NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

When “The Holidays” are Triggering…or worse!

November17

(Image of small illustrated holiday tree with the following written above it:
Reminder: we don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.)

*Aprox. 11 minute read

I came across this image and text whilst scrolling my FB feed and I instantly clicked and shared it to my own timeline, but then it wouldn’t leave my mind immediately and I realized just how much I’m processing and working through so much of my own stuff around this time of the year. My own current circumstances may differ than many/most, but I hope to alleviate some of the negative things we all think about and carry with us through this complicated season. This isn’t about religion at all, for me or for this post, but more about family dynamics, consumerism, societal obligations, and general toxic behaviors. I hope you will comment below with your own thoughts and feels and advice if you have them to share. These thoughts and feels are my own, no matter how unpopular. Ha!

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The media and marketers want us to buy into the idea that “The Holidays” are about family, togetherness, giving, kindness, celebration, gratitude, helping those in need, etc. What that really looks and feels like in our actual lives is often very different. And even if it is still about those things, it doesn’t mean that’s what we’re actually feeling while in the midst of it all. It’s more often than not the most stressful, saddest, toughest, coldest, rudest, and most triggering time of year. I personally feel that the brunt of this hustle and bustle and work and emotional labor (not to mention the shopping, gift wrapping, housekeeping, cooking and such for these gatherings) falls on women almost exclusively, but that isn’t what this post is about. This is about the toll these things take on us. The impact they have on our quality of life and most of all the trauma we endure and ultimately have to carry as a result of it all.

Yes, I said Trauma. It’s a heavy word, but necessary. We are exposed to people, places, and things at this time of year that we just aren’t the rest of the year. There’s the travel aspect if that’s something you must go through to visit with family. As a fat bodied individual, you are subject to an entirely different set of rules if traveling by aircraft on a commercial airline. You may be forced to buy two seats, you may be forced off of a flight you’ve already boarded, you may be abused or assaulted by fellow travelers and even airline personnel. This is something we accept as part of the privilege of air travel, but it is traumatic. You can plan for everything, but the world still chooses (IT IS A CHOICE!!!) to oppress fat people throughout the world. It might be the only time of year you travel because of this. You might be preparing for your travels now and considering if it’s truly worth it or not. This doesn’t even bring the financial impact of air travel into this equation, but I’ll get to that shortly. You do this to be with Family! Your Loved ones! They would do it for you…right?!

Family traditions! Oh, the warm and fuzzy wholesomeness of being Home with Family for The Holidays! Right?! Isn’t that what this is all about? Every family has their own traditions and rituals or ceremonies. My family would go to Midnight mass after spending Christmas Eve at one of my grandparents’ home for a big dinner. The next morning we’d open our gifts at home but then rush over to our other grandparents’ house for the opening of more presents, followed by a full day and evening of family revelry. We’d usually get home late, exhausted (I often had to be carried to the car or into the house after passing out), but full of that family love that everyone hopes to have in their lives forever. I just didn’t realize I would only have it for 13 years. Ha-ha!

That’s not always so close to reality, that wholesome image. Often, families at this time of year consist of a variety of personalities, values, and beliefs. Sometimes those beliefs are outdated and downright damaging. But we’re expected to remain silent (especially women!) and “just try to enjoy the holiday!” So what exactly are we getting together to celebrate here? If we have to just shut up and sit down for this shit, we become part of our own oppression. Wait! Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating togetherness?!

Okay, okay…Family! Maybe your extended family isn’t toxic. Awesome! You sit around the dinner table passing all those delicious homemade dishes you’ve been looking forward to. Grandma’s pie and Auntie’s casserole, but the minute you take a helping for yourself all eyes are on your plate! If it’s only that you’re lucky. Often our worst food and body policing come from those who claim they love us most, Family. If it’s not monitoring your portions or actual food choices, it’s comments on your body, unsolicited diet advice, mentions of abusive ex-boyfriends (okay, that one’s personal), and more. I don’t care what they say, they are not concerned about your health at all! If they were they wouldn’t make you feel like absolute shit for simply inhabiting a fat body! It isn’t your fault! You have done nothing wrong!

The foodstuff doesn’t seem to end, really. If it’s not one holiday feast it’s another, or a potluck at work, it’s always something! And there is always some miserable ninny who will ooh and aah at all those delightful and delicious delectables, only to loudly shame and blame anyone actually eating the fucking food! I hate this person, and I don’t care who they are! This person hates themselves, hard! This person is mad at you for not feeling as bad as they do. This person will steal joy from a toddler! Seriously! Unforgivable! There must be some requirement for every company ever to hire this person. UGH!!! Anyway, fuck them, enjoy and nourish yourself!

