Words of Wisdom: Forgive Yourself

Forgiveness is something I have yet to master. For some reason, I am unable to forgive myself or those around me. Okay–not all the time. There are some exceptions…but for the most part, forgiveness is not in my vocabulary. I’m working on changing that, and if you’re anything like me, you should work on changing that, too.

This past Thursday, my four wisdom teeth were surgically removed. As a person with a major fear of procedures and surgeries, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous or anxious. I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t turn to comfort foods after the procedure. I still do, in fact. Ice cream calls my name every time I feel a pain in my mouth. Without thinking, my hand pulls open my freezer door and grabs a pint of Halo Top. That’s not a good habit, it’s not a healthy habit. I acknowledge that and I’m steering away from the freezer now. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t beat myself up over it.

After overindulging in ice cream, I was angry with myself. Angry that I allowed my emotions to overcome my entire body, angry that I allowed myself to mindlessly eat a ridiculous amount of ice cream within such a short amount of time. I told friends and family about what I did, and how uncomfortable I felt after eating the ice cream. My best friend reassured me that I was okay, that things would be okay. We all slip up, we’re only human.

I needed to hear that from her. We cannot take back our thoughts, words, or actions. We can’t erase the cruel words we said about ourselves or about others. But what we can do is acknowledge what happened, forgive ourselves, and move on.

Going into the teeth removal procedure, I knew I wanted to reward myself when I inevitably survived. Instead of rewarding myself with food — my go-to reward, I wanted to splurge on a few new shirts. And guess what? I did. I’ll be getting 6 new shirts within the next few days. That’s huge. That’s much better than overindulging with ice cream for four days in a row, and then getting depressed about it.

Yes, I ate more ice cream than I’d like to have ate. And yes, I’m going to eat more ice cream during my recovery… I’m eyeing the Vanilla Bean ice cream for tomorrow night already. But this story isn’t as frustrating or sad as it could have been, because I decided to accept what I did, forgive myself for slipping up, and move on. I didn’t allow my inner-critic to ruin the rest of the night or the weekend…or start off the week with a bad taste in my mouth about my abilities.

Next time you slip up and/or frustrate yourself, don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay. You’re going to be okay. Forgive yourself and allow yourself to have a fresh start. A positive start, rather than a negative one.

P.S. In case you were wondering, my wisdom teeth surgery went well! It was not as scary or as painful as I anticipated; the surgery was quick and painless. It was easy. The not-so-easy part is the recovery. My pain comes and goes, but it hasn’t been too terrible. I can tolerate it. I do, however, freak out nearly every moment of everyday about my gums. I don’t like the wounds being so exposed, I don’t like how easy it can be to get an infection or to get food stuck. I cannot wait until the gums heal more. Until then, you’ll find me constantly complaining and eating soft foods…….

Ashley Graham’s Lip Sync Battle Validates Curves are Sexy

If you haven’t already seen Ashley Graham’s recent Lip Sync Battle performance to That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain, then I’m doing you a HUGE favor by writing this blog post. That performance was extremely empowering, especially for women who have been publicly shamed because of, or who have a hatred for, their appearance.

I’m obsessed with Ashley Graham, but that’s old news. You probably already knew that. Why do I love her? She’s confident, she’s inspiring, she’s intelligent, she’s beautiful, and she’s an amazing activist. I admire the constant risks she takes, and admire the trend setting culture she takes part in. Ashley’s work, whether she realizes it or not, leaves a huge impact on modern society. Every move she makes opens some sort of conversation, whether it’s an internal conversation one has with oneself, or a society wide conversation.

Ashley, unlike many other curvy models, has access to multiple platforms where she can voice (and raise awareness for) what she’s passionate about. With her large following and fame, her messages always seem to circulate. Ashley used Lip Sync Battle as a platform to continue to voice an important message she fully supports: curvy is sexy. And boy does she prove her point.

Watch her performance from start to finish. It isn’t too long, it won’t take too much time. Once I watched it, I had to watch it again. And again. And again. Did you?

Ashley says during the Lip Sync Battle episode that she does not have rhythm, and that she plans on using her ass to win the battle and slay her performance. Well, rhythm or no rhythm, she definitely slayed! I am not a fan of dancing (I definitely don’t have rhythm) or of twerking, but I can’t help but appreciate what Ashley brought to the table.

