deep thoughts

Things I wish I could tell my younger self….

October 1, 2017

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That when you find yourself explaining away the behavior of a man who you think loves you more than anyone has ever loved you with words like ‘he doesn’t really mean it’ or ‘it’s just a cultural thing’ or ‘it will get better when we are married’, you really shouldn’t proceed with the marriage. In fact, you should listen to the voice screaming in your head that the path you’re going down is the wrong one. Yes, he does make you feel amazing sometimes. And, yes, he does awake this crazy passion in you. But, he also hurts you. So deeply. His words will wear you down to the point you don’t even recognize yourself, his anger will scare you to the point that you’ll lock yourself in your bathroom or sleep in the little space between the wall and the bed to feel a modicum of safety. Within just a few months of your marriage, you’ll find yourself going to your shift in the hospital after having the worst fight of your life that somehow ended up with you on the floor getting pummeled by his fists. It will be a long, long road to get over that and all the other pain he caused you. You’ll happen upon the scars even years later. It will make it hard for you to fully love someone new, even when he actually is amazing. If you’d just listen to yourself and that quiet voice inside, you’d avoid so much pain.

That when people make you feel small inside because they have an opinion that your body should be smaller than it happens to be, you should summon every ounce of strength you have to ignore them. Ignore it all. When you overhear them talking about you. When they come to you with concern over your weight gain after your freshman year of college. Even when they praise you for losing weight after being so sick while living abroad that you laid in bed late one night scared that you were actually going to die. Ignore it all. You’ll save yourself so much wasted energy, not to mention thousands of dollars of therapy. Perhaps if you ignore it, you’ll be able to stop the automatic thoughts that cause you to berate yourself. It’s like a marble rolling down a mountain of sand thousands of times – all those thoughts on autopilot. You’ll eventually learn to reprogram them, but it’s not easy and it’s not permanent. It will be something you’ll likely work on for the rest of your life.

That adulthood really is about keeping up with the Jones’ if you’re not careful. Somehow you’ll get caught up in a stressful job in a town you hate for a few years, piling up bills and not taking your vacation time. You’ll think back to the adulthood you idealized as a kid and wonder how you made a wrong turn. You didn’t, really, it’s just harder than you thought it would be. You can make it easier on yourself by marching to the beat of your own drum, watching out for consumerism and lifestyle inflation and only pursuing the things that truly matter to you. Even at 31, you won’t exactly know what that means, but you’ll at least have the wisdom to know to keep trying to learn.

That Mas will pass away someday. Yes, I wish you could’ve know that the little boy you fell in love with while living in Gambia was only going to make it to eights years on this earth. You probably would’ve loved him even better and even deeper when you had the chance to live in his light. You might’ve tried to teach him to swim even though he was deathly afraid of the water. Probably not, but maybe it would have occurred to you. Losing him will be one of the hardest things you’ll have to face in this life and it will always, always hurt. BUT, and this is a big but, someday you’ll realize that even though losing him was hard, loving him was worth it. Unfortunately, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to fool yourself into believing that it’s better to never love than to risk your heart breaking to someone. You’ll lose a lot of time to thinking that isolation is a worthwhile trade-off to make for the deep love of true connection, but thankfully you’ll wake up at some point and realize that you’re crazy and open your heart again. It will be worth it and you’ll find ways to honor your love for Mas for the rest of your life.

That you should listen when your gut tells you to make a change. Don’t wait until you’re miserable and mean to listen to your own intuition. Move to a new town, take a new job, get a new puppy. For God’s sake, just take action and deal with the consequences later. Who knew that the girl everyone thought was so impulsive would end up so scared?

That calling is always a good idea. Yes, it sucks to actually pick up the phone, but you’ll stack up a lot of regrets in life due to your unwillingness to call someone when you know you should. If your friend’s dad passes away unexpectedly, just call. If you feel like you need to ring your  own dad out of the blue, just do it. If you feel like you did something kind of shitty to someone, have the balls to pick up the phone and tell them sorry. If your friend is dying of cancer, god dammit, just call her. Call her until she knows for sure how much she means to you.

That you’ll always feel like your writing sucks and that it’s not worth even trying to write when it’s so hard to be successful at it. You’ll lose years that you could’ve been writing to second-guessing yourself. Your writing will suffer for it, you will suffer for it. Somehow ten years will pass without much happening on the writing front and you’ll only have a half-assed blog to show for it. Keep writing anyway. Even if nothing comes out of it, it’s worth it if only for the peace of mind it brings you.

