Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life :: Feelings Are Just Feelings

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First off, if you're expecting an email or text or phone call from me, I promise it's coming. My to-do list for this week is a million miles long and life has been all about my body and baby lately, which I'm sure will be the trend for awhile now that I'm 32 weeks along. Over the past few months I've seen and called more doctors than I can count on one hand, but besides being a walking science experiment, my pregnancy has been relatively easy and life is starting to come together as we near the end. However, it's been a long road and patience is not my strongest virtue.

Yesterday I had to go to the hospital for a shot (normal procedure for moms-to-be with negative blood types) and spent almost 6 hours at the ER (because everyone knows that anything having to do with an emergency room or urgent care takes forever and isn't remotely treated like an emergency or with urgency). Well, actually, first I went to the ER, and then I was shipped over to Labor and Delivery because I'm in my third trimester, but then the nurses there were like, why are you here because they could have done this over there. I don't know people, I'm just following instructions.

(Sidebar: If I've learned anything from pregnancy it's that there is a major lack of communication in the medical field especially when it comes to nObamacare, and the people who you are supposed to trust with your health rarely know what's going on. The whole system is frighteningly disorganized and if you want anything done you to need to talk to 8 different people and more than likely they will all give you different answers. Super comforting, right? More later though, I'm thinking about making a documentary on this.)

It was an interesting day. After taking my information, they had me go into the triage room, which is a limbo type of area. This is where women are checked to see if they're going into labor and need to stay or if it's a false alarm and they can head back home. I was given a hospital gown to get dressed in, even though women were there with their male partners and they'd all be able to see my ass. I don't care if nurses and doctors see me in the buff (at this point, I'm used to it) but I don't need random dudes to join in on the peep show. The gown was like a sheet with snaps and I had no idea how to put it together, so I asked one of the nurses for help and she was very nice. Actually, everyone there was nice. They may have been confused about a few things, but they were still nice.

I was directed to a hospital bed that was more comfortable than my mattress at home and the curtain was pulled shut. To my left I could hear a newborn screaming like a baby pterodactyl and to my right was a pregnant couple that sounded young enough to be my own kids. After a few minutes, a nurse came in and before I could tell her why I was there she strapped me down with a monitor that showed my baby's heartbeat on a screen. She informed me that I wasn't having any contractions, so that's good. I told her I was just there for the shot, but by the way, I've been feeling really intense pain in the upper right side of my back and the right side of my chest under my ribs and is this normal? She told me it was probably just a pulled muscle and to take some Tylenol.

(For the record, I don't believe her. As of now I've felt like someone is stabbing me in the same spot for the past 5 days. I've been using a heating pad constantly unless I'm like, in the shower. I'm putting this out there so we can all sue if it's something serious. Also, I'm pretty sure that Tylenol pays ER personnel to promote them. A few years ago I went to get my ovaries checked out. After hours of tests, I was told that I had cysts but they were too small for surgery and I should just take Tylenol until they go away. Then I was sent a $700 bill. Thanks, Mr. Doctor, your medical advice was worth every penny.)

The girl to my right was there because at 34 weeks she was already feeling contractions 10 minutes apart. I heard a nurse say she was going to stick a [medical device] up her [female genitalia] to check her cervix. The girl wailed in pain. It was terrifying. Five minutes later, she and her baby daddy were laughing, snapping selfies and playing with the ultrasound machine. But as the youngsters were moving on, I was still stuck on one thought, one feeling, that I constantly have to ignore.

I was so not made for this shit.

I had my blood drawn for the 10th time in 5 months that day, and I got the promised shot-in-butt. Before I got pregnant, though, I was really scared of needles. Actually, "scared" is an understatement. I would shake and cry when I had to get my blood drawn, and I'd lie to my doctor about the shots I'd received. I don't know how I got my ears and nose pierced without fainting, but I digress. Anything having to do with being poked and prodded by doctors or dentists freaked me out. I didn't like the idea of anything being put in me or pulled out. I'm over it now, which is good, since giving birth is probably the biggest procedure that could ever happen to one's body (and something will indeed be pulled out). Of course, when I think about everything that could go wrong, all badassness goes out the window.

When I had any kind of medical appointment when I was little, my mom would get me a treat on our way home. We'd stop at Dairy Queen or grab a bagel from Einstein's. I still do this. It's habit. On my way back from the hospital, I got a McFlurry. After having the baby, I'll need a feast. My mind has always filed "medical stuff" under "something bad that happens to you" instead of "normal part of life" which is what it is. Besides being blessed with good health, I was always terrified of getting hurt. (This was filed between "getting in trouble" and "getting dirty" in the "bad stuff" folder.) My sister, on the other hand, seemed to love getting in trouble and getting dirty, which sometimes resulted in getting hurt, and the poor thing also had more health problems as a wee one. She's completely immune to pain now, and will probably be one of those women who doesn't realize she's in labor until she sits on the toilet to poop and a baby pops out.

Needless to say, I'm jealous. As for me, I'm a feeler. Not just physically, though.

