Monday, February 29, 2016

A Letter to Cheryl Tiegs - Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 8

Dear Ms. Cheryl Tiegs, 

First things first.  Just to get perceptions out of the way and so you are fully informed.  I am a plus size woman.  

Truth is, I've always been a plus size.  The last time I wore single digit clothing was around 1985, a few years after you graced the cover of SI's Swimsuit Issue for the third and final time.  I hadn't hit puberty yet.

As an adult, the smallest I've ever been was a size 12/14.  Let me tell you how I was able to achieve that size.  It took a year of dieting, obsessive exercising, and the use of diet pills.  That's right - diet pills.  Even then, my waist circumference never got smaller than 35 inches.  I may have been at my smallest, but I definitely wasn't healthy.  How could I have been, taking diet pills after all?  After that, I decided that if maintaining that level of thinness required me to use diet pills, then I'd rather take my chances with being overweight.

As a plus sized woman who has genuinely tried to be thin in her lifetime, I take offense to the comments you made while on the red carpet at the Global Green USA Pre-Oscar Party last Wednesday regarding a plus size woman finally making the cover of SI's Swimsuit Issue.  Just in case you have forgotten, let me refresh your memory. According to several print and video sources online, you said, 
"I don't like that we're talking about full-figured women because it's glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]. That's what Dr. Oz said, and I'm sticking to it," You went on to explain, "No, I don't think it's healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don't think it's healthy in the long run."
For the record, Cheryl, may I call you Cheryl, Ashley Graham has a waist circumference less than 35 inches.  According to what you said, even though she's a plus sized model, her waist measurement falls into your acceptable, "healthy" range.  So, as you can imagine, I'm a bit perplexed.  If her measurements are your defined healthy range, why are you taking issue with SI's decision to feature a plus size model on its cover?

You tweeted your apology and stated that you just want everyone to be "happy and healthy."  Was that truly your motivation for going public with your thoughts?  I'm not you, I have no idea of your thought processes or intrinsic motivations, but I have some doubts that you really had the health and best interests of plus sized women in mind when you made those remarks.  

I can't help but wonder if you saw an opportunity to grandstand, to stir the pot, to create a little controversy, and then bask in the short lived limelight with the free publicity you have received.  I don't mean to sound harsh, but to be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten about you.  The last time I remember hearing anything about you was back in the late 1980s when I purchased something from your clothing line at Sears.

My hope is that you simply made a mistake, you are human after all just like the rest of us, that you suffered from a filter malfunction and spoke before you truly considered the weight and implications of your words.  You may not have intended to body shame Ashley Graham and plus size women the world over, but you did.

I accept your apology, but I think you need to specifically apologize to Ashley Graham.  Your blanket apology is nice first step, but you need to personally apologize to her.  Your comments were a cold, wet blanket on a momentous, historic moment that many people, myself included, have waited on for a long time.

Cheryl, we all can't be like you, not that I or anyone else wants to.  You see, I believe that God loves wondrous variety and that's why all women are not white, blonde, 5'10, 125 pounds, with 34-24-34 dimensions.  I am, by far and away, my own worst and toughest critic.  If I'm happy being myself, with being the size that I am, then there's no reason why others can't be accepting as well.  

Just as I believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, so does health.  Don't fall victim to believing that cookie cutter measurement numbers are the alpha and omega.  Health is a highly individualized thing. You are not a doctor nor do you know me, so please do not pretend to know my health or that of others. The blanket assumption that all plus sized women are unhealthy simply is not true.  Please quit propagating this inaccurate belief.

Lastly, from a woman to a woman, I am disappointed in you.  Being a woman, regardless of size, is tough enough as it is.  We deal with discrimination, sexism, glass ceilings, and double standards on a consistent basis. The last thing we need is a still relatively well known female public figure body shaming other women.  

I truly long for the day in which all woman strive to lift each other up, to empower each other, instead of tearing each other down.  Please consider this the next time you are asked a question in an interview or a microphone is thrust in your face on the red carpet.

Sincerely,

Ericka 


Even though this post does not directly correspond to one of this week's prompts, it is indirectly related to the how do you feel about your body/body image prompt.

Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me 
and Janine @ Reflections from a Redhead. 

Update: 3.1.2016
&
Linking up with Tiffany @ The Dwelling Tree and Chelsee @ Southern Beauty Guide

Friday, February 26, 2016

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week (Vol. 18)

I'm super late posting today.  I usually have my posts prepared in advance, but today...not so much.  Friday just snuck up on me this week.  I was also sidelined with a migraine Wednesday and Thursday, so that nipped any post preparation plans in the bud, too.

