23 November 2016

Black Friday & Small Business Saturday shouts-outs

While everyone is out shopping in the next few days for things to make their homes festive, for Christmas gifts, for things to improve themselves in the new year... I thought, what better way than to support small business owners and direct sales consultants? I, for one, would rather support someone paying their way through college, or a mom trying to make ends meet, than to put more money into huge corporations.

And so, in the spirit of Holiday goodness, here are some places that I would love for you to shop this holiday season! I will be adding to the lists as I find more friends who sell their goods. Support small business this holiday season! I know I will be!

Note: For some direct sales companies, I have multiple friends who sell them. I couldn't choose who to link to for this, so I linked to more than one. I am also very proud to say that I personally know all of the lovely, talented, hardworking people who I am linking to here!

Etsy shops/Handmade goodies/Creative outlets:

Stacy Surman Designs on Etsy. Hand-stamped jewelry
Something Bookish Crafts on Etsy. Bookmarks, pens and more!

Books written by people I know:

Stealing the Groom: A Stealing the Heart Novel by Sonya Weiss. On Kindle or in paperback. Also check out her other books!
The God Child: The Time Grows Near by Calvert Koerber. An adventure/fantasy book.

Direct Sales Companies:

Thirty-One: Margaret Ayres
Rodan + Fields: Coley McCabe
Rodan + Fields: Erin Shafer
Younique: Sarah McNamara
Lularoe: Caitlyn Foutz
Lularoe: Nicole Coultas
Usborne Books & More: Nicole Dardis
Scentsy: Christina Gist
Damsel in Defense: Alyssa Salazar

11 October 2016

The justification of rape culture

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

I originally posted the following as a Facebook status, but felt passionately enough about it to copy it over here. I have included above the chunk of the Trump interview that I am referring to above, in case there was any question.

I try so hard to stay out of political conversations (other than posting funny memes now and then), and I'm going to reiterate that I think we are absolutely screwed no matter who takes office at this point (unless by some magic someone other than these two front-runners wins), but I needed to share this. After a conversation last night where someone tried to justify these comments to me, I had to walk away, in tears, because I couldn't believe that someone would say to ME of... all people that this was okay.

Just days after having a panic attack that had me shaking for hours, sobbing, and questioning more than I care to admit just because someone who smelled like the guy who raped me ten years ago was in my presence, I had a "friend" telling me that these comments made by Trump were not only normal, but that he would say and do the same thing if he had Trump's money.

I'll never understand how people can't differentiate between the two. Dirty talk and the talk of sexual assault are not the same thing. Looking at women (or men for that matter) with lust, fantasizing about them, etc is completely different than admitting that you grab them - without their consent.

The thing is, whether you support Trump, Clinton, Johnson, Sanders, or a baked potato - I really don't care. I don't care if after what Trump said, you still support him because you still think that overall he would be the better choice for this nation - that's your choice, your right, and I would never try to take that from you. HOWEVER, please try to understand how these comments were NOT OKAY. Please stop finding a way to justify comments that actually condoned sexual assault. Stop justifying by saying that it's okay because other men are creeps, too.

Statistically, something like one in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Statistically, this means there's probably quite a few men out there doing the assaulting. When you justify comments like this, you're further blurring lines about what is right and what is wrong. Please stop teaching our girls that it's normal to be assaulted, and please stop teaching our boys that it's okay to do the assaulting.

Sidenote, because I know I'm going to get comments about it - yes I am aware that boys and men can be victims as well, and that women can do the assaulting.

Second sidenote, since again, I'm going to get comments - this has nothing at all to do with who I would or wouldn't vote for in this election. This is not about that. Please don't turn my comments into a "but Hillary/Bill..." shitstorm. This post is simply about these comments, and how they are NOT OKAY. Whether you're Donald Trump, or my next door neighbor - they're NOT OKAY.

26 February 2016

Not pretty enough

I had a conversation the other day with a friend that has really resonated with me. I was telling her how unpretty I feel, but how I blame it on the depression and anxiety. I have this constant fear that people are judging how I look (it doesn't help when someone comes out and tells me that my clothes don't fit right - after I just gained back all of the weight that I fought so hard to lose). When friends tell me that I'm pretty, I assume that they are just trying to be kind to spare my feelings.

