- I just released my sixth book, Coming Around Again, through Sapphire Books Publishing.
- I have an old man dog named Brutus. He has diabetes and I give him a shot twice a day to keep him healthy and happy.
- Gordo is the cat. He rules the house. In the mornings, he reminds me to open the blinds by yanking the slats apart with his paw. I have broken blinds, but I don’t sit in darkness all day.
- I have depression. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to affect my life at all. Sometimes, it means I spend the whole day on the verge of tears, trying not to cry, even though there is nothing sad happening at that moment. Sometimes it means my chest hurts and I have anxiety that seems to fill my entire body and I can’t get rid of it no matter what I do.
- I married my soulmate. It’s the kind of relationship we’ve both always dreamed of but didn’t think it was possible to have. She never thought she was worth it and I didn’t think it existed. She is and it does.
- I’m naturally lazy and completely unmotivated. I am also a grad student getting my second Master’s, an adjunct instructor with three classes, an online instructor of craft of writing for a non-profit writing academy, the Director of Education for Golden Crown Literary Society, an author, and one of three admins of a 15,000 member women’s networking group in Lansing, MI. I could happily sit on my ass all day and do nothing. Instead, I make detailed to-do lists in half-hour blocks and weekly and monthly to-do lists with deadlines, assignments, student grading blocks, answering emails, etc. I even schedule time to clean the kitchen and make meals. I think I’m happier when I’m doing things. (FYI – my lists are ambitious and I rarely finish all of them.)
- I have a Patreon page. So far, I have 14 patrons. Some are fans of my work – others are just fans of me. It isn’t a charity thing, though. It’s exchange for exchange. Some of my supporters pay a mere 2 dollars a month and get access to short stories no one else will see, sneak previews of works in progress, rejected book cover ideas, videos of readings, and general writing process stuff. You can look at it here.
- I don’t know how or when, but I really want to get my PhD.
- I just started doing P90X3, the workout program and my butt hurts right now.
- I believe in community and connection and I think we thrive when we have it. I value the groups to which I belong, especially the Golden Crown Literary Society for helping me to foster those relationships.
By popular demand, Continued Self Love is now live. Starting May 5 at 8 PM EST, I will be doing a part two to the online Creating Self Love classes. I’ll also be starting a new set of the original self love classes. Monday, May 4th at 9:00 PM EST and Wed, May 6th at 8:00 PM EST. Email me for more information. Classes are limited to ten each, so register quickly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The classes are six week online courses that cover everything from abolishing negative self talk to dealing with toxic people to overcoming self doubt and fear. I charge sixty dollars for a six week class. I give some lectures, show slides, have a few in class assignments and give homework. Homework is not mandatory, but it does help to participate in the class.The class includes a weekly one hour online class and access to the Facebook page for mid week support, encouragement, and positive posts. The students have thrived in this course and it has allowed many of them to start living a more joyful life of self love. I have some students who have learned to conquer anxiety, some who have lessened panic attacks, some who have just used the course as a refresher to living in joy. The women in these classes are inspired to make positive changes in their lives, whether the change is going back to school or learning to stop being so hard on themselves. Come join me for this journey into self confidence and joy.
Whenever I see pictures of fat women (almost exclusively women) posted online, I inevitably see a bunch of comments about how sickening it is to glorify fat because it is so unhealthy. Bodies come in all degrees of health. There are skinny unhealthy people and fat healthy people and everything in between. If you are using the illogical fallacy of fat being unhealthy to fuel your hatred, you might as well go onto a page of people with heart disease and spout off about how ugly their chest scars are. At any rate, if you’re the kind of person who goes to the comments on posts like that just so you can talk about how unhealthy fat people are, please stop reading this post. You are too stupid to grasp any of what I have to say after this.
I’ve spent a lot of years overcoming the sad effects of a society that punishes people for being fat. There are those who think they mean well such as the “you have such a beautiful face” crowd and the well-meaning mother who struggles with her own self-esteem and pushed new diets on me from the age of twelve. There was the time my sister, also a victim of the bias against fat women, told me that I better lose weight before high school because if I wanted to be in the marching band, I was going to have to get changed in front of everyone else in the band. In fourth grade, we had class weigh ins right in front of the whole class and everyone tried to see what mine said. Throughout middle school and high school, other kids oinked or mooed at me on a regular basis. Once, when jogging, a man actually slowed down his pickup truck to yell, “Don’t break the pavement, fatty” as I ran by. I walked home and didn’t run again for many long years. I absorbed every comment, every snide remark, every well-meaning, but still cutting aside.
