Sugar Pinterest Board & Shape

Creating a visual board—whether collage cut outs from magazines or online with Pinterest—to accompany a fictional project—is always fun. (Or I might add to a board for ideas for how to update my nest, wardrobe, holidays, and recipes—can I be stopped? Nope. I can lose hours in Pinterest-land, I tell ya, it's a tough job.)

I remember cutting images out of magazines when I was younger, getting my hands covered in glue, and tacking a fabulously disorienting melange of glossy pictures on my wall. Usually there were a few unhealthy representations of the purported female ideal, but after watching Jean Kilbourne's Killing us Softly, I started on a journey toward learning to love my body and not chase a physique that wasn't the one I was born with. It took me more than a decade to fully embody this idea—my mental and rational understanding of body acceptance trailed the little voice in my head that bullied me and said hurtful things. 

Most days, when I look in the mirror, I love my reflection. But I have days when I don't... And it is then that I forgive myself, am gentle, and remind myself of how strong I am, about all the amazing things my body does each day, and how fortunate I am to inhabit this amazing being for the last thirty-something years. 

I believe we each have a unique shape. We might be curvy, angular, voluptuous, athletic, fat, petite, and most often a gorgeous combination. It's subjective and a one-size-fits-all formula or mentality sets women up for a struggle. 

Some of the women I recognize as leaders in the body-love-acceptance revolution, each of them falling along the size, shape, and age spectrum, include:

Amanda Palmer

Maysoon Zayid

Kathryn Budig

Lillian Bustle 

Kayla Itsinies

Christianne Northrup

I draw from each of these strong, intelligent, and beautiful women to create a collage for how to embrace myself, inside and out. 

Long ago, one of my yoga teachers said something like, "If you don't like this class, leave, but don't give up on yoga. There's a teacher and a method that will provide for you what you're looking for, that will awaken your mind and body, and help you feel great." 

I think the same follows with the tidal change of how we approach the female form and how women regard themselves and each other. It's natural that different women, drawing from their experiences, habits, beliefs, etc. will have differing takes on how to approach body-image. As long as the bottom line is self-love, what works for one person might not for someone else and that's okay. Move onto the next if one gal's take doesn't resonate with you. In fact, that's the beauty of beauty, it's visually and philosophically unique and varies from person to person. There is no single ideal or image! Blam!

Back to Pinterest: it also provides readers inspiration and insight into my inner-workings while writing and editing. My Pinterest board for Sugar is especially sparkly and inspiring. I hope you like it! 

 Click the image above to see all my Sugar pins! Do you have one that's your favorite? Let me know in the comments below or pin it!


On the Threshold

There have been times in my life when I feel the glimmer of change, like a wind ruffling my back, ready to shunt me forward in a great sweeping push. In those heart-racing moments of recognition, I look down and realize my toes are hanging over the precipice. It is a long, long, long way down, with jagged rocks and bristly cactus—the kind I'm not even tempted to touch to see how spiny it is; looking at it alone is like a laceration. Oxygen comes in gulps, sweat beads on the brow. This is legit stomach in knots, legs like spaghetti fear. 

But on the other side of fear is freedom. 

The horizon catches my eye and time does me a brief favor. In this moment I realize I have one of two choices: I can fly or fall. If the latter, the landing is going to hurt, bad. But after doing this thing called living for a while I realize I'd rather not have dirt in my mouth and prickers in my tuckus. I'll get up, brush off, and then keep going. In this instance there's the comforting thought that I tried and maybe I'm better suited for terrestrial life or the world aquatic. 

However, time resumes. I have to spread my arms and... leap. And I may flap and flail for a notch or two, but then I get the rhythm and the view... It is stunning. It was worth the risk and the feeling of the air moving across my skin, in my hair, drinking it in, it was so worth the risk. It is freedom. 

Don't get me wrong. The paragraphs above are metaphor. Do not actually jump off anything. I saw a documentary on base jumping the other day and oh-my-&*$#@^! that is some insanage. I'm talking about the threshold place when we've had enough of the 9-5, or the job we thought was the match for us ten years ago, or the relationship that will not jump start no matter how many times we try rescue breathes, or the bleak town that brings us down, down, down. 

