Body Positivity: Truth, Fear, & Judgment

I’ve written about being fat before. I was angry because I had only just learned that I don’t have to hate myself or my body for being fat. I was angry because I felt like the world had been feeding me lies for my entire life.

I’m still a little angry, but not as angry as I was. I want to talk about how body image is more than just “love your flaws”.

Here’s a question: why does it matter what our bodies look like? What is the function of our bodies? Our bodies do not exist for the viewing pleasure of other people. That is not why we have bodies. We have bodies because we need something to hold our souls and our minds. We need a vehicle to move through this world in. We don’t have bodies so they can look nice for people. I really think if that was the case, we would’ve been created with eyestalks so that we could look at ourselves easier. (Not that I think snails or crabs have eyestalks for this reason, but you get my drift.)

Here is something else: it is not easy to start loving something you have been taught to hate. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, “You know what? I love my fat! I love my acne! I love my crooked nose!” It doesn’t work like that. You have to be honest with yourself. These things are so ingrained in us, I think most of us don’t realize we’re even doing it.

The first step is realizing that you don’t have to hate your body. The first step is to realize that your body was designed to take care of you. And everything it does, it’s doing it because it’s trying to keep you alive. That’s what our bodies were made to do. They have programming left over from when food was hard to come by. Nowadays, food is everywhere if you live in America. But our bodies are still afraid of famine, so they hold onto it, just in case. They’re trying to protect us.

The second step is doing all those things that you’re afraid of. This goes for more than just body image, of course. If you don’t like the way you look in shorts, wear shorts. Wear the hell out of those shorts. And when it doesn’t kill you, when it actually makes you feel more comfortable in hot weather, when it makes you feel free, then you will have the confidence to do it again. You can’t build confidence by doing nothing or just by thinking about it. You have to do the thing you fear.

The third step is to stop judging. I see a lot of “who cares what other people think!” type of stuff and while that’s really a great sentiment, let’s be real. We obviously care. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be an issue. The real problem is that other people are making judgments about you and most of the time, they are uninformed. Most of the time, they don’t even know your name. They look at you and they judge you based on appearance alone. And usually, their judgments come from a place of shame and fear.

So start with you. Don’t judge people. Easier said than done, right? We judge people instantly and this, too, is left over from our bodies not keeping up with our changing world. We’re made to do this kind of thing in order to survive. But you have to train yourself to stop. Because guess what? That fat girl standing a couple feet from you is not a threat. You don’t need to protect yourself from her, so there’s no reason to judge her at all.

I’ve been trying really hard to do this in many ways. I used to judge myself by saying, “Why can’t I do *this thing*? Everybody else has no problem doing *this thing*!” And then I’d stop and say, “Wait. How do I know that? Do I know everybody else? Do I know anything about how everybody else handles *this thing*? No.” Another situation I’ve been doing this with is in the car. When someone does something stupid, my instant reaction is, “Idiot! What a jerk!!” Then I stop and say, “Wait. I’ve done that totally by accident. That person probably didn’t mean to do it.”

Everybody makes mistakes. Ain’t nobody perfect. And I’m dang grateful for that ’cause how booooooring would we all be if we all had the same perfect bodies and lived the same perfect lives. SNORE.

In summary, your body is trying to keep you alive, do the things you fear, and stop judging peeps. Loving yourself is not easy. It’s not going to just click one day and then BAM SELF LOVE ALL OVER DA PLACE. It’s a journey. Just like everything else in life. So I’m gonna leave you with my favorite quote ever, from my favorite haiku poet:

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Matsuo Basho

Also here are some amazing body image related Ted Talks:

This Week At the Office: The Frigid North and Tiny Earthquakes

Let me begin by saying my lanyard is officially broken. You can read all about that in one of my previous posts. My last attempt to keep it together lasted for two weeks, which isn’t horrible, but isn’t good, either.

Now, here’s the weird part. I found another lanyard that I’ve never used in the backseat of my car. You see, my car happens to have been recalled by Nissan due to dangerous airbags that basically shoot shrapnel into you when they expand. So I had to take my car to the Nissan dealer to get them replaced. I wasn’t sure if it was going to take an hour or a couple days or a few weeks, so I decided to at least get all the trash out of my car, in case they needed to keep it for a bit. Turns out it took about an hour. But at least my car is somewhat clean and if I hadn’t done that, I never would have found this other lanyard!

The Rule at the Office is that you must be wearing your badge around your neck. This is why the lanyard is so important. If left to my own devices, I would just clip my badge reel on my pocket, like I used to do when I worked for the Post Office.

Today’s title is brought to you by Air Conditioning and Construction.