If she hasn’t already made it clear that curvy is sexy, Ashley certainly proves her point in her performance. Instead of hiding her curves, she flaunts them. Instead of hiding behind loose clothing, Ashley sports a form-fitting, leopard print outfit (bra and high-waisted pants). Instead of hiding behind back up dancers and props, she stood her ground center stage.

Thin is sexy. Television shows, Hollywood movies, magazines, and social media posts make that very clear. But curvy is sexy too, and curvy women are finally being empowered to embrace that. Thank you, Ashley, for showing us how sexy curvy women are. Thank you for leaving it all on the stage, and congratulations on your Lip Sync Battle championship win. You deserve that belt!

P.S. if you’ve never seen Shania Twain’s music video to That Don’t Impress Me Much, watch that below. What do you think about Ashley’s performance?? Let me know in the comments below!

9 Best Ways to Invite and Embrace Positivity In Your Life

No one on this Earth is 100% confident and happy all the time. Every person struggles with their own insecurities, struggles, and fears. Many times, these anxieties and negative thoughts have to do with the way we think about or perceive ourselves. Whether it’s internal or external criticism, we tend to knock ourselves down and/or hold ourselves back from greatness.

I know I am not the only person who can pick apart everything that’s wrong with me. I know I’m not the only person who can try on up to 12 different outfits before deciding which one looks the least terrible for an outing–whether it’s a day at school or work, a get together with family/friends, or even just an errand run. Instead of dwelling on the worst things about ourselves, let’s all try to bring more happiness, relaxation, and positivity into our lives. To do so:

  1. Buy yourself a new outfit every few weeks. Maybe it’s a trendy new top that you’ve seen a lot of people wearing lately, or maybe it’s a tank top you’ve been eyeing up on your favorite store’s website. Try it on. Buy it. You can always return it if you decide you do not like the way it fits you. Invest your money into something that excites you and will make you smile when you wear it.
  2. Make a list of healthy, enjoyable escapes and turn to them multiple times a week, hopefully everyday — these can be physical escapes (day trips to your favorite place) or emotional escapes (reading books or binge-watching shows of your favorite genres). Bad times and bad days are inevitable, but immersing yourself into a place completely different from your insecurities and sadness will allow your mind to put aside your negative feelings for a short period of time. When you return to your conflict, let’s say it’s a body image issue, you may have a new perspective on the issue. Instead of emotionally eating, you might take a walk around your neighborhood, go for a swim in your pool, or call someone you love and talk about your internal struggle.
  3. Set up an area with better lighting and a “flattering” mirror. You know how some fitting rooms can make you look a lot more “flattering” than others? That’s usually because of the lighting and mirror choices. Set up a “flattering” mirror in your room or bathroom, so you can better judge your outfits and your appearance.
  4. Look into mirrors more on your good days. When you’re feeling confident, stare at your reflection as often as you can. Take pictures, both by yourself and with those around you. Admire your appearance. Admire your smile, your eyes, and every single distinctive feature on your body. Acknowledge the great parts about you, and hold onto these feelings. This can help you in the future, especially on bad days, to remind you that you’re beautiful, you’re special, and you’re valuable. You are in this world for a good reason.
  5. Look into mirrors less often on your bad days. For some of us, this can mean not looking at our reflection for a week or two at a time, which can be challenging. But hear me out, by doing so, you give yourself less chances to pick yourself apart. You can’t stare at parts of your body that make you question your self-worth, and you can’t compare your size to the size of others around you. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to not look at your reflection.
  6. Listen to happy music, with happy lyrics. Allow music to build you and your body image up. Don’t let it drag you down, especially not on your bad days.
  7. Feed your body. Give in to temptations and cravings, don’t deprive yourself. Don’t do it everyday if your long term goals for yourself don’t align with the foods and nutrients you’re craving. Learn to love healthy foods if you don’t already, and treat yourself to those! I love “unhealthy” foods like burgers and desserts, but I also love vegetables and grilled proteins. Allow yourself to eat a balance of these foods, and enjoy them…don’t just eat them because you’re hungry.
  8. Set milestones for yourself, and reward yourself when you overcome them. Reward yourself for all sorts of things, small and large. Reward yourself when you go through a day without calling yourself a derogatory term. Reward yourself when you wear something daring, like something that showcases an insecurity of yours. Reward yourself when you think and talk positively about yourself. Maybe your reward is a dollar into a fund for an outfit, dinner, show, or vacation. Maybe it’s a trip to an ice cream shop or local bakery. Whatever it is, try to make being positive and confident fun. Make it a game.
  9. Make changes, all sorts of changes. Be like me and cut 7-inches off of your hair. Change the group of people you hang out with. Change up the movies you watch or the authors you read. Change the way you allow yourself to think about your personality and appearance. Discover new things, and while you’re at it, appreciate them for what they are.

