I'm a Storyteller

I know you all know that already.

Anyone who has known me longer than about 5 minutes can ascertain that pretty quickly. But I have only recently claimed that title and begun to own it. I haven’t always borne the title of ‘storyteller’ with the confidence that you read in my words online, and see live in action if you see me on the daily. There are a few factors that led to my confidence in this life that I lead (I’m looking at you, Roblyer), but I’m going to focus on 1 in particular.

If you too are a storyteller (or even someone who just loves stories!), and haven’t discovered the 88 Cups of Tea podcast… run, don’t walk, and subscribe. Yin Chang started this podcast 4 years ago, and it has become so much more than just something to listen to every other Thursday.

If you tuned in to the 100th episode 2 years ago, you’ve already heard this story, but I’m going to tell it again anyway.

2 years and 4ish months ago, I walked out of a ballet rehearsal, got into my little yellow car, and promptly began bawling.

My artistic life felt like a mess, and I was so.tired. of grinding for everyone around me. My students loved me (and I adore each of them to this day and I always will!), but I didn’t have enough of me to give to them due to just how much I was teaching to make ends meet at home. I had a place in a professional theatre company, but I was so worn out from teaching and being a mom that I couldn’t give my roles the devotion they deserved. I wanted SO BADLY to write a novel and be just like my dad (cause duh, he’s the best!), but between dance recitals and preparing for summer camp season, I had nothing left. There was no creative juice for ME; I just kept pouring and pouring, making the dreams of everyone around me a reality while (mostly) setting aside my own aspirations.

My mother-in-law was in town that day, watching Eli so that I could go watch the ballet dancers work through ‘Don Quixote’. She’s a gracious woman, but arriving home in the state that I was in wasn’t a good idea for anyone, so I decided to head to the gym and hop on an elliptical until I was too tired to cry anymore. I knew that if I was going to shake it off, I needed to listen to something other than my angsty work out music, so I decided to search for my favorite author in the podcast section of Spotify (Sarah J Maas). 88 Cups of Tea popped up first. I hit ‘play’ and hopped onto the exercise machine.

I stayed on that elliptical for the entire hour and 23 minutes of Sarah’s episode. I was hooked! Yin was so warm, and my favorite author? She… was… NORMAL! Being an author someday started seeming like less and less of a pipe dream, and started shaping into a hope that could fit into my reality. By the time I left the gym, I felt like my own cup of creativity was less empty.

That was the night that things started to change. I began to shift my focus from teaching and performing (although I still do both of those things, and love them!). I didn’t dive headlong into writing a novel, although I do have one started that I will finish. No, my path has led me somewhere that surprised me.

Remember how I’ve been making noises about my copywriting business? That wouldn’t exist without 88 Cups of Tea. Between listening to Yin’s interviews with authors, agents, and a whole host of storytellers in the industry, somehow I stumbled upon copywriting. Here it was; my niche. The thing I excelled at. I did not see that coming at all, but here I am! Telling stories on the daily, and loving every minute of it.

I owe so much to this amazing community of storytellers, and Yin; our loving “camp counselor” of a sort. 88 Cups of Tea has become a part of my life in ways I don’t fully know how to describe. The podcast itself is precious to me, yes. But the community it has birthed is a gem that I never want to be without ever again. We are friends, confidants, cheerleaders, counselors, and a whole host of other roles for one another. I made it through the early days of Zelda’s life by communicating with my fellow storytellers while trapped under a sleeping infant. They kept me sane, and helped me stay connected to the outside world while still bonding with the littlest Curly.

Anyhow, happy birthday 88 Cups of Tea! I love you (Yin <3), and I hope you continue to thrive for many more birthdays to come!

The makings of Miss Jess.

I’ve just wrapped up Alice in Wonderland Junior at The Theatre Company of Bryan, and as so often happens when a production closes, I have feelings. The performance was fantastic, and watching my campers succeed is always a good feeling. Hearing them cheer and clap as loudly as they did when they heard their director say my name in his opening speech caught me off-guard. In a good way though! There may have been tears, but I cannot confirm or deny that, as I was too busy trying to locate the jerk who was cutting onions in the theatre. I loved getting to be “Miss Jess” for them, and I couldn’t help but remember that it was another ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that truly created my teacher self.

Five years ago, I was nervously preparing for my first summer camp at Pure Energy Dance Productions in Bryan. I hadn’t been in charge of children en masse since before I moved to BCS. How would I know how to talk to them? What if they hated me? I was still dusting the cobwebs off of my choreography muscle. What if they didn’t like what I had prepared for them?

It turns out I had some game, I just didn’t know it. Those wee performers taught me so much that summer, even though I was supposed to be the one doing the teaching. I learned to listen to them. To read their emotional cues, and attend to the needs I saw there above all others. Wanting to put together a spectacular show is great, but when the sweet ones whose parents have trusted YOU with their fragile self-esteem feel good about what you’re helping them do? Holy schmoly, the magic in the air is palpable.

I’m no longer in the studio over the summer with the Pure Energy campers, but my fingerprints are all over the place. Those camps were my baby for 5 years. Leaving was so hard, but the hands that I’ve left my “baby” in? They’re the best! They love those precious little ones just as hard as I do, and they’re ready to listen. The shows will be great, but the growth that is about to happen in these precious small performers? Man, oh man! There is no dollar amount that matches what they take away from what they’re about to experience.

