words to live by: jennifer lawrence.

Because she’s so hot right now.  And because she’s legit.

18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards held at Barker Hangar

 

I’m a woman, that’s living in this world where everybody is telling everybody how they should look and what they should be eating and how people can lose this amount of weight this fast… And it just kind of overwhelms our senses. If I could make the tiniest difference in changing that, because it’s so annoying, I would love that. 

Jennifer Lawrence

cher horowitz on valentine’s day.

I’ve always been pretty apathetic toward Valentine’s Day, no matter if I had a “valentine” or not. I don’t hate it. I don’t love it. It’s just another day to me. My husband feels the same way. Each year we approach February 14th a little something like this:

“What do you want to do for Valentine’s Day this year?”
“Crap. When is that?”
“Tomorrow.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah.”
“Guess we should go out to dinner. Where do you want to go?”
“Oh I don’t care, you pick.”
“No, you pick.”
“Buffalo Wild Wings.”
“Sounds good to me.”

Even in my apathy, I do tend to think on and sympathize with those people out there who hate Valentine’s Day because the holiday makes them feel bad. I’m not writing today to say that that’s DUMB because, hello, I do everything short of throwing a tantrum on Father’s Day; I know what it feels like to lack something you think the entire rest of the world has.

I have been on a major Clueless kick lately, from sending text messages comprised completely of quotes to coming up with Cher-inspired hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. And so, because of my current re-obsession with the classic 90’s film, I turned to Cher for advice. (Which meant I just started reciting quotes in my head because I may or may not have the entire film memorized.)

“Tai, how old are you?”
“I’ll be sixteen in May.”
“Well, my birthday is in April so as someone older can I offer some advice?”

YES YOU CAN, CHER. I AM ALL EARS.

Cher_Clueless

To those of you who are hurting on Valentine’s Day, I totally get it. You are probably surrounded by a butt ton of love-sick, twitterpated morons and, with the curse that is social media, you probably can’t even look at your Facebook or Twitter feed until at least Monday to be in the clear of sappy, saccharine-sweet photos of overstuffed teddy bears and boxes of Russell Stover.

You might feel like the only person you know who is both a virgin AND someone who can’t drive.

Instead of crawling into a hole for the next few days to try and avoid these things that might trigger negative feelings within you, just ask yourself, WWCD? (What Would Cher Do?)

Answer:

…I did what any normal girl would do. I sent myself love letters and flowers and candy just so he’d see how desired I was in case he didn’t already know. 

That’s right, ladies.

Treat.

Yo.

Self.

Buy yourself some chocolates. Pick yourself up a bouquet of flowers. Make an appointment for a manicure or a massage. Run a bubble bath with a bottle of red and your favorite book.

And own that shiz. Seriously. Don’t walk into the flower shop and be all, “Blah blah blah, can I have a half-dozen roses because it’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t have a Valentine and I’ll probably be single forever and SOB SOB SOB SOB.”

NO. STOP.

Say something like this:

“I’ll have a half-dozen roses, please. Oh who are they for? Me, of course! I deserve them. I’m beautiful and lovely and amazing and these are going to look DANG GOOD in the living room I designed and decorated myself. Thanks for asking!”

Channel your inner Cher today, ladies. Make that cameo at the Val Party because you DESERVE IT.

Just don’t overdo it on the mochachinos; no one wants to spend their Valentine’s Day ralphing.

friday favorite: going from amber to julia.

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t watch Parenthood on NBC, this post probably won’t make any sense to you. If you don’t, here’s a fun guide to the cast to keep you up to speed. 
Pro tip of the day: Watch
Parenthood because it’s great. 

I’ve been catching up on Parenthood, NBC’s heart-warming and gut-wrenching drama all about family, on Netflix over the past couple weeks. When I first got into the show a couple years ago, I instantly felt a connection to Sarah Braverman and her rogue, outspoken daughter Amber, for all the obvious reasons: being a single mom, Sarah’s interactions with Amber reminded me a lot of the interactions I had with my own mom growing up; being the daughter of a drug-addicted absentee father, I could see a lot of my own angst and, shall we say, “colorful” language played out on screen; Amber and Sarah are freaking hilarious sometimes and so am I (humble, too, I might add) and are, quite frankly, hot messes sometimes. (FUN BONUS: Amber is also a musician and Sarah, we find out in season 2, is a also writer! So there’s that!)

I guess the connection was obvious to my husband as well because, after witnessing a rather passionate monologue by Amber, Dan turned to me and said, “Wow, I didn’t know you wrote for this show.”

That prompted me to rattle off all the reasons it was so scary to watch Amber and Sarah on TV because it was like watching myself. But then Dan said something really surprising to me.

“You’re more like Julia, actually.”

erika_christensen

His comment made me scoff at first.