Life is short. Make sure you enjoy it as much as possible. Work on yourself. Work on finding happiness. Work on loving yourself.

Invest in your happiness & take adventures

Happiness doesn’t always magically make its way into our lives. Sometimes, we have to take the first steps to bring joy to our lives. To do so, it’s crucial to be in the right mindset, to make the right plans, and to surround yourself with the right energy (whether that means being alone or being with other positive people).

I know that my favorite animals (dogs and giraffes) make me happy. Just watching them brings me joy. Sadly, I can’t watch giraffes up close on a daily basis. Or a weekly. Or a monthly. . . you get the picture. Luckily, a few weeks ago my cousin Amanda invited me to go on an road trip to Animal Adventure Park, where we could interact with some incredible animals, including giraffes. Thank you for taking me, Amanda!!

On Friday, Amanda, Arianna, Sal, Amelia, and I drove to the park in New York. The drive was long, but it was well worth it. The five of us were able to appreciate each species we saw and stare in awe at their uniqueness and beauty.

In case you don’t know, I’m six-foot-one. I know, pretty tall for your average 20 year old. There are very few people and creatures that are taller than me. Giraffes are one of them. They make me feel right at home. Seeing giraffes makes my heart beat quickly (in a good way).

As I’m sure you know, people can be very cruel. There are lots of people who will pick others apart and make them feel outcasted for all sorts of traits and differences. In the past, strangers, classmates, friends, and family have made me feel insecure about my tall frame. There were times when I wasn’t sure if I should be proud of my height or ashamed of it. The flip-flopping about appreciating my height versus seeing it as a burden came to a halt a few years ago at the Naples Zoo, however, when I took the time to observe and appreciate giraffes for all that they are.

Giraffes truly are beautiful animals. Their height adds to their beauty; it makes them stand out in a good way. Being tall is not a burden. It’s something that should be embraced. Giraffes help me embrace my height. They inspire me to stand tall and be proud of my height. Giraffes make me happy.

Seeing April, Ollie, and baby Tajiri (the giraffes) brought me so much happiness. I’m still on cloud 9, two days later. But my appreciation doesn’t end now that I’m back home, away from giraffes. I care about animals a lot, and I understand that animals need our help. I’m looking into learning more about different foundations and causes that help animals, especially giraffes, survive in their natural habitats, because I don’t want to live in a world without giraffes.

If learning more and spreading awareness about the threats to their survival— including being hunted by humans and losing living space due to human population growth and settlement expansion– can help save the existence and quality of life for giraffes, then I will happily work to bring health and happiness to giraffe lives. I’d love to invest more of my time, energy, and money into giraffes because planning to help them and visit them brings me joy. Why wouldn’t I want to bring joy into my life?

Something that surprised me (and brought me excitement) is that Animal Adventure Park allows visitors to get very close to the animals, under zookeeper supervision of course. Visitors are allowed to feed the animals with zookeeper approved foods, which are bought within the park. Some animals can eat lettuce, others grapes and carrots. Giraffes went crazy for carrots. Everywhere you looked, people were holding out carrots waiting for April and Ollie to grab them from their hands, or better yet, their mouths.

Yes, a person is allowed to hold a carrot in his or her mouth and let a giraffe approach them for the carrot. Most of the time, that leads to a kiss between a person and a giraffe. And I can proudly say that I kissed a giraffe and I liked it. #YOLO!

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Seeing April, Ollie, and baby Tajiri (the giraffes) brought me so much happiness. I’m still on cloud 9, two days later. But my appreciation doesn’t end now that I’m back home, away from giraffes. I care about animals a lot, and I understand that animals need our help.

