Of many faces.

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Dear Readers,

It’s hard to admit when you have fallen short of yourself, or others. When you have lied, or made a mistake. It’s hard when you find yourself tying yourself in knots in an attempt to conceal some extremely deep rooted issue that you don’t know how to admit, resolve, or navigate.

Sometimes I feel like that is what recovery feels like. I feel it every day, on my bad days, and especially on my good ones. I feel it whenever I am fighting with the authentic version of myself to come out, but an other version of myself is out on full force, trying to protect myself and the people around me.

Recently, I’ve been on something of a journey. A spiritual awakening, of sorts, where everything I once knew has been completely challenged and there have been times where I feel like I’m becoming muddled in all of the uncertainty of figuring out who I am. I am never quite certain what people want or expect of me; the truth, I’m told. But I’m painfully aware of how my truth, in turn, actually hurts more people than I’d like it to.

So, how do we get it right? To an extent, I don’t believe we ever do. I believe we are multiple versions of ourselves all at once. We are the versions of ourselves that are required at certain points of our lives. The versions we need to be for the people we meet, and the version we need to be for ourselves. I have been a hero, a victim, a bully, a good person and a bad one- I am never quite sure of which is the right one, and part of me feels like all of them, equally, are exactly who I am and who I’d like to be.

I write this today, feeling stormy and enigmatic. After a bout of good days, I am faced with a bad one; my first one for a while. And on this bad day, I find myself seeking the answers to the questions I have not been honest with myself about all this time.

I guess in the end, all we can do is just try our best to be who we need in the moments we need it. All we can do is try to not let ourselves down, or let down those around us. All we can do is find our truth, and be careful with whom we share it.

Xo

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Live everyday like it’s your…

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Dear Readers,

Live everyday like it’s your last.

We’ve all heard it before. Many people use it as their mantra alongside “life is too short!” Or some such. Some have it plastered on their walls in their homes, or in their online personal bios. It’s become such a normal and engrained part of our identity, almost. Especially, during times of crisis or tragedy. I’m always reminded, somewhat, of this notion whenever someone very suddenly passes away or something dramatic happens in my life. I’m reminded to appreciate everyone and all of the little things, but if I’m quite honest, that’s something I do naturally, anyway.

If you know me, you’ll know how important it is to me that I show my appreciation for the people around me. It boosts their ego, it boosts mine. It is so important to me that people feel heard, validated…connected. It’s a habit I got myself into quite early, thankfully- but my trouble is finding likeminded individuals. That is until something drastic happens in their lives, that make them stop and think, Woah hold on…life is too short.

But bare with me, I’m getting ahead of myself. Although engrained in our society that we should live every day likes it’s our last, something just didn’t really fall into place for me, an overthinker. So, I done what I usually do, I tried to break it down in my own mind. Why was I having such a hard time with this? The answer seems very simple, so I’ll share it.

Instead of living every day like it’s our last, we should live every day like it’s our first.

Why? I hear you ask. The idea of living every day like it’s your last, to me, tells me that you’ve learned everything you’ve needed to learn. That you’re good. You know all you need, no more information is required. Not just that, but it’s an abandoment factor too. An abandoment of information, of experiences, of connections that fundamentally make us who we are as people. The kind of things that change us in groundbreaking ways and allow us to change those toxic traits we might have. Living like it’s your last, to me, feels redundant and dismissive of our lives up until this point, and thereafter.

Maybe that isn’t how everyone else sees it, maybe it’s just me, and that’s a strong possibility, but living every day like it’s your first opens up this beautiful sense of curiosity that we lose when we expect our lives to cease to exist the very next day. And to me, that curiosity is so important for my every day life, because I never wish to pretend like I know it all, I absolutely don’t. There are still lots for me to learn and I am eager to learn them, but I don’t feel I can do that if I’m rushing to check off my bucket list every day, or if I’m being selfish every day, or if I’m refusing to take a look around and absorb everything that life has to offer like a sponge.

