Monday, July 29, 2013

I've Got a Nautical Themed Pashmina Afghan.

Seventeen people. On an island. Only accessible by boat.
No running water, showers, beds, electricity.

This sounds like an episode out of Survivor, when in fact, it is how I spent my last weekend in June celebrating the birthday of one of my close friends. Every year, he rents campsites on an island in Lake George, NY (about four hours away from where we all live in Jersey). Last year, I was en route to Costa Rica, which slightly prevented my joining in on the fun of camping (which I heard about for the entire year and how much I missed out on), so I was extremely happy to be going. Even more so, Ed got his boating license exactly a week before we headed out, which meant that we could now use the jetski that was a new addition to the year.

The morning of the trip started as most Jersey mornings do - with bagels and coffee. I didn't even complain about the carbs since I knew that it was going to be a pretty heavy drinking weekend, so I figured that carbs were probably necessary (plus, who can resist a bagel and homemade strawberry cream cheese?).

We arrived at Lake George at around 11 in the morning, hopped in the pontoon boat that had been rented for the occasion, since Rob's boat only fits 6 people, and quickly after, we headed over to our island and home for the next three nights.

As I predicted, the weekend was filled with a ton of beer, games, boating, jetskiing, bonding, laughing, cooking, and just enjoying time with one another.

I walk the very fine line between being an introvert and extrovert, so this trip was a big deal for me because it was non stop togetherness. There wasn't a place for "me time" because I was living in a tent with my boyfriend, a stone's throw away from our other friends, and we were completely dependent on other people to get us in and out of town every day. I made it though, with all my friendships in tact and without completely imploding (though there were a few times when I absolutely wanted to scream).

It was also a big deal because of the ridiculous amounts of insecurities that come from a weekend of eating garbage and then wearing bikinis, but we all came through it and survived it (though that probably will not be repeated any time soon). 

Overall though, pictures can sum it all up better than any words that I could try to string together ever could.

The Mallard family.

We are nothing if not a classy group. 

This was how the boys maintained caveman/manly man status - this is a throwing knife, and the purpose is to throw it hard enough that it sticks in the tree. 

Pontoon boat games are the greatest games.

Boys will be boys.

The gang's all here. 

When we finally got back home, a hot shower and an actual bed was probably the greatest feeling in the world. 

A vacation - no matter how fabulous - always reaffirms to me the positive relationship between my bed and I.

Are you fans of camping? What are your favorite camping tricks/memories?
Have a gorgeous week, mon amis!

Currently listening to: Two Points for Honesty - Guster
(we went to a Guster/Ben Folds concert last Saturday and were SIXTH row, so I've been fangirling a little bit since then -- especially since we met the band and then two of the band members from Guster sat directly in front of us for the rest of the show).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Loving Yourself.

Lately, I've been spending time with a new friend, who has become a very solid and positive influence in my life. It's always been so interesting to me how there are some people who you can just connect with, and you get that feeling of, "This person is going to be a friend for a long time." I've opened up more to this friend than to many who I've known for considerably longer. 

One of the things that we've opened up to one another about is body image issues. The more open I've become with my struggles with body image, the more I've realized that it is (sadly) not outside of the norm for people to struggle with all facets of their appearances.

For as long as I can remember, I've been incredibly hard on myself. My family always had extremely high expectations of me in all aspects of life - we needed to be put together physically, to excel at school, to excel at sports, etc. They didn't do it to be nasty or cold-hearted, but that high demand for perfection is something that has shaped me in a more negative way. There's nothing wrong with being a perfectionist to an extent, but when it starts to become more obsessive, or when you start beating yourself up for not meeting impossible to achieve standards, that's when a problem sets in.

I can remember studying for a calculus test when I was a junior in high school and getting an 80 on it, which was basically impossible because I was half-dumb in math (seriously, not gifted at all - though now it's one of my favorite things to teach). When I came home, exuberant from this grade that I had never thought would be possible, I said to my parents, "You will not believe what I got on my calculus exam!"

The response from my dad was, "100?" It was one of those stomach dropping moments, because here I was, elated over an 80, and yet that was the expectation - that I would get 100 on a test, even if I was awful at the subject. Soccer was the same demon - if I was set up for a goal and missed it - even if the angle was off, or someone was coming right at me, I would have to hear a run-through on the drive home over what I could have done to make that goal. The next few games I would make winning goals (which led to the soccer recruitment), but it didn't matter- the goals weren't as emphasized as the ones that were missed.

This led into me struggling with my appearance - something that I don't often open up about. When I'm around my guy friends - even ones who are not anything gorgeous by any terms - I hear them talk about women; the fat ones, the ones with a "butter face," the ones who are hot, etc. They are constantly talking about what is appealing, what isn't appealing - and this should not come as a surprise, but 99.7% of the time, you do not hear them say, "God, all I want is an awesome personality or someone who can make me laugh." Or if we see someone who might be a little heavier, you don't hear about the redeeming qualities she might have - instead it's just tearing someone down based on outward appearance.