Sooooo....  In light of all these factors, here is my tardy post of my incomplete list of ten eight things that made me happy this week.  Why only eight?  Well, because I'm suffering from a medicine-head hangover and eight is the best I could do under the circumstances.  LOL! 

1)  I found out Thursday that I was chosen as the weekly featured writer on Mackenzie's blog, Reflections from Me.  I was quite surprised and very honored. Click here to read my piece.

2)  Hidden Bodies by Carolyn Kepnes dropped on Tuesday.  I have been eagerly awaiting this sequel since I finished YOU in August.

3)  Santino Fontana is back, reprising his narrative role as Joe, the stalker I can't help but root for, in the audiobook version of Hidden Bodies.  I swear, I could listen to Mr. Fontana read the telephone book...  His voice is pure bliss.

4)  Speaking of Santino, he liked my tweet.  (Gush)  Yes, apparently I have a celebrity voice crush.

5) The shows for the 2016-17 Broadway in Louisville season were announced yesterday.  I'm a season subscriber and admit that this current year's selections are rather...meh.  But, I am super excited for next year's lineup!  I've been waiting to see Kinky Boots for 3 or 4 years!

6)  A celebratory birthday lunch for one of my teammates at work.  It was reminiscent of our old "lunch bunch" days when we were all able to eat together years ago.

7)  Red Velvet Cake Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  Oh.  My.  Gosh...

8)  Conversations with my roommate at work.  It's great to have a roommate that you can get along with, even better when you have a roommate that you like and enjoy talking with.

What were some things that made you happy this week?  Feel like sharing?  If so, don't be shy...

I hope this finds you having a wonderful Friday and gearing up for a great weekend.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wrong Position - Hugh's Photo Challenge (Week 14)

This week's theme for Hugh's Weekly Photo Challenge is "Wrong Position."

Participants are encouraged to share pictures that would have been great had it not been for a poorly positioned object or person in the background, the presence of a finger in the lens, or when someone or something unexpectedly showed up in the frame right as the shutter was clicked.

This week, I have chosen two because I simply couldn't decide on just one.

#1 Photo culprit - A lovely gust of wind...
Me in front of the picturesque South Stack Lighthouse in Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales (2009)
#2 Photo culprit - A photobombing seagull...
...before photobombing was even a thing!  
Me on the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California (2002)

Ever had something similar happen to you?
As always, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with Hugh @ Hugh's Views and News.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Meaning Behind the Lyric - Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 7


A few years ago, my workplace experienced a major change.  Most everyone, from the newbies to those who had been around a while, had their worlds rocked.  

Due to the nature of my job, I'm a therapist not a teacher, I sometimes am immune to changes that come down from the administration, but that year I wasn't that fortunate.  I was not immune and my world was rocked, rocked almost beyond recognition.  It was without a doubt, the worst year of my career.

I worked with a lady who had become something like a second mother to me over the years.  She and I ate lunch together nearly every day for over a decade and that year we found ourselves with completely different schedules and unable to continue our little lunch tradition.  As a means of coping, she and I would leave little "inspirational" notes on each other's doors, desks, or computer monitors.  

Somehow, despite my not being a country music fan, I came upon the song "Let It Go" by Zac Brown Band.  One day, I wrote the chorus to that song on a sticky note and left it on her computer monitor.  The lyric soon became our favorite personal mantra as we did everything within our powers to survive the year.  

"Keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open
So this world can't find a way to leave you cold
And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can't
You gotta let 'em go"
- Zac Brown Band

That year taught me innumerable lessons.  I learned that change is inevitable. Okay, I already knew that, but the events of that year strongly reinforced this knowledge.  I also learned that in order to survive changes, I have to let go of the illusion of solidity in an ever changing, fluid world.  There are things in life that are definitely worth fighting for, things that are worth our time and energy. Things that are out of our control, are not.  Much happiness can come from that acceptance as well as the ability to move forward.


Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me 
and Janine @ Reflections from a Redhead. 

Linking up with Tiffany @ The Dwelling Tree and Chelsee @ Southern Beauty Guide

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Love - Hugh's Photo Challenge (Week 13)

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." - Josh Billings

Confession:  I'm actually a cat person.  I grew up with cats and (as an adult) I shared my home with a cat for 13 years.  I like the quiet presence of cat and the fact that they do not need to have your attention 24/7.  

Unfortunately, my allergies make having a cat in the house difficult, so after my beloved Smokey died several years back, I made the decision not the have another cat in the house.

My husband is the dog person in the family.  Rascal is the third beagle that he has owned and the second since we've been married.  In a strange twist of irony, I, the cat person, am Rascal's favorite human.  