Now I’d like to ask you something: what makes you happy? It doesn’t matter if it’s as small as your favorite meal (I am always down for a good cheeseburger) or as big as an extravagant vacation (I have a list of places I want to visit!); happiness is happiness. If it brings you joy, invest your thoughts, time, energy, and money into it.

The right energy + the right setting =  a recipe for pure joy and excitement

Make a list and look at it when you’re in need of some joy. Bring happiness into your life as much as possible. Surround yourself with your best friends, your favorite family members, your favorite animals, etcetera. Every once in a while, eat the foods that you truly love. Don’t just sit around and wait for happiness to find you. Take action. You’re worth it.

8 Wrong Ways to Accept/Love Yourself

Self-acceptance and self-love are not easy journeys to accomplish and/or master. Getting to a place of self-acceptance is a rollercoaster ride: there are highs, there are lows, and there are plateaus. I am not in a place where I can accept or love myself for who I am, or my body for all that it does, but I have learned a lot of lessons over the years on what works and what doesn’t on the journey to self-acceptance and self love. And I’m not giving up on this journey.

Here’s what not to do while on the journey towards self-acceptance/love:

  1. Tell yourself you’ll be happy when you get to your goal weight.

    Our bodies change all the time. Weight fluctuates. That’s just life! People struggle with body image issues at every weight and size. Losing weight or gaining weight would not make you happier….physical health improvement does not inspire emotional and mental health improvement, unfortunately.

  2.  Limit your participation in events and activities because of your body image issues, and begin participating when you’re less insecure.

    You’ll regret it in the end. Trust me, I do. I regret allowing my insecurities to take the reigns of my life. I wish that I would’ve went to the beach more, or in the pool more, or ate what I wanted at family or friend affairs, instead of eating myself alive from the inside out in guilt and worries. We only have one life. Live your life. Don’t limit yourself.

  3. Keep all of your insecurities, fears, and anxieties to yourself.

    Odds are, you don’t tell others about what makes you uncomfortable, scared, anxious, or nervous. Keeping all of this negativity in your head is not good for your overall mindset and mental health. Confide in someone, whether it’s a best friend, a romantic partner, a parent, a co-worker, a therapist, a sibling, a grandparent, or even a texting buddy and share your emotions. Share how you feel emotionally during different scenarios. By doing so, some weight will be lifted off your shoulders. You’ll be able to breathe better, you’re secret will be out. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll build a relationship that allows you to feel less insecure when you’re doing whatever it is–let’s say swimming in a pool in your bathing suit– with a specific person/group, like the person you confide in.

  4. Allow other people’s words about you (or others) make you feel bad about yourself for any period of time.

    Especially not an extended period of time. Family, friends, and strangers can be very cruel, even without realizing it. Having someone tell you they’ll buy you new clothes when you go down a clothing size, or having someone tell you that you’re a beautiful person who shouldn’t feel ugly/worthless/depressed because of how great you are, isn’t helpful. At all. No matter how good intentions are, sometimes words create emotional and mental scars– scars that last a lot longer than physical ones. There’s a saying, “Call a woman fat once and she’ll never forget it.” Words hurt. And allowing them to hurt you makes it 1000% worse. Don’t let words put you down. (This is so much easier said than done…words hurt me everyday. But if I had control over my feelings, I would program my emotional settings to not allow others’ comments to put me down).

     

  5. Solely participate in activities that helped others accomplish self-acceptance, rather than doing what you know makes you happy/feel good.

    I’m not saying don’t try activities that others recommend, definitely give them a try if you’re up for it. But everyone finds happiness in different ways and places. If reading a specific genre of books makes you happy and sparks time for self-reflection, make that your primary focus during your free-time. We are all different, and that’s something to celebrate, right? Well, let’s acknowledge and celebrate our different causes for happiness, too! Because you deserve to be truly happy.

  6.  Set boundaries for yourself.

    First of all, there is no “normal.” You can’t tell yourself that it’s “normal” for you to feel a certain way, weigh a certain amount, or have a certain mindset. “Normal”s change! Do not restrict yourself to your current normal, or even worse your past’s normal. Allow yourself to do anything and everything your heart desires. At the same time, you must acknowledge the consequences. For instance if you’re counting calories because you have a goal to lose weight, and you only give into your desires to eat junk foods for two days straight, don’t be surprised when the scale changes and your clothes are tighter.