 

daily diary, deep thoughts, editor letter

So many updates…

August 20, 2017

maddy-what-a-time

Hi friends. I have missed you. I have so much to share. So much. I’m going to break it up into a few different topics, below:

Home

Living in Oakland is better than I hoped it would be and, trust me, I had really high hopes. The mixture of the physical beauty, the perfect weather, the progressive spirit, the close proximity to the boys and the feeling of being in alignment with my life hopes and dreams is something I just can’t describe. My soul has found its home. It’s not without its stresses…we can barely pay the bills living here and sometimes the grind of that brings me down. I’m also still commuting, which is its own beast. Still, it’s so worth it and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Money

As I mentioned above, it’s stressing me out. I think I’m going to stop telling myself this story about being bad with money and find a financial planner that can help me sort things out. I hope to own a house someday in this beautiful town and I am just not on that path right now. What’s worse, I don’t even know how to get there. Time to call in the professionals!

Food

Over the past several months, I’ve been feeling my heart pulled toward veganism. I’ve finally gotten the hang of vegetarianism and this is the next step. For me, it’s hard to love my dogs and other animals so much and rationalize eating other animals that are sentient. It doesn’t add up. I still totally believe in intuitive eating and am working to integrate this personal belief into my intuitive eating practice. It’s not super easy, because sometimes I do feel deprived even when eating vegetarian. I eat fried chicken and hamburgers sometimes and I’m trying to give myself grace through it. I know that I’m causing way less suffering through my imperfect attempts at veganism and vegetarianism that if I hadn’t even tried at all. Last week, I started a 30 day vegan challenge, which I am documenting on my instagram stories. Follow along if you’d like. I’ll be sure to post some updates here as I go along, but overall, I’m learning that it’s really not as difficult as I thought it would be. It basically comes down to good planning. If you know me, I’m not the best planner, but I am trying to learn.

Community

Living here in what I hope to be my permanent home, I feel so compelled to contribute to this community. I’ve started volunteering by meeting with an English learner at Cal who needs a bit of help with conversational English. I’ve only had one session so far, but it has been a total pleasure. I haven’t volunteered much in the past few years and it’s time to change that. I don’t have a ton of time in my schedule, but this is one small step I can take for an hour a week.

Happiness

On paper, my happiness should be higher than it ever has been. I’m living in Oakland!! A lifelong dream. I have a wonderful boyfriend and his two beautiful, sweet kids in my life every day. I am eating vegan and I am volunteering and I have great friends and family in my life. It’s all SO good, but I have noticed myself feeling really down and negative. Instead of focusing on the good in my life, I notice myself attracted to the less-than-perfect parts. My commute bums me out, our money problems stress me out and I am fixated on my career and whether or not I am pursuing my life’s purpose in my work. Overall, I’m diagnosing this as a lack of contentment. I thought that living in Modesto was the source of my unhappiness, but now I’m realizing that it’s my own brain. I’m on a mission to fix it. Of course, I don’t expect to be 100% happy all the time, but I can cultivate a practice of contentment that I don’t have now. I’m going to start reading the book, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything tonight. I heard about it on a podcast last week and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll report back.

Culture

Seriously, what is going on? We are in crisis right now in America and it is scary and sad and demoralizing. There is so much wrong with what is going on in our world and it feels overwhelming to know how to speak out and act out effectively. Do you have links to resources you’d recommend? I need to learn more and do more.

Writing

I’ll close with this. I was listening to the Dear Sugars podcast on my way home last week and it really changed my perspective on writing. I get so caught up on this writing thing and whether or not anyone reads and whether or not I’ll have any success that I don’t do it right or consistently. If there’s one thing I know for sure, I am a better, happier person when I’m writing and it’s the one thing that I know without any doubt that it lights me up inside in a way that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. I’m done chasing the success of it. I just want to write my truth, document my life and my thoughts, and forget about success or patrons. It’s not the measure of worth I’m going after. Can you keep me accountable to this, friends?

 Photo from DesignLoveFest. 

 

fashion, Style

Crushing on: Universal Standard

May 15, 2017

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A couple of weeks ago, Cup of Jo featured Ashley Ford on their ‘Week of Outfits‘ post and I just fell in love. Ashley seems like an all-around cool, smart, inspired woman and it was great to find her through Cup of Jo.

