Saturday, December 27, 2014

Poverty nutrition

Some people may not realize it, but poverty contributes to poor health.  Not just for the obvious mental stress of living on a shoestring budget, no time to work out or money for a gym membership or fitness equipment.  But let's talk food.

Let's do a thought experiment.  Imagine you are a single mother with two children.  You work to try to make ends meet and provide for yourself, and get about $200 per month in food stamps. Your income goes to rent and other bills, so you try to stick with only your food stamps for food.  Besides, you still have to use your "real" money to buy non-food necessities like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

$50 per week to feed a family of 3.  Let's look at two hypothetical grocery bills for a week's worth of food.  The healthy and the budget-conscious.  (Prices estimated from my own shopping experiences in Provo, Utah.)

Image source

One loaf of whole grain bread - $3.00
Peanut butter - $3.00
Three gallons of milk - $9.00
2 boxes whole grain cereal (Raisin Nut Bran, frosted mini wheats)- $8.00
Fresh spinach - $2.50
Lettuce, cabbage, kale, other greens & veggies for salads - $10.00
Blueberries - $4.00
Apples - $6.00
Bananas - $5.00
Frozen fruit for smoothies - $10.00
Greek yogurt - $4.00
Quinoa - $8.00
Brown rice - $6.00
Whole grain pasta - $5.00
Frozen vegetables - $6.00

Oh wait......I'm already up to $89.50 with the whole grains and produce, and I haven't even bought any meat, cheese, condiments, or snacks....All this healthy food would be enough to cover breakfast for the week, snacks, lunches (Peanut Butter sandwiches for the kids, salads with no dressing for the mom), and about half of the items needed for dinners.  How filling will these foods be?  Will the kids eat them and be satisfied?  Well, since we went way over, the $50 would probably only get the produce and no whole grains.  Can you fill up on fruit and vegetables only?

Let's try again being a little more budget-conscious.
Loaf of white bread - $1.00
Peanut butter - $3.00
14 Ramen noodles - $3.50
7 Canned corn or green beans - $3.50
3 gallons milk - $9.00
2 boxes cheap cereal (store brand Cheerios most likely) - $5.00
Pasta - $2.00
Rice - $3.00
Pasta sauce - $2.00
5 Packaged meal items (Stove Top, Mac & Cheese) - $5.00
1 pound ground beef, high fat - $3.00
1 pound chicken - $4.00
Bag of chips - $2.00
Package of cookies - $2.00
Granola bars for snacks - $2.00

That's better, $50.00 exactly and we covered all the meals and snacks this time.  We've packed the cart and our bodies with salt, fat, sugar, and processed foods.  Vitamins?  Not many- probably just in the fortified cereal.  Fresh fruits or vegetables?  None.  Whole grains?  None.  Lean meats? None. But our family is fed and doesn't go hungry.

Was that surprising?  I hope it was eye-opening for some.  Is it any wonder so many of us are obese?  Unhealthy food is cheap and easy to come by, easy to prepare.

What if you were homeless?  If all you have for preparing food is a microwave at a shelter, and no access to a fridge, what then?  This great article answers that question: Why Judging People for Buying Unhealthy Food is Classist

And, when given freedom with some extra money, what would a homeless person really want to buy?  What I Learned After Taking a Homeless Woman Shopping

Another story to illustrate this.  One day I was shopping at Big Lots, which has a small section of non-perishable groceries at low prices.  A woman approached me with a box of Nutri-Grains and $2 in her hand and asked if I could spare any money for her to get something to eat.  I told her I had no cash.  But when she got behind me in the checkout line, I asked the cashier to add her purchase to mine.  She thanked me.  Coincidentally, we both then walked to the grocery store nearby and I happened to get in the checkout line behind her there.  With her $2 she was able to get some fresh cut vegetables with dip to add to her Nutri-Grain meal.  Notice what item had to come first in priority (processed, cheap, more filling), and what a little extra money could then give her the freedom for (healthy).

I can relate to these stories in a small way because I've lived on food stamps as a single mom for a very long time.  I also was homeless for one week (lived in a hotel paid for by someone else).  It was definitely limiting to only get to cook with a microwave.  We had lots of Cup Noodles and canned soup that week.  At least I was lucky enough to have a small fridge, and free all-you-can-eat hotel breakfast every morning.

