A Delicate Man

I have a folder in my email inbox called “Creeps on the Internet”. That’s where I stash emails and screenshots of private messages from strangers on the internet who want me to give them my full attention.
Maybe read the rest of this post with Criminal by Fiona Apple playing in the background because it feels so right.

I’ve been a bad, bad girl
I’ve been careless
With a delicate man
And it’s a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can.

When I first started XOXO, Lib I was so excited about finally having a space that was mine all mine on the internet where I can be who I want to be and say the things I want to say and be my free, true, and authentic self without reservation. And it’s become that place for me for sure. I’ve met so many cool people. I love the community that’s growing in the Facebook group and on Instagram. I love us. A lot.

And things are growing so rapidly and with such gusto–I’m so excited. I can actually see ways that dreams that I’ve had for this platform aren’t pipe dreams. I’m seeing it all come together and when I think about it, I get so excited. Right now, just telling you about it is feeding my spirit in a way that I haven’t felt in a few days.

With a growing platform and more and more readers, it’s natural to get a few creeps thrown in the mix. Especially when you’re talking about fattness, fat fetishism is so real my friends. I’m not mad that the fetish exists. I’m just mad that another person’s fetish turns into a non-consensual situation that I have to find a way to navigate.

I get an occasional dude in my Instagram Direct Messages saying, “Hi.” On my very best days I’m like, “what a lazy dude.” I mean, honestly, why don’t you just come right out and say, “I’d like to have a conversation with you but I’d also like you to do all the labor of starting it and carrying the weight of it all on your own.” Now, these aren’t so bad. Because as loaded as these messages are, they’re super easy to ignore. I just take a screenshot and then block these people and move on wth my day (after I get a collection of “hi” messages I like to post them in my stories to show off how repetitive and unoriginal men on the internet can be).

But then sometimes I get messages from other types of people who want to build a monument to me and hope that I’ll never change my body ever. A lot of times I try to just ignore these messages, too but sometime I just can’t. I gotta know what’s going on in this person’s head. And ten times out of ten, these people haven’t even looked at my profile or my blog or anything. They don’t know who I am at all even! After I reply, they try to strike up a conversation by asking what my name is or where I’m from. Both of those pieces of information are available on whatever platform they used to find me. Which means that they aren’t even remotely interested in me as a person–they’re interested in cruising through a body positive hashtag and then just messaging people indiscriminately. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in my fattness. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in what I can do for them. They either want naked pictures or my bank account information. Every. Single. Time.

Last week, a stranger in my Instagram DM’s kept asking me where I was from and I refused to answer him with anything other than, “that information is easily available in my Instagram bio, have you looked at it?” He kept saying, “Of course I looked at your bio I want to love you. So, where are you from?”

The problem, for me, isn’t that I’m frustrated that people are talking to me on the internet. I love talking to people on the internet. Making connections with new people on Instagram is not only one of my favorite joys but it’s also my business. It’s my job. And these people aren’t messaging me on my personal page on my personal time (that one is set to private). They’re messaging me on my business account. And time is money.

IMG_4022Last night, after getting an old fashioned email (yeah, we’re at a stage where email is old-fashioned) from a man named either Douglas or Steve (inconclusive) who wanted to tell me how much he likes/ supports/ is a fan of me and other people like me (note the lack of specifics), I couldn’t take it any more.

[Image description: screenshot of an email from an account belonging to a person called Douglas Winters. The email reads, “Hi. I am a fan and supporter of your blog.
Your blog for plus women is great and it is very nice.I am a fan and supporter of plus women.I have a big appreciation for big women.I am a fan of the plus industry too.I am a big supporter of size equality.Plus models and plus women’s are great.All women should embrace their body and not be concerned to feel that they have to be skinny to fit in with society.I love how plus models and plus women feel confident about them sleeves without having to be skinngy.I am a big fan of plus size women and plus models.I have always supported them too.Plus women and plus models are great.Is it okay to email you and hope it is okay.I am a fan of you and I would really like to keep in touch with you.I want to email you because I am a fan of you and I support plus women too.Hope to hear from you and have a nice day. 
Steve”]