I am just shy of six feet tall, and wear a size twenty-four. My thighs and ass are enormous. My cheeks are always red - even moreso when I'm embarrassed, or hot, or upset. My hair is thick, but has this odd wave to it that doesn't look right unless I style it, which I rarely do. My hair is dark - practically black - and grows faster than most peoples', and not always in places where I'd like for it to grow. My breasts are uneven. My skin is pale, and my arms are covered with tiny little scars from when I was a kid and couldn't stand to not scratch at mosquito bites or pick at scabs.

When people look at me, I assume that these are the things that they are seeing. They aren't seeing the girl who'd give a stranger her last dollar if she thought they needed it more. They aren't seeing the girl who does without so that her rescued pets can have everything they need. They aren't seeing the girl who gives and gives and gives until there's nothing left to give anymore.

Talking to my friend made me realize that maybe people do see more than the fat girl with the red blotchy cheeks and the scarred arms.

My friend was telling me about her insecurities about her looks, and I was baffled. Here was this woman, standing in front of me, who is very pretty. Her looks are definitely above average. She's lovely - and I'm not saying that just because we have become friends recently. I am saying that because the first time that I saw her, I thought that she was pretty. Getting to know her, and knowing what a kind, sweet soul she is has only made her beauty more obvious. But before I even know her, she was pretty. Hearing her talking about her insecurities about herself opened my eyes - if someone that pretty can be so insecure, maybe it's NOT that bad. Maybe I'm NOT the hideous fat lump that I see in the mirror. Maybe I'm NOT all that bad.

And maybe my friends aren't lying.

23 February 2016

Grey skies

It has only been in the last two years or so that I've realized that I am not quite normal. You would think I would have figured this out years ago, but it just never dawned on me. Not all people think like this? Not all people act like this? Not all people feel this way?

It wasn't until a close friend had a breakdown and opened up about her struggles with anxiety and depression that I realized that there was something wrong with me - and that it had a name. I have no diagnosis (doctors are expensive), but the reading I have done has made me so much more aware of what is going on inside of me.

People tell me to snap out of it. They tell me it will get better. But the truth is, it really won't. I feel broken all of the time. My moods swing so constantly that even I can't get a grip on how I feel. Even when I am arguably happy, I can't snap out of this feeling of brokenness, of hopelessness, of not understanding why things are so bad. I am contemplative and thoughtful to a detrimental degree. I feel things more deeply than I can even express - and then other times, I forget what it is like to feel at all.

Today was one of many days that brought me to near breaking points, to monumental lows - and I wasn't even able to explain WHY I was so low. Things triggered it, sure, but no normal person would feel this low after such inconsequential conversations.

Today, I just imagined how it would feel to chase a bottle of sleeping pills with a tall margarita. Today, I just imagined what it would feel like to let nothingness wash over me like the sea. Today, I just imagined what it must be like to just cease to exist, to stop fighting so hard to go on, to finally be done with this tormented mind.

But today I remembered that not every day is like today. Today, I remembered that sometimes, I feel tinges of real, genuine happiness. And today, I made a conscious effort to go on.

20 February 2016

Let's try this again

Shortly after writing my last post, my computer than I was using decided to go completely dead. It wasn't until about a week ago that I was able to replace it, and am now thrilled to have a lovely new computer! I am going to try my hardest to get back into writing, because I miss it desperately.

A few things that have gone on the last couple of months... I did go back to the old job (but at a different location), and despite the stress, the nonsense, and the insanely long commute (over an hour each way), I am less stressed out than I was when working for the other company. I am hoping to either get moved to a location closer to home, or to possibly look into renting a home closer to work. Things are up in the air with the specifics of that at the moment, but either way - it's better than what was going on in the summer. I am less broken, less fragile, less likely to break at any given moment.