  7. Beat yourself up when you make mistakes.

    Not if you make mistakes, when you make them. We all have set backs. We all do things we know we shouldn’t do (like eat that second burger, oops). You’re only human! Everybody makes mistakes. Learn from them. If eating six cookies in one sitting makes you feel sick, don’t do it again. Or do. It’s your call. But don’t punish yourself or put yourself down because of things that you do. It’s okay to have set-backs. It’s okay to take three steps forward and four-steps back. You still make three steps progress originally, right? You can do it again.

  8. Give up on trying to accept/love yourself because of your set-backs/failures.

    Never give up on yourself. Ever. If you do give up on yourself, pick up the pieces and begin the journey again. Everyone has failures. In one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet The Robinsons, a character says, “From failure we learn, from success, not so much!” Each time something makes you feel bad when you want it to feel better, you learn something about yourself or the scenario. Maybe being around a certain person makes you feel bad about yourself. If so, stop talking to them/hanging out with them. You deserve to be happy, and to feel positive about your life, your choices, and your body.

What No One Tells You About Wearing A Bikini

Bathing suit season can be very depressing and frightening, but it doesn’t have to be. For a few years, people and influencers on social media have said there are two steps for obtaining a bikini body (or a body for any other bathing suit for that matter):

Step 1: Buy a bikini (or a one-piece or a tankini– whatever you’re comfortable in).

Step 2: Put it on your body.

But is it really that simple? Will putting on a bathing suit take away all of these emotions and thoughts going through your head? Won’t I feel so vulnerable and exposed in a bathing suit at the size that I am?

Throughout my teenage years, I was always so insecure and self conscious of my body. I didn’t want anyone to see my rolls, my cellulite, or my stretch marks. Not even family or friends. From 13 to 18, I missed out on enjoying beach days and pool parties. I came up with excuse after excuse, including telling my parents I didn’t feel good, that my stomach hurt, or that I hated the beach. If I did go to the beach, I didn’t want to walk all the way from our chairs to the ocean…I knew if I did, people would see me. And I didn’t want them to judge me, think about my body, or make fun of my size.

Self-conscious women hide behind their worries and insecurities. We hold ourselves back from having fun and making memories. I was jealous of girls, teenagers, and women who had the confidence to wear bikinis. I told myself and my family that one day when I was healthier, I would wear a bikini. After I lost some weight, I would finally give in and try on my first bikini. But I was sick of waiting. The weight I wanted to lose did not want to come off. Summer after summer, I tried to hide under my tankinis, but even then I was self-conscious of my frame.

After years of being completely insecure, I was sick and tired of missing out on fun experiences. I was sick of not going into the pool, something I truly enjoy so much. I was sick of not swimming in the ocean and jumping the waves. So as a 19 year old woman, I forced myself to stop picking apart my flaws. I took the huge leap of trying on a flounce bikini top and a high waisted bottom from Torrid (which I mentioned in an earlier post from spring break), and I started to wear it. In the beginning, I couldn’t stop looking at mirrors and tearing myself apart. I hated that my cellulite was so exposed. I hated that the bottoms made my ass look huge. But then I stopped looking at mirrors, and I stopped pointing out things I hated.

Instead of picking apart the features I dislike about myself, I think about all of the positives I now feel and experience. Because I wear my bikini, I feel free. I feel like a huge burden of insecurities has been lifted off of my shoulders (because even though I am still insecure, I can now wear a bikini around my close family and friends and not worry about their judgement). I feel cute. I feel trendy. I feel young.

another day, another bikini 😏🤗

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Every body is different. Every body deserves to be celebrated, loved, and embraced whether we’re content with our bodies or not. We’re only given one life and one body. Why spend so many summers holding yourself back from cooling off and having fun? Why allow your insecurities to dictate your emotional health and your social life?

What no one tells you about wearing a bathing suit is that if you don’t wear a bathing suit, you’re just holding yourself back from fun times. Wear the damn suit and stop picking yourself apart. No matter your weight or your size, you’re going to look incredible. More important than how you look, you’ll feel incredible. Have fun!!!! Don’t let your critic’s thoughts hold you back…especially if those thoughts are your own. And if someone else is rude and mean enough to say something to or about you? It’s their loss. Not yours.

