25 June, 2018

Admiration - a short story


His eyes were the kind that held secrets, pain, and joy - not always all at once and not always in that order. His beautiful brown skin grew progressively darker – almost by watching it – as we sat outside during what seemed like the hottest day in the world on a rare Saturday together.

He sipped coffee; steam lifted from the standard white mug adding to the aroma of the busy tables of brunch around us. He spoke about work, friends, passions, and current projects and I watched him while happily munching away on bacon and endless cups of tea.

He seemed to know about everything, a perpetual learner; always happiest when pursuing new ventures, professionally and personally. Some of the most interesting things I’ve learned have come from his ‘did you know?’ musings. Did I know that Cranberry is the only Jell-O flavor that contains real fruit flavoring? That the Gulfstream G650 can fly almost at the speed of sound? That it is considered good luck in Japan when a sumo wrestler makes your baby cry?  

Introspective and inquisitive incarnate, he was the opposite of me in almost every way. Despite this he seemed to be drawn to me and me to him, and maybe not for a long time (we both knew this but neither mentioned it – a defacto elephant in every room we entered) but at least for now, that was enough.

“You seem so quiet, what are you thinking about?” A classic question asked when my comfortable silence was misconstrued with doubt or analysis.

“I'm just glad we got a chance to hang out. I never get to see you, I miss you.” My smile was genuine and my heart was full. I adored everything about him – his brown eyes, knowing looks, gentle touch… I felt complete around him. He returned my smile and sipped his coffee, gratefully distracted by a group sitting down at the table beside us.

I smiled back trying not to show the disappointment on my face. For someone so easy to talk to he was very strategic with his words and actions – carefully reacting to the things he wanted to and ignoring the rest. I was like a coffee mug – one he reached for first but replaceable if lost or broken.

He paused, aware the balance was upset. “You know how much I admire you. You’re amazing.” His hand reached out to grasp my wrist across the table. I knew he meant it. The waitress dropped the bill off in a small black envelope, breaking the moment. He took his hand back to reach into his wallet and toss a few $20 bills onto the table. “Do you want to get out of here? It will be nice to get out of this heat.” We got up from the table and he held the gate open for me as we crossed the street and towards my apartment.

I looked up at him; he didn’t love me. He squeezed my hand and kissed the top of my head as we walked hand in hand down the sidewalk, in line with other passersby. He didn’t love me but he admired me and at least for now, that was enough.

16 July, 2016

Hey you. You are loved.

This is dedicated to anyone who ever felt alone. Anyone who ever hated who they were or a part of themselves. It's dedicated to those who are exhausted at pretending they're okay. If you need help I will help you. You're never alone.

Ugly.
Anorexic.
Stupid.
Worthless.

These are a few words that I have been called, or I have been made to feel throughout my life. It’s something no one should have to experience – yet – it’s something almost all of us do.

The feeling of worthlessness, of self-hatred, the clouded and murky view on the world to which we think is a reality.

“I am worthless. I deserve to be unhappy.”

This is something I am familiar with hearing, and what’s worse is that these words that hurt me so much have come from myself.

People spend their entire lives fighting to be seen, heard, and valued. The fight with oneself is enough, but adding in others who may be tearing you down seems almost impossible to deal with.

Every time you think “I am going to be ok”, somebody makes you feel like you can never climb out of this crater you’re in, and every time your fingers grasp the edge ready to pull yourself out, somebody steps on your hands and send you plummeting back where you started.

Hating yourself is exhausting. It takes every aspect of joy out of your existence, and leaves you dwelling in the pit of dejection you’ve convinced yourself is your life. You can’t get out of bed, and when you do you feel like you haven’t slept in weeks.

Your physical appearance makes you literally sick to look at - you can’t find one thing about yourself that you don’t hate. You think everyone around you is judging you, and people who make your life hard suddenly seem right. You begin to make excuses for these people, allowing them to treat you this way because you feel like you deserve it.

You don’t.

You may not agree with me right now, but you will.