The financial impact of this season is perhaps toughest of all. How many of us have gone into debt all in the name of giving? Or had to go without necessities yourself so that you could give to those you love? I get it. It’s hard to make those choices. And I don’t know what it’s like to have the added pressure of having kids who expect things this time of year. I grew up poor, but my grandparents always made sure we didn’t go without too much. Though being an 80’s kid (born in ’77, after all), it was the height of the toy craze. I’m kind of glad about this part in a way, I mean even now I never really want or expect the newest/coolest/hottest/top of the line anything! Ha!

For me, one of the worst parts of this time of year is the societal obligations and phoniness. People you know who outright hate you will somehow make you feel as though you should be buying them a special gift just for knowing they exist. Then there are the competitive gifters! You know the type. You think you got them a nice, thoughtful gift and then they get you something ridiculous like fucking plane tickets or some nonsense (I realize how that sounds, I’m a very untrusting human, because that very thing happened to me). There’s just so damned much you’re “supposed to do” because of what time of year it is and that just stinks, in my opinion! Even if you aren’t religious, there’s this whole American way of consumerism that drives folks out in hordes, and often against each other, all in the name of bargains. It’s disgusting. (I worked retail for ten years.)

Look, it isn’t all terrible. I love the smell of the crisp, late-autumn air! Few things in this world exhilarate me like that or fresh and new rains (it’s so rare in California, I cherish every drop!). The scent of douglas firs and pine and veggies roasting in a hot oven. I love giving gifts most of all and take it very seriously! But the pressures of the holidays are just too fucking much, dude! Gift giving is my love language and let me tell you, I have been hurt and burned far too many times. Now I hold back, I can’t just give because I want to anymore. Not just because I’m broke as fuck, but because often folks don’t know how to handle a thoughtful gift, given directly from the heart. It can be too intense for some.

I’m voluntarily estranged from my family as I write this. I’m also divorced, single (no romantic partner to speak of, not that I’m prioritizing that at all right now, obv.), and unemployed, living alone for the first time in my life.  I don’t know how to feel this year. Mostly just terrified for my survival, but aside from that, how does one celebrate when all of the trappings of the season do not apply? How can I not let all the past traumas of my life drag me down in my darkest hour as these dates approach? I am fortunate to have an incredible friend group who feels more like family (most of the time) than my own ever has. But they each have their own families to celebrate with. I’m not “Oh woe is me!” over here, I am simply looking at patterns and behaviors and society more critically these days.

I used to love Christmas! I would wear Santa hats and eat a candy cane every day with glee! In my town, we have a Candy Cane Lane where all the houses in the neighborhood decorate and the fire department gives out candy canes to the kids, and families and couples stroll along the sidewalks in the evenings. It’s really lovely and special (and you probs have one in your town, too), and I miss all of those feelings that used to go along with all of that. I miss my grandma and my aunt Jo and I can’t ever think about this time of year without them, their warm and inviting homes and arms, their cooking and hilarious banter. This year especially! I have never felt more alone in the world in my entire life! Not lonely, mind you. I just miss what family meant back when ya know? I miss the matriarchs of my family in a deep and cutting way I can’t quite put into words.

This time of year also brings up a lot of memories of my adolescence, like my first love. We met just 1 week before Christmas. I’d sneak out at night and walk around my neighborhood with them or sneak them in my window and just kiss and hold each other for hours. I don’t know how I never got caught! Ha-ha! It felt so romantic though, to be freezing cold out, but so full of warmth from a connection between two people. It didn’t last long, but it is still fresh in my mind and I just haven’t ever had to think about this time of year as a single, solo, independent human. It feels complicated! Ha! I’m glad to have my own space and safe place to live. I just miss having someone to stay in and keep warm with.

Facing December without a job is so tough! Most companies won’t start hiring until mid-January when the new budgets come out. So I have to just stick it out and hope for the best. I have been applying to allllll the jobs and have already had a bunch of interviews, but these things take time. Patience I have, but money I do not. I’m actually far worse off financially than ever before in my life, and I know I have published those exact words the last time I would out of work. I can assure you that this time it is far worse. C’est la vie!

