Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tresses and Locks, Part 1

About 2 years ago, I started a journey to truly see myself by shaving my head, and dear Lord, have I really seen a lot! I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I wanted to grow with my hair, and I'm very pleased to say that my commitment has surely paid off. I started to blog this a few times, but it didn't feel right. Today is the day! Aren't you lucky?! ;) (Yes! Yes, you are!)

I've wanted to cut my hair a hundred times, especially in the hot Summer months in Central Texas, but I knew there was a purpose to waiting. See, I've never been very good at waiting. As an addict, I believe I don't really know patience in most forms because my brain had not fully developed a Be Patient & Wait switch; it eagerly created a Rush Through It & Consume switch that blinks all day long and makes all kinds of bells and whistles to alert me that it's there at all times of the day. My consumption takes on various forms whether it looks like flour and sugar products, free booze at a party, men who give me time and attention, or constant change in appearance, to name a few, although most of it is centered around and triggered by food. I just never learned how to wait for anything, really, so I figured I would start with my hair.

Knowing myself more and more as the days went by, I chose to wait until the time was right for the big step, and I chose someone very dear and close to my heart for my first cut: Barbara Morin. Barbara was the first hair and makeup artist for my former plus size fashion line, and I had an immediate fondness for her since the moment we met. She has always known exactly what my vision was and has always executed it with grace and perfection. Not only is she exquisitely talented, she is incredibly bright, super fun, wonderfully wise, and an all around amazing person. Over the years, she did hair and makeup for my models, and we took time out of our busy schedules to hang out as friends and really get to know each other. I have a deep respect for this woman and her knowledge and craft, and since she's a curly hair expert and great friend, I knew exactly who would do my first cut!

At the time, I had aspirations of growing my hair out for future ideas, so we agreed to keep some length. Throughout the whole visit, Barbara was continually educating me on optimal care for my locks, describing the wonderful Unite products she so expertly used that are sulfate-free, vegan, paraben-free, sodium chloride-free, color safe, and DEA/DMA-free (They're just FREE, ok! So freakin' free and beautiful!). They smelled like baby angel breath in a bottle, guys. And they felt amazing on my hair.

Having someone I have loved and admired for years make that first cut was an emotional experience as it signified a big step in my journey of self-love. She was there in the beginning for the first time I showed my dresses, so she was there again, and many times in between, as I transitioned into a Songstress, following the number 1 passion in my life, music. My hair was once again being guided by her loving hands. There I was, in her sweet chair at Golden Bones, laughing and reflecting and having a grand ol' time with Barbara, her co-stylist, and my hair neighbor who was hilarious and saucy. This cut was more than what may seem to some as just a haircut; it was a life-changing experience. Barbara equipped me with some great knowledge, showed me how to care for and enjoy my tresses in the best of ways - something I really did not know, and so vital for life! - and sent me on my merry way with love and excitement in my "golden bones"!

Thank you, Barbara, for being a great, shining light in my world! And thank you for sharing your gift with me and being The One for that initial cut. You are perfect, and I couldn't imagine a better person for this moment! [GO SEE BARBARA!]

You can see the Before, During, First Look, and After (I was excited, obviously.) in these Instagrammy-grams! Enjoy!

I just got another haircut yesterday and chopped all of it off! You'll have to stay tuned for that saga coming soon. I didn't want to write a novella. You're welcome!!!! :) Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hi, My Name is Anslee

I just read a meme online that said, "Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong."

That's what I felt. Stuck. I named it a few weeks ago, even started to write a song about it. I know when I get to that place it's mainly due to what I eat and the way it processes in my body. So, I tried to fix it. That lasted less than a week before the weekend temptations of wine parties and late night eateries. Of course, I gave in like R. Kelly in "Ignition Remix."

It wasn't just food that I felt stuck with, though. It was everything, so I responded with control, as a lot of people do, to attempt to get my life in order. Every effort failed. In fact, it made everything worse, especially my closest relationships. (Well, one in particular.) "This isn't me!" I kept thinking. "Where's the Anslee who loves and gives freely? Where's the Anslee who sees the joy of life and endlessly beautiful possibilities?! WHERE DID ANSLEE GO?! I WANT HER BACK RIGHT NOW!" As much as I stomped the feet of my heart, I stayed there in that chaos in my mind, feeling trapped and unsafe and unloved and unloveable. I had been there for months, with tiny reprieves every now and then. Those windows were amazing, too. I felt human again.

