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"She has a great personality"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One of today's daily Spark videos is this:

(This is a gender normative post because I'm straight and these are my experiences. I understand that people in other situations have other or similar experiences, but I'm using 'men' and 'women' to reflect my own experiences only. ) I never played with Barbie when I was growing up, but I was surrounded, as we all are, with impossible beauty standards. Television shows mocked the women and girls who looked like me and glorified the strikingly beautiful. The men and boys around me were taught by their dads to try for a woman 'out of their league' (translation: physically beautiful) because they could get lucky. They weren't taught to look at the women and girls who weren't getting all the attention because their knowledge and kindness and abilities and skills were interesting and fun to be around. Instead they were taught to value certain physical characteristics, some impossibly difficult to obtain, above any other traits. The girls and women who were beautiful sometimes had those other fantastic traits, but sometimes they didn't. It didn't matter. They had all the boys and all the men interested in them just because they were beautiful.

To this day, after years and years of trying to tell myself I'm beautiful because that's what we're supposed to aspire to, I know I'm not. Before you all jump in to say, "oh, no, you're beautiful! Everyone is beautiful!" let me explain that I disagree that everyone is beautiful. Everyone has something beautiful to share with the world, but we are all different. Some are beautiful, some are talented, some are kind, some are intelligent. . . I wish I lived in a world where beauty was valued, but only as one of many traits that we find valuable. Why must I be beautiful if I am not? Can't I be charming? Graceful? Giving and loving? and have those traits be praised?

There is a child, Adalia Rose, who has progeria. It is a disorder that makes her look very strange. Google her. People post on her FaceBook page that she's beautiful. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't think she's beautiful. I think she's charming, clever, interesting, funny, and when she dances on a video for us it makes my soul warm just watching her. I think all of that far outweighs what she looks like. She is simply wonderful.

That's what I want to aspire to -- I want to be wonderful. I want to be fun and funny and up for adventure. I want to be fit and healthy and a great mom.

I wish for a day to come when 'She has a great personality' isn't a euphemism for 'she's ugly.'

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTYNA7 3/22/2014 2:46PM

    I feel beautiful when I have accomplished something amazing... like carrying a canoe by myself or finishing playing a harp piece well. I felt beautiful on my wedding day not because of what I was wearing, my hair or who was watching but because I was going to join the man I loved and become one unit, one being in partnership and goals... for the rest of my life. So when I look in the mirror I don't see the freckles or the apron belly or the toned shoulders... except for what those represent... the adventures outdoors, the three children I've raised, the hard work I've done exercising. If someone were to look at me briefly and judge that I am beautfiul or not I would be disappointed because if they KNEW the real me they could see the beautiful woman I am.

There were many years when I had a lot of shame, a lot of disappointment in myself. Back then it did not matter what anyone would say because when I looked in the mirror I saw my flaws and holes and shortcomings. I saw all the bad things I had done. Food and my body were proof... I am so happy that I have come so far from that place and I feel for people still struggling. Every day making one good choice towards being healthy is a reflection of my inner beauty. Thank you for sharing this blog.

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AJDOVER1 3/21/2014 11:28AM

    Love your blog! emoticon
Most of the time I just don't get the so-called "universal beauty standards." I've gotten totally confused watching old romantic comedy movies because I simply don't get which actress is supposed to be the "pretty" one and which is the "ugly" one. I thought they were ALL pretty compared to me.

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1CRAZYDOG 3/20/2014 9:39PM

    It's kind of how I feel about the work "normal". What the heck is that???? Who determines it!???? Beauty is the same way . . . and beauty definitely is in the eye of the beholder.

I agree that the messages we have to start by teaching our sons and daughters to be more mindful by just the actions you stated, and for sure, start with NOT spending your $$$ on products that are irresponsibly advertised.

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JAYDEE16 3/20/2014 9:32PM

    I must interject, Mr. Dudes. While I agree that we are biologically predisposed to prefer certain traits that suggest health and fertility, the modern standard of "beauty" is only a reflection of health if we assume that we are looking in a fun house mirror. When even models are airbrushed and photo shopped nearly universally, how can we blame evolutionary biological instincts?
Casey, this is a marvelous post and you are a marvelous and fascinating person. I don't give two hoots what you look like. :)

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/20/2014 7:39PM

    Perhaps vocabulary is the issue... beauty is a fuzzy concept, and standards for the characteristics considered "beautiful" vary by culture and era. But you are right that it has been over-valued. Some of the most wonderful people I know were beautiful people who did not recognize their own beauty, but were as humble and insecure as I was... I was astounded to discover this.

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CASEYTALK 3/20/2014 5:17PM

    I don't know if it can be done, but the only way to get started is to teach our sons and daughters. The 'try for a woman out of your league' message has to go, as does the 'you can't be too rich or too thin' message. Buying dolls like the one in the video instead of Barbie is a great start. You and I can't do it alone, obviously, but if more and more people spread the message that beauty is only one aspect of a woman it couldn't hurt!