What No One Tells You About The Impossible, Like Attending Prom with Kellan Lutz

Hint: It’s possible!

In high school, I didn’t let my lack of friends (more specifically guy friends) get the best of me. Thoughts of prom did spark fear, yes, as I didn’t want to attend the event alone. Heck, I didn’t want to do anything alone. I still don’t, usually. So I made the so-called impossible possible. I asked my celebrity crush/idol—Kellan Lutz— to prom. And he said yes. 

Growing up, I had multiple celebrity idols and crushes. Who didn’t? I observed which works celebrities involved themselves with, researched and watched various interviews, and followed different fan accounts during the rise of Facebook and Twitter. Admittedly, my life was not as horrible as I felt it was at the time. I had parents, grandparents, and a godmother that loved me. I had the best dogs in the world. But still, I felt vulnerable and outcasted. I went through friendships extremely quickly and lived under a very dark cloud for a while. When times got tough, well, as tough as they can be for a well-off teenage girl, I admired celebrities. I covered my bedroom walls in posters. I made social media profiles to keep up with their lives, because their lives were way more interesting and appealing then mine.

By the time I was 13, I was a huge fan of Kellan Lutz’s. He was in Twilight, and I was most definitely a Twihard. I loved him in his other roles to, especially in Love, Wedding, Marriage and A Warrior’s Heart. Whenever he was on social media, or was talked about on social media, he was doing great things. Starring in a new movie? Check. Launching a campaign to encourage pet adoption? Check. Promoting positivity through inspirational quotes every once and a while on Twitter? Check. I loved him. I loved how happy he was, loved his positive outlook.

sMILE

Over the years, we built a celebrity and fan relationship on Twitter. He would tweet me back, I would freak out in excitement. In January 2014, I won a Skype session with him thanks to a contest for his new film The Legend of Hercules. A mini-friendship blossomed. January 2015 came around and girls in my school were already being promposed to; they were even buying their prom dresses already and posting pictures so no one would wear the same dress. I didn’t want to attend prom alone, there was no way I was going to go by myself while my friends went with dates. I always felt like a third wheel with family and friends, I wasn’t going to attend prom and feel the same way.

My friends and I joked about asking Kellan to be my prom date, but I didn’t have the guts to ask. As usual, I was afraid of being let down. My friend Nikki B. took charge and posted three Vines, in which she asked Kellan to go to prom with me. He replied to her and I on Twitter, asking about prom details. For the next few months, we kept in touch. Despite his busy schedule as an actor, model, and inventor, he made a real effort to be my prom date. After hearing back from Kellan, who gave me slight hope that he would be my prom date, I set my mind to going to prom with him. I believed he would come with every ounce of my existence. I received an official yes to my promposal the day before prom, and on June 5, 2015, I attended prom with a man who had brought me happiness for years.

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I was incredibly awkward. I talked too much to Kellan. I was selfish and didn’t want to share him with my classmates, many of whom who treated me like an outsider for many years. I cringe at thinking about things I said and how I acted that night. But I was so, so, so happy.

Every now and then I’ll send Kellan a tweet thanking him for prom. And looking back today, two-years after prom, I am even more grateful that Kellan escorted me to prom. My prom experience taught me a lesson: I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Yes, I’m still on an ongoing journey to better health and self-love. I haven’t made much progress in a while, but I can and I will make my dreams happen. I deserve it, even if my teenage-self didn’t think so.

Photo Credits: Warner Bros

Wonder Woman is the Inspirational Hero We’ve Been Waiting For

Today my friend Lindsey and I saw Wonder Woman in IMAX 3D, and I have felt inspired ever since. From animated movies to action movies, I absolutely love being inspired by a character’s capabilities, especially when characters can do anything and everything, like Diana in Wonder Woman.