One last caveat to poverty and food, at least for me.  This may surprise people.  It surprised me when I came to the realization. When you have no money to go to a movie, buy yourself new pants, get snow boots for your kids, etc., that is a very helpless-feeling situation to be in.  Your "real" money is always lacking, and the bank account frequently goes into the negative.  There are no fun things or perks unless you have people giving you things, cause you can't even afford all the necessities.

But the ONE thing that is constant is food stamps.  During the times (like now) when I'm lucky enough to have a good amount of food stamps coming in, that is the one area of my financial life where I have freedom, within a certain limit of course.  I cannot "treat" myself to a movie, new clothes or jewelry, or hardly even afford to pay a babysitter so I can have a night out with friends.  What is the ONE thing I CAN treat myself with?

You guessed it: food.
Let the cookies and ice cream flow.

That's the only way to reward myself for my hard work, or even unwind after the stressful days.  (Now I'm not condoning this, I've definitely had an unhealthy relationship with sweet foods my whole life, there are better ways to treat yourself and unwind.  Just none so FREE and easy, and enjoyable, for me.)

Now, I do love healthy food.  I could treat myself to a nice Pomegranate or smoothie and I often do, but back to the cost again, it would take 10 times as many pomegranates to fill me up as it would ice cream, at about 20 times the cost (A single pomegranate is $2.50, and a whole carton of ice cream is the same price.).  Junk food is much cheaper to fill up on than healthy food, as I established at the beginning.

Why the importance of "filling up"?  Well this is a curious thing I have found.  Hunger pains make me feel helpless.  They bring home that feeling of poverty and lack of control over my own financial life.  Those fat-filled sweets take that feeling away a LOT quicker and keep it away longer, so I can focus on my schoolwork, for a much lower hit to the grocery budget.

So the next time you feel tempted to judge what is in someone else's grocery cart, please remember you might not know the whole story.  All of this is not me trying to make excuses, but point out the natural limitations for those in poverty.  Please be kind.  Maybe even buy the next homeless person you see a Pomegranate. ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy alone

This was shared on Facebook today and was another reminder of something people have been trying to get through my head for a long time.

I like the company of others so much but I end up relying on that for my peace and happiness.  So then when I don't have people around supporting me, I feel my life being very tumultuous and unhappy.  To attempt to fill the void that has been left by ex-husbands, ex-boyfriend, deceased mother, stroke-victim-half-paralyzed father, and lack of close friendships, I feel like I am constantly reaching out.  Reaching out for someone to fill the void for me.  I try to hang out with people, try to be seen as cool in their eyes, always hoping to find a "best friend" - someone that will love me and want me in their life just as much as I love and want them.  That never seems to work out.

So, I turn to social media.  I go to Facebook, I look for anything people have said to me...not much.  I try to start interesting or controversial conversations so people will say stuff.  That sometimes works for a while.  When all that fails, I scroll.  And scroll.  And scroll.  Read articles, look for things to comment on, think of things to say or pictures to post.  Grasping at friendship straws.  And it usually comes up fruitless.  And then I feel frustrated with myself for wasting so much time on Facebook doing "nothing".  This endless social frustration has caused me to deactivate my Facebook account a few times, and make dramatic exits as I go on a 2-week Facebook fast, inviting people to call or text me cause I won't be around.  Strangely enough, usually no one contacts me.  I am not sure if it's because people don't care about me, or if they simply forget I exist since there is no longer anything reminding them of my presence on their timeline feed each day.

This summer I feel I did pretty well with this being alone stuff.  Cause I had the time and resources to actually do a lot of things for myself that I really enjoyed.  We went to the pool at least 3 times a week.  I read several books.  I rode my bike, I worked on projects in my house, and I invited different friends over frequently to do stuff with me.  It was the best summer I've had in a while.  I was trying to be happy and enjoy myself, while inviting others to join me in the fun, but not so much depending on that.  I'm sure I was still trying to fill some voids, but it was definitely better than I am now.  I don't have the time and resources during the school year as much to be alone and enjoy it.

I feel the itch again to leave Facebook.  I get so tired of the superficial relationships it breeds.  It's my fault cause I rely on that and hope that these people who probably don't actually like or care about me that much will want to be actual friends.  A simple "like" does not leave me content.  I want real conversations and intimacy with others.  Real friendship.

But in order to get that and attract other people who want the same instead of the arm's length relationships of social media, I'll have to be genuine to myself and happy alone.  Perhaps people don't want to spend time with me cause they can sense when I'm desperately trying to fill a need, rather than graciously letting them enjoy my awesome company while I enjoy theirs.  The past summer was more about enjoying the company of friends, rather than needing anything, necessarily.