Anyhow, this is my blessing for those who are about to stand where I stood: may you be aware, and ready. May a smooth transitional sentence always be on the edge of your brain if you need it, and may your bladder be capable of holding on longer than you thought possible.

And for the young ones about to embark on an incredible summer at Pure Energy: May you be open to learning, and ready to have the time of your life! May you learn that “done is better than perfect”, and that you are enough.

Go get ‘em, babies. I’m already proud of you.

Someone was cutting onions that day, clearly.

Someone was cutting onions that day, clearly.

Mischief and magic so often go hand in hand.

Mischief and magic so often go hand in hand.

This feels like so long ago, but it wasn’t. Not really.

This feels like so long ago, but it wasn’t. Not really.

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy: a follow up.

Well, I was NOT expecting that!

I received a lot of unanticipated feedback for the post that I wrote on how to support your friends who are going into a pregnancy with a history of eating disorders. While I’m grateful that my words were supportive to a large number of you, it broke my heart. My journey was (and is) a difficult one, and not something that I would wish on my worst enemy.

Granted, I don’t really have enemies. People in general tend to like me, for some reason or another. shrug

However, in light of how many women have reached out to me since the last post, I wanted to keep the conversation going. The thing that I have found that is the most helpful to me personally in my ED journey, is being open. Shining a light into the dark corners of what it is that I struggle with on the daily. So… here we go.

I’m still hyper-critical of my body.

Yes, it’s true. Even your friendly neighborhood Jess still stands in front of the mirror every day and mentally tracks everything I wish I could change. I know my body has done an amazing thing in growing my children, and making food for them. I know that I only gave birth 3 months ago, and that expecting me to already look exactly like I did before I was pregnant is unreasonable. I’m well-aware that I’m being hard on me… but it still happens. Trying to not be so critical of me leads to a guilt-trap in which I feel guilty for even having negative thoughts in the first place, which only feeds the urge to do something not-so-great in order to take control of my mind/body. It’s a fun little Cycle of Suck that I go through, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

Well, that’s not at all great and inspiring.

Not even a little. But mine isn’t a story of darkness. I’ve learned that pretending that something that I don’t like doesn’t exist only magnifies the issue. Whether it’s car trouble or my self-esteem, ignoring a problem doesn’t make it magically go away. On the contrary, it tends to make things way worse.

Ask me about the bill for my last round of car repairs.

So… I acknowledge the cycle. I give myself 20 seconds each day to look in the mirror alone, and be honest with me about how I feel about what I see. Once those 20 seconds are over, I’m done. The Cycle of Suck is still there, but acknowledging that it exists takes away the power that it has over me. The cycle will always be there, but this way I get to control it, and not the other way around.

Why do you do that? Why not just try to squish the damn thing?

I did try to squish the damn thing. It went… poorly. As I’ve said before, eating disorders aren’t like catching a cold. You don’t wake up one morning all better, and get to go about your life as though you were never sick. This is a life-long struggle, and I have good days and bad days. Acknowledging the Cycle of Suck is part of how I manage the cycle in the first place. It’s what works for me, so it’s what I’m going to do.

HOWEVER: I do not engage the cycle in front of my kids. Not openly, while they’re so young. When they’re a little older, I will tell them more about my history with eating disorders, and what led to my struggle. But that talk is for when they are old enough to understand what is going on, and why.

What do I do?

I love me. And I talk about it. I love the strong legs that result in larger thighs than I’d like. I love the butt that provides a comfy place for me to sit, even if the jeans I used to love don’t fit around it. And I really love the mid-section that housed and grew two of the best humans on the planet, even though it isn’t a taut, flat, stereotypical “dance teacher” stomach.

This really works for you?

Yes. That does not mean that my method of dealing with the Cycle of Suck works for everyone, but as I’ve said before: this is my journey, I’m simply letting you know how I choose to go through it. It’s what works for me, so it’s what I will continue to do. I would rather my children have a mom who is doing what she has to in order to manage her symptoms, than a mom who tries to pretend that they don’t exist, and passes them onto her beloveds.

Because… that’s what happens when you don’t acknowledge and encounter bad cycles. They continue, and then someone else suffers. “Family curses” aren’t just for Shakespearean plays, and I REFUSE to be the reason that one of my children takes a step down the eating disorder path.

The cycle began again that early. I heard the self-critical drill-sergeant in the HOSPITAL. But… They’re worth the fight. Every day, they’re worth the fight.

The cycle began again that early. I heard the self-critical drill-sergeant in the HOSPITAL. But… They’re worth the fight. Every day, they’re worth the fight.

Questions? Have something to add? Feel free to add a comment.

Imposter Syndrome

Many of you saw the post that I put up on Facebook today. For those of you who didn’t, it was a quick back-and-forth exchange between myself and my husband. I have been feeling like a fraud as a writer lately, and I expressed this to The Hippie. He gently reminded me that I only began publicly marketing my copywriting services about 2 weeks ago, and that I need to cut myself some slack.

It’s a good thing love keeps no record of wrongs, because I’d be on the losing side every time.

It’s a good thing love keeps no record of wrongs, because I’d be on the losing side every time.

