Friday, June 20, 2014

Let's Talk About: Body Size (NSFW)

This is a touchy subject, but one that, as a woman who is all around average, I find I am encountering more and more and need to change my thinking and the words I use around friends.



I used to believe that "skinny" was bad.  It wasn't "healthy" and that "skinny" people should eat a sandwich!
Similarly, I was sad that "large" people were clearly not taking care of their bodies and allowing them to simply be large, fat, or overweight.

What I know now is that IT. DOESN'T. MATTER.  I have lots of friends who are super tiny and lots of friends who have a whole lotta curves to love, and you know what?  I love them.  This article "Is Staying Thin Easy? It Doesn't Matter" came up on my facebook feed today.  Previously I would have probably just scoffed and kept scrolling, but today I stopped, clicked through and read it.
I credit the things I choose to read in helping me change how I think about bodies, I credit kind and gracious friends who quietly come up to me and let me know that the skinny shaming comment I just unthinkingly made hurt them.  I, like many women, fell into the Body Mass Index lie and the desire to be "fit" which in my head went something like this: Fit=skinny=desirable by society/boys.
Fitness is different for each and every person.  Some people have an extremely difficult time exercising, changing diet, etc for a variety of legitimate reasons.  Some people over-exercise and look unhealthy so they can fit into the lie social media spoon-feeds us that we all need to look a certain way.

Truth is, you  need to look like YOU!  I am 5'5", 180lbs and could do with some cardio.  My BMI (lie) claims I am obese and need to be around 140lbs.  That my friends is bullshit.  140 was a number I hit in high school when I was 18, to go back down to that now I would need to seriously lose a bunch of muscle and all over body fat.  I, and both personal trainers that I have had the pleasure of meeting, think this is crazy.  155-165 is a better range for me on average.

Do I have the time to go work out a lot right  now?  Not really.  Am I going to feel bad for eating a hamburger and enjoying a beer?  Absolutely not.  It has taken me a long, long time to fall in love with this amazing body of mine, and I am still learning how to love myself.  I worry over how my body will change after I have kids, will I want a breast reduction?  Will my fiancee still love me?    It's easy to spiral downwards into a hole of self-loathing.

The most healthy thing, the best diet, the most vigorous excercise you can do for yourself?  Teach yourself to Love You!  Look at your body, look at your curves, or your slender frame and tell yourself that it is beautiful.  Love your stretch marks, love your bony hips or your nubby spine.  Love your curvy hips, tiny waist.  Love your wide shoulders and strong thighs.  Love yourself.  Find someone who genuinely loves you for, (wait for it,) YOU!  Don't settle for less.

This is plus-size model Tess Munster and I think she is fabulous!  I love how she unashamedly loves her chubby body, and how she unapologetically flaunts what she's got for all the world.  


Tumblr blogger RottenMorgue is the opposite of Tess.  Skinny, bony, and adorable, she makes a living flaunting her adorably weird little self in private video chats.  I'm including her here partially because I love how wacky she is, and partially because I can't think of a better example of skinny.

The list goes on...

people who work out all the time...

people who don't.
(yes, this is me, sorry Mom!)

Everyone is beautiful.  
Learn to Love You!

Love,
Anna


Friday, June 13, 2014

England: Part One

It's high time I shared photos of my trip to Europe!  I went in September for the better part of a week and saw so many gorgeous things.  Sometime in the summer Nathen's parents asked us if we would like to join them on a wee trip to London.  None of us had ever gone and of course we said yes!  
We left on September 5th and arrived on the 6th!  On the way over we traveled from Seattle to Atlanta, and from there we went across the ocean to the fabled lands of England.  

Seattle...

Sunset #1


ATLANTA!

I didn't take many picture of the trip over, partially because we were all quite sleepy, and because my phone was off most of the time.  I quite liked this sculpture in the Atlanta airport though.  Reminded me of a giant net, this one perhaps to catch mermaids?

Finally!  Finally, we landed on foreign soil.  We collected ourselves and our luggage from Heathrow airport and went to meet a car service to take us to our hotel.  There were so many people with signs in many different languages and it was a little overwhelming.  Clamoring, caterwauling throngs trying to get from one point to the other.  We huddled close to each other and scanned the crowd for "Millbank" on a sign.  Nothing.  Just as we found a corner to pause and collect ourselves in, I caught sight of a sign bearing "Curtiss"!  Who would have thought to look for my name?  I hadn't counted it out of the realm of possibility.  Our driver was a dear wee man from Eastern Europe.  He welcomed us to London in broken English and escorted us to his car.  We loaded up and headed out!
He asked us what hotel, to which we replied, "Lancaster Gate"  After a pleasant drive we were deposited outside a formidable looking hotel that at first glance was far more luxurious than the one we were supposed to be staying at.  Our driver unloaded our luggage, thanked us, and drove off.  
We went inside.  The young Austrian woman at the front desk had a disapproving look about her and told us, cooly, that the Lancaster Gate Hotel, Hyde Park was just five blocks over.  We were in zipcode W1, not W2.  