Here's something I found.  When you forgo the things that you want in order to feel included, you can be sure that that balance is out of whack. ... Focus on friendships that let you be more you.
Click for quote and picture source

I have made progress in this area.  There are friends I thought I wanted to be really close to, but after spending some time with them I realized I didn't want to be as close because they are a negative influence or we just don't have much in common.  Others I was surprised to find that we have tons in common and I'm really glad we became friends, cause I never would have thought about seeking them out as a friend before that.

So, I have a goal to be happy with myself and spend more time with myself, my thoughts, etc.  To figure out who I am, what I really want, what I believe, what I enjoy, etc.  To just be alone with myself, without distractions of social media or anything else.  I am going to spend at least 1 hour per week enjoying nature and exploring my thoughts and feelings.  This will probably look like taking a bike ride or hike, and sitting to journal among trees, mountains, rivers, whatever I can find that brings me joy, peace, and serenity.

I am also going to start a list of my beliefs and values.  It's almost like a checklist of reminders for myself of lessons I have already learned and want to remind myself of.  I plan to read it regularly, perhaps even daily.  Almost like the cheesy daily affirmations, but way cooler.  This should help me to solidify who I am and being cool with myself.  Cause if I start repeating something daily it will probably become very quickly apparent whether I actually believe it or not. My hope is that this will get me more in touch with who I am, both so I can be happy alone, and to ensure that I'm not conceding important things about myself just in an attempt to be liked by others.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

depression poem

I had a goal this year to write a poem, so here's my limerick I wrote in like 2 minutes flat.  Maybe I'll do it more often.

my brain does not like to be bothered
to study, to clean, or to mother.
i sit here at home
to wallow alone
and avoid others getting smothered.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grieving the After

This summer I did something that was incredibly difficult and scary.  I gave away an entire wardrobe's worth of clothing in my "goal size".  These clothes were things I wore at about age 17-21.  I'm 34 now, and about 3 or 4 sizes above that collection of clothing.  I dutifully held on to these items because they were my favorite clothes- there was some really cute stuff in there!  And OF COURSE, I would get to that size again...some day.  I wouldn't want to have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars replacing all those clothes WHEN I got back to that size!

I've taken many "before" pictures in my life, sat down and planned out my "miraculous transformation to come", wrote down every workout, every calorie limit and possible "cheat" day to stick with the healthy goal of losing 2 pounds per week.  In fact, the box this clothing was stored in was labeled, "Julie's clothes Summer 2008".  That was the time period I had estimated I'd be able to fit in them again, after my careful planning out of the exact path to take to this glorious "after".

So when it was time to clean out and get rid of my storage unit this summer, I took a long hard look at this wardrobe I had been saving.  I took them out and looked longingly at my jeans and black pants that I fondly remember feeling so great wearing - I even got asked out on a date (something that almost never happened to me) by a complete stranger while wearing those clothes!  That means, this guy who knew NOTHING about me, asked me out based solely on looks...ME!  What a thrilling day that was. How nice it would be to have that experience again.  But for that to happen, I have to fit in those clothes again.

So then why did I give the clothes away?  Why would I waste money and give up my inspiration to be healthy?  I remember once even hanging those jeans up on my wall in an attempt to inspire myself daily to exercise and avoid eating the sweets I loved, so that I could once again be sexy, confident, and acceptable to males.

Why did I get rid of them?  I'll tell you why.  Because I decided to be kind to myself.  I decided I love myself.  I decided that I am awesome the way I am - NOT ONE POUND LIGHTER.  I will no longer subject myself to the self-inflicted abuse of putting life off until I get to my "after".  My life is here and now.  I got rid of those clothes because I gave myself permission to go ahead and live.

Believe me, letting it go was a hard thing to do.  I hesitated.  I regretted.  I bargained.  I cried.  And after they were gone, I breathed.  Then I smiled.  And then I went on with my awesome life.

(Thanks again to Militant Baker for doing this Smash the Scale thing at the beginning of this year.  I took another big step by grieving the "after".)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Far from careless CARlessness

One month today.  The amount of time I have been living without a car.  Here are some things I have learned.

