4 states, one year

Holy shit, I'm still alive! 

I feel like thats the appropriate way to open this post up. It's been one hell of a year since the last time I checked in.  SO much has happened. And I'm gonna tell you all the  details on everything thats happened and why I went completely silent on my blog. I've missed it so much and I have been looking forward to the day when I feel fully ready to come back to it. I'm ready, lets do this. I'm in a good place again after this rollercoaster of a year. Man, a fuck-ton of shitty shit has happened. But a lot of great things have come from it and I'm excited to have learned some new lessons and to share those with y'all. This is gonna be a long one and I'm a little rusty at this, so cut me some slack if it's all over the place. Trying to fit an entire years worth of experiences in one blog post without overwhelming y'all is hard! But here we go....

The last time I spoke to you guys (typed to you guys, whatever) I was living in Southern California  with my then boyfriend. I thought I was happy..and for the most part I was. I had a great life. But something was missing. For me, at least. I couldn't tell and still can't tell you what it was. I still struggle to understand it. I felt like there was something more out in the world that I was missing in my life. In hindsight I think I was just craving adventure and new experiences. Maybe my life in the suburbs of Orange County just wasn't ever going to satisfy me and thats what the issue was. I didn't know what the reasons really were then, but I knew I had to find out...and after a year of a lot of self reflection and a lot of tears over things that could have been, I feel comfortable opening up about it all. Because I understand it more now. I understand myself more now. 

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When I realized that I wasn't happy, that I needed more, it was the hardest pill to swallow. I had very little to complain about, my life was great. I had great friends, a great boyfriend, I had a good job that I enjoyed but I still felt like it wasn't enough. I felt so selfish for wanting more. So I ignored it until I couldn't anymore. Not the smartest idea, I know. Having a great life while simultaneously wanting more is a difficult position to be in because there are only two outcomes to that situation. You either settle and hope for the best or you change your life completely to make yourself happy knowing that it hurts people you care about. And both of those options suck. I know myself well enough to know that I'm not the kind of person to just hope for the best, so I made the decision to leave my boyfriend who I had lived with for over two years and go see what was out there. To find the "more".  Leaving a good man was the hardest decision I've ever made. Breaking your own heart hurts and knowing you're also breaking a good mans heart makes it hurt so much more.  It's been a year and it still hurts. Maybe it always will. Falling out of love is strange. I still care deeply for this person and I imagine I always will. Romance evolves and changes but maybe having a special connection with someone never does. I owe so much to my ex and he will always own a special place in my heart and thats okay. Fuck, it's more than okay! Just because things don't work out with someone doesn't mean that the relationship was bad and you can still carry the good memories close to your heart. I know I wouldn't be who I am now if it weren't for my ex. He taught me so many valuable life lessons, helped me to become a person I am proud to be. In many ways I owe him the life I have now and I will forever be grateful for the relationship we had. I used to think I wasn't allowed to hurt because I chose to leave. Now I allow myself to feel that pain and I don't beat myself up because I realize that even though it didn't work out, I had something worth hurting over losing. And I'm allowed to feel that loss, even if I'm the one that chose it. 

Leaving my ex was just the beginning. Shortly after that (I mean like, a matter of two weeks) I packed all my belongings and moved to Northern Nevada. The first of three out of state moves I would make in the year to come. I spent a few months there with my family so I could heal from the breakup. I spent time in nature and having good conversations about life with my godparents. It was exactly what I needed. I ended up building a foundation for another relationship during that time that lead to me moving to Naples, Florida. I regret moving so fast. I hate that I did. But it happened and pretending it didn't doesn't allow me to grow and learn from my mistakes...and this was hands down my biggest mistake. I moved for someone I barely knew, who had convinced me it would be the best decision of my life. I ended up in an extremely abusive relationship with this stranger who manipulated me from day one. I was feeling so lost after my breakup, so vulnerable that I allowed myself to ignore all the red flags I saw from the beginning. That is something I'm still struggling to not beat myself up over. I was in a weird place, shit happened. I used to feel like it was life punishing me for breaking a good mans heart. And there might be some days where I still feel like that. Like it's my fault...even though I know it's not. 

I've never felt lonelier than when I lived in Florida. I was living in a new state with a man I was afraid of.  I didn't have many friends and he tried alienating me from my family who were already three thousand miles away. It was a really dark time for me and I didn't have the emotional ability to put effort into blogging because I was basically in survival mode mentally. I was constantly walking on eggshells and being worried all the time. I had nothing in me that I could give to anyone else. I started to change. I shut down. I was living in a constant state of fear. Afraid of when the next time all my belongings would end up tossed on the lawn would be or when the next time he would scream at me for hours and and kick doors down when I was able to get away long enough to lock myself in a room would be . When the next time he would throw me on the ground or sit on me calling me names would be. This person would even threaten my dog when I was "out of line" for sticking up for myself. I often felt like a hostage in his home. He always let me know it was his and not ours...I was just an unwanted guest that he begged to stay. Between the mental and physical abuse and the extreme gas lighting, I felt like I was losing myself completely and I sure as fuck didn't leave the great life I had in California behind to lose myself. I spent my childhood watching my mother stay in relationships like this. We were regularly stuck in emotionally abusive homes and I always knew that I would never let myself stay with a man who hurt me.  So I made move number three. 

"choice is too precious to be wasted on vermin" -Sub Rosa

"choice is too precious to be wasted on vermin" -Sub Rosa

I packed my car up and drove to New Orleans for a weekend to apply to live at apartments so I could get out immediately.  At this point I was afraid for my safety and I knew I needed to leave as soon as possible. As soon as I was approved for a place I had them send the lease over so I could sign it and move in immediately. It took less than two weeks for me to move from Southwest Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana. One of my best friends, Hannah, flew from Las Vegas to Florida to help me drive to New Orleans and stayed with me for about a week to help me get settled. I couldn't have done it without her. The first month or two I was still living in fear of my abusive ex. I was always looking over my shoulder, afraid he would have someone watching me. I would dip into random bars and throw a hood over my hair if I even felt like someone was following me. I spent a lot of nights on the verge of tears whenever I heard a motorcycle, thinking it was him. I Was able to physically get away from my abuser, but mentally he still had control over me. I've been in New Orleans about six months now and I'm finally feeling like I'm in control of my life again. I'm not afraid of him. I have a great life. I have great relationships with incredible people. I've gotten in touch with my creative side again. I have so many wild experiences that happen on a daily basis in this city. Walking down the street is a damn adventure here! I found the "more" I was looking for. It hurt to get here, but I'm here now and I'm happy. I couldn't have had this life if I didn't destroy the one I had before. Bittersweet feels like the appropriate word to describe my feelings about it. 

I guess one of the biggest lessons I learned from all of this is that you should always listen to what your heart is trying to tell you, even if it hurts and you don't understand exactly what it's trying to say. Sometimes you have to break your own heart in order to gain a life thats even better for you. The greatest thing that happened to me was moving to New Orleans and that wouldn't have become my reality unless it had the roots to grow from one of the worst things that ever happened to me. Life is a roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs and most of the time those are out of your control. All you can do is learn how to find the good in the bad because I promise you, it's there...somewhere. It's all about perspective. I've learned that whatever I go through, I get through. Even though its felt like my world has ended multiple times in my lifetime it's just been my world changing. And I guess in a way that is kind of the same thing. My old life had to die in order for my new one to grow. It feels like a death but it's simply an evolution.  I'm sure there will be many more evolutions in my lifetime. And I'm sure many of them will hurt. But I've learned that there is beauty in all of lifes hardships and changes can be wonderful after they feel awful. Most importantly, I've learned that I'll be okay no matter what life throws my way. My world may end but there will always be a new world waiting for me to build it. I am the architecture of my own life, we all are. I am so thankful for all the things I've experienced in the past year, the good and the bad. I've traveled to so many new places and gone so far out of my comfort zone that I don't even believe I have a comfort zone anymore. The world is my oyster and I'm not afraid of it anymore. I've made so many good memories and made so many good friends along the way. I feel so lucky to have the life I live. I am content. I am thriving. I am living in my "more." 

Natural skin care saved my face...

