Monday, December 11, 2017

Full Moon

A couple of months ago, I apparently did some sleep shopping (no, I don't take ambien).  I woke up to a confirmation from Amazon -- something about a moon lamp.  What the hell?!

Well, when the thing showed up, it was pretty damn cool.  So I thought I'd share a link.

Enjoy my full moon!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

How I yoga!

Over the years, my bag of yoga tricks has really grown.  I used to just use whatever props were at the gym or studio.  Recently, I started buying and using my own props.  A) I know I have what I need.  B) I know they are clean.  So, I thought I'd share some Amazon links on products that I actually use.

First is my mat.  I was extremely excited to find an extra-long (and decently thick) mat.  At almost six feet tall, my feet were always hanging off.  Now I fit!  I also ordered two to cushion my knees.  

  

Next up, I needed an extra wide bag to hold my two thick mats.  I looked everywhere for a good bag and couldn't find one I really liked.  I saw a fellow yogi with a similar bag to this one and so I took to Amazon to find one.  I love it!


I always carry a wedge with me.  I sit on it or put it under my heels when I squat.  It is extremely helpful when your heels refuse to touch the ground.


Although these aren't the blocks I have, I prefer the cork yoga blocks.  They are more sturdy than traditional blocks.  Blocks help raise the floor a bit if you're not extremely flexible in certain positions.


A yoga strap is also essential to my practice.


Anyway, these are just a few of my favorite things, which I use to help my inflexible ass during yoga!  Namaste...bitches!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Operation Upside Down: Month 5

Here we go.  Another month gone.  I can't believe I have finished five months of trying to go upside down already.  This month was way less exciting than last month.  I'm not suddenly busting out Iron X just because I went upside down once by myself.  You can read the Month 4 update HERE.

I don't feel like I gained or lost much this month.  I couldn't take lyra as much because I had an appointment on Monday nights.  And Thanksgiving was last week, so class was canceled.  I am writing this on the final Thursday of the month but I feel a cold coming on and my head hurts so going upside down doesn't sound fun.

It looks like I will be adding two more lunch time yoga classes at work next year, so that should help with strength and flexibility.  However, I may also be facing more surgery to fix the last surgery (which was fixing the last surgery before that).  If I go forward with that, its another three plus months off the pole.  I still haven't decided what I am going to do.

So here's how the rest of my month went.

Early in the month, trying the bad side:




Monkeying around:




Almost!




And some more trying..







Scary but super cool:




Take 2:




False start, but then we go upside down:




Scary for me:




I'm not touching the ground!




Getting back to lyra after almost a month off was difficult...my hands hurt!




It all hurts, actually...




I'm still progressing, although I know I'm not working as hard as I could to get to where I'd like to be.  Still, I do often like to take the long, meandering path, and I am still enjoying the journey, so I won't beat myself up too much.  See you next month!

How I got thicker lashes after destroying mine...

Pretty lashes but they left me bald!
Yesterday I wrote about my favorite false lashes.  The problem with applying lashes is that the glue generally rips some of my own personal stash of lashes out when I pull the falsies off.  A couple of years ago, I started looking into those products that promise to give you longer, fuller lashes.  The biggie was a prescription that was expensive and had a potential side effect of turning blue eyes brown.  (In the interest of full disclosure, my true eye color is brown, those blue contacts are pretty fun, though.  I wasn't sure I wanted to touch my eyes with a product that had that power, however.)

Anyway, a friend told me about Mavala.  She said she had been using it and liked it.  It was a lot less expensive than the prescription and I could get it on Amazon.  So I ordered some.  I applied it like mascara randomly here and there.  It never really did anything, but I also wasn't following instructions or applying it on a regular basis.

I've been seeing more and more lash thickening products on Facebook.  My first issue with most of them is that their "before" photo is someone's regular ol' sad lashes with no mascara.  And their "after" photo always has them wearing mascara!  It makes me crazy!!!  Of course they look longer and fuller!

Regular ol' lashes
So a few months ago, I applied my big ol' fake lashes, using the "good expensive" glue and that evening I essentially ripped half of my real lashes out (for the record, I like to use cheap drug store glue because it keeps my false lashes on but rips out fewer real lashes upon removal).  Anyway, my eyes felt naked and I decided to pull that Mavala out again and see if it would help.  This time, instead of just applying it like mascara, under the lashes, every night I applied it over the lashes, at the lash line, and on my eyelids.  Within six weeks, my lashes were completely back, and WAY fuller than they were before.  I didn't notice a difference in the length (and doubt most of those other ones are making them longer either) but they were noticeably fuller.  I wish I had bothered to take a before photo for you to compare!  All I can do is say I swear this product worked for me...pinkie promise (Seneti's new favorite phrase).  And, had I bothered to apply it twice a day like the instructions called for, perhaps they would have grown in even faster.  Today, I still apply it right before bedtime.

