Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tempted to Write a Thank You Letter...

I have never been tempted to write a thank you letter to a stranger before today.

Call me schmaltzy, overly-sentimental, whatever.
I am very tempted to write a thank you letter to Oprah.

On yesterdays episode of Oprah, she revealed that she had an unknown half-sister.

In the announcement of her sister, Patricia, Oprah recognized that Patricia had reservations about contacting her birth family because of how it could potentially affect he half siblings.
That recognition, combined with Oprahs openness and receptiveness is what has me considering writing a thank you letter.
Nineteen years ago (almost to the day!) I contacted my birth fathers family. Prior to making contact a number of factors crossed my mind. Obviously, the first was to prepare myself for the worst case scenario - potentially having the door literally slammed in my face. However, my largest concern was the effect that my sudden presence would have upon any family that my father had - a wife, young children. The possibility of disrupting the lives of small children was what gave me the most hesitation. My own questions of my family origins had distressed me enough that I did not want to potentially cause that kind of emotional stress and anxiety upon any other kids. Ultimately, I overcame those fears and hesitations and made contact with my paternal family - a story that I think is due to be shared in very short order.

But first, I want to say thank you to Oprah. Thank you for showing the world a level of openness and understanding that gives children, even adult children, permission to find their families.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

know what sucks? when your dog sleeps on your case-less pillow (doing laundry) so your pillow smells like dog and you cant sleep on a pillow that smells like dog, so you put it in the washer. After that, you put it in the dryer... because pillows should be dry, right? And you're walking to the dryer thinking how tonight you're going to have a nice, warm, toasty pillow to rest your weary head upon. Once you open the dryer you see a scene that looks like a flock of geese have been murdered and only then do you remember that the pillow was down-filled.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Should "Fatties" Get a Voice?

The entire blogosphere is in an uproar over the recent article by Maura Kelly on Marie Claires website.

If you have not read it already, please take a few moments to do so.

A lot of people are quite upset with Ms. Kelly right now. I've read a number of blog entries, and subsequent comments, revealing her home address and phone number because people are so angry with her for voicing her opinion.

I will say right now that vilifying someone for their personal opinion is NOT okay. I'm not saying that I'm completely innocent in that regard, I've had my own moments of knee jerk reactions to certain topics and have lambasted someone for their opinion, but I will say that publicizing someones home address, and/or phone number, is not okay with me and if by some chance it is done via my blog, I will immediately delete your comment.

Now, on to my own personal diatribe....

I have never hidden the fact that I am overweight. By any standard I would be considered morbidly obese. I recognize this and I offer zero apologies for it. However, I do not expect every person on this planet to find my physical appearance to be "aesthetically pleasing." I have struggled with my own weight. When I've battled it, I've literally starved myself to get to a size 12 - and when I've accepted it, I've worked as a plus sized model in a size 14.

A persons weight is a personal issue. I may be the size that I am because of genetics, because of poor personal choices, or because of physical limitations. Does it really matter what the reason is? If I am the size I am because of a genetic disorder rather than poor personal choices does that have an affect upon how aesthetically pleasing someone finds me to be? No.

I want to clarify, in case I haven't already, that I feel no ill will towards Ms. Kelly. She has been open about her own issues of body dysmorphia, her own struggles with anorexia, her own challenges regarding her weight and body issues. While it may sound like she has her personal issue under control, and I say that with very little certainty since I don't know her, I believe that she is at least still projecting her feelings regarding weight onto others.

Where I feel contempt is towards the editors of Marie Claire magazine.

Many years ago I was the news editor for my college newspaper. I never went into that position jockeying for it, eyeing for a career in journalism. I simply turned in my assignments, unbiased, pre-edited, and was given the position because of my performance. However, I assumed the position of news editor and exercised it to the best of my ability. I edited the articles submitted by other writers. I corrected typos and blatant grammatical errors, and when an article came my way that was blatantly biased and prejudiced, I returned it to the writer and told them that it was unacceptable.

Editors hold a position of responsibility; not only of ensuring that their writers are completing their assignments, but also of ensuring that the articles published are of an acceptable material for their audience. Editors are in the position they are in because they, supposedly, have proven that they know their audience and what is expected of a writer of their genre. Ms Kelly's editor fell short of their duties. While Ms Kelly is entitled to her opinion, her editor is in the position to go back to her and say "The average American woman is at least overweight, if not obese. We can not alienate our market. Please rewrite."
This should have been an especially obvious revelation considering the public reaction to the nude photo of Lizzi Miller in Glamour magazine in 2009.

For those who do not know, Lizzi Miller was featured, practically nude!, in the September 2009 issue of Glamour magazine. Upon publication, Glamours editor-in-chief received emails saying things such as "I am gasping with delight...I love the woman on p 194!"