I feel all kinds of things, all the time. Over the years I've learned to tame my feelings. If I didn't, I probably would've killed myself a long time ago. I wish I was joking. Don't worry, I'm good now. But what I'm trying to say is that we can't let our feelings control our lives. You can feel pain, but not let it take over. You can be brave and you can also be scared, at the same time. It's up to you to decide which feeling you want to choose to fill your thoughts and guide your actions. Mind over matter. Worry, for instance, is pointless. It can get in the way of our happiness if we let it. Let's say that I'm worried my baby will have explosive diarrhea seven times a day. I don't think this is possible and I'm actually not worried about it, but this was the least morbid example I could think of. I could either...

1) Worry for my entire pregnancy about how bad my kid's diarrhea will be, and then have to clean it off the walls every day for a year.

2) Enjoy my pregnancy and not worry about my kid's diarrhea, and then have to clean it off the walls every day for a year.

Clearly, the outcome is the same. So, why worry? Will it make your situation better? I don't think it ever does, which is why I choose faith over fear. Feelings are just feelings, and whether or not I feel that I was made to be a mother, I still am one. And even though I won't be knitting my son sweaters or making him fancy meals, I think we'll get along just fine because I'm really good at talking about poop.

And as for the birth, I'll just pretend I'm pushing out a really big one.

Loves :: Recent Reads / July

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This past month I read The Self-Made Model: Success Without Agencies by Christie Gabriel; #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso; Bossypants by Tina Fey; and Radical Sincerity by Esmé Wang (which is only 15 pages and free, by the way). None of these books were necessarily bad, so they're going to be hard to rank, but as usual we'll start with the worst first.

The Self-Made Model was chock-full of information and, as it states, is for models who don't want to be signed with an agency (or are just starting out and haven't gotten to that point yet). Now that so much information is available to us on the internet, it is a lot easier to find gigs on your own as opposed to relying on an agent. Whether or not you decide to go the agency route depends on the type of work you want and the type of model you are. My sister recently got signed and is moving to New York (!!!) but I can also see her being able to find work on her own after she builds up a good amount of experience.

The problem was the style and tone in which the book was written. I always appreciate when someone successful tells the story of how they became an expert in their field and what brought them to where they are. It makes the author seem easier to relate to. However, Christie Gabriel was signed right out of high school and really doesn't have a story about the "struggle" of her starting out. Also, a lot of what I read sounded condescending and intimidating, instead of being encouraging and motivating. Though I've mentioned that modeling is more of a hobby than a career for me, I still finished the book feeling as if I was doing everything wrong. Perhaps this is just an example of how cut-throat the industry is.

Esmé Wang is a blogger after my own heart. Her e-book Radical Sincerity is small, but mighty. I love how open she is about mental illness. The vulnerability that she writes with and about is something I hope to achieve every day. I'm looking forward to reading her collection of essays, Light Gets In, as well.

#GIRLBOSS had everything that The Self-Made Model was missing. If you haven't heard about it from every other blog and Instagram feed out there, this book was written by Sophia Amoruso, 29-year-old founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. I was skeptical of the hype, but it turned out to be even better than I could have imagined. Sophia really did start from the bottom (the business began with $50 and an eBay store) but due to her hard work, dedication, motivation and passion, she now owns a multi-million dollar company. She truly believes that any woman can achieve her dreams, and the more I read about her definition of a #GIRLBOSS, the more I thought about my own Loudmouth philosophy. I would recommend this one to anyone who wants to be successful in anything, so basically, everyone. She writes in a no-nonsense tone that's still fresh and fun -- like a best friend, a teacher, a boss and a cheerleader all rolled into one. Just buy it. It'll change your life.

Bossypants is a tie with #GIRLBOSS, and not just because they're both about smart, witty, successful women. This isn't quite an autobiography of Tina Fey, nor is it a how-to guide or self-help book, which she clearly states in the introduction. I found Tina's book just as awesome as Sophia's, but in different ways. Bossypants starts off with sad-but-true stories of her childhood. Even though she wrote them in a darkly humorous tone, I felt uncomfortable for a bit until I realized why: she was just like me. The experiences that we have in common are uncanny -- you know, up until the point where she becomes a successful SNL writer, then goes on to create 30 Rock and win tons of Emmys. Behind all the glitz and glamour, fame and fortune, Tina is my older twin, except that her mom is Greek instead of Polish, and her dad is completely German instead of German and Italian. Okay, so it's starting to sound like we don't have that much in common, but I swear I'm not making it up.

Anyway, the book got better and better as it went along, and about halfway through I busted out laughing, and I didn't stop laughing until I got to the end (which actually turned out to be wonderfully heartfelt and totally relevant to this time in my life). Tina is so honest and real, and I'm really glad that I went against my hipster attitude of "if it's popular, it's probably not good".

See my last book post here and you can follow me on Goodreads here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Look :: Boobs, Bras, and Breastfeeding / Vanity Fair Review!

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When I got an email from Vanity Fair Lingerie about trying some of their bras, it took me about half a second to respond with a HELL YES (and normally I'm terrible at replying to emails).