I have no explanation for why it feels like the Frigid North in this place. I’m always cold here, so I keep a blanket in my cubicle. I use it on my lap daily. However, the last couple of days have been freeeeeezing. I spent most of this morning with the blanket over my shoulders and wrapped around me. It’s a little bit better this afternoon, but still way too cold.

The rest of today’s title is brought to you by Construction.

They are building a parking structure across the street. It has at least one lower floor, but it feels more like fifty lower floors. I don’t know how exactly they’re drilling or whatever, but it rattles our entire building. Every few minutes, it’s like I’m getting a mini massage. And all the tchotchkes on my computer tower move just a little bit each time. The shaking has been likened to small earthquakes.

When I was around seven, I was in a major earthquake. We lived in Southern California, so it’s not like it was surprising. In L.A., where the earthquake hit, freeways were broken in half, buildings were falling down, and people were suffering from general mayhem. Where we were, which was much farther from the epicenter, a couple plates fell over and all the water splashed out of our pool, but we were unhurt and our house didn’t fall apart. It happened in the middle of the night. I would have slept through it, but my mom actually came up the stairs to get me because she was afraid the top floor would fall. All the power went out, so we listened to a battery powered radio for news.

The power came back on and we all went to school and work as usual. And there were about abijillion aftershocks. SO MANY. They happened at home, at school, in the car, on the toilet, and I’m not even joking. You just never knew when one would rumble through.

Earthquakes are less like everything is shaking due to nearby jackhammering and more like the ground has suddenly decided it wants to be like the ocean. There are waves.

However, this feels more like the aftershocks because they’re small and random.

In conclusion, I wish someone would turn down the a/c.

Embrace the Audiobooks, Friends

Since absolutely nothing of interest happened At The Office this week, I decided I’m going to write about audiobooks instead. It’s related because I listen to them… at the office.

I happen to be blessed with a job that is mostly mindless. Since that is the case, I get to listen to stuff while I work. Sometimes I listen to music, but mostly I listen to audiobooks. Do you have any idea how many audiobooks I go through in a month? My best guess is an average of five.

As a Book Person, this fills me with joy.

I also listen to audiobooks when I’m crocheting. I listened to the Complete Sherlock Holmes while crocheting various things. It was like 58 hours and some change. Read by Simon Vance, who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators.

I’ve been listening to audiobooks at work for about six years. I’ve had this job for five years, but before that, I had a job where I could listen to audiobooks, too.

It used to be, back when I first started listening, that people would consider listening to an audiobook “cheating”. I was always cautious about telling other book people that I had listened to the audiobook of whatever book we were talking about. They either didn’t care or they considered it cheating. I would say that it is likely these people never actually listened to an audiobook. If they had, they would know there is no cheating involved. My mind is just as active, just as engaged with the story, sometimes even more so. When I read, I live the story. I see the settings and the characters. The same thing happens when I listen to an audiobook. So as far as I’m concerned, if you listened to the audiobook version of the latest bestseller, you have still read the book. It’s the same story, just received differently.

Nowadays, people don’t say that as much. At least not to me and not lately. So I’ve become less cautious about it. I think this is because online streaming has made audiobooks more accessible. You no longer have to carry around a million cassette tapes or a thousand CDs. All you need is your phone. Or a web browser.

I would actually describe myself as a poly-book-formatist. Yeah, okay, I obviously made that up, but what I’m trying to say is that I don’t limit myself to any one format. I listen to audiobooks, I buy books on my Kindle, and I have at least a couple hundred paper books on my shelves at home. I love them all.

I would recommend audiobooks to anybody. Since I get to listen to so many, it really helps me keep my love of reading and books alive while still working a full-time job. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me want to scream in frustration, just like all books do.

“But wait,” I hear you saying. “If you’re such a book person, why don’t you just read more?”

If you were real, I would slap you. Fool!

I work eight hours a day. When I get home, I write. Haven’t you been reading this blog at all?? I’m a writer! I can’t write and work at the same time! I only get to write at work when I have no work to do. That happens sometimes, but not very often.

The thing is, I do read at home. I read all the books I have that aren’t in audio format. It takes me a lot longer because I don’t get to read for four hours. At work, I get to listen to about four hours of audio each day between answering phone calls and sending out faxes. At home, I get maybe a half an hour – an hour tops – unless it’s the weekend.

This is because I write. I’m working on my dang novel, yo. The thing about writing while also having a full-time job is that it doesn’t leave you very much time to read. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to work on my story. I’m just dang lucky that I can use audiobooks to offset that a little bit.

In conclusion, I love audiobooks, I recommend them to one and all, and if anybody says it’s cheating, I will be sure to inform them that they are wrong.