Lizzi Millers photo IS beautiful. Yes, she wears a size 12-14, BUT Glamours audience found her to be "Gorgeous!" and I agree. Lizzi IS gorgeous. Looking at her photo, she has what you could describe as "rolls," she has a stomach - a "pooch," she has stretch marks, and most importantly, she has a beautiful smile and a radiance about her.

Todays woman is many sizes. She is thin and waif like. She is athletic. She is curvy. She is voluptuous. And, yes, she can be obese; even morbidly so.
BUT, todays woman is also many other things. She is a mother. She is a professional. She is a homemaker. She is girlfriend, a wife, a lover. She is a sister. She is a cousin. She is an aunt. She is a reader and a consumer. She may very well be a subscriber to Marie Claire magazine.
It is because of this that the editors of Marie Claire hold the responsibility that their articles do not offend their audience.
Their audience is a that of a growingly large population - both literally, and figuratively. As we increasingly become a nation of diversity, products which depend upon us for success hold the responsibility of not alienating us - whether we're waif like, athletic, curvy, voluptuous, or obese.

To get back to Ms Kelly.
In short, I feel sorry for her. She projected her bias onto the general public, and now she will most likely feel the professional ramifications. I feel sorry for her because while it sounds like her personal demons regarding weight have been reigned in, it does not sound as though they have been silenced.
I feel sorry for her because she will, most likely, constantly feel the pull to go to the gym rather than to go for a night out with her girlfriends. I doubt that Ms Kelly will ever feel the freedom of enjoying who she is, regardless of those few extra pounds. I doubt that she will ever be nude with a man for the first time and not feel ashamed of that fold at her hip. I doubt that she will ever not be aware of the crease of her breast. I doubt that she will ever accept that dimple of cellulite on the back of her thigh.

It is because of that that I feel sorry for her.

There is a freedom that comes with accepting who you are, and who every woman is,... every single god forsaking pound of it.

When you accept that last pound, that last roll, that last fold, that last crease, and that last dimple, there is a liberation. A liberation that allows you to enjoy life. A liberation that allows you to take off for Italy rather than join a gym. A liberation that allows you to have another glass of wine with your friends instead of running around a track for an hour. A liberation that allows you to love yourself, and others, because of your flaws rather than in spite of them.

I hope that Ms Kelly is able to, one day, find that peace, acceptance, and love within herself. It took a LONG time, but I was eventually able to find it, and I have never ever ever been happier.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Bringing Crafty Back.... or maybe just thinking about it.

In the last year I've lost my craft groove.
I used to come home from work and after I'd fixed dinner and did the dishes, I'd sit back and knit or crochet while watching TV or a movie.
Lately I've been wasting time on facebook instead.
In some ways I miss it - I miss producing things to give as gifts to the people dear to me. However, my bank account doesn't miss is since I used to spend WAY WAY WAY to much money on yarn and other crafty accouterments.
Some recent projects on Knitty have caught my eye though and may inspire a bit of a return to the needles.

I love these sweaters, the first one especially, and can picture myself wearing each of them. I'm wondering if I could finish one in time for my upcoming trip to Italy. Doubtful, but possibly worth a try.

These scarves and hat are pretty cute... and a lot more likely to be accomplished in time for my trip.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pipe Dreams

Back In August I had the opportunity to visit my family in Oregon for the wedding of my younger cousin, Jenny.
The night of the wedding - after everyone had left, and it was just us family sitting around - my other cousin Josh started picking my travel brain. He wants to backpack through Europe with his girlfriend in the next year or two and wanted to know where I've been and what I thought of each country.
Ireland - so lush and beautiful, welcoming, old world like in many ways. A must see for those of us with ancestral ties.
western Germany - the people can be a bit uptight (sorry Germans!), but still a trip that I enjoyed overall. Great food, fantastic beer.
Paris - beautifully romantic, great food, delicious wine, amazing artworks, friendly people.
Venice & Florence - romantically beautiful, beautiful cathedrals, delectable gelato, great wine, friendly and welcoming people.
London - captivating history, some really good free museums, watching the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace is something everyone should see in their lifetime.
Then he asked me where I would go back to visit again. I told him obviously Italy since I'm going again in November, but ultimately I would want to revisit any of the countries I've been to. Yes, even Germany.
Frustrated that I couldn't say there was one definite, absolute, hands-down, without a doubt, favorite Josh asked me which country I would be willing to live in.
That made me stop and really think. If I were to move to Europe, where would I want to live?
I've often thought of what I would do if I came into a sudden windfall of cash, and that fantasy always involved an extended visit to Europe. Traveling through all of the countries I've already been to, plus several more. I've imagined flying into Ireland and spending a couple of weeks there, visiting England and Scotland. Visit the home of some of my other ancestors: Norway. Spend a couple of weeks in France: explore more of Paris, go wine-tasting in the Bordeaux region, swim in the Mediterranean off the coast of Nice. See the cathedrals in Spain. Go back to Italy - do a little window shopping in Milan, have real pizza in Naples, ride a Gondola in Venice. See more of Germany - Oktoberfest in Munich, touch the remnants of The Wall, visit Auschwitz and mourn the loss of possibilities. Explore the ruins in Greece. I could go on forever about what I would do with three or four months in Europe.
But, Josh got me thinking of living there and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to answer. I said that while I did enjoy Germany overall, that is one place that I don't think I would want to live. I could see myself spending extended periods of time in London or Paris. But for living - maybe a vacation/retirement home - it would have to be either Ireland or Italy. Ireland would definitely have the advantage in the language department. Meaning, I wouldn't have to learn one. However, Italy has a vibrancy to it that is very attractive.