A short stroll in the intermittent rain got us to our very comfortable little hotel.  

MUCH better!



Inside we unpacked the poor, squished little Monsters and got things settled.

The littles quite approved of our room!

We were all quite grumpy, but made our way to the first floor of the hotel where there was a bar and a dining area.  Real food, at a real table, in real chairs, with COFFEE (!!) and we were soon back to rights.  
Nathen, his dad Bob, and I went for a little stroll after a wee snooze.  The main road, Bayswater ran along  part of Hyde Park which also houses the Kensington Gardens.  We ended up at The Swan, a fun little pub on Bayswater with more decorative Victorian panelwork than I had ever seen in my life.  It's common enough in downtown Seattle to find some panels on the ceilings of restaurants, but in London it was everywhere and I loved it!

See the wall texture?  

We collected ourselves and had a glass of proper ESB, English Style Bitter, which I would compare to something like Redhook or Smithwicks.  Very tasty.  Along our walk, every pub we passed claimed superiority in possessing the best fish and chips.  When the Brits say fish and chips, what they mean is an entire side of fish!  Skin and tail on the bottom side, tender white flesh battered and fried on the other.  It comes on a bed of "chips" which I would categorise as steak fries.  Nice thick ones.  Fish and chips also comes with a side of mushy peas.  Part mashed peas and part al-dente fresh peas.  Not unpleasant, just peculiar.  I had myself a delicious plate of bangers and mash.
In comparison, I think many American flavours are wild, loud, and extravagant against traditional English fare.  Sausages in the US give me a stomach ache after one, here I can eat nearly three and still be happy.  



Mmmm, Beer!
We finally pootled back to the hotel and dropped into bed. Not bad for our first day in England!


Next Up: Portobello Road Market, Westminster, Big Ben, Millbank Road, and the Hop-on-Hop-off Tour Busses.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Bath

She slipped into the steaming waters of her bath, feeling the prickle of water just a tad too warm for her cold skin.  It thundered out of the spout and into the tub, blustering and burbling.  She sat, palms touching the lightly textured bottom of the one-piece plastic bathtub, and let the heat engulf her.  It rose covering her legs; ankles first, then calves, then knees, almost up to her waist before she had to turn it off.  Sometimes she wanted to just let it run and run and watch it overflow the confines of it's little world.

The clear plastic curtain rings shuttled along the metal bar as she twitched the curtain closed.  The bamboo print on the fashion curtain was frosted over by the shower liner, but it made her feel like she was in a little oasis.  Her own private place in a house with no private spaces.  She finally lowered herself into the steaming waters and felt her whole body relax.  The tension in her neck tingled away, the tightness between her shoulder blades evaporated as the heat sunk into her bones, warming the cockles of her soul.  She lay there, if it could be called laying, head propped up on the angled back of the tub, legs criss-cross apple sauce to get them under the water, and wished bathtubs in America were more like the ones in England.  Or rather, the one tub she had the exquisite pleasure of bathing in whilst in England.  It was longer, much longer, narrower, but higher.  It was the only time in her adult life that she had been able to completely lie in the tub without origami folding herself into an awkward position.  It had also been deep enough to cover her COMPLETELY.  Heaven.

She closed her eyes, feeling the heat creep up the back of her neck and into her skull.  How long had it been since her last bath?  She showered, of course, but baths were less about cleaning herself and more for soaking in the heat.  A long while she reckoned.

Eventually she sat up a little, sweat dripping down her face, water running off her shoulders, and carefully dried her hands and picked up her battered copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  She felt like she had been reading it forever, and in a way she had, in the sense that she didn't want it to end.  It was a rich, peculiar, foreign flavour and she wanted it to linger on her tongue for as long as possible.  She dipped back into Shadow's complicated and bizarre world with a pang of sadness.  She was (because she rarely read one book at a time, ever) reading Sandman, and remembered her Lord Morpheous was no more.  He had passed on, if The Endless could even pass on, and was replaced by Dream of the Endless.  She had liked him, perhaps overmuch, but nearly best of his siblings.  Him, Death, and Delirium.  She loved all children that were born from the mind of the man named Gaiman.  He is truly a god on earth, The Lord of Dream, who weaves together time and space to forge new realities.  All of this passed through her head in the space of a few seconds, because there is a considerable gap between reading something and having a series of thoughts.
She consumed a chapter before replacing the bookmark made from the second-hand bookstore receipt from when she purchased the book, washed her face, and slowly extricated herself from the bath.

