There’s something aboout this time of year. As a person who notoriously hates *stuff*, I find myself mildly dismayed at how many things I just want now that December is here and everyone around me seems to be buy-buy-buying. Sometimes I think I want to fight the urge to get in the gift giving spirit, but this year I decided that instead of trying to convince my friends that seven pairs of underwear is the perfect amount to own (if you do laundry once a week) I will put a little energy into supporting businesses and artists that I think are cool. Is this me making lemonade out of my mental lemons? I think perhaps so!
Here are a few lovely things I’ve run across that I am certain at least one of your dear ones would adore.
- Any lingerie from Bluestockings Boutique. I am not a typically a lingerie type of femme (remember that whole seven pairs of underwear thing?) but I LOVED seeing all of these gorgeous things modeled by such an exciting gender spectrum of humans. A few of the bras are advertised as being specifically good choices for trans women (I believe because they are cut to fit broader shoulders) and I love that. The way the world is shifting to be more inclusive before my very eyes pleases me to no end. I might just buy my first fancy bra in celebration.
- This “no wrong way to have a body” tote by Rachele Cateyes makes me so SO happy. Rachele makes suuuuuper awesome work in general, and this is just one of many choices for body positive accessorizing!
- These Life Lessons Enamel Pins remind us of life’s little pleasures. I simply cannot resist.
- Um, a Thighs As Big as My Dreams Crewneck?! Yes fucking please and thankyouverymuch.
- Heidi Swanon’s cookbook, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel is simply gorgeous. In it, Heidi shares 125 recipes along with photographs inspired by her life and travels both near (Northern California) and far (Italy, Morocco, France, India, and Japan). Each page tells a new adventure, and the resulting recipes never fail to please.
- As a person who lives in close quarters with her partner, I know this I Need to be Alone door hanger would come in super handy. No matter how in love, its always nice to have a polite way to tell folks to leave you the heck alone, am I right?
- How many times have you shared a brainstorm sesh with a friend over a meal and reached for a scrap of paper to jot their brilliance down only to find gum wrappers and soiled paper towels? These Good Idea Napkins are a perfect solution to that age old problem.
- Because I hate stuff, especially wasteful stuff, I freaking LOVE a Titanium Spork. Yeah, I take it camping, but I also take it whenever I eat food on the run, because the thought of a plastic utensil in a landfill fills me with unicorn tears and broken hearts.
- Lastly, I can’t wait to proudly brag about my gainz with this Vegan Pizza Strong Tank. I received this one as a gift myself, and I couldn’t be more pleased!
Now, in case you prefer some good old fashioned reading recommendations to material gifts, here is my crop of November links!
Body Image, Self-esteem, and ED recovery:
Physical and Mental Health:
Just for Fun:
What’s on youuuuur Holiday wish list?
Let’s start from the beginning.
I have weighed many, many weights in my life. The common denominator for every single one of these weights is this: no matter where the number fell, no matter how small I got, I felt certain of one thing: my thighs were just too big.
I did not (do not, will not) have the kind of thighs that do not brush up against one another.
I did not (do not, will not) have the kind of thighs that easily fit into stiff denim. That remain demure and unobtrusive. That can be ignored.
I have spent years pissed off at my thighs, disgusted at what they were (huge) and what they would never be (invisible).
I have spent much of my life imagining what it would be like to whittle my thighs away. To cut slabs of flesh from the tops of my legs, peel the fat off, and discard them.
I have spent hours of time, hours that probably amount to days and months of time, on an elliptical machine hating my thighs, viscerally and specifically. I wished my thighs dead, ran in circles step after step trying to burn them away.
Deciding that someone else’s thick thighs were kind of amazing was my first step.
I saw these thighs in a squat rack. They were attached to a body holding a barbell with hundreds of pounds of chunky metal plates. They sunk down, supporting the brunt of the bar, and they popped back up, almost effortlessly.
These thighs were undeniably big. They were strong and I was very intrigued by the way my eyes were drawn to the thickness of them. I didn’t want to notice the thighs, but I also could not look away.
Could I actually admire these thick thighs and hate my own? Was that a parallel that I could manage to pull off?
This question haunted me, both as I fell to sleep at night and when I woke up to get back on the elliptical. Was it possible to live in a world where thick thighs were just okay? Where they were accepted as fact, embraced as a pillar of strength, or even just generally not thought about at all?
I saw the first pair of thick thighs that I admired years before I accepted my own.
Sure, the seed was planted. But it took focus to change my own mind about something. It took effort to make new thoughts stick.
“My thighs are fine” I said, until, eventually, I felt like “fine” wasn’t really good enough anymore.
“My thighs are powerful” I thought, until I realized that powerful was indeed what they were, but that that certainly wasn’t the breadth of how I wanted to feel about them.
“My thighs saved my life” I thought, almost kind of surprised.
Huh I thought.
Kind of a weird thing to think. But it was true, wasn’t it?
That my thighs walked me away from my alcoholic abusive parent as a teenager?
That they supported me when I no longer wanted to get out of bed?
That they took me, step by step, to every group therapy meeting I went to, every doctor’s appointment in the early days of recovery, even when I felt too tired to move? To the homes of every caring friend, to the gym and through every deadlift, sprint and push press?
Respecting my thighs became a conduit.
It brought me connection and intimacy because I stopped being afraid of eating, moving, and living amongst other people.
It brought me closer to my mom and my sister. Women of the same thighs, women that I wanted a relationship with more than I could even articulate or understand.