So my skin has had a hard time adjusting to being on antidepressants...which means I've had an even harder time trying to get my skin issues under control. *UGH*. I've never really struggled with acne. Sure, I've had the occasional hormonal breakout. But growing up I never dealt with consistent acne that is stubborn as fuck and doesn't want to bow down to any product. My skin was practically flawless before I started taking meds to help stabilize my mental health. Now that I'm in my late twenties I have cystic acne. Its absolutely awful and it fucking hurts. I'm so over it. I've traded out the products I use at least three times. I'm talking about everything. I even switched out all of my makeup. Trying to find what helps my skin has not only been frustrating, it's been expensive. But I'm happy to announce that I've finally found what works for me and it's not expensive high end shit. I've switched over to all natural products. No toxins, gentle on the skin and most importantly, it works. Goodbye, oily cystic acne ridden skin. Hello natural glow! My skin is finally ready for those makeup free summer days. I'm really excited about these products and I'm excited to tell you all about them! So lets jump right in!

First off I use my Vanity Planet spin brush with Garnier Skin Active charcoal face soap to attack my oiliness. I was hesitant when I got this stuff because it's drugstore face wash, but I am so happy I ended up throwing it in my basket on a whim. This stuff helps me not look like a grease ball even when I can't use all my other products. I wash first thing in the morning and before bed after I remove my makeup. Double washing is important. I use Dark Angels in the shower to exfoliate my face. It's another charcoal product which has become a staple in my routine. Charcoal has been a godsend. A few times a week I will use a Dr. G brightening peel that makes my face feel like a babies butt...so soft. Depending on my skin I will either use Lush's Cup O'Coffee mask every day or a couple times a week. That also makes my face silky smooth. I absolutely swear by the tea tree toner water from Lush (I'm a lush addict...duh!) Toner is also very important for you to have in your skin care routine so if you don't have some already, go get some. 

I can't say enough how truly amazing Muddy Body is. I own pretty much everything from their site. I use their charcoal detox mask the most, as you can see. It's almost time for a new bottle. The refresh and relax masks are really amazing as well, but for my oily problematic skin, detox is my favorite. I've only had their glow elixir for a few days, but I'm already head over heels for it. Mmmm, so dewy. For spot treatment I found this brand TreeActiv online and it was cheap so I figured I'd give it a shot. What's there to lose? It didn't break the bank so if I didn't like it it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I got really lucky with this product, it's amazing. I mean its fuuuuuucking amazing. I woke up one morning with three gnarly cystic lumps in my chin and I slapped some of this stuff on before bed that night and by morning they were at least 75% better. They were still a little red, but they weren't giant painful bumps in my chin so I'm not complaining. I will never live another day without owning this stuff, thank you TreeActiv! Since I've been talking about charcoal so much I wanted to talk about how I whiten my teeth with it. I know it's not skin care related, but it is natural so I figure it still applies to this post. I freaking love this stuff. I have sensitive teeth so traditional whitening strips and uv lights just didn't work for me. I'd have white teeth but at what cost? Extreme pain when a cold breeze hits my mouth? No thanks. Carbon Coco has been incredible though. It's messy, but having to clean up charcoal all over your bathroom for pearly white teeth is more than worth it. It doesn't taste like anything which is kind of weird when you're sitting there brushing for five minutes, but it does have somewhat of a chalky texture to it. It's not too bad though, its something I only noticed the first couple times using it but now it's just like brushing my teeth with nothing...plus I get to spit out black shit which looks really cool (it makes my inner goth princess happy.) I noticed it working after a few days which was another thing that really sold me on this product. It's not damaging your teeth the way chemical whiteners do, so you can use it as often as you want. Good stuff. 10/10 recommend. 

MY OILS! Ohhhhmygod guys, I can't live without this stuff. You're probably wondering why someone with oily skin uses so much oil, I questioned it at first as well, it just didn't make sense to me. The more I read up about facial oils the more I understood and my skin has thanked me for all that research. Jojoba oil is unique in that, unlike most other vegetable oils, it closely resembles sebum, a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner. It actually helps to control oily skin and acne. I have psoriasis and jojoba oil is amazing when I have breakouts. It's also great for sunburns which is an added benefit. Rosehip oil is a great anti-aging oil and it also helps with redness and scarring which is perfect for me since my cystic acne makes my skin red and can scar it even when I don't pick at it..(I'm awful, I know!) Bio Oil Helps with the appearance of stretch marks, scars and uneven skin town. Its recommended to use for three months consistently to see the best results, but I've only had it for about four weeks and I already notice a difference so I'm confident that my stretch marks and scars will look even less visible in a couple months. Castor oil isn't exactly for my skin, but it's another product I couldn't not tell you about. I use it on my eyebrows and eyelashes to promote thicker, longer hair. It's definitely made a difference. My lashes are a lot thicker and my eyebrows are starting to get fuller. After shaving off the ends of my brows this stuff has brought them back to life, so I definitely suggest it if you feel like your brows are on the weak side. 

Another product that is not related to skin care but is also an all natural "beauty" product is this tub of goodness. Deodorant is something most people I know struggle with. Some keep you dry but don't help with smell, others help with smell but don't keep you dry, some don't do anything except get white marks all over the bottom of your shirt. Most of them have aluminum which is horrible for you. Stay the fuck away from deodorants with aluminum, trust me. I've tried four other natural deodorants but none came close to what Primal Pit Paste has done for me. It smells fantastic (I actually enjoy checking my pits to see if they stink now...because they don't) and it keeps me SO dry. I will never try another deodorant again you guys. This stuff is it. It's all I need. It is a little weird to have to use a stick of your fingers to rub paste in your pits, but I'd rather do that than worry about pit stains or if I smell all day. A few seconds of weirdness is worth an entire day of blissfully dry and fantastic smelling armpits...if you ask me. 

So there you have it. The products I swear by. I wish it didn't take me so long to find these products, but I'm so glad I did. Having acne in your late twenties is so not fun. Being able to wake up and not have to wear makeup if I don't want to is amazing. I spend more days with a bare face than I do with makeup on these days and I love that. Everyones skin is different so I can't tell you if these products will work for you or not. They're just the products that work for me and I wanted to share them with you. Maybe you'll try them and they'll work out for you. I hope that's the case. We all deserve to feel beautiful in our own skin <3

a mild breakout (I never took photos when my face was really broken out) compared to now. I still have redness in my chin, but it isn't painful, irritated or bumpy anymore. It makes for flawessly smooth makeup! The redness on my nose is unrelated to skin issues, it's just swollen from surgery so it's a little discolored and I cant attack those nose blackheads until I'm fully healed...ARRRHHHGGGG! I'm still so happy to see improvement even though theres room for improvement. 

My skin is still far from perfect, but it's getting better. I just have to keep up with my routine, drink more water and wait to see an even better outcome. Going in for my first facial might help too! Makeup or not, my skin is smoother and happier which makes me happy. I hope something in this post is helpful for you. Let me know! Tag me in a selfie ;)

-Stilts 

Plastic surgery changed my life...

If you don't follow me on social media then you probably have no idea that I just went through a huge transformation! I finally had the bridge of my nose reconstructed after it collapsed when I was 15 as a result of my autoimmune/vascular disease. It took 11 years for it to happen, but it was well worth the wait. When the bridge of my nose collapsed I thought my life was over. I thought I had no future to look forward to because I couldn't see past my own appearance. Who would ever love me if I was deformed? Typical 15 year old girl, I guess. Man I'm happy I was wrong. If only I learned sooner that life and happiness isn't all about the way you look. My priorities were...what most teenage girls priorities are. 

Maybe it's silly that having a nose job changed my life, but it did. When I was 15 my dad died in a drunk driving accident which was traumatizing enough. About five months after that I was diagnosed with a very rare, very fatal disease. In the midst of fighting for survival (thats an entirely larger story that I'd love to tell you all one day) the bridge of my nose collapsed. As I sit here typing this I'm thinking to myself how dumb it is that I let my nose bother me when I was lucky to even be alive, but it was a constant reminder of what happened when I got sick. What this disease took from me. I wanted to feel whole and I didn't. It was a big deal to me. 