In home-life-goings-ons, I am currently sharing my home with two dogs (though they have been my constant for almost-five and almost-six years) and FOUR (count them, FOUR) feline leukemia cats. I did lose one of the first ones I adopted (sweet little Harper), but still have the male that I got on the same day (Oscar). I'd also adopted two more girls (Sawyer and then Taylor) a month or so before I lost Harper. On January 31st of this year, I brought home my newest - an enormous orange tabby boy who I named Sully. He's underweight, but once he fills out, his presence will command attention for sure.

It's funny how in my thirties, I am finally starting to figure out just who I am. I am finally starting to speak up for myself. I am finally starting to really, truly love this strange and complex person that I am. I am the girl who will rescue every animal off the street, and bring them home and love them. I am the girl who muddles through a job she doesn't love, but try to give it her all anyway. I am the girl who would give someone my last dollar, even if I knew that person would not even give me a sideways glance if I was lying in the street. I am learning these things because I have been there, and I have lived them, and I continue to live them. I am excited to see what comes next...

Stick around. We'll see together!

28 October 2015

Me time

I haven't written in far too long, as my life has been strange, and busy, and an utter mess. I changed jobs at the end of May (and am about to go back to my old job, as it turns out that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side). I have been stressed, and exhausted, and depressed. While I haven't gotten a diagnosis (I am waiting until I am back to the old job, and have insurance again), I am pretty sure that I suffer from depression, anxiety, and quite possibly some other mental illnesses.

This week, I am taking some "me time," and already feel better. I am trying not to think about the fact that I had to quit my job a week earlier than I intended, because I felt like I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, and that my wallet will suffer for it. I feel healthier, just for having taken a few days to myself, to re-connect with who I am, and to sort out the nonsense in my head. It takes all I have to just get out of bed most of the time, and I am working on that. Last night, I slept on the couch, and other than getting up to use the bathroom, and let the dogs in and out, I did nothing until ten this evening, when I forced myself to get up, switch the laundry that I'd started yesterday, and start rearranging my bedroom (my big goal for this week).

My goal is to start blogging more often, to start talking about what I go through with depression and anxiety. I have started to become increasingly open about it on my facebook, which has been both terrifying and cathartic. I want to be able to say how I feel, and know that I am not alone, and work on fixing myself so that this isn't my everyday reality.

01 May 2015

Jamberry weekend deal!

Hey friends! As you know by now, I started selling Jamberry a few months back. I have decided to offer an awesome deal for this first weekend of May (May 1st through May 3rd). This weekend only, spend $45 or more on my website, and I will send you TWO free sheets of nail wraps (a $30 value!) from my personal collection!

Since our wraps are already buy 3/get 1 free, you could purchase this deal, get 2 free sheets from me, and essentially have gotten a Buy 3/Get 3 free deal! We also have an AMAZING hand care set, nail lacquers for the traditionalists who still want to nail their nails, plus all of the accessories you need for an easy application!

Not sure what Jamberry is? Jamberry Nail Wraps are a safe, easy, non-chipping, non-smudging alternative to painting your nails. They're wraps that adhere to your nail with heat and pressure, and last up to 2 weeks (though mine have lasted longer!) on fingers, and up to 6 weeks on toes. With over three hundred designs, there's something for everyone! From solid colors, to solid colors that sparkle, to florals, to french manicures, to bold crazy designs!

Shop today, using this link: http://margaretayres.jamberrynails.net

If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask me here! Also, if you'd like to pay by paypal, let me know - I can accept paypal, and then use my card to order for you if needed!

For fun, here are a few of my favorite "Jamicures" that I've rocked since becoming a consultant.

Wraps used: Sweet Nothing, Sheet Music and Chalkboard Hearts

Wraps used: Zen Garden, Cabana, and Sunny Lotus

Wraps used: Out of Focus, Sorbet, and Destiny

29 March 2015

Freaky Fridays

Harper (grey tabby) and Oscar (orange tabby) join Champ & Madden
On Friday, March 20th, I adopted two FIV/FelV positive cats.

On Friday, March 27th, I was in my first car accident as a driver.

