To the Girl Who Didn’t Know then What I Do Know Now

Something I never imagined I would write. Here goes nothing…

This is an open letter to myself.

To the 21-year-old me who lost a piece of her spirit four years ago in a suburban hotel room where she didn’t belong.

It’s to all the women who relate, who’ve been there, who prefer not to remember but can never forget.

And to you. This is a letter to you.

The bedsheets were crisp, white and freshly cleaned—a stark irony considering the events that unfolded just 10 minutes later. That sense of instinctive dread, of violation, of wanting to be anywhere else—it was truer than she realized. I wish she had listened. But I would forgive her for staying. Even with the benefit of hindsight, who can guarantee that she’d react different now if given the chance?

So, I wouldn’t blame her. I wouldn’t demand she bear the weight of a consequence or expectation she was never meant to shoulder. I wouldn’t tattoo her scars with ink stains of guilt. I would expose them to light where she isn’t forced to hide the evidence.

I would grip her fragile hands in mine—strengthened from perspective, weathered from experience—until the trembling subsides. I would tilt her chin and urge those hollow, haunted eyes to meet my older gaze. Then I’d communicate our sameness, our solidarity—a message needing no words. I would silently perch beside her as time becomes irrelevant, and minutes fade to hours. However long it takes.

I would reach her in the stillness that’s often trampled in the chaos. We’d reclaim it together. And those emotions coursing through her—shock, anger, disbelief, regret—I’d whisper: Feel them all. There’s closure and cleansing on the other side.

I would remember she is young, impressionable, naive. She is prone to wander from her own best judgment. Her mistakes will cost us dearly. But we are still human, wired to endure. So, I would extend compassion to drown out the shame and connection to soothe the numbness, penetrate the solitude, nudge her onto higher ground.

And when the earth feels safe, secure, stable again, I would utter four words that she doesn’t want to hear, can’t seem to admit, but needs to understand: It’s not your fault. It never was. I hope she would believe me, that she can finally accept the truth. Because this girl—whether dazed, detached and desensitized in a hotel room, or here in this moment reliving the memories, undressing the wounds—she’s not just a survivor.

She is a warrior. We all are.

…I can promise you that.

 

love yourself

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15 Empowering Mantras to Repeat Every. Single. Day.

The moment you wake up each morning…Before you’re tempted to peek in that mirror and proceed with the dreaded once-over…Before those negative voices begin their unwelcome chorus of self-doubt…

Tune out societal pressures and inner angst by embracing your own version of the so-called “Feminine Ideal.”

What’s that, you say? Easier said than done?

Oh, I hear you, sista! And that’s why the following quotes are a fabulous place to start:

These wise words come straight from the mouths of regular girls-next-door. Women just like you and me.

Alright, so they’re *famous* girls-next-door. But even they’re not immune to body-shaming insecurities or unattainable beauty standards. Besides, their remarks ring undeniable truth that’s worth taking to heart.


  “This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. Try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big. Just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you without judgment. That is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

image courtesy of Pinterest


“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I say the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.”

Selma Hayek

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words  because of the effect they have on our younger generations, then why aren’t we regulating things like calling people ‘Fat’?”

~ Jennifer Lawrence

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“To all the girls who think you’re ugly because you’re not a size 0, you are the beautiful ones. It’s society who’s ugly.”

Marilyn Monroe

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“Girls of all kinds can be beautiful — from thin to plus-sized, short to tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned, quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and everything in between. It’s not easy because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box. But think outside that box, pledge to look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”

~ Tyra Banks

Tyra

image courtesy of Pinterest


“I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence.”

~ Lena Dunham

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“My great hope is for us to start being kinder to ourselves so that we can start being kinder to each other, to stop shaming ourselves and other people: ‘too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too anything.’ There’s a sense that we’re all ‘too’ something, and we’re all not enough. But this is life. Our bodies change. Our minds change. Our hearts change.”

~ Emma Stone

Emma

image courtesy of Pinterest


“Nobody is perfect. I just don’t believe in perfection. But I do believe in saying, ‘This is who I am, look at me not being perfect!'”

~ Kate Winslet

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s the same with women too. I want to encourage women to embrace their own uniqueness.”