Having a facial deformity brought the meanest bullies out of whatever basement they were dwelling in. It was rough for a long time. People were quick to point fingers and whisper thinking I couldn't hear or see them. Some people tried to hide their thoughts and tried to be kind when they were curious and for the most part I understood that just because someone was curious doesn't mean they were a jerk. Some people didn't hold back any thoughts or insults and until I grew some thicker skin, every insult hurt me to my core. When I looked in the mirror I saw every name someone called me. I saw everything other people told me I was. A freak. A pig. People called me Voldemort and Michael Jackson, some people even went as far as calling me a coke head and thats why my nose was the way it was...(disclaimer: I was not addicted to cocaine.) Eventually I heard the same things so often that I learned to expect it. It was a really sad way to go through life. after awhile I just started assuming people only saw my deformity and that was probably the most damaging thing about it all. I stopped loving myself and I stopped believing other people could love me. I had let my deformity define me. 

photo by girrlscoutphoto.com

photo by girrlscoutphoto.com

When you spend weeks not wanting to look in the mirror because of the way other people make you see yourself, thats not okay. I had to learn how to try to focus on other things that I loved about myself and play on those strengths. But it never changed the fact that I didn't see myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn't feel whole. I didn't want to interact with other people because I didn't accept what happened to me and I didn't feel like people would every really accept me. Hiding away from the world was a lot easier. Isolating myself became normal for me. It makes me sad when I think about how lonely I was. At the time I thought being lonely was better than hurtful interactions with other people. But isolating myself to avoid bullying also removed the possibility of making true connections with other people. When you're feeling insecure or depressed the best thing you can do is look to the people closest to you to help you through it, but how can you do that when you've isolated yourself from meaningful relationships? I let my intrusive thoughts control my life. I really regret not reaching out to people instead of hiding my emotions out of shame. I spent all my time repressing my feelings and none of it processing my feelings in a healthy way. Eventually all that shit was going to unload and I had no idea what to do when it did. Thank god for therapy ;-)

Isolation was the only time I didn't have to hear the comments or see the looks and whispers in public. When I was 21, a complete stranger in a bar bathroom saw me and literally gasped. "What happened to your face?" was the first thing I heard this woman say to me. She continued to try to shove her plastic surgeons business card in my hand telling me how beautiful I could be.  That was a comment that got to me a lot. I could be beautiful, but apparently I wasn't already. Thats what I heard... "you could be beautiful, but you're not."  It hurts my heart remembering how easy it was for one interaction with one asshole to unravel all the hard work I was constantly putting in to try and accept and love myself, flaws and all. It felt like I was living in a house of cards. My self love was fragile and unstable. Some days I was okay with myself, but for the most part I hated my face. I would take self portraits and model for friends in the hopes that I would get at least one picture that would make me feel good about myself. I was using photography as a way to find my own way to self love. 

Last year my health really improved and I figured, "why the fuck not? Lets try again!" I'd been through the process of trying to get this surgery done at least a hundred times before and was told "no" every time. But this time felt different for some reason. I managed to find a doctor ballsy enough to do such a risky surgery and things were actually looking possible for the first time in the 11 years I had been trying. A nose job isn't a risky procedure, but a nose job on someone like me is a completely different set of risks. It's only been done about 50 times in the entire world on people with my disease. It's that risky. For me there was more than the risks of an unsuccessful surgery. I have tracheal stenosis (my throat is very very narrow..like smaller than a straw narrow) so being intubated for 6 hours would put me at risk for damaging my trachea even more and needing an even larger surgery to fix that. The surgeons weren't even sure they would be able to intubate me because of this. A lot of doctors turned me away as soon as they heard "wegeners granulomatosis" and "tracheal stenosis" come out of my mouth. There's no way they wanted to try something so risky with such an unpredictable outcome. It could be rejected and immediately collapse again or it could have brought my disease out of remission, so I understand why they wouldn't want to take the risk. They could have been potentially putting my health at risk, I get that. No hard feelings. But that didn't stop me and the amount of determination I had to continue to search for a way to make this surgery happen was astounding. I never gave up no matter how many doctors told me they couldn't help me and in the end that determination (and a little bit of luck) changed my life. I wear confidence like a second skin all thanks to my surgeons, Dr. Kosins and Dr. Daniel. This was never just about a nose for me, not really. Both surgeons understood that and took on this challenging surgery all while being completely focused on my needs emotionally. They worked really hard to try and make this possible for me and were very open and honest about what they thought they could realistically do for me and what the risks were even though they knew I'd heard them all a million times. They were just as determined as I was go figure out a way to do this and I couldn't have imagined this process going smoother than it did. It has been a truly incredible experience and I am so grateful for everyone in that office that helped make this happen. It's not often you feel such warmth and kindness from people who don't know you, so working with everyone in Dr. Kosins office filled my heart with so much joy. I am so grateful for Dr. Kosins and Dr. Daniel's hard work, courage and generosity. I had one kick ass team on my side.

I've had my new sniffer for three months now and it has transformed my life. I don't wake up worried about looking in the mirror or what other peoples reactions to my appearance will be. Honestly I barely notice what other people are doing now. That sounds narcissistic as fuck, but because I'm not so hyper focused on worrying about what strangers are thinking about my nose I can actually just enjoy my day. Carefree, worry free, just...free. It's a huge weight off my shoulders not having to carry that anxiety around every day. I carry myself differently. I walk tall.  I can smile with confidence and I laugh freely without covering my face. I don't walk with my head down, I actually say hi to people. I interact. Thats huge. I talk more because I feel less insecure. I've gained so much more than a new nose during this process. I gained the power to reclaim my life. My insecurity was holding me back from living and I didn't even realize how much until I gained this new confidence in myself. I am I version of myself that I have never known and it is a beautiful feeling. Confidence feels powerful. I don't feel like I'm being held back anymore. This confidence has woken something up in my spirit. I feel whole, finally.

I just might overflow :)

P.S. I want to give a special thank you to the people who have supported me through this entire process. I absolutely could not have done this without the love and support of my amazing boyfriend Pat and my little brother Dakoda. They're my rocks and they held my hand until they rolled me back into the OR.  Pat, without your love, support, hugs, kisses and the shoulder you always let me cry into, I don't think I could have done this. You are my knight in shining armor and I cant thank you enough for just being there for me, always. I love you, dude. I'd also like to thank everyone who has shown me kindness, compassion and stuck up for me when I was being bullied. The people who reached out to me because they watched my life from the internet and were empathetic. Every single one of you beautiful souls who has stuck around to witness my journey through social media, you have no idea what you mean to me. You all helped me more than you can ever know and I am eternally grateful for your big hearts. For all the bullies there were, there were even more of you who showed me love. I hope I can return that kindness to all of you when you need it the most. Thank you, truly. <3

The life I've always dreamt of having

I've always dreamt of selling all my belongings, buying a trailer and living simply while being able to travel wherever I want to go knowing my home is going to be right there with me. Well, it's not a dream anymore. Pat and I are making this fantasy a reality this year! I made the decision to sell my house this year and my original plan was to buy a couple smaller places so I could rent one out for income and also have a place for Pat and I to build a home together in. But such is life, plans change. I currently rent my house out and live at Pat's place and my rental property is just an annoyance to me at this point. I don't enjoy the responsibility of being a home owner. It stresses me out and gives me anxiety more than anything else in the world. It occurred to me that jumping from one situation that makes me unhappy right into another isn't a great idea. While it's a great and solid way to make a steady income, I never wanted this to be my life...I just kind of fell into it. It doesn't make me happy or feel fulfilled and it definitely doesn't inspire me to grow as an individual. So fuck it! We're moving into an airstream!

Image source: Tin Can Homestead

Image source: Tin Can Homestead

I know it seems crazy to most, but to us, it's perfect. We both love to travel so having a cozy space to relax and call home wherever we are is ideal. Not to mention it's gonna be a whole lot easier than owning a giant house...I'm fucking over that! There's always something to fix, something new to buy and I know I'm personally not thrilled about how attached I've become to my belongings. I'd like to change it, so I'm going to. I want a simpler, less complicated and cluttered life. What better way to do that than to purge myself of everything I own (except the essentials, of course) and start fresh with very little room for things that we don't need. Pat and I both have a habit of buying shit we don't need and as a result, turning our house into a cluster fuck of shit we don't even remember buying. I mean, I just gutted my wardrobe this week and I found not one, but many articles of clothing that haven't even had the tag ripped off! That's a problem! It embarrassed me to confront the harsh reality that I live to consume these days. Whether it's the newest have-to-have styles, new technology or straight up splurging on eating out EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. It's gotten out of control. I don't remember "things" making me happy when I was younger, but rather, the relationships I had with other people. I want to get back to that which seems impossible with the sheer amount of cool shit just laying around my house to play with. Maybe it will be easier to be more involved in my relationships if I have nothing. No distractions. Simplicity at it's finest.