I share all of my absurdities because I want you to know that it’s okay to question what has “always been”. It’s okay to not want to do things that you didn’t or don’t get to have a say in. It’s perfectly awesome to start or create your own new traditions and rituals, with whomever you choose! Seriously, what other point to adulthood is there?!  You get to decide what you will and won’t stand for in your life and in your celebrations. There will always be hard times, complicated feels and so much to navigate through this time of year. You can choose to opt out or to opt-in, in whatever way feels right for you!

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If you do not have a support system of your own for the coming festivities, I offer my unbiased and empathetic ears/eyes. Send me an email, take a load off your mind or chest or whatever, I get it and I’m here for ya! notblueatall@notblueatall.com I’m also on some other apps and things if you need real-time support. I don’t yet know what my plans are for celebrating if I even feel like it at the time. But I’m always glad to be able to provide some emotional support for someone who truly needs it.

What gets you through a difficult holiday season? How do you prioritize your own self-care? What helps you stay away from self-destructive behaviors when it’s so easy to fall into those traps? What is your favorite part of this time of year? Least favorite? How do you stay true to your beliefs when surrounded by others toxic behaviors? Do you have a new tradition or ritual you started? Do you have a fave handmade item or recipe you’re proud of? I wanna hear it all!

Thank you so much for your continued love and support! I have been truly touched by the kindness and generosity of the readers of this blog. My fat community has been such a bright light in a dark time. You have my undying gratitude and affection!

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

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Not Proud (*TW)

July17

*Trigger Warning for Food Issues

I have not been taking very good care of myself. I have been trying but then I let things slide or drop or actually do myself a disservice or harm. Ugh!  I don’t know why I do it or how it starts but I am trying very hard, now, to not let it happen again.

I have been pushing myself and practicing everyday (except Sunday) for my dance number. I have some injuries that I’m having to work through and deal with, but that’s not really the worst part. The worst part is that I’ve been so busy and happy and excited and tired and caffeinated that I haven’t been eating. It’s ridiculous and stupid, but it’s the truth. There were at least four days last week where I didn’t eat any solid food (read: coffee and water) until after 8pm. And even then it was little things like a banana, a plum, a yogurt or a small salad or a single piece of chicken. There were other days where I later wondered if I’d have eaten at all had I not been around other humans.

I feel really dumb for allowing myself to neglect my body’s needs. My brain needs food to function properly. My body needs fuel to move and to heal. Now here I am just days away from my very first solo dance performance in over seventeen years and I feel unprepared. I feel afraid and ashamed. I keep seriously considering bailing out of it. I’ve never been a quitter, though.

I tell myself that I am losing sight of the point of it all: Joy! Dance brings me joy and gives me so much pleasure. So why put so much pressure on myself? Why become my own worst enemy? Why am I hurting my body while trying to connect with it at the same time? Doesn’t make a lick of sense if you ask me.

The thing is, I was doing really well! I was conserving as much as I could and trying to establish a sort of routine in my new life of constant job hunting. I was buying my favorite summer fruits and veggies and getting a kick out of making fun and randomly put together meals for myself and then *poof* it went away somehow.

Stress always makes me lose my appetite. I know this, I was working on staying calm and not thinking about things I can’t fix or take action on and just living in the present, staying mindful of how I felt. All that jazz. I guess I shouldn’t be analyzing “where it all went wrong” and should instead be facing forward and just doing better now and tomorrow.

But I do feel like I not only let myself down, but my community, too. It’s silly, I know! Again, more unnecessary self pressure. Ugh! How can I represent my community and be a better activist, writer, blogger, person…if I’m not taking care of my most basic needs?! So this is where I’m at.

I just want to hit the giant reset button and forget about my failures. I’m allowed that, right? Maybe I’m being so hard on myself because I don’t feel that I deserve the amount of happy I was feeling last week. It was a lot, lemme tell ya! I never felt like I should be allowed to feel so good without somehow earning it. I don’t know why I’m struggling with the things I am right now. Unworthiness about a lot of things, not least of which is being in love with my gorgeous boyfriend and all the happy he makes me. Why can’t I just accept and enjoy it?

Look, I’m hormonal and emotional and maybe tomorrow I will feel so silly for being so tough on myself. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time alone. I don’t know. I know that when this post goes live I will already be on the road to Portland and I hope this trip is everything I think it will be. I will be packing myself lots of snacks and fruits for the ride so I won’t continue this ridiculous disordered eating pattern. I fully intend to enjoy every moment I can and share it all with you, too!

