A Year of Tacos

TW: eating disorders, body dysmorphia

I love tacos. I mean, I absolutely love tacos.

This year was a year of tacos when I think about it.

I had tacos in New York, New Jersey, Austin, Houston, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida, and arguably China. Tacos took me places this year or really, I took myself to tacos.

I featured photos this week on my Instagram of me at my most recent Taco exploit: Tacoria in Princeton, NJ.

I don’t post a lot of photos of me eating and I did so because there aren’t a lot of pictures of people eating in general on social media. I see plenty of skinny Instagram influencers posting fashionable photos with their Five Guys fries and soda, though.

And more power to them, I live for aesthetics and using food an an unapologetic prop. But there is also a lot of double standards in what bodies are allowed to look “cute” with food and others that are shamed for eating.

I love food, but I have always felt the need to combat fatphobia with stipulations on how I’m a vegetarian and that I don’t drink soda, as if those things we morally better. And truthfully our society sets us up to think that.

My relationship with food could be and should always have been described as disordered. I didn’t fully realize I might have been growing up with an eating disorder until I had a very brave friend share their experience with one. So I understand the impact of sharing honest experiences, I’ve set that as a pillar for my life’s purpose since the beginning.

It’s like my relationship with my body and food as been the great star crossed love of my life. I’ve always been thicc and I’ve always had a passion for food, but I’ve never had what I’d consider normal eating habits. I remember being young and thinking I was too weak willed to even have an eating disorder: because my habits didn’t fall in anorexia or bulimia, I figured I was just a fat kid destined to be a fat kid.

Then I became an athlete at the ends of middle school. And I became fitter and skilled in using my body as a tool. I learned about lifting and cardio and feeding my body to fuel it. For me, I didn’t feel like my identity was fat kid, it was an athlete with various accolades. My body became an asset, although I was still “overweight.”

My athletics, however, allowed me to cover my poor body image with a drive to be a better athlete. If I lost weight, I would be fast, I would perform better. Throughout high school and into college, my policing came from a place of “reason.” This policing was also enforced by coaches, teammates dieting behaviors & bodies, and doctors telling me to lose weight even at my smallest. I trained with a “no excuse mentality” which led to my worth being directly tied into how I performed and poor performances meant my body was the problem.

It wasn’t until I quit my sport that I fully realized the damage that behavior and environment had on me. It took me almost a year to get back in the gym without carrying the strategic training mindset with me. It was hard for me to alter my identity: I was a fat athlete and now was I just fat? This was when I began to understand that body dysmorphia was playing a huge role in my life.

Even at my smallest, having achieved a 30 pound weight loss because I was eating 1000 or less a day + working out, I never got out of the notion that I was still fat and that I needed to be losing a lot more. It wasn’t until after a year post-athletics that I began to miss the body I had my sophomore year of college. To get that body, I was working out a ton, missing out on my life, and was still unsatisfied with the way I looked.

This is where I’ve found myself: stuck in a cycle of knowing what it has taken in the past for my body to lose weight but now having the understanding that that behavior isn’t good for me.

I read a quote recently that went, “It’s very difficult to connect deeply with ourselves while thinking our body needs to change.” And that struck a cord with me.

I preach self love and truthfully I do feel very good about myself, it’s all very authentic, but the struggles I have with being plus size are things I’ve dealt with my entire life and are things I’m very exhausted to have hinder me.

I love fashion and this would really be more of a fashion blog if I could wear the clothes I like, but my options are painfully limited. Shopping trips are anxiety filled for me because the frustration is real.

Knowing all this however, I want to say how proud I am of body as well. It’s been a journey of realizing that my frustrations with being plus size has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the outside world. I’ve stopped blaming myself and that alone feels great.

It doesn’t make up for everything, but coming to peace with myself and feeling a real sense of pride in the things my body enables me to do helps.

Just this year alone, this body took me across the stage for my college graduation, through Acadia National Park, along the East coast, across the country, half way around the world, along the Great Wall of China, through the streets of Beijing, and to my jobs I love every day.

What is there to be ashamed of in that?

So dear reader, think about your New Years Resolutions this year and consider not putting “lose weight” on that list. Instead, consider working on coming to peace with your body and yourself, choose to celebrate who you are and where your body has gotten you up to this point. Think about all the places this body can take you and be thankful for that.

I know I am. And for tacos too.

x,

Lillie.

Thanksliving

Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Namely because I get to celebrate it with 3 different meals. One Grandma’s for a traditional southern Thanksgiving lunch with mac and cheese, green beans and the ever popular Costco dinner rolls. Another Grandma’s for a tradition started by my parents for a lunch of crab legs and Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Then my personal favorite, my parents and I’s Thanksgiving day parade & brunch.