Let's begin with the pleasant news, shall we? These two sweet kitties that came to live with me! To back up a little while, I had decided when my roommate moved out (oh yeah! I live alone now! Hoorah!) that I was going to look for a cat. I wasn't in any particular rush to bring one home, but if the right cat came along, I'd be interested. I found a person that pulls rescues out of a kill-shelter in New York City, and began the process of adopting a death row cat. For four days, I browsed profiles of cats, picking one each night that I would pull from the shelter. Each day, I was sad to find out that the cat I wanted had already been adopted by someone else.

I decided to give up on the rescue organization, and just want to see if anything fell into my lap.

Almost immediately (literally, within minutes) of me deciding to give up on dealing with the rescue, my dear friend Heather shared a video from someone's facebook page. There was this adorable orange tabby, being all cute and lovey. I read his description and learned that he had tested positive for both FIV and FelV. I did some research, just to ensure that this was in no way contagious to my dogs. I thought about it for a while before emailing the woman who had rescued him. He was living in a cage in her garage - she couldn't bring him inside because she has two healthy cats. Shortly after receiving my email, she sent me a message with her phone number. We talked for about half an hour about the cat. Oscar was his name.

During that conversation, it was decided - I would adopt Oscar! He was scheduled to be neutered that following Monday, so we decided that I would pick him up on Friday, which was my next day off.

A few days later, I got a message from the rescue group I had been in contact with. They had this little black cat available, and wanted to know if I'd like to take her, if I had decided not to get Oscar. I told her that I was, in fact, getting Oscar, and that the only way I'd consider taking another cat was if in the future another FIV/FelV positive cat came along.

I must have been crazy for saying that, because it just happened that she'd gotten an email about two kittens - one of whom had just FelV, and one that had both - who were on kitty death row. I read the email. I fell in love.

And that is how Harper (whose name was Cookie, but I hated it) came to join the family.

Oscar is mellow, and laidback, and after spending his life outside, is trying to get used to living in a house - and with another cat, two dogs, and a human mom. He's super friendly, and will let me hold him and snuggle and pet him for hours. He's estimated to be between 3-5 years old. Harper is all kitten! She's crazy and bouncy, and never ever ever seems to stop moving! She will chase the dogs, and let them chase her. She likes to jump on me, and sit with the dogs when they come in from going outside - and wait until I give HER a treat as well (apparently she expects to be rewards for the dogs going to the bathroom). She's hyper and crazy, and part of me wishes that she would mellow out and be more like Oscar, but part of me is also thrilled that this little girl would have been put to sleep, and instead gets to be a kitten!

Fast forward to this past Friday, the 27th. I'm going to make a long story a whole lot shorter. Basically, I was heading to the Amish Market (oh man, they have the best food!), and a woman pulled out in front of me. I was just driving down the road, there was no stop sign, or stop light or anything, and she pulled out of a shopping center. By the time I saw her, I only had a few feet in which to brake. Everything seemed to go in slow-motion, as I screamed, slammed on the brakes, and crashed right into her drivers side door. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt. I have a pretty wicked bruise on my shoulder and across my chest, and feel some pain through my lower back. Most of my pain seems to be concentrated right on my shoulder and on my breast bone though. My car suffered only minor injuries - I'm just waiting for her insurance company to figure out what they're going to do to fix it. I  don't see how they could possibly find anything other than that she was liable for the accident. The police said that she was at fault and issued her a ticket. And now, I just wait. I've not been to the doctor yet, but really think that I might go tomorrow. I went back to work today (after calling out yesterday because of the pain) and discovered that I probably should have taken another day off. It hurt to walk, all through my back, up into my shoulders. When I tried to move a cart without thinking, I almost screamed in pain, as I felt is shooting through the middle of my chest.

While I am fairly certain that I am just bruised and banged up, I think a trip to the doctor is definitely in order. What a way to start a year...

And that, in a nutshell, has been my last two weeks...

08 February 2015

Beautiful, huh?

I would like anyone who is going to read this blog post to first read this article:
West Virginia Republican says rape can be ‘beautiful’ if it produces a child

Please actually read the article. Do not make any assumptions based on its headline. Read it. Actually read what was said.

