Saturday, April 26, 2014

Do Good for the Sake of Doing Good

I can't help but notice that very few people do good deeds just for the sake of doing good anymore. It seems like nobody can pay for a stranger's coffee, hand a homeless man some change, put a quarter in a parking meter that's about to expire, donate money to a charity, or any kind act without immediately posting it all over social media to get that extra bit of validation, that virtual pat on the back or, "Aw you're such a good person!" comment.

No, it's not bad to share kind things that you do with others, but it seems like some people do these things solely so they can tell others. It seems like telling their friends about the nice thing they did that day is more gratifying to them than doing the deed itself, and that's saddening. I've donated to charities before and a few times I've posted things like, "Hey I just helped out by donating to _____. Check out their website, and if you're able, maybe you can help out too!" If I inform others that I've donated to a charity or done something kind it's always in a way that I'm urging them to do so as well, never just boasting about how "good of a person I am" or seeking validation from my peers online.

As some of you know, I volunteer for the local Humane Society and I talk about that a lot (here I am talking about it again). However, it's something I consider a big part of my life and a passion of mine, so of course I'm going to talk about it. I love posting pictures of the animals and sharing stories about the cute or silly things they did that day. This kind of thing needs attention though because these animals do, shining light on them is the only way they're going to get adopted. I don't do these things so others will tell me I'm a good person, I do it for the animals. And I guess that's what I'm getting at, make sure you're doing good things for the right reasons. If you find yourself posting online each time you do a good deed, just slow down and ask yourself why you're sharing that with everyone? Are you sharing it because it made you feel good and you want to encourage others to engage in random acts of kindness or charity as well? Or are you posting it because you crave the attention and positive feedback or affirmation?

A friend actually opened my eyes to this a few months ago. I don't remember the conversation we were having at the time, but I think it was almost random how he started venting about people who can't do a good deed without making sure everybody knows about it. I went to bed that night and laid there thinking about times I might have shared things I did to make myself feel or look like a better person in the eyes of others. Ever since then I have focused a lot more on doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do, or to help out others...not to share it so others can build up my ego.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Broken, Just Bent

"The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes."

It's funny how we can go through years of our lives without realizing how good we had it. For (a random) example, my beautiful mum just celebrated her 45th birthday last week and we were laughing about how she cried all day on her 30th. How she thought she was so old and how "terrible" it was, and now she'd give damn near anything to be 30 again. It's also crazy that we can be unhappy for so long
 without realizing how truly bad it was. The day I graduated high school I moved into my new apartment, because I was in such a hurry to get out of my parents' "control". How I barely could scrape enough money together for rent each month and lost track of how often my landlord asked my roommate and I for money. How I was living off of yogurt and "manwiches" made from the meat my roommate could steal from her employer. How all I drank for six months was J├Ąger, vodka, and tequila chased by Kool-Aid. Getting asked politely by our neighbors
below if we'd stop throwing our 
cigarette butts over the balcony because they'd land outside their
 back door and their toddler son would eat them. I remember crying, laying in bed at night
because I'd have to be at work early the next morning and my apartment would be full of my
roommate's friends who were all partying. And one of them would be parked in my parking spot
and I would just lay there worrying about my car being towed, and how I had no money to deal
with something like that. "Best" of all, I remember laying in the empty bathtub, covered in my own
vomit, without pants on and an IV stuck in my arm. Getting fluids pumped into me because I
was so drunk and not  able to recognize the voices or faces around me. I remember
waking up a few hours later and having to go to work. I had just ended an almost two-year
relationship and kicked my ex out of the apartment. My roommate dumped her fiance and
therefore, our rent doubled for each of us. But we were still blowing our money on alcohol,
drugs, and pedicures. By the time I got out of there, it was a court visit for her and I with over
$800 on the line. Our security deposit was $1,000 and we had caused $800 of damage beyond
that. That was bullshit by the way. A lot of the damages were already there before we moved in.
However, we did have to answer to some of it, including a destroyed closet door and blood
splatter on the wall. When I write it all out it seems so much more violent than I remember. But
the truth is, it really was that violent. The night was a blur because my mind was racing, but I do
remember some of it. I remember that I wasn't scared at all. No matter how much ____ yelled or 

hit that door, I wasn't scared. I just hoped that ____ would hit me so I had an excuse to attack
without holding back. But he never did, he loved me too much. But I couldn't give that love in
return. It was all very sad actually. It was my own hell and I thought nothing of it. I could't even
see or admit how troubled I was. 
Hindsight is always 20/20 I guess.

A lot happened that summer and for the months following. I think those months were when my life really started to become what it is today. Summer was a shit show. The drinking, partying and depression were out of control. Around the time I broke up with my ex, my parents announced their divorce. I felt like I was losing control of my life and everything was spiraling out of control. The two things that had always been solid in my life that always seemed to be changing were now gone. My relationship was finally over and I felt like my family was being ripped apart. Those were hard times for sure. Then things started to change. Later that summer I started dating who I truly believe is the love of my life and am happy to say that we're still together almost four years later. I believe it was December of that year that I moved out of the apartment and my mum had come over to help me shampoo the carpets so hopefully we wouldn't be charged extra for cleaning. It was while we were shampooing that she told me she had found somebody that she wanted to start dating. I cried. I was happy for her and sad for myself. My mum married him three months ago.

My family is something I have always taken for granted, even when I'm convinced that I don't. I think to some degree we will always take our families for granted. There is just no way to appreciate them and love them as much as they deserve. Divorce is something I foolishly thought would never touch us. I remember being a naive little kid and saying to myself or my siblings, "I wish they would just get a divorce" whenever my parents would fight. At that time I just wanted to see them happy, and for some reason I thought that divorce would make them happy. How stupid was I? I never thought they actually would either. My brother has always been a step ahead though. Even though he's only a year older than me, he was always a lot wiser when it came to life regarding family. I don't ever remember him "wishing" they would get divorced, but I do remember him telling me not to say that. To this day, my brother is so family-oriented and I admire that so much about him. My brother is fantastic, he's wonderful and I love him. I've learned a lot about how you should treat and value family through him.

Some people become bitter after their parents split up, they give up on love and the idea of being happily married until death. I'll admit, I became even more cautious of love than I already was. I became more afraid to trust and fall in love, but I didn't become bitter. My number one dream is still to one day be lucky enough to become the wife of a good man and to have my chance to build my own family. I will learn from my parents' mistakes and I will also take from the things they did "right" as well. Because they did a lot right. They are both incredible people and did so much for our family. 