So if you are looking for a lash thickener, check out Mavala!  You can get in on the Amazon link below.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The path of least resistance

In June 2008, I hiked Half Dome with my friend, John.  I was in fairly decent shape, and didn't necessarily train for it.  I was 215 pounds, which is a good weight for me (about ten pounds less than I am now).  I read several sites about Half Dome and most seemed to think that as long as you were in semi-decent shape, this was a completely do-able (although not necessarily easy) hike.  John had hiked it many times and I think his best time was six hours up and back.  Apparently he thought my long legs liked to move fast and we decided to drive up, hike and drive back in one day.  I may have long legs but I don't walk very quickly, and I also seem to enjoy making things more difficult than they need to be.

We got in the car around 4:30 AM to make the three-plus hour drive to Yosemite.  After a couple of stops and getting ourselves set up, we were on the trail by 9:00 AM.  No big deal, right?  It is a 14 mile (round trip) hike if you take the waterfall trail up.  If he could do it in six hours and our friend AJ said she could do it in eight, I wouldn't take more than ten hours.  It was summer.  We'd be off the trail and back in the car by the time the sun was down.

WRONG!

John walks fast.  Lori does not.  We hiked most of the trail together, but then he would get ahead of me and I'd lose him for awhile.  He would find a log or a rock, he would sit and take conference calls, and I'd round the corner to see him resting.  And all I wanted to do was rest, but he wanted to keep us on schedule.  By the time we got to the cables that lead you to the top of Half Dome, I was pretty much done with that fucking backpack I was carrying.  Who the hell suggested all this frozen Gatorade that weighs 87 pounds?!  I was ready to throw it off the side of the mountain, but John took it from me and carried both packs.  The switchbacks to get to the cables almost killed me.  John just kept saying: put one foot in front of the other.  And the cables can be pretty scary, especially when you have people coming down as you're trying to go up.  But, we made it.  There was no other option.  Making it to the top was like nothing I had experienced before.  I've never had to physically exert myself like that.  The view was amazing.  The feeling of accomplishment was indescribable.  (And the marmot trying to steal our food was pretty cute.)  We didn't get to spend much time at the top because it was going to get dark and we needed to get back on the trail.  Coming down the cables was terrifying.  I had to turn around and back down so I wasn't staring down certain death (over and over I imagined myself falling over the side...don't Google those stories, because they exist).  I believe it was around 5:00 PM when we started down the cables.  Eight hours in and we were barely heading back, but walking down a mountain should be WAY faster than going up, right?!

John learned something about me on the trail down.  I don't like to be followed.  And I walk very quickly when someone is behind me.  He probably wished he had known that on the way up.  We may have made it up a lot faster!  Anyway, as we were walking down the trail (we decided to forego the shorter trail down as it was slick with water from the waterfall, thereby adding two miles to our hike), we were using flashlights, trying to avoid the uneven trails, listening for the bears and mountain lions that were certainly waiting in the dark to eat us.  I would wander all over the trail trying to avoid rocks or other dips.  John kept yelling: LORI, TAKE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE!

I had no clue what he was talking about.  In my mind, I WAS taking the path of least resistance.  I was avoiding those stupid rocks and potholes that were clearly trying to trip me and roll my ankle.  I just kept doing what I was doing.  I didn't realize he wanted me to just walk a straight line and step over the shit in my way so that we could get down the trail faster.

There had to be a point where John wanted to just throw me off that fucking mountain and be done with me -- just like my backpack!  John doesn't want to go to jail.  John is a good friend.

Almost ten years later, I finally get what John was saying to me.  I find I like to make life difficult sometimes.  More difficult than it needs to be.  It is easy to blame other people for making me feel a certain way, when I had control of how I felt (and where I stepped) the entire time.  Sorry it took me a decade to understand, John, but I finally get it.  And I don't need to return to Half Dome to learn.  (I did try to hike Half Dome again in 2009, but didn't make it to the top...my quad seized up and I decided I better head back down before I had a repeat late return.)  I think I am finally finding that peace I have been searching for and am ready to let my life just go with the flow so I can enjoy my time here.