And look, I know as much as the next guy that life can be tough, and it can be hard to want to wake up like that every day, because it isn’t realistic. But to me, neither is the blanket ignorance to how we can make our lives as fulfilling as possible, without worrying about the consequences to follow- not to say that people who identity with the “last day” philosophy are like that. I’m not suggesting we revert back to babyhood when words and language and sentiments meant sweet nothing to us; but think of every day as the birth of the you that exists today. Can you take what you learned yesterday, limit your expectations for this day and just see what happens as a fresh and clean slate?

So, my friends, don’t end your chapter where you are. Don’t rush to write it too, just live each day like a fresh new page in your beautifully complex story.

Xo

I’m Going Through Changes.

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Dear Readers,

In the very wise words of a wise 13 year old, is there anything good about being a woman? I’m assuming by now that the world will know about the show Big Mouth, if not, please check it out. It’s not necessary for this blog, but it ties it together quite nicely.

I want to talk about something today that I feel doesn’t really get addressed often. Or at all, actually. Something myself and many other woman I know personally, have had to figure out on their own, very frustratingly, might I add. It’s about the female body. *gasp* If you are at all offended by the subject of the female body, then see yourself out.

By now, you’ll all know where I stand on being a woman in the fitness industry, how I feel about it, my own struggles with body confidence throughout the year and how I really feel about working out. A lot of subject matter already covered, I know, but it’s something I talk openly about.*

*Please check out my blog post “I don’t want to go to the gym”for reference.

But something I’m noticing lately due to how happy I am to talk about such issues, is how completely shaken up woman are about the changes in their bodies as they get older. The thing is, we’re taught in school at a young age that our bodies change when we go through puberty. Puberty, as I remember, was a confusing and truly horrible time of change and confusion regarding things about my body and mind. It was terrible, I’m sure it’s terrible for everyone, but when you’re a woman you get the pleasure of bleeding once every month. As if that isn’t bad enough, you have atleast two weeks on one end of that where you feel like trash. It’s quite terrible. With that knowledge, we also know quite commonly about menopause when we get older. The hot flashes, weight gain, or maybe weight loss, changes in sexual drive, changes in preferences, changes in appearance. It’s basically just a life of change.

A life of change.

It doesn’t stop with those two, ladies. Unfortunately, so. What happens in the middle, I hear you ask? Allow me to explain as best as I can. When I was 22 years old I entered into a wonderful relationship to a man who is now my husband. After the first year I started noticing some unusual things happening to my body. My weight hadn’t particularly fluctuated outside of the normal relationship weight I experienced at the beginning, but I was noticing my composition completely changing when I was looking in the mirror. I remember feeling ashamed of how I looked as I noticed stretch marks that hadn’t been there before, and my boobs all but doubled in size. Was I pregnant? I remember asking myself when my cravings for foods began changing from my norm, to something else entirely. I wasn’t pregnant, as it turned out, so what was happening to me?

I decided the best thing for me to do was to ask a medical professional, and so I did. My moods were changing too, I told my nurse as she examined me. She measured my dimensions, took my weight, my blood- but to no avail. Nothing seems to be wrong, she told me. She wasn’t worried about my health after all I discussed with her. Are you on birth control? I was. Maybe come off for a while and see how it goes, so I did.

When I went back to see her again I was as frustrated as ever. Nothing seemed to be changing, but she had a whole new revelation for me to consider. She explained to me how a woman’s body tends to change during this period of our lives, it’s different for every woman, but it happens.

Over time I began to understand what she meant. I had noticed these changes around the time I start seeing my (now) husband as someone I wanted to have children with. Over time, my mind started communicating with my body to tell it that “I was ready” even though at the time, I wasn’t. It was just something I considered. The thing is, as sophisticated as the communication between our body and mind is, it also lacks a very important element of communication, it doesn’t consider outside factors, personal preferences or what we actually desire in life. Biologically speaking, regardless of you wanting children or not, your body doesn’t really know that, so it just assumes you do, and changes for you. Thanks, body.