Image source: Tin Can Homestead

Image source: Tin Can Homestead

I've always been really inspired by the do it yourselfers who on a whim got an old trailer and completely renovated it themselves. Talk about #goals! Something abut it has always excited me and I knew one day I wanted to follow in those footsteps of the people who like me, are just over living a conventional life. I guess I'm tired of saying "someday" so, why not now? I mean, really, why the fuck not? What is holding me back? I don't want to be a person who keeps saying "someday I'll do this!" I want to be a person that makes shit happen, so I'm busting my butt trying to do just that. I'm excited to say goodbye to our traditional home and jump into our new, unconventional adventure. I'm hoping (and pretty optimistic) that with less to worry about I'll have time and drive to throw myself into learning new things and experiencing life to the fullest. I'm sure one day Pat and I will return to a conventional way of having a home, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, I'm excited to not worry about if I paid that bill or not, if the home owners association approves of the way my house looks and all the guidelines and rules.  Fuck rules, seriously. I want to feel free of the burden of a traditional lifestyle and I'm so excited to wake up one morning in our airstream not worrying about things the way I do now. Here's to simplicity. Here's to living life on your own terms. Following your own rules. I hope this year you all can have at least one "fuck it" moment and do what you always tell yourself you're going to do one day. Make that day today and don't hesitate. You only have one life, make it completely yours.

-Stilts

p.s. I can hardly believe this is going to be my life, but holy crap, the wheels are already turning!

Vulnerability

I grew up with a fiercely independent mother who told me that if I let people see my weaknesses they will take advantage of them.  I know what you're thinking, "wow, what a cynical way to look at the world."  And you're right, in a way it is a cynical way to look at things, but it's also the way people see things when their only focus is survival. And all my life I've only known my mother to be in survival mode.  She passed that onto me and as thankful as I am to have inherited a lot of her redeeming qualities, this is not one of them.  This one has done nothing but cripple me for the most part. When I was younger I believed that denying my vulnerability made me stronger.  In hindsight, I now see how it only made me more vulnerable. I spent so much of my time projecting this version of myself that was inauthentic to who I am all because I was trying to hide what I thought made me weak. I made people think I didn't care about anything.  Like I was this cold, apathetic asshole.  Looking back, I didn't even feel human.  Probably because I was actively doing everything in my power to not be human. You spend so much time denying the things that make you feel vulnerable that when you do experience that feeling, you don't know what to do with it or how to deal with it.  For me, I tried everything I could do to run away from it.  From acting like it didn't exist to completely numbing it with drugs or alcohol.  I had no way of understanding what or how to deal with vulnerability because I had been taught that it was a weakness that should be kept from people if I didn't want to be taken advantage of.  That lesson was helpful in certain situations, but it hindered my growth as an emotionally stable human being for a really long time. It held me back in a lot of ways, not just emotionally. My relationships were affected and my creativity as an artist is something that is still being impacted by my inability to open myself up to vulnerabilities.  

In the last year I've been diagnosed with Aspergers, c-ptsd, depression, anxiety and I'm bipolar, so you can imagine how difficult it was going through life trying to hide all these things I thought made me weak without even knowing what was going on in my head, what was going on with my own emotions or even understanding what those emotions were. Going through life without the knowledge of my mental health problems was like trying to build ikea furniture without any directions.  It's already hard enough with drawn out instructions and in my case, I had none at all.  I didn't know what it was that made things different for me.  It's easy to feel weak, like a failure even, when you look around and there are so many of these shining examples of strong individuals who go through life in a seemingly effortless way while you're hiding in bathrooms drunk crying because you don't know how to deal with your own emotions.  Comparison emotionally crippled me.  I still struggle with it.  

With my mental health issues coming to light, I've been able to focus on simply acknowledging that I do have weaknesses, I do have vulnerabilities...and that's OKAY.  It makes me human and it makes my story relatable. It connects me to other people, wonderful people. It's exactly why I started this blog, I wanted to build connections with people who are just looking for things to make life a little easier.  Sometimes something as simple as knowing you're not the only one makes a world of difference.  It's my goal to make that difference. I've learned that being vulnerable and being weak are not mutually exclusive and that the only way to rid yourself of vulnerability is to open yourself up to it.  By grabbing the bull by its metaphorical horns essentially.  It's terrifying and it's difficult.  A lot of tears are involved, but that's usually the case in any kind of strength training.  Strengthening your mind and your confidence in your ability to greet your emotions with a warm welcome and kindly show them to the door when it's time to leave takes as much effort as training to strengthen your body.  You will hit road blocks, you will cry, you will fall down, but eventually you'll be strong enough to stand back up. Humans are resilient that way.  

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Now that I address my feelings rather than running away from them I can coach myself through them and you can do that too.  Just try to remember that being vulnerable doesn't make you weak, it makes you honest. It makes you courageous. Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness.  I recently read a quote by Neil Gaiman that really resonated with me in this current quest to overcome my fear of exposing my vulnerability.  It goes as follows, "Honesty matters.  Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or impossible place matters more than anything." I want to be an honest person to those around me, but most importantly to myself.  I don't want to deny myself the magic that is being human. I want to be that magic and I want to create it in the world. I want to be a person who cares more, who tries harder, loves stronger.  I am still learning to love myself through the process of owning my story.  If I could give one piece of advice to anyone out there who is struggling it's this, just take it one day at a time.  That's all that is required. Just wake up and put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.  Trust that your struggle is part of your healing.  It's all part of the process. Open yourself up to the world of possibility, allow yourself to become who you are capable of becoming. Do not deny yourself that magic, because you are magic...let the world see that!

-Stilts

 

In memory of all my ruined panties...

Ladies, how tired of tampons and pads are you?  Tampons were never my thing, but pads were even less my thing so I'm really excited about this new product I started using. It has changed my life (and my periods) in such an incredible way.  In the nearly 15 years that I've had periods I've probably used every single brand of tampons out there and none of them worked for me.  Between being incredibly uncomfortable and basically not stopping any kind of bleeding, I was fed up.  Not to mention the mass murder of all the cute underwear that died at the hands of my menstrual cycle.  I mean, as if we don't already pay an arm and a leg for a box of fucking cotton sticks with a string sewn into it, how much money have we all lost just from ruined underwear alone!? Theres a simple solution though.  One that your wallet, your vagina and your panties will thank you for.  Behold, The Diva Cup

It comes with it's own cute little bag for travel.

It comes with it's own cute little bag for travel.

I know it looks intimidating, I was scared shitless when I took it out of the box. The first thing I said once I saw it was, "how the fuck is that supposed to go in my vagina?!"... But trust me, your vagina will be stoked. Mine was.

You can even measure the contents of your shedding uterus! :D

You can even measure the contents of your shedding uterus! :D

I had a general understanding that tampons were not great for you, my mom taught me about TSS and all that jazz, but I didn't know how truly bad they are for your health and for the environment. I read a story about a model who lost one of her legs as a direct result of tampon use and I had no idea that something like that could happen, so I started to do some research.  I was shocked at what I found out, even more shocked that I wasn't taught any of it in health class when I was in high school. Not only can tampons actually worsen menstrual cramps, they actually pull on the walls of the vaginal canal because they expand from absorbing fluid (but they don't absorb tissue...) which can't be good.  I also found out that the FDA doesn't really regulate the ingredients used to make tampons and pads and that is just terrifying considering the tissue all up inside of us absorbs everything we put up there. Like a super sponge...but a vagina. Some of the things your p*ssy is absorbing from tampons include pesticides, bleach, procymidon and piperonyl butoxide. I had to google what those last two are and lets just say, they're nasty. Tampons actually have cancer causing carcinogens from the bleaching process, and that alone made me throw every box of tampons away while profusely apologizing to my crotch.  Which brings me to my next point.  Where do all these tampons go? I never imagined the idea that feminine hygiene products have a huge environmental footprint. It seems so obvious, but we've been conditioned to rely on these products simply to get through our every day lives that we don't even think about the fact that these products are not biodegradable and therefor create a HUGE amount of waste.  The bleaching process gets dumped into our oceans and the pesticide treatment on the cotton has a negative impact on the quality of our air. This isn't just a reproductive health issue, this is an environmental issue.  Of all the things I read about the tampon industry and production, the most alarming thing I learned was the shocking lack of research done on feminine hygiene products and the long term effects of using them.  It never bothered me that there wasn't an ingredient list on the side of my tampon boxes, because I didn't think there were any. Cotton, string, plastic applicator...what more could there be?  But after everything I've read and reflected upon, there really should be a list on the side of the box. There's a lot of shit you shouldn't be shoving up your hoohaw, and it's all in tampons.  You're putting this up your vagina and letting it sit in your body for hours, don't you deserve to know what you're shoving up there? I think we all do. I think that should be a requirement. But enough about how shitty tampons and pads are, lets get to the good stuff, shall we?