Nobody should ever be allowed to make you feel bad about yourself, your abilities, your appearance, or your personality. Allowing people to make you feel worthless is the absolute lowest point you can get to. So you know you need to fight to make it better.

It won’t be easy. You start small.

When you wake up you will think, I will find something to make me happy today. And you will. When you look for things it’s amazing what you find. And when you get out from underneath the rock you put on yourself under, you will find that the world is a big place, full of people just like you.

You are valued.

You have a skill.

You are beautiful to somebody. And you matter to someone. Maybe you haven’t met them yet, or maybe you have – but you do.

Hating yourself sets the standards for everyone who meets you. The first thing you need to do is realize that it’s not okay to feel this way. If you hate yourself then others will think it is ok to do so. Stop the excuses, the false justifications, and the warped rationalization that you deserve it. Stop thinking that you’re not worth it.

You are.

But this can take a long time. It’s all up to you.

It can be frustrating. The only person who is stopping you, the only person who is standing in your way is yourself.

Once you actually understand that this self depreciation is not normal, it will hit you like bricks. The walls you build to keep others out or your emotions hidden will crumble.

Realizing that you are worth being here, realizing that you are special and that you matter – this is the first day of the rest of your life.

You are funny. You are loved. You have a talent even if you don’t know what it is yet. People like you.

You matter to someone.

People tear others down because it makes them feel better about themselves. Those who tear down are insecure and broken inside. These people are the people who have been in your position – and are doing anything they can to not be there ever again. They will do anything possible to stay out of that crater, to keep someone else in it so they will never have to be in it again.

These people, these are the people who need to know that you are a strong person. You’re a fighter.

You won’t allow them to push you around, or make you feel like you are worthless – because you are strong. You deserve to be here.

You need to show these people that you are resilient. That what they say and do does not affect how you feel about yourself. Show them that you aren’t letting them tear you down.

They aren’t worth hating yourself over.

These people aren’t worth the exhaustion that comes with hating yourself.

People are allowed to have opinions. This is a fact of life, and some people’s opinions will never change. And you have to realize this. Some people will think a certain way despite all the overwhelming evidence otherwise. These people you can’t change.

But you can.

Allowing yourself to be happy, allowing yourself to ignore hateful and abusive remarks is the first step towards reclaiming your life.

This is YOUR life.

You own it. You are the one living it, and everything you do is your decision and nobody else’s. You are in charge of your own path. You have the power to do anything you want – good and bad. It is up to you to make these choices.

It is up to you to set an example for others.

Everyone makes mistakes. We’re following our own path, wrought with choices that lead to mistakes and triumphs. The beauty of life is that they are yours to make, learning as you go.

You know you’re strong. You know that your opinions matter and that your life matters. You know that your time is valuable, and that you are worth it.

And if you don’t, then I do. And if you need help – if you are struggling – then I will help you.

You can count on me; you have me to come to. And I will listen. Somebody will listen.

And I'm telling you that it may feel like you can’t do another day, your pain is too great, and your determination to weather through is gone – but you’re stronger than that.

Strength is defined when unforeseen circumstances put you in a position to prove how far you are willing to go.

And as humans, our capability for strength is unparalleled.

One day you will wake up and think “I don’t feel as bad.” Some time later you will wake up and think “I feel normal today.” It will snowball until one day you wake up and think “I am happy.”

And you’ll get there.

I know you will.

25 November, 2015

Mini Cheddar Cornbread Muffins


INGREDIENTS

  • Unsalted butter, softened, or vegetable oil cooking spray, for tin
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil


DIRECTIONS


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 12-cup mini-muffin tin or coat with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Combine buttermilk, egg, and oil. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until combined. If you want to add cheese, you can mix about a 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of cheese into the batter.
  • Fill cups of muffin tin three-quarters full with 1 batch of batter. Sprinkle some cheese on top if you want!
  • Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn out muffins from tin. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm or at room temperature. Muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.


From Martha Stewart's blog

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