Miranda Kerr

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.”

Geneen Roth

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“Dwelling on the negative merely lowers your vibration and creates sickness in the mind and body. Use your internal strength and willpower to rise above the thoughts pulling you down. And watch your world rise alongside you, continuing to meet you exactly where you are.”

~ Victoria Erickson

image courtesy of Facebook

image courtesy of Facebook


“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth

image courtesy of Pinterest


“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no pill you can take that makes everything great or makes you feel happy all the time. I’m letting go of those expectations, and that’s opening me up to moments of transcendent bliss.

~ Anne Hathaway

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil or cruel? Not to me.”

~ J.K. Rowling

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest


“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: ‘Who cares?'” 

~ Tina Fey

image courtesy of Pinterest

image courtesy of Pinterest

Open Letter to an Insecure Girl from the Guy Who Finds Her Incredible {Guest Post}

I devote large portions of this blog to promoting body positivity ’cause — quite simply — I believe women in today’s society need to hear encouraging messages and words of affirmation more than ever before.
       However, lately it’s occurred to me that these “body positive” mantras often come from a sole female perspective. While this isn’t a negative thing, it does exclude one crucial component from the overall equation.
       Let’s face the facts. We ladies care deeply about how we’re perceived by the men in our lives. Often, we have absolutely no idea what they’re thinking when they give us the requisite once-over. But, deep down, we crave their wide-eyed approval, reassuring us that we’re still desirable.
       Seriously, though…what DOES a guy think when his girl enters the room — tiny flaws and all? I’ve recruited a certain dapper dude (otherwise known as mah boyfriend) to answer this question. It’s about time we added a male voice to the “body image” commentary and shed some light on what they see behind our self-deprecation.
       So, without further ado:

