Let the words flow.

Art is something that I approach (or quite possibly run away from), with a solid, 10 foot pole.

Looking and admiring it is something that I truly enjoy. It brings me mindfulness and peace. Art galleries are one of my favourite places, and I have such fond memories of spending hours exploring them with friends and my husband. Visiting MoMA is a big goal for the future.

However, when it comes to the very doing of art – nope, nada, no. Not going there. The mere thought of having to pick up a pencil or paintbrush, and create something that my perfectionist mind will never be happy with, is enough to make my skin crawl. It’s annoying. I’ve got to work on that. Because art can be fun and creative and exciting. It can bring joy, and the process can be one of mindfulness. It sounds like a very healthy and therapeutic way of releasing what is bombarding within.

Day 6 – do something creative.

So, I compromised. Writing is safe for me; it’s what I’m comfortable in. I feel as though I have far more control to sculpt what I create with words, rather than with other mediums. The backspace key is well overused.

However, it is also important to keep learning, to keep trying new things; to practice using other mediums for creativity and expression. This way we can keep challenging what we already know, and keep growing through that.

I don’t really know what to call this. A mish-mash of words, and as ankle-deep into art that I’m willing to go at the moment. It is every thought and random word that was going through my head in the moment, written down in my bullet journal. I was hesitant and uncomfortable with beginning this, in case I made a mistake (spoiler – I made plenty), and in case the whole bullet journal was “ruined” by this one page. However, by the end I was kind of happy with the end result. Doing this kept my hands busy, which is always a good thing. The mindfulness that was involved was also a good bonus too!

Here is a text version if that’s easier to read:

The beans grew big and strong
They bloomed; nothing to stars.
Is this brain a safe place?
Is it really a flooding torrent,
Or can I plant my feet firmly in the soil and thrive?
How can there be silver linings and horrors all beneath the same sky;
All flowing through the same vein?
Soldier on and soldier on again,
And just keep putting one foot ahead of the other.
Leave your skin alone.
Be small and big
(Don’t overthink “big”, don’t),
All at once –
Anything and everything.
Cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas.
To be unapologetic and unashamed,
To be vulnerable,
To be free.
Go out there and do.
Go out there and be.

There you have it, a weird attempt at creativity which was surprisingly enjoyable, and a good way to release some thoughts that are flying around your brain! It is also good practice for accepting this how they are a.k.a getting over the ridiculous, destructive perfectionism, and seeing something for what it truly is – a snapshot of the now, a work in progress.


Tigers & Lightning: Stretch Marks & Shame.

At fifteen, I sobbed in the changing room at the sight of purple indents curling their way across my newfound curves. This cry echoes across the world. Just traipse the internet, magazines, conversations and strategic swimwear. The bounty of insecurity and shame is immense.

All these years later, I still see these silly little lines on my skin every day, and they still make me feel ashamed. And ugly, and unworthy. I think of them as a flaw that must be hidden.

My stretch marks began during puberty, but increased significantly throughout my experience with an eating disorder. The rapid weight loss and gain took it’s toll on my body; these etched slivers remain to this day.

They dictate what I wear, how I sit, and how uncomfortable I feel in particular situations.

But what is actually going on with our skin? Stretch marks are harmless, and arise when your skin cannot stretch enough to keep up with growth. The dermis tears, and skin scars as a result. There is no known treatment that is actually effective, although many products jump at the opportunity to claim to be.

Puberty, rapid weight loss or gain, pregnancy and traumatic injuries can all lead to stretch marks. Given how common these experiences are, it is unsurprising that the majority of people share these scars.

I’m not going to proclaim that “all stretch marks are beautiful and I love them,” simply because this is not my reality. When I look in the mirror and I see the silvery lines snaking across my hips, and rippling through my thighs, I don’t feel beautiful. I feel flawed and ashamed.

To those who genuinely do appreciate and love their stretch marks; I admire you. Not because I believe stretch marks are inherently unworthy of love, (for the record, I don’t), but because we are taught from every side that they should be.

And the thing is, we don’t have to feel beautiful in our stretch marks if we aren’t ready to just yet. But we can try and just let them be, both for what they are, and for what they are not.

While researching for this piece, I was hard-pressed to find information that didn’t conclude with “stretch marks are beautiful and okay! But here are ten top products that will get rid of them . . .”

And my question now is, why? Why are they viewed as bad, as disgusting, as something to hide, when your skin is merely just working to accommodate your changing body. And why are they viewed as a flaw unique to insecure women, when most humans experience them. They are a harmless, human experience, yet we are taught that to have them is to bear shame.

This is because from a young age, we are we are bombarded with the message that to have stretch marks is to not be good enough. That we did something wrong. That they are a flaw that is shameful to have. That we gained too much weight, or lost too much weight, or didn’t have the perfect pregnancy body. This is why there are so many products, all competing to make money from our learnt idea that we should not have stretch marks.

In reality, stretch marks are neither good nor bad. And they don’t have to be either. They just simply are. To love them is a mighty feat, not because they are unlovable, but because this is a blatant rebellion to what we are taught. Stretch marks are part of you. They are not ugly, nor defining of character. They are not worthy of hate.

We don’t necessarily have to think stretch marks are beautiful, or of ourselves as fierce tigers who have earned our stripes. But we can learn to accept them, and to remember that being good and worthy doesn’t mean being perfect.

Let’s end with this. Go out and be a force of nature. If thinking about them this way helps, then as Jordan Molineux says, you have the lightning strikes to prove it.