  • Not having to pay car insurance, gas, repairs, maintenance, registration, saves a lot of money each month- I love it!  Now if someone would buy my car I could also add that financial benefit to the list...I want to buy better bikes for my oldest son and me!
  • Bike repairs are almost constant with 3 bikes and a trailer we use regularly.  I just patched a hole in my inner tube last week, and need to repair one on the trailer now and replace my son's broken bike chain.  Obviously the repairs are a lot cheaper, but more time-consuming for me and more frequent than with a car.
  • Drivers are pedestrian-and-cyclist-stupid.  Seriously, you do see those things called cross walks painted on the road at the intersection, right?  That's not your stop line.  The stop line is BEHIND the cross walk. I think every driver should be required to travel by bike with children for a month to get a little perspective on how stupid they're being.
  • Lessons can be for life.  I'm grateful that my dad taught me how to patch up a bike tube back when I was probably 12.  I still have vivid memories of that lesson, and have applied what I learned, greater than 20 years later!
  • Being without a car is limiting.  I cannot just pick up and go whenever I'd like.  I have to plan ahead, sometimes spending hours a week figuring out bus schedules, biking distances, timing so I don't miss the train, etc.
  • Being without a car is freeing.  I feel empowered that I can get around and survive just fine without a car and save a good deal of money.  This baffles a lot of people.  Many adults from the generation before mine were shocked and totally incredulous when they heard of my plans to stop using a car.  They tried to advise me against it.
  • Sacrificing teaches appreciation for things.  I appreciate distances a lot more.  Traveling a distance of 10 miles is very different depending on your mode of traversing it.  Having to spend hours on commuting around has really helped me appreciate the time available to me and to use it well.
  • Appreciation for things teaches sacrifice.  I have an appreciation for money since I have precious little of it.  Because of that and this no-car experience, I'd rather sacrifice car use even when I do have one, and take the bus and ride my bike at any logical opportunity in order to save money for more important stuff.  Appreciation for clean air to breathe and not screwing up the environment more also leads me to these same sacrifices.
  • I can do hard things.  For the past month I have done my grocery shopping by riding to the store in the company of children on their own bikes, and a trailer attached to mine for bringing things home.  I then ride those 50-some-odd pounds of food up a big hill to my house.  Every time I do it without having to get off the bike and walk, I just feel like doing a victory dance.  (After I catch my breath!)

I'm glad I have been able to do this, and I hope to continue without a car for the rest of the year, possibly even until next summer.  I have a lot of gratitude for the public transportation system, especially the train!  And I love that my university values it and offers very inexpensive yearly bus passes to the students.  That's the only reason I can even do things this way.  (Thanks UTA and UVU!)
There's nothing like riding a bike with the wind in my hair, enjoying the sunlight and fresh air.  It's really fun and enjoyable!  But my favorite part?  Every time I ride past the gas station, complete with the giant signs saying, "Unleaded $3.65/ gal, Premium $3.75/ gal" I just have to grin and chuckle to myself.  I'm sorry most of the rest of you are still paying those prices.  I'll try not to rub it in that I'm not.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Feelin' Fit

The human body is amazing, y'all.  Mine astounds me.  The fact that I can bust up my toe, get a nasty fracture, and just a couple weeks later it has fully healed itself, is so awesome.

And with a little help from some asthma medicine, my muscles are able to get the oxygen they need and I can do so much more than I can without it.  Even after cycling all over town and dragging a trailer full of heavy groceries up the hill (again), swimming a half mile today was a breeze, and I would have done more if my kids hadn't wanted to leave.  I wish I'd had an inhaler in High School when I was on the swim team, I could have done so much better.

I'm really grateful that I have the strong body I do.  I'm not the most fit, but I know a lot of people of all different sizes who are much more limited in their abilities.  Size does NOT equal fitness or lack thereof.  I'm happy to be able to do most of the stuff I love- hike, bike, swim, garden, backpack, roller blade, explore, and play!

Here's what it looks like to be fairly fit AND fairly fat.  Yeah, it happens, and it's dang fun, so don't be hatin. ;)

Biking uphill...
Biking downhill! Wheee!!!

Weeding my new garden

My first harvest :)

Swimming with the kiddos

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pornography fuels the demand for sex trafficking

I'm sorry to even share this but it's important for people to know. I didn't realize it until I went to a symposium at UVU last year on human trafficking (ie modern-day slavery). It happens in the US, and it happens in Utah, yes right around you. Porn creates the demand. So please don't believe anyone who says using pornography is harmless. Even if you deny the research on what it does to the user's own brain, behavior, and life, you can't ignore that you have no idea which or how many of the porn "performers" are there against their will, being horribly abused. Boycott pornography and spread the word. This is no longer an issue of personal morality. It's a public health and human dignity crisis.