This is the best way to insert it. &nbsp;I like to imagine I'm shoving a taco up my taco.&nbsp;

This is the best way to insert it.  I like to imagine I'm shoving a taco up my taco. 

The Diva Cup costs about $30 which seems pricey, but you only have to buy one because it is reusable.  It's made of silicone so all you have to do is wash it between uses! I couldn't believe how many perks there are to using this cup. I'm absolutely thrilled about the switch. It creates a seal on your vaginal walls meaning the blood never touches oxygen so it wont smell (science, man!) and there is no leakage so your panties are safe!  Since it is silicone and there aren't any nasty chemicals in it you don't have to worry about taking it out until you need to empty it because it's full. No risk of cancer, minimizing waste and helping our environment and the well being of our vaginas and the planet? Seems too good to be true, right? WRONG! This thing is a miracle.  I can't even feel it when its in.  It does take some practice, that's the only downside.  theres definitely an adjustment period...pun intended.  The first two cycles I used it were a bit frustrating, but once I got it my life was changed. Things to remember when using it are the fact that you're still at risk for infection if you don't properly clean it before reinserting it. I almost had a panic attack the first time I tried to take it out because since it does create a seal it takes some adjusting taking it out.  It will seem like it's stuck, it's not.  It can't get lost inside of you, don't worry. If you get a little stressed and tense when you're trying to take it out just take a deep breath and relax.  When your body is tense it will be a lot harder to take it out. Relax, man. Thats all there is to it. 

Have I convinced you?  I can't speak highly enough about this cup, you'd think I'm a menstrual cup salesperson. I just really believe in this products ability to change lives and I want to share that with you guys.  If not for your health, do it for your panties. Love your vagina enough to make sure its happy. I know I do. 

-Stilts 

FEMINISM

So I've been seeing this article circulating around facebook this week and it's regrettably gotten me pretty heated.  Probably more heated than I needed to be, but I digress.  There are a few reasons why this article has me and many other feminists so frustrated that we want to get into a rocket ship and blast off of this planet.  The first being that this anti-feminism horse dung was written by (you guessed it...) A WOMAN.  Now you might be thinking, "well if a woman can be against feminism then maybe it really isn't all it's chalked up to be." But I'm here to tell you why that is wildly incorrect.  Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't, but theres this little pesky thing called "internal misogyny."  For those of you who are not quite familiar with what internal misogyny is, let me elaborate. Internal misogyny refers to the byproducts of this societal view that cause women to shame, doubt, and undervalue themselves and other women.  Even the most conscious feminists struggle with this and have to actively try to break the cycle. But how could they not, sexism is in the air that we breathe and it's insidious.  Don't beat yourself up about getting stuck in the misogynistic trap, just be more conscious of how to get out of it...because well, it's toxic.  And remember, feminism isn't a dirty word so don't be ashamed to call yourself one or associate with the movement.   Lets all work together to shed the idea that feminism is a bad thing.  That negative idea keeps people away from a movement that helps us all and when you think about it, isn't that really really dumb?

One of the "traps" I see most often and have been guilty of getting trapped in myself is the "cool girl" phenomenon.   We all know at least one girl who preaches about how she's not like most girls, she's one of the guys, girls are just too much drama for her.  You probably know a few actually.  Maybe you don't think this is really an issue, but there are a handful of reasons why it is.  It shames girls for being girls.  You may fit in with the guys, but you'll probably lose yourself in the process.  I mean, think about it.  If you try to fit in and be one of the guys and ignore what you want in order to appease a man, you aren't being true to yourself.  Theres a scene in the movie Gone Girl that really stuck with me.  It kind of hit home to me because in the past I've always been or aspired to be that cool girl that guys liked, even if it meant that other girls hated me.   In the scene where the protagonist, Amy Dunne, begins to describe that cool girl role. "Cool girl is hot and understanding.  Cool girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want.  Go ahead, shit on me, I don't mind, I'm the cool girl." When you really sit down to think about how toxic this cool girl mentality is you begin to realize (or at least I did) that if you don't have a problem shitting on other girls for the sake of being cool or likable to a man, than you're just part of the problem. It also sets the tone for how that man and other men will continue to treat not only those girls that are deemed uncool, but also yourself....no matter how cool you think you are.  Do yourself and women as a whole a favor and just stop with that bull shit.  It doesn't help you, it helps men.  I never had a lot of girlfriends growing up and that always used to bother me because I couldn't understand why girls didn't like me.  In hindsight it's because I was putting myself above other girls just to be that cool girl that guys like. Now that I am surrounded by girlfriends I am so much happier than I ever was being one of the guys.   That doesn't mean that I don't still have a lot of guy friends, I do, it just means that I'm more concerned with what I want than what I think the men in my life want from me.  I'm wondering what I was even thinking. Why was I so concerned about what men thought about me, but not what women thought about me?  The answer is really simple, internal misogyny.  But I promise you you're still cool if you're like one of the girls because being a girl isn't wrong.  You don't need to feel guilty for simply existing. Girls are great, girl power is awesome!  Girl hate needs to stop.  We shouldn't hate our sisters, we're all in this together. 

Girls aren't the only ones who need feminism.  That's right fellas, pull up a chair because this next paragraph is dedicated to you.  Feminism isn't just a ladies club. While a lot of the spotlight goes to women in the movement, women aren't the only ones who face oppression.  Women are oppressed in many different ways than men, but that doesn't mean that men aren't oppressed or that the oppression men face doesn't deserve to be included in feminism. It's just different.  It's up to you men to start that conversation though.  It's up to you to become involved in the movement to make sure you get more of the spotlight. Traditional gender roles harm us all, not just women.  Feminism is about changing the gender roles, sexual norms, and sexist practices that limit and punish you when you deviate from them. All men have been hurt by the traditional gender system and feminists don't think that is right. Feminists don't think it's right that these gender norms tell you what a "man" should be and punish you when you aren't those things.   You shouldn't be expected to live up to an unrealistic ideal just like women shouldn't be.  How many times have you met a man that just wouldn't open up about his feelings because he didn't want to be a pussy?  I bet you've met and know a lot of them.  Men and women may differ in a lot of ways, but there is one thing we all experience and that is feelings.  Expecting to mask or hide your feelings because you're a man just isn't right and it perpetuates this toxic cycle. It hurts you and it hurts women if you look at the big picture.  I've taken this list of signs that you need feminism from everydayfeminism.com 

  • Insecure because your body wasn’t big enough, strong enough, or slim enough?
  • Pressured to be tough, aggressive and competitive beyond your comfort zone?
  • Ashamed of your interest in cooking, fashion, dance, or some other activity because you were told it made you “gay” or “a girl”?
  • Offended by media representations of helpless adult men who cannot feed, clothe, or bathe themselves without the help of a woman?
  • Burdened by expectations to objectify women, have sex with many women and be sexually aggressive?
  • Helpless when dealing with feelings of sadness, hurt, and shame because you were taught to believe that emotions show weakness and that “real men help themselves”?
  • Confused at how to be sensitive and kind but still be sexually desirable?
  • Alone when you suffered an injury but had to “handle it”?
  • Afraid of being called a “sissy,” “wimp,” “f*g,” “p*ssy,” or “b**ch,”?
  • Ambivalent about what it means to be a “real man”?

If one or more of these are issues that you as a man face, then you need feminism!  These aren't normal things that you just need to accept because you're a man.  Feminists say that you have the right and freedom to be whoever you want to be without the pressure to fit into societies warped idea of gender norms.  The only norms as far as gender goes is that it's pretty normal for men to have penises and women to have vaginas (but not in all cases.)  Feminists also believe that transgender people deserve a place in the movement as well.  Like I said, feminism is for everyone, so join the movement, what are you waiting for?!  It's a warm and friendly welcome. 

 

 

 

Happy Pills...