I know as a one-off this email doesn’t seem like much. But imagine that this is the 4th one you’ve received that day and the dozenth you’ve received this week and it’s only frickin’ Tuesday. I sat on the couch with Ryan and I cried a lot. I mostly cried for all the people out there who have it worse than me. I cried for my whole life of being seen as my body before anything else. I cried for the world that gave men this power to (I’m going to quote my friend Courtney here), “just stomp around this planet thinking they can do and say and have whatever they want.” While women are forced into shoes that are created to make us literally tiptoe around the whole world. I cried for the way that these men are allowed to come into my home, into my place of business and ask for my attention for no reason other than the fact that they don’t hate that I’m fat.

I sat there racking my brain trying to figure out how in the hell I can take my power back in situations like these and I came up with an idea. If these people are going to come into my space, into my business and demand my time, I’m going to charge them the same rate–no, higher than I charge everyone else who wants my business on my work time.

So I wrote Douglas/ Steve back and I told him that he’s speaking to me on my business account and I’m sure that he can appreciate that time is money when I’m on the clock. And if he’s looking for my time, it’s going to cost him. So I linked my PayPal account and told him my rates. I’m in charge of this interaction. If he pays me, I’ll tell him about why interactions like these are unwelcome and make me feel unsafe but I don’t have the energy to do the work for all of these men for free.

So here we are. I’ve saved that email into my notes app on my phone and I’ll, from here on out, just copy and paste it to every single man on the internet who wants my time and attention for free.

I haven’t really re-read this post or edited it. I’m just free-writing so I can sort out my thoughts. This isn’t the best/ most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, I just needed to get it out of me so that this bad, objectified feeling doesn’t live inside of me.

Thank you for listening.
I know there are a lot of points of nuance that I haven’t covered. If you’re interested in a conversation about this topic, don’t worry, I probably won’t charge you for it. *wink*

XOXO, Lib

And as always, if you feel the need to come in here and #notallmen me, please know that you’re a part of the problem. Men who know that they aren’t guilty of the behavior that I’m describing and are confident in themselves don’t need my validation which is what this all comes down to, honestly. 

Feeling Peeved?

Pet peeves are one of my most favorite topics. I just think it’s really interesting to learn what kind of strange little thing gets under a person’s skin.

I have a few pet peeves. Mostly they’re about simple courteousness, though, so I don’t think they really count as pet peeves? Like tardiness or not replying to texts. Or, oh! When you’re in public and someone starts playing music? Like, on their own regardless of everyone else around them? I was at a meeting in a coffee shop once and a person at a nearby table didn’t like the music that was playing over the sound system so they started playing music from their laptop. And then started singing along with it. Like, that’s rude right? I don’t think that counts as a pet peeve… unless everyone who reads this right now is thinking, “I don’t get why that’s an issue”. Then that’s just me and that’s fine.

My partner, for example, hates it when I leave cabinet doors open or if I open a package and leave the wrapper on the counter instead of throwing it away. Meanwhile, the dishes and trash can be overflowing and stinking up the whole house and he’s completely unbothered.
And if he’s driving and you’re the kind of person who lingers too long in the left-hand lane–god help you. No, actually, god help me. Because I’m the one who’s gonna be hearing about it for 2 miles.

A friend of mine gets so mad while watching me eat a piece of string cheese (I love to just take a big bite out of it) that she refuses to look at me while it’s happening. She’d much rather I use the much less satisfying method of pulling off little whispy strands of cheese and eating those instead.

My sister will happily punch someone for using “literally” incorrectly.

I started writing this post and I forgot what all of my pet peeves were. Ryan reminded me that I go into fit of rage if my dog ever licks me. I don’t mind it as much when my cat licks me–I kind of like her rough cat tongue. But when Fiona does it, my eyes fill with fire and I try my goshdarndest to not scream or flail.

And when people do that thing where they think they’re being helpful and generous by waving you through the intersection at a four-way-stop. It’s not a generous thing to do. It throws everything off and it is so hard for me to regain my patience after that happens to me. I feel like I must be the only one that this bugs or else it wouldn’t happen so often.