As women, we get sucked into it as well. Way too often "slut" and "bitch" are thrown around to describe someone who may dress differently from us - or someone who just "looks like a bitch." We feed into it as well, sometimes because of insecurities, sometimes because of confidence. Believe you me, the meanest things I have said about other women are when I am feeling the lowest about myself.

The thing is, those words hold so much weight. I can still remember a comment that was made in high school about my skin. I used to have horrendous acne, something that I do still struggle with as an adult, and I can remember - verbatim - the comment that was made. There are times when I'm going through a particularly bad breakout when that statement comes back at me, and makes me feel even more horrible than I'm already feeling.

We get so angry when we hear about young kids bullying one another and constantly harassing each other - and yet, we're doing the same things to our peers, our friends, and ourselves. Somehow we've got to wrap out mind around the fact that it is possible to bully yourself, or to be a bully even as an adult.

Our words hold weight. You may not realize what an off-handed comment can do to someone, but if you don't know their background, you may not realize the impact that it has.

The friend that I mentioned earlier is recovering from an eating disorder. She's an absolutely beautiful person, inside and out, and I applaud her strength in getting help for her struggles. She has taught me to really watch what I say, especially regarding people's weight. A group of us went away, and I picked up on so many comments that people were making regarding weight, without even realizing it. And, eating disorders were joked about more often than you would realize - "God, I ate so much. If I want to fit into my bikini, I should probably go vomit," or "Ugh, I'm skipping dinner tonight after drinking so much!"

I can also remember in college - after I gained the freshman 20 (the freshman 15 is for amateurs) from a steady diet of 4 meals a day, beer, and lots of pizza - when I realized that I was extremely unhealthy. It wasn't so much a weight issue as it was that I couldn't even do anything - I couldn't run, I felt physically sick when I tried to play intramural soccer. I started doing yoga, limiting carbs (in a good way), and eating more fruits and vegetables. When I started to lose the weight again, which came off easily because I do have a fast metabolism thanks to genetics, I heard more nasty comments about my weight than when I was unhealthy due to the diet/lifestyle choices. The accusations of eating disorders led to me feeling even worse about myself, which led to a complete and total obsession with calorie counting, bingeing, abstaining from meals to make up for the bingeing,etc.  It spiraled into an unhealthy obsession that I did have control over, but that people also fed into (excuse the unintentional pun) by constantly critiquing my weight.

During our vacation away, someone made a comment to my dear friend about how, "You're a size 8, right?" Now, a size 8 is a gorgeous size and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But you do not ask someone what size they are unless you are extremely good friends with them and you want to borrow something of theirs... and even then, just no. The way that this was said though, was almost like a dig - as if there was shame in being a size 8. It came out later that the person who made this comment had also made comments to other people about how intimidated she was to be in a bikini all weekend and how she felt like she hadn't worked out enough before coming along with us. She had taken her insecurities and had then made it an insult to be a size 8, and she had unknowingly brought up weight to a recovering bulimic.

Somehow, we need to start loving ourselves. We need to stop emphasizing what size we are, and start feeling good about ourselves. You can be a size 26, but if you can exercise and feel great, then fuck what anyone says about it. If you're a size 0, and that's just the way you've always been, then good for you too. Everyone in the middle of those ranges is also just perfect as you are. If there's something you want to improve, try it - work out a few times a week, build up strength. Fall in love with your own body, with your own appearance.

I really believe that if we start loving ourselves more - even our flaws (because they will always be there), that maybe we can start working on how we view each other as well. All of us - regardless of sex, race, sexuality - struggle with how we look from one time to another, and by being honest about that and trying harder to give ourselves and others a break, maybe we can start to combat that so the next generation can also learn to love themselves.

It's just been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and writing is sometimes the most cathartic thing I can do. I'm now off to figure out what I can do in my life to love myself a little bit more. 

All images via Pinterest (add me if we're not already connected!). 

Currently listening to: Flowers in Your Hair - The Lumineers

Thursday, July 4, 2013


It is our Independence Day here in the US - which means lots of fireworks, barbecues, beer, and red, white, and blue is happening in the States as we celebrate together as Americans. 

This is a post that is celebrating all things red, white, and blue - fantastic colors for anyone, but something that has some extra meaning for Americans on July 4th! So whether you're celebrating or not, use these as inspiration - from the monochromatic to very colorful. 

A. Red

Strawberry cheesecake Popsicles - recipe here.

B. White

C. Blue

D. All of the above. 

I'm obsessed with the turquoise necklace in addition to the American flag. 

DIY cuffed jeans from the Free People blog. These are phenomenal and would be such a fun project!

How will you be spending the fourth? Do you go all out with the red, white, and blue, or keep it solid?

Currently listening to: National Anthem - Lana Del Ray (it's only fitting). 

All images via Pinterest.