all right…
Elsa: I CAN’T!

I can’t.

I’m pulled so many different ways by this storm.  This damn depression that has me feeling like every day is eternal winter.

In attempting to find help in the things I enjoy, writing and, recently, using oil pastels, I am left dissatisfied.

Nothing lives up to my expectations anymore.

I am my own biggest critic… I can’t control the curse…

I am struggling to hear the good twin’s voice… there’s so much fear

I am looking for ways to take the good in my life to heart… you’re not safe here…

And I’m failing… I can’t…

I feel like I need to put some of my goals on the back-burner, but that reeks of failure.

I don’t want to be okay.  I want to be great.  Instead of trying and failing at being great, I do nothing.

Yet, I’m stretched so thin with hopes and dreams that every minuscule detail is magnified, and I can not look past the parts that need fixing to see a whole.

But how to appreciate the whole, without ignoring the things that do need to be fixed..?

I’m working on it.

But not well enough.

Good vs. Great

“Do you ever just get frustrated that you don’t have something you’re great at?  I know I’m good at a lot of things, and, given time and effort, I could be great at them as well…  But, I know myself.  I get bored easily, and what feels fun one week turns into a chore the next.  I am surrounded by such an amazing group of talented people and almost every single day I get jealous and depressed, because I haven’t found my ‘thing’ yet.  How do I narrow it down to one, five, or even ten things that I’d like to learn and become better at?  I’m sick of waiting for it to come to me, yet I’m so afraid of wasting my time, money, and energy on something that I will eventually not like to do…”

I wrote the above piece nearly 2 years ago.  Since then, I started running 5ks, Crossfitting, knitting, and became more serious about gardening and becoming self-sustaining.

Since then, we have also had our lives turned upside down by a sooner-than-planned pregnancy and last minute move for a new job for Captain.

Now that the proverbial dust has settled, I have to reevaluate everything.  What we can afford, what will be worth my time and energy (considering that we are in a temporary rental until our house sells and we can build our forever home), what will give me the challenge and satisfaction I need, what will keep me emotionally stable.

I’m finding that I want everything.  I want to run, get back into Crossfit, and try yoga.  I want a huge garden and animals to provide us with food.  I want a proliferate herb garden to make my own teas and fill my spice cupboard.  I want to learn how to paint, to advance my knitting and sewing skills, to refine some jewelry making techniques.  I want to relearn French and start learning Spanish and ASL.  I want to advocate for new and expecting mothers, create a non-profit for feeding hungry kids, and participate in cloth diaper pantries.  I want to improve my writing, have a flourishing blog, and write stories.  I want to plan parties and events, bake delicious treats, and have my crafts be coveted works of art.

And through all this, I want to be a good mother who teaches my kids that not only can they be anything, they can be everything.  I want them to know that you are never to old to learn, try new things, or become better.

I’m not interested in being a one hit wonder.

I don’t love my body, and that’s okay.

noloveIt’s hard to keep up with all the health and fitness movements that are constantly cycling in and out of popularity.  Yo-yo diets, Thinspo sites, conflicting reports on which foods burn the most fat where.  Diet groups, fitness clubs, television shows… Coupled with media sensationalized images and stories of extreme weight losses/gains, it’s nearly impossible to navigate the path to health without stumbling across something that makes you feel like you aren’t doing it ‘right.’

My favorite thing right now is the Body Image Movement.  Loving your body, despite its flaws.  Seeing your shape/weight, not as something to be changed, but something to be proud of at every stage.  The message is a wonderful one: You are worth loving.

And yes, we are.  Every single one of us.  Because we are a person, not because of our body, or our acceptance of it.

For those of us on a path to getting healthier, it can feel like no matter how hard we try, we’re doing it wrong.  Because if I’m still unsatisfied with that 5 sticky pounds, I’m not loving myself enough, and that’s bad.  If I’m struggling to accept and love the stretchmarks my kids gave me, I have to change the way I think.  If you think your body isn’t good enough, you’re wrong. It’s your thinking that’s not good enough.

And having that burden placed on you by someone that isn’t you?  Is bullshit.

YES, there is a ton of ridiculous propaganda out there to make people feel like if they don’t look a certain way, they’re less than worthy.

YES, there is a lot to be said about self respect.

NO, you shouldn’t base your self worth on how others perceive you.

But in all of these DOs and DONTs, the implied message that If you don’t love yourself, you’re doing it wrong, honestly just makes me feel worse.

When I was 35+ pounds overweight and trying to get pregnant with our 2nd child, the words “If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?” were devastating.  I was head over heels in love with my husband and my life revolved around our daughter.  Was my love for them not good enough, because I didn’t love myself, too?  Was I undeserving of their love because I just. couldn’t. find a way to love my self as a whole?  And that made me feel worse.  How can you get on the train to loving yourself if everything said to motivate you makes you feel like you can’t do anything right?  I can’t even love myself properly…

Properly.  That word means different things to everyone.

When I was at my healthiest just before my last pregnancy, properly meant taking time to eat right, dressing in a way that made me feel good, exercising in a form that I felt confident doing.  When I was in that dark place before our 2nd baby, taking care of myself properly was just making sure I ate something everyday.  Sometimes, that something was cookie dough.  I can look back now and see exactly what my problem was then.  But back then?  I didn’t see a body worth caring for.  I saw a young woman marked by pregnancy, unable to control her horrible eating habits, dealing with secondary infertility, and incapable of loving herself enough to get on the right track.  Yes, I knew what I should do to get healthier, but untreated depression trumps know-how.