Though I used to be shy about my XL ta-tas, they're now my pride and joy. This year I've grown to a whopping 36G (equivalent to 36DDDD, which should actually be 38 by now thanks to my widening ribcage, but I digress). I chose four bras in a variety of sizes and styles so I can wear them both before and after baby. Unfortunately they're not nursing-friendly, but they're already snug, so the cups would runneth over at that point anyway. However, bras last forever if you care for them properly, so I'll be holding onto them for future usage. And now that you're sick of reading about my tits, let's move on.

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This first one is the Beauty Back Smoother Full Figure Bra in 38DDD and it's by far my favorite. It definitely has the best fit thanks to the size, but I also love how smooth it really is. The underwire offers great support but doesn't push up so much so that I look like a pregnant porn star.

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Next up is the Full Coverage Zoned-In Support Underwire Bra in 36DD. Since the cups are smaller it didn't stick out from behind my shirt as much, but it did cut into my ribs a little.

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The cups of this Curvation Beauty Back Smoother Underwire Bra in 38DD weren't quite big enough, though I did love the cleavage they gave me, and the pink color is too cute! This is one I would definitely show off under a sheer top or a white dress.

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This last one is the Curvation Side Shaper Bra in 36DD. Though it's pretty sexy, the fabric was a little thin for my taste. In fact, I was worried it'd be a bit too nippy for photos. Yikes! All in all though, I'm pretty pleased with this new set of intimates. Hooray for boobies!

*Thanks to Vanity Fair for making this post possible. The tanks are from Target and Victoria's Secret, prescription sunnies by Bonlook, nail polish by Julep, and leggings from Motherhood Maternity. Photos by Megan Burke on July 25, 2014 in San Fernando, CA.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lessons :: What's Your Advice for a Brand-New Blogger?

Kyleha asks,

"I just started a blog myself that is inspired by how you run your blog. I love everything about how you write what you want. I was wondering if you have any advice about how you started out. Right now my biggest problem is finding time and topics to write, and also scheduling how often to post. Any pointers or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated."

Hey Kyleha! Thank you so much, I'm flattered. You hit a few different areas with this question, so I'm going to give you my ideas for each. I know the blogging world can be overwhelming, especially if you're just hopping on the bandwagon now, so hopefully when you're done reading this post you'll have a head start. I've been blogging for a long time but I'm still learning every day, and I love it. So, here we go!

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How to find time: The bloggers I know are some of the most hardworking women in the world. We all have other stuff besides blogging that we do, whether it's a full-time job, running a side business, raising kids, going to school, or any of the other personal and professional things that fill our days. After having a day job for years and blogging on the side, I now work from home full-time, but it can still be difficult to squeeze everything in especially with a baby on the way. This is when keeping an editorial calendar or planner comes in. After analyzing your current schedule and responsibilities, come up with a consistent posting schedule. Be realistic and make it something you can stick with so that you don't let yourself down. You can always change it later if need be! When you're purposely scheduling time for posts, it will be a lot easier to keep up with your blog instead of letting it fall by the wayside.

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Coming up with topics: Since you're just starting out, you have the luxury of experimenting. Come up with a few main categories that you'll never get sick of, and concentrate on creating ideas for those. If you find yourself running out of ideas after a month or two, maybe you need to pick a different topic. Focus on what you naturally love and know about. In the past I've tried posting about all kinds of things but the ones I ended up enjoying the most had to do with helping people in some way, whether it was through offering tips, advice or a personal essay about my own experiences. I still like putting together outfits or visually inspiring posts but I don't pressure myself to publish them if I don't feel like it. I have also included categories like movies, music, and recipes but I choose to leave them out now even if I still enjoy them in "real life" sometimes. You can't be everything to everyone and you'll only stress yourself out if you try! Also, be sure to carry a journal with you everywhere (or use a note-taking app on your phone) because my best blog ideas usually arise when I'm NOT blogging.

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How often to post: This is absolutely up to you. What I always say is that it doesn't matter how many times you post per week or month, just make sure it's consistent. It's totally fine to only post once a week but I would suggest scheduling it for the same day and time each week (like every Monday at 8am) so your readers know what to expect. If you want to post once a month that's fine too, but I wouldn't expect to get much traffic (though if that's not your goal, don't worry about it). From what I've noticed, most bloggers post 2-4 times per week. The ones that post every single day are either full-time bloggers or insane overachievers, or both (like myself, ha). The ones that post multiple times per day usually have at least one other writer or a team of people helping them (such as Elsie and Emily). What I'm trying to say is, don't post more than you can or want to. It's easy to compare our blogs to others and put pressure on ourselves to do just as much, just as well, but if you can't that's okay. Write down what your personal goals are for your blog and refer back to them whenever you feel as if you've gone astray. Focus on what you CAN do and not what you can't, and HAVE FUN!

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*For more inspiration and motivation, check out my book or the one-on-one consulting services I offer. I'm here to help! Photo credits: one, two, three, four.
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