Every once in a while when I'm a little more stressed out than usual, or a little more exhausted, I'll still get sad when I think about the way things "ended", though there really is no end. My parents are connected until the day they die through my siblings and myself, and through a love that didn't end when their marriage did. Marriage may not always be forever, but family is. I've been stressed for months about certain aspects of my future that are going to change without my control, stressed from work, etc. Last night was one of those "sad nights" where my stress got the best of me. Out of nowhere on my way home from work, I started thinking about how badly I missed my parents being together and my siblings and I all living together under one roof. I miss my childhood, and at times I wish that I could re-live it, so I could have tried harder to change things for my family. I had a wonderful childhood, but I think my depression and "quirks"
 robbed me from parts of it. This all might sound juvenile, but I think I'm just at that weird stage in life that some of go through. Like a midway to mid-life crisis, ha! I'm 21-years old. I'm an adult at that time in life where half of my friends are married (some even with kids) and half are still living with their parents. Half are graduating with their Bachelor's degrees and half are still in their hiatus from school. It's that weird in-between age. In between high school and being a "real adult". In between being expected to be living at home by some, and considered a failure or "lazy" if you're not supporting yourself 100% by others. I'm one of many who fled the nest as quickly as possible, and then ran back. I'm in between society's expectations of people my age. Still fighting "growing up" but realizing that it's already happened.

Last night I thought about how badly I missed my parents' bickering and how they'd constantly give each other shit, my dad trying to gross out my siblings and I by saying, "Your mom and I are gonna go upstairs and...make out". I miss dad buying mum Fuschias every year even though she really didn't like them that much, and wasn't a fan of the mess they made. I thought about all the times dad would get home from work and yell, "Mr. Wonderful is home!" and mum would roll her eyes. I miss hearing them tell each other they love each other, or mum squirming and whining, "Put me down" whenever he'd pick her up. I miss how short she looked next to him and holidays with both of them there. Watching them open their stockings that they made for each other after the three of us were done opening ours on Christmas morning. I miss them coaching kids' sports together and all the traditions they held so important in our family. I miss it all. And I regret every single time I'd whisper to myself, "I wish they would just get divorced" when they would fight. I regret it because I had no idea what love really was or how hard it is to make a marriage last. I was oblivious to all of their emotions and all the pain. I miss the 17 years of my life that I would have dinner with both of them in the same house, surrounded by both of their love. 

Now he's been with her for years, and she married him. And yet, I still can't stop thinking about myself and my feelings. Selfish.

But when I step back, I can still appreciate the dynamics of our family. We aren't broken, just bent. I don't come from a "broken family" because blood can't be  broken and true love doesn't disappear, even though sometimes we wish it would. Memories can fade but they can't be erased, and I will always cherish them. My parents may not be married anymore, but they are both alive and well and I'm so thankful for that. Because I know that one day I'll look back on this chapter in my life, and realize how good it was and wish that I could have it back.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014


Sometimes what I write is so well thought out and thorough. Sometimes I gather up all my thoughts and try to write them down in a way that makes sense or is easy to follow. And other times my mind is so cluttered that I just spew seemingly meaningless shit out on here. I'm sorry for that, hah. But you get what you pay for, and in this case it's minutes of your free time reading my garbage. 
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making My Dreams Come True, One By One

"If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle."

You know how sometimes when you've wanted something for so long that you built it up so much in your head and ended up disappointed by the experience when it finally happens? Well, that definitely wasn't the case this time. This last Sunday, on April 13th, one of my biggest dreams came true. I got to truly fly. Not inside of a plane, but just me and another human flying through the air towards the earth.

I've wanted to go sky diving ever since I was probably around twelve years old and officially added it to my "Bucket List" when I was sitting in a study skills class one day when I was fifteen. Finally, at age 21, my friend and I paid our deposits and scheduled a date so we would finally make the time to do it. For years I had been imagining what it would be like and I wasn't let down one bit. In fact, it was far more amazing and intense than I ever thought it would be. The experience I had was hands down the most incredible thing I've ever felt, other than falling in love. Sorry, that's so cheesy but it's true!

Taking off

Danielle and I showed up to the sky diving site, signed our waivers, watched an educational video and then waited for our turn. It felt like ages that we waited but once we put our flight suits on the whole experience flew by. We all crammed into the plane and it only took a few minutes before we were cruising at 13,000 feet. Danielle and I had both paid an additional fee so we could double our free-fall time, because why not? My instructor was a really cool guy who has sky dived over 6,000 times. When he found out that I was going to be the person diving with him he asked if I was scared and I told him not really and that I'd been waiting for this day forever. He responded with, "Okay guys, can I get a different person!?" The entire time in the plane he was cracking jokes and just made me even more comfortable than I already was. However, when it was our turn and we started scooting towards the open door, my nerves started going crazy.  I wasn't really scared at all, just experiencing the biggest rush of emotions I have ever felt. It all happened so fast. There's no sitting on the edge of the plane, "Okay are you ready? 1...2..." It's not like that. He said, "K put your heels on the bottom of the plane, cross your arms, neck back, head up" and we jumped. He knew how excited I was so he threw in an immediate back flip which is apparently frowned upon when sky diving tandem with a newbie...but I'm not complaining! It was incredible.

Danielle's instructor got this picture of my instructor and I jumping out of the plane
 We fell at 180 mph for about ten seconds before he released a small shoot that slowed us to 120 mph (the speed of solo diver). We free fell for a full minute before the main chute opened and it was the most incredible sixty seconds of my life. The amount of pressure in my head was unimaginable and it felt like my ears, nose, and brain had exploded all at once. I thought for sure my nose and ears were bleeding and that my brain had been injured somehow. I'm not going to lie, it was painful but so worth it...and the instructor told me that it's usually only painful the first time you jump. During the free fall, the air was hitting me so fast that my mouth dried out completely and it was so loud that I could hardly hear myself yelling, "Holy shit! Holy SHIT! This is insane!" Once the chute opened, everything went completely silent and we were floating. It was the most peaceful feeling I've ever experienced. The bizarre part was that just seconds before the overwhelming peaceful feeling, I was experiencing the most intense and incredible thing I had ever felt. Both parts of the dive were so different but so amazing, and experiencing that drastic transition was too cool. My instructor let me steer us with the chute for a while and we just talked as he pointed out different landmarks. I was a little nervous for the landing but it was flawless and couldn't have been more comfortable for me. Overall, the experience was amazing and indescribable. I could try for hours to explain what I felt but nothing I say will do it justice. You truly have to experience it on your own.