Our minds are powerful tools: we can set our minds on some seemingly insane, extraordinary goals and actually attain them with hard work and persistence. When we feel down and dreary, though, our goals do not typically get achieved. Instead, life can seem pretty boring, uneventful, or even depressing. It was extremely refreshing and motivating to see a strong, powerful woman speak up for herself and for what she believes in, take action, and achieve her aspirations. Something I lack is self confidence, but Diana’s character (also known as Wonder Woman) showed confidence in herself and her abilities. She showed strong perseverance when times got tough. Her character was exactly what I needed to see to get me out of my slump.

I don’t want to give any spoilers because I want all of my readers to watch Wonder Woman, but let me just say Diana never let anyone or anything get in her way of chasing her clear goal. Nothing could bring her down or take away her motivation, not even hardships or grief. Diana doesn’t give up, even when a main conflict she’s worked towards does not resolve in the expected way.

The female leads are incredible, and the male co-stars show the perfect amount of strength and support. Every viewer can take away something different from the film, depending on what you enjoy and love. Me? I loved the strength, dedication, power, and confidence shown throughout the film. I also loved the romance…I can’t help it! I’m a hopeless romantic! I truly loved Wonder Woman, and I hope that you watch the film and love it as much as I do. Every woman is capable of being a Wonder Woman in her own way, and I’m hopeful that this movie will help me build my confidence to accomplish every extraordinary goal I set. I’m also hopeful that the same can happen for you!

What are your thoughts on the film? Were you inspired by it like I was? Please let me know in the comments below!!

I Saw Niall Horan+Band at the Today Show, and Here’s Why It’s Important

I’m a firm believer that in order to be positive, you must surround yourself with positive people and influences. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. Every person knows of specific people and activities that make them happy. The kind of people and activities that brighten your mood and make you feel positive in general. Better yet, the people and activities that take away you’re feelings of doubt, criticism, and insecurities for as little or as much time as possible. Music and concerts make me very, very happy.

My all time favorite band has to be One Direction (Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have been a main source of excitement, positivity, and happiness in my life since late 2011-early 2012). Now, as a 20 year old student and writer, the love still hasn’t faded. And somehow I’ve been blessed with amazing friends and opportunities, because today I was able to go to New York City with one of my great friends, Jessica, and see Niall Horan perform some of his new music with his amazing band: Gerry Morgan, Jake Curran, John Bird, and Louis Querelle.

After pulling an all nighter and waiting in the rainy New York City streets from 3:40 in the morning until about 6:30 in the morning, Niall and his band hit the stage. And at that moment, all of my insecurities, my negative thoughts, and my feelings of hatred towards my “flaws” disappeared. Music is magical, especially when it’s performed so well. And boy did they perform well!!!

Jessica won VIP passes for her and a guest (so thankful that she chose me), and we managed to score an amazing view. Seeing Niall, Gerry, Jake, John, and Louis perform was breathtaking. I’m not very hard to miss; I’m a six-foot-one, curly-haired, curvy young woman. And I was pretty darn close to the stage. I swear, connections were made between me and some of the band (I really think there was some eye contact between Niall and me, as well as between a few band members who should remain nameless for this blog post). (Niall, Gerry, Jake, John, and/or Louis– if you read this and you have no clue who I am, I’ll be sad, so don’t tell me. If you did make eye contact with me, though, thank you!)

Usually, I break eye contact with others right away. Even with family members and close friends. When making eye contact, my insecurities emerge. I feel as if others are judging me. They’re categorizing me as weird, odd-looking, or just plain ugly. Because I’m tall and curvy, I feel like I stand out…and not in a good way. I feel like out of everyone, attractive men are probably especially judgmental when looking at me. They’re used to looking over pretty girls, and for some reason I don’t always categorize myself as pretty. Today, I did, though. (Okay, not when I was soaking wet from the rain…but after I dried off a bit, I do think I looked great!)

I’m not saying that any of the (VERY ATTRACTIVE) band members thought I was attractive, they probably didn’t and instead thought I was a bit weird or overly-excited throughout their performance…but I managed to hold eye contact and think positively. Which is huge! I managed to convince myself that we did, in fact, share a few moments. And that I’m worth those moments, despite my insecurities. And who knows, maybe they didn’t think I was weird. Maybe they were admiring me as I admired all of them? Who knows! 

We are often our worst critics, whether we have bad body image or low-self esteem in any area of our lives (personality wise, appearance wise, talent wise, etc). Niall and his band may not have known about my insecurities, but making eye contact with me was a major confidence boost for me. It served as a reminder that other people don’t see in us what we see in ourselves.