Or when I post something thoughtful and meaningful on Facebook and there’s always that ONE GUY who swoops in with either a joke or a “well actually” or a “well actually” in the form of a joke. Don’t be that guy!–I just sang that, at full volume, in a full coffee shop where people are having business meetings.

What even is a pet peeve? To me, it’s a small annoyance that doesn’t hurt anyone and usually bothers almost anyone and doesn’t really affect anyone’s day in a negative way (depending on how long you hold onto it).

What are your pet peeves? Or do you think any of mine are completely stupid and I should just get over myself? That’s fine. You’re probably right.

XOXO, Lib

 

 

A Pep Talk For When You Need One

You’re having feelings. So many feelings. Maybe even too many feelings. And if you’re anything like me, too many feelings feels an awful lot like none at all.


You might be doing that thing where you’re trying to rush the process. You might be fighting against the waves that are crashing all over you and that’s okay. That’s your impulse to stay alive. That’s okay but it’s important to know that you will get very tired very quickly. Can I make a suggestion? Just get the attention of someone else who is on shore. Sometimes just knowing that someone can see you drowning will revitalize something inside of you to focus, stop flailing, and do what you need to do to get to shore. That person might even have a life vest to throw out to you when you’re close enough to grab it.

And you just barely get up on shore and you flop down in the sand–on your back, spread eagle, vulnerable as all hell but breathing is the only priority right now. Your muscles are weak and your throat is burning but even by the time that you catch your breath, you’re in the process of getting up. Because your impulse is to live. Your body wants to keep itself alive despite the ache. Your spirit wants to keep itself alive. Despite the ache.

Yesterday my friend Sherilyn said, “It’s all part of being human to both resist and embrace it.”

Embrace it.

Let me tell you about the ache: It’s a sacred time. As long as you’re aching, you’re in a rare space and you’re going to want to pretend it’s not there. But lean into it. Learn from it. Rip yourself open in this achey time and gather all the knowledge and self-awareness that you can. Get your pay day. It’s part of it. I won’t walk through it without a payoff. None of this is for free. You can’t pay any kind of money for this sort of an education.

And I’m not going to hide my grief from you or anyone. I don’t–you don’t benefit from pretending that everything is fine. I’m not going to hunker down until I feel all better so that all you’ll see in this space is a well thought out, mature, healed woman. It’s for you. All of this is for you. I’m mining gold and I’m passing it out like candy and beads.

You have moved mountains, before, and you’re going to do it again so why not now?

XOXO, Lib

Being Extra Efficient: Throwing A Low-Key, Super Fun Baby Shower

When you haven’t seen your sister for ten months, and then you have an opportunity to be together for a few days, you want to keep things low-key and also fully celebrational. Fully love by actively ignoring any stressy feels. When they pop up, tell them, “Hi. It’s good to see you but I’m a little busy right now. I’d love to meet up with you when I’m finished.” And in this you wait them out because stressy feels are very impatient and often run along to something else rather quickly.  You love the people that she loves, you always offer another cup of coffee, and you try not to be stingy with your time.

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When your sister, who you haven’t seen in ten months, is due to have a child soon, you throw her a party because as much as you celebrate this little guy, you want to offer the chance for others to ooh and ahh over his life, too. You want to make sure that you don’t get too plan-y about it the way you always do in a way that can tend to suck the fun out of it. You have to plan around your obsessive nature to over-plan about these things. It’s almost silly, right?

 


If I may toot my own horn just a tiny bit about the whole thing, I threw a lovely baby shower. Here’s the reason that I feel comfortable bragging on myself about it—it’s all a little tongue-in-cheek because I truly didn’t do much at all. That was the beauty of it all.

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Allow me to offer you insight on how to throw a low-stress party. Now, I can’t promise that this will always work for you the way it did for me but, you know, thoughts and prayers and the whole nine. There are three main steps that I created and followed when creating this event.