Although her constant attention seeking behaviors wear me out, I will admit that she gives me the most welcoming greetings. Whether it's been a week or if it's just been 10 minutes since she saw me last, she greets me with the same high energy, tail wagging at warp speed enthusiasm every single time.  It's pretty amazing how she can make me feel like a rockstar.

"The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog." 
- M.K. Clinton


Linking up with Hugh @ Hugh's Views and News for his weekly themed photo challenge.


Friday, February 19, 2016

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week (Vol. 17)


The final scoreboard of Megan's 2015 Semi Charmed Winter Book Challenge was posted on the 10th, but I forgot about it and didn't see it until Saturday. When I started that challenge, my goal was to be a Top 3 finisher and I was!  I'll probably never finish a challenge in the Top 3 again, but that's OK.  I've done it once and once is plenty enough for me.

My birthday was last weekend.  To celebrate, my husband took me to see one of my favorite 1980s movies, Pretty in Pink, that was re-released for a limited time to celebrate its 30th Anniversary.  I didn't see it in the theaters in 1986, so the experience of seeing it on the big screen was very cool.

Even though I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, my husband sent me a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries for the occasion.  They were de-li-cious!

I've been attending an annual speech pathology conference since Wednesday afternoon.  Although, I really despise sitting in conference sessions (uncomfortable chairs, people packed to the gills, no surface to write on, my SLPPTSD college flashbacks...), I'm truly enjoying hanging out with my speech path buddies from work while we're here.

A HILARIOUS dinner out with two of my speech path co-workers, Cali and Susan.  Cali is new to the district and getting to know her has been an absolute hoot!  That girl is a riot!

Free parking on Wednesday (because I didn't leave the lot until after the cashier's shift was over and there was no one to take my money) and on Thursday (because of the traffic craziness around the convention center and Rupp Arena due to the University of Kentucky basketball game that night)!  YAY!

Original Sin Elderberry Cider.  YUM-MY!

I FINALLY finished The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  I'll admit, it was a tough book for me to get through, but I finally finished it.

That a plus size woman finally made the cover of SI's annual swimsuit issue. This is truly monumental!  See my deeper thoughts here.

This meme:

Have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

History in the Making


Monday marked a historic day, a day that I honestly didn't think would happen for another five or ten years, a day that I've been hoping and waiting on for a long time.

Last week, it was confirmed that a plus size model would finally be featured in the pages of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue - and by featured, I mean as a chosen, photo shoot model, not as a model in a paid advertisement from another company.  

On Monday morning, much to my surprise, I was greeted with the news that not only was Ashley Graham, the popular plus size model best known for her modeling for Lane Bryant, being featured in the magazine, but she was gracing one of three available covers!  

For the first time since the launch of SI's annual swimsuit edition in 1964, the magazine has not only broken from the tradition of having one cover, but also from the tradition of only featuring conventional size models on the coveted cover.  To me, not only as a plus size gal but simply as a woman, this not only is historical, but also barrier breaking and truly...epic.

As I admired the kickin' cover shot, I thought to myself, "Man, we've come a long way..."  And, just like my response to the newly launched Barbie dolls, it's about damn time.

Kudos to Sports Illustrated for allowing Ashley Grahams' gorgeous cover shot to speak for itself.  I love the way the cover celebrates body diversity and promotes the beauty of a plus size body without ever mentioning that Ashley is a plus size model.  No where on the cover is any indication of her size or status as one of the most recognized plus size models in the industry.  All we see is a voluptuous, curvy woman in the surf.

More kudos to Sports Illustrated for not only featuring a plus size model on a cover, but for featuring three different models with three different body types on three different covers.  If we want to truly celebrate body diversity, then this is the way to do it.  I really think it sends the message that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.



Hailey Clausen, left, represents the conventional body type that has annually graced the cover of the swimsuit issue for the past 50-some years. The mixed martial arts powerhouse and 2008 Olympic medalist, Ronda Rousey, featured right, represents the strong, muscular body type that hasn't been represented much in the iconic issue.   (And applause to Ronda for enduring 14 hours of body painting to achieve the painted on swimsuit she's sporting!  You go, girl!)

As a woman, I can't help but feel some excitement as to what the future will bring.  This issue, I feel, is just the beginning.  Will this one issue fix everything? No.  Will bullying and body shaming suddenly cease?  No.  Will everyone all of a sudden be magically open minded and... nice?  No, 'cause as they say - haters gonna hate.

But, these magazine covers definitely challenge our society to rethink and discuss our individual and collective beliefs.  I believe all great change first starts with dialogue. 