Today’s concert was an amazing experience, and I cannot believe how lucky I am. More importantly, I don’t know how to fully express my gratitude for Jess (who took me to the concert) or for Niall, Gerry, Jake, John, and Louis. Today I was extremely happy. I felt special. I felt acknowledged by one of my all time favorite singers, and one of my new favorite bands.

To Niall, Gerry, Jake, John, and Louis— Thank you for today. Thank you for sharing your talent, and for making me feel special. Thank you for making me so happy. I can’t wait to see you guys on tour and listen to more of your music! 

To all of my readers— Find someone or something that makes you feel validated. That makes you feel special. That makes you feel happier than you ever thought imaginable. Today’s concert did that for me. I hope you can find people and events that bring out these same feelings for you.

Check out some of my pictures from the concert below! And let me know in the comments who/what makes you feel completely happy. How are you going to bring more happiness into your life? I can tell you what I’m going to do—buy more concert tickets!

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UPDATE: Read my Odyssey article about my experience here!

Ashley Graham’s ‘A New Model’ Makes Me Want to Embrace Confidence & #BeautyBeyondSize Even More

Ashley Graham’s book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Really Look Like, was released on May 9, 2017 and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I actually pre-ordered the book twice: once on Amazon, and then deleted that preorder to order an autographed addition from a Brooklyn book shop. As a plus-size woman on the journey to self-love and body-acceptance, I cannot put into words how important this book is to me or how much this book, and Ashley herself, mean to me. I read the book in two sittings (it would have been an all nighter if I didn’t have work). It took me a little while to get to it because life got in the way, but I honestly am obsessed with this book. I know that I will be rereading it again in the near future.

Ashley Graham, if you don’t already know, is a model and body-positivity activist. She’s curvy, she’s sexy, she’s drop-dead gorgeous, and she’s a (US) size 14-16. I first learned about Ashley when news broke about Sports Illustrated featuring a plus size model in a SwimsuitsForAll advertisement.

Image Credit: Huffington Post, Originally Swimsuit Illustrated

Since seeing Ashley at that moment, I knew she would always be my woman crush. She’s gorgeous and confident and if she can be referred to as sexy, than maybe my curvy self could be referred to as sexy one day, too.

A New Model made me cry numerous times. I cried in awe of Ashley’s journey, mostly because a lot of her internal and weight struggles are very similar to mine.

In her Introduction (titled “My (Cellulite) Revolution”), Ashley writes that, “This is the generation of body diversity. We are sick of being told by society, by the fashion industry, by Hollywood, that we are too thin, too fat, too flabby, too tall, too small. Being a woman in the United States now almost definitely means hating at least a part of your body, if not all of it. As a woman unafraid of celebrating my thick thighs in public, I’ve  made it my goal to help others embrace, even love themselves, stretch marks and all,” (Graham x).

That has to be the perfect summary of Ashley as a body activist. She truly embraces her body and her “imperfections”, inspiring her fans and followers to do the same.

Ashley’s uses her book as a vehicle to get the message across that, “Numbers are abstract. It’s the human reactions to them that cause the hurt,” (Graham 61). For Ashley and for many women around the globe, weight loss is an “uphill battle” involving a lot of self-inflicted pressure. I completely relate to Ashley when she reveals reflection about how her “best friend loses weight when she gets depressed. Me? I gain it, and then it takes me ages to get the weight off,” (Graham 63). Me too, Ashley. Me too.

Ashley Graham is a much stronger woman than I am. I know that by learning from her journey to confidence and self-love, that I, too, can become confident and brave and strong and powerful. I can learn to love myself. I can become a healthier individual. I can wear bikinis and feel amazing (in fact, as I write this blog, I am wearing one of my new Torrid bikinis). I can become a model for other girls and women. I can and I will do anything I set my mind to, and Ashley’s book validated that for me. If someone asked me to rate Ashley’s book on a scale of 1-10, she’d get a perfect 10. It’s personal, yet relatable. It’s powerful. It’s inspiring. I love it, and I love her. Get your hands on a copy of A New Model, because you’ll learn a lot about body positivity and hopefully be inspired to love yourself and your “flaws.” I know I did.