                                                                                                                              To an Insecure Girl from the Guy Who Finds Her Incredible

Dear Beautiful,
       Before we go out on a date, I’m usually the first to get ready. I’ll be sitting on the couch, scrolling through some article on my phone, and then I’ll look up and catch a glimpse of you getting ready.
       You’re straightening your hair. Picking out jewelry. Zipping up that dress. Then, you examine yourself in the mirror. You’ll stare silently for a while before beginning the inspection: legs, arms, torso, backside…the list goes on. Finally, you give this look.
       A look I know too well.
       A look that reads: Disappointed. Not impressed. Not good enough. 
       You’ll leave the bathroom, unaware that I’m gaping at this radiant goddess in front of me. I’ll say “You look incredible,” and you’ll respond with a small, quiet “Thanks.” 
       But I still know what you’re thinking: Disappointed. Not impressed. Not good enough.
       So, here’s my response to those toxic words poisoning your mind. 
       They’re simply not true. Nope, not all. 
       Before I reveal what’s really going through my mind when I say “You look incredible,” there’s something else you need to know. And this might just be the most important thing I’ll ever tell you. So, take notes. Remember my words. Make sure they stick. 
       You, my love, are beautiful — both on the inside and out.
       Did you read that? Carefully?
       I repeat: Beautiful on the inside and out
       You’re probably wondering right about now, “Did this joker actually say he cares about my character? Not just my physical appearance?”
       Listen. I won’t lie about the male species. We do respond to visuals. And there are plenty of men out there, who focus only on visuals. Those guys are pigs, though. Assholes.
       I apologize for the pigs and assholes you’ve encountered throughout your life. They’re not real men. Maybe they’ll learn to become one someday.
       But, the real men — who respect their peers, support their loved ones, and stay true to their morals — those men want a real woman. 
       I want a real woman.
       I don’t want an airbrushed model on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit or that busty chick in some Playboy spread. I want the beauty standing right in front of me, who I can see with my own eyes. The feisty spit-fire I can debate with over cocktails. Someone with hopes, dreams, and goals.
       A real woman is kind. Intelligent. Funny. Compassionate. Ambitious. Strong. And it just so happens that this man is attracted to this real woman.
       I’m crazy about her smile, her infectious laughter, and the way her voice pitches when we discuss a topic she’s passionate about. I melt when those huge, engaged eyes stare into mine, embracing this moment just between us. I love how she plays with her hair when she’s nervous or casually sips her drink with those smooth lips. 
       That’s real.
       Those artificial, photo-shopped images you’re obsessing over — the ones you think all men desire — they can’t satisfy a real man. 
       They’re just ideals that many girls wish they could emulate. But I find this sad because a real man doesn’t want an ideal. He wants you
       I. Want. You.
       Because you’re real. And they’re fake.
       So, stop. 
       Stop comparing yourselves to those other girls. Stop scrutinizing your reflection and thinking “my thighs are fat” when, in reality, they’re gorgeously toned. Stop pinching your stomach and sighing “this isn’t flat enough” when there isn’t even extra skin to pinch. Stop jiggling your arms and moaning “Look at all this flab hanging from my biceps” when such nonsense couldn’t be further from the truth. Stop staring at your chest and wondering “If these boobs were fuller, maybe he’d be more into me” because, babe, that’s outrageous!
       Just stop! Don’t stack yourself up against those false representations. You know what will happen? 
       You will decompose. 
       Decompose before my eyes. You’ll gradually become consumed with dangerous thoughts, like “If I eat less, I’ll look like her,” or “Gotta skip lunch and dinner if I want that perfect body.”
       No. That is not healthy. That is you rotting away. And you’ll lose yourself in the process. These ideals — the ones you constantly compete with — they’ll win. Please don’t let them win. Never in my life would I want to witness you deal with such torture.
       My desire is to see you grow. 
       Grow into that strong, capable woman you truly are. Grow into that confident bombshell, who loves herself and takes pride in her uniqueness.
       Your physical shape or size simply doesn’t matter. A real man will love everything you have to offer. He won’t hear the negative voices screaming in your head. He only sees you marching to the beat of your own drum.
       And that’s what a real man finds most attractive.
       So, when you finally walk out of the bathroom, and we leave for our date night, pay close attention when I say “You look incredible.” Because here’s what’s on my mind…
       I’m so blessed by you. Blessed to sit across from you. Blessed to slip my hand into yours. Blessed to learn more about you. Blessed to make memories we’ll both cherish.
       Knowing we’re spending this evening together — me and this lively, passionate goddess — makes my heart race. How did I get so lucky? The most beautiful girl I’ve ever known chose me, and I’m truly honored.
       In a world full of illusions plastered on computer screens and magazine covers, you’re all I see. 
       Because you look incredible.
Love,
A Real Man
me and Brandon prof pic

5 Reasons to Date a Girl, Who Has Recovered from an Eating Disorder

A few days ago, while absentmindedly scrolling through my Facebook news feed, a certain article caught my attention. One of my female friends had posted it on her wall, along with a comment that said something like “Worst. Thing. Ever.”

The article was titled “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder.” (Warning: if you’re negatively triggered by dysmorphic body image material, I wouldn’t recommend clicking that link).

My initial reaction: Umm…WHAAAAAAT?!  

Nevertheless, persuaded by morbid curiosity, I gave it a read. Then, subsequently wished I hadn’t. Only 1 word can adequately describe my feelings toward the archaic, misogynistic, and downright offensive message perpetuated in this article: Horror.

Just pure and utter horror.

Whoever wrote this (come at me, bro!) is – in my admittedly biased opinion – a heinous human being. I consider myself a tolerant, unflappable individual, but I have ZERO patience for someone, who spouts unfounded and verbally abusive nonsense about such a sobering societal issue as mental illness.

An eating disorder is no joking matter. It’s a life-threatening concern that runs rampant in today’s culture. It does not discriminate across gender, racial, or socioeconomic boundaries. It trashes self-esteem. Destroys relationships. Ravages both mind and body. Causes long-term physical and emotional repercussions. It even has the power to kill.

Nope, not amusing. At all.

However, the dude behind this post sees things differently. From his sexist and – can we all agree?! – skewed POV, men should pursue anorexic and/or bulimic women for the following reasons:

  1. They look sexy.
  2. They won’t cost big bucks on date night.
  3. They’re easily dominated.
  4. They probably come from money.
  5. They’re great in bed.

‘Kay…???

Let me just begin by pointing out that I have personally battled and overcome anorexia, so I can assure you  none of these claims are factual. But, for good measure, I’ll break them down one-by-one.