If you're looking for a cheerful read, this wont be the post for you...unless you have a warped sense of humor and mental health struggles give you a good smile.  In that case I'd call you a sick f*ck, but tell you to keep reading (whatever floats your boat, man.) I recently had what I would best describe as a mental breakdown.  I wish I was exaggerating and being overdramatic, but really that's what happened.  I often talk about having depression, but I only ever scratch the surface.  I guess when you're so focused on simply trying to feel happy you don't really want to talk about all the reasons why you aren't.  But I made a promise to myself that this year would be the year that I truly open up and let people see me for who I actually am.  I'm tired of sugar coating the bad bits of me or hiding them all together out of fear of what people might think of me.  Instead I will be sharing those parts out of love for myself and the desire to get better. I've already learned that you wont find solutions to your problems at the bottom of a bottle; now I'm learning that bottling everything up and leaving it on the shelf isn't really much of a solution either.  Eventually you run out of room in your bottle and at that point you've just made a mess of yourself.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend held my hand as I walked myself into the emergency room for having thoughts of wanting to hurt myself.  My depression and anxiety had gotten to the point where it was starting to feel like not living was my best option and that scared me.  After a pretty awful hospital experience and having to flee from being admitted to the psych ward we came up with a plan for the weeks to follow my breakdown.  Lots of love and attention from the people who matter most to me got me through the immediate danger I might have been to myself and I can't begin to express the gratitude I have for them.  They made my heart feel full despite it being broken.  They helped show me all the things worth fighting for.  So I fight on. I was able to get in to see a psychiatrist pretty quickly after getting out of the hospital and she prescribed a couple of medications for me. One is a mood stabilizer aimed towards my depression and possible bipolar disorder and the other is an adrenaline blocker for my ptsd.  I've been going to a therapist for over two years with the common goal of working through my issues without medication because I had been put on antidepressants as a teenager and they made things 100x worse, but this recent scare made me realize that whatever is going on in my head is bigger than I can handle on my own and I needed help.  Mental illness is like fighting a war where the enemy's strategy is to convince you that the war isn't actually happening.  I wasn't really sure how big the issues were until they were so big that my brain practically blew up. I constantly question if my feelings are real and valid or if it's just my mental illness trying to trick me.  It's unfortunate that it took a hospitalization to make me realize that I needed help, but at least now I know how to make it a fair fight.  I have my strategy; my weapon of mass destruction if you will.  I have a glimmer of hope in what was otherwise complete darkness in my head.  I know theres a lot of negative stigmas that surround the use of medications for mental illnesses so I hate to joke around and call them happy pills, but if you can't laugh at yourself then what's the point?  My mom always used to tell me if you can't laugh you're just gonna cry, which is probably why I have the sense of humor that I do.  But laughing at life makes shi*t easier; it makes it bearable.  Not to mention they say that laughter is the best medicine...whoever "they" are. 

I no longer think that prescription medication for mental illnesses are a bad thing, some people simply need them to function the way "normal" people do.  I don't think I am going to rely on them to be happy even if I do call them my happy pills. My hope is that these medications help me to find out who I am without my sadness.  The real me. I hope these happy pills help break me out of this prison inside of my skull...like a really good sidekick or something (can we have capes?!).  I can't wait to get to know the real me and I can't wait to show you all!  If you or someone you know is struggling with depression I encourage you to seek out the help you need or extend the helping hand you have to offer.  Try a little tenderness.

Please treat yourself to some soul food and listen to this short lecture by philosopher Alan Watts.  You wont regret it, it might change your perspective on things a little bit :)




Sobriety...

If you know me at all you know that I am a former whiskey loving wild woman with an affinity for partying.  If you asked me two years ago if I ever thought I'd ever stop drinking I'd probably laugh in your face and pound a beer to really drive my point home, but on January 25th I celebrated 365 whole days of living life without my old friend, alcohol.  It's bittersweet.  Alcoholism has taken so much from me, that I find it surprising that I am sitting here feeling bittersweet without it.  But I am and that's something that I should and want to talk about.  It's a really conflicting feeling craving the one thing that ruined most of your life, but that's the nature of addiction.   It's downright ugly.  I have anticipated hitting the one year mark since the day I decided to quit drinking, but when the day finally came I was greeted with feelings of overwhelming shame, guilt, and embarrassment rather than feeling overwhelming joy and accomplishment... it was rough to say the least. On my first sober birthday all I wanted to do was go to the bar.  I think I expected sobriety to feel a lot better, but the truth is that so far it hasn't.  I don't want that truth to deter you from overcoming your addiction because there's a lot more to that truth than "it doesn't feel good being sober."  The real truth is that it feels great being sober, it's the best thing I've ever accomplished and I feel a great sense of pride in myself for taking that step.  However, I'd be lying if I said that it didn't also come with some really nasty shit.  And you all should know by now that I'm the kind of gal that talks about it all.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  

I've known addiction my entire life.  My father was an addict as was his father and mother before him.  Addiction runs strong in my family.  I never really believed that addiction was a disease until I was trying to overcome it.  I had accepted my role as an addict almost with pride.  As if addiction didn't take my father away from me and his father away from him.  I didn't think I had a problem until it was too late.   Until I had already burned a lot of bridges and made a lot of people in my hometown hate me.  And for good reason.  I wasn't always the greatest to be around...I was the worst and I know that now.  I do have hopes that one day I will be able to right those wrongs, but I also respect the fact that I don't get to choose whether or not people forgive me.  I'm working on forgiving myself which is proving to be very difficult, but that has to be enough and it is.  I didn't ask for the trauma and abuse that lead me to drugs and alcohol so I need to cut myself a little slack.  I made mistakes, but those mistakes don't define me.  It's a daily struggle to remind myself that I'm only human. What actually matters is what you do after you make mistakes and right now I'm trying to change my ways and not repeat any of the mistakes I made.  Baby steps, right? 

The person I am today is completely different than I was just a couple years ago.  My personal evolution game is strong.  But not matter how much I evolve as a person I wont ever be able to undue what has already been done.  The struggle I'm finding being sober is that I have an overwhelming amount of shame and guilt.  It's crippling at times. I feel it so intensely that it drives me insane.  I want to curl up in a ball and just disappear when I think about my past behavior.  I guess when I was numbing myself with drugs and alcohol I didn't have to feel that so it was easy to keep adding things to be embarrassed about to that pile (and its a big pile.)  I am not a liar or a thief at my core, but drugs and alcohol brought that out of me.  It's the nature of addiction, it brings out your ugly sides (we ALL have them.)  I treated a lot of people poorly.  I lied to them, I stole from them, and sometimes I would even verbally assault them.  As I sit here writing this I am absolutely mortified at the things I even remember doing.  It hurts my head to try and think of the things that I don't remember doing.  But I can't dwell on any of that because like I said, my mistakes don't define the person I am today.  I've learned from them, and I look back at them and continue to find valuable lessons.  I don't expect anyone to ever forget those mistakes, I just hope that people find it in their hearts to understand why I behaved the way I did and what a bad place I was in.  But mostly I just wish they knew how sorry I am.  So I do hope they are reading this.  I'm sorry.

Sobriety has been one of the most difficult and most eye opening experience of my life.  Regardless of how much it can suck at times I never think that I made the wrong choice.   I believe the fact that it is so difficult means that its worth it...and it really is.  I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the thoughts and feelings I have been dealing with for as long as I can remember.   There's not a time in my life that I remember not being depressed.  Maybe thats because of my childhood and a lot of abuse that went on or maybe I was just born this way.  I couldn't tell you for sure, but drugs and alcohol helped me to not feel those things and I learned that trick from all the addicts that I had been raised by (I learned from the best).  Being sober brings all those feelings to the surface and you have to deal with them.  Doing it without the bottle is something I have had to learn how to do and it's not always easy...it's hardly ever easy.  Even just feeling those things and knowing that it's OKAY feels impossible.  When you've conditioned yourself to run straight to a numbing agent at the slightest sign of negative feelings you feel pretty lost and helpless when thats no longer an option.  And now I have even more negative feelings to deal with that are a direct result of that coping mechanism.  Addiction is a dirty fighter....you know, like pocket sand kind of fighter (if you got that reference I love you.)

What do you do when the bad memories flood in and you want to use?  What do you do when you feel shame, embarrassment, and guilt because of using?  The simple answer for any addict is that you want to use.  Isn't that a bitch?  So what I meant when I said that sobriety hasn't always been the greatest is that it can feel very conflicting and frustrating at times.  All of the hardest things I've ever done ended up being the best things I've done.  I look at sobriety on my hard days and I say, "challenge accepted, motherfucker!"  If you can't tell, I'm kind of a competitive person and I'm determined to win.  I have that going for me. I feel like I have a lot to prove to other people, specifically the ones I have let down.  But mostly I feel like I have a lot to prove to myself.  Being a user for as long as I was really did a number on my self confidence as an adult.  It stunted me in a lot of ways that I'm just now learning how to deal with at the age of 26.  The fact that I'm just learning how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way is a big pill to swallow, but I continue to make effort and for that I applaud myself. 