Her outfits were bomb and she introduced me to Universal Standard, which is a new-to-me website of well-made basics for ladies in the 10+ size range. They have a starter kit of coordinated basics that I’m currently saving up for right now. Just wanted to share because it seems legit, even if it’s a little more than I care to spend for clothes. If they’re well-made, I think it’s worth it. Have you tried them? How did you find their clothes? I’ll be sure to let you know if I pull the trigger on the start kit!

adventure, california, deep thoughts, oaklandish

Home

May 8, 2017

oakland hills boomer

We up and moved. Hightailed it out of Modesto and followed our dreams. We live in Oakland now and we’re over-the-moon excited about the new life we’re building together. We can see the future and it looks so bright. We make big sacrifices for this new life every single day. I drive three hours round trip every day to get to work, Keith drives two hours, we work different schedules so we only see each other on the weekend, we pay an exorbitant amount of rent each month, we no longer have a yard so we walk rounds and rounds in the neighborhood so the pups can do their business.

Even still. Even still, we’re so much happier than we were in our old lives in Modesto.

I wish I could go back five years and shake myself so hard, reprimand myself for hiding in fear of trying something new. I wish I could go back and force myself to listen to my gut that was leading me here. I wouldn’t have lost so much time. I know the years I spent in Modesto taught me many things, but god I wish I could get that time back. Seven whole years of psyching myself up every day to be happy. I get a pit in my stomach when I go back to that place, so I’m not going to go there right now and upset myself again.

I try not to be preachy in this space, but please, please learn from my mistake and the years I squandered talking myself into something that I knew beyond a shadow of doubt wasn’t right for me. Life is so, so short. Your gut talks to you for a specific reason. Please listen.  You’re the only person who knows what’s right for you and you’re the only one who can make it happen for yourself. When you read these words, your gut is probably talking to you and whispering a reminder of what your own heart wants. Follow it. Make it happen. It’s the most beautiful thing to feel your own soul in alignment. It’s priceless and worth every sacrifice.

Now that we’re here, my heart is reminding me of this space and the dreams I have to pursue my writing and a creative life. So, I’m listening and showing up.

Here I am. Let’s make it happen.

fashion, Style

GabiFresh x Swimsuits For All

January 12, 2017

gabifresh-swimsuitsforall3

Yesterday’s olive post reminded me of the goodness that is Gabi’s latest line with Swimsuits For All.The new line from Gabi launched alongside a campaign titled ‘New Year, Same You‘, which I thought was a refreshing pause for the beginning of the year. I felt annoyed with the New Year’s Resolutions I read around the web this January. So many of us are resolving to change ourselves into fitter, thinner, healthier versions of ourselves. I’m all for self-improvement, but I think that ‘health’ resolutions are often couched in a social pressure to be thin and perfect in every way, which isn’t helpful in building a strong sense of self-worth independent of cultural beauty pressures and ideals. It’s the first of the year, yes, but we are still the same people we were on December 31st, and I think that’s okay.  It takes me back to when I was younger and resolved to be skinny and the self-hatred I felt back then. It wasn’t healthy and I love that someone is taking a stand against the absurdity of it all.

Anyway, back to the swimsuits. I really love the line. Gabi famously championed the ‘fatkini’, which led to the opportunity for her to make killer, sexy swimwear for plus-sized ladies in partnership with Swimsuits for all. I think this is her third or fourth collection, and it is absolutely beautiful.

See below:

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Hurrah for accessible design for women of all sizes! Check out the full collection here.

fashion, Style

Olive, I love you

January 11, 2017

I went shopping this weekend and nearly everything I snagged was all things olive. Olive leather boots, olive sweater. I already have an awesome olive anorak jacket that is dangerously close to becoming a second skin for me because I wear it so much and I also have my eye on an olive bomber jacket. I thought you all might be on the same olive tip as me, so I gathered some inspiration images for us from the web to ogle at this AM.

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First up is my style queen, Gabi Gregg with absolute olive perfection. I love the tee, the ripped jeans, the perfect jacket and the strappy shoes. Bow down!

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Next is this uber simple tee, black jeans, booties combo. I think I need to add an olive tee to the list. I can’t find the original image source for this one, but please share if you can find it.

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Last, we have a gorgeous olive trench. I’m in love with these long line, open-faced jackets. So damn cute!

Are you on the olive train? What’s your fav way to wear it?

beauty, Style

It’s a 10 Product – Love!

January 3, 2017

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My hairstylist introduced me to It’s a 10 product a while back and I just love it. As a person with thin, highlighted, longer hair, I deal with bad tangles all the time, especially in the winter when all of the shirts with collars come out. This stuff really does all of the ten things it promises and it smells awesome to boot. It lasts and lasts. I just ordered another bottle, which will probably last me about six months with everyday application.