The thing is, he’s right. He usually is, but that’s a different point for another time.

I’m a good writer. More than good, I’m pretty damn phenomenal. When it comes to getting words on a page and making someone pay attention, I sure don’t suck. What I am actually feeling is the hot breath of the “you’re not good enough” monster.

I hate that beast. It breathes down my neck at the worst possible times. When I’m lost as to how to respond to my kid, there it is. When I cop up to having been an opera singer, there it is. When I decide it’s time for me to be brave and announce to the world that I’m accepting copywriting clients, there it is. ALWAYS the worst timing, this beast.

HOWEVER, this time, I’m well-aware that he’s full of shit. He should be, given that he’s been digesting my hopes and dreams in his toxic gut for nearly 20 years now. I’m good enough. The reason he’s there? Because I’m not making money yet.

That’s a scary thing to admit to myself, nevermind here on the interwebz where all the cats in those videos we’re obsessed with can see it. But it’s true. I *just* started out in a highly competitive field. That anyone is even paying attention is miracle enough. Clients will come (and this is where I thank those of you who have been gently nudging me in this direction all along), and with them will come paychecks. With those maybe I’ll finally be able to kick the “you’re not good enough” monster in the teeth for good.

Probably not, as money can’t really buy you validation. But there is something satisfying about paying the bills with this little skill of mine. POINT BEING: I need to give myself grace, and a little time to grow. So if you don’t mind, the next time you see me outwardly doubting me? Smack me across the virtual face and tell me to get past it.

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

Well, that’s a cheery little title, isn’t it?

This is what most people think of when they think of pregnancy. A happy family, thrilled with joy at the life that’s growing inside. Look closer. You’ll see me forcing a smile so that nobody knows I’m trying really hard to not hate myself. Photo credit to: Photo by Joy, my amazing sister in law.

This is what most people think of when they think of pregnancy. A happy family, thrilled with joy at the life that’s growing inside. Look closer. You’ll see me forcing a smile so that nobody knows I’m trying really hard to not hate myself. Photo credit to: Photo by Joy, my amazing sister in law.

It isn’t. But it’s a very real issue that isn’t frequently addressed in our culture.

Those of you who follow me regularly are aware that I have spent a large chunk of my past (too large) grappling with disordered eating. I’m very open about that piece of myself, and I’m so glad that I am!

The other day, a friend of mine reached out to me for advice on how to support her friend who was pregnant, and on the recovery end* of the eating disorder battle. It occurred to me that she was probably not the only one looking for the ‘right’ way to be there for someone going through a pregnancy after a history of eating disorders, so here are my thoughts on the matter.

Disclaimer: this is purely speaking from MY experience. You or your loved ones may have a completely different point of view, or a different set of needs in regard to reconciling themselves to their changing body. That’s ok. Own your experience. It’s yours. This is mine.

  1. Do not try and reassure your friend right away that it’s ok that her body will be different, and DEFINITELY don’t sent her articles on how magical post-baby bodies can be. She knows. The guilt that she is feeling from the fact that the joy of getting to be a mother isn’t overshadowing that voice in her head that tells her she has to control her body? It’s intense, and pushing the “it’s ok, you’ll be a mom!” message really only amplifies the already overwhelming guilt.

  2. When she is ready to hear the “it’s ok that your body has changed” message, she’ll let you know. Once she’s there, by all means, send the article. Maybe. Utilize the emotional intelligence I know you have, and really ask yourself if it will help your friend where she is right now.

  3. Take care to check on her, not just the baby. Babies are amazing, and wonderful, and cute, and have you SEEN the ridiculous assortment of fluff I’ve been dressing my daughter in? Have you noticed how few images of myself I’ve been sharing lately? Yeah. I’m trying to redirect focus because I don’t feel that great about me just now. Chances are, she doesn’t either. The friends who take care to ask after me and don’t buy it when I wave my cute tiny humans in their face have been my lifeline. Check on her. Not just the baby. She may not admit it in the moment, but I promise that in the long run she’s grateful.

  4. Many women do get their bodies ‘back’. By no means should it be her first priority after expelling a baby from her uterus, but it does happen. It may not look exactly the way it did before she had her baby, but pregnancy isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the female form. Be the friend who doesn’t mind holding a fussy 6-week-old while she goes for a walk alone to begin reclaiming her body for herself. She will really need that friend.

  5. Do not comment on her weight/size. If you are aware that your friend struggles with eating disorders, chances are that you already adhere to this principle. That goes double when she’s pregnant. She is going to get enough commentary from total strangers (and well-meaning older relatives who just don’t have a clue) on her size during and after the pregnancy. Yours doesn’t need to be one of the voices adding to the noise in her head that is reminding her that she has no control of her body now.

I’m sure there’s more to be said on the matter, but those are my top tips on how to actively love your friend during an incredibly vulnerable time. If you have more to add to this list, feel free to drop your tips in the comments.

*Important note: recovery never ends. Unfortunately eating disorders aren’t like catching a cold, where once you’re over it, you’re over it. Your life will forever be affected, even if you aren’t currently dealing with the more dangerous symptoms.

Happy New Year!

Last year I was a little tipsy by this point in the evening.

Those boots! That date! That… glazed look in my eye… Never again.