As an adult, I set about trying to comes to terms with my fat body, even while putting it through the hell of every diet I could find. I ate nothing but grapefruit. I did the cabbage soup diet. Once, I lost sixty pounds and bought clothes in the “normal” stores and still thought I was ridiculously fat. And ugly. I equated fat with ugly back then. I joined a group of women who purported to be about size acceptance but really consisted of a lot of sad women sitting around talking about how much it sucked to be fat.
I had relationships in my twenties, but I attributed that to people who just fell in love with my personality and put up with the fact that I was fat. In essence, I didn’t love myself, so it didn’t occur to me that someone else could love me just as I was. Of course, because of that, I drew people who didn’t love and embrace me the way that I was. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Fast forward to the age of 38 when I, though a positive and loving woman, was not doing well. I was in a long term relationship with someone who did not celebrate me. I was a two pack a day smoker. I was a daydreamer, but not a doer. I had moved to a beautiful Caribbean island and I loved a lot of things about my life there, but I wasn’t treating myself with respect and care.
One day, I decided that had to change. I was tired of hating my body. I was tired of being afraid of what people had to say about me. I was tired about not going to Zumba classes or refusing to go for a swim because of the way certain people looked at me.
It was a slow process. I started by quitting drinking. Then I quit smoking. I started hiking with my soul friend, Aj. We took huge hikes up the sides of gigantic hills that I thought might kill me. I knew it was the best way to keep from going back to smoking. I started meditating. I became a vegetarian. Eventually, I left that dead end relationship and moved back to the states.
And something amazing happened. I grew to love myself. I didn’t just love myself in spite of my fat body. I loved myself AND my fat body. I went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival where I saw women of every shape and size and age and color and ability laughing and loving and dancing and celebrating themselves and me. I fell in love with my own breasts, the weight of them, the way they felt when I lifted them in my hands. I grew to love touching the soft skin of my stomach. I admired the strong and fat curves of my butt. I expressed gratitude for my big thighs that have carried me this far in my wonderful journey. I made love with womyn with the lights on. I refused to be with someone who didn’t love my body the way it was. I set my boundaries and my boundaries involved only being involved with womyn who celebrated and cherished me. And since I’m not a hypocrite, I applied that same rule to myself. I celebrated and cherished myself.
Then something even more amazing happened. I realized I wasn’t just talking about it. I was living it. I celebrated women of all shapes and sizes. I didn’t feel defensive around women with thin bodies or athletic bodies. I didn’t equate skinny with beautiful and I didn’t equate fat with ugly. I started to see through the patriarchal bullshit that insists women be in competition with each other. I started to call out instances of fat shaming, or any kind of shaming of women for their bodies. I stopped watching anything to do with celebrities and I refused to look at fashion magazines and I realized that I have gotten out of the Matrix. That all of those people who think that they have the right to tell women what they should do with their bodies are poisoned in their minds. They’re sick. They are the unhealthy ones. The people who yell “fatty” at a jogger or sneer at a fat person in an exercise class or peer into someone’s cart at the grocery store to see what kind of food they’re buying or purposely go to a page about fat acceptance to leave idiotic comments about fat being gross and unhealthy or lift their eyebrows when they see a woman with hairy legs or write off older women as useless or refuse to see any woman who falls outside of the standard societal expectation of pretty as just that. They are the sick ones. They’re what’s wrong with this society. Those people who feel they somehow have a right to hate someone based on the way they look.They’re hurting our society and they need help.
My journey continued until I was not only loving myself the way I am, but teaching other women how to do the same. Women who have felt too old, too skinny, too muscled, too fat, too wrinkled, too scarred. Women who, like me, have been told that they are not enough the way they are. Women who wore the negative opinions of this sick society.
I learned that I’m beautiful. More importantly, I learned that I am worthy of love and happiness and respect and desire. I learned that I am a woman in every true sense of the word and anyone who can’t understand that isn’t worth my time.
Finally, today was the culmination of all of my self love work. I’ve been telling women of every size and shape that they are beautiful for years. Today when I opened a link to look at the pictures of Leonard Nimoy’s fat nudes and I realized that I thought every single one of them was incredibly fucking beautiful. I felt it down to my very soul. These women were divine and miraculous and beautiful and worthy.I’m not sick anymore. I’m not warped by this sick society. I’ve won. I’m healed. You can be, too.