It's a little embarrassing to say but I have to admit that I cried later that night when I was at home thinking about it. It's embarrassing because most people probably don't get that emotional over things like that, but it was a big deal to me because I think crying out of pure joy is one of the greatest feelings. And that's all it was. I was sitting at my computer looking at the photos and re-living the experience and just started to cry. I had never experienced so many emotions at one time before jumping out of that plane and it was finally sinking in that one of my biggest dreams had come true. I highly recommend sky diving to every single person and plan to jump many more times! I can't remember where I saw it or who said it, but I once read "If I could stand in an open airplane doorway, two and a half miles above ground, and will myself to step into empty space, then I could do anything". And that's exactly how it makes you feel, like you are capable of anything and the world is yours to experience.

The most beautiful view of the world

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Where is your attention going?

Sometimes I have to stop and take a look at where my focus has been. I think many of us need to remind ourselves often to pay more attention to what we've got. Love and appreciate what you have in your life and who you're sharing it with and it'll leave no room to think about what you don't have. The second you start to think about things you "don't have" or trivial things in life, try to re-direct your focus to the people and things around you that bring you true happiness.

This goes for everything. Pay more attention to what you're currently doing to reach your goals and less on where other people are "at" in life, how much they're making, or the house they live in. Pay more attention to what's going on in the lives and minds of your friends and less on the latest celebrity gossip. Pay more attention to your girlfriend or boyfriend (husband or wife) and all the great things they bring to your life, and less on their "shortcomings" and flaws, or the "hot girls" or "hot guys" at the gym. Pay more attention to today and less on tomorrow. Be appreciative.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words almost killed me."

This is a quote from a woman's blog who wrote about her battle with an eating disorder after being criticized and teased relentlessly because of her fuller figure. I remember growing up and hearing my parents say, "Remember, sticks and stones will break your bonesBut words will never hurt you." I also remember sitting in class and having my teacher make us all repeat the saying after her, over and over again. Back then I thought it was a good idea and it made sense to me. However, after years of being bullied and watching other kids get bullied, I realized that technique is borderline useless. Why are we passing on this ridiculously misleading saying to kids? Instead of trying to convince kids that words aren't hurtful and that they "don't mean anything", why aren't we teaching them how harmful words can really be? Why are we not teaching our kids that their words are filled with power that can be used to better the world or power that can hurt others, depending on how they use them.  And why aren't we teaching them that words, in fact, hurt far more and cut much deeper than "sticks and stones"? By passing these sayings down to our youth, we're not only teaching them that they don't have to be careful with their words but we're also sending the message that words shouldn't hurt you. Because of this, when kid's are called names or teased and end up with hurt feelings, sometimes they're left feeling even more inadequate because they have been taught that this shouldn't hurt them. So when the words do hurt, they feel like they're weak or pathetic.

I remember almost every hurtful thing that was said to me growing up. Was I hurt because I was weak? No. You can't tell yourself that something doesn't hurt, and make it true. You can't protect yourself from pain caused by words of others any more than you can protect yourself from the pain experienced when you break a limb. As a kid I could have told myself a million times over, "It doesn't hurt that she said _____ or he said ______. It doesn't hurt that they called me _____"...but it still would have hurt. As an adult, we have a little more power to block out negativity by being rational, but we still can't prevent it completely. There will always be times when a person's words cut like knives. 

I've been reading a lot about the stabbing in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, and with each article my heart hurts more. I've found that when these things happen, we tend to "forget" about them once the physical pain of the victims has subsided and the news moves on to the next thing. Almost always, there is a motive behind actions like these. These kids don't just wake up one morning and decide they want to stab their peers and face the consequences for the rest of their lives. These actions come from deep-rooted problems. Some of the stabber's classmates said that he was bullied (although it hasn't been confirmed), and that's not hard to believe. Ongoing bullying was probably what drove this young man to do what he did. While shooting can detach a person from a situation and their victims, stabbing is much more personal. Studies show that those who choose stabbing over other forms of assault are usually filled with intense rage and adrenaline. This young man was ready to be up close and personal with his victims, he was prepared to use the necessary physical effort to use his weapons and he was ready for blood. And this is terrifying for me. Bullying has been linked with suicides and homicides countless times in the past. 

Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters in the Columbine shooting back in 1999, had written in his diary about how he felt like an outcast and like everybody was conspiring against him, he also suffered from depression. In 2011, a man named Don who was a victim of bullying when he was a boy opened up about his experience. One day in the summer of 1946 when Don was 11-years-old, he and his friend lured their bully to a pond and beat him to death with a club. These stories are among hundreds that link bullying to suicide and homicide and they span over decades. As a man in his mid-70s, Don wanted to speak out about what happened because he wants to save the lives of others...even bullies. It is a fact that nearly all of school shooters/mass killers were victims of bullying.

My number one dream is to have children one day, but I'm terrified. I'm terrified because there is so much evil in the world that we can't protect our children from. Aside from the potential daily dangers like driving, there are things like this. We could kiss our children goodbye and send them off to the mall to hang out with friends or send them off to school and they could have their lives taken from them. Or on the other side of things, we could become so detached from our children and their emotions without even knowing it, and they could become these closed-off, withdrawn kids who commit these horrible crimes. I remember getting bullied all throughout middle school and I would get home from school, go straight up to my room and sit there all night. I didn't interact with my family hardly at all. My parents are wonderful and couldn't have been more loving. My mum would always try to start conversations with me or ask why I was so detached, but she couldn't force me to tell the truth. After a while she just figured I was a "regular pre-teen". Because of my experience with bullying, I wont' be caught dead allowing my kids to bully others one day. We teach our kids stupid sayings like, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", when we should be teaching them that words can ruin lives and break hearts. That words can kill. They can cause other children to hurt or kill themselves or others. It's a dark world and so many parents and schools are trying to hide that fact from kids, when instead they should be educating them and informing them of the gravity of their words and actions when it comes to how they interact with and treat their peers.

Parents and schools need to try even harder to be more aware of what's going on in their homes and in the hallways at school. Principles and teachers aren't stupid, they aren't oblivious or naive. They see what's going on, they see who likes who, what kids have tons of friends and what kids are alone every day. Just like students do, they hear rumors and secrets being whispered in the halls, they know what kids are getting picked on. But so often they choose to ignore it or brush it off with, "They're just being kids". I can't hear about kids killing themselves or others without crying. But so many people can, so many people can watch these things on the news without batting an eye or just change the channel and say, "This shit is so depressing." I understand not wanting to fill your mind with things like this, but we have to be aware. We can't have this "Out of sight, out of mind" attitude or things like this will keep happening. People often wait until it happens at their kids school or in their town before they truly become concerned.