With everyone posting today about their lofty new year’s resolutions, I thought we’d all be happy with an easy product post. :)

intuitive eating

The girl with the heart tattoo

December 29, 2016

heart-tattoo-wrist

A couple of weekends ago, I had a dainty little heart inscribed on my wrist. Such a simple gesture, but it means so much to me. It’s a reminder, a symbol of hope, my own little rebellion.

Loving myself is one of the hardest lessons for me to grasp through my therapy. It’s an ongoing process. I have times where I can be okay with who I am, how I look, what size I wear. Those times are much more frequent these days. I am able to hang out in the mental space of contentment, acceptance and gratefulness for the way I am made. Pure wonder at my good luck to live my amazing life. Other days, often on the days I feel stressed or inadequate in another avenue of life, I spiral into this terrible swirl of hating myself. I’m not moderate with it. I feel embarrassed to even walk around in public because of the way I look. I can’t look in the mirror. I want to stay in bed.

I’ve learned, though, that it’s all in my head, because I am always the same me whether I feel content with how I look or whether I feel ashamed. I don’t really change day to day or week to week. Recognizing that my brain has a pattern of turning on me, I’ve learned ways to short circuit it. I’ll notice a distressing thought pop up, I’ll recognize the way I’m feeling and then I’ll follow-up with a more moderate thought. I’ll keep going back to that moderate thought over and over until my brain breaks free of its pattern of beating me up. Often, that thought is simple: I love myself. I say it because I do love myself in so many ways. I love that I care so deeply for the people in my life. I love that I am thoughtful. I love that I am smart and kind and joyful and hardworking. I love that I keep reaching for the light and good in my life, even when things are really hard.

This simple little tattoo on my wrist is now my constant reminder to hinge my thoughts on love, both for myself and for others. It’s a nod to how far I’ve come on this journey to stronger mental health, a delightful pause to appreciate my growth and to set myself up for success as I continue to work toward being the person I want to be.

home, Style

Basket, baby

December 19, 2016

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I’m totally into the trend of hanging baskets on the wall. As someone who loves collecting receptacles of all sorts, baskets play into my strengths. I’m always buying bowls, baskets, bottles and trays. It’s a compulsion of sorts. I never feel like I have enough beautiful holders of things, even all of the surfaces in my home are covered with them. Now, I’ve found a new use for my baskets: the walls.

I love the modern bohemian vibe that baskets on the walls can add to any space. They are so intricate and unique. They look gorgeous spaced out on the wall or all jumbled together. My mom and I are currently on a basket collecting spree for the new house. She texts me pictures all time from thrift stores with new baskets to add to the collection. It’s going to be sick when it finally comes together. Until then, I’ll keep my eyes occupied with these beautiful images of baskets from around the web.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

home, Style

The most beautiful house tour

December 14, 2016

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I am absolutely captivated by this house tour that Design Sponge shared this week. Why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways:

First, I am in love with any house that has multiple dogs. I am a dog lover through and through, so the photo of the owner curled up on the couch with his dogs melted my heart. It was such a sweet vignette. As I type this post, my two dogs are snuggled on the couch with me. There is no better feeling. I want five more dogs, but I don’t think Keith will let me.

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Second, I adore this photo of a south-facing window full of plants. I aspire to this level of plantdom in my own home. It’s beautiful and serene and so organic. I am having to hold myself back from rushing out to buy more plants as we speak. I am of the mind that one can never have too many.

Third, there is so much romance to the lifestyle they are living with their urban farm and victorian home renovation. Surely, it is not as glamorous as it seems. The renovation they did was probably a nightmare and I’m sure they get tired of tending to the garden, but they make it seem so beautiful and so worthwhile. My mom, who has taken up gardening in her retirement, tells me that she has never felt as fulfilled as when she saw vegetables growing (and growing!) from a single seed she planted. This post made me question how I’m living my life a bit, leaving me wanting to slow down and savor everything more.

Fourth, one half of the couple is a partner in a flower business, Chicory Florals, and their work is stunning. How awesome would it be to spend your days arranging flowers to the delight of brides everywhere? I couldn’t imagine anything more worthwhile.

Finally, their design essence is so spot on for me. They did a wonderful job of highlighting the bones of their home, but making it feel modern, cozy and fresh. I love their use of color, especially on the walls. They have that ‘it’ factor that is so captivating.

As always, thanks to Design Sponge for sharing and Neal Santos and Andrew Olsen for inviting the internet into their personal space. It was such a delight.