  1. Sick isn’t sexy. It’s detrimental. Is outward beauty such a deal-breaker that a guy would rather see his girl suffer than gain 5 pounds?
  2. Not all disordered eaters starve themselves completely. But, even if they did, what kind of cheap bastard goes on a date without his wallet?
  3. Au contraire. While this illness does attack confidence levels, I’ve known several ED survivors (myself included), who are feisty little spit-fires. Dominate that!
  4. I was raised middle class. And I met girls in treatment, whose financial backgrounds ran the gamut from gated communities to inner cities. Wealth is NOT a contributing factor.
  5. To quote the author, “It’s a well-known fact that crazy girls are exceptional in the sack. A girl with an eating disorder has just the right cocktail of pent-up insecurity, neuroses, and daddy issues to ensure that your whole building knows every time you’re beating it up.” Yup. Nailed it. But not really.

Here’s another point worth mentioning: in the article’s comment section, some male readers were telling a (rightfully!) incensed female reader, “Chill out. It’s satire.”

Ummm…let’s examine that cavalier dismissal, shall we? As a former theatre major, I’ve read my fair share of satirical literature, from “The Importance of Being Ernest” to “Cloud Nine.” Satire uses “humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues” (source: dictionary.com). In other words, it aims to promote something more than misogyny.

Sorry, folks. Not buying the “it’s satire” argument.

Instead, I’ll offer a counterargument. Call it the “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder” in reverse. Consider, if you will, “5 Reasons to Date a Girl, Who Has Recovered from an Eating Disorder.”

Also known as The Truth:

  1. She has fought hard to achieve confidence and self-respect. 
  2. She recognizes and appreciates the value of inner beauty. 
  3. She exhibits joy and gratitude for life’s simple pleasures.
  4. She does not demand perfection and freely forgives a slip-up.
  5. She knows better than to take loving relationships for granted.

Think about it. This girl is a survivor. She has a positive new lease on life. She voices her opinions and beliefs. She can be counted on for honesty.  She admits to vulnerable moments, but isn’t controlled by them. She laughs at her own idiosyncrasies and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She embraces both strengths and weaknesses. She’s one tough chick and will go the distance for a real man, who treats her like his equal. Basically, this girl is a badass.

She lives with spirit, as though each day is hers alone to carpe diem. 

And loves with fierceness, as though her chosen person deserves happiness just as much as she does.

Out of the Mouths of {Total Bikini Body} Babes…

Today, I’m gonna shut up and let 3 of my favorite actresses – not to mention, ultimate fitness role models – do the talking (’cause they just don’t get enough exposure already!).

Say what you will about Hollywood’s superficial, image-obsessed agenda (which I won’t deny exists), but I truly believe that these ladies are the real deal. So, hear them out. Practical advice. Undeniable results.

Hell, if you don’t feel motivated to apply these pointers to your own daily routine…I’ll retire as celeb-health-tip-stalking-extraordinaire!


Jennifer Aniston 

jennifer aniston work out   

(image courtesy of examiner.com)

  • On Nutrition: “I eat really well, but I also indulge when I want to. I don’t starve myself in an extremist way. My advice: just stop eating shit every day.”
  • On Fitness: “Mixing it up is always always fun because that way, you know you’re excited, and it’s muscle confusion. It keeps your body awake. If you just say, ‘Okay, I’m going to get on some machine for 10 minutes,’ you just start to get the endorphins going. Then you feel great, and you just keep going. So sometimes you can actually override the ‘I don’t want to work out.'”

(source: Women’s Health)

Gwyneth Paltrow

gwyneth paltrow work out   

(image courtesy of hellomagazine.com)

  • On Nutrition: “It is easy to get distracted by junk food when you are hungry, so keep healthy snacks on-hand. Also, keep your cupboards well stocked with fresh basics to stay inspired to eat healthily. Stay away from processed foods, though cutting them out completely is no fun and can ultimately lead to a binge. Allow yourself programmed treats. That balance keeps you vibrant. You have to live your life, after all.”
  • On Fitness: “Think of exercise as an automatic routine, no different from brushing your teeth, to avoid getting distracted. I’d also recommend concentrating on moving more – we sit for so much of the day. Choose to walk or take the stairs, or briskly climb a hill in the evenings. It creates good muscle tone and boosts your metabolism.”

