Something You Find Beautiful That Most Would Deem Ugly.

NOTE: I started this post in September 2015 but when I went through a few major changes in my life I stopped writing and am just now getting around to posting it… It still stands. Thank you for reading.

I participated in GIsHWheS this year (they make us spell it like that).

If you’d like more information on GIsHWheS, please see my previous post So That Happened…from when I participated for the first time last year.  If you don’t feel like checking the link, in short: GIsHWheS is the “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen” in which the participants create teams of 15, complete creative, fun, weird, crazy, and charitable acts in 7 days and the team with the most points wins.

One of the items for this year’s hunt was to submit a photo of something that “you find beautiful that most would deem ugly.”

Well, it just so happens that I had also been brainstorming a project centered around something right up this alley but had been dragging my feet about getting it started because, well.. it involves me being extremely vulnerable and that’s something I don’t like to do, even within my own art it seems.

We gravitate toward artistic expression and creating art as a means to communicate our vulnerability and expose ourselves in order to satisfy the need to be understood. Some of us won’t admit to it, but for the most passionate and most beautiful art that’s what it is. Expression of pain, passion, and the need to connect. And I can dig deep and write brutally honest lyrics and sing my heart out to strangers, but when it comes to this particular part of me… I’m afraid. I’m afraid to share it even when I feel joy and gratitude when others share it with me.

I’m afraid of opening up even when I see pieces like it and feel nothing but understanding and encouragement.

So I began to look at my own body in a different way. Or I tried to, anyway. I wanted to start.  I mean, for years I’ve tried to change it.  Ever since I was a little girl. My tummy always had a pouch. My nose was always too straight. My eyes always had bags under them. I could go on and on. I tried to morph my body by doing silly things like pushing my nose up (hoping for that cute upturned button nose like Mary Poppins) and holding it there every night to try and force it.  Things like that. But those of you who have read my posts in the past know that I’ve struggled with body image issues such as body dysmorphia and I’ve dealt with teenage anorexia. That’s nothing new.

What’s new is that in the last year or so I’ve been trying to force myself to change again. I’ve been trying to force myself to see my body for what it is:
A beautiful, hard working, fearfully and wonderfully made machine that’s earned every single scar and every single “flaw” on it.

Lke “tiger stripes”, wrinkles, and that scar on my wrist that wasn’t caused by an attempted suicide but by my dog when she tried to open the window so I could pet her. That scar on my rib from when I was a kid and I made a too-sharp turn on my scooter. Stretch marks from growing too fast or losing a lot of weight. Grey hairs.

I started to look in the mirror during the day and instead of criticizing every inch of my body, thinking about what the muscles there do. How I use that part. What it’s gone through. I started to feel better.  But I wasn’t ready to show it off.

That being said, I will never post nude photos or rock a bikini on instagram as a way of “empowering” myself by posing in a sexually provocative manner.  I don’t see that as empowering for myself. But that’s a whole other post. But I have no qualms about tasteful artistic nudes for a purpose, or classical art in that way. I have no problem with bare midriffs and photos to show off workout progress (so long as they’re not overtly sexual just for attention).. and I’ve always wanted to not have to worry about what my mid-section looked like, especially come time for weigh ins when I finally get my first kickboxing match.

Rewinding a little bit, remember that project I mentioned?

Now that you’ve caught up (kind of) on my body image issues and how people with body dysmorphia have trouble seeing themselves, I’ll let you know what I shared for “Something you find beautiful that others would deem ugly”. I’ll show you, even.

Here is the photo I submitted:

201

 

It’s still hard for me to look at but I am making a conscious effort to change my thinking.

Perhaps as a society we should do the same. Why should a woman feel ashamed or feel that they need to hide the scars on their bodies that they received because they carried and gave birth to a human life? Or if they’ve gone through some life changing surgery or accident? Human beings are so hard on each other.. especially other women.

Since this picture was taken I’ve even gained some of the weight back because the past year has been full of stress and change and eating right and exercise were the last things on my mind.  That should be okay. It should be okay for someone to not have to track every meal and work out every day when they’re taking care of a dying loved one or when they’re displaced. We should give ourselves grace when we are struggling.  Forgive ourselves for falling behind or making mistakes.  And we should look at weight loss and fitness as something we GET to do and not HAVE to do.  Exercise is not a punishment, it’s a reward for being healthy enough to get up and move.