If she could live in the warm, liquid dream-world of the bath, she just might never go back to normal living.  It was so lovely.  But like all lovely things, too much cheapens the loveliness, and she left the water to gurgle down the drain until next time.


England: Part Two!

Our second day in England was full of exploring.

Nate and I woke up around 5:30AM, laid in bed for a while before turning on the lights and making tea around 6.  We sat, drinking it in bed, listening to the seagulls chatter outside the window while the sun chased the deep, dark, blue from the sky.
The Lying Turney Button is TRUE! I took a shower and just started laughing because of course Eddie Izzard is correct.  He's Eddie Izzard.  The bath (as I discovered later) is WONDERFUL!  It's long enough that you can (at least me at 5' 5") can lay down flat on the bottom and deep enough that all of me was covered.  I wanted to take it home, or just stay there.  I could swap showers for baths if it meant I never had to endure the cramped, yoga worthy contortions I do in US bathtubs.



We had breakfast in the hotel, which wasn't quite full English, but very tasty.  You could have oatmeal, cold cereal, bacon, ham, sausage, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, scrambled eggs, toast of at least four varieties, mini croissants, coffee, tea, milk, and juice.  It was lovely.  I ended up enjoying yogurt on cereal several times. However, I must say that the English don't make scrambled eggs quite like we do.  They were bland and rather watery.  Tried them twice just to see if perhaps it was a cook's error, and it was not.  Fed, caffeinated, and armed with maps we decided to walk to Portobello Road since it wasn't terribly far from our hotel and the weather was gorgeous.






The Market was quite busy, as our guide books had mentioned, but it was quite possibly the most amazing flea market I've ever been to!  The Chelsea Galleries is a giant space (think of the largest antique mall you've ever been to, and double it, at least) where everything is much like antique malls in the states (stalls that can be rented and are arranged by the seller), but better!  In the US, at least in the Seattle and Washington Antique Malls that I have gone to there is a huge selection of "mid-century modern" mostly because that it what is popular right now, and mostly because there is a lot of it.  You will probably find a few things from the 1940's, WWII paraphernalia, and one tattered Edwardian dressing gown, but nothing like that in Portobello Road.





Most things started in the 1940's and went back from there.  Opera Glasses, rings, brooches, shoe clips, china, knick-knacks, and gorgeous Victorian items.  It was so hard not to spend my entire trip allowance right then and there!  I'd need another suitcase to pack it all home in, but goodness!  It was lovely.  Just before we were headed out I found a corner of a lace tablecloth buried in a pile of lace tablecloths that caught my eye.  I inquired with the seller as to the price and she smiled and sold it to me for £10!  It felt like a steal.



Off we went back to the main road, Bayswater, after getting horribly lost in Notting Hill (beautiful though!) and got on our Hop-On Hop-Off Bus!  The Hop-On Hop-Off was a lovely way to explore the city and get our bearings before attempting the London Underground (more on that later), as well as getting us all over the city for a reasonable fee.  It also included a couple of deals on admission into the Tower of London, and a couple other things, and was good for two days.  We rode on the open-topped, red double decker bus (up on top, of course!) the route took us past Madame Tussaud's
Wax Museum and Regent's Park,




past the BBC Headquarters, through Oxford Circus and then Piccadilly Circus,




past the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square (where I geeked out about Lord Nelson's statue!!),








then across Westminster Bridge, along the Thames, back over Lambeth Bridge and we departed at Westminster Abbey.












Oh, and then!  Then we found the legendary Millbank Street!  Bob was more pleased than punch when we found it, just a little bit away from Westminster and Big Ben.


 Bob, Nate, and Sue Millbank.  Nathen hates having his picture taken, but he did have fun!  




Utter spectacular doors and architecture!  This door was at least 6.5' tall.

Caught Bob and Sue being darling...didn't even have to have them pose.  

Got a little artsy with the polished sign.  Sue thought we should come back after Nate and I get married and then there would be four Millbanks in the picture!

Taking a breather and discussing architecture and probably history.





We spent the rest of the day riding the Hop-on Hop-off bus and took naps when we returned to the hotel!  Whew!  We were quite tired but it was such a lovely first full day in London.  
Turns out that I hadn't packed very well for the weather and in the day and a half it took us to travel to London it had changed from Summery to Spring.  Naturally I had shorts and a dress, which in retrospect was a bit silly.  When going to England, pack for Seattle.  Lesson Learned.  Happily this meant a jaunt over to the local "mall" called Whiteley's and the H&M where I acquired two pairs of lovely pants to keep my poor leggies warm.  

Next Up: The Tower of London, Harrods, Saint Paul's Cathedral, a tiny cafe wherein we realise we're quite cold and hot tea is amazing, and Hop-on Hop-off.