Accepting: Insecurity

30 October 2013
How do you feel about insecurity? It is a trait that is greatly frowned upon and viewed as something shameful. Anyone who has ever been single has been told that insecurity is a big turn-off. Nobody wants to be friends with someone who is insecure.

But is that really true? And what does that mean?

First, let's review the definition of insecurity:

Consider the first part of the definition: "uncertainty or anxiety about oneself." Who has never felt that at some point in their life? 

When I look back at my life so far, I can see the times when insecurity plagued me. When I was overweight, I was incredibly insecure about my figure. I still am from time to time, when I look in the mirror and see countless silver wisps across my hips, inner arms, stomach, and breasts. Or when I see that bulge of upper tummy that will never disappear, no matter how strong my abs are, nor how small I become. When I realize that I have never had a young, firm body, and nor will I ever. In theory, these thoughts and feelings mean I should never bare my skin in public.

And yet I do. I wore a bikini while I vacationed in Hawaii, all while questioning if the younger, fitter women were gazing in disgust at my extra skin that comes from losing weight and having poor skin elasticity. Then there are the times I perform belly dance in public, a dance whose very name calls for me to bare the one part of my body about which I feel the most insecure. So perhaps I am not so insecure as I thought.

But then.

There is an insecurity that permeates much deeper than my skin. An insecurity that comes from a deep desire to be loved and valued, not for what is on the outside of me, but for what is inside. I see my value, but I always wonder if others see it.

Making new friends, for instance. After a first or second encounter with a potential new friend, I become incredibly insecure, wondering if said person actually wants to be my friend, or if I scared them away by talking either too little or too much. Was I too vulnerable? Did I sound too opinionated? Was I too negative?

Am I too insecure?

We all want to be loved, and we all fear not having love. And for that reason, I question the demonization of insecurity. Instead, I think we need to treat it with acceptance.

Insecurity doesn't feel good, and treating insecurity in another person as though it is the plague is not helpful to anyone. We've got to cut the shame out of insecurity.

In order to accept insecurity, you must first recognize it where it exists. It is a feeling, one which must be examined. Where does it come from? Why is it there?

Once you recognize insecurity, you can begin to move past it. When it comes to my body insecurity, it helps to not look into mirrors or look at pictures of myself. At the same time, I know that this is my body, I've done my best with it, but gosh darn it, it deserves to feel the warmth of the sun and the glow of a spotlight. It deserves to be covered in glitter as it dances for a smiling audience.

And as for my emotional insecurities, I don't let them stop me from trying to forge new relationships. If someone does not want my friendship, I know that they are missing out on something awesome. I will still feel insecure at the beginning, and that is ok. Because in that case, the insecurity comes from not knowing- not knowing what will come of this relationship and not knowing what the other person is thinking. And who knows? Maybe that other person has the same insecurity.

What do you think about insecurity? Do you ever judge yourself or others for feeling insecure? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers to 31

28 October 2013
It goes like this: take some home-made pierogies, some homemade borscht, a lentil salad, some challah, and some zinfandel and you have the makings of a nice Ukrainian feast. Add some shots of vodka, a family, and a birthday, and you have the makings of one of the best birthday celebrations in family history.

My family is by no means perfect, but when things are good and the stars converge, it is an awesome family to be a part of. This year I wanted a homemade Ukrainian feast to celebrate my birthday, complete with vodka toasts. My brothers toasted me for giving the family a reason to drink on my birthday, and my nephew's toast went something like "Happy birthday Ray-Ray, and, I like you, and..." But the toasts that made me stop and think the most were from my parents.

My mom toasted to me for being the daughter she never thought she and my dad would have, and my dad toasted to me for being the daughter they did have. After the fog of vodka and wine and cake cleared, I was able to think about what this meant. What my existence means.

I am a physical manifestation of love.

My parents did not have an easy time conceiving me. I took a few years to arrive. But they loved each other, and that love drove them to keep trying until they finally had me.

When I consider this, I realize that I was a blessing to my parents. And it took me 31 years to figure that out. I spent a good amount of my youth feeling like the world would have been a better place if I hadn't been born. But now I see just how untrue that is, and how ungrateful to my parents that thinking is.