I know.  I know.  At this point, you're probably thinking, who gives a shit about your spiritual awakening!?  What time did you get back to the car??  11:00 PM.  It took another six hours to get down the trail.  The entire hike was 16 miles and took 14 hours (I was wearing a watch that tracked the calories you burn and I burned over 10,000 that day).  We still had a long drive home.  John found a park ranger who let us into the closed showers so we could at least clean up.  Then we got into the car to drive back.  John drove first but he started talking to people who weren't in the car with us, so I took over for awhile.  About an hour and a half into the drive, I realized we were going to die if we kept going in that state.  I pulled over and got a hotel room.  At that point, we had been up for almost 24 hours, and I had been through the most physically grueling thing I had ever experienced.  I don't think I've ever slept so hard in my life.  I was sore for an entire week.  It is on my list of top five life experiences, though.  I'm glad I did it but I don't know that I ever need to do it again.

I've been thinking about this trip a lot lately and the lesson it took me so long to learn.  I really appreciate John's patience with me and am pretty proud of myself for finally learning the lesson.  Better late than never!





Those crazy lashes I like to wear...

If you know me, you know I love a reason to dress up and put on fancy lashes.  I wanted to share the lashes I've been wearing for the last year or so.

These are Arimika mink lashes from Amazon.  I've worn them at least ten times and they are still going strong.  They don't need any mascara since they are so thick so I just peel the glue off and they are ready for the next time!

Everyone asks if they feel heavy.  I guess they do when you first put them on but you get used to them pretty quickly.  People also ask how I apply them.  Applying false lashes just takes some practice.  Take a Saturday when you don't have anything going on and try applying them then lay around the house.  I also put black liner on before I try to glue them so minor mistakes aren't as obvious. 

Check out the Amazon link below if you want to try some crazy lashes!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The softest feet ever...

A year or so ago, I tried Baby Foot after reading some threads on Facebook.  I read the instructions and it does tell you that your feet will peel about a week after you use the product.  I put the bags on my feet for an hour, washed them off, noted absolutely nothing was different, and then completely forgot about it.  About five days later, I thought my feet were falling off.  I was shedding skin like a snake.  It is impressive and disgusting all at the same time.  Peeling the skin off is insanely gratifying, even if its super gross (I'm pretty sure the instructions tell you not to do it).  And it gave me the softest feet I've probably had since I was a baby.  I warn about the peeling because, if you're a pole dancer (or someone who is barefoot often), you're going to want to time it right (the peeling lasted several days).  Otherwise, you will look like you have some crazy foot disease in class.  But it is completely worth it!  And it lasted for a good six months.

So give Baby Foot a try!


Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Feet!

In 2013, I had plantar fascial release surgery on my right foot.  It was determined I had a bone spur and the spur was touching the fascia, which was causing pain.  My theory was that I went from working a job that allowed me to wear yoga pants and flip flops all day to commuting to San Francisco on BART and had to wear "real shoes."  After years of only wearing flippies, my feet didn't like real shoes.  My podiatrist tried to tell me I would never walk barefoot or be able to wear flip flops again.  I don't think so.  I live in California.  I wear flip flops unless its snowing.

It took almost a year after surgery for my foot to stop hurting.  I got maybe six pain-free months before my feet started to hurt again.  I started having the graston technique (you can read one of those blogs HERE), which helped a lot.  I also imagine losing weight helped.  I still dance and walk barefoot without issue and have not given up my flip flops.  My feet have been pain-free for probably two years.  

I DO, however, wear super comfy flippies.  I use oofos, which are like pillows for your feet!  If you have sore tootsies, check them out!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Want to get a discount on Artista's new line?

Artista Apparel has released some new clothing, and I am SO excited!

Check out the new winter line here:  https://artistaapparel.com/collections/new

The cage top and criss-cross top are going to be PERFECT for my out-of-control boobs.  I'm also going to pick up the go-go shorts, both for pole and for bathing suit bottoms.  I am a sucker for comfy pants, so I will need the jogger pants.  (The circus pants have been my faves for awhile...you can still find those HERE.)  I'm feeling those rompers too.  Seriously, I'm like a kid in a candy store right now.  (My favorite pole outfit, pictured below, is the Midsummer Night print, which you can still find HERE).

Christmas is coming!  Treat yourself!  And don't forget to use ABALM10 for 10% off non-sale items at checkout.

The Midsummer Night print is one of my favorites!  Photo by LockBox Studios ~ 2017.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sticking Power for Pole Dancers

Each pole dancer has their own routine.  The soaps they do (or don't) use.  Avoiding lotion.  Not showering too close to class time.  The products they slather on.  All to stick to that damn pole.

I have a bag of products.  An entire bag full of products...that I don't use.  This one helps you stick.  This one helps you if you're too dry, which makes you slick.  This one helps you not sweat so you're not overly slick.  This one is chalky.  This one is a clear spray.  This one is literally glue, so be careful.  This one will stick to the pole and ruin it if you use too much, so you have to scrub to get it off you and the pole.  And if you come behind a pole dancer who rudely doesn't clean up after him or herself, you're scrubbing to save your own skin so that their stick doesn't ruin your class.  None of them really work for me.  I've always blamed it on my lack of strength, and also lack of stick-to-itiveness (no pun intended) since I rarely tried hard to stick (again...) most of my moves. 