On one particular day, I had felt painstakingly lonely, but decided to just breathe through it. My boyfriend had a really rough day, so when he got home that night (with a gift for me in hand - HOW LOVED AM I?!?!?!), he really just needed to turn his brain off. He and my roommate played video games for a while, and although the previous feeling continued, I knew that it was my issue, and I needed to take the steps to change it because, honestly,  I love myself enough to take that first step.

The next morning, a Saturday, at 9am, I took my friend Anne Marie with me downtown to my first recovery group meeting for food addiction. It was the 2nd group of people I've ever met where I felt immediately welcomed, and I cried most of the meeting, letting me know that - YES - I do belong here, and - YES - I can make the necessary changes for my life and my future right now. So many times during their stories, I thought, "This is me! I've taken food out of the trash, too!" or "Girlfriend, PREACH." I met a woman who keeps me accountable every morning at 7am with a food guide implemented by the organization, and even though it has only been a few days, I feel the clearest, happiest, and most positive I've felt in a very long time. I'm happier than a tampon commercial, guys! IT IS SO GREAT!

Today, I've been extremely emotional on the other end of the spectrum than what I had become accustomed to, expressing my gratitude to God and the people who have been placed on my path to recovery, the people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and me for responding to this call to truly honor and cherish myself in a way that will last. I'm about to bike over to a meeting right now! (Another victory - getting back on my bike again for the first time in months!!!)

Thank you for your love. Always.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's Between Me and Me, No One Else

There are a few blog posts I have in the works right now - one about the MS 150 bike ride and one about my recent haircut with Barbara Morin - but I had to say something right now that has been coming up very recently, and I'm glad my lovely friend and plus fashion blogger Cathy Benavides spoke out before I did. Cathy, I'm here to join you.

But first, let me some history. (Fooled you, haha!) (What am I, 12?!)

I started this blog with my friend Sarah back in 2008ish as a way for us to keep each other accountable with our weight loss goals. She would blog, then I would blog, and we sort of went back and forth for a while and it evolved into what it is now. [Note: My posts are still active. Hers are not.] Sarah and I went to college together, and we were pretty close for a few years. During our college career, I recall a conversation with someone else where they brought up how women generally feel bad about themselves when they read magazines. During this time, I fluctuated with my feelings of insecurity and extremely low self-esteem on a daily basis. I denied that I was one of those women, but Sarah, my wonderfully bold, fountain of truth friend, said, "Uh, yes. You do that all the time. You always say negative things about yourself every time you flip through those magazines when we go get coffee and you usually hate yourself afterward." This truth hurt a lot, but only in the I-was-totally-in-denial-for-all-these-years kind of way. It really made me think about things.

At the ripe age of 21, I came up with a conclusion: We all hate ourselves because our culture is built on comparison. "We," of course, is a blanket statement, as I am fully aware of men and women who love themselves fully regardless of society and its not-so-subliminal messaging egging us on to constantly pick ourselves apart. I also understand this isn't the only reason why there is this prevalence of self-loathing. It does, however, ring embarrassingly true in the majority of cases. Why else would anyone feel the need to say, "OMG I hate her amazing thighs!" if they weren't comparing her thighs to theirs? We compare ourselves from our bodies to our politics, and millions of things in between, in a way that I don't think is entirely necessary. After this truth slapped me so hard in the mouth, all of the thoughts and words that came forth from that point on were filtered through this thought process: Am I comparing myself to someone else? Why? What does it matter? If I believe all people are beautiful (and good gracious alive, I do!), then why can't I view myself as beautiful? Why does my comparison of myself to them always end up in me being negative and hating myself? Are these negative words of comparison leading to self-hatred going to help someone else or change the world?