It brought me to women aside from my sister and my mom too, and to queer folks. Holy shit- I guess I am not the only person that has struggled with hating a certain aspect of my body. I guess I am not the only one who could have used a little support.
Embracing my thighs brought me to a personal nutrition practice rooted in loving the ever living shit out of every inch of my being.
It separated me from using exercise as a torture mechanism.
It took me away from the battle against myself- and it brought me right back into my life.
PS Lately, when I’m not waxing poetic about body positivity, I am spending much of my time formulating recipes for the newest Reset and Restore program, starting on November 2nd. If you’ve been looking to get a little more awesome with your mindfulness around food and body, this is totally your place.
PSS Isn’t that patch AWESOME? You can buy it here. (This is totally not an affiliate link, I just really like it and want many people to have it!)
I have had a lot of people come to me lately with ailments that (on the surface) seem relatively mysterious. Their stomachs hurt, they are noticing an uptick in the amount of migraines they get. They’re constipated. They’re gassy. They have diarrhea. They have no time to cook. Their exercise is falling to the wayside. They’re depressed and they are anxious. They are, essentially both full of guilt and full of physical pain. It’s gotta be a trend right now, something astrological. It suddenly seems like “too busy” is making everyone I know feel literally ill.
And in steps self-care.
Self care is as amorphous and tricky to define as it is necessary to participate in. My good friend Molly is what I would call a self-care whiz, and I was extremely excited when she asked if she could write a little something on treating yourself awesomely for my audience. The below piece resonates with me so deeply (yeah, I need a little self-care, too), and I am seriously hoping it strikes a chord with you, too.
Self-care is vital. We need it. I am giving you permission to go at it like a fucking champion. Below are a bunch of ideas of how to get started:
I’m imagining a world where we all feel unapologetic and unashamed to be who we are, held respect for limits and boundaries of ourselves and others, and believed we were truly worth loving. These ideas seem obvious, right? But I look around and see people completely removed from the simple act of honoring themselves. We need self-care, but oftentimes we don’t know how or where to get it.
The stereotype of self-care is a bunch of things that seem out of reach- expensive spa days, sitting on the beach and meditating, activities that involve money, time, and disruption of the necessary flow of life. We are taught self-care is a luxury afforded by an elite few and I am here to say that this is absolutely not true. Permission, access, and love: These simple guidelines are what you need to take care of yourself in a deep and restorative way. Surprisingly, it’s notoriously difficult to approach ourselves with these intentions. If you’ve ever struggled with feeling selfish, guilty, or lost when it comes to “self-care” and how to do it, you’re not alone.
On some level, showing up for the needs of other people has become more acceptable than showing up for our own needs. But I ask this: If you are really going to be able to give your energy, your thinking, your creativity, and your strength to your projects and communities, is it not essential to recharge and reconnect to yourself? The more you treat yourself well, with love, care, and tenderness, the more you can feel like a whole person who is able to actually make clear decisions for yourself and your life. If we could all do this, and all be whole people meeting other whole people, we would literally transform the world. Self-care enables us to access our minds and to think about why we are in circumstances that deplete us, plus how we can find the energy, consultation, and clarity to change said circumstances.
When I teach people how to practice self-care (and it is very much a practice, starting with 5 minutes a day, all at once or sprinkled throughout), I teach activities that can be done almost anywhere, with any kind of tools or supplies. These things I teach are easy to conceptualize but what seems hard for people is offering themselves permission to actually start. Kindness for yourself around that challenge is also self-care! If you think of something you’d like to do for yourself, but find yourself struggling to begin, offer thanks to yourself for all the protection your stubborn parts are offering. It’s scary to think of opening yourself up to care (even your own). Bodies and brains like homeostasis. And yet, we are always learning and growing. It’s a challenging tension that, if you can recognize it and allow space for that tension to just be, you’ve already offered tender care to the parts of you that are struggling.
With that, here are some inexpensive or free activities you can think about and try- and if you find yourself getting stuck, remember that stuck is a part of your process, too. You’re not trying to get anywhere but to yourself.
Journal about your dreams
Breathe. If you need a template, try breathing in for a count of 4, deep into your diaphragm, thinking “soft”, and out for a count of 4, thinking “belly”. Keep your belly soft, try not to hold tension there. Do this for about 5 minutes, in line at the grocery store, in traffic, when you feel stress, when you need a rest.
Walk slowly mindfully down a street you’re already familiar with, and notice something new
Write and send a postcard to someone you care about, even if you live with them!
Hum to yourself and feel the vibrations in your cheeks
Eat your first bite of food for the day with all of your senses open and aroused. Let it last as long as you can.
Go to a natural place, like a yard, an urban park, or if you can, a wilderness area. Notice the smell of the grass. Touch a tree with both palms and hold yourself there for 30 seconds. Stop and stay a while. You may start to notice some of your physical stressors start to evaporate, as you remember: You are interconnected with the world around you, and your care for yourself extends to caring for this world. Trees are bad-fucking-ass, and you are too.
What do you do to recalibrate, slow down, and recharge your strength and offer care to yourself?
Molly Merson, MFT is a psychotherapist in Berkeley CA who offers relational psychotherapy for people learning how to love and understand themselves. She also hosts a “Self-care Staycation,” a half-day experiential retreat for a small group of folks wanting to kickstart or deepen their self-care opportunities. She makes sure people leave with tools and resources that can be used long after the retreat is over.