<3
S

First, Feed Thyself!

June18

(Trigger Warning: Food issues)

When I am not feeling like myself, as was the case yesterday (and really the day before as well), I have found that I also don’t treat myself as kindly as I should or would like to. I tend to let a lot of things slide. Specifically, eating food. Mind you, I’ll almost always manage to get some coffee/caffeine in me, but only to stave off the inevitable headache. Yes, I did not eat until 7:30 pm yesterday and of this I am ashamed. I know better. I had food in the house. I just wasn’t feeling well, and obviously not thinking straight either.

I recall the long ago days when I was 19 and 20 years old living on little more than Taco Bell, Lean Cuisine and Jose Cuervo. Blegh! I could never do that to myself again. I know I was so depressed and truly suffering through the worst of my PTSD at the time (though I hadn’t a clue then) but I also didn’t really know how to eat or care for myself, either. How could I? I know at one point my grandma was worried about me and would pack me lunches for work, even though I lived and worked twenty miles away. Gawd how I miss her. Not because of the lunches, mind you, but her caring and loving and sense of humor and hugs most of all.

It is when I am not taking care of myself that I am truly letting myself, and those I care about, down. My grandma would scold me for not eating all day like I did yesterday. I can picture the face she’d give me and then I know she’d dash into the kitchen and rustle up some combination of simple, filling and awesome. When my family had so little, we always had Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. I looked forward to it all week! My favorite was the simple little green salad she’d serve before the main course. I didn’t even know what courses were back then, but I knew salad was so special and rare and my favorite!

I suppose growing up in a food insecure household meant that continuing food issues would be inevitable. I hadn’t realized just how much of our childhoods affected us as adults, on this topic specifically, until two weeks ago when I literally had nothing to eat in the house and relied on B for dinner one evening and felt like utter shit for it. He made no bones about it, of course, but how I felt was so triggering and awful that the next morning I went to the grocery store and spent $100 on groceries just to be able to breathe again. *Sigh*

I think I have used not eating as a way of feeling as though I am in control of something in my life when so much is truly out of my control. Like this one thing? I got this! Ugh! This is not who I am or want to be. I have worked very hard to break these patterns and behaviors. So why does it pop back up so suddenly now? Really things are going great for the most part. I just need a job! That’s it! So simple, three letters, all the difference in the fucking universe! I would have at least some relief if I knew whether I’d be getting unemployment money coming or not. I should be getting the word any day now, but it’s killing me! I just need to know so I can find another means of paying my rent in time if need be. I don’t know how I’ll do that, but I’m sure I’ll hustle something up somehow.

I also felt like a big phony faker on Sunday night and I hated myself for it. I went to my BFF’s birthday dinner and felt lousy and truly didn’t want to be there. My boyfriend (OMZ! I cannot believe I have a boyfriend! Ha-ha!) was supposed to go with me, but had work stuff to tend to. It was nice to drive up with “Q” but I think even she could tell I wasn’t the usual me. I did my best not to show how yucky I was feeling, but inside I just wanted to run the fuck away and hide under the covers. But I missed Steph so much and so rarely get to see her and if I’d bailed this time I knew she’d hunt me down and kill me! Ha-ha! It wasn’t that I had a horrible time or anything, but I did have to sort of grin and bare it through the evening. I felt like an alien, to be honest. I felt like I was surrounded by all of these smart and put together people with cool jobs and awesome lives and adult problems and here I am barely able to hold it together. Ugh!

Today is a new day and I shall treat it as such. I know how to care for myself, certainly better than the last few days. I will be more mindful of how I am feeling and listen carefully to what my body needs. I distinctly recall three times yesterday where I heard my stomach growling and rather than paying attention and providing food/fuel for my body and brain I actually thought to myself, “Ugh! Why are you growling? Shut up!” Whoa! NOT ME! I guess I just needed some comforting and didn’t know how or who to ask for it. I mean, I don’t think anyone else even knew or could know at the time that I needed such a thing, maybe I didn’t even know. I know now. But I also know that I wasn’t doing much to comfort myself.