A couple of years ago, I saw a woman at the grocery store who just embodied funky and cool. She was wearing what looked like a homemade crochet skirt and a vest and red cowboy boots. She had such a fun style, I had to stop and tell her that I thought she looked awesome. She looked back at me and said, “Are you making fun of me?”
Fast forward a couple of months…. I was doing a guided meditation with a group of women, most of whom were survivors of rape, sexual assault, abuse. At the end of the meditation, I asked them what came up for them in the meditation and the majority of them said things such as, “I was worried my stomach was growling and everyone could hear it,” or “I’m sure my nose was running and I was sniffing loudly the whole time.”
Fast forward…I was giving a live workshop on creating self love and I asked the women to raise their hands if they believed that if they showed their true selves to their loved ones, those loved ones would no longer want to be with them.
Fast forward… Just last week a woman on FB posted a meme about the electric carts at grocery stores being for the elderly and disabled not for “your fat ass.”
Why are women self-conscious? Why do they devalue themselves? And why do they feel a need to judge and mock other women for their appearances? I think it all stems from the societal idea that we are not enough. We aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough. We’re told we need to conform to certain impossible standards of conventional beauty. We’re told that our houses should be clean and our kids should be model citizens and we can get out into the workplace, but not too far into it. We’re taught that girls shouldn’t be loud and that being dirty is wrong. We’re taught that whatever way we are doing it is wrong. We hate it when people judge us, but then we turn around and do it to other women. Think about it. Have you ever said, “She shouldn’t be wearing that outfit at her size?” Have you ever said, “Women shouldn’t wear (X) after fifty?” If so, you’re doing it, too. You’re helping to put women into the prison of not being able to be themselves.
Self-love is an act of rebellion. In this world, a woman who loves and values herself is a radical. The very act of saying, “I won’t allow you to talk to me that way” is an incitement for war in some people’s minds. That’s what I teach. My self love classes and workshops are about teaching women to value themselves so they no longer judge themselves by someone else’s measure. My mission in life is to empower other women so they themselves can go on to empower other women.
Come with me on a journey to lessen anxiety, stop negative self-talk, deal with toxic people, set your own boundaries, and learn to live in joy. email@example.com
You are the creator of your life. Do I need to repeat that? YOU are the creator of your life. I know sometimes you have anxiety. I know you find yourself getting frustrated. I know you might hate your job or argue incessantly with your spouse. I’ve been giving online and live class in self love for several years and the one thing I’ve learned through talking to hundreds of women is that so many of us, in one way or another, think that we aren’t good enough.
My six week online course in creating self-love, increasing self-confidence, and learning to living a life of joy is designed to give women the foundation they need to overcome a lifetime of social conditioning and emerge as strong, empowered women who value themselves and recognize their own self-worth. I help women start to overcome anxiety, panic, doubt, fear, social pressure. These classes include a once a week live class in which I offer participants information and journal exercises and the chance to share their own experiences. The classes do include some homework. Participation in the homework is optional, but the program does have a greater chance of success if the participants give it their all.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send a guide to pricing and individual class subjects. The next Monday class is full, but I have space available on Tuesdays, 8 PM EST starting on March 17th.
My live workshops are a modified version of the online class meant to offer women the same foundation in a group setting. I offer workshops in my home or in your home. Email me for details.
My online six week self love classes are a hit. Women are empowering themselves, with my help, to greater self love, confidence, and strength to live on their own terms. I had one woman tell me she quit smoking because of the class. Another told me that she was sure she would never find love again because of her own low sense of self worth. Yet, she was able to open herself up and find a lover who values who beautiful heart. Many women have been able to reduce their problems with daily anxiety or senses of shame. These classes are about recognizing our value and reclaiming our own power.
If you are interested in taking one of these classes please email me at email@example.com I am full right now, but will be starting new classes soon.
I also give in person workshops, both in my house, and by request of a group.
For the past few months, I’ve been living a little experiment in joy. As part of the changing my life process, I made a decision to try to live in joy every day, no matter what the circumstances of my life brought me. Some days, it was blissfully easy. Some days, I woke up in a ray of sun with a gorgeous woman next to me and a smile on my face. Some days, it was a little harder. Some days, I woke up alone with a sore back, a stuffy nose, and a shitty attitude.
People tend to think that I am just a naturally happy person and for the most part, that is true. I have always been a positive person and I generally think it is better to look on the bright side of things than the dark. The biggest part of me believes that happiness is a choice and I have spent so long choosing happiness that is has become my default.
