Friday, April 15, 2016

Hello, Lovely

Several weeks ago, I walked into church and saw a friend I hadn't seen in weeks. I'll call her Gabby for privacy's sake. Though there were several groups of people between us, I made like a fish swimming upstream and slowly worked my way through the sanctuary until I could get to her. As soon as I was close enough and we made eye contact, I broke into a huge smile, threw my arms around her, and said, "Hello, gorgeous!" In my embrace she gave a light, almost bitter laugh and replied, "I certainly don't feel gorgeous." As we parted, I realized she didn't have any make up on, her hair was carelessly put up, and her clothes were not as "up to standard" as what everyone has come to expect from her, simply because she is always so put together. And yet, she was beautiful.

It's rare these days that I don't greet my female friends with some variation of the way I greeted Gabby that day. "Hey, beautiful." "Hello, lovely." I don't say these words carelessly, but honestly. We live in a world that is so focused on outer beauty that we often forget that age old adage of beauty being more than skin deep. In this wonderful age where we are beginning to accept the fact that a woman doesn't have to be a size two or even a size twelve to be beautiful, we're still not quite yet there when it comes to looking beyond the flesh. Let's face it, men are visual creatures but women are just as visual. We pass someone on the street who is better dressed, taller, has better hair, and we think, "Ugh. Her life must be so perfect. I bet she's so stuck up." Who knows what men think? I don't know that I want to be privy to that information. The point is, we don't see someone like that and think, "I bet she has a generous spirit." We still, whether we mean to or not, on some level, let our eyes determine how we view others.

Don't think for a second that I think I am any different. I know I make snap judgements of others based on what I saw, especially strangers. How fair is that? Without getting to know someone, I think I have them all figured out just by seeing them across the room. That outfit must have cost a fortune; clearly she has money. Look at that piercing; such an attention seeker. Look at how short that skirt is; no standards and no shame.

But what if people did that to me? Now, I'm not a huge fan of this term, but I'll be the first to admit that I have resting bitch face, meaning if I am not smiling or making an active effort to show some kind of emotion on my face, I look ticked. I'm not. Generally, it takes a great deal to get me irritated enough to the point where I actually am angry. I've also been told I look like a lost or abandoned child. So, you know, my go-to faces aren't the best representative of who I am, yet people who don't know me see me and assume I am one way or another. They hear I am on disability and look at me only to see nothing wrong on the surface, which leads to other judgements.

Guys, we have got to stop doing this to each other. And by guys, I mean all of us. We have to stop assuming we know someone just by what we see. You can never know a person's heart by looking at the name brand shoes they're wearing or how well kept they are. I have found in my own life that there are people I have made snap judgements about, thinking, "I will never have anything in common with this person," who have gone on to be some of my closest, dearest friends.

That is what beauty really is. When you see a person and you light up because you know you can trust them, that you can be honest and vulnerable with them...I don't know anything more beautiful than the glow of someone who has someone invested in them and loving them for exactly who they are.

Ladies, if I see you and greet you with this compliment, people know that I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I don't care about your make up, your hair, your clothes...I care about you, and I do think you're beautiful. Love makes everyone beautiful, and there is no greater example of that than the unconditional love we receive from God. If He can look at a walking, talking mess like me and think, "That's my beautiful, precious daughter," the least I can do is try to look at others through His eyes. Who knows? My next life-long friend could be among those I have harshly misjudged because I was too distracted by what was on the outside to see what was on the inside.

That being said, I'm going to style my pink hair, put on my sparkly gray zebra print sweater, and go do some errands.

Friday, April 8, 2016

I See Your Game, Netflix

I'll be the first to admit that I have a bit of a Facebook addiction. It's one that I sometimes hate myself for when I've found myself scrolling through page after page of stupid memes, videos of animals, and pictures of food, quoting Paul when he cries, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do  I do not do, but what I hate I do." It would be a terrifying number to see if I added up all the minutes I wasted on social media instead of spending that time writing. I mean, the people I'm really interested in keeping up with, I talk to regularly as it is. Sounds harsh, but let's be honest with ourselves here. If we were really as "invested" in our Facebook "friends" in real life as we were online, we'd have much better relationships and less surface friendships.

That being said, social media has its merits. I don't have cable and I don't get the paper, so most of my news comes from social media links and articles. In fact it was through one of these articles that I recently found out that Netflix is quietly raising the price of their streaming service. Yes, you read that right. Old users who were "grandfathered" in when the new user price hike was enacted will now be charged $9.99 a month. For more information, check out this article. I don't agree with how secretive this increase has been and how they're going about letting people know about it - or not let them know about it as the case may be - but I don't think the hike itself is anything to shed tears or tear robes about.

Think about it. Netflix is like the fan fic writer we all want to be. It's the guy passing off story suggestions to other people but nothing he's suggesting is original content. Then one day his favorite show gets canceled or it doesn't end the way he wants it to (inset your own scenario here) and he decides to write his own ending and pass it around. He picked up where the story left off, or where it should have left off. The reviews on his stuff are so positive that he decides he's going to go out on a limb and start creating his own original works. Because he's taking on this new, full-time venture, he wants to get paid, and well he should.

