Tag Archives: beauty

Let’s Get Personal

The latest trending topics online funneled through my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds have been thought-provoking: namely, an article on “modesty” online, followed up by the “news” on Kim K’s recent exposure in Paper magazine.

While Kardashian’s shiny butt photos thankfully dropped today from top trending twitter news in favor or #rokerthon (Al Roker’s marathon attempt to break the Guinness world record), and the modesty article has also faded from the forefront of my newsfeed, I’ve been thinking about giving them some further airtime.

In my opinion, both articles subtly or not so subtly bring to light a very interesting question:

How much is too much skin?


This question begs others, such as:

  • Is your level of public exposure evidence of insecurity?
  • Is this a black and white issue… or a personal one?

Let’s explore these questions and their implications, as well as some of the psychology and assumptions behind them.



In the first article, the writer claims that

“The psychology behind your behavior in taking these 

nude pics is very straight-forward: you’re suffering from a lack

of self-esteem and are looking externally to make yourself feel

good about you. But you’re kidding yourself. It’s called self-

esteem because it emanates from the self”.

Essentially, this writer is claiming an omniscient assumption over the motives, character and psychology of anyone who posts “nude” pics (this term itself being very loose because she also references lingerie in her article… and nude certainly implies full exposure).

The sheer ARROGANCE and HYPERBOLE in this article blew me away.

There is no documented psychology behind the mindset of every single individual who posts lingerie pictures, or nudes. There is no documented, fully inclusive psychology on men and women who pose fully clothed or butt-ass naked, from Old Navy to Playboy.

The older I get, the more I realize how immature it is to project your own thought process into the motives of others. For example, a few years ago, I would’ve never even dreamed of taking this photo:


The “me” I was then had not yet emerged from abuse and neglect and betrayal and abandonment. That “me”, many years ago, could never have had the security to show my body in any way. I hid behind baggy sweatshirts, long runs, and sleepless nights covered by ball caps, pulled low. I hid everything: my emotional pain, my destructive and crumbling marriage, my fear and confusion.

My slow emergence from that time period was marked by an increasing willingness to proudly demonstrate my hard work through more exposure AND motivate other women who had been through similar situations, or who were mothers trying to “reclaim” their bodies and confidence. My INCREASE in confidence was what motivated this photoshoot. Not a lack of it.


However, many people jumped in and assumed that I felt I had to show this to get attention. That my joy in the body I recreated and the life I was reconstructing were actually pure insecurity and a plea to “feel better about myself” through “likes” on Instagram.

Note the case, but perhaps, it would’ve been for them.

Take a friend of mine, whose ex-wife was constantly looking for attention from other men. This woman was known for inappropriate flings and infidelity. She got a boob job with his money without him knowing. While I cannot judge her motives, her character as evidenced by repeated decisions to dishonor her marriage and degrade her integrity beg questions about the reason for her breast augmentation. Perhaps for her, her lewd displays online and self-enhancements WERE motivated by insecurity and a lack of moral integrity.


(And THIS is why it is in caps and bolded) I AM NOT HER JUDGE, HER GOD, HER GUIDE, NOR HER CONSCIENCE. This leads into the second question:


Let’s explore this woman’s background, from what I know of it.

Raised in a broken home where her dad abused and mistreated her mom, and then abandoned them both, she constantly lived in the shadow of her mother’s depression, alcoholism, and constant run-through of men of all ages and types. This was her example growing up, from infancy. Her mom refused to show her love or affection, and blamed her for her dad’s abuse and abandonment. From a young age, she desperately wanted to be loved and cared for, and her mom refused to give that to her, after her dad had already abandoned her. She felt unwanted, used, hurt, unworthy, not good enough, and essentially, invisible.

Does this excuse her infidelity? No. Does it lend sympathy toward why she made the decisions she did? It should.

This girl needs a lot of help to turn off of the path she has already run down. But while I have no desire to befriend her, I have no desire to malign her OR to judge her.