My biggest word of advice for anyone trying to overcome addiction would be this, find a good support system.  People who don't hold your mistakes against you or think that your mistakes or your past define you.  Every day is a new day and that brings a new opportunity to be a new person, you just have to make that choice!  Hell, sometimes I have to make that choice multiple times in one day!  Life will test you, so be ready for it.  Cut yourself some slack and just do your best.  That is all anyone can ask of you and that is all you can ask of yourself.  Don't be afraid to ask for help, you don't have to and you shouldn't take on sobriety alone.  You need friends to be there on the days when all you want to do is use. It's okay to have those cravings, they might not ever go away (you're an addict after all.)  It's what you do when those craving surface that matters.  Are you going to cave and give into addiction, or are you going to keep challenging it and proving yourself to be worth sobriety.  No matter what you think about yourself, I guarantee that you are worth all the amazing things that come along with being sober.  It's just as fun and you actually remember it all!

On monday evening I'll be holding a Q&A session on periscope for anyone dealing with addiction on any level in their life.  Username is @ladystilts and I'll be sure to announce the exact time for those who are interested. 

 

The phone case that will change your life...or your selfies.

Hey friends! I recently purchased a phone case that I was a bit embarrassed to tell anyone about, until I got it. It's AMAZING!  Someone once told me the secret to a perfect selfie is to "find your light." I don't remember who it was, but I remember not understanding what that even meant at first.  It's simple, good lighting makes for a good photo, especially selfies.  Most of us think we look a little bit better when the light hits us just right...but I don't have to tell you that.  This phone case will ensure that perfect lighting for every selfie I know you'll be taking when you get one of these babies for yourself.  Lets just get to the point.  The real reason we're here... THE LUMEE :

Taken from the Lumee website&nbsp;

Taken from the Lumee website 

That's right ladies and gentleman.  A cellphone case for selfies!  I don't care how many of you shake your head in disbelief, but this thing is awesome.  With LED lighting on both sides of the case, you are given soft and beautiful lighting for all of your photos.  Never again will a photo be ruined because of the severe lack of perfect lighting in almost every indoor venue ever *rolls eyes*.  Battling face shadows is a thing of the past with The Lumee phone case.  Typically, I'd be embarrassed to share my selfie tricks, but I couldn't not share this miracle with you guys.  10/10 would suggest to anyone who wants great selfies made easy.  The case itself is rechargeable and comes with it's own charging chord, as well as a dimmer switch to control the light output.  Made for the iphone 5/5s, iphone 6/6plus, and Samsung Galaxy s5/s6 in 4-7 different colors (depending on the model phone you have), The Lumee has something for almost everyone.  Prices range from $45.95-$59.95 which at first I thought was a bit pricey, but I really wanted to give it a shot so I bit the bullet.  Once it arrived in the mail I didn't regret a single penny spent and I'd tell anyone else to treat themselves as well.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves though ;-)

I took all four of these photos standing in the same exact spot in my closet, the only difference was turning the Lumee on in the second photos.  As you can see, even in total darkness you're still able to get a great selfie. If you need any more convincing, I'll leave you with this:

Kim Kardashian is an avid user of The Lumee phone case ;-)

Kim Kardashian is an avid user of The Lumee phone case ;-)

There's no shame in wanting photos that look good.  This thing will help!  Can't wait to see your beautiful faces when you come over to the light side.  The Lumee side :D

 

Moving Forward in 2016

Happy New Year my friends!  I know I'm a little late to the party (how about we just call it fashionably late, I like that), but I want to take this opportunity to share the things I hope to leave behind in 2015, as well as the things I hope to achieve in the new year.  I've got a good feeling about 2016, which is surprising considering this is the first time in a long time that I am experiencing this kind of...optimism.  I'm sure the pessimistic asshole inside of me is mortified by the fact that I'm sitting here today with a little bit of hope, and a whole lot of optimism. However, I'm thrilled to have this new pilot in control.  And that brings me to the first thing I want to leave behind in this symbolic time to start anew...

1. Letting my negative emotions take control.  Bad feelings happen all the time, and sometimes for no real reason.  I'm hoping not to let my bad feelings dictate how my interactions with people go, and how my day goes in general.  Life is pretty simple. When you're in a good mood, things don't bother you as much. When I realized that, I asked myself why I was never in a good mood.  The answer was simple. I let negativity guide me right into my own misery.  Going forward, my goal is to take back control over my navigation system and let my bad feelings take the back seat where they belong.

2. Being stubborn and rigid in thought. You ever notice how  the trees that bend and sway in the wind tend to stay rooted, and the ones that stand tall, strong, and rigid are the ones that snap?  You get where I'm going with this, right?  I've been taking a lot of inspiration from  viewing nature in a symbolic way lately. It's actually pretty therapeutic.  Going forward, my goal is to be more open minded with every aspect of life.  I don't want to view the world as black and white.  I'd like to take inspiration from nature and evolve to be more like the fluidity of water.

3. Ignorance is not bliss.  Just because you're not aware that you're being an asshole, doesn't mean that you aren't being an asshole. It's your responsibility to be self aware, nobody else's (although, I'm sure they'll let you know).  Sometimes you have to check yourself and ask if you're the root of the issues going on in your life. I'd bet money that at least half of the time you are in some way or another.  Going forward, my goal is to be more self aware and to do something with that awareness.  I'd like to hold myself more accountable for my own actions/decisions/words.  When I hold myself responsible for my own behavior, I will be able to hold others responsible for theirs as well.  

4.  Expressing my creativity IS important.  My mental health took away a lot of the passion I had for expressing myself through art and being creative.  I used to have a whole imaginative world full of color and life going on in my head.  Somewhere along the way, my darkness made things really bleak.  Going forward, my goal is to focus on creating.  I want to create art, passion, love, happiness, beauty...and I want it to surround me and fill me up with goodness.  I want to create a new imaginative world full of color and life and everything nice.  It doesn't have to be great to anyone else, it just has to make me feel good.

5. You can't avoid conflict. In the past, I tried to avoid conflict by staying away from it all together.  This meant saying "no" a lot when my friends would invite me out.  I've let my anxiety about all the things that could go wrong hold me back from the opportunity to make good memories with friends.  Going forward, my goal is to say yes to going out and making memories more often.  Conflict will happen whether you are sitting on your couch or out with friends.  You can't avoid bad feelings happening, so maybe when I get goal #1 down, this goal will be a lot easier to accomplish.  I just need to remind myself that I can never control my surroundings, but I can control the way I let them affect me. 

6. You don't know everything.  I think the older I get the more I realize how much I don't know.  This kind of goes hand in hand with avoiding rigid thinking.   There is not a single person on this planet that knows every single thing there is to know about one particular thing, let alone everything.  So why go through life thinking I already know enough?  Going forward, my goal is to make it a point to learn new things whenever I have the opportunity and to actively look for those opportunities.  No knowledge is useless knowledge.

7. You can't gain experiences behind a screen. I tend to get in the bad habit of thinking that I am a part of what is going on in the world because I am watching it happen through my phone/computer/television screen.  This is something that distances me from real life experiences that I should be having with other people that are in front of me in the moment.  Sure, I can see what is going on with people in another country from the comfort of my living room couch, but wouldn't it be a lot more rewarding to put my phone down and be in those other countries experiencing those things first hand?  I think so.  Going forward, my goal is to put the phone down, pick the adventures up, and feed my soul. There's a lot more to see than just a screen. 

8. What doesn't help me hinders me. Whether it be people, circumstances, my own thought process, or whatever else, I tend to get in the habit of letting things hold me back.  Some things are black and white. This being one.  If someone or something is holding me back it belongs in the past. I am moving forward, not backwards.  Going forward, my goal is to swiftly and gracefully close the door on anything that is holding me back from my own growth.  People that don't want to help you grow are only going to hold you back.  I'm going to work on letting those people go rather than holding on to them.  And that's okay.  They're just on a different journey than I am right now.  I don't have to take that personally. They can catch up with me when they are ready. 