If your child is being bullied what should you do? If you can't remove them from the situation by switching schools or other options, instead of telling them that they're "just words" and to not let what others say affect them so much, we also need to teach our youth that bullying is not about them as a victim. There is nothing wrong with you, there is no REAL reason this person is targeting you. Bullying is about the bullies. Bullies project their insecurities on other people. There isn't a bully out there who is 100% happy with who they are and genuinely proud of themselves as a person.  If there was, they wouldn't feel the need to bring others down or criticize and tease their peers. Parents can't be held responsible for all that happens with their kids because some things are out of their hands, but you can be aware of the situation and assure your kids that it isn't about them. You can tell them that one day none of this will matter.

I think one of the greatest songs for a kid who's being bullied to listen to is "Invisible" by Hunter Hayes. I remember the first time I heard this song. I was sitting in my car on my lunch break and I started bawling because it is so real and there's so much truth to it. In it he sings, "Trust the one who's been where you are, wishing it was sticks and stones. Those words cut deep but they don't mean you're all alone, and you're not invisible. Hear me out, there's so much more to life than what you're feeling now. Someday you'll look back on all these days, and all this pain is going to be invisible." I said that I remember every cruel thing my peers said to me over the years, but I can honestly say that the pain itself is gone. I can repeat all the harsh words and names over and over again in my head and not feel a thing other than empathy. It doesn't hurt me anymore, but I feel for those who are going through the same pain right now. All those kids that feel like they have no other way out than to end their lives or end the lives of those who're bullying them. If we could help show these kids that there is light in the future and that their pain won't go on forever, maybe they wouldn't feel like they had to do these horrible things. To go from being the victim to making victims out of others.

I could go on forever about bullying, but I'm just going to continue to repeat myself. I just had to write a little about it because of the horrible stabbing, my mind still has a hard time wrapping around such a horrible thing. My heart is breaking for all of those involved and all of those affected by bullying, past, present and future.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

My Free Time Sets Me Free

“It’s what you do in your free time that will set you free—or enslave you"

Getting smooches from Ella. I'm a lucky girl!

Most of the topics I write about are things that can easily consume me if I allow them to. I sit at my desk or on my bed and think for hours about my life, who I am, and who I want to be in regards to whatever I'm writing about. Once I've picked something I'm passionate about, I play devil's advocate with myself so I can view the topic from all angles before I decide to write...and it can just be exhausting. More often than not the topics I choose are very heavy, but today I wanted to take a break and write about one of my favorite things to do in my free time, something that brings me nothing but happiness.

I grew up on a dairy farm in Custer, Washington and I think that gave me the most badass childhood. I grew up "painting" the walls of the barn by flinging cow manure off of a stick, building hay forts in the barn with my dad and my siblings, shooting BB guns, and playing with the cows. When I was 7-years-old I started preparing for the Northwest Washington Fair with my first "show cows", Abigail and Pearl. I competed at the fair two months after I turned 8-years-old and won a second place trophy with Pearl...the proudest moment of my life at that point. As much as I loved showing cows, when I was 8 I bought my first horse for $500 and that was it for me. I was absolutely in love and spent the next 10-years of my life showing and training horses. I showed with multiple 4-H groups until I was 18 and also showed with an open group at fair one year. In high school I competed on the school's equestrian team and lettered each year. I have countless memories from all those years that I cherish. When I was a senior in high school I sold both of my horses because I thought I'd be moving away for college and it was the hardest decision of my life. What once was the biggest part of my life was now gone and ever since then there has definitely been an empty space in my heart.

By the time I contacted the local humane society to ask them if I could volunteer with the farm animals I was told that they had plenty of volunteers and all the spaces in the next few months of orientations were filled. I responded with my qualifications and told the volunteer coordinator how badly I wanted to help out and that I'd come in any time for an orientation. My "begging" must have worked because I've been volunteering on the farm for over two months now and I absolutely love it. Once a week I go to the farm to clean stalls, help with grooming and small projects. It's definitely a change of pace from what I'm used to doing with horses but I couldn't be more thrilled to just be around them. 

I think the best causes to be an advocate for are for those who don't have a voice, or a very faint one that can be ignored or lost in the chaos of daily life. And for me, those are animals and children. These animals have absolutely no control over what happens to them and sometimes when they come to shelters or rescues they're days or even hours from death. Even if we're able to step in and help out, we will never know their full story and we can only imagine all the suffering they've gone through. I love all animals and would volunteer for any branch of the humane society, but I chose the farm because it's much harder for animals like horses and cattle to be adopted out because of their needs (property, feed, etc.). It's just much more expensive to care for a farm animal than a small animal and realistically most people would rather have a cat or dog. It absolutely blows my mind to see some of the animals that are brought to us or that we have had to seize from their previous homes. It's heart breaking but at the same time it's necessary and I'm so glad that I can be a part of it. 
Writing about this aspect of my life also gives me an excuse to post some pictures I've taken of some of the cuties in my life and gush about them!

This gorgeous Appaloosa's name is Ella, and if I'm to be completely honest...she's the first one who really stole my heart. My first day at the farm I was trying to take pictures of all the horses so I could share them online in hopes to find them homes faster...but I couldn't get a picture of anybody but Ella. She's a total ham and she photo-bombed every single picture I tried to take of the other mares. I'd run a few feet away to try to get a picture of a different horse and her nose would end up in the frame or she'd follow me around constantly. Even now when I'm cleaning her stall it's nearly impossible to do it with her in there because she follows me everywhere...and tries to eat my hair. When Ella came to us she was sickly and with a nursing foal. Once she was de-wormed, cleaned up a bit and fed she became the most beautiful mare. I'll miss her when she finds a new home but she deserves it and I can't wait to see what's in her future!

Snowflake was the one who was camera shy at first, and pretty wary of me in general. When I first started volunteering her foal had just gotten adopted and she was pretty upset about it.  I was told to be a little cautious of her because she was an old grump but I've definitely grown on her and she's grown on me. She's still a little on the nervous side, I'm sure especially with people she's never seen, but she's incredibly sweet and would love to be rescued by somebody who would love her and help her to trust again. She is a doll.

Rachel Lynn is the third Appaloosa mare with us currently and she is so damn cute. Another volunteer and I took it upon ourselves to give Ella and Rachel Lynn their first baths one day and Rachel Lynn was very patient with us! The bath wasn't "perfect" (as expected) but we were very proud of how well she did even though I'm pretty sure she was terrified! Rachel's a sweet, mellow mare who loves to be groomed, loved on, and having her face rubbed. I think she'd make the perfect horse for an advanced 4-H rider with the proper training.