(source: The Telegraph)

Cameron Diaz

cameron diaz work out   

(image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)

  • On Nutrition: “I don’t think of anything as depriving myself. I think of it as, ‘Well, if I am not having this, I am giving myself something that I want even more than that.’ I think that is a good mental tool for women.”
  • On Fitness: “You have to figure out your own needs and fitness level. I think it’s important to get a workout in, even if you only have 15 minutes. And some days, I go to the gym for literally 10 minutes. But the fact that I got up and got there matters to me. Because at the end of all of this, I want to be able to say, ‘I did the best I could.’ It’s not about having a ripped stomach. It’s about taking care of myself. If you don’t have your health and if you’re not in a strong, capable body, you don’t have anything.”

(sources: InStyle Self)

Sexy at Any Size: How to Dress for YOUR Body Type

A woman’s unique physique goes way beyond tall or petite, thin or curvy. Each of us falls under a specific category, based on our most dominant physical characteristics. But here’s the good news…EVERY body is beautiful.

Yep, you heard me.

All of ’em. Across the board.

But suppose you just don’t feel beautiful in your own skin, despite what I – or anyone else – might say to the contrary? Well, that’s where fashion comes into play! Uh huh. No matter the figure, there’s an article of clothing specifically stitched to flatter it. And choosing the right fit and style might just nudge you toward self-acceptance.

‘Cause when an outfit looks like it was tailor-made for Y-O-U, that sensation of damn, I look good!” radiates outward.

Sure, external beauty is only surface-deep…but sometimes it can do wonders for internal confidence. So, if you’re lacking some lovin’ for that lovely shape, simply follow this guide for dressing to accentuate what you can tolerate, while downplaying what makes you feel self-conscious.

These are my personal suggestions. And they’re yours for the taking!


If you have a slender build…

slender body type(image courtesy of misspurpleheart.com)

  • Some Key Features:
  1. small frame/fine bones
  2. naturally low body fat
  3. narrow shoulders
  4. small chest/butt
  5. lightly muscled
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. high frilly necklines
  2. fluted/peplum detailing
  3. bright color-blocking
  4. layered separates
  5. boot-leg trousers
  6. pleated skirts/dresses
  7. trapeze-style jackets

If you have an athletic build…

athletic body type(image courtesy of foranywoman.com)

  • Some Key Features:
  1. medium-sized bones
  2. evenly-distributed body fat
  3. broad/square shoulders
  4. small chest/rounded butt
  5. naturally long, lean, muscular
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. halter necklines
  2. bold geometric patterns
  3. breast pockets/ruffles
  4. flowy blouses
  5. thin shoulder straps
  6. tulip-shaped skirts
  7. streamlined maxi-dresses

If you have an hourglass build…

hourglass body type      (image courtesy of rfabeauty.com)

  • Some Key Features:
  1. medium-sized bones
  2. evenly-distributed body fat
  3. balanced chest and hip sizes
  4. defined waistline
  5. naturally curvaceous
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. v-necklines
  2. wraparound waists
  3. solid dark colors
  4. close-fitting seams
  5. a-line skirts
  6. floor-length dresses
  7. single-breasted jackets

If you have a triangle build…

triangle body type(image courtesy of yuppee.com)

  • Key Features:
  1. medium/large bones
  2. average/high body fat
  3. narrow shoulders
  4. proportionally small chest
  5. full waistline, hips, butt
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. sweetheart necklines
  2. draped fabric
  3. contoured panel seams
  4. short cap sleeves
  5. wide-legged trousers
  6. empire-waist blouses
  7. patterned tops/solid bottoms

If you have a rectangle build…

rectangle body type(image courtesy of misspurpleheart.com)

  • Some Key Features:
  1. medium/large bones
  2. average/high body fat
  3. balanced chest and hip sizes
  4. undefined waistline
  5. lightly muscled
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. scooped boat necklines
  2. vertical/chevron stripes
  3. split-waist kaftans
  4. sheath dresses
  5. wide-belted jackets
  6. low-rise paneled bottoms
  7. black/charcoal gray