What My Novel Is About

There is a question that I get asked every time someone is told that I’m writing a novel. It is always, “What’s your novel about?”

I used to have very strong feelings about this question. Basically, I hated it.

I have been working on a novel of some kind since I was fourteen. I’m going to be thirty-two in a couple weeks. For a large chunk of that time, I suffered from social phobia. It was a dark, horrible place. Talking to people at all was a struggle, let alone trying to answer that question of horror.

The reality is that novels are complex beasts and since I’m always in process and never finished, it’s actually really difficult for me to summarize what I’m working on.

This is probably different for every writer, but for me, it’s practically impossible to tell you what my novel is about. It’s not because I don’t want to share it with you. It’s because I don’t actually know.

The trick is usually trying to figure out if the person I’m talking to is someone I can trust with the information that I don’t know what my own novel is about.

When I was young and terrified, nobody could be trusted with that information. I wouldn’t willingly hand it out. So what did I do? I usually tried to get away with saying what genre I was writing. “Oh, it’s a fantasy novel.” If that didn’t work, I tried to summarize. And I failed. And then I felt like an idiot. And then I probably resolved never to talk to that person again out of shame.

So I think you can see why I hated this question back then.

Nowadays, I’m not as scared of people or what they think, so I find in most cases I can go ahead and tell them that I don’t know what my novel is about. It’s actually the perfect mechanism to change the subject from what my book is about to how I write. Since the next obvious question is something like, “How can you not know?” or “Are you some kind of idiot?” Then I can answer, no, not exactly, I’m just a discovery writer. I find my story as I go along. See? Now we’re talking about my process and I no longer have to attempt to summarize the slush that is currently my novel.

loooove talking about my writing process. I could talk about that mess all day long.

And since I no longer hate and fear the dreaded question, I can instead appreciate the person who asked for being interested in my writing at all.

I find in most cases, gratitude can change your outlook on anything. Something I used to hate is now something I can be grateful for. I know that people who ask aren’t trying to make me feel anxious or stupid. I know that they simply want to get to know me. So instead of telling them what my story is about, I tell them why I don’t know what it’s about.

So if you ever ask me what my novel is about, you can be sure that I won’t give you a direct answer. Even if I had some kind of summary to provide, it would be meaningless. If you asked me the same question a week later, the entire summary would be different. This is how I work. My creative process is a mess. It works, but that means my story is also a mess and thus summary is impossible.

In conclusion, I am grateful to anyone who expresses genuine interest in my writing, no matter what questions they ask. Just remember that I’m dodgy and don’t be offended if I don’t actually attempt to summarize my novel for you. I’m still happy you asked about it.

This Week At the Office: Badge Woes & Nachos

Yes, this week’s title rhymes. I did it on purpose!!

Anyway, it isn’t my badge that’s woeful, it’s actually the lanyard, but that was too long and didn’t sound good.

I am hoping that “lanyard” is the right word to use for the necklace-like thing that holds my badge reel that is attached to my badge.

Badges are dang complicated.

A couple weeks ago, before I started blogging about #officelife, we got new badges. Not really all that exciting, but for a short time, we had double badges so we could get everywhere.

Anyway, even when I have only one badge, it’s a complicated thing. First, you’ve got the actual badge, then there’s the plastic sheath it slides into, then there’s the plastic piece that attaches to the badge reel, then there’s a key ring to which the reel and lanyard are attached, and then there’s the lanyard which hangs around my neck. So many pieces.

I recently had to get a new reel because the string inside my old one just up and broke one day. And yesterday, the same thing happened to my lanyard.

I’m a true Lady, so I have one of those fancy beaded lanyards. It was actually made by someone who works at the company and I bought it when they were selling them for charity. I was freakin’ happy about it, too, because I had a boring ugly black thready thing previously. Gross.

Anyway, the lanyard attached to the keyring by two tiny, beaded loops. One of the loops broke and I lost nearly all the beads. The rest I just threw away. Because the thread on this thing is TINY and I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be able to put those beads back on with my SAUSAGE FINGERS.

I tried taping the broken loop, hoping it would stay together enough so that I didn’t have to get a new lanyard. Alas, the tape lasted a whole two hours.

Then I tried to tie the broken ends of the loop together around the other loop. It also lasted a whole two hours.

Last night, I took my badge home, which I almost never do. I always leave it in a secret compartment of my car because if I don’t, I will always forget it. This time, however, I needed to figure something out. So I took some thread and tied the broken end to the key ring. SO FAR SO GOOD.

We’ll see how long this MacGyver’d lanyard keeps together. I hope it’s a long time because I’ve already used this one for a few years and I don’t wanna get a new one. I like the one I got!