Those boots! That date! That… glazed look in my eye… Never again.

Ok, more than a little. But I hadn’t started stumbling around in my shoes yet, so at least I still looked good.

HOWEVER: my drunken ass failed to get a New Year’s post up for you all. This year I’m writing this as my one-month-old baby daughter sleeps angelically, growing bigger by the minute. I don’t think there’s any risk of my being too schwastey faced to share my musings with you all, so here it is! My top 10 favorite moments from 2018.

10. Recital 2018

Never before have I been as proud of my students (and myself) as I was this year. They dug deep, rose to challenges, and surpassed so many hurdles. AND they did it all while their darling teacher was pregnant and trying not to barf in front of them. If anyone ever challenges my right to call myself a badass, I’ll pull up the video of me pregnant, and dancing in heels.

9. I performed my final show with This is Water

It’s been a beautiful 5 years, growing and dreaming with this company, but our time is done. The friends I made, and the lessons I’ve learned will stay with me for the rest of my journey on this earth. I finished the way I began: pregnant with a very wanted, very unexpected blessing of a human growing inside my uterus.

I miss you people something fierce. Thank you for turning me into the artist I am today.

I miss you people something fierce. Thank you for turning me into the artist I am today.

8. The Hippie’s father survived a major heart attack.

“But Jess!”, I hear you saying. “Aren’t these sorts of lists supposed to be cheerful?”. Yes, dear reader. They are. And this is. We didn’t know that he would make it. There was a period of about a week where we were constantly at the ready to bolt to his bedside, but despite a less than stellar triple bypass procedure (infections are terrifying), we still have Grandpa here. And we have learned a new depth of gratitude.

7. You people keep giving me unicorns.

No, but really. You should all see my home. My office, my daughter’s room, EVERYWHERE there is a reminder that in a world of darkness, more than one person has decided that I’m their unicorn. And has chosen to remind me of it.

6. Eli learning to help in the kitchen.

I’m sure it’s a normal kid rite of passage, but in our home, the art of making food is sacred. It’s something that we take seriously, and my oldest mop-top took it upon himself to begin learning the way of the kitchen from his father this year. Watching them cook together is one of my greatest joys.

5. My parents moved closer to us.

Granted, they just moved from one side of College Station to the other, but still! If we need to make a pit stop to deal with a blowout diaper in the mornings, they’re there. If I just need to have another mamma with whom I can be vulnerable tell me that ‘this too shall pass’ and that my baby will be fine, they’re there. If I just need to let someone else be the adultiest adult in the room for 10 minutes, they’re there.

4. I got a new job.

I love teaching dance. A lot. I don’t know who I am when I’m not teaching! But… working for Students of Strength has opened doors for me professionally that allow me to do another thing I love: writing. I also get to stay at home with my kiddos while doing my part to help pay our bills. I will forever be glad that I decided to make a friend that day in the cafe when I met my boss.

3. I became an aunt.

My younger brother Tyler and his wife Asia welcomed their first child into the world this April, and she’s perfect. Ellie, Auntie Jess loves you so very much. If you ever want to craft with glitter, come over here so we don’t get yelled at. I will always have gum (or candy, or dollars) to give to you, my darling. You have us all wrapped around your chubby little fingers, and I can’t believe that something so precious and beautiful came from my smelly younger brother (love you, Ty!).

2. We moved next door to our best friends.

“Jess. The house next door is up for lease.” <— best text message of 2018. We live next to Jake, Maria, and Darwin, and life for all of us has gotten exponentially better. I don’t know if she can just smell it in the air or what, but Maria always manages to come knock on the door to steal Eli RIGHT when I need a break. Jake has caught Sheila upon her escape from the yard more than once, and the girl is always happier after spending time with Darwin dog. I love the hell out of these people, and being close to them has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.

1. Zelda Marjorie Hodgson.

At 12:06AM on November 20th, I became the mother of a little girl. Zelda, you have been the polar opposite of myself and your older brother, and everything that your daddy was desperately hoping that you would be. Our little warrior princess is a force to be reckoned with, and we are helplessly in love with her.

I mean… can you blame us for being obsessed with that face???

I mean… can you blame us for being obsessed with that face???

Merry Everything

Behold: An annual holiday update

Fear not! For I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be for… some of you. Anyone who knows us/has decided they like online Jess, and virtually stalks my shenanigans (I can’t blame you. I’m a hoot). Here it is. An annual update on the state of affairs at Casa de Curls. We’ve had quite a year, so I’ll try and sum it up for you before the baby wakes up (we had one of those!).

Stephen (AKA The Hippie, for those of you who stalk me online): He managed to take a nap once, and it was the highlight of his year.

Told you he got a nap.

Told you he got a nap.

Jess: I have a new job, and I was pregnant this year! I am not anymore, and all of us are much happier now, former fetus included (more on her in a bit).

See that? She was inside me for nearly 10 months. 10.

See that? She was inside me for nearly 10 months. 10.

Eli: He is in the 5 year old classroom at Powersports, and thinks that Mrs. Mimi hung the moon. Her word is law, and to be obeyed at all times. No, we haven’t milked that at home. Why do you ask?

The coolest of the cool. That’s our Eli.

The coolest of the cool. That’s our Eli.