When I got home from Oregon I started looking at international real estate listings. Why? I have no clue. But for those first two weeks that I was home I was obsessively looking online during my spare time and Italy started edging out Ireland, simply because the Italian real estate market seems to have some VERY depressed regions right now while Irelands appears to be holding fairly strong.
Specifically, theres one region about an hour north of Florence that has some amazing deals and I found a number of listings that really caught my eye. Yes, many of them need extensive renovations, but some of them need minimal refurbishing.
I don't have any kind of down payment set aside to actualize a dream like this, but its inspiring to know that its not unattainable in the long run. Its given me
something more to work towards than my next international vacation. Some of the properties I favored
This one is a former sawmill on a creek... for $329,000

This one needs a lot of work
, BUT it has olive trees AND a mature working vineyard which produces 7,000 litres of wine per year. For $395,000

But, this is the one that REALLY piqued my interest
. In need of minimal work, its ready to move in and is livable. For $47,500!

Its given me a long term goal. Someplace I dream I could take friends and family to, a place to introduce my niece and younger cousins to the culture of a country other than our own, an "Under the Tuscan Sun" type fantasy to hopefully live out one day.

I need to set up a savings account for this pipe dream.... or, win the lotto.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Decade.

Tomorrow, July 10, marks ten years at my current job. I must say that I'm a bit dumbfounded. I can not believe that I have been with this company for a decade.

When I started this job, I truly felt that I was in over my head. For the previous five years I had worked in call centers for a large shipping company. While I enjoyed the perks (free flights on the companies airplanes!) I had grown to really dislike my job. I basically dreaded going in to work every day. There was no challenge to it - other than not calling the woman who burst into tears, hyperventilating!, because her new cell phone would be delayed by a day a loser.
So, I posted my resume online and really didn't know what to expect from there.
I got a bunch of calls from temp agencies, which I had ZERO interest in.
After a few months I got a call from the company I know work for... a payroll company. Completely and entirely different from what I had been doing.
I went ahead with the interview, was interviewed twice on the same day by two different managers and both told me that the learning curve for this job was on average 18 months.
Psshh, I thought. They're just trying to scare off the slackers.
A few days later I got the call with the job offer. I started a couple of weeks later.
After four weeks of training here in town I had two weeks of training in the corporate offices back on the east coast and came back to work.

Some days it feels like I've been at this job for two years, others it feels like twenty.
Either way, I'm still a bit amazed that I've stuck through ten years there.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home Office

I'm contemplating setting up a home office. Yes, we currently have a tv/computer room with the family desktop computer that everyone has access to, but I'm contemplating setting up one of my own. You see, I'm looking into somehow managing a work from home/telecommute option with my employer and if I succeed in doing this I will need a dedicated "work area" for my work computer and printer and everything that goes along with it. A set up that wouldn't be for the use of anyone who comes over.
Of course, this requires some window shopping for a desk, file cabinet, book case, etc. Granted, I recognize that this is all my dream set up. Ideal for if I had a couple of extra buckets of cash at my disposal and no need to be mindful of a budget for all of this furniture and decor. I looked at various office collections; desks, file cabinets, bookshelves and printer stands. Ultimately I found this office that summarized what I would like almost to the last detail - the only exception being that I would prefer the desk and shelving and whatnot to be in black rather than white - greater contrast against the walls.

Doesn't it look lovely? Wouldn't that be a beautiful office to work in every day?
In all actually, I won't orchestrate a set up like this one. I'm sure that I'll end up repurposing existing furniture and I doubt that I'll be redecorating the walls with the bright colors and floral motifs like the office above, but if I'm able to orchestrate a scenario in which I can work from home I will make the set up as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Helmet Shopping, Part Deux...

I went with this one.

It best coordinates with my scooter.