So, back to my question - will this one issue of Sports Illustrated fix everything? No, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

What do you think of the new covers?  

On a side note:  Just for the record - I am a plus size gal, but that doesn't make me "anti thin."  I don't hate women who are thin, although I may occasionally joke about how I really would like to feed them a cheeseburger and some french fries.  The core of my being is "pro be who you are."  I once heard that "God loves wondrous variety."  If that philosophy is good enough for the big man upstairs, then how can I be of dissenting opinion?



Linking up with Kristin @ Stuff, Things, Etc. and Joey @ Hodgepodges.


Linking up with Penny @ Penny's Passion and Vanessa @ X-tremely V.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Humpday Confessions (Vol. 7)

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means...  It's time for Humpday Confessions!

I confess...  Last Friday I had the day off.  Instead of doing what I should've been doing (working on some work related stuff that has a rapidly approaching deadline), I found myself cleaning out my refrigerator.  Yes, cleaning out the fridge.  You know I'm procrastinating when I resort to cleaning. #procrastinationatitsfinest



I confess...  My refrigerator purge rendered 27 items that had an expiration date from at least 6 months ago.  #yesi'matotalslackerdon'tjudgeme



I confess...  Some of the items I found were, um, well...  Quite scary. #it'salive



I confess...  One item expired either in 2006 or 2010.  I'm not entirely sure. #idon'teatthatstuffsoididn'tevenknowitwasinthere! 



I confess...  I'll be at a conference for the next 2 1/2 days and I'm not looking forward to it all.  Sitting in the sessions reminds me too much of my days sitting in speech path classes back in undergrad and graduate school (i.e. torture). Every year when I attend this conference, I have flashbacks.  My palms start to sweat, I start to hyperventilate, and get an overwhelming, panicky sensation that a report is due or that I'm going to be 30 minutes short in my practicum hours and not graduate!  It's not pretty.  #isufferfromspeechpathologyPTSD



Can anyone out there relate?  Happy Humpday to you!  Thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with Alanna and Company and Plucky in Love

Friday, February 12, 2016

Games - Hugh's Photo Challenge (Week 12)


Three important life lessons learned from Candy Land

Sometimes you have to think outside the box.  You have five players, but only four gingerbread men pawns?  Improvise!  (Hence the Toy Story Alien...)  

Sometimes you just have to play the cards you are dealt.  Let's face it, there's not a lot of strategy or skill involved in playing Candy Land.  Whoever wins does so out of pure luck.  If luck isn't on your side that day, all you can do is play the cards you receive and do the best you can.

Anything can happen.  Once a kid passes the Ice Cream Sea en route to the Candy Castle, everyone starts thinking that the game is over.  More often than not, that kid will draw the plum or candy cane card and will have to go back almost to the beginning.  Other times, kids who are trailing behind and think they have no shot at winning will draw the snowflake card and suddenly find themselves in the lead.  Candy Land, with its wild unpredictability, is a lot like life.

Any other important life lessons that you have learned from Candy Land?  Feel free to comment below.




Linking up with Hugh @ Hugh's Views and News.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Soundtrack of My Life


My birthday is this month.  I’ve always been a reflector, one that takes stock of life at various points, and this is especially true around New Year’s and my birthday. 

As I think back on the events of this last journey around the sun, as well as events of yesteryears and even “yesterdecades” for that matter, I’ve discovered that so many of my memories have a song is attached. When I recall those memories, they play back in my mind with music in the background, much like a scene from a movie that features a song from the soundtrack.  There are several instances in which it has become impossible for me to think of one (the event or the song) without automatically thinking of the other.

Thus the idea was born - the soundtrack of my life.

I’ve given careful consideration to this list and I chose not include a song from every year of my existence.  The songs that made the list either have a very vivid memory associated or some significant meaning or I just really, really like it.  Some of the songs I explain, some I don’t because the memory is sacred and I wish to preserve that.  Also keep in mind, that a song might fall into a era different from the year it was released.  Remember, each song is associated with a memory and sometimes the event happened after the song was released.  

MY EARLY YEARS (1974-1985)

Burning Love - Elvis Presley
I have some distant, hazy memories of my grandmother, who adored Elvis, dancing around her kitchen while listening to this song on her 8-track.



The Tide is High - Blondie
This song conjures up a visualization of Wanda’s Beauty Shop, where my mom and I went to get out hair cut in the late 1970s.


Cool Night - Paul Davis

Whenever I hear this song, images of my sleepy little hometown in the early 80s flash in my mind.



Celebration - Kool and the Gang

Every time I hear this song, I am instantly transported back to the skating rink in my little hometown.  As a kid, I used to go skating at least once a week.  