When I enter a new year of my life, I like to set an intention or a wish for the year. This year, I want to focus on the root of my being, on who I am. I will give myself permission to dream big, because to deny my dreams is to deny who I am at my core. And seeing that I am a manifestation of love, and knowing that love conquers all, I believe that I can truly conquer anything.

So, 31, here's to you and the infinite possibilities that you hold. May you be a year filled with love and dreams fulfilled. And may you shine brighter than any other.

Thoughts on 30

27 October 2013
As I sit here on the eve of my 31st birthday (which is Monday), I reflect upon what the past year has been. 30 was certainly not my best year, but I truly believe the best is yet to come. Instead, it was a year of learning and growing, a year of opportunities that were not meant to be. A year of connecting and re-connecting. A year of moving forward and backward.

Some highlights:
  • Spending an amazing Christmas Eve with my family, learning to make Ukrainian food.
  • Watching my nephews grow.
  • Making new friends.
  • Starting this blog.
  • Building a regular yoga practice.
  • Reading some amazing books.
  • Going on some beautiful hikes.
  • Visiting the ocean twice.
  • Going wine tasting several times.
  • Discovering many great restaurants with my parents.
  • Attending Kathryn Budig's enlightening yoga workshop.
Lessons learned about life:
  • Health comes first.
  • Personal time is a priority, not a luxury.
  • A good way to slow the passing of time is to spend it in nature.
  • Fresh air really does a body good.
  • Can't sleep? Take some slow, deep breaths.
  • Cuddle the dog. Always cuddle the dog.
  • Cuddle the babies/toddlers. They won't cuddle much longer.
  • Flowers brighten rooms and moods.
  • Not all opportunities will work out, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
  • You do not have to be a friend to every person who tries.

Lessons learned about myself:
  • I'm tenacious when I have a concrete goal.
  • I'm a lean, mean, pierogi-making machine.
  • My strength lies in my sensitivity.
  • I have a lot to learn about communicating.
  • My eyes will always be bigger than my stomach, when it comes to eating, learning, reading, and experiencing.

In all, I feel that I can be proud of my 30. I really lived my 30 and didn't bat an eye at the passing of another year. If this was my 30, I can't wait to see what 31 will bring.

Fabulous Fridays: October 25

25 October 2013
Happy Friday, my dear readers! Today I'm going to treat my Fabulous Fridays post a little bit differently than I have in the past. I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately, in part because my birthday is fast approaching (it's on Monday), and in part because I've been in a bit of a creative funk and I've needed to regroup.

So I want to let you know some of what I have been thinking about, and reshape my Fabulous Fridays posts with these thoughts in mind. 

First of all, I've been trying to bring myself back into balance. When I was blogging 5 times a week, I was putting a lot of myself out into the universe, but never taking much time to let the energy I put out come back to me. I stopped spending time in nature, which also threw off my energy. I've been doing a lot of reading about chakras lately, and I've come to find that my root chakra is nearly depleted, leaving me feeling un-supported. I would like to explore this idea further in a future post.

Second, I've been hearing a lot of bad news in the media lately, and I'm sick of it. I know there is more money to be made form sensationalism, but for sensitive folk like myself, it really hurts the spirit and leaves me feeling frustrated and sometimes feeling like I want to close off from the world. But the world needs my light.

I have come to realize that I need to cultivate and share my light, my positive energy with the world. I must take time to care for myself and ground myself, and then I will be better able to share this light with everyone. 

Therefore, I want to use my Fabulous Fridays space to share good news. Good things in my life, and good things I have heard about in the past week. Welcome to the new and improved Fabulous Fridays!

My Good News:

  • I spent Sunday wine tasting in the Willamette Valley with my parents. I enjoyed a little too much wine, and convinced my dad to buy me two bottles for my birthday. Add to that a delicious lunch at a bistro, and gorgeous Autumn scenery, and it made for a heck of a great day.
  • After being rejected by my nephew all weekend long in favor of mommy and daddy, my nephew finally wanted my attention again on Tuesday night. Anyone who has ever spent much time around a toddler knows how fickle their affections are.

Other Good News:

Ok, so it's a short list, but it's a start. And now I'd like to know if you have good news to share- something in your life, a friend's life, or a bit of news from around the web. Please share with me your good news in the comments- I love hearing from you!