Still, that doesn’t mean I’m a billboard for perkiness every moment of every day. Bad things happen. Pets die. Relationships end. Dogs throw up on pillows in the middle of the night. Cars break down. Bills pop up. Friends argue. Life happens. And let’s be honest – when you’re in the middle of a terrible breakup or your cat has just died or you’re broken down on the side of the freeway in negative ten degree weather, you probably aren’t going to grin like an idiot and say, “Look at me! I’m living in joy!”
That said, there are some tools I’ve learned along the way that have helped me regroup and recover my equanimity when I’m struggling with sorrow.
1. Remember that nothing is permanent. Nothing is ours. Nothing belongs to us. Houses burn down, spouses die, cars crash, people get sick, lovers leave. We own nothing on this planet, not even our lovers or our children. We only have ourselves and it is up to us to make the most of the time we are given with a certain person or in a certain situation. Conversely, understanding impermanence means understanding that pain is also temporary and the heartache that feels like a gaping wound today will feel less so tomorrow.
2. Change perspective. Recently, I was whining to a friend that I was not only having to work a day job instead of writing full-time, it was a crappy job. Here I am in corporate America again, dressed in business casual, taking phone calls from low income people who want to finance ridiculously over-priced merchandise with ridiculously high interest loans while someone tells me what time I can eat lunch. She challenged me to find the good in the job. Well, it is allowing me to go to Northern California in July, The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in August, and The Left Coast Lesbian Conference in Palm Springs in October. Beyond that, in my effort to reframe my space in this new order, I looked at what I could offer to the people working there. In fact I had a conversation with a co-worker about compassionate communication. She was complaining about an interaction with her boyfriend, and I suggested the next time the issue came up, she could respond in a different way and see if it helped. Yesterday she came in and told me that she used the words I had suggested and for a few moments, felt like they were actually communicating. So maybe I do have a bigger purpose at this place than just answering phones. And again, impermanence. It won’t last forever.
3. Be grateful. If I am in a slump that I can’t seem to get out of, I start listing the things for which I am grateful. Some days, the list is short, some days it is long. Every day, I can at least be grateful that I am alive, that I am with my loving dog, that I have soulmate friends who would be there for me in any way they can. Today, I am also grateful that the sun is shining and that my nose isn’t running. I’m grateful that I get to have lunch with my mom tomorrow. I’m grateful that because of my new job, I can afford to buy new glasses, something I have not done since I broke them on Liz McMullen’s breasts back in July of 2013. (And I was grateful for that experience, too.) Something happens when you start making a gratitude list…. you remind yourself of all of the great things about your life and yourself. It’s a beautiful circle.
4. Practice self-care. Practice it in whatever form this takes. For me, it has recently been about trying to exercise more, eating healthy, and meditating. I am happier on days when I have exercised in some way and eaten a healthy breakfast.
5. Stop being mean to you. This may fall under self-care, but it deserves its own number. Don’t criticize yourself. Don’t mock your appearance, don’t judge yourself because of your weight. Don’t call yourself stupid or ugly or gross or unable to do something. Don’t do it. Just stop. If you find yourself looking in the mirror and making a negative self-comment, stop. Just keep stopping until you don’t do it anymore. And along these lines, stop judging others. Stop looking at celebrities and saying, “Wow, she looks fat in that dress.” Imagine what it is doing to your subconscious when you are saying a size zero actress looks fat. Just stop. Don’t criticize people on the street, not even to yourself. It will not only help you becoming more loving of your own self, but happier because you are not being judgmental of others. This doesn’t just go for your appearance, but for anything. Don’t come down on yourself. Remember you are amazing! You are awesome! You are beautiful! You are a work of art! You are uniquely you and you have the power to recognize your worth.
6. If all else fails, remember that everything in life is an AFGE. (Pronounced aff-gee with a hard ‘g’) Another f**king growth experience.
7. :Last but not least, the best advice I have ever been given. Be nice. Really. It’s that easy. Be a nice person. Hold doors open for people. Smile at clerks at store. Pick up things for people who have dropped them. Ask if someone needs help. Always wave at children who wave at you. Be friendly when you are in a store, especially if you have had to stand in line. The benefits of this are incredible. When you’re nice to people, most of them are nice to you. And that positive energy spreads and infests your mood and helps to pick you up.
The point is that while it is not possible to be bouncy and happy every single moment of every single day, it is possible to do the self-work that it takes to put yourself in the frame of mind that makes day to day living in joy a reality.