Oh, and watch advertising. If the models are photoshopped to impossible standards (and nearly all of them are these days), don't buy!

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CATLADY52 3/20/2014 4:48PM

    Well spoken and to the point! I believe that we are in the minority though. How can we change the narrative to something more reasonable? emoticon

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FOR_THE_DUDES 3/20/2014 3:31PM

    Beautiful post. (Pun intended.) I believe some of our "beauty standards" are pretty much universal across cultures and across time. (Many others are not.) I'd bet that things like face symmetry are a sort of subconscious short hand for "this person has good genes." I wonder if industrialization, modern medicine, and easy access to food will encourage us to evolve beyond such superficial preferences. I will keep your words in mind as I do my best to encourage my children to ignore all of these cultural messages.

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Cosmos and me

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm a nerd. I looked forward to Neil Degrasse Tyson's revamp of Sagan's Cosmos and watched it excitedly last night. While I hope future shows in the series tone down the whiz-bang effects of the space ship, it was a fun ride. I'll keep watching.

I want to think about how I fit into the cosmos. We are all star dust, after all, right?

It's so pretty here. I live in California's redwood forest. The trees, the Russian River, the hills, the wine country, it's all so beautiful. I am grateful to be surrounded by nature's beauty and all of it is star dust.

Today is my day to focus on the beauty of the nature of my body and to work with it and not poison it. My body's star dust functions a certain way. My body is it's own micro-cosmos that uses nutrients and exercise and oxygen to function and thrive. Which star dust I eat and don't eat matters to my body. I will draw my strength from my body to do the activities of the day. If I want a strong, healthy body, and I do, I know what I need to do.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AJDOVER1 3/11/2014 11:44PM

    you're an inspiration!

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/10/2014 7:18PM

    I thought I recognized that familiar "feel" as I was flipping around the channels heading to bedtime! Going to have to look for it deliberately now.

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ADARKARA 3/10/2014 3:10PM

    I have such a science crush on NdT, so of COURSE I watched Cosmos. What blew my mind was when he said there were stars so far away from us that there hasn't been enough time since the beginning of the universe for their light to REACH US, so they are effectively invisible!

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1CRAZYDOG 3/10/2014 1:40PM

    Wasn't that an awesome show!!! HUGS

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FELINEBETTER 3/10/2014 1:25PM

    YOU GO GIRL!!!! emoticon emoticon

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ROXYZMOM 3/10/2014 12:06PM

    I love your blog, beautiful analogy.

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JUSTYNA7 3/10/2014 11:59AM

    Lovely imagery! I usually say "feed my body and not my disease" or "eat what I need and not what I want" but this is so much prettier and somehow grander... truly part of the Cosmos!

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Struggling with the daemon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yesterday afternoon, I was hungry. I looked at my plan and saw hard boiled egg and spinach salad. Sounds good and I have the hb egg already in the fridge, so it will be pretty easy.

I pealed the egg and thought, I would really rather have this with mustard. That's no problem, so I ate it that way and then got to thinking I had some calories left over, so I could eat some more. That is when the daemon came.

He won the first battle. I had a slice of bread and salsa and an 80 calorie frozen treat, neither of which was on the plan. He was still hungry. I know I was on the road to a binge. I said to myself,

"You want to make it through one week. You won't feel good if you keep eating now. Give it twenty minutes for the food you've eaten already to register in your body. JUST FOR TWENTY MINUTES you can wait before you give in."

I put on my walking shoes to go into the village. I needed to buy sticking plasters. I convinced myself to pick them up at the pharmacy rather than at the market because there would be too much temptation to pick up a treat at the market.

I did it! I bought the plasters and came back home and didn't eat again until dinner. I stayed within my calorie range for the day.

Thank you, Sparkies, because you were all part of this little victory. I have made my challenge public and the thought of falling off in front of you again was a huge part of helping me win the struggle.

The daemon will be back. This was just one struggle of many. I have you with me, though, and we will not let him win.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROXYZMOM 2/23/2014 11:03PM

    Awesome!! Stay tough, it will get easier!!

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1CRAZYDOG 2/23/2014 10:23PM

    Awesome job! HUGS

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AJDOVER1 2/23/2014 2:15PM

    thanks for sharing this!
It's good to see how it's done.

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FELINEBETTER 2/23/2014 11:45AM

    Casey! YOU WON!!!! emoticon That is a very good plan you used: to wait 20 minutes. As well, you even anticipated another pitfall(the market) and avoided that gracefully!

Good for you, Casey! This is exactly how it's done!! You reign supreme!!!! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/23/2014 11:26AM

    But each victory over that little emoticon makes your mental toughness muscles stronger! emoticon You did it! Good job!

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Four and more!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Four days following the SP menu plan. I really like this. By shopping only once a week, I am not being tempted to buy foods I shouldn't eat. I have everything I need to make good food. I am learning how I will modify the menu next week, too. I am going to add in some of my favourite spark recipes and make up a batch that I freeze in portions. It will save money and I do love to eat the spark cookbook recipes.