October is for Pumpkins

22 October 2013
As I sit here contemplating what to write, nothing comes to mind. It could be that the space I am in (a Vietnamese Bistro) is not conducive to my creativity, or it could just be that the things I want to say will take a bit more time and consideration to develop. So instead of writing today, I will leave with pictures from my family's trip to the pumpkin patch. Go ahead, be jealous.

The pumpkin patch of my dreams.

My brother makes pumpkin-picking look cool.

My nephew finds the pumpkin patch to be the perfect place for a tantrum.

Sisters love pumpkin patches.

Who is the Fox in the mirror?
This goat wanted a kiss.

Fox gets the best view in the corn maze.

Trying to be a big kid.

Because any pumpkin patch worth its salt has a pumpkin launch.

Family time.

I Like to Read: The Paris Wife and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

16 October 2013
It should be no secret by now that I enjoy a good story. Many of my life's passions can be boiled down to my love of stories, whether it be books, art, podcasts, travel, or people. The best way to connect with me and form a solid relationship is to share your stories with me.

And thus I love reading. And I love reading about writers and the people they loved. Perhaps that is my greater interest- the story of the lover behind the writer. Which is why I read both The Paris Wife and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald almost back-to-back.

Let me tell you, reading these two stories back-to-back is an excellent choice. Both stories leave you wanting more. Perhaps I should explain.

The Paris Wife is about Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, and Z is about Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife. Both of these women are fascinating characters who were involved in tragic marriages with two of America's best writers of the early 20th century.

While reading The Paris Wife, I was transported to 1920's Paris. You all know how much I love Paris, so this book was a welcome vessel of return. This Paris, however, was seedier, and simply a backdrop to the sad story that is Hadley's marriage. The story is told from her point of view, and given that she is merely Hem's first wife, it is no spoiler that the marriage does not end well. In fact, I spent much of the book hating Hemingway and wishing he would get his act together. He clearly loved Hadley, but alas, he loved himself more.

Zelda's story is similar in that she married a writer who became an alcoholic, but again, as history has shown, it is no spoiler that this marriage remained legally intact for the duration of Scott and Zelda's lives. Sadly, Zelda's story is one of mental illness, which is what ultimately separated Zelda and Scott (she was institutionalized multiple times and died in a fire at her last institution). 

Both of these women were sharp and opinionated, which seems to be what drew their husbands to begin with, but where Hadley seemed happy to live a domestic life, Zelda wanted a career of her own, whether it be writing or dance. When these women's dreams appeared to interfere with the wishes of the husbands, that is where the marriages go downhill.

What I loved about both of these books is the insight into these women's lives, despite these being fictionalized accounts. Women's stories are often brushed under the rug and lost to history, so it is intriguing to consider what the lives of these women must have been like, what their inner worlds must have felt like. And to me, that is the crux of a good story- a glimpse into another person's inner world.

If you haven't read either of these books, I highly recommend them both. They're easy to read, and even easier to get lost in. If you're like me and always looking for a good book recommendation, add these to your to-read list (and you can check out my reading list on Goodreads- or add me as a friend!).

And now, I would like to introduce you to someone else who enjoys reading, Allie of Call Me Sassafrass! I asked Allie a few questions about books and reading, and here are her answers:

What is your favorite book of all time?
My favorite book ever is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's the story of a little girl adopted by a quirky German couple that hides a Jewish man during World War II. Also, the little girl learns to read and steals books from Hitler's book burnings. A book about books! Being German, I feel a connection to World War II literature but this novel especially doesn't feel boring and historical but is really interesting.

What is your favorite recent read?
Recently, I read The Light Between Oceans for the Busy Blogger's Book Club but I'm not going to talk about that one yet! You can read about it on the blog on the 15th and join the next round of the book club!

What do you like about reading?
I've always loved to read. I learned to read very young and have never stopped. I love the opportunities for learning that I get from reading. I do love to read some good memoirs or nonfiction (I recommend Beautiful Boy or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and of course I learn from those. But there's also something to be said about exposing yourself to different lives that you might not have had a chance to understand otherwise. 

To get started, you can read Allie's advice for banishing a funky mood, read about the weird music she listens to, or how she intends to get happy in 90 days. Allie also does graphic design work, which you can check out here! Finally, you can also find Allie on Bloglovin, Twitter, and Facebook. Go show her some love!