Zelda: She has been outside of my uterus for a whole month now, and is still bumfuzzled at this whole ‘I am one person and mom is another’ thing. She like sleeping though, so we’ll just let her get there when she gets there.

She is little! She is fierce! She looks great in a tutu!

She is little! She is fierce! She looks great in a tutu!

Sheila: She accidentally became a minor internet sensation when I began posting daily updates from her point of view this August. I just caught her licking her crotch though, so at least the fame hasn’t gone to her head.

Hai frans! I am here too, and I have not chased a single chicken in over a week.

Hai frans! I am here too, and I have not chased a single chicken in over a week.

The Everyone: We moved! … two streets over. But still! Within the span of 3 days, 3 major things happened: I met the person who would become my boss, I found out I was pregnant, and Stephen’s dad survived a major heart attack. Less than a month after that, a job offer was in my inbox, and the need to find a new place to live (where I could work while staying home with our new tiny) was very apparent. I’m still teaching the dancing, but now I am also the in-house copywriter for an online tutoring company. Like I said… it’s been a doozy, but it’s been good. We hope that you are all well, and accept this online update in lieu of a card (I have a tiny human who came out of my body a month ago. If anything you should all be impressed at me for getting it together enough to write a blog post).

Merry Everything, and I hope the holiday treats you well.

XOXO — The Casa de Curls


Hello, dear reader. Maybe you’re here because you’re feeling devastated too. Maybe you’re here because you’re hoping I’ll make you laugh. I hate to disappoint you, dear reader, but that’s not where I am right now.

Today, my government decided (again) that my voice, and the voices of millions of women (and men) screaming “PLEASE STOP” didn’t matter. Today as a country, we experienced together the trauma that so many assault survivors go through. Sounds crazy, but bear with me. We said “no”. We said “WE DON’T WANT THIS”. We begged for them to stop, they tuned us out and did what they had planned on doing all along.

Nothing helped. Nothing made any difference in the end result. They didn’t care. They never did. We knew that, and we allowed them to scrape open our deepest wounds anyway.

I have no cute bow to tie this up in. I have nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Tomorrow, I will look for the hope. I will begin to wrap my brain around the words that we need to get us through this. But for today, I have nothing. Nothing but the smell of the sheet that my middle school youth ministers fouled up to illustrate what we were like if we were sexually tainted before marriage. Nothing but a strange old man grabbing me and kissing me at age 16 in our church atrium. Nothing but the paralyzing feeling of knowing that nobody would believe me. Nothing but my boyfriend screaming at me for a flashback to my first assault during sex, then demanding that I allow him to touch me however he pleased because I “owed” it to him.

I have nothing tonight. But tomorrow is coming. And I won’t stay in this place. I refuse.


In which Jess is excellent at flirting.

The news cycle has been hard to handle for the last few days/weeks/years. In light of that, I thought I would distract us all with the hilarious tale of how I convinced the Hippie to fall madly in love with me. Buckle up, because this is some adorable shit.

Yes. We went to Spec’s on the way to our wedding reception. We’re classy AF.

Yes. We went to Spec’s on the way to our wedding reception. We’re classy AF.

The Hippie meets the Mermaid

I was new to town, and my dad offered me up as tribute to a friend who desperately needed a set of hands in her cafe kitchen. I was grossly unqualified, but due to the fact that people don’t like disappointing my dad (to be fair, he’s essentially a puppy dressed as a human), I got the job.

My first day, I was quickly shown around the kitchen, and asked to make scones. My Prince Charming came around the corner, ready to start work for the day. With the gusto that comes only from a man whose life is about to change forever he proclaimed to the kitchen “Happy Thursday every— who the hell are YOU?”. There was nobody behind me. He was indeed talking to me. I stammered something that might have been my name. It’s hard to remember, as I was clearly swept clean off my feet.

Fast Forward 4-6 Months

There was this SUPER hot guy with long hair who used to hang out at the counter at the same time that I was usually guzzling coffee and getting ready for my shift in the kitchen. Throw in the fact that he was crazy intelligent and made me laugh, and… yeah. I was smitten. We had a good rapport going, but it always got cut short by me having to clock in and make the foods. The cute guy I had dubbed “Hippie” always vanished around then as well. I had no clue how our schedules were so in sync, but I tried not to question it, and would go about my life. Inevitably, my boss would come around the corner right after I’d settled into my tasks for the day, and thus a shift full of eye contact avoidance and keeping my head down would begin. A number of my co-workers had warned me that he was probably going to yell at me, and thus far I’d managed to avoid the wrath of the boss-man.

Related sidenote that explains why this is relevant to the current news cycle: I was involved romantically at the time with a man who would later be added to the list of my abusers. To say that I was a terrified, broken woman at the time was a harsh understatement for the constant fear and anxiety that I lived with daily. My spirit couldn’t handle anymore harsh words than it was already absorbing regularly, hence the all-out avoidance strategy.

Anyhow, one day I was sitting at the counter indulging in an extra cup of coffee and chatting with the Hippie man. I decided that for that day, I was going to do the impossible. I was going to be brave and ask his name. The conversation went something like this…

Me: So, I know it’s been awhile, but what’s your name? I kinda suck at names.

Him: …wait, really?

Me: I know! I’m awful, but I have no clue what your name is, but please don’t feel bad! I’m like this with everybody.