This handsome boy's name is Thunder, and like Ella...he immediately stole my heart. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love them all. But my very first horse that I bought when I was 8 was named Thunder and so I immediately had a soft spot for this guy. He's a 5-year old Appaloosa stallion and he's equally as sweet and full of character as he is gorgeous. We were on a pretty big time crunch to find Thunder a home when some local girls decided to take him for a few months and starting to train him (I'm very excited to see his progress!). Thunder was seized along with the three mares (eleven horses total) from a farm where they were left with no water, food or shelter. When we got him he had never had a halter on and by the time he left to work with the girls, we had him leading, standing for grooming, the vet, and working on standing perfect for the farrier. He is so eager to learn and wants nothing more than to please somebody someday!

Our newest mare at the farm is Sugar! I fell in love with her when she first came in because she's so adorable and timid. Her breed is unknown but we're guessing she has some Mustang in her. She's a little shy and has hardly been handled but she's a very fast learner and definitely curious. The other day we worked on getting her used to being brushed and were able to change her halter, which was a big step for her! She's leads well and is a sweet horse with a clean slate who needs a gentle, loving hand. I don't know much about her yet because she just came to us, but I do know that she was seized from people who are forbidden to have animals by law because of the unimaginably horrible things they have been caught doing in the past. Thankfully by the looks of her, Sugar probably wasn't with them for long and I'm so thankful she's safe with us now.

I don't always give the best advice, but I'd like to encourage everybody to volunteer during some of  your free time, even if it's just an hour a week. I work over 40 hours a week, but there are over 120 more hours each week that I'm not working and even though I'm busy with many other things, volunteering is something I always hope to find time for. The farm is an hour away from where I live, and I spend about two hours there each week. After the drive there and back that's four hours a week, and it does so much for not only the animals but for myself. Organizations like the Whatcom Humane Society run off of people volunteering their time, gas and energy and donations of food and other items for the animals. Some people have abused and neglected these animals and when I leave the farm everyday, I know that because of others and myself, these animals are given a second chance to be loved and to live healthy and happy lives. I selfishly think volunteering makes me happier than the horses! To be around horses and other farm animals again, and to spend my time with them brings me so much happiness. Whether you volunteer for animals, kids, disabled, homeless, or any group of beings experiencing adversity I promise you it will be the most rewarding thing you've ever done.

***If you're interested in enriching your life by adopting an animal or would like to learn more about the available animals, including the horses I wrote about, you can check out the WHS website here.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Don’t lose what is real chasing what only appears to be"

"I guess our parents stayed together simply because they didn't have 7,000 other people following them at their disposal when their relationship or marriage got hard. Nowadays when our relationships get hard, we can just log on and get high off this false sense of security, appreciation and understanding. We value our worth based on followers, comments and inbox messages filled with colorful words that have no depth. Meanwhile the person who loves you when there is no filter on your face becomes an option and attractively filtered followers become priority. Don’t lose what is real chasing what only appears to be." 

I love this quote. While my parents aren't together anymore, and many others aren't, unfortunately it's still a sad reality that social media and technology play a large part in many failed relationships these days. Whoever said this (author is unknown) could see that whenever people are "bored" in their relationships or things aren't going as good as they could be, people get right on the internet and get caught up and consumed in the followers, messages, and comments. Some of us get that false sense of security and appreciation by looking at all the "likes" on our pictures or followers on twitter, while others cruise profiles of other men and women and "oogle" them. Fantasizing about what a relationship with people we don't even know "would" be like.

I could go on a huge rant about all this but I'll spare you. And besides, I think this person said it all perfectly. Maybe not short and sweet, but short and full of truth. I think this is something we always need to keep in mind while conducting ourselves online. Remember what's important and what's not, and remember what's real. Don't allow all this garbage to take over your life.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Importance of Preserving Integrity

"You are who you are when no one is looking."

Holding onto true integrity is a constant battle for most of us. Sadly, I think it might even be something that many people aren't very concerned with. Some of us think that as long as we're doing good in the eyes of others, that we are good, even if what others see is just a front. Some of us settle for others thinking we're the kind of person we'd like to be thought of as, instead of actively trying to become that person. One reason many of us might seem to lack integrity (other than the fact that we think it's good enough if others see us in a positive light) is that there seems to be a lack of good examples. Personally, as a 20-something year old woman growing up in modern-day America, I see very little integrity. Our government has no integrity, neither do companies making most of the food we consume, drug companies, large corporations, insurance companies, etc. Basically the majority of people/institutions looking to get ahead or make personal gains lack integrity. Their main desire is control, be it money or power, and integrity isn't their top priority. We're constantly exposed to these realities and therefore we're often left without positive examples. 

One of my favorite quotes regarding integrity is something Oprah said in an interview for Good Housekeeping. She said, "Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." This is something that so many of us know deep down, but choose to keep in the backs of our minds. I think we do this at times because having integrity makes life more difficult in some ways, or less "fun'. The easy things in life aren't always the right things, and more importantly the right things aren't always easy.

If you're having a hard time finding out what choices would lead you to a life with integrity, spend some time coming up with a set of rules, morals, and principles that you think would make you a happier person. Find out what things would let you live a righteous and satisfying life, principles and morals that would make the world a better place if more people lived by them. Once you've set up guidelines for yourself, pay attention to every decision you make regardless of how small it seems and focus on getting closer to the living the kind of life you want and being the kind of person you want to be. 

I think it's common for person's integrity to be most in danger when it comes to relationships with those they care for the most because most people we care for are a big part of our lives, meaning we're faced with many decisions that could affect them. Ironically, most people lie to the people they love the most because they are most afraid of losing them or doing something they disapprove of. However, it seems as if they truly loved and cared for them that they wouldn't make these poor decisions in the first place. If we all held our integrity at a higher level of importance, lying wouldn't even be something we'd consider as something we "had" to do.