And now tell me, what have you been reading lately? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: October 4

04 October 2013
Happy first Friday in October, my friends! It's time for orange pumpkins and crimson leaves, black cats and crisp red apples. It's also the one month a year that it is not only acceptable, but expected, to wear Halloween socks (though I confess to wearing them year-round). I also can't mention October and not mention Vincent Price, whose movies are particularly enjoyable this time of year.

But hey, it's Friday, and that means it's time to review some of the good things that have happened this week:

My mom bought me some new Halloween socks- these ones sparkle!

My sister is re-teaching me how to knit. I might need to build a scarf fort.

I've just finished reading this book about Zelda Fitzgerald. October is a great month for reading.
Hopefully, this weekend will find me at a pumpkin patch, if the weather holds out. Before I ask about your weekends, I'd like you to meet a sponsor and fellow Oregonian/dog owner, Anna, who blogs at A Dash of Quirky!

Tell me about your blog.
I started my blog to document my ups and downs with trichotillomania, and it morphed into a place where I could share about life, love, and a little of everything in-between!

When do you feel most confident?
I feel most confident when I'm just hanging out with family - it's when I can be completely relaxed and silly.

What do you like to do to “treat yo’self?
I can't think of many things more relaxing than a mani/pedi spa day!  I only splurge every once in awhile, but it's definitely a treat when I do.

What is the best compliment you have received lately?
I was recently told that I was doing a great job in my new position at work.  I've been working really hard, so it felt really good to hear!

Anna keeps things real, which is something that I really appreciate in a fellow blogger. To get started, check out 10 Life Lessons I've LearnedAllow Me To Reintroduce Myself, and Ernie's New Start. You can also follow Anna on Bloglovin and Twitter. Stop on by and show her some love!

And now I want to wish you all a happy weekend! What are you up to? I'd love to hear form you in the comments below!

Tending the Fire

01 October 2013

A good fire needs several things: fuel, air, and a source. You should lay a base of some solid, dry wood, and then maybe top with some smaller pieces of wood as kindling. Add a fire-starter to the pile, and then set it on fire. You can fuel that with some strips of newspaper- those seem to really get the blaze going. To keep the fire blazing for long, you will need to be sure to add more kindling to the fire- a good fire requires tending.

Last week I felt like I had reached a point where my fire was no longer burning. I could see some glowing embers, but I was frustrated as to why the fire had died. So I stepped away from my blog for a bit, in order to tend to the creative fire within. I needed to learn a bit about how to keep a fire going so that I could put it into practice. With this time, I've been able to reflect and re-evaluate what I'm doing with this space, and I'm ready to get the blaze going again..

I realized my fire dwindled because I had gotten too caught up in the game of blogging; it seemed to be what all of the other bloggers were doing. Anyone who has known me very long could tell you I'm not one for playing those kinds of games- the keep up with the Joneses types of games. I love a good board game, but when I feel the competition is stacked against me, I'm likely to quit or throw some kind of fit. I hate competition, and I really hate when things feel unfair. 

And blogging began to feel that way. Like on huge popularity contest, where I never even intended to run with that crowd to begin with. I've never been popular. I've never been thin, tan, or blonde enough, and I can only manage to straighten my hair for special occasions. I've also never been able to give up my own beliefs and things I enjoy doing just to take up the beliefs that someone else has dictated as being "cool" and doing the same things that all the other cool kids do. I never was a partier: I had my first alcoholic drink two weeks after my 21st birthday, and to this day have never smoked anything, and I've never seen hard drugs. I'm a square. And I love that about me.

So I got worn out with blogging. My game-playing was getting me nowhere, and I began to feel lost. I'd lost my fire. I realized I didn't want to play the game- that's not what I signed up for. I only ever signed up to be me, to write whatever comes through my fingertips. To share my authentic self, which I do believe I have done thus far. But apparently there's more to blogging than just writing, and that is what has worn me down.

But it doesn't have to. Check the title of this blog.

So now, again, I'm Tossing the Script of blogging. I'm only going to tweet when I feel like it (like if I read something that makes me think of another blogger and I just need to share it with her), and I will only comment on other blog posts when I really connect with what the blogger is saying (which means no more link-ups for me, for now). It's probably not cool of me, but I need to do what is right for me. I need to fuel my own fire, instead of fanning someone else's.

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