Him: struggles not to laugh Um… give it a minute.

Me: Huh?

He then proceeded to start twisting back his hair (still trying to keep a straight face), and pulled it into a knot on top of his head. When he put a hat on, I began praying for the floorboards to split apart, and for the earth to accept me into her loving embrace.

He was my boss. I’d been casually flirting with the supervisor I’d been so scared of for the last few months, and had been utterly unaware the entire time.

I was maybe a little flustered for the rest of the day. Maybe a lot.

Ok, definitely a lot.

Because later that evening, after I had resumed my policy of avoiding any and all eye contact with him (my face was still beet red), I was struggling with a bag of cheese. I couldn’t get the damn thing open to save my life, so I grabbed a knife and began trying to use it to open the cheese. The Hippie (who very kindly didn’t bring up the counter incident) noticed that I was probably about to send myself to the ER for stitches, came up to try and help me in my hour of distress, and… I sliced open his hand.

Happily Ever After

I generally do not recommend the “slice open the love of your life” method of assessing whether or not your person is really committed to sticking with you come hell or high water. However either I must have done something right, or the Hippie is a sadist, because we began dating a little less than a year later, and a little more than a year after that our son was born. Baby #2 is one rough sneeze away from joining the party, and we’re pretty happy with our life together.

Why do I tell you this tale of stabby beginnings? Maybe it’s because it’s hilarious. Maybe it’s because we all need something to take our mind off the hellstorm that is the current socio-political scene in our country. Maybe both. Either way, that’s my love story. It’s bizarre, pointy, and as with most things in my life, proves that cheese leads to good things.

Things Change, and I Need a Nap.

Well, we have moved. We're not in our new home yet, but we are definitely out of the old one. During the interim we're living with my parents, and I cannot lie to you, it has been nice being able to feel like I came home again. Waking up in the morning and knowing that an adultier adult is right down the hall is a feeling I didn't know I'd missed. 

Next week we will spend a few days at the beach with family on a much needed vacation. Vacation isn't usually a thing that we do. The Hippie and myself aren't accustomed to taking breaks, but after the hustle of the last few months, that is exactly what we need. We've made it through closing down a theatre company, Mother's Day, Ring Day Weekend, Graduation Weekend, Recital Weekend, a month of me working summer camps and new job simultaneously, me adjusting to being full time at the new gig (more on that later), packing up and vacating the old house, and all that during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy. To say that we're tired is to put it mildly. 

So much what has happened has been good. SO good! And so many exciting changes are still on the horizon: new baby, and the new house next door to one of our favorite people are just two of the big things that will be happening in the next few months. To say that we are blessed would be easy. What we actually are is exhausted from the hustle of the last 5 years, and damn lucky. Are there blessings there? Yes. Am I ignoring those? Nope. They don't let me. One of them calls me 'mama', and the other one kicks me in the bladder every 10 minutes. But it was hard work, and sheer dumb luck that led us to where we are now. 

For the moment, I will enjoy getting to have my dad and bonus mom just down the hall. Soon I'll be the adultier adult of the house again, and I want to soak up every blessed minute of this respite while we are fortunate enough to have it. 


*Disclaimer: This is not a normal "hey, I've been gone for a while, here are some jokes and a fun thing to think about" sort of post. You have been warned*

Candle in the dark.jpg


For the child who went to school and will never come home: we mourn. 

For the mother who stares at the bed that didn't get made that morning, who must now plan it's occupant's funeral: we mourn. 

For the father who would give anything to catch his daughter sneaking out the window one more time: we mourn. 

For the little brothers and sisters who now have to navigate this terrifying world without their idol to blaze the way for them: we mourn. 

For the older siblings who now must exist without the first child they helped raise: we mourn. 

For the dog who keeps looking out the front window at 4:15, waiting for his human: we mourn. 

For the teacher who took the bullet and still lost their students: we mourn. 

For the teacher who was out sick and now feels that they sent a substitute to die in their stead: we mourn. 

For the girl who will never again hug her first love: we mourn.

For the boy who just lost the one friend he'd come out to: we mourn. 

For the choir director who is forever missing their singers: we mourn. 

For the cafeteria worker who remembers each day why she doesn't need to prepare that serving of gluten free food anymore: we mourn. 

For the young artist who can't use red paint without smelling the blood: we mourn. 

For the Columbine survivor who prayed they'd never have to mentor in this way: we mourn. 

For the survivor who lives in a world where live tweeting a massacre is possible: we mourn. 

For the children who will never again enjoy fireworks: we mourn. 

For the grandparent who scours the internet for bullet-proof backpacks: we mourn. 

For the new teacher wondering if they're ready to lay down their life for children they haven't met yet: we mourn. 

For the student teachers now changing their major because they're afraid the answer is "no": we mourn. 

For the mother who weeps in the morning drop off line: we mourn. 

For the father who stares at the picture on his desk and prays his kid isn't next (because he knows there will be a next): we mourn. 

For the first grader who knows what to do in an active shooter situation: we mourn. 

For the nation that has made all of this a necessity: we weep. 

For a gun lobby that has prioritized sales over children at school: we rage. 

For a congress that offers empty condolences as they accept NRA donations: we rise up. 