In my personal experience, I've learned over and over again that it takes less time and effort to do the right thing than it does to explain why you did the wrong thing. Lies will absolutely rot and ruin a relationship, but I think the biggest form of betrayal and loss of integrity is cheating. "Cheating isn't always kissing, touching, or flirting. If you gotta delete text messages so your partner won't see them, you're already there". The definition of cheating varies from couple to couple. For some couples, you can kiss other people and it's not cheating. For them, maybe cheating is only when you have sex with someone else. For other couples, flirting with another person is cheating. Each person in a relationship sets up boundaries or "rules", and makes agreements about what is and isn't acceptable to each of them. If one person violates the "rules" they have set up, or crosses boundaries...cheating has occurred. So many people mess around, get caught, and then say, "At least I didn't really cheat" or something along those lines. However, their partner is most definitely left feeling cheated. This is where the fact that we are all adults comes in. Just because your partner hasn't flat-out said what they consider cheating, you should know them and your relationship well enough to know what's acceptable and what's not. And we all know whether or not what we're doing is wrong, if you feel guilty about something you're know it's wrong. Like the quote above, if you're deleting text messages so your partner won't see them, having to clear your computer history every time you get offline, making sure you never leave your facebook open at your boyfriend's house in case he gets online, putting passwords on your phone to keep your partner out (not nosy coworkers, friends, or just because you appreciate privacy in general), you might need to take a step back and evaluate your integrity.

Of course romantic relationships aren't the only thing that can challenge or ruin a person's integrity, and I don't want to get too off-topic. I only touched on that because as I was researching different people's experiences with integrity, many of the things I found online were connected to people's experiences with cheating and lies between partners. As a person in my 20's, it seems to be a trend for people my age. Sometimes it seems like the majority of my friends have either cheated on somebody or been cheated on, and I find it extremely heart breaking because those wounds can last forever. Like I said, I think romantic relationships seem to challenge our integrity the most because they end up being such a huge part of our lives. That can also be a beautiful thing about committing yourself to somebody though. It's a 24 hour a day, seven days a week, every week of the year job that constantly keeps your integrity in check (or it should). And if you can't manage a relationship and having integrity at the same time, end the relationship and work on your integrity because in the end, how you view yourself is more important. And if you can't have integrity in a relationship you're just going to hurt yourself and your partner.

Basically any area of life you can think of leaves room for us to either build our integrity or take away from it. Integrity is at risk with absolutely everything from relationships with every individual we meet, our jobs, school, sports, and even situations where we're alone. When you make the right decision when could make the wrong one and literally nobody will ever know...that feeling is so great, there is no way to describe it. When you practice having good integrity, you're freeing yourself from so much self questioning. There's no more asking yourself "Am I a good person?" or beating yourself up for something you did. Life becomes much more simple when we do what we know is right and listen to our hearts. Imagine living a life where you literally didn't have to hide a single thing about yourself. You could have somebody watching your every move for every hour of every day and you wouldn't feel as though you had anything to hide because you knew you were living with integrity. That's the kind of life I want and that's what I'm working towards every day. 

I've gone on a long journey with my own integrity. I've gone from being a little kid who lacks it, like most young kids do, to a young teenager who starts to learn right from wrong and struggles to make the right decisions on a daily basis. Then I became adult who continued to strive to have good integrity and was feeling pretty good about the person I was becoming. At one point, I was an adult who briefly lost that integrity for various reasons; be it drugs, alcohol, or simply making the wrong choices at different periods in my life that I felt like I had to lie about or hide. Finally, I got to where I'm at adult who works everyday to do the right thing even if nobody would know if I did the wrong thing instead. 
"Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain" is a quote that I saw during the time where I had put integrity on the back burner and it really changed things for me. I asked myself if I'd rather get personal gain from something or if I'd rather become a person with good values. If I'd rather gain something temporary that likely wouldn't reap long lasting rewards, or put the extra effort in to do the right thing and become a good person, a person that I could be proud of. From that moment on, it became a lot easier for me to make the right choices. 

Integrity is something I consider very important because it contributes greatly to ones sense of self. If you're constantly pretending to be one person while being a completely different person behind closed doors, it takes a toll on you and can become very stressful. I've seen people try to manage a web of lies. Struggling to remember what lie they told this person, what lie they told that person, why they told their boss they had to miss work that day, where they told their boyfriend they were the night before. Now that I'm grown and I've learned my lessons, I can't imagine living such a stressful life. These people have continuously abandoned their integrity, probably because it was fun or easy at the time, and created an extremely difficult and not fun life for themselves. 

If you lose sight of the importance of integrity for a while, don't beat yourself up. Don't call yourself a "bad person" or give up on doing the right thing. Because you didn't wake up a bad person, you continuously made choices that maybe weren't the best and now you feel as though you're "bad".  If somebody you care about lacks integrity, be patient as long as you aren't putting your well-being at too much of a risk. Support them and always encourage them to make the right choices, and try not to criticize them harshly, as hard as it may be. Re-building integrity takes time but it's worth it. 

"Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.” 
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Best and Greatest Love

"The best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself."

I saw this quote on twitter this morning and I absolutely loved it. This entry is going to have a lot of personal back-story, so bear with me. It all comes together I promise! It also has multiple parts to it and will probably seem very sporadic, but I have quite a bit on my mind.

Something that a lot of you probably don't know about me is that I have only been single for about four months
 (two separate two-month time spans) since I was 15-years-old...and I'll be turning 22 this June. Which sounds freaking crazy! No, I'm not one of those girls who has had twenty boyfriends. I dated the first guy for about two months before we decided it wasn't going anywhere, and then a few months after we broke up I started dating again. This relationship lasted about nine months and ended the summer after sophomore year. That winter I started dating another guy who I dated for about two years and broke up with after we graduated from high school. About a month after my 18th birthday, I wound up with the boy that I dated for nine months in high school...and I'm lucky enough to say I'm with the same stud today! So, now for the point of all that.

I'm a 21-year-old who has been in a relationship for my entire adult life. This July I'll be celebrating my 4-year anniversary with my boyfriend and I couldn't be happier. Often times I'll encounter those ignorant people who say that because I've been in a serious relationship since I was young that I haven't "experienced life", or those who suggest that if I was single I could "live" more. For some people who are in serious relationships at a young age, this might be true. However, for me it's been quite the opposite.

One of the reasons it irritates me when people argue that you can't "live" or "experience life" when you are committed to one person is because quite frankly, I just don't understand where they're coming from. The only thing that being in a relationship has prevented me from doing is being in a romantic relationship with others or hooking up with people, which is something I have no desire to experience either way. So unless "living it up" means sleeping around, there's no reason being committed to somebody should prevent you from living a full life. Some people want to be with all sorts of people to figure out the kind of person they want to share their lives with, but what's so wrong with finding that person when you're young? I don't know what the future holds for my boyfriend and I, but I know that I love him and there's nobody else I'd rather share my time with. And I think that's a beautiful thing. No part of me feels as if I'm "missing out" on something.