In highschool, I judged everyone left and right. The culture I grew up in promoted this. Roll your skirt? Detention. Kiss a boy? Sexual immorality, indicative of a lack of repentance and a desire to be sexually promiscuous, which probably meant you were hell-bound. I judged anyone who looked sideways at a man or a woman, who watched movies not rated G without “skipping” over the “bad scenes”, who wore spaghetti strap shirts or midriff tops, or who slept with someone and didn’t marry them.

And you know what? It’s exhausting. Because it’s not my job.

And the older you get, the more you should realize you have better things to do with your time and energy.

So to all of the girls posting scandalous selfies online:

You do what you fucking want.

Just make sure that you are doing what is best for you.

I don’t know your journey, I don’t know what makes you tick. I refuse to project what would be a bad choice for me onto your choices, UNLESS what you are doing is directly harmful to another person.

I loved this portion of the second article on Kim’s “shocking” nude photos:

“On the flip side – those of you saying that Kim

Kardashian needs to put on some clothes simply

because she is a mother also need to sip a

big champagne glass of “Girl, Bye!”

Because this antiquated idea that mothers are

not allowed to celebrate their sexuality is

ridiculous and naive.

I’ve never been a fan of

policing other women’s bodies,

and I’m not about to start now. Ya’ll can have that.”


Take the time to focus on yourself. Do not make swift judgments about the motives of people you don’t even know, or even those you do. Allow everyone the privilege and right of policing their own bodies. Remember you do not get to dish out consequences. Don’t degrade yourself by maligning others.

Take a second to recognize that you aren’t God.

You’re just another effed up human like the rest of us.

With strengths, weaknesses, and personal battles.

Leave everyone to their individual journey,

And focus on the road in front of YOU.

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Evolution of Self

Evolution of Self

I woke up today, and I went to brush my teeth… and as melodramatic as it may seem, I stopped, and I looked in the mirror. And I saw myself, for the first time in a long, long time.

I saw a woman who is a fucking fighter, who never gives up and who champions her own dreams when no one else will.

I saw a mother who has scraped together a living for her and her son, who refuses to live in fear and torment of tomorrow’s worries by delighting in today and working her ass off without complaining.

I saw a daughter and sister who revels in the beauty of her family’s unconditional love and support.

I saw a friend who is honest, straightforward, no bull shit, true to herself, and puts others first on the reg.

I saw a girl, who was so lost, so hopeless, so empty, so without self-awareness, or knowledge of her own beauty and inner strength and potential… I thought I saw her, and then she was gone. She is gone. I don’t see her anymore.

Now I see me. I see resilience, tenacity, faith, courage, relentless confidence in the promises that tomorrow brings.

This is not boasting. This is beautiful, powerful self-awareness that has come through MUCH pain, trial, hardship, counseling, and a never-ever-ever-give-up mentality. It has come through acknowledging aloud every struggle and downfall and steep climb. Through empowering others and learning wisdom and deriving strength from coming alongside them.

I see beauty. I am beautiful. I don’t know why, and I am not full of myself, but I am. I am beautiful. I genuinely see it.

I see strength. I have an emotional strength that is unbeknownst to many, but that everyone is capable of achieving. I am so. Strong. I have survived SO much. I am a champion.

I see love. I love others selflessly, without looking for what I can get from them. I treat others well even when I am mistreated. That is real love.

I see intuition. A woman who FINALLY goes with her gut and listens to herself and does not apologize for it. Those gut decisions have never steered me wrong.

I see faith. Tested faith. Confidence in the promise that I will never walk alone, no matter how alone I feel.

I see integrity. Someone who is true to who they are when the world thrives on duplicity and secrecy. Someone who is straight up and confident but open-minded.

I see potential. So. Much. Potential. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Who I am today I was not, or did not see, a few months ago, or over 9 months ago when I walked out that door and drove, sobbing, begging strangers for money for gas, to West Chester, PA, where I stayed in my old boss’ attic for 2 days with my son before I moved home to my parents’ house. I did not know then, what I was capable of, who I am.

I have so far to go. So much to learn. So much to do, so many people to help and inspire and lift up, so many to be inspired BY.

But I see ME. I see her. That WOMAN. In the mirror… and I love who she is, and all she is becoming.

What an incredibly powerful feeling. I have to share this quote again:

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.”
― C. JoyBell C.