Find a location: Because most of the people that we were inviting to the shower were all from the same nearby town, I decided that I wouldn’t make anyone drive to my house for the event. Not having this in my home probably cut the stress levels by about 70%, to be honest.
One of the most gorgeous spaces in Hutchinson, KS is Bluebird Books on South Main Street and I knew they had a back room with chairs and tables that would make a super fun, come-and-go vibe. So this was the first place that I wanted to check out—numero uno on my list. I was willing to spend some money but I didn’t want to blow my whole budget on a location—after all, we would need decorations, food and presents, too! Well… without getting too brass tacks about it, suffice it to say that the room rental for what we needed was well below budget. Because of that, I decided to keep all of our business in the store. Not only did this keep things super easy on my end, but I got to use my dollars to support a very cool, local, woman owned business. Also, because this place is so beautifully designed and decorated, there was no way I could have possibly added decorations.

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There’s a café attached to Bluebird that we used to take care of our treats. We weren’t planning on too many people so we asked for two different things that didn’t involve any plates or forks—lemon bars (my personal favorite) and these luxe peanut butter brownie bars covered in chocolate. I also ordered coffee and water for everyone to drink. Melanie went above and beyond—she made up a lovely table for the treats and beverages and was super easy to work with.

Send out some low-key invitations: Look, low key doesn’t mean that they have to be lame. I discovered this very cool site called Paperless Press and I was able to send out the most gorgeous e-invitations! Because of the design that I chose, I did have to pay about $6 but you can easily send out some incredible invites completely free. This site is also great because it makes it easy to link a gift registry, manages your RSVP list, and lets guests leave comments on the wall. It also prompted you to send out and RSVP reminder if you wanted to. It was all around very helpful!

I don’t get paid for you clicking on that link or anything—I just really liked it. I’m sure that there are other places that send inexpensive e-vites, too. I have a friend who used Minted for her e-vites and has always had some really good ones.

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And thirdly and most importantly, do your very best to mind your own business: this is hard for me because I’m a natural born peacekeeper and a helper. I make everyone’s business my business and if someone isn’t having the time of their very life, I make that my responsibility. But it’s not my responsibility. If there’s guest drama. If someone wishes we had different snacks. If someone looks a little bit bored… these things are not me-problems. One of the greatest and most lasting things that therapy has taught me is that other people’s feelings are not my responsibility. So while peacekeeping and helping are my default states—those personality attributes can sometimes suck the fun out of events for me. Even events that I’m simply attending. I want everyone to have a full drink and not a care in the world. But I can really only help with half of that. Accepting this and laying down the idea of perfection in every area is key to not only enjoying yourself but putting out a calm-vibe to everyone else in attendance.

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Like I said, it was very simple and low-key but it still felt so, so special. I really believe that things can be easy and special at the same time. It takes just as much energy to craft an ordinary email as it does to enter in the details of a beautiful e-vite, for example. In the same way, it takes just as much effort to make a box of macaroni and cheese as it does to make rigatoni and pesto—it looks a little bit fancier, it feels a little more special, but it’s just as easy. This is something that I love to keep in mind when I want something to be exceptional but I don’t really have the time or energy to go nuts.

What are some areas where you make a point to act efficiently while still keeping things just a little extra?

XOXO, Lib

Five Tips for Planning Intentional Self-Care

I’m sitting here listening to the hold music at my doctor’s office on speaker phone while I drink a big cup of coffee and draw up a lazy grocery list for this weekend. I want to make sure we get a lot of fresh veggies in our systems so I’m thinking a big salad for lunch… grilled chicken and veggies for dinner, and I’m wondering if peaches will satisfy our after dinner sweet teeth or if we should just admit it and get some cookies. And when are we going to get some movement in? If we can’t go to the water park, maybe we can take a park-tour or walk up and down main street. Or maybe even both… My best friend is coming to spend the night and I want to make sure that I’m at my very best while she’s here.

This planning ahead is something pretty new for me. Sort of. I’ve always been the type who likes to know what to expect but this is different. I’ve learned, recently, that if I plan certain things ahead, I’m more in control—not in control of what happens but more in control of how I feel. I’ve started seriously planning my self-care. And it has made all the difference. I’m not going to say that I feel like a whole new person… but I can tell you that I feel more in control of myself, these days.
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