Read the article from Porn Harms here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pornography culture - differences in men and women

This is a post requesting comments!

I hear a lot of people saying that porn is normal, natural, and not a big deal.  Men are visually stimulated, and women are emotional, so just deal with it.  Well, I think that's a lame excuse.  Since when are women NOT also visual?  I appreciate and am turned on by the look of a sexy man just as much as any man is by a sexy woman.

I think the reality is that men like novelty.  It's not that they are visual.  If that were the case, they could have an album of racy photos of their significant other (or having that person actually in the room) and that would suit them just fine.  They wouldn't need anything else.  But internet porn brings constant novelty- a new girl at every mouse click.

Watch this great TED talk for more on that novelty and the effect it has:
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Now I want to talk about inequality.  I read an article this week by a sex therapist about how to talk to your boyfriend about their porn habit.  This therapist was someone who believes porn is fine, and you can never get a man to give it up.  I think she's full of crap.  She mentioned that asking him to give it up would be like asking you (the woman) to give up your vibrator and masturbation altogether.  (In my mind I am thinking, uhhh...wouldn't you give that up anyway cause you have a sexual partner?  Guess that's "old fashioned".)  Then she goes on to mention that a lot of men don't like women using vibrators because it sets up "unreasonable expectations".  :-o  Oh my, I had to just laugh so hard!  What do you think PORN is doing, genius??!!  For men, they get their unreasonable expectations from movies, media, and porn.  For women, theirs come from romance novels and movies (including Disney movies and other fairy tales), and vibrators.

Am I the ONLY person in this world that believes that we should be weeding all of these things out of our lives?!  How about for the sake of a healthy, loving relationship, neither partner has any sexual activity outside of their partnership?  And yeah, I am including self-stimulation, toys, and porn in the category of "sexual activity outside of the partnership".

Is there a way to screen people you date to find out if they are addicted to or indulge regularly in pornography?  I am sick and tired of every person I date being deep into this, and having my heart ripped out when I realize that their problem was worse than I thought, or that they aren't as recovered as I thought, or that they don't actually WANT recovery or aren't ready for it.  I would LOVE to have a way to weed guys out on the first couple dates so I don't even get involved with them.  Porn is a total deal-breaker (and heart-breaker) to me, so I want none of it.  I'm sick of this world.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yes ALL Women

#YesAllWomen  Even the fat ones.

I remember being a teenager and hating myself and my overweight body.  But in kind of a sick way, I was also grateful for my unattractiveness.  Why?  Because, "well, at least I won't get raped."

I was still afraid when walking alone at night, but I had a measure of reassurance that if there is a rapist creeping about, he would probably not be interested in me and would wait for the next female to come along.

Then I found out that someone close to me HAD been raped.  This sickened and maddened me, and my heart broke for her.  But it also kind of served to confirm what I believed.  She was what I'd consider more attractive than myself.  She got raped cause she was more desirable to men than I was.  She was the next female to come along.

With this kind of environment and fear, is it really any wonder I never fully had the body transormation I longed for, and still haven't?  I'd like to know that a guy loves me for who I am, not what I look like.  What better way to weed out the shallow guys than to just not be that physically attractive to them in the first place?  Decent guys can look past physical flaws and get to know a person, and shallow guys never will.  It's safer to stay fat.

I just read this Blog about Misogyny among nerdy guys, and it brought me to a realization.  My role in relationships and society in the past has been to be the backup plan for those guys who couldn't get the girl they really wanted, because of their nerdy or otherwise "lesser" status.  But being with a guy who doesn't *really* want me is better than being alone, right?

And there is an even darker side of #YesAllWomen for fat girls, as talked about in this other great blog post I found: Fierce Freethinking Fatties.  The perception that a fat girl who gets raped is lucky, cause at least SOMEONE wanted to have sex with her.  This is the poisonous flipside of what I grew up believing - if I was safe from rape because of how unattractive I looked, naturally, I should also be grateful for a sick, depraved rapist willing to lower his standards to take advantage of me, so I can get SOME action.

Is this really what people believe?  Is this really what we want girls growing up now to believe about themselves?

That blog pointed out a t-shirt that says, "Fat Girls Can't Say No....(and when they do it still means yes)."  Are men actually being taught to believe that they will be less to blame for raping a fat girl than a thin one?  That's kinda what it's sounding like to me.   Men are getting the message all over the place that women actually WANT to be raped.  (Hello, pornography?)  But fat girls apparently want it even more, cause it could be their only chance.