Julia, Sarah’s sister and Amber’s aunt, is very different from Amber and Sarah. She’s been described by other characters on the show as, quote, “a little intense”. She’s a busy lady, what with being a successful lawyer by day and trying SO HARD it almost HURTS to be a perfect mom by night. Her husband Joel — a stay-at-home dad to their daughter Sydney — is much quieter than she, a bit subdued I’d say, but is completely adored by her and is head over heels for her.

At first, I struggled to find anything in common with Julia. But as the episodes wore on, I started to see what he was talking about. I am a working mom. Dan is a work-from-home dad. I have been described as “intense”. I am louder, probably to a fault, than he. In all of these ways, I mirror Julia. But Dan’s point was proven at one point during season 2 when we watched an exchange between the two of them that we swear we’ve had in the past.

There is no doubt that I used to be a hot mess like Amber. Maybe even as hot of a mess as Sarah. And I’ve been pretty reluctant to relinquish that identity because it defined me for so long. But now, I’m Julia. I’m kind of put together, but not without my own obvious junk. And that gives me hope for Amber’s character (no spoilers, please — still working through season 3!).

active listening: “crossroads” by sarah mac band.

smb_staticsignals

I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s something voyeuristic about consuming art created by your friends. I never know how to really navigate it. It’s like you go over to their house while they’re on vacation and rummage through their memory boxes and try to fill in the blanks on your own. It’s beautiful, and raw, but also super sketchy. (Hey, many of you may feel the same when you read my blog! Like, isn’t it weird that you guys get insight into my life without actually hearing it come out of my mouth? Come on, admit it — how many of you stalkers have never actually met me but know my kid’s name? No judgement here, y’all! Just keepin’ it real.)

Anyway. Today’s active listening comes from a band which is comprised of three (sometimes four, when the need for violin or SLEIGH BELLS arises) of my friends. Because I’m creepy like that. This song, “Crossroads” on the album Static and Signals by Sarah Mac Band, has wrecked me since I first laid ears on it. (Don’t be a chump — drop some cash for the album here because OH JUST DO IT, IT’S WORTH IT, I SWEAR.)

Most of the lyrics speak to a younger me, a me that was, for lack of a better term, a hot f-ing mess. And while I’m not there anymore, there are elements of my hot f-ing mess of a past that have weaseled their way into my otherwise completely well-adjusted present and have reminded me of the “crossroads” from whence I came.

I was too young to consider such things as a healthy dose of caution and fear /

I was set on an adventure and how my life would change by things bound to happen there

Five years ago I was standing at a crossroads. I could go one way, a way of the familiar hot mess, or go somewhere completely different and just kind of see what would happen.

So I chose the adventure. I randomly moved to a foreign country.

Sadly, it was not, like the song later suggests, to “save souls for Jesus”. It was to, ultimately, enhance my academic career and, um, oh yeah, mendmyverybrokenheartBUTWHATEVERwedontgottatalkaboutthat.

I knew it wasn’t a financially sound decision; I had my college education paid for (for the most part) by scholarships and grants and would need to take out a butt-ton of loans in order to do it. But something deep within my soul screamed out, You have to do this! You have to go! Don’t ask why now — just go! You’ll know why later. 

I didn’t know it then, but packing “my shit” (a lyrical mention, both in the literal and figurative sense) and hauling my butt across an ocean for a time would end up being the best thing to ever happen to me. The girl I was before I left — heartbroken, reliant on others for validation, battling an eating disorder — died a quiet death on the stoop of 99 Great Russell Street in the heart of London. Her scent is still heavy in the dark tunnels of the tube, but she is but a distant and, thankfully, faded memory.

Fast forward to today: I have a perfectly full heart, a beautiful family, a steady job, a strong community… and all of these things are pretty solid. Pretty stagnant. I’m not really at a crossroads anymore. Rather, I’m on the freeway using cruise control. But others around me, others very close to me, are standing at their own respective crossroads.

New relationships.

New opportunities.

New jobs.

New locations. 

So much newness. So much uncertainty.

But if there is one thing I know, it’s that the refrain of the song is so true.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

Five years ago I intentionally chose to embark on a journey wrought with isolation and uncertainty. That, in and of itself, is beautiful. But it’s what I unintentionally chose that is even better.

Health.

Rebirth.

A fresh perspective.

Self-love.

And so, dear friends. I urge you to not be afraid of the crossroads at which you find yourself. I’m certain that, even if you don’t know it yet, the direction in which your heart tugs you will be the one that offers up the best possible scenario for you. Even if you don’t realize it until years later.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

active listening: “shelter” by jars of clay.

A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.

Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.

When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.

willowfilter

It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.

The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.

To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…

God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone

Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.

“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.

By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.

Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.

Let them! Let them! 

And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.

The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.

To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise  — someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.

Never walk alone.

Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.

pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.