I've been on the threshold, of varying degrees, multiple times now and it always requires courage. To paraphrase John Wayne, courage is being afraid and taking the leap anyway. 

In my late teens I took a huge risk, I've done the same as a parent and as a creative. There are times in our lives when courage is as quiet as a breeze or as strong as a storm. There are times when we don't think we can, but we do and we are affirmed by the liquid feeling of liberation. Or we miss the mark and the fun, the experience was in the attempt.

There are times when we try and fail. I don't take the standard definition of failure to mean, "being unsuccessful in achieving one's goal." To me, failure is not pursuing one's goal. Putting it off for another day, month, year, lifetime. Occasionally, the timing is off and we're asked to be patient, but other times the option is do it, try at least, or else be miserable. If you've been there, you know what I mean. But when in the place of patience, be assured the heart's desire is honest and clear, the threshold will appear. 

Although, it can happen, when we move past the threshold, the outcome, where we touch down might be harder or bleaker or not what we expected. That's when we pause, take an inventory of what we learned, and adjust our coordinates. 

When I set out in indie publishing, I figured the ship for traditional publishing had sailed, and I was okay with that. I set my sights on putting out my books my way. It was scary. It was risky. It was, white knuckles in my mouth, drawing blood. 

Little did I know the threshold would appear again in the form of a publisher and a book I'd written years previous and all-but shelved. I'd already put myself out there in the writing world, but this was another animal, whereas being an indie author felt a little like the wild west, I felt like I was walking into a tea parlor in muddy cowgirl boots. And they weren't the kind where I could click the heels and land somewhere called home. 


Thresholds call us to expand, to sail to new shores, uncover and explore aspects of ourselves, treasures, and grow and grow and grow some more. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not a part-time, do-it-when-I-feel-like-it kind of thing. Thresholds are hardcore. So if you're in, you're in. You're on the edge, big leap, I don't know if I got this, but I gotta got this! 

Then when we're there, soaring, sometimes we come up against air currents, vectors disguised in "I don't deserve this goodness," or "I'm not worthy" or "when is the disaster going to strike/other foot going to drop?" Unfortunately, those myths of upper limits that we've learned or told ourselves aren't wrapped up in concise sentences that are easy to dispel. They come in the form of self-sabotage, in feeling inadequate, or telling ourselves it is too hard. And what do we do? How do we overcome or part the veil of a lack-mentality? More work. More courage. More of you. But the good news, we've got the juice, what it takes.

But even those of us in muddy cowgirl boots (mine have purple and gold feathers) deserve what we've worked for and even what we've been given. 


Because it is an opportunity to do our best, to be our best, to shine in all our dusty, muddy glory, to share the gifts we have however big or small, or for now, just a smile. The threshold is a call to action. It is a test to see just how much guts we have. To strike out and live the best version of our lives because after we take the leap, there is no going back. 

And when we're flying, when we land, when we reach the other shore, we'd all do well to honor our journey, to stand tall with pride, to acknowledge our achievements. To give ourselves a pat on the back, a rah, rah, rah, and a round of applause. 

I am. 


Asks & Answers #2

Photo: Sergey Zolkin
Checking in with another Q & A from readers to moi. See the first installment here. All of these asks and answers will be posted on a page here on the blog under a tab called, Favorites

Cool? Cool! 

As before, sometimes it's hard for me to choose just one best of the best and, as always, I reserve the right to change it up. Today I might adore French Bulldogs and next week it's Great Pyranees. Never mind, I can't resist any of them. I have a chronic case of puppy fever. It can't be stopped!


My favorite...

Surfboard: Long, I usually ride an 8, sometimes 9.