Then Janet (from Twirly Girls) wrote a post about a lotion she uses.  Aveeno.  What?  You've got to be kidding me.  You can wear lotion on pole days?  But I've spent the last seven plus years avoiding any kind of moisture on the day of class so I can stick!  Well, she was right and now I have a new routine. 

First, in the morning, I shower with Dr. Bronner's castile soap (Mrs. Meyer's or J.R. Watkins works too).  I currently like lavender (just my own preference).  I used to use Dr. Bronner's peppermint liquid soap but it was a bit intense.  I switched to the lavender bar soap recently, and find it works well for me too.  I shave my legs with sensitive shave gel (shaving cream actually is a product some people use for pole).  And then I lotion up with Aveeno.  I use no other products to stick to the pole.  I included some links to Amazon below if you'd like to try any of the products out.

Tell me your sticky secrets in the comment section below.  Happy poling!




 

  

 
Strangely, even though I am sure this has some moisturizers in it, this makes my legs feel less slick: 


I have also used this, not to shave with, but on my hands on poling days:

 
And last, but not least, the icing on the cake!  I notice a huge difference in my ability to climb on days I forget to put lotion on.

About Last Night

About seven years ago, I connected with a photographer named Steve Gatlin on Facebook.  He ran The Beauty Project, and contacted me about doing a nude or semi-nude/implied nudity photoshoot.  I would have been a little over six months into a new relationship and less than four months into being a Twirly Girl.  I can tell from the conversation on Facebook messenger that I was wary of what he was looking for.  I knew the pole industry was "fighting" the "stripper stigma" (which makes it sound like I'm against strippers, but I'm not).  It was probably also around the same time we had a really shitty experience with a few fire stations treating us really horribly, acting like we were hookers trying to swing naked around their poles (although one station was super awesome and now I have a life-long friend in Earl!).  I'm sure I was also concerned that my ex would be uncomfortable with me being naked around another dude and on the internet.

So what has happened in the last seven years?

Mostly?  I stopped giving a fuck.

I got out of the relationship that I never should have been in.  And I've become more comfortable in my own skin.

A year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about being naked (read that HERE).  I posted a photo wearing underwear and facing away from the camera, so you can't really see anything.  It spawned a conversation from some "concerned" do-gooder who felt compelled to basically tell me I must still care or I wouldn't feel compelled to post things like that at all (nudity is popular apparently...that blog had almost 1,400 views, when most of my blogs have 100-500 views).  I feel like being part of the body acceptance movement is part of my life purpose.  So, yeah, I do feel like posting photos and blogs that spark a conversation about the topic are important.  I certainly don't want to make my family uncomfortable, but I feel like for the general public, if you don't like what you see, move along.  Here's my new life mantra: mind your own fucking business.

Anyway, Steve popped back up recently and asked if I was ready to do a shoot and I said I was.  I recruited Marisa of Chunky Girl Comics to join me and off we went on our adventure to meet a complete stranger off the internet and take our clothes off in public.  What could possibly go wrong?

Our ominous sign came as we drove over the bridge and a spider appeared on the inside of my windshield.  I froze.  Marisa to the rescue as she found a tissue and squished the spider -- thereby saving both of our lives.  Not all heroes wear capes!

We met Steve at a sports bar just to break the ice.  Steve is an extremely easy guy to get along with.  He is ridiculously tall, which could have been intimidating.  But he quickly put us at ease -- and was a complete teddy bear.  The shoots are always at night.  We planned to shoot at a beach by San Quentin federal prison with the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the background.  It was freezing outside.  I quickly forgot my concern about getting naked in public and mostly worried my nipples would freeze off during the shoot.  We drove down to the beach and started getting set up.  I really thought that I would be shy about dropping my sweatshirt in front of a stranger when it came time to shoot, but it really wasn't that difficult.  Steve would set up the shot, we'd drop our cover, take one 7 second exposure (he shoots with real film) and a second 10 second exposure.  Then we'd cover up.  We were naked for maybe 30 seconds.  As we set up my very first shot, I saw a woman walking by above us on the cliff/sidewalk.  She was very clearly being nosy and trying to figure out what we were doing, so I waited until she passed before I dropped my sweatshirt.  I did a couple shots.  Marisa did a couple of shots.  Then Steve ran up to the car to get something.