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I shed tears tonight for the first time in a while.

Not for anything recent, but for the self-revelation of these last eight months or more; the deep, abasing knowledge that I gave so much of myself to someone who debilitated my heart over the course of many harsh words, criticisms, and pain, like acid, dripping on a ruby red stone.

When I left, I was still in a daze. For about a month I rode the high of freedom and the conceptual reality that I could spread my wings. Shortly after, I realized I was still chained to the ground, emotionally and mentally and in some ways physically; a prisoner of the past and of enabled allowances for degradation of self.

I began to realize that I had allowed my integrity to myself to be swallowed up in the all-consuming desire to make someone else happy; to conform to their reality, their opinion, their ever-changing versions of temporal happiness and pleasure. I lost myself, in being someone else, for someone I never asked to change for me.

The damages of this extend through to today. I am growing in confidence, there is a smile in my eyes. There is a person – and actually many persons – in my life who show me what it means to be seen, trusted, respected, acknowledged, affirmed, valued, and I am daily more aware of the deep worth I bring to the world, and to others.

Yet amidst this there is a conflict of self-analysis: a fear of acknowledging beauty or desirability, a constant, nagging thought that nothing good will last, that I deserve nothing so good as what is being given to me: that joy is only transient. There is a deep war between wisdom, learned from pain and struggle, and fear, also learned from the same.

Daily, I attempt to sacrifice fear on the alter of hope. Sometimes I win, sometimes I do not.

One very screwed-up way that fear manifests itself in my mind right now is an unwillingness to admit to any physical beauty – I think because I gave myself so completely to someone who informed me that I was no longer desirable or noticeable to them, I downgraded my self-perspective so that I could make sense of that type of pain.

People may tell me all they like, but I go in and out of seeing what others seem to see so clearly. This is no attempt to fish for compliments, because they are regularly given, but until I acknowledge it myself, accept it myself, understand it myself, remember myself that I am beautiful, it will not truly resonate.

I often wonder how to get there.

Grief is a journey, and a journey you cannot rush. I grieve the loss of my innocence, of my integrity for several years, of my stability in some ways emotional and mental. I am determined to reacquire all I had, and beyond, but fear sidelines courage on a regular basis.

I have learned to surrender to the ebb and tide of emotion. These days, it is far less violent and the waters of my tempestuous thoughts are regularly more still as glass. Slowly, surely, daily, the chaos of my life is unmatched on a mental level: I find myself retreating from the insanity into the peace and self-awareness I find in my own heart, rather than fleeing to the busy chaos of my world to escape the upheaval of my mind.

Much progress has been made, but much more is to come.

Say what you may, time is the truest healer. There is no band aid for what has been done to me, for what I accepted and endured. No quick fix, no easy button. Time will heal my wounds if I simply keep pressing on. Time will help me to learn, believe, and accept that I am beautiful, inside and out. Time will show me value beyond what I even knew I had before all of this pain.

I don’t believe in regrets, because we choose to learn from our experiences. There is much value in my life I would not recognize were it not for the pain I went through. However, if I could speak one thing to my younger self, or to anyone in a jealous, controlling, fear-dominated, volatile relationship where they are conforming to someone else’s desires for them, someone else’s picture of what they should be, it would be this:

let go. Now. Don’t do it. Stop. Run, flee, turn, escape. Never, ever, ever, change who you know yourself to be; never sacrifice your integrity on the alter of false emotion, great sex, a desire for companionship, fear of being alone. Never, ever, ever back down from your sense of who you are to make someone happy. Stand your ground, or pay the price. Compromise of character is a surrender of everything that will truly sustain you in the long run.

Do you know who you are? Find it. Acknowledge it. Refine it. Accept it.

Do not change it.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

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The Classic Cop-out: “Everything Happens for a Reason”

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with someone who is not only intelligent and funny, but also takes the time to think deeply on things and to challenge me (another way of saying “call me on my bull shit”). I was quite surprised to find myself challenged by this person the other day on a phrase I regularly toss around: “Everything Happens for a Reason”.