For a government that remains silent as we cry out for them to do something: we vote. 

For a president who reminded us of the "very fine people on both sides": time's up. 

Our children are dying and you do nothing. You beg us to consider becoming teachers as we watch babies wait like lambs for the slaughter. Your moment of silence has gone on long enough. 

This is me.

This may not be the most comfortable post you've ever read. To be fair, it's not the most comfortable post I've ever written. But it's been tumbling around in my brain, and it has to come out somehow, so here we are. 

I still remember the first time I learned to be afraid of food. I was 6, and reveling in dipping each french fry from my Happy Meal in just the perfect amount of ketchup. I was a nugget girl, not a fry girl, and Micky D's had that sweet n sour sauce that even TODAY I occasionally wish I had in a cabinet. My babysitter looked on enviously, and eventually uttered a phrase that would change the way things were arranged in my little girl brain. "You'd better enjoy those things while you can, because you won't be able to eat them without getting fat when you get older,". Just like that, everything was different. There was a clock running, and I had better enjoy a lifetime's worth of fries, milkshakes, and tacos before time ran out and they became the enemy. 

It's no great secret that I've long had an intimate relationship with eating disorders. No, I was never hospitalized (although it came close a few times in my early 20's), but it's always been there. The controlling voice, perpetually nagging away in my brain that I can't shut up. "Did you exercise today?", "What did you eat?", "Did you exercise enough to burn off what you ate?", "Why are you even looking at that dish? It contains almost all of your calorie allotment for today!". The list of daily mental flagellations goes on and on. Food had indeed become the enemy, and I hated that I needed it to live. 

I didn't stay in that place forever. Hope and redemption are very real, very powerful forces in this world. But there are scars that I will never be able to get rid of. A voice in my head that comes back on the bad days to ask what I've eaten, and if I've worked out enough to "earn" it. And do you know what my response to that controlling sonofabitch is? 

I'm a dance teacher.

Every day at work I am in front of a group of young girls (mostly), who look at me like I am the coolest person they know. That I am their role model and idol is not something that I take lightly. It's my choice whether they see the woman who is confident in who she is, or the starving little girl I used to be, pinching at her sides in the mirror desperately wishing she could change everything she sees. Every day, no matter what kind of day I am having, I choose the former. Even if I'm not feeling it, that is who I will choose to be for every single minute that there is even a chance that one of my students is watching. Every class they ask where my taco meter is at, which may sound silly. And it is! But we do that because it helps us talk about food. Dancers are hungry people. We move all the frigging time, and if I reiterate to them that I eat like a normal human after class too, then maybe, just maybe feeding themselves won't feel taboo for them the way it did for me for so long. Because that voice that I still live with? I'll be damned if my class is where it begins to pick on one of my precious ones. 

With that in mind, is it any wonder that my soulmate is someone who artfully uses food to express his love? The way that he prepares a meal... it's not just to show off. He loves cooking. He loves feeding people, and he REALLY loves when he knows he's prepared something that will bring joy to those he loves most. Some people will tell you that food isn't love. Those people have never had dinner prepared for them post-rehearsal at 11PM by a Hippie who has to wake up early in the morning, but wanted to make sure that they had a dinner that did more than just fill their belly. They have also probably never tried bacon jam. That stuff's just happiness in a jar. 

The demons may never fully go away. I will probably have to deal with them for the rest of my life. But that they don't control my every action is a victory that I once never thought would be mine. I'm not really sure what the point of this all is, but... there you go. This is me. While I may not be thrilled about how I arrived here, I'm here. And I love where I am!  




Struggle Bus

I don't generally blast my dirty laundry here, and I won't be doing so tonight either. However, I will say... this week has not been my favorite. Not anywhere close. There has been too much to get done, and too little time. Too many bills, and too little coin. Too much exhaustion, and too little sleep. All the adults at Casa de Curls have been more tightly wound than a well kept pocket watch. 

We have tried to keep our chins up, and not feel sorry for ourselves. We've tried our best to keep a sunny face on, and chant "this too shall pass". We've tried. But you know what? Sometimes you need to wallow a little. Just a very little. Just enough to acknowledge your feelings, process them, and power through to a better day. 

Friends, if you need a minute don't be afraid to take it. It's not being a downer. It's being emotionally responsible. Dealing with yourself, your feelings where you are is so very important. Accepting that things aren't great right now, and processing the feels that come along with that doesn't mean that you live there now. It means that you're taking the time to get yourself in a healthy headspace again. And it's ok to give yourself permission to be upset. 

So guess what? Tonight, I will be having a glass of wine and ice cream for dinner while I take the time to be mad at my week for the way it has treated me. Because that's how I wallow. But tomorrow? Tomorrow I will be me again. Ready to tackle whatever the world tries to shove at me next with my usual sense of badassery. 

So for the moment, pass the ice cream. But, like Anne Shirley says; "Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet". Next week will be better, and this too shall pass. 

Actual photo of how I have felt for the majority of this week. Photo credit goes to Aleenah Spencer (a fellow model), and Glen Vigus (who is the photographer and co-founder of GT Studios).

Actual photo of how I have felt for the majority of this week. Photo credit goes to Aleenah Spencer (a fellow model), and Glen Vigus (who is the photographer and co-founder of GT Studios).