9. Hiding your feelings is not being strong. As an introvert I have an incredibly difficult time opening up and communicating my feelings with people.  If I'm not afraid people will think I'm weak, then I'm afraid they will think I'm annoying .  But it's only when I do open up and communicate with people that I see things from a different perspective, and that is really helpful.   Growing up and dealing with feelings is  really hard and confusing, but you don't have to do it alone.  You aren't weak for feeling. You're human.  Going forward, I want to have more open lines of communication with the people around me.   I don't want to beat myself up for feeling to much, or not enough of anything. I don't want to frown upon being vulnerable. It takes a lot of strength to show your vulnerability. In doing so, you lose that vulnerability by taking ownership of it.

10. If there is no mutual respect, there is no healthy relationship. I've spent just about my entire life dealing with toxic relationships.  Between my family, romantic relationships, and even friends.  No matter what kind of relationship, it has the potential to be toxic.  A lot of toxic behavior is a direct result of a lack of mutual respect for one another.  Lets be honest, if there was respect in the first place the toxic behavior wouldn't be present.  Going forward, my goal is to surround myself with people I respect and people who show me the same kind of respect.  If I don't feel respected and I don't respect others my relationships will never grow into something healthy.  I aspire to be a person that the people I respect can be proud to say they know.  I want to surround myself with people that hold themselves to that same standard.  My time and respect is valuable, so it's about time that I treat it that way. 

I had hoped to keep this post short and sweet, but that didn't go as planned.  If you made it through this wall of thoughts, I applaud you.  I also hope you are able to gain something from these moments of clarity I've been having.  I encourage you all to sit down and meditate at least once this week.  Analyze life, and try to come up with your own insight and clarity.  Try to change your perspective and see things differently. Be open minded.  Listen to the world around you and understand what it is trying to tell you.  It's probably more obvious than you think. Cheers to 2015 for all the lessons and memories. They were....what they were.  Lets focus on how good 2016 is going to be. It's gonna be great, I can feel it in my bones!

-Stilts

 

 

 

 

On letting go...

I had an epiphany the other day (two weeks ago, but whatever).  The past doesn't matter, or at least it shouldn't.  Why do we hold on to the memories of things that hurt us?  Do we think it will prevent us from being hurt again; does it give us this false sense of being in control?  I know for me, I felt a sense of security in holding on to those memories and that anger.  Anger kept me safe, or so I thought.  In hindsight, that was really really stupid.  Sometimes holding on does more damage than letting go.  I held onto my anger for so long that it literally changed me as a person...and not in a pretty way.  Without going into too much detail, I was the worst version of myself I could be (I left a paper trail of embarrassing anger fueled tumblr posts that I'm not proud of to prove it, 'nuff said).  All because I was too damn stubborn to change my perspective.  I had wasted so much of my time and energy being angry that I never got closure, but in the end it was entirely up to me to gain that closure all along...I just needed to let go, go figure.

I had allowed my anger to turn me into a bitter, pessimistic asshole quite honestly.  I've done a tremendous amount of growing since then, and the person I am now is absolutely mortified by how out of touch with reality I was because my mind was literally consumed with anger.  It was like a virus.  My mind had become toxic.  I had become toxic. I'd become everything that I hated in other people.  But then something happened.  I don't know if something just clicked in my head, if I was just flying on a high from a great week, or if the stars aligned or some shit, but out of the blue I just got it, finally.  The only reason I wasn't able to move on was because I was the one that wasn't letting go.  I wasn't accepting that it all happened in the past and dwelling on the past serves no purpose to the person I want to be today, the person I want and strive to be tomorrow.  And what was I holding on to anyways?  I'm no longer the same person I was, so what use do I have for the anger that I harbor from things that happened in my past, when I was a different person?  It took me too long to realize that I was hindering my own growth all along.  My anger was dragging me away from the person I wanted to be, and I was a fool for not letting go sooner. 

When I came to that realization, it was a hard pill to swallow, but with accepting my mistakes and forgiving myself came something I wasn't expecting...closure.  I was able to accept the mistakes made and forgive people who had hurt me.  When I looked at myself, and how far I've come from a lot of mistakes that I've made, I realized that I was being stubborn and selfish by not forgiving mistakes of other people.  I was so caught up with my own anger and hurt that I couldn't even acknowledge that we are all just humans and we make mistakes, thats how we learn.  I've made a ton of mistakes, and I would feel really awful if someone hated the person I am now based off of my mistakes in the past, so I was basically being the biggest hypocrite on the face of the planet.  I think people in general are too harsh on each other because we hurt too much.  Hurting makes us selfish and self centered.  Changing my perspective allowed me to forgive, and in return I was forgiven and I was able to heal.  Now I am focusing on growing, on leaving things in the past, and never forgetting it's all about perspective.  If you're feeling stuck on something from your past try looking at it through different eyes, you might be surprised at how wrong your eyes saw it in the first place. 

The ocean has been a huge source of energy and tranquility since I was a little girl sitting on the end of my dad's surfboard.  Something about the natural metronome has always calmed my thoughts, and made me see things a bit clearer.  Nature keeps me grounded, and appreciative of all the beauty that's around me, and I wanted to share a video that soothed my thoughts for a sliver of time (I'll take it where I can get it!).  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

A celebration is in order...

Wow! I don't know what else to say in response to the amount of love you guys showed on my websites launch.  Just under 600 of you beautiful humans sat down and tuned into my little virtual world, and I can't tell you enough how much I love each and every one of you for doing so.  When I started spreading the word of my website, I really only anticipated maybe 20 people to show interest right away, and even that I thought was being generous.  My heart exploded with joy and surprise when I saw the number of you who not only read, but participated in the surprise giveaway!  

I'll try to keep this short and sweet so we can get to the winner and the prize of the giveaway... Forgive me for my awkwardness ; )



A huge thank you to you guys at home for continuing to always put a smile on my face.  I hope I can return the favor! And for those of you who didn't win the giveaway, have no fear!  There will be many more where that came from!

-Stilts 

Who is Lady Stilts...?

Some of you may know me already. For those that don't, My name is Mica (pronounced mee-ka). Welcome to my blog! I am 25 years old and from Southern California. I currently reside in Orange County. This is my first attempt at mainstream blogging. However, if you bare with me until the end, I think this place will be as rewarding for you as it is for me! Let's just start off by showing you the face behind the screen; the eyes behind the lens:

Photo by Jessica Renich&nbsp;

Photo by Jessica Renich 

I started my journey online over ten years ago. I used it as a way to reach out and connect to people so I felt less alone. To my surprise, my following grew more than I could have ever expected.  People started telling me that I was helping them. Me, the one who was desperately trying to connect with others and find help for myself! These connections have drastically changed what I want to do with my life. Discovering that sharing my story and feelings helps others has opened my eyes to a  new wonderful world. A world where I can help others find the same kind of inner peace and self love that I seek. And thats why I've started this blog! My dream is for this to be a safe and creative space.  You can expect to see all the magic in the making ;) 

Ladystilts.com will be a very interactive venue. I want this to be a place where we all can learn and grow together. I want to get more personal with you, and I want you to get more personal with me. We are all in this together!  I will be making posts about self-help, how-to's, tips and tricks, life lessons... you get the idea. In addition,  I'll also be doing giveaways, collaborations , interviews, contests, guest bloggers, posts specifically aimed towards advice or answering any questions you may have, and anything else my tornado of a  brain can come up with. You guys are really in for a treat! You'll also be able to explore my growth as a photographer by checking out my work in the photography section!  I've already got my first gallery up for you guys to check out!

Photo by Jessica Renich&nbsp;

Photo by Jessica Renich 

I've been through... a lot , and I've learned that the best way to learn how to swim is to be thrown into the deep end and left to figure it out yourself (okay maybe not the BEST way, but it's how I learned and I turned out...alright).  My life experience has taught me how to navigate my way through the eye of the storm and how to keep my head above water when things get deep. I am here to advocate; to help you learn the best way  to swim. I am not here to make all your problems magically go away (although I wish I could!). I want to provide you with some tools that I have found help me and share the experiences that have molded me into the human I am today.

 To all who take this journey with me, welcome! Whether you've been on it with me the full ten years or you're just joining, I appreciate you all. Don't ever forget that when you feel like you're walking through the fire alone, you don't have to. Just pop in from time to time to be reminded that you are not alone, and I am in your corner!

There are so many wonderful things in store for this blog, and I hope you are as excited as I am, little doves. 

-Stilts 

P.S. Leave a little comment below to be automatically entered in a SURPRISE giveaway.  I like free goodies, don't you?!