Look, you can fight against social norms and standards and you can fight for your right to make a decision for yourself, as a woman, man or a member of this world, but you can’t fight against biology- it’s the only thing we have that really fucks up a good idea. But that’s just it…our bodies change. And they keep changing. Over and over. Like a cycle of annoyance and frustration. But it doesn’t have to be that way; it could be a cycle of acceptance and love if we just let it. I’m just as frustrated at my body as the next gal, but who of us aren’t? I think it’s about damn time we give ourselves a break. Stop talking about diets, stop talking about the gym, stop talking and clothing labels. Just stop. No one cares apart from you. We live in a world obsessed with size and numbers, yet we aren’t obsessed about learning about why all of that might be.

We should be encouraging our children to understand this. If I had this knowledge at a younger age, I might have been able to better prepare myself for what’s to come. But instead, here we are, I only learned at the ripe age of 25, and to me I feel like that’s unacceptable. It’s just as important to learn about our bodies and the way they change as it is to learn about safe sex, in my opinion. Especially with such a rise in body dysmorphic disorders and eating disorders and just general mental illnesses. We should be learning how to love our ever changing body.

I’d be absolutely kidding myself if I ever thought I was going to look the same as I did when I was 19- because the truth is I never will. And neither will you. But for goodness sake, that doesn’t make you any less beautiful.

It doesn’t. I promise you.

So ladies, embrace your body for all that is, all that it was and all that it will be. It’s the only one you have! And reach out to our fellow sisters to teach them to do the same! By all means, live an active and healthy life, but don’t grow to resent your body as a result. Shit changes, it’s not a reflection on you as a human being and if you think it is, sit yourself down and have a long thing.

Stop this comparing and contrasting to old pictures that popped up on Facebook, and stop letting people pass comment on your looks like it’s the only thing that matters. Maybe even stop passing comments on how other people look, too. You’re all badass. You’re all beautiful and you deserve to shower yourself with compliments and love.

Your friend,

Caitlin xo

Finding Ourselves.

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Dear Readers,

Generally, I hate the term “finding yourself”. I think it’s such a boring cliche; mainly bred out of the fact that this is something that us humans force upon ourselves as we grow up. We’re taught to throw ourselves into the unknown, out of our comfort zones, our own space, in order to become completely aware of who we are.

I think it’s a cliche because it’s the one sentiment people throw at me when they discover that I’m a 25 year old who just re-learned how much she loves to paint.

Have you found yourself, then?

My answer to this question is both yes and no, but for different reasons. The thing is, something I believe very profoundly is that we are never sure of ourselves and I think to a point, we’re probably never going to be. We are curious and anxious and emotional beings who seek out this cataclysmic sense of purpose in order to get a feel of who we are. What if, you are who you have always been, all along, but who you are evolves as you grow? The idea of finding yourself, to me, reeks of stagnant motion. Our society lures us in with this seductive promise that we can figure out who we are, and once you do, you can just stop trying. Right? I think that’s fairly reductionist to the growth of human evolution in every way. We should and DO learn new things about ourselves every day. We relearn new things that our past self has maybe buried away or forgotten, and as much as it’s annoying to get a glimpse of an epiphany at the age of 25 when the answers have lived within you all this time, I think it’s also important to recognise that maybe the answers were buried away before for a purpose. Maybe in order to grow, we had to abandon parts of ourselves so we could indulge them again at another time. Maybe we weren’t ready to get to where we are before? If that’s the case, I’d personally love to stop being so angry at myself for feeling like I’m absolutely responsible for “denying myself the truth” and just accept that maybe that wasn’t always my truth, because it’s possible that something else, at the time, was.

Which brings me back to my first point. I don’t think we’re ever going to sure of ourselves. I think our life will continue to be full of uncertainty, curiosity, resentment and confusion alongside all of that wonderful things we feel and bring to the table. We aren’t designed to just be. Humans are eternally complicated being’s- the idea of just finding yourself and that being it, indicates your story is over. We are fed this idyllic tale that we need to search deep for our true purpose, but I personally feel like that purpose will always waver. It will change, with time, and with us. We are a collection of multiple purposes all being ignored because we’ve found that one.

So, friends…forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for all of the lies you fed to yourself about not being true to yourself. Forgive yourself for all of the things you deemed as a mistake, because at the time it was exactly what needed to happen. Forgive yourself for the future changes that will happen in your life, steering you away from the one thing you found before. Forgive yourself for falling into this trap of believing your purpose is linear. Forgive yourself now, forgive who you were and forgive the different variations of people you are yet to become. Forgive the chaos and forgive the peace.