The other day, two of my Facebook friends posted a link to this article on their timelines. I went and read the article, and prepared to be completely angry and disgusted. And, well, I was completely angry and disgusted - but not for the reason you might think. I was angry and disgusted by the writer of the article who completely twisted the words of this man.

First of all, if you actually read the article, the headline is incredibly misleading. The guy does NOT say that rape is beautiful. What he says is that if a child comes of it, that CHILD can be beautiful. The headline is false, and they should be forced to change it. Here is the actual quote, taken directly from the aricle.
According to Huffington Post, Charleston Gazette reporter David Gutman was on the scene when Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R) said, “Obviously rape is awful,” but “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this."

Second, I am BLOWN AWAY by the number of people commenting things like "someone should rape him." Seriously? How very hateful and closed-minded of you. You've obviously never been a victim of sexual assault if you would wish that on anyone. Stop wishing that on anyone. What a horrible thing to say!

And third, they're picking this guy apart, but no one's saying anything about the much more ridiculous comments made by other representatives that are quoted in the article. Everyone just takes the headline and runs with it, without even paying attention to what's really said in the article. Like this gem. Apparently real rape victims' bodies will just go ahead and prevent pregnancy on their own. Wait. What?
In 2012, Missouri’s Rep. Todd Akin said that pregnancy can’t result from rape because “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

Fourth, don't assume that all victims of rape HAVE TO have an abortion. This guy's right - if MY attack had resulted in a baby, it WOULD have been beautiful. Because that baby would have been MINE. Despite how it happened, it would still be a piece of me. I make absolutely no apologies for my pro-life stance. While rape is the one instance that actually makes me think that maybe abortion might be an option, I cannot justifiably call myself pro-choice (adoption exists - and would be a better option in my eyes. Also, I don't push my beliefs on anyone), I would never abort something that was a part of ME, regardless of how it happened. And for those who are going to argue about how stupid I am for that, and ask how I'd explain that to a child when they're old enough to ask questions? Well, that child would know that it's mother loved it and wanted it, regardless of any societal pressures.

I have such strong feelings about rape, and fighting for victims, and justice being served (it doesn't seem that it ever is, though. Just talk to a rape victim one day). But at the same time, I am livid that people twist other peoples' words around, just to combat their political views.

23 January 2015

The weighting game

I don't think that people who have been blessed with amazing metabolism or naturally slender bodies can even begin to imagine what a struggle it is to lose weight - and keep it off. Last year, I decided to change my eating habits, and managed to drop just about fifty pounds between March and September. I was SO proud. As I started losing weight, I started noticing changes in my body. My favorite change was going from a size 24 pants to a size 20 (a size I hadn't been able to wear in YEARS), and from an XXL shirt to an XL shirt (I don't remember the last time I was able to wear an XL shirt!).

After my gallbladder attack in early September, I completely slacked off. While I should have improved my eating habits to hopefully ward off any future attacks (my attack happened after splurging on a greasy sandwich and some fudge), I read on several medical websites that rapid weight loss can attribute to gallbladder attacks. So, I somehow made up in my mind that I didn't want to lose anymore weight, because I didn't want to have another attack (it was seriously the worst pain I've ever experienced in my entire life. So awful! I thought I was dying!). I went back to unhealthy eating habits, and splurged far more often than I should have. Somehow in those last four months of the year, I gained back almost thirty of the pounds that I had lost.

I've decided again that I am sick of being fat. I mean, I've never LIKED being fat (I don't think anyone does!). And now that my gallbladder issues aren't holding me back (you know, since I don't even have one at this point!), I'm taking the plunge toward losing weight again.

My ultimate goal is to be a size 14 in pants - a size I haven't seen since middle school - and a large in tops.

I have written weight loss goals on the calendar for the next four months. I've decided that a ten pound per month weight loss would be perfect. However, there will be months that are harder than others. So, I went through the first four months of the calendar and wrote out my weight loss number goal. That way, my actual goal is to lose 40 pounds in 4 months. If I lose more in January, I will be ahead of the game for February in case I have a hard month, and so on.

Fingers are crossed. Toes are crossed. And that little dress I have hanging in my closet for when I get down to a certain size, is just waiting to be worn!