To find somebody you truly love at a young age just means that the potential is there to be a part of each other's lives for longer than if you had met them at an older age. I don't believe in love at first sight, but I sure did have the hots for him when I saw him across the classroom when I was 15-years-old. I was an extremely nerdy girl who wore skinny jeans and a thermal shirt to school almost everyday that had owls on it. I had braces with rubber bands and heavy bangs that covered half of my face. I didn't think I had a chance in hell with this boy, but I hunted him down on Myspace (that feels like ages ago), added him as a friend, and we started messaging each other. I remember when he first asked me out on a date, it was towards the end of October 2007 and my best friend at the time was sitting on my knees while I was messaging him on the computer. When he asked me if I'd like to go to the movies sometime, I started screaming and bouncing up and down. My friend jumped off my lap and started squealing too, and I'm pretty sure we ran laps around my dad's house. Embarrassing.

So even though our relationship in high school didn't work out, those memories are priceless to me. And during the years we weren't together we still remained close friends and made hundreds of memories. It still blows my mind sometimes that we ended up back together, but I couldn't be more thankful. I feel like most people aren't lucky enough to have grown up with the person they love and have those fun memories of being young together. While some people would rather be out there "living it up" and dating dozens of people (there is nothing wrong with that by the way), it's simply not for me. I'm living life to the fullest and I'm having plenty of "experiences", the only thing different is that I'm experiencing things with a person that I love. I'm going through life, living, and growing with a person by my side that I wouldn't give up for the world. To me, being committed to somebody from such a young age has only enriched my life...not taken anything away from it.

The quote that inspired me this morning was
"The best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself", and that's what I believe I have. The best relationship you can have is one that brings the best out of you without changing you. I think a lot of people confuse trying to help somebody grow and become a better person with trying to change who a person is as a whole. Being in a relationship means that you have to accept a person for who they are. However, this doesn't mean that you have to necessarily accept everything they do. Being in a relationship is about sharing your life with somebody, supporting each other, and encouraging each other to grow and be the best person they can be. Accepting who somebody is  doesn't mean that you can't speak up, let them know if something is hurting you, and try to come to an agreement. That's key to a successful relationship. Communication and compromises. If you can't make compromises, give up seemingly insignificant things that might be significant to your partner, or put their needs before yours at times...then you really aren't ready for an adult relationship. When you commit yourself to somebody, your life is no longer just about you. There are two of you working as team and you need to take care of each other. Just like when you have children, you have committed your lives to building a family and from that point on it's not about the two of you, it's about your family a whole.

If your partner has a drinking problem and it's affecting your relationship or you're concerned about their health, you are entitled to voice your concerns because you are half of the relationship. If your partner constantly puts you down around your friend's because they think it's funny, you have the right to say something to them in private. 
This doesn't mean you don't accept them, it means you choose to not accept their behavior. Trying to alter or improve things in your relationship isn't the same as trying to change somebody in general and I think many people need to realize that. So many people are afraid to speak up and make their concerns known because they don't want to make their partner feel like they're trying to change who they are.  If your partner is doing things that hurt you, you're going to be unhappy. And if you're not happy you likely won't be able to make them happy either, and your relationship is going to suffer.

I haven't been in a relationship for this long because I "need" to be, I'm not a person who feels they need to be with somebody else. But it's what I want. Being with somebody and sharing my life with a person I love is where I want to be, it's my happy place. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my life with another person and having my focus be on somebody other than myself. I enjoy making my boyfriend happy, supporting him, and helping him grow while he helps me grow in return. I like celebrating accomplishments with him and even going through trials, tribulations, arguments and hard times with him. Not because I like pain and hardship, but because I'd rather go through it with somebody I love than go through it myself, and I'd rather be there for him when he's experiencing a hard time than watch him go through it alone. Not only do I have a wonderful, supportive and loving boyfriend, but I have found a best friend throughout these years as well and I truly couldn't imagine my life without him.

I don't encourage people to actively go out and look for love necessarily, because it really will find you when the time is right, whether you're 15-years-old or 50-years-old. But I do think it's important that young people don't turn down the opportunity for real love to grow just because they're "too young" or because others tell them that they'll miss out on life if they're in a relationship in their 20's. If you think you might have found somebody you could see yourself having a future with, give it a shot. The worst thing that could happen is that it won't work out. I also encourage those of you who are the ones saying those things to young people to maybe not discourage them. I have seen happy couples break up because the words of others have been so influential. Their parents or other adults who are older have told them for so long that they're missing out on life by being in a relationship that they end up breaking it off. And then a few months down the road they realize that they were much happier in that relationship, and now it's too late to go back to it. Live and let live. People are going to figure out what's best for them on their own. As long as a person's partner isn't overly-controlling, their life isn't any less colorful because they're sharing it with somebody else. And a "good love" will only encourage you to grow and bring the best out in you, not try to change you, control you or hold you back. 

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

"A Negative Mind Will Never Give You a Positive Life"

"People inspire you, or they drain you - pick them wisely." -Hans F. Hansen

I always used to wonder why it seems like bad things are always happening to negative people. We've all had those friends who seem like they're constantly complaining about something going on in their lives. Sometimes this just comes from bouts of misfortune, but sometimes it's just because they are negative people in general. These people tend to have a hard time finding positive things, and because of this, everything in their lives is always "negative". They will only talk about what's going wrong, not what's going right, and if you surround yourself with these people, slowly you will start to become more negative. Negative people drain all positivity and energy out of those around them. The saying "Misery loves company" has a lot of truth behind it. Unhappy people get some sort of consolation knowing that other people are miserable as well. Sometimes when I'm feeling depressed I don't like to be around upbeat people because I find it too overwhelming or even obnoxious. At times, being in the company of another person who is suffering makes my sadness easier to bear. To a certain point this can be healthy. Two people who are going through hardships at the same time can sometimes help each other through it and form a special bond. If you're really feeling down, sometimes being in an upbeat environment or trying to force yourself to be happy can do more harm than good. However, at a certain point this becomes very unhealthy and if it's all people ever do, the negativity will consume them and it can be nearly impossible to find your way out.

I think the first step to creating a more positive life for yourself is being able to differentiate those who are being negative and those who are negative. Sometimes it seems like a fine line, but it's there. We all have moments when we're in a bad mood or feeling negative, but this doesn't make us negative in general. Those who truly are negative, take on negativity as part of their identity. The easiest way for me to identify these people is by observing whether or not their negativity is part of a pattern. 
When somebody is just BEING negative, it's usually temporary and out-of-character. Because of this, it strikes something in us that causes us to ask this person (a friend, family member, lover, etc.), "What's wrong?", "Are you upset?" or something like that because we recognize that this behavior isn't normal for them. With those who are negative people, we expect this negativity from them. For them, being negative, hopeless and critical are all parts of their character.