After that moment of realization, and a lot of love from my friends, I began to see my body as beautiful for what it is. I still have to remind myself of this almost daily. Granted, I've struggled with this idea again over the past 2 years, but I see myself returning to love again because of this truth that when I strip all the comparisons that we feed ourselves every day on the diet of media and the fashion and health industries (Yes, I'm talking to you, health and fitness people! It's there, too.) - It's just my body. And my body is beautiful no matter what. 

That brings me to what started this: I do not participate in "Who Wore It Better?" games. I would love it if they would simply go away. I'll gladly compliment my friends, saying something like "I'm totally team _______! You look great!" or "Lookin' good, lady!" as my attempts at a tactful response, when they wear something strikingly similar to or exactly the same as celebrities because I know them and I want them to feel beautiful, but do I believe they look better than someone else? No. Sorry guys, but no. You are a beautiful human being. That celebrity is also a human. And he or she is beautiful, too. You both bought the same dress! Great! They made, like, 500 of them! Hooray marketing! Why does looking "better" than a celebrity in the same dress have to be a game we play? And the whole best dressed/worst dressed thing falls into all of this. I hope you read me loud and clear when I say No one deserves body shaming. Ever.

It really upsets me when I read something by anyone in the plus size community engaging in these kinds of diatribe because come on, guys. I'm all for size acceptance and empowering women of larger sizes to embrace their curves or non-curves and love the extra folds of skin we're in! Yes! Do it! But there's a flip side to that. We can play the game of being victimized for being picked on and overlooked and degraded most of our lives for being larger than the societal preconceptions of a beautiful size - and that is a horrible, horrible thing to go through as I am completely with you there and I feel for every single one of you/us - and try to only lift up "our people" with slogans like "Curvy Girls Are Better" and the like -or- we can become empowered, make a change, accept our pasts, and bring everyone up with us, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, shape, or size. That's where the real difference will be made. Let's stop comparing and stop shaming. Let everyone be beautiful no matter who they are or what they wear.

[Note: As I type this, I realize that one of my favorite songs EVER, "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor, even has a lot of work to do. She tries to make up for it, though: "I'm bringing booty back/Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that/No, I'm just playing/I know you think you're fat/But I'm here to tell ya/Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top" She's still got a little way to go, in my opinion, but I think she's heading there.]

Friday, July 25, 2014


I feel the need to

Not in the way of
Feet meeting pavement,
But running
With my heart
Towards a purpose,
Towards a higher space of living.
Running towards God.

Towards my dreams and passions.
One proverbial foot in front of the other
In quick succession of
Blood pumping
Through my veins,
Creating wind
And force
And energy
Behind me.

Where my destination is
I have only a vague idea,
I just

Monday, June 23, 2014

Letting Go, Clearing Out, and Moving On

Last year, I had a multi-family yard sale with my friends where I let go of a lot of items I had assigned emotional attachments to, and I realized there was something else I needed to let go of: The Box. "What box?" you may be asking. The Box of my past. You see, I've kept The Box in my closet for most of my life. In there, I would put letters and little notes and ticket stubs and random memorabilia to remain forever in the black hole of memories known as The Box. 10 months after the yard sale, I finally got up the courage/emotional exhaustion to begin the process.

I read every letter, crying on the floor of my bedroom. Most of them were wonderful memories, but some of them were not. I realized where my notion of not feeling good enough for someone to date me came from, along with my need for people pleasing to stop someone from bullying me, amongst many other agreements I made about myself and the world. In middle school, even before my diagnosis, I just wanted to be normal, and I wrote that in a letter I didn't send yet kept in The Box. I wanted to be someone else from such a young age because I was already tired of not fitting in, not being accepted, and not loving myself because some boy (every boy) or some "friends" couldn't love me for who I was.

I wanted wine. I wanted sweets. I wanted my mom. I wanted to cry for days. But I did not indulge. Instead, I processed what the hurtful notes meant, how they shaped who I am today, and what I needed to let go. Then, I gladly/angrily/tearfully/whatever-emotion-I-allowed-myself-to-feel-in-the-moment-ly threw them away. I kept the beautiful notes of love, encouragement, and goodness to happily remain in The (now) GOOD Box, and remembered all of the beautiful people who blessed my life with their words that touched me so deeply, then and now. All of them are now teachers to me; teachers of strength, humility, and sense of self, along with teachers of love, support, guidance, and faith. I even made peace with death, particularly the death of one of my best friends, through these letters.