Food: I have a variety of food allergies, so my version of the dishes below might not look like the kind your mom cooks, unless of course, I'm your mom or you share the "quirk" that prevents you from eating sugar and gluten. Pizza. Chips, guacamole, and salsa. Smoothies. Sometimes all at the same time. No, I don't mean a pizza smoothie, but a smoothie with a slice of pizza. Oh and my toppings vary from Margarita style to onions, sage, butternut squash, and arugula. The possibilities are extensive, despite the fact that my father thinks the only things left for me to eat is that "Stuff called hummus." He worries about my diet and health worse than my Italian Nana. Also, I'm a vegetarian so you can imagine I'm a real joy to dine with. 

Server: "Can I take your order, Ma'am?"
Me: "Sure, but first I have a few questions..."
Server: *Stiffens with fright/Or rolls eyes at me* "Okay...:"
Me: *Launches into 100-and-one Q's about ingredients...* 
Server: "Sorry I asked. I quit." *Tosses apron on table.*

Kidding. It isn't that bad, and I tip well. I've been on the other side of the four-top, so I know all about the "dread food-sensitive diner." 

Also, read an outstanding treatise by none other than the illustrious Maggie Stiefvater on owning/embracing our health, food sensitivities, and choices. (If the thought harvesters from the Unicorn planet Zorb have anything to do with this, I'll... I won't say it, I won't even think it! If that makes no sense to you, good ;-) 

What TV shows do you like?

I've watched all nine seasons of Seinfeld in their entirety, if that tells you anything. But to tell you the truth, I rarely veer from PBS; Downton Abbey is top notch and I really enjoy cooking and travel shows, which they do brilliantly. I also loved Freaks & Geeks during its run. So sad to see that one go. Other than that, I'm a books and movies kinda gal. 

Wondering about my writing? Life? That hummus stuff? Ask in the comments below and I'll see if I can come up with an honest answer.


Bookish Buys

Do you ever get a case of the wants? It usually happens to me while window shopping on Pinterest, occasionally Instagram. 

I'm all like, I. Must. Have. That. Now. 

Sometimes it's clothing, shoes, a picture of tacos. (Then I find myself in the kitchen ten minutes later wondering why the avocados are never ripe when I want them to be.) 

Other times it's wearable words and often it's...a book or a box of books or book swag or bookish things, because books, they're entire worlds of clothing and shoes and tacos or reminders of characters and courage and love. 

A case of the wants, involving books, is ultimately pretty satisfying. If you find yourself in this delightful predicament, hare a few super cool relatively new-to-the-scene creative ways to get your bookerly fix. 

Appraising Pages >>> is run by Justine, a mom, coffee drinker, and book lover. She creates and sells everything from jewelry to T-shirts with quotes and sayings from favorite novels. Great gift items for the book lover in your life (or ya know, you.) 

BookWorm Box >>> created by the prolific author Colleen Hoover is a monthly subscription service delivering a box of books and goodies directly to your mailbox. The bonus, 100% of proceeds after overhead costs, go to charity!

Owl Crate >>> A monthly YA subscription box curated by Korrina and Robert, self-proclaimed "massive book geeks." It is so awesome it often sells out so sign up early. As in now. Sign up now. You should also read their manifesto

Storiarts >>> A husband and wife team who make literary items like scarves (they're lovely) gloves (the kind without fingers so you can still type when it's chilly) and other printed fiber goods that are spot on! I'll take one of each, please.

Do you know of any other literary artists, curators, and book lovers who spin gold? Share in the comments below so next time I get a case of the I wants, I know where to go.

I was not compensated in any way for the content in this post. The opinions are my own and were unsolicited.

Sugar in pictures...

Here's a sweet little spread for Sugar.

Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

I'm a somewhat of a visual person; like if you're giving directions, just stop talking—I'll probably end up in Kathmandu, unless of course I'm seeking the Garden of Dreams—instead draw me a map. 

Or if you're describing a home remodel or makeover, just show me the before and after pictures because the terms blur together—balustercompositedormer. 

Somehow this doesn't translate to when I'm reading because fiction has that magical ability to bring stories to life before my eyes, but I thought it would still be fun to make a little visual companion to Sugar...And if you're on Polyvore, let's connect. Enjoy!

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