I read an blog entry written by Marc Chernoff this morning that I strongly recommend for everybody called "7 Negative People You Need to Ignore". In his blog, Chernoff describes those with negative attitudes and opinions as "venomous and contagious" and he couldn't be more right. He goes on to describe seven different kinds of negative people we encounter in our lives, explains the negative affects they can have on us, and tells why we need to subtract them from our lives.  

"People inspire you, or they drain you - pick them wisely". If you're constantly around negative people, they'll drain all of your energy and you'll become more like them, always viewing things from the negative side. However, if you surround yourself with positive people, they will rub off on you and you'll quickly see positive changes happening in your perspective and your life. Like Chernoff said in his blog and many others  have said before, if you're sharing your life with negative people you have to free yourself from them. You don't ignore them or cut them out of your life because you hate them or even dislike them, but because you love yourself and need to take care of yourself. In order to live the most positive lives possible we have to surround ourselves with positive people who reflect the person we aspire to be. Every relationship we have (be it friendship, romantic...) should help us, encourage us to grow, and create happiness...not hurt us. We should only surround ourselves with those who support and respect us.

There aren't a lot of things in life that we can control, but who we share our lives with is one thing we can. Life is full of enough negative things without filling it with negative people and letting others suck the happiness out of you.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Body Shaming

Body shaming or body bashing occurs in more ways than one and it seems like these days we can't look anywhere without seeing some form of it. Body bashing is what's happening when we
criticize our own appearance by comparing it to others or making harsh judgments of ourselves, when we criticize the appearances of others without them knowing (i.e., pointing people out when you're with your friends and making rude comments about them, etc.), or criticizing somebody else's appearance to their face. None of these options are much better than the next. No matter which type you partake in, it perpetuates the detrimental idea that people should be judged mainly for their appearance and physical features. This goes on between women and men, but I'm going to focus a little more on women.

One of my favorite quotes I heard a while back is "Our bodies are the shells for our souls. It's like an egg that holds a baby chick inside. Our soul and who we really are is the baby chick." It's a very simple way to put it. The egg serves as protection for the chick and allows it to grow, the way the egg looks doesn't matter. Our bodies are very important. We need to respect our bodies and practice good health in order to reap the benefits of a long and healthy life. However, as long as we are healthy and our bodies are performing and functioning properly, it doesn't matter what we look like. This goes for skin color, height, build, hairstyle, etc.

For decades now, there has been extreme pressure on women to be thin. Infomercials are flooded with surgeries for weight loss and body contouring that can be extremely expensive and dangerous. On nearly every page in magazines for women there are articles titled "How to lose ten pounds in a week!" or "Reduce the size of your waist by 20% in just weeks!" But then, the next page of the magazine is an article about how every woman should feel beautiful and embrace their bodies. Sending mixed messages to young women is not what these magazines should to be doing.

Due to this "skinny craze",  bigger women have been working towards embracing their bodies and preaching positive body image. However, many people are going about this in the most negative way possible. 
"Real women have curves!" seems to be the main slogan people are trying to get out there to promote self-love. However, this may be one of the most stupid thing I have ever read. Women are trying to get other women to love their bodies and be confident no matter what size they are. However, they're attempting to define what a "real woman" using size. That seems contradicting to me. A certain body type doesn't even begin to constitute a "real" woman. Women are the most beautiful and unique combinations of compassion, empathy, intelligence, desire, motivation, dreams, manners, ideas, opinions, independence, spunk, strength, a good sense of self, a good conscience, and more. What a "real woman" is has nothing to do with how she looks. Real women don't need to be thin, they don't need to have curves, they don't need to have a single hair on their head or a pair of heels in their closet.

We can't begin to teach young women about positive body image when we're constantly putting down one body type to build up another. We need to start promoting good health instead of particular body types. Healthy people come in all different shapes and sizes and nothing positive can come from body shaming. If people continue to bash on thicker bodies, young women are going to continue to starve themselves, force themselves to vomit and hate their own bodies. If people continue to preach about curves, naturally thin women are going to go under the knife the day they turn 18 to get larger breasts. Not necessarily because all of them want to, but because they feel like the have to in order to be "a real woman" or to be attractive. We can see this simply by reading statements from countless celebrities who have felt pressured to go under the knife in pursuit of "beauty", and ended up regretting it. Courtney Love, Kathy Griffin, Heidi Montag, and Kenny Rogers (yes, men too) are just a few celebrities who have come forward about their experiences with plastic surgery and their regrets.

I think one of the lowest forms of body bashing is when women bring men into it. When women try to talk about what "men" like in regards to the "ideal female body". A while back something really popular going around was "Real men like curves, only dogs go for bones." I was honestly SHOCKED when I saw this. Now not only were women trying to define what "real

women" looked like, but they were also trying to define a "real man" by what he's attracted to physically.  Good men don't bash on the bodies of any human being, and good women don't compare other women to "bones", and men with different preferences to "dogs". Apparently if a man is attracted to thin girls who don't have large hips or breasts, or athletic girls with more of a narrow build...they aren't real men. That was news to me.

Women aren't the only ones trying to define "real women" though. I see men doing it almost as often as women. Supporting and promoting plastic surgery so that women with tiny waists and slender legs can have gigantic breasts as well. Or men posting memes that make fun of heavier women, with text added on saying things like, "Tag a friend who would f*@! this". Both of these just sicken me. If you're a man who's attracted to small waists and large breasts that's fine. Seek out women who you find attractive, but don't encourage or pressure other women to try to fit that mold. If you're a man who's attracted to "thicker" women, that's great. But don't tell other girls that "They're too thin" or "Have the body of a 12-year-old boy".

I'm sure at one point or another we have all body shamed to a certain agree, definitely myself included, but why? Is there a single thing to gain?

Next time you begin to do something like that, ask yourself  "Does it make me feel better about my own body to criticize another person's appearance?", "Is bashing on her body because I don't like my legs going to make them thinner or more muscular? Is it going to make the things I'm insecure about magically go away?" I can guarantee you the answer is no. And if criticizing another person's appearance truly does make you feel better about your own, I offer you my most sincere apologies and recommend you talk to somebody about that.  If you're thinking poorly about your body, instead of looking at the bodies of others and thinking, "Well at least I don't have her stomach" or "At least I look better than her", look in the mirror and find the things about yourself that you find beautiful. I promise it's more rewarding.

*I love both of these pictures. I found them on The Skinny on Body Shaming, a blog which raises awareness of body shaming and works to promote body acceptance
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