If you have an inverted-triangle build…

inverted triangle body type(image courtesy of demon-media.co.uk)

  • Key Features:
  1. small/medium-sized bones
  2. high body fat in upper torso
  3. proportionally large chest
  4. broad/square shoulders
  5. narrow hips/thighs
  • Flattering Outfit Options:
  1. cinched/ruched waists
  2. strapless tops/dresses
  3. solid colors on top
  4. above-the-knee skirts
  5. hip-line embellishments
  6. voluminous bottoms
  7. skinny jeans

See? It’s not rocket-science. Just good shopper-sense.

(And a side affect from years of reading Vogue.)

Breathe In. Breathe Out. It’s a Gift. And It’s Called Life.

Admission #1: As of precisely 1:32 P.M. this afternoon, I committed the very same trite, mainstream, and unoriginal act that just about every other 20-something female in the English-speaking world (and beyond) has been guilty of during these past several months.

I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars. 

And it was perfect.

Admission #2: I still haven’t seen the movie yet, and maybe I won’t, considering how masterful the book itself turned out to be. It’s rare that cinema can top literature, after all.

Admission #3: I didn’t cry while reading the book either, which is slightly disappointing. Especially since all I’d been hearing from this TFIOS  phenomenon’s onset is how Hazel and Augustus’ love story would reduce any mere mortal with a semi-functional soul into a waterfall of big, sloppy tears.

I, however, was dry-eyed. But I do have a semi-functional soul. So, there must be something else wrong with me. TBD.

Admission #4: My rather unfortunate tearlessness is in no way a negative reflection on the novel’s pure and astonishing genius.

Like I said, it was perfect.

Admission #5: TFIOS was a sobering read. That rare slice of humble pie, which stares you down silently, unblinkingly, disconcertingly nose-to-nose until you just can’t handle the guilt anymore. Until you’re forced to show some gratitude for your own health, wellbeing, and relative normalcy. 

Because that’s the thing about Life. It could always be worse.

Someone’s reality is shittier than mine. Truth. Undeniable truth.

And so, the only option left is to be grateful my body doesn’t suffer in the same way a chronically ill body would. Grateful that I’ve never reached a 10 on the infamous “pain scale” Hazel frequently references. Grateful that my physical capabilities run the gamut from back flips off a diving board to the “cha-cha slide” at wedding receptions. Grateful that I’m not acutely (and constantly) aware of my own fragility…abnormality…

Mortality. 

Admission #6: I’m rarely grateful for any of those blessings. I have every reason to be. But I’m not.

Instead of legs that have never been replaced by titanium steel (like what Augustus endured), I see flabby thighs that must be punished into lean, sinewy submission. Instead of a chest that inhales and exhales without needing oxygen tubes, I see boobs that just barely fit into the string bikini I bought last weekend. Instead of intestines that digest my meals with painless efficiency, I see a bloated belly that didn’t give 100% during today’s ab work-out.

Failure. All I see is FAILURE.

What would Hazel see though? Physical strength and stamina, like she may never experience. But enveloped in an attitude, undeserving of said strength and stamina.

Admission #7: If Hazel was a real person and that’s indeed what she saw…well, she’d be right.

Here’s the fundamental difference between me and someone, who’s chronically ill: s(he) never chose to get sick.

Whereas I did.

Not consciously, of course. I do believe that my particular disease is complicated and psychological and hard as hell to control. But it’s also curable and avoidable. Throughout my entire ordeal, I retained the freedom to make a full recovery. Whenever I was ready, health awaited.

That’s not the case for Hazel. Or Augustus. Or the countless actual cancer sufferers, survivors, and warriors.

REAL names.

REAL faces.

REAL stories.

REAL heartbreak…

And REAL capital-C courage.

They can’t simply flip the “recovered” switch. But, God, I wish they could.

So, this is the lesson I’ll take away from The Fault In Our Stars (an important read…perhaps the most important read I’ve stumbled upon in years): “Live your best life today.” And take no breath for granted.

the fault in our stars     (image courtesy of pinterest.com)