Self care takes many forms. First and foremost should be the basics like food and water. I have not struggled with that part in so long I guess I actually forgot for a bit there just how that felt and can spiral into worse. I am glad that I was able to recognize it before it got out of hand. I know that I used to starve myself rather than ask to borrow a dollar from a single soul back in those Lean Cuisine and Tequila days. Older and wiser, eh? Ha-ha! Okay, I can do this. I will do this…there is no try, only do! 😉

Randomness is Random

May20

I would love to see a blog called “Perfectly Portly”…someone do this! 😉

Dance rehearsal was hard and good and a bit emotional. Our progress is fantastic when only a week ago we had just half a song choreographed. I  got that runner’s high thing again, it’s kind of awesome. I keep getting asked if I’m excited or nervous and I am, but it still somehow doesn’t feel real yet. Part of me also just wants it over with. Ha-ha!

If you’re local to San Francisco/Oakland area and are interested in seeing me perform for the first time in 17 years, or just want to see a fantastic body positive dance show (OMZ! It’s the best!) there are TWO chances: Saturday, May 25th at 8pm or Sunday, May 26th at 2 pm. Get your tickets in advance to save some time and money: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/378829

I paid for my NoLose registration…I cannot wait to go! Hoping and wishing and visualizing awesome job so that I can pay my credit card off and my hotel room. I may have to drive, but I’ve been itching for a road trip anyway. It’s in Portland, Oregon this year. PDX is like my favorite place not in California, so WOO!!!

Did y’all see that ReDress is back?!?! This is where I’ve gotten all of my Teggings!

A pic of me & Raven from the Fatty Affair Family Picnic a few weeks ago:

Gawd we are so aforable!!! Ha-ha! Both wearing Eshakti (current) and I’m not in love with vintage cocktail hats from the 50’s because of this little white one I’m wearing. Do you have any of these? Hit me up!!! I am dying for a black one! 🙂

Today is my last day at my current job. I have some interviews this week and I am feeling good and hopeful. I had a great weekend with wonderful people who made me feel special and cared for and I am so grateful to have them in my life. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m excited about it once again.

Rad Fatty Love to you ALL!

<3
S

“Everyone Says Good Good Eat!”

January23

And now for something completely different…

So last week for work I got to go to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco! It’s a little hard to describe, but let’s see what I can manager here:

Picture a giant arena, but rather than a stage and endless seating, think exhibition booths…for food! Like all the kinds of food! It’s colorful and magical and aromatic and wondrous! Everyone is having a good time, everyone is chatting and mingling…it’s like a giant party for snacks! Well, more than snacks, I mean just everything! It’s not all sweets, so it’s not like Wonka’s pad, but that vibe for sure! I was there representing HappyGoat Caramel and giving everyone samples. I probably talked to a thousand people.

I wasn’t feeling my best the first day of the show, but the last day I felt great. I took a lunch break and just walked around the international section…completely blissed-out! Like, seriously? I still have a smile on my face! I had a bit of this and a cup of that and a taste of delicate little those and it was all so lovely! I felt like a friggin’ princess! Forgive me, but it’s true! I felt fabulous, like a dream! The Moscato sample really helped (my fave)! Then ravioli fresh out of the skillet with spinach and ricotta filling and freshly shaves Parmesan…served by a lovely and smiling Italian man! I mean? What the fuck more could you want out of life?! Ha-ha!

Actually, people watching was the most fun for me. It’s like shopping because so many people and so many styles and styling, but also, I am in a head space where nearly everyone is majorly attractive to my eyes! It’s nice, believe me! Ha-ha! I felt like I was getting paid to flirt and offer people candy! Technically that is pretty much it, but it sounds so salacious! Ha-ha! I love it! I can handle salacious! Anyhoo, food! I didn’t even try that much stuff, honestly. It was a feast for the eyes as much as anything else. Just amazing!

The best part was watching people’s faces as they tried our caramels and sauces. They’d come up to the booth with their poker face and turn dreamy and childlike. It’s like you’re watching them frolic in their happy place in their heads! To make someone feel that simple joy? It’s a special moment, y’all, truly! I enjoyed chatting and flirting and laughing and having a great time with them all. Food is such a memory inducer and bonder (is that a word?) of people. You know what they’re tasting and understand what they must be feeling…even when they get all “notey” about stuff (like wine talk with the notes of this and the nose of that) I love it! They geek out and I smile and soak it up!

The title of this post is from a Taiwanese snack company. It’s the slogan on their fruit flavored soft candy packs. It has this cute little girl on it. Like this one, only in pink with strawberries and stuff:

Anyway, it was a lot of work and a lot of fun. The city was blustery and cold and I couldn’t wait to get out of their after the long days. Everyone loved our products and it was a blast to see so much cool stuff and people, too! What an experience?!

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