Now, as I’m sitting here 3 months post partum, 20 of my 50 pregnancy pounds still sitting around my midsection and thighs, all I can think of is getting back into shape.  Because, while I love what my body did on the inside, I DON’T LOVE the outside anymore.  I loved my body and my self most when I was pregnant, each and every time.  Because when we’re pregnant, we get a pass.  We can eat what we like, dress however is comfortable, and laze around without much judgement (until Kim Kardashian came along, apparently).

Comparison is the thief of joy, as the saying goes.  Comparing myself now, 3 months post partum after my 4th baby, to when I was at my peak of health just a short year ago, isn’t fair.  But it’s what we’ve been trained to do.  Even when we are barely treading the murky waters that are new or renewed parenthood, we are held, not only in the shadow of our pre-pregnant selves, but in the shadows of all the pregnancy weight loss stories that came before us.

Among those shadows are the tales of women who get help in achieving their goals.  Surgeries to limit eating, to get rid of fat, to tuck away stretch marks, to enhance breasts.  There was a time, when I was my least self assured, that those practices upset me.  I was self righteous to the nth degree, declaring that if my body couldn’t do it naturally, then it wasn’t meant to be and SHAME on those women for thinking so little of themselves that they need surgery.  I hated my body, so every other woman who hated hers just had to wallow in the misery of it with me.  And guess what?  I felt no better.

On the flip side are the women who scream that we shouldn’t feel the need to have these surgeries to feel good about ourselves.  And there was a while, when I was healthy, but not necessarily fit, that I was in that camp as well.  If your body isn’t that way naturally, it wasn’t mean to be.  And I still do feel that way, to an extent.  Barring extensive reconstructive surgeries, I will never look like a runway model.  Not from lack of drive or trying, but because GENETICS.  My genes come from workmen.  The women in my family are broad, tall, and strong.  Petite and fae-like though I’d love to be, it will just never happen, and I’ve accepted that.

Now that I’ve been on both sides, hating myself throughout and totally loving myself as a whole, I find myself in a new camp: The ‘Do Whatever Makes You Feel Good’ camp.  We surround ourselves daily with the things that attract us: aesthetically and emotionally.  I am attracted to things that I find appealing.  I can say with confidence that I am not attracted to my body.  I do not find it appealing.  So why begrudge myself being attracted to the one thing that will be with me always: my body?  Why is it WRONG to desire having a body that I myself find attractive?

Because “society”?  Because “self esteem”?  Because “the man”?

Everyone finds different things appealing.  Where there are people who love full figured, curvy women, there are others who prefer slim, willowy women.  If my desire to replace my flat, post-nursing breasts with full perky ones puts you in a rage, that’s your problem, not mine.  If I’d like to get a tummy tuck to get rid of the shelf of skin left behind by 4 full term pregnancies and you just can’t understand why I can’t accept and love what my kids did to my body, that’s your issue.

If you’re happy being a size 24, OWN IT.

If you’re satisfied with A cups on your broad figure, CONGRATS.

If you can look past stretchmarks and still find yourself attractive, YOU ARE AWESOME.

But I’m here to tell you that I am OK with not attracted to my body and I look forward to changing it.

I owe it to my self, my husband, and my kids to be confident in myself.  If I am constantly waging a war with my body and skin, how can I be the wife and mother they need me to be?  If my nonacceptance of my body the way it is makes others insist that I need to adjust my thinking, that’s one more thing on the plate of issues I have to work through.

YOU are the person on this journey.  Not the diet gurus.  Not your Dr.  Not your mother, your sister, your best friend.  Not the motivational speakers.  Not the fitness bloggers.  YOU.  So OWN it.

Own it.  Go work out.  Find a relationship with food that works for you.  Talk to a Dr. about getting a lift, or a tuck.  But do it for YOU.

No, I don’t love my body.  You may not love yours, either.  And that’s okay**.  It’s inherent in our nature to be dissatisfied.  But just because you don’t love something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind to it.

**I am in no-way saying that you should be living with untreated depression or body dysmorphia.  If your problems are more than skin deep, and you’ll know if they are, please seek help.  Just as not loving your body is OK, absolutely hating yourself is not OK.  Call someone, send a message, reach out, and ask for help.

We Become

Surround yourself with beauty.

Surround yourself with people who make you happy.

With people who build you up.

Surround yourself with positivity.

And you will become; Beautiful, happy, uplifting, positive.

But, those of us surrounded by the constant mayhem that comes with having children?

The ones who already live with the threat of depression ever on their minds?

When the simple act of going to the bathroom alone leaves room for the unmitigated destruction of the rest of the house?

When the people we care for do nothing but whine, bicker, and fight?

What do we become?

We embody that which surrounds us.





Like the poor who can’t make a long term financial plan, because an extra $10 saved won’t matter in the face of three overdue bills, we, the depressed, struggle to see the point in doing just one thing for ourselves.

Why should we?  We’ll only return to the same old environment.  Hear the same complaints.  Clean up the same messes.  Fight the same fights.

That 30 minute run is our $10 bill.  The toys thrown everywhere, the lack of well-fitting clothing, and the meal that will take too much energy to prepare are our delinquent power, utility, and phone bills.

Once those bills come in, that $10 won’t matter.  Because we’ll still be so overdrawn, so in debt, that the $10 becomes a drop in the ever growing bucket.  We can try to squeeze out every drop we can, but the bucket grows into a tub, the tub becomes a pool, the pool turns into a lake, and the lake suddenly morphs into an ocean.  webecome


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