Marisa and I were waiting on the beach with our covers on when we suddenly noticed two flashlights.  We saw a police officer walking along the cliff toward the stairs that would lead to us.  Oh shit.

"Officer Mike" (names are changed to protect the innocent) came down to ask what we were doing.  We explained The Beauty Project (celebrating all kinds of body types).  He explained that someone complained that people were shooting photos naked on the beach (dumb bitch...mind your own business).  He asked if we were naked.  We admitted we were (under our sweatshirts).  (Side note: First off, it was after 9 PM down on a dark beach.  No kids would be wandering by.  Second off, you had to work pretty hard to see us.  So we were hardly walking naked down the middle of the street in a neighborhood.)  He asked if we were there of our own free will.  Yes we were.  And, once it was clear we were there willingly, and clearly not shooting porn, he joked with us a bit (wanted to know when he could do his own shoot).  He said we couldn't be naked on the beach, and he was so cool about it that we couldn't disrespect him, so we packed up and changed locations.  He, however, unwittingly provided us with entertainment for the rest of the evening.  

We moved to a park in an former Air Force Base after the beach (the first photo above was shot there).  While we are on that subject, you're probably asking: hey why is there only one  finished photo shown on this blog?  Well, last time I posted a blog with implied nudity, someone must have reported it and blogspot got mad at me.  I'm trying to avoid having this post removed.  If you want to find the photos of me, Marisa or other participants, please visit the Facebook page HERE.

Sorry.  Back to covert location number 2.  We were in this amphitheater surrounded by trees.  It was a really cool (no pun intended) park -- beautiful, but even colder than the beach.  There were some kids or crackheads arguing in a car in the parking lot, which provided us with some entertainment (plus, it seemed a little naughty that they could look up in the trees and see us running around nude at any moment).  While we were shooting, deer kept stepping on sticks amongst the trees, then coming out to eat grass.  Any time we heard a noise, we thought it must be Officer Mike's drone coming to check on us.  I guess you had to be there, but it was pretty hilarious at the time.  (In addition to The Beauty Project, we got to be part of two other projects for Steve, and I am really excited for him to announce those in the near future.)  We shot until damn near midnight, then we headed home.  Marisa and I really enjoyed the experience and thank Steve for his time and patience with our silly asses.

So, despite my concerns about being naked, this entire experience was really fantastic.  (I am also strangely proud that I was part of the cops being called only the third time in 16 years of Steve shooting photos for this project.)  I do have to say that seeing my photos go live on Instagram and Facebook was a lot more stressful than taking the photos.  I guess I still don't want to upset my family, and I'd hate for my co-workers to see me nude (I mean, as far as they know, I'm a middle aged chick who barely wears make-up and wears frumpy clothes....I don't even think they know I have boobs).  But for the most part, I am extremely proud of the photos and suggest anyone interested contact Steve for their own photoshoot!

Monday, November 20, 2017

I wasn't lying...I AM a unicorn!

You guys...let's talk about onesies.

I never would have guessed when I bought my first Batman onesie a few years ago, it would start an addiction.  I hate sleeping in pj's but footed pj's with a hat seems completely reasonable.

I freaking LOVE onesies.  And I believe everyone should own one.

Happy unicorn hunting...
















Friday, November 17, 2017

Something for Nothing

Something I do well?  I spend money.  I don't even need an occasion.  If I see something I want, I buy it. 

Last night, Jade was telling me about ebates -- a website that gives you cash back for shopping through their site.  Then she mentions that Amazon is on ebates with a 6% cash return!  Are you kidding me?!  I drop thousands on Amazon every year!  I'm trying not to grind my teeth over the cash back opportunities I have missed. 

Anyway, I signed up for ebates.  You shop at places you already love, but now you get cash in your pocket.  Macy's: 3%.  Ebates hotels: 7%.  They have over 2,000 online stores, broken down by category and name.  Just click and shop.

Christmas is coming!

They gave me a referral code, which is linked below, and I wanted to share it.  Sign up and you'll get $10 (once you're in, you can refer people to sign up and get even more cash).  Pretty sweet, huh. 

Happy shopping!

Lori's ebates referral code!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Watercolors Shampoo and Conditioner

Purple!
I learned quickly when I first went red five or six years ago that red washes out of your hair FAST.  For a long time I rocked a "black cherry" wine red.  I used Tressa Watercolors shampoo to help keep the red in a little longer.  Sure, it looked like I murdered someone in my shower, but the red didn't fade as quickly (and it washes down so it never stained my shower or hands).  I tried to go blonde again and it just never worked with my pale skin tone, so I went back to red almost two years ago.  I started having my stylist add more and more purple -- first because I like purple and second because I had hoped it wouldn't fade as quickly as red.  While it does still fade a bit, I went looking for Tressa Watercolors again to see if they had something to help.  They do have a violet shampoo (which is technically to help keep blonde hair bright), but I find it helps keep my purple hair from fading as quickly too.  They also have a clear conditioner.  It is all sulfate-free, which is better for our hair anyway!