A Day in the Life with ADHD as an Adultier Adult: Part 2

Getting out the door

7:15 A.M

Hey, bud. Ok, you made a solid attempt at peeing in the potty, and were moderately successful, you may have a piece of... huh? No. Not fruit snacks. Actually, fruit snacks sound pretty good. But, no. Piece of chocolate, and your veggie pouch so I can get my "good mom" points for the day. God, I'm hungry. Why do we wake up so hungry? It's just rude. Also, coffee should just be *there* the moment my feet touch the floor instead of me having to work for it. Oh god! No, honey. You can't run around naked rubbing your butt on things because you think it's the funniest thing ever. Pants we have to pants. OH GOD, HOW AM I STILL NOT WEARING PANTS?!?! 

7:30 A.M.

Ok. Dad made your lunch last night. He gets major points. We HAVE to remember to let him have the last of the good cookies tonight, Eli. DAD GETS THE GOOD COOKIES. Cookies. We should go to Blue Baker when I pick you up from school today. That'd be fun! I can grab lunch, you can practice your manners. Manners. Miss Manners. Who the hell does she think she is to tell us all how to behave? We aren't doing so bad. Bad. Breaking Bad. Meh. I have other things to spend my valuable alone time on. Alone. Why am I alone? Eli! Sheila! Where are you two???? Oh god. 

7:45 A.M.

Ok. You two managed to hide in Sheila's crate for a solid 5 minutes without my noticing. Kudos, but pants, kid. You HAVE to pants. Geez. Ok. Sheila. I know you have to pee. Outside. Let's go outside. Outside. Think outside the box. What could I possibly bring to the table today that we haven't done yet? We're a dance studio. We're already quirky as a rule. Being EXTRA quirky is a tall order. Tall. My boss is tall. I wish I was tall. Being able to reach things at home without that frigging stool would be nice. Stool. Oh, god. What is that smell?

8:00 A.M. 

Ok, so we had to have a diaper change (even thought you're supposed to be going in the potty), but I can get you there before your class leaves to play in the big gym. Gym. I should join a gym. Preferably a 24/7 one. I could run safely at any time of the day or night. Night. What did you eat last night to produce a diaper of that magnitude? No matter. Let's go. We can do this. School. Work. Life. 

8:05 A.M.

Hey! I remembered pants this time!

A Day in the Life with ADHD as an Adultier Adult: Part 1

Waking up

5:30 A.M.

Morning. I hate morning. That's not true. Morning is fun. Morning is fresh. Morning is new. Morning is early. I hate early, not morning. Morning is ok, I guess. Wait, why am I putting word to thought this early? Hippie? Nope. Already at work. Is my alarm going off? No. Maybe... nope. Kiddo isn't awake yet. Puppy? Nope. Still being a furry body pillow. Oh! Maybe I should get another body pillow! The last one kinda sucked. Wait. I don't need to be awake right now. It's not even light outside. Close eyes. C'mon...sleep. Sleep. Sleep: A piece by Eric Whitacre that I sang my junior year at the Luther Summer Music Academy. LSM. I miss those people. Some of my campers have babies now. Babies. Is mine awake? No. Should I have another one yet? I mean, we're almost on our feet financially, and I'm not getting any younger, but babies keep you from-OH DANGIT I'M SUPPOSED TO BE TRYING TO SLEEP. ...Do I need to pee?

6:49 A.M.

SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?! I wake up one freaking minute before my alarm goes

6:50 A.M.

off??? There is no justice in this world. *hits snooze* Why did I do that? I know good and well that I won't actually go back to sleep. I'll just delay getting out of bed. Speaking of bed, should we get a new one? I mean, we WILL have an extra room at the new place, and this one collapses into a twin. Collapse. Fall of the Roman Empire. Our current state of affairs. OMIGOD am I going to have to learn to fight like a gladiator? Because I'm so not that badass... ok, I am. But I hate seeing internal organs, and no way do I want to face down a lion. I get nervous just looking at them in zoos. Zoos. Zoos are cruel. Caging animals that are meant to be wild is just mean. I hated being in a cage, invisible though it was, I can't imagine how they must feel. Maybe I should consider being a vegetarian? Nah. Stephen would get nervous if I told him I was giving up red meat. I know what it does for my anemia. Maybe I should just get more pro-active with taking iron?

6:59 A.M.

WHO DECIDED THAT SNOOZE SHOULD EQUAL AN UNEVEN NUMBER?!?!?! Ugh. That bugs me. Not enough to get out of bed though I'll just lay here and wait until Eli wakes up. Will he be excited or angsty about school today? I never know. He does love the new teacher. What was her name? Chelsea. That was almost my name. Names. What will we name the next one? If there IS a next one? Should we try now? I mean, not right NOW because Hippie is at work, and human creation is one thing I definitely can't do solo. Solo. I haven't sung in a long time. Like, SUNG sung. I miss singing. It felt like flying. Flying. I haven't been anywhere in half a decade, but Paris is still my favorite place. Paris. Character in 'Gilmore Girls'. I wonder if I'll ever get to act on a show like that. That'd be fun. That'd pay well. We could maybe even buy a house. Maybe even with a decent... Oh, that's Eli. He's up. Time to start the day. 

7:02 A.M.

Am I even wearing pants?