Just forgive yourself.

Xox

Nothing Fits.

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Nothing fits

Right

It hangs, it sags

It doesn’t understand

Where I’m at.

It asks questions

That I understand too much

But not enough to care.

It disconnects

From my bones,

My minds empties

My words are lost

Because nothing’s fits

My life

And I don’t fit it, either.

“you’re suddenly different” it cries

And I believe them

For a time

Until I realise

There’s nothing sudden about it

I’ve been this way

All along;

I’ve never fit

In.

I don’t want to go to the gym.

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Dear Readers,

I don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t even want to work out. Today, this week. I’m just not feeling it. The thing is though, over the past (I want to say) five or ten years, the fitness industry has absolutely exploded, but not necessarily in the best ways. The fitness industry prays on our insecurities and our percieved flaws that we think we have. It prays on an unhealthy mind to make it even unhealthier by pretending to make it healthy. And I’ll be honest with you, I used to buy into it. Big time. I was obsessed with my fitness, my body, how I looked, the gym… You name it, I was obsessed. But one thing I was never obsessed about was actually my health, which is surprising considering it seems the two should absolutely come hand in hand. Right? A couple of years ago, I would have absolutely destroyed myself for even daring to not want to work out, but it was simply because I’d managed to convince myself, and the media managed to convince me, that not working out meant I would lose all of my progress over night. Which is absolutely barbaric, but do you know how long it takes to get out of the mind frame? A damn long time, that’s how long.

Here’s the truth. Unless you are a competitive athlete or training for a sport, working out should be for two purposes: to improve your overall health and to improve your overall well-being. But that’s just one person’s opinion (or is it…). I spent a lot of my youth convincing myself that I wanted abs and big muscles, but when you really get down to it… What purpose do abs and big muscles actually serve to my life? I want to be a trained counsellor one day, a profession that requires absolutely zero muscle tone. I’m genetically pale skinned and I don’t really tan, I hate the beach and I’m not a summer person. What does a bikini body prove if I’m just hiding it under clothes that I’d rather wear? I’m also not a model. I’m not a fitness model, nor do I work in the fitness industry. I’m not an athlete and I don’t play a sport, so if I’m being perfectly honest and stripping it all down to the basics, what the fuck do I need abs and big muscles for? So I can take the occasional selfie and/or remind people I have them and become pretty conceited? I understand everyone has their own personal goals and I respect and understand that, but I don’t need abs or big muscles to, first of all, impress people I don’t care about and secondly, to prove that I work out. I’m fit. I know that I’m fit- my physical endurance is pretty damn good, which will suit me well whenever I get chased by a pack of wolves, I’m sure. But here I was, driving home from work and feeling bad about not wanting to work out, because I didn’t work out yesterday… I mean, if I had someone in the passenger seat beside me who said that to me, you can guarantee that I’d have set them straight and told them that’s not a very good way of thinking about things, it’s unhealthy bla bla… So the fact that I can barely owe myself that same courtesy is absolutely horrifying.

Above being fit, I’m healthy. I’m healthy because I’m happy. Shock horror, believe it or not… It actually matters. Not how you look, because ultimately at the end of the way, it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is that you’re a good, decent, sincere person with a healthy mind and body, at least that’s what matters to me. I was having a similar conversation with a friend recently after I told him that I used to beat myself up in school for being “bigger” than the other girls and he said to me:

“Who cares? Going to the gym doesn’t mean anything. In my opinion, I think it’s about nutrition, if we want to get into that, but outside of that… What defines you as a person? I think that’s what matters. How you look should only matter to a select chosen few that you wish to see the gift that you posses with your body. Fitness is merely the wrapping paper, but everything else? Now that’s the gift ”

And my friend, who shall remain anonymous, is absolutely correct. You are a gift. I am a gift. We are all gifts and we all deserve to see ourselves that way. At the end of the day, who are you working on yourself for? Because your answer should tell you if you’re doing all of this for the right reasons or not.

I’m 24 now, and I know what my answer is.