Netflix has been creating more and more movies and shows that you can't watch anywhere else, and they are not cheaply made. Things like this cost money, and the demand for these new and exciting serials is growing day by day. Personally, I'd love to see more family related things than a lot of the sex-and-swear-filled stuff they're putting out there, but personal feelings aside, I understand supply and demand. You can't ask for more of something, for better quality of that something, and not expect to have to pay for it. It's really simple economics, especially if I understand it because economics make my head want to explode.

This was not the update I had planned for today, but the article sparked something in me and I wanted to try and help get the world out about the price hike so less people are blindsided. Also, I know I promised vlogs. They are coming, but it's taking a little longer to set up than I'd anticipated. I've got some really fun stuff coming for my channel, though, and I will certainly keep you posted.

So, readers, what are your favorite Netflix creations, and what do you love about them? I am always up for recommendations and love to know what others are into. Leave your comments below!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Why I May Look A Little Different

Goodness, has it really been almost a year since my last update? Well, nine months. Still! What a slacker I have been. Be prepared because that is about to change. I plan to start updating this thing once a week, probably every Friday. Also, every Friday I will be uploading vlogs on my YouTube channel. No link yet because nothing is really up that would interest anyone. Next week, though.

So it's April Fools. This is the worst day of the year. You can't believe anything you hear or see. Except for what you read here today. I can assure you 100% that I am not pulling anything over on you or just writing this for a laugh. This is completely serious. And a bit embarrassing. It's also something I've struggled with in silence for quite a few years now, and I'm tired of carrying the secret. When thinking about having a presence on social media this last month, I decided to opt for total transparency. Yes, some things I will keep to myself because everyone does. What I mean is that I will admit to struggles, to victories, the ideas I'm entertaining, I will share my faith, and I will share the days when my faith is lacking. That kind of transparency. So let's get started.

People who have known me for awhile know that I struggled with severe anxiety and depression in my early/mid twenties. My anxiety was so bad that I was borderline agoraphobic. Even going outside to check the mail made me anxious. I lived with it for awhile, but eventually I realized I needed help and went to a psychiatrist. He put me on something that was relatively new at the time, and experimental for people with my condition. I don't know whether it helped with my issues or not, but I took it daily because it was making me lose weight. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing it was making me lose. Day by day, I would notice more and more hair in my brush and in the shower. I've always had thin, fine hair to begin with, so losing hair was something that was easily noticed. It happened in patches, usually in spots that were easy to cover up with the right hair style. I don't know how long it took me to figure out that it was the meds, but eventually I did an internet search of the side effects of this particular drug. Lo and behold, I found an alarming number of women who had experienced the same thing. Some of them said their hair slowly began growing back once they stopped the meds, others said there hadn't been any regrowth to speak of yet.

Thankfully, most of the patches grew back. My hair was still very fine and very thin, but it worked. No on could tell I had lost so much hair. At least if they did, they never said anything to me about it, for which I am grateful. I was so fragile back then, who knows what that added weight would have done to me.

Now if that was where my story ended, it would be great. However, along with medication taking my hair, genetics are against me. Because the hair loss started so early and the genes handed down to me, the hair at the crown of my head never grew back in right. In 2014 I shaved my head, partially for St. Baldrick's and partially because I hoped shaving my head would help promote new growth. It didn't. Instead, while most of my hair grew out just as fine and thin as before (but healthy for the first time in ages) the crown of my head had gone into early retirement. I've been pretty successful at hiding it, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to do so as the giant bald patch on the top of my head spreads. I noticed just how big it was yesterday when trying to put my hair in a cute style, and lost it. I literally sat in my bathroom and just cried.

I've tried natural and chemical hair loss treatments, all of which only made more hair fall out. I have wigs and I've worn them before, but I can't style them the way I like to style hair. Either way, I feel like less of a woman. Let me tell you, when I was sobbing in my bathroom, Satan used that as a prime opportunity to slip in and remind me about all of my other imperfections and how I'm pretty much going to be alone for the rest of my life because what man could ever want that?

It was a struggle, but I made myself go to Celebrate Recovery last night, and I'm glad I did. It was freeing to share my struggles in such a safe place, to confess how much I was hurting to room full of women who, while probably unable to empathize, could certainly sympathize and offer me support just by listening. I needed that.

This morning, God and I had a talk. Let me tell you a little bit about my relationship with my heavenly Dad. He likes to pick on me. Being who He is, He knows sarcasm is one my love languages, and when we are deep into conversation with one another, he isn't afraid to slip a little snark in. I won't go into my prayer time because it's special and sacred to me, but long story short, I decided to try out the whole wig thing again. But this time it will be different. This time I'm not doing it to hide, to fade into the background and blend in. This time I am doing it with confidence. And a little adventure. I have two brunette wigs, a blonde, and a pink. I'm not going to be afraid to wear any of them, anywhere. Heck, I may even show up to church one day with rainbow colored hair. God doesn't care what color my hair (or my fake hair) is. He cares that I'm there. He cares that my heart is His and it longs to seek after Him and worship Him, and that is why I am there.

I'd really wanted to do this in a vlog because I tend to ramble on when I write, but also because I know this is a secret shame of a lot of women. Hair loss is not just for men, y'all. Not to take away from the pain men go through when losing their hair, but it's worse for a woman. Trust me on this. I don't think I've seen a bald or balding man yet that didn't wear it well when he owned it. It's hard to do that as a woman.

So the next time you see me, if I have short brown hair, long blonde curls, or pink pigtails, don't be surprised. It's still the same me, just with a little less shine up top.

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