Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Sunset of Another Year

I can't believe Christmas is on Tuesday, nor does it seem possible that it's nearly time to say good-bye to yet another year. My relationships to both my biological and extended families are strained at best (where they're existent at all), so the holidays always bring up some weird feelings for me. However, this year I also have this wonderful feeling of accomplishment to help balance some of that.

I'm realizing that at one point, I got pretty used to feeling like a fuck-up. Every December usually finds me painfully aware of the fact that yet another year has slipped by without my accomplishing anything of note. Anything to be proud of. Nothing I've done to make my life better or truly move forward toward any of the long-term goals I like to claim are so important to me.

But not this year. This year, I can look back on a year I spent diligently improving myself. I've been exercising every day. I've been eating well. I've been taking amazing care of myself, both inside and out. I've been learning, reading, praying, and worshiping. (I am learning German, among other things!) I feel beautiful, and confident, and strong. I can honestly say I am finally growing into a woman I am proud to be and cultivating an image I'm unashamed to show to the rest of the world, either casually or in regards to something that's more serious.

Take last weekend, for instance. I've sort of made friends with one of our Instacart shoppers over Facebook recently and she asked to meet me in person last Saturday. (Normally I do the shopping and handle the orders, but Seth gets the door for the shopper in the event the delivery includes alcohol and needs to be signed for.) I'll probably never be the most voluntarily social person in the world, but it was really nice not to feel like I literally can't show my actual face to anyone because I've let my weight, hygiene, and grooming routine slide too far out of control for too long. Despite wearing boxer shorts and absolutely zero make-up, I felt like a normal human being saying hello to a friend who wanted to see me and that was really nice for a change.

This year has brought me so far from where I once was. I'm truly excited to see where I am by this time next year if when I continue to stick with all of my fantastic new habits. I have this wonderful suspicion that I have no real idea who I could become if I can just manage to believe in myself consistently enough for long enough.

I think next year, I'd like to see if I can leverage some of this momentum into whipping our bedroom into shape. Getting rid of all the junk and clutter. Cleaning. Maybe decorating a little bit and setting up a corner we can use for eating, working, or whatever else we might be in the mood for. I'd like to see if I can integrate some regular creative writing time into my schedule as well. I really need to be working on some serious pieces of my own that I can submit to publishers and whatnot so I can at least say I'm trying to make fetch happen with my writing. I just need to make it a habit just like I have everything else I've been working on. Suddenly, it seems so easy. Definitely possible.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

On Transformations, Pride, and Self-Love

It looks like Blogger finally got around to purging the old, extraneous blogs I deleted a few months ago. I certainly wasn't planning on reviving them or anything, but it still feels a little bittersweet to actually see that they're really and truly gone. With them go the fractured little pieces of me that they contained back when I was still not really sure who I was or what I wanted to be going forward.

To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure, but I do know I no longer have the time or energy to try to be all things to all people. I like that there is really only one of me these days. I'm still the reader, and the writer, and the lover, and the passionate home cook, and the closet spiritualist. I'm just all of those things at the same time now. It feels like a right proper place to be. Grounded, stable, and lots of other words I never would have used to describe myself a few years ago.

My phone's image gallery is full of selfies these days. I don't even share most of them with anyone else, but I consider it a very good sign that I've felt moved to take them at all. Historically speaking, I photograph things I'm proud of or pleased by. If I'm taking pictures of myself, that must mean I've reached a place where I feel proud of how I look again. I'm certainly proud of how well I've been taking care myself so far this year. My fit body and my beauty were things I never fully appreciated the last time I actually had them, so it's nice to feel the way I imagine other people would feel about those things. I love the ways I've been changing and I get excited every time I realize that things will only get better from here.


Speaking of positive changes, I'm getting awfully good at make-up. Back when I worked retail in my 20's, I was pretty impeccable about my grooming routine. My hair, make-up, and nails were literally never not done. I really didn't branch out much or try anything new though, especially when it comes to make-up. I wore more or less the same basic color combinations every single day and that's something I've literally never changed over the years.

While that was one thing when I was 25 and not that far removed from my teens years and early 20's in the actual 90's, it's different now that I'm in my 40's in 2018. I'm definitely not looking to fool anyone into thinking I'm still in my 20's or anything, but I don't want to look like I'm cluelessly stuck in yesteryear or anything either. I've been actively trying to branch out as far as my make-up looks for that reason.

A couple of months ago, I signed up for a couple of subscription beauty boxes to make sure I'm continually trying new products and colors, especially ones that I wouldn't necessarily pick out for myself. I've also been using all of the stuff they send and having an unexpectedly good time doing so. I've learned a thing or two about myself in the process:

  • I apparently look good in just about any color combination, including a few I never could have pictured myself wearing. Case in point, that 60's-inspired look with the blue eyeshadow in that picture above or the one below with the pale pink lipstick. 
  • In the past, I always thought my eyes were boring and not really worth playing up at all because they're brown. I rarely to never wore much (if any) eye make-up in the past for that reason. Now I'm realizing that brown, almond-shaped eyes like mine are actually the best eyes to have if you like trying different colors.
  • I actually like contemporary make-up looks that don't look like they're total throwbacks to the 90's. To be fair, I'm really still very attached to my dark lipsticks and whatnot, but these days, I can honestly say they're no longer all I like to wear.
  • Not only do I actually like eyeshadow, but my favorite options have tons of shine and a lot of color to them. I'm still not a massive fan of super-understated or barely there make-up looks, so dramatic eyeshadows give me something to wear with some of the nude and lighter-colored lipsticks I've acquired. 
At this point, it's been a few months since I finally got my grooming routine back on track, so I'm super used to actually doing my hair and make-up on a regular basis again. I often think of grooming time as the highlight of my morning -- a fun, colorful activity to enjoy after my workouts that makes me feel like I'm doing something positive for myself. Something that celebrates the person I feel I'm becoming.

Beauty and grooming were never things I truly enjoyed when I was younger. Like most women, I saw them as things I "had to" do to stay gainfully employed, meet the expectations of others, and make myself socially acceptable. I was already an ugly duckling type growing up, so I genuinely thought of myself as an ugly person that needed a lot of help in the looks department (no thanks to shitty people in my life that reinforced that thinking at every opportunity).

I guess a lot has changed since I was young. These days, women seem to see their beauty routines and makeup choices more as ways to express themselves and tell the world a little something about who they are. I've even heard people describe it as "wearable art". It's no longer about covering up your "ugly" natural face or trying to better fit society's idea of what a woman ought to look like. People also seem more focused on actually cultivating truly healthy skin, hair, nails, and bodies as opposed to simply mimicking the look of health.

My workouts are still very regular and my results are coming along nicely as well. At this point, I've lost enough weight for it to really show. I'm much stronger too. In fact, yesterday I managed to get a new mattress Seth ordered for us inside all by myself -- something I never would have been able to do this time last year. The drastic reduction in alcohol intake has made my mind clearer as well. I feel creative and motivated again on a level I wasn't sure I could anymore at this age. I'm just doing really, really well in general these days and feeling good in general about me.