 

The natural human body is a beautiful thing even though it can be totally disgusting sometimes (like when you’re really… really sick!).  When we realize all of the beautiful things that we are capable of… what our bodies are created for and what they can do – what they can withstand.. and how vulnerable we are to them… that extra few pounds.. those stretch marks.. those scars… They’re beautiful.

Look at us all. Aren’t we beautiful?

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I Need You

Before I met You, You knew me.
As I suffered, You wept for me.
Just outside of reach, waiting for me to catch Your eye, You waited.
You knew that if You tried to reach me before I was ready that I would turn away from You.
I would have shunned and mocked Your attempts to save me.

Yet You remained patient and vigilant as I sailed through murky waters,
Self assured and insistent upon doing all things my way
because the ways of others had only lead me to pain and heartache.
Though my arms grew tired, my heart grew weak, and my spirit drowned in anxious sorrow,
I insisted on pushing forward.

Before I knew You, I had heard of You.
I rolled my eyes at the zealots. I denied Your involvement in my life.
I doubted Your very existence.
How could You love me and let those horrible things happen?
How could You?

Finally the day came when I challenged You to show me who You are…
And You rejoiced.
After all of these years, after all the struggles and after all the tears,
You could finally show me just how much You love me.
Suddenly I felt different.
My eyes were opened to You and they would never close again.

Suddenly the future was uncertain… in a good way.
Months went by and I learned more about You.
Years went by and I looked back and wondered how I never noticed You.
Time goes by and I wonder at how much I love You.

You who gave me strength when I should have been broken.

You whose eyes were upon me each time I tried to end it all.

You who made a path using my loved ones as unknowing guides in the darkness.

You who found ways to echo Your name in the back of my mind.

And as I strayed
As I wandered off toward false hope and feigned happiness
My soul yearning for the food that only You can provide,
You waited.

Because I am worth it.  Because You made me.

In all my stubbornness, my oddities, my rebelliousness, and regardless of my fight against You..

To You I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

To You I am Your child.

The harder I fight against You the more gracious You are.
You are my God and because of You I am redeemed.
For You it’s worth it…  and to You I am worth it.

Forever and always.  I need You.

Seriously, guys.

I love my son.

I’m a single mom with joint custody and I hate it. I wish he was here all the time and yet I understand how important it is for him to have a relationship with his dad and his younger siblings from his dad’s second marriage. It would be selfish of me to keep him all the time, but I would love every second.

When he’s gone I feel like a part of me is missing. When he’s home I feel complete again.

Even when he leaves a room that was spotless when he walked in and his clothes and things are left on the floor and the pillows and blankets are strewn about. I love it.

Even when he leaves the toothpaste uncapped, his toothbrush on the counter, and the toilet seat up. I love it.

Even when I have to go to bed earlier and get up earlier because of his school schedule, I love it.

Even though the workload is 3x as much and the groceries are twice as expensive, I love it.

I never understood or could relate to the parents that said “Man, it must be nice to have a break from your kid”.

There’s no such thing as a break from being a parent. Even when they’re not in your presence, you’re still a parent. You’re still concerned with what they’re doing, you’re still thinking about them, you’re still planning your life around them. That’s what parents do. We love and we raise our children and we delight in seeing them grow and learn.  God knows I don’t want a “break” from that! I’d miss so much! When he’s not home, I check out (and try not to clean…) his room and sometimes I just sit in there and miss him.  I text him, I send him funny pictures, and I buy him little things. I wait for him to get home so we can watch certain shows or movies together… it’s all about him all the time.

And you guys, my son is such a great kid.  He really is.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I love that boy.

the heart shaped box

I was having trouble giving You these things.