The Reflex - Duran Duran
Duran Duran was my first band crush and this is my favorite DD song.



Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go) - Wham! 
My very first childhood best friend hosted the best sleepovers when we were kids.  We played board games, stayed up late to watch “Night Tracks” (an all night program music video program that aired on TBS in the 80s, before MTV became available in my little hometown), and when the weather was nice, we were allowed to sleep in the little camper her parents owned.  I distinctly remember this song playing in her house one morning, presumably on the radio, and her mom singing along with it.



You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
I’ve often claimed that this song changed my life.  Yes, I know that is a ridiculously overdramatic claim, but there is some truth to it.  You see, a big part of my identity, whether I want it or not, since I was 13 years old stems from being a Bon Jovi fan.  I have friends from junior high and high school that say that when they hear a Bon Jovi song, even to this day, that they instantly think of me because they remember how consumed and crazy I was about Bon Jovi when we were in school.  Had this song never existed, then a good piece of my identity would be different.



MY TEEN YEARS (1987-1993)

Tell Me - White Lion
When I hear the lyric, “Tell me baby all through the night, that you’ll never let me go…” I remember how I felt as a teenager  - bursting with hormones, dreaming of how it would feel to have a guy whisper those words into my ear.  It was a quintessential "us against the world" anthem.  Yes, I realize that is super corny, but when you are 13 or 14 years old, you are corny.


I’ll Be There For You - Bon Jovi
Memories of the prom, my high school sweetheart, and the electricity of young love.



Into the Night - Benny Mardones
I don't remember this song when it was first released in 1980.  It was re-released in the late 80s and that's how I came to know it.  (For an incredibly good laugh, watch this video, which I had never seen before I composed this entry.)


Because I Love You (The Postman Song) - Stevie B. 
Memories of a rekindled teenage romance.  The first time this guy and I dated, we lived in the same town.  When we reunited, he was on the other side of the globe.  This was before texting, FaceTime, Skype, or email.  Our communication was strictly conducted in brief long distance, overseas phone calls and dozens of letters.  I feel sorry for teens nowadays, for they will never truly know the feeling of anticipation and excitement of receiving love letters via snail mail.



It's So Hard to Say Goodbye - Boy II Men
Memories of graduation.


I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
As Whitney herself sang, "bittersweet memories..."


MY TWENTIES (1994-2003)

Return of the Mac - Mark Morrison
I’m not much of a dancer and the few times I have danced, I required some liquid courage in my system beforehand.  I loved this song and danced to it every time it would play when my friends and I were out in the bars in the summer of 1997.


Blue on Black - Kenny Wayne Shepherd


Lie to Me - Jonny Lang


Livin’ La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
 




Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
I never truly appreciated this song until I moved from my home state of West Virginia.  Over the years, it has come to occupy a very special place in my heart.



It’s My Life - Bon Jovi
Such a great life anthem...



I Could Not Ask for More - Edwin McCain
Memories of when I knew I had found The One.


MY THIRTIES AND BEYOND (2004 - present)

Here Without You - 3 Doors Down


Southern Cross - Jimmy Buffett version
One chilly July evening while on North Stradbroke Island (Australia), I looked up to the night sky and saw the Southern Cross for the first time.  At the moment, I instantly started singing this song.  (No disrespect to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, I just prefer Jimmy's version.)


Mambo No. 5 - Lou Bega
To my knowledge, this is the only song with my name in it.  How in the word could I not include it?   LOL!  Seriously, though.  This song brings back memories of playing "iPod DJ" on a bus trip through New Zealand with a bunch of teenagers.


It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay (Remix) - Whitney Houston
When I completed my one and only half-marathon, this song kept helped push me through the wall I hit around mile 10.  The remix version has such a great beat, I kept hitting replay over and over through mile 13!  I have absolutely no idea what I listened to during that last tenth of a mile to the finish line.  I was just so happy to be at the end, I could've cared less what I was listening to!



Read My Mind - The Killers



Beautiful Day - U2
Memories of Ireland...


September - Daughtry


Yeah - Joe Nichols
Memories of a little road trip with my mom


Make It Rain - Ed Sheeran


It Was a Very Good Year - Frank Sinatra
This song was released long before I was even born.  Although I've heard it throughout my life, I only started to really appreciate it once I hit my 40s.



There you have it, the 30 songs that would be on the soundtrack if my life was a movie.  

Here's my question to you - would you share one song that you would add to the soundtrack of your life in my comments section?  I'm very curious to see what others would choose.  Thanks for stopping by!



Linking up with Kristin @ Stuff, Things, Etc. 

and Joey @ Hodgespodges.
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