Please, people, stop believing these kinds of lies.  We need good people - and, I'll just come out and say it: we especially need MEN - to stand up against this garbage.  It isn't just rapists who are the problem.  When you make jokes with undertones of rape, or simply laugh at or tolerate those jokes, you are partly to blame.  (FYI: Rape is- any form of not getting consent, or of ignoring a "no" from the person you do sexual things with!  It doesn't matter if you know them or not, what they look like, what they're wearing, how much you think you're not in control of yourself, etc.)  This is really no different than any other issue of social inequality in our past.  It's not much different from white supremacy.  It's male supremacy.  The only way for that to stop is for men to stand up WITH women to fight against it. what's right.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Naked face

Makeup.  What purpose does it serve?  Is it to accentuate, to draw out your natural beauty?  Or is it to deceive and conceal?  How does it make you feel?  Can you go without it?  Is it a luxury or necessity?
Sometimes it's fun to wear interesting colors or go all-out crazy with the makeup just for kicks.  That's cool, I have no problem with that.  I don't even have a problem with makeup in general, I just don't think it's for everyone.  I also don't think anyone should feel compelled to wear it if they don't want to.

I have personally decided to go mostly without makeup.  I will still probably wear it occasionally like if I get professional photos taken or go out on a nice date.  But even then, why should I?  I don't think makeup is evil, but the truth is this.  I don't want to feel like even if I'm running late I haveto put makeup on to be presentable out in public.

A year ago, I was at home in my grubbies on a Saturday.  I had an unexpected visitor show up from my church to just check and see how I was doing since I just recently moved in.  We had a good conversation for a few minutes.  When he left, I said out loud, "how embarrassing, I didn't even have my makeup on."  My 8-year-old boy turned to me and said, "what do you need makeup for?  You look fine!"

Well he sure told me...haha.  I began to realize how silly it really is.  I also began to notice how many women there are that go without makeup, and did that mean I thought they were ugly?  No.  I was never really into using makeup growing up.  I thought it was stupid and never wore any all through High School.  I thought girls who spent an hour getting ready every day were really dumb.  Then I met a guy who convinced me I needed it and I became indoctrinated with the idea that I had to "take care of myself" in order to be a functional member of society, ward off depression, and be acceptable.

Speaking of "functional member of society", here's just a little proof that women are taught they can't be acceptable without being adequately "made up", particularly as we start to get older.  This is a graphic made by Beauty Redefined:
Click for an Anti-Aging blog by Beauty Redefined, the source of this graphic

Brad is considered handsome and distinguished with his naked face, and Linda is still supposed to look like she's 20- or 30-something, with a face so painted it looks fake.

I have never felt comfortable with that level of makeup.  I tried out a lot of stuff, at one time (when I was with that guy I mentioned) using the full twice-daily regimen of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.  My makeup routine included using foundation, powder, blush, bronzer, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, eyebrow liner, and tweezers to pluck stray eyebrow hairs (OUCH).  I found it cumbersome and ridiculous to spend so much time and money.  My skin isn't so bad anyway, so why cover it up with a bunch of junk that gets mostly rubbed off by mid-day?  I don't think anyone's skin is that bad in fact.  I HATE when women with freckles use makeup to make them disappear.  That's a shame.

So, after that nonsense, I pared my routine down dramatically.  I used only concealer for the bags under my eyes, eye liner, eye shadow only because it kept the eyeliner from running into my eye crease, and mascara.  Since I already felt good about not being a "sell out" to a full-blown makeup routine, I convinced myself that the 4 products I used daily were just what was required to be presentable.  Bare minimum.

Well guess what?  BARE is actually the bare minimum.  And it's actually an all new kind of freedom.  I no longer have to worry about rubbing an itch on my eye and if that's going to smear makeup all over.  If I cry I can just cry and not obsess about having black tears.  I don't have to stash makeup in my car and purse for hectic days.  I don't spend $9 on one freaking tube of drug store mascara.

So there it is.  I'm not saying everyone should do the same.  Makeup isn't evil, it can be fun.  But all I'm saying is don't let yourself be a slave to it.  Decide how much of your makeup regimen is actually what YOU want and makes you YOU.  What are your reasons for doing it, and how much of it is to quiet anxieties the beauty industry has gifted you and others with?  How much do you really want and need?  Take an inventory of yourself and these questions, then have the courage to do what is right for you.  Good luck and God bless.