Tressa Watercolors violet shampoo:

http://amzn.to/2zMqpZG

Tressa Watercolors red shampoo:

http://amzn.to/2imARQ0

Tressa clear conditioner:

http://amzn.to/2yKpXtr


Purple and a snapchat filter :)

Red



Monday, November 13, 2017

Remember that backless, strapless sticky bra?

A few months ago, I saw a Facebook video of a girl with large breasts using the backless, strapless sticky bra.  I saw the infamous Nelly the Uncensored Reviewer's video as well.  So I bought one and did my own review (the video got quite a few views...I guess people love boobs!).  Check it out below.  I am wearing it under the bathing suit in this photo. 

If you want to try it out, the Amazon link is below the video. 



 
 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

That bathing suit I wore...

I get requests all the time for information on the bandage bathing suit I wore for the Las Vegas photoshoot with LockBox Studios and the Twirl for a Cause performance in September.  I figured the best way to link it was to write about it here!

It is a $17 bathing suit on Amazon.  No joke.  I believe it goes up to XL (I am a size 16 and I felt like it was comfortable, so an 18 should easily be able to wear it).  I am a little over 5'10" and weigh 225 pounds.   I am also linking a video of me performing in it so you can see how well it stayed in place (forgive me...I can't walk in shoes so this isn't my best performance). 

Happy shopping!





 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Everything Happens For A Reason

I've noticed as I spend more time becoming aware of the synchronicities in my life -- how things are connected, coincidences, and how a single moment in time can lead me down a new path -- it seems everything does happen for a reason.  I've seen some pretty nasty fights go down on Facebook over this statement.  No, it doesn't mean that if bad things happen, it's because you're a bad person, or even if good things happen, you're a good person.  Bad shit happens to everyone, and horrible people do sometimes win.  No, you didn't do anything to "deserve" losing your loved one long before their time should have been up.  And no, that guy isn't so awesome that he "deserved" to win the lottery and become a millionaire.  For me, it's more about seeing the connection between my attitude and what it brings into my life. 

Let's take this morning, for instance.  I woke up to a nail in my tire.  Luckily, I was leaving for work early and it was drivable.  I took it to a tire shop where they were able to give me two new tires in about 30 minutes.  Did I want to spend the $500 on new tires?  Not really, especially considering my recently-changed financial situation.  But was I able to pay for them without seriously causing pain to my wallet?  Yes, I was, and I was grateful for that.  I got to work about 45 minutes late.  I found out our card readers weren't working properly, and no one was actually able to get into the building until about 15 minutes after my normal start time.  That means, I technically didn't lose that much work time this morning.  Obviously, this isn't a life-changing incident, but of all the days to have to get to work late, sounds like this was the one. 

Last month, my roommate of two and a half years gave notice, saying he would be moving back to Italy.  An acquaintance asked if I would consider letting him move in instead of placing an ad for a new roommate.  I said yes.  The roommate tried to take back his notice, and I told him I had a replacement so he would have to leave.  With about a week to go before the end of the month, the replacement backed out, leaving me with very little time to find a new replacement, and the current roommate had already found a place to stay until he moved.  I panicked for a minute, then I decided I would be fine.  I took a hard look at my budget and decided I could make it work without a roommate.  I had placed an ad on Craigslist, but decided I wouldn't worry if I didn't get any good potentials.  Then I spent a few days alone in my roommate-free house, and I remembered how much I disliked living with strangers.  I decided I would not be replacing my roommate.  For probably the first time in the entire seven and a half years I've lived in this place, I actually enjoy coming home (before this roommate, I had a really terrible college student for a year; and before that, I lived there with my ex-boyfriend -- before that, I hadn't lived with a roommate since my early 20's).  Even though the replacement flaking at the last minute stressed me out, had he not said he wanted to move in, I may have caved when the roommate asked to cancel his notice, and I would still be sitting here (either with the current roommate or with the replacement), not really enjoying the space in which I spend a good portion of my life.  Everything happens for a reason.

Last weekend, my friend came over to give me some decorating advice.  She thought I should move my bed to a different wall.  Last night, I decided to do that.  That bed has been in the same place for seven years.  Apparently someone spilled something behind one of the night stands.  The wall and carpet were destroyed.  The paint was peeling, there was some mold, and the sheetrock had eroded away.  Everything was dry, though, and I haven't spent much time on that side of the bed since my ex moved out about four years ago, so I have to assume this happened a long time ago and I've just been breathing in those mold spores for years.  I spent last night scraping mold, bleaching, drying, and spackling the hole in the wall.  So, had we not discussed redecorating, my bed would still be sitting in the same spot, and I would have no clue that there was a portal to another dimension in my wall.