In more delicious office news, we had nachos today. Our Employee Activity peeps usually always do nachos for Cinco de Mayo, but since it’s on a Saturday this year, they did it for Quatro de Mayo instead. There were chips and cheese and deliciousness. I took a picture just for you.

Oh yeah. Check out those nachos. Delicious.

This Week At the Office

We got new nameplates! Is it sad that I found that exciting? I’m not sure why. I guess I like new things? They don’t even look that different from the old ones. However, the old ones didn’t stay on the cubicles very well… mine fell off ages ago.

That’s my name.

That is the new one. You can kinda see the holes on the wall underneath the window where my old one used to be. After it fell off, I put it on the little metal windowsill and basically taped it to the window.

The email we got said we could do whatever we wanted with our old nameplates. Keep it, throw it away, sell it on eBay, give to your mom, etc. I decided to keep mine. I have no idea what to do with it now.

That’s the old one. It’s about ten times thicker than the new one, but not thick enough that you could use it as a weapon. I mean, you could probably poke someone’s eye out with one of the corners, but ain’t nothing gonna happen if you try to hit them over the head with it.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with my old nameplate. I mean, nameplates exist so that if people are looking for your cubicle, they can find it, even if you’re not there. Maybe I should put it on my front door? Then everybody will know I live there! That sounds like a bad idea.

I also thought about putting it on my study door at home… you know, in case I forget my own name or how to spell it.

Maybe I’ll end up throwing it away, after all. But it will probably knock around my house for another couple of years first. I can’t throw stuff away until I’m really sure I’m never going to need it for anything.

In far more exciting office news, we also had cake this week! I failed to take a picture of the cake, so you’ll simply have to imagine it. It was a Costco cake and weighed nine pounds. It was a white cake with white frosting and some kinda white mousse in the middle. And it had a really cute rainbow with a sun and a cloud frosted on it. It was adorable! It was a co-worker’s birthday, so that’s why we had it.

If you’ve never had a Costco cake… you are missing out. They are enormous. I mean, it was a nine pound cake. Who doesn’t want nine pounds of cake? They’re also really good. And the frosting. Ahhh, that is heaven, my friends.

We also had a department lunch at Red Robin this week, which was especially nice because the Boss paid for it. Again I failed to take pictures, but this time it was because this happened before I decided to blog about office life. Though to be fair, I probably would’ve forgotten anyway, for the same reason I forgot about cake pictures. Which is that I was too busy eating. And being in heaven.

Basically, it’s been a pretty good week At The Office. I still have Friday, but nothing much usually happens on Friday. If I get surprised and something does happen, I’ll be sure to report on that. Since I know you are all super excited about my office life.

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You!

A post about audiobooks!

A post about desks and/or workspaces!

A post about more books probably!

And other random things, as usual!

Stay Tuned!

Office By Day, Writer By Night

You probably haven’t noticed that I changed the tagline of my blog. It is now the same as this title. It used it be “blog of author & poet Christina E. Lupanow” but that was wayyyy boring. I wanted something that would reflect my actual life a little bit better.

I work in an office by day, but I’m a writer by night. That’s pretty accurate.

And I want to share both worlds with the internet, so here we are. I want to illustrate what it’s like to have a full-time job that makes money and a something that isn’t a hobby but isn’t quite a job and makes no money currently and might not ever. I mean, it’s complicated. My emotions about these things are up and down all the time nearly every day. One day I’m thinking, “Yeah! I love my office job!” and then within in the same day I’m thinking, “Ugh! Not the office again!” Similarly, I’ll go from “Writing is pure joy and bliss, I don’t care that I can’t do it as a job!” to “Writing is still my favorite thing but maaaaaaaan why doesn’t it make more money?”

This means that from now on, you’ll get even more insight into my ridiculous life. Aren’t you feeling lucky?!

I guess if I was going to be annoying, I would say Writer By Night and Weekends, but that just feels way too long. Plus Writer By Night is cool and mysterious sounding.

At the moment, office life is decent. Nothing really bad, nothing really great. Mostly just the same as always. Writing life, on the other hand… is going better than usual! At the moment, going home to write is the highlight of my day.

I’m also going to start writing more blogs about books that I’m reading because who doesn’t want that? If you follow me on Goodreads, you will know that I’m usually reading at least two books at once, usually more. This is partly because I listen to audiobooks at the office. I will likely write a post about audiobooks in general quite soon – they are one of the few things where my office life and my writer life overlap. A rarity, indeed.

That is all for now. It’s lunchtime at the office & I’m thinking hellooooo break room vending, what delectable sandwiches do you have for me today? Hopefully, something that hasn’t been there too long, but you never know. This is what I get for not packing my lunches the night before.