In my arrogance, I’ve always considered this altruistic phrase to be a by-product of my character development from circumstances I’ve been through. To me, it was a way of saying that good can come from the worst situations; it’s all about how you use it, what you take from it.

However, just because that is the nuance I cling to does not mean that it carries that weight and inference with others. As my friend pointed out, it’s really a dumbass saying: “Everything Happens for a Reason” is honestly stating the obvious.

No shit, Sherlock. Everything happens for a reason… even science alone tells us that. Chain reaction theory, causal events…

like, duh.

This was one of those slapped-in-the-face-with-a-wet-noodle-step-back-catch-your-breath moments for me. (You’ve never had those?)

I use this phrase with EVERYONE and didn’t realize how condescending and stupid it sounded until I was called on it.

Here’s how this phrase effectively holds ZERO water, and since I like a full, honest, deep life vs. fluff and bull shit, it’s worth looking into:

1. “Everything Happens for a Reason” implies a lack of control over our actions, choices, words, and thoughts.

“It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll;

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my   soul.”

-William Ernest Henley

No matter your view on God or fate (I believe in free will), there has to be some acknowledgement of the weight of influence over your own future by the choices you make today. The truth is, we have the ability to choose, always. It is perhaps the most powerful thing about humankind: our ability to reason, and to choose. I tell this to clients all the time: today is all about choices. Every day is about choices. Who will you be today? What will you do? In the end, it’s not me that will motivate someone to get in shape or to take ownership over their eating habits: they are 100% in control. They. Choose.

In the same way, the choices you make every day influence your character, your future, and what you take from your past. Even your thoughts are choices. When we abdicate control over our thoughts, we may find ourselves shipwrecked on the rocks of the demons of our past.

2. “Everything Happens for a Reason” robs our future of its joys.

If you adopt a fatalistic stance toward your choices and the power you actually possess to make something of yourself, your relationships, and the world around you, you rob your future of joy. You drift through life as a byproduct of fatalistic and inconsequential reality, another puppet on the stage of a broken drama. In this instance, the concept of “Everything Happens for a Reason” becomes a cage. You are trapped by your inability to influence your present and your future.

As we just saw in the previous point, this is not so. Therefore, rather than abdicate responsibility over our choices and the influence we have in a very powerful way, we must consciously both accept and acknowledge and act upon the power we possess over our future.

Doing this brings a heavy weight of responsibility, yes, but it also brings a carefree confidence if our character is sound. We acknowledge the power we have, we choose to use it to make sound choices, and we reap the consequences of doing so. We can CHOOSE happiness, joy, faith, beauty, nature, holistic thought patterns, and we benefit from doing so.

(Note: one of the most powerful ways to choose joy in the present is to remove the influence of others who bring only negativity and pain to your life. THIS IS NOT SELFISH. This is wise, and it’s something I’ve learned to do.)

3. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is an asshole thing to say to anyone.

Yea, I went pretty informal on that one^^. But it’s true! I feel absolutely terrible for every time I said that to someone. In every instance, someone had hopes, dreams, beliefs, something that was totally destroyed in some way. I hate preachy people, and by saying that, I became one of them. Was it my intent? No. But I said it, and I sounded like a jerk for doing so. Essentially, you’re saying “Well, there it is. It happened. Too bad.”

What I MEANT was that not only do you have power over your choices, you have power over the negative things that happen to you that are out of your control because you can choose to take from them what you will. You can choose bitterness and anger toward someone who has wronged you, or you can choose to learn a lesson and to move forward and leave the past behind. They only have as much power as you choose to give them.

While all of this was my intent, it’s not what comes across. If I liked a guy and he broke up with me and said that to me, I would want to slap him… and yet I’ve said this to dudes when I wasn’t interested. Ouch. My bad. Public apology extended.

One way I deny my ex power over my present is to avoid taking the low road with him. Do I speak honestly about what happened? Yes. Do I share his name, trash his character in an intimate way, talk to his friends (most of whom I chose to have no contact with for this reason after I left), steal from him, chew him out, lash out at him, etc.? No. Those actions degrade ME. They show weakness of character in ME, and they give him power over my PRESENT and FUTURE by allowing past situations with him to continue to effect me. I will not give that to him, and I choose to take control over my present and take the high road by not doing so. Anyone who gets off on the pain they inflict on another human being, even if “deserved” has no integrity of character. Don’t do it. Move forward.

4. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is an inadequate way to wrestle with pain.

If you say this or hear this and leave it there, you haven’t dealt with whatever hurt you that you’re trying to justify.

Personally, I don’t just say this; I’ve wrestled, wrestled, wrestled with things that have happened to me. Many, many, many painful things in the last 8 years. But not everyone does this, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, there is no justifiable reason for the pain that was inflicted on me, and I can’t understand that. I can’t cope with it. So I stonewall my emotion by throwing this up as a safeguard, when in fact it is a cop-out. Grief is a process. If you run, it will find you… and a fatalistic saying in an altruistic disguise is a terrible way of coping.


I could go on, but this post is getting long. Essentially, it’s a fucked up phrase. I won’t be using it anymore. It’s become a part of my vocabulary, and now if I start to say it, it carries a shock value because it’s stupid, empty, worthless, selfish, and unhelpful.

No more cop-out for me.

Today I acknowledge that I am powerful.

That I have value.

That I deserve good, and beautiful things.

That I can make something of myself, of my relationships.

That I can choose, today

to be




and demand

the best of things, a beautiful inheritance, a depth of character and insight, a passionate concern for the wellbeing of others, a love for all things beautiful and real, integrity to myself; who I am, what I want, and all I am capable of.

Let us say instead Everything I Choose to Be, I Will Become.

Acknowledge your own power with confidence today, and lay both hands on the helm.




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Living in the Moment



“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.”
C. JoyBell

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Lessons I’m Learning #1


Not only is it okay, it is good.

Some women function regularly on emotional waves. Yours truly functions by shutting out emotion when things hurt. I avoid sadness and pain in my thoughts because of that weakness I hate so much.

Part of this is a coping mechanism for the tidal wave of emotion that comes with a severely painful situation, and part of this is a survival mechanism because I can’t afford to fall apart. I have a son and myself to provide for and responsibilities to meet.

Only teenagers can collapse in a puddle of mascara-smeared, powder puff tears on a bed of broken hopes and obliterated self-esteem, right? Nope.

I really do rarely cry, but I’m learning that tears or no, IT IS OKAY TO FEEL.

It is okay that when I caught a glimpse of his face when he FaceTimed our son, I had to rush to the living room with a sob caught in my throat, cover my face and weep: that is okay. 

The fact that I still love him, that I deeply miss him: that is okay.

It is okay to relive the pain in order to move forward, and it is also okay to relive much of the beauty and good. This type of nostalgia is not unhealthy; it is pure and unadulterated HUMANITY.

In the interest of humanity, let me be raw for a moment on this score:

I loved his passion for life. When we met he was as intense as I am in his curiosity, his balls-to-the-wall lifestyle and his deep and passionate love for and interest in me.

He was the first person to make me believe, by his very confidence, that I could be healthy again. He taught me to hope for healing.

He taught me to BS less and to say what I was thinking; to stop being a people pleaser.

I loved the laughter; SO MUCH LAUGHTER, it would break me into a million happy shining pieces in the best of ways.

I loved his deep awareness of God’s voice: he would hear from Him, make decisions, and every time things came to pass as he said they would, and he succeeded.

I loved his aggressive fearlessness. Where I was afraid to try new things, to travel, to live after years of sickness, he would hold me and remind me I was safe, but also that I had the power to do things, and possibly even to succeed at them.

He held me amidst significant physical pain and breathed through every contraction with me on our son’s birthday.

Wrestling and late night cuddles and the honeymoon effect of military lifestyle; I look back and love it and feel it all.

No one made me grin the way he did, and no one made me feel so like an 8 year old girl with her first crush.

I love what we had and what we were, and what he helped to make me be. I have a million things to thank him for.

I am human, I feel, I accept that feeling. I acknowledge the pain of rejection, anger, betrayal; of a beautiful thing turned upside down and backwards and inside out and broken at the hands of a fallen world.


This is how we know we are alive.




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