Almost three years ago, a former co-worker sent me a job ad.  I wasn't job hunting, so I immediately forwarded it to another friend who was potentially looking for work.  She called me and said that another friend we had in common (someone I went to high school with, had worked with in a law firm, and had lost touch with), was the one leaving the position (for another position in the organization) and was waiting for my resume.  I said I wasn't looking for work but wanted her to apply for the position.  She encouraged me to reconsider.  So I threw my hat in the ring.  That led to me being hired for the best job I've had in my entire life.  Over two and a half years after starting this position, I still enjoy coming to work.  I love the people.  I find the work interesting.  Even though I wasn't job hunting, this job fell into my lap for a reason.  It got me out of stressful litigation work (which I had done for 20 years, and didn't realize you didn't have to work a job where it was a nightly occurrence to wake up with a start thinking you forgot to do something), and into a job where I feel like I am actually making a difference and helping people. 

My last story will be a little bit more of an interesting path my life has followed.  The person I dated most recently lives a couple of hours away from me.  But for how we met, there probably would never have been a reason for our paths to cross.  We met "randomly" last May.  He was the pilot on one of the activities on the adventure pass Jade bought for us.  I knew Jade from the pole dance world.  We met about seven years ago on a pole dance website, and I introduced her to Twirly Girls.  We were at a Twirly Girls event a couple of years ago and we started talking more often and bonded.  I had gone through a break up with my ex and was navigating the ridiculous world of online dating apps.  I essentially hadn't been single in over a decade and she became my dating guru.  The reason I found Twirly Girls was because an old high school friend had received an email about the studio opening in Pleasanton and a group of five or six of us made an appointment to take a class in December 2009.  Everyone but Rita flaked.  Rita and I have now been Twirly Girls for almost eight years.  The reason I reconnected with that old high school friend was because she was having weight loss surgery and someone suggested me as a good resource for information, so she found me on Facebook and asked if we could meet to discuss my experience.  (On a side note, she was also indirectly the reason I ended up meeting the ex I spent six years with.)  So, quite literally, had I not been fat, had gastric bypass surgery, and ultimately found Twirly Girls and Jade, it's possible I would not have ever met the person I dated the last year and a half.  I know that will be a stretch for some of you, but I still think it is an interesting quick look at how things happen in our lives, which shape who we are, and send us in new directions.  Everything happens for a reason. 

The best thing I can do is choose to see the things that happen, and the people I meet, as lessons that help me grow and become a better person.  I can very easily get bogged down in negativity and "why me" syndrome.  Instead, I find it easier to deal with difficult times by finding the lesson, staying positive and not letting myself spiral into depression.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Operation Upside Down: Month 4

BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did it.  I went upside down.  By myself.  Before we get there, check out my month three update HERE.  And now...rejoice...Even if it's a pretty sloppy attempt, that looks like upside down to me!



WHAAAAAAT....

So I had another light month.  I went to San Luis Obispo and Disneyland last month and had a work event, so I missed a couple of classes, but I am still progressing.  Check out some other highlights from October below.

October 5:







October 9:







October 12:










October 30:




I'm pretty pleased with my progress.  I will have to take a lyra break in November as I have an appointment on Mondays all month after work.  But I will try to step up my yoga and pilates reformer at home to keep myself from losing any strength.  I also need to drag my lazy butt up to start doing squats again in the mornings.  I have no booty! 

See you next month! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Unicorn's Journey Toward Enlightenment

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a R E A L L Y long blog about the Rebel & Muse yoga retreat I attended (you can read that HERE).  I feel like my posts in general lately have been following a new path.  I wanted to talk about my journey and how I ended up where I am today.

I feel like I didn't wake up until I was probably 38 years old -- about three years ago.  I hadn't taken great care of my body, mind or spirit for most of my life, and it was time to start making myself a priority. 

In 2004, I weighed almost 350 pounds and had gastric bypass to lose weight.  Although I got down to 180 pounds, I ended up with a lot of health issues related to mal-absorption.  I also never learned how to deal with my un-diagnosed eating disorder, and losing my ability to self-medicate with food pushed me into a very bad place.  I started taking anti-depressants, started gaining weight, and felt like I was essentially un-doing the surgery.  I started the yo-yo weight loss/gain again.  Up to 220 pounds.  Down to 200.  Back up.  Back down.  The pendulum was really starting to swing.