It seemed as if I started to breathe again, but there were still some things I was wrestling with emotionally that I didn't know how to deal with. I prayed a lot, and it seemed to help quite a bit. I'd kicked the sugar habit again, so that wasn't the problem. I was more motivated than I had been in a long time to work and get my resume up to date. My friends and I had the best relationships we've ever had. However, why was I constantly feeling lethargic and unattractive? Why was I constantly asking my boyfriend for affirmation (rather, reaffirmation upon reaffirmation) or needing attention? Why did I still feel unsafe in my own body? Why couldn't I feel love from others, but mostly, from myself?

Open the garage door to my studio, essentially, my life. It was complete chaos - dirty, dirty chaos.  What was supposed to be a place of creativity, business, and productivity was just a huge mess! [Read: Complete and utter disaster.] No wonder I took a sabbatical. I couldn't get any freakin' work done in a place so unorganized, so disheveled, so full of useless, neglected things from wall to wall, floor to ceiling in some places. It was just like The Box, taking up physical, emotional, and spiritual space, and I couldn't put it off any longer. It had to be done, and I was the only one who could do it.

The first day, it took me 6 hours to get everything out of the garage and into my driveway. People thought I was having a yard sale so they actually bought a bunch of things. (If you put it out there, they will come. Noted.) The first day was a total of 14 hours of moving, sorting, sweeping, cleaning, and throwing away, but mostly, it was emotionally draining yet also somehow uplifting.

At one point, a huge revelation hit me right in the feels: I hoarded these crafts and crafty-like things my whole life because those were my only friends for so long. That truth lingered in my stomach before spilling out of my eyes, and soon, I was in a sweaty, gross puddle in the middle of my garage, looking out onto the piles of what I had decided was my life. My art and creativity is pretty much everything to me in my physical and emotional worlds, and this driveway of clutter represented years of clinging to that part of myself, developing it to the respected level it is now. It also represented the years I was isolated, being the weird girl who sat by herself at the lunch table in high school and couldn't wait to get in the art or music room to let it out - alone, again, for the most part. No wonder I do things on my own and rarely ask for help, perpetuating the cycle I've found myself in for most of my life. I retreat into my little lair of possibility, surrounded by my mountains of 'friends' I've collected in the form of crafts, sewing materials, paints, and random objects to be used for something great and awe-inspiring, I assure you, yet craving intimacy and closeness at the same time.

During this process, I uncovered so many great things I seemed to have forgotten about myself as they were hidden underneath a frustrating blanket of "UGH! WHY IS THIS HERE?!" I remembered things such as the fact that I started a really cool business in high school (and actually made money at it!) painting bar stools and other cool things, the fact that I am SUPER resourceful, incredibly observant, and a very quick and thorough learner, and the fact that I'm really great at what I do - all of it! Oh, and I'm really fun! And funny, obviously. [You better laugh at that.] Doing this manual labor for myself helped me feel better in my body for the first time in months, and I looked at my sweaty, dusty naked self that night in the mirror after that first day was over and actually liked what I saw for the first time in a long, long time. [Cue: Tears. Lots of tears.]

I made a choice that day to start over in a way. I cleared out about 50% of my things, which is more than I'd expected to rid myself of over the course of a week. I held a yard sale where some of my real life friends - also crafty people! yay!!! - and lots of lovely strangers came by to give these things a new life. I made rent with that yard sale. (Thanks, old friends, for your value!)

My space is incredible and light and full of room to explore and create and get excited! (My boyfriend even wants to set up his studio in there, which would have been impossible before.) I'm proud to now have a space that I feel represents me and my lightness of heart, fullness of joy, and excess of possibility that has gratefully returned. I'm hosting a Studio Cooling (not warming because we are in Texas and it's almost July) Party soon to celebrate the transition, and I couldn't be more thrilled for this new chapter and fresh start. Emotional health is the most important, in my opinion, and this cleanse is exactly what I needed for an optimal healthy life journey.