I would come and say to You
that I have many things and that I should give them to You
because You can take much better care of them than I can.
But these things are very dear to me.
I really want to keep these things.
I have offered them to You many times before, and some of them I would hand over,
but some would stay wrapped around my finger without my intention
and without my realizing that I was withholding them.
And other times, without my noticing, I have stolen back the things that I had given You before.
These things are very important to me.
Yet I know that they would be much better in Your hands.
For I have realized over time that when I cling to these things that are so important to me,
fear and anxiety overwhelm me.
I worry so intensely about losing or breaking these things.
My grip is either so tight that I might suffocate them, or so loose that I might drop them.
I can not be trusted with these things.
Yet these things mean so much to me.
I love these things.
I love them more than I should.
I love these things even though they can’t love me back.
But I must give You these things.
You are the only one who I can love that will never leave.
You are the only one who can see which of these things I do not need.
You are the only one who I can trust with my greatest joy.
While I hold on to these things they block my view.
While I hold on to these things, I can’t see You.
While I hold on to these things, I keep You from caring for them in a way that I never could.
While I hold onto these things I forget about Your love.
So I have found a way to give to You all of these things without leaving any behind.
I have taken these things: my hopes, my fears, my love, my future, my anxiety, my life, my joy, my heart.
And I have placed them securely in a heart shaped box.
Gently I laid them and made sure to leave nothing out.
I wept as I sealed each corner of the box.
Though I know how wonderful You are, there is still a part of me that is afraid of losing these things.
I set the box before you with my knees on the ground, my head bowed low, and my arms raised above.
Please God.  Take my life.  Let Your will be done.

Fear

I don’t think the problem is that there aren’t talented, intellectually stimulating, interesting, and challenging individuals out there. I don’t think there is a shortage of people who are amazing and inspiring.  I think the real problem lies in that many people are afraid to be who they are truly meant to be. Fear prevents people from being different. Fear prevents people from digging into their own subconscious and getting their hands dirty. 

Fear of condemnation, fear of being different, fear of being vulnerable. 
Fear forces us to forget our dreams and pursue careers that have stability and security but lack creativity and inspiration.  
Fear forces us to settle down into relationships that are boring or even bad for us when we could stay single and content to wait for someone who REALLY knocks our socks off. 
Fear even keeps us from allowing ourselves to love someone that’s good for us because we’re afraid WE’ll mess it up!
Fear keeps us from telling people we don’t agree with what they’re doing and instead we laugh it off, pretend to agree, or just stay quiet and do nothing, hiding who we are and even blocking us from potentially inspiring someone else to do the right thing.
How much more amazing would daily interactions be if everyone left fear behind and boldly showed the world who they are on the inside. 

What’s Happening?!

Hey everyone (anyone?)

I’m doing a little pre-spring cleaning and I decided I should probably drop a little note on this ol’ blog.

What’s going ON!?

Well, a whole lot. Unfortunately, a whole lot of it is not music related. But it’s still a lot of good and yes, I’m still singing and writing music.

I had to step off the stage for a little bit to get some things in order, more specifically, start my own business.  This came as a surprise to some folks but most people close to me know I love to bake and veganism is extremely important to me.  When I realized the opportunity I had to leave my “day job” and start my own business as a vegan baker, I hopped on it!  But it’s time consuming and it’s hard work, so music has temporarily been put on the back burner.   I still write in my down time and I still sing every day and I’ve even got some projects coming up in the future, but as of now if you want to show your support drop on by the facebook page or follow me on instagram!

Thanks!
Evangelina

I’m sorry. I lied.

Okay, so I know I didn’t make the announcement here on my blog, but earlier this month I posted to my band’s youtube page that we would be releasing a new music video today for Lives Lost.

The thing is, I thought I could compile a bunch of photos of loved ones over three weeks and put out a heartfelt video.  Nothing complicated, just a basic slideshow of people we love, but something happened while I was reaching out to friends and family… I realized this could be something bigger and better and more meaningful than just a handful of pictures.  I’d really like to make this video something really good for the soul.

I’m no videographer, photographer, or visual artist by any means, but everything I do I do it from the heart. So I’m apologizing to you, for those of you who have submitted photos and those of you who were patiently waiting for the release.  I’m apologizing for not releasing it today, but I realized that I want to take more time on this one.  I want to put more love into it.  I’m not going to give a release date as of now, but I am going to be doing a little more outreach and (regardless of my saying this wasn’t going to be a PSA in the video) I’m going to put more information in it.  Maybe it won’t reach many people. Maybe it’ll only get a few hundred views and never make it on any charts.  But if our song can make you smile, if it can give you a little peace, or if it can touch one person who’s struggling with addiction or suicidal thoughts, my job is done.

On that note, I can at least do one thing for you today.  Here it is, the full song, downloadable on our ReverbNation page.
Please listen and enjoy and if you like it, share it with your friends.  If you’re still on the fence about sending your info, contact me.
evangelinaandtheboys @ gmail.com or though fb: http://www.facebook.com/veganvita

Here’s the direct link:
http://www.reverbnation.com/evangelina/song/22157834-lives-lost