In 2014, I started working with Ellen on my health issues (my first blog about it can be found HERE).  Working with Ellen has been life changing because she understood my issues (even if she has been frustrated by my snail's pace).  I do have disordered eating issues.  I can't just cut every "bad" food out of my life at once.  It would trigger a binge that would have me gaining weight at a ridiculous rate.  She has been extremely patient and has helped me significantly cut the amount of sugar I ingest, and convinced me to go gluten-free earlier this year to help with my psoriasis (you can read that HERE).  I have gone from 263 pounds (in 2013) to 226 pounds today (I haven't been this weight since 2009).  Although the goal was never to lose weight (it was always about bettering my health), the weight just came off as I made healthier choices.  I also stopped guilting and shaming myself when I made "bad" choices, or for how my body looked (and tried to stop assigning "good" or "bad" descriptions to food in general).  Honestly, that is probably equally as responsible for helping me lose weight as eating better foods.  I never "dieted" or restricted calories.  I never felt hungry.  I just existed, ate higher quality food, and increased my "good fat" intake.  I also take the supplements that Ellen suggested.  I have never felt better.  Step one.

Step two.  I had a bit of a spiritual awakening in probably 2015.  I grew up in a religious household and am not a fan of organized religion.  I have always been open to spirituality, but didn't embrace it until more recently -- as I figured out how to separate spirituality from man-made religion.  I choose to believe that we are all connected in the Universe.  And I believe we get back what we put out into the Universe.  If I am stressing and angry and negative, I feel like I get more negativity back.  But if I use positive thinking, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, yoga, being aware of (and dealing with) my feelings as they happen (instead of stuffing them), I am better able to handle more difficult times.  Jade has been a huge help in this department.  She has helped me keep my shit together (or held my hand as I lost my shit for a period of time) on more occasions than I can count.  I will forever be grateful for her friendship and her love (and her patience, because, honestly, I would have punched me in the face a long time ago). 

Is that a unicorn horn in your pants or are you just happy to see me?!
I make a huge effort every day to wake up and list the things for which I am grateful.  My family.  My friends.  My health.  A fun job.  A place to live.  Food on the table.  Adventures.  All the basics, but really I spend the most time appreciating the blessings in my life -- the awesome people.  I also end each evening this way.  I journal as well.  Sometimes I talk about good things.  Sometimes I talk about frustrations.  I actually have two journals going now.  One is my general go-to journal.  The other is my 108 Day Rituals for Transformation.  I love this journal because it has a theme for the day.  You read it, meditate on it, write an affirmation for the day (which I enter into my calendar on my phone with reminders a few times that day), then you have two journaling sections: one for the morning and the other for the evening (encouraging you to show gratitude for what you learned that day).  I am about half way through and I feel like it truly helps me start (and end) each day right. 

In relationships, I have been a serial monogamist.  I spent six years with someone in my late teens to early 20's.  I spent four and a half years with someone in my late 20's to early 30's.  I then spent six years of my 30's with my third long term boyfriend.  Never once was marriage even a consideration with any of these men.  Each of them was (obviously) the wrong person and there were red flags early on that I ignored.  I could spend time being upset that I "wasted" time with them, but I find it easier to see the lessons I learned and applied to my next relationship.  I have certainly grown with each one.  I can  honestly say that I woke up and the almost year and a half that I spent in my last "relationship" was the happiest and most rewarding, even if he still wasn't "the one."  It actually probably taught me the most of any of my previous relationships -- not just about what I don't want in a relationship, but what I do want.  And that's because I truly allowed myself to feel.  I spent a lot of years stuffing my feelings with food or shopping or other addictions.  I could allow myself to feel anger, but that was about it.  I feel like recognizing what I need out of a relationship, and what I have to offer as a partner, setting boundaries and speaking up about my expectations was step three in my transformation. 

One of my recent journal prompts talked about accepting that we are all perfect.  Ugh.  I have spent so much time telling myself we aren't perfect and that's ok!  No one is perfect.  Life isn't perfect.  But what if that's how it's all supposed to go, which does make it perfect.  Perfectly imperfect if that will help me accept it. 

I'm really in a good place right now.  The pieces of the puzzle are snapping together and, although my puzzle is still being solved, the clues are more clear and I'm finding my pieces faster.  I want to thank everyone who has been part of my journey.  I truly understand now that life IS a journey.  I know it seems so cliche, but it's so true.  I can only move forward from here, there is no reason to move backwards, and I am extremely excited about what the future holds for me.  And you.  We are all in this together. 

Some photos throughout my life (the making of a Unicorn):

1977 - forever a nudist

Approx. 1986

Approx. 1994

Approx. 2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2009

2010

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017