On life --

I've started volunteering at the local school. The kids love hearing me switch between English and American accents. I've a local radio station interested in me, as well, for reading adverts and all. I miss the kids every day, but my daughter calls and I will be going to visit them again soon. My husband came last week and we sorted what belongs to whom. In general, I am happy. When I am happy, it is easier to focus on my health.

The week of SP menu planning experiment is going well. So am I.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROXYZMOM 2/23/2014 8:18AM

    I am glad you are doing well and finding your balance. Volunteering and wirking with children is always a positive! Good luck with the radio job - sounds like fun!

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1CRAZYDOG 2/22/2014 9:32PM


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FELINEBETTER 2/22/2014 2:53PM

    emoticon Casey! You have more strength and genius than you realize! I'm happy that you're happy too! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/22/2014 1:27PM

    "When I am happy, it is easier to focus on my health. " The two support each other in a progressive way... when you focus on your health in a positive way, it loops feedback of "happiness" and self-worth back, too. emoticon

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Back to the basics

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Before I regain ALL the weight I had lost, I know I have to change. Madness, as they say, is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Waking up every morning and saying "this is the day!" and then continuing to make poor food choices was clearly a failed policy.

Now that I am living in the States, I have been seeing adverts for Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem. I don't want to spend the money for those, but wouldn't it be nice to have the planning done and one simply eats the plan food?

That's when I was reminded of the SP menu planner. I can cook, so I have no trouble making my own food and the planner doesn't generate anything tricky anyway.

I turned the menu plan back on, went over the week to swap out what I didn't like, and then generated the shopping list. I went to the store and purchased only the items on my list, less the things I already had.

For two days now I have eaten four times a day in accordance with the plan. My only substitutions have been appropriate ones such as egg whites for egg beaters and an orange for a peach. I had enough calories left in my daily allotment for my glass of red wine, too, so I added that. Other than that, I have been strictly adhering to the menu.

Two days isn't a long time, but it is doing something different that is a positive step in controlling my nutrition. I know it will work if I keep it up. It isn't hard to do. I am sure my body is quite happy. I have been feeling a little hungry from time to time, but that is as it should be. I should be eating when I feel hungry and not because something in the kitchen is calling to me or I feel sad.

Two days. It is a small victory, but it is an important one. My goal is to go the whole week on the menu plan. I am my own Jenny Craig/Nutrisystem! I can do this.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 2/21/2014 9:20PM

    emoticon Each day is a victory! Well done! emoticon completed. Twice! And YES, you CAN!

Comment edited on: 2/21/2014 9:20:52 PM

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AJDOVER1 2/21/2014 12:45PM

    What a great start!
Let's make today a healthy day.

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1CRAZYDOG 2/20/2014 9:18PM

    Good job! HUGS

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FELINEBETTER 2/20/2014 7:54PM

    I understand very well when you talk about having the decisions made for you! No doubt you are extremely worn out and the thought of making another decision is overwhelming. Just take note that the decision you made to come back on line and to move forward are GREAT ones!!! While you may not feel much motivation right now -- making just a few healthy choices will help you to build momentum! You've got lots of support here! Just take things one little healthy choice at a time!

Welcome back. You're going to get through all this. I know it! emoticon

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ALYSSAR2012 2/20/2014 1:19PM

    My mom wants to buy that nutrisystem thing. I don't see the point for myself but I'm not as on the go as her. I have time to sit at home and cook dinner after my classes for the day are done. I really need to be more consistent with planning meals, but it's hard to count on a particular food still being there the next day (let alone over the next week) in a household of 6 who the majority of which seem to have tapeworms. :P

Wtg on making this decision. Remember your reasons for getting healthy and you've got this! 2 days is great. I can barely stay on track for a day without messing up somehow.
emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/20/2014 1:21:01 PM

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DRAGONSDAWN 2/20/2014 11:57AM

    2 days is a great accomplishment. I always feel like if I make it through 3 days I'll be ok. I struggle the most for those first 3 days.

Glad the SP meals work for you. My problem is I don't like most of the stuff on them.

Good Luck and keep Sparking

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SHALOMFROMWOO 2/20/2014 11:29AM

  Good for you!! I know exactly what you mean about the plans with the food already preset and done for you. I am so drawn to those plans as well because I am not tempted. I've found that the plans, however, are not realistic for everyday life AND they are also very expensive. The tracking feature in SparkPeople works so well - I just have to do it! Like you - I enjoy the Spark Recipes. Most of them are very easy to make and I like the fact that the calories are right there so there really isn't any guessing. I try to use low-fat, low calorie ingredients in everything (or most things) that I prepare.
You should be very proud of your two-day accomplishment - and - it two days IS a victory. Do not beat yourself up if you slip - just get right back up and keep trying. This is what I am constantly telling myself over and over again.
Have a great day and Keep Sparking!!! emoticon

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