I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. Always the 3 F’s: Friends, Family, and Food. But also for my jobs and my blog and for all the little things too like a hot cups of tea, the way lavender smells, and how my kitty is just the most fuzzy. IMG_0729

It’s kind of a shame that we have just this one holiday where we say what we’re thankful for when gratitude should be something we practice every day. It’s called a practice for a reason and it’s something I work on doing more, but I know the effects of daily gratitude:

During a major bout of depression last year, I started a note in my phone called “Daily Self Gratitude” where every day before I went to bed, I wrote 1 thing I was proud/grateful for about myself. I only had 2 rules: that my gratitude was positive and was written in an active, present tense.

What I found was that I was able to do a 180 on my mindset and the way I viewed myself. quote 2 thanksliving

You know how if you speak negatively to plants, it can kill them? Yeah, so I was that sad succulent sitting on my window sill that was bringing itself back to life last November and December.

It’s easy to rattle off things we are grateful for but rarely do we actively acknowledge our gratefulness to ourselves. We are never as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

For me, I think that stemmed from comparing myself to others, as if anything I do is nothing compared to someone else. Maybe there will always be someone who is funnier, kinder, or more attractive than us, but that never detracts from how funny, kind, or attractive we are. 

With my Daily Self Gratitude, I was able to acknowledge all the amazing qualities about myself without having to compare them to anyone else. The gratitude practice also established something good in my day. At the end of a shitty day, at least I had myself and for that I was grateful and happy. quote 1 thanksliving

I find that when you give yourself permission to replenish your well – you end up having so much more to give to others. Paying yourself first applies not only in business but in life. It’s not selfish – it’s necessary.

When thinking of gratitude this season, also be mindful of what is draining you and your ability to disconnect from negative things impacting your life. I could list a billion external things, but I want to remind you, dear reader, that you should not be the reason you need replenished. I’m talking about negative self talk and other ways we tear ourselves down.

This season, let’s be grateful that self deprecating humor is cheap and that we are much funnier than that. Negative self talk is something I struggle with too, but it use to be a lot worse when my opinion of myself was very low. So don’t use it around your friends, don’t go out of your way to do it, and think, “Instead of being a dick to myself, why don’t I just say something nice instead?”

Don’t be afraid of how being nice to yourself will change you.

Here’s a little manta that you can use for like, the rest of your life: I am mindful and grateful that I can listen to myself and change my mindset with my own words.

People do ask me how I became so confident in myself and I can never point an exact moment or action, but practicing this Daily Self Gratitude when I needed it the most certainly helped make a shitty situation much better.

Think about how you want to celebrate not only the holidays, but yourself this year. What small changes can you make in your life that build you up?

The first step in practice gratitude towards yourself is acknowledging and knowing that you are something to be grateful for.

x,

Lillie

Going Home

The Donald M. Wilson Reading Corner of the Princeton public library is a little lower than ground level. Facing the massive windows that let in  the cool, natural lighting of the fall day, I feel a sense of nostalgia for the place I’ve spent exactly 1 hour and 12 minutes in. This nook sits directly on the corner of Wiggins St. & Witherspoon St. surely named after important people I’ll never have the pleasure or displeasure of meeting. To my right, a cemetery with graves that have been there long before me and will remain long after and to my left, a cluster of large buildings with red brick that look like they belong more in Europe than in New Jersey. Scattered around my vision are trees holding onto their remaining leaves in shades of orange, yellow, and green. I’m wearing an orange shirt which makes me feel more apart of the landscape in some way.

IMG_0580.JPG

Sometimes I wonder if this feeling is more a sense of longing than nostalgia. It’s a place that doesn’t quite feel like home but there is something in the air that makes it feel like it could be. Like my soul has been lingering somewhere between the cobblestone alleyways, pine trees, and old buildings. Certain places just have that undeniable charm, like this place and my soul are vibrating at the same frequency.

Being charmed by a place is a beautiful thing. I felt this way when I went to Paris for the first time and when I started making friends in college. You’re overcome with a feeling that you are exactly where you are suppose to be. Since graduating and moving back home, my overwhelming feeling has been one of displacement. That’s why when I visited my college for Homecoming, I had a hard time emotionally preparing myself for going back to my “home.”

The fear was not so much whether things would be like I had left them but whether I could find the person I was before I left. I found her in China this summer briefly, but the grind I experience everyday of being back home and feeling displaced had put me back into this sense of loss.IMG_0579.JPG

I was anxious about how the weekend would go and how I would feel going back to the place I’d lived and grown for 4 years. I hadn’t had a genuine social interaction in months and a part of me wondered who I’d be when I would.

I quickly found some friends in the library on that rainy Friday who had also graduated. Sitting around a table we’d all probably spent time cramming for exams or gossiping at one point or another, we shared our mutual experiences of displacement, loss, and uncertainty for the future. Talking to them, I got this feeling that I was bridging the gap between who I was in this space for 4 years and who I was becoming since. Turns out, we are all stuck in a transition, one that is painful at times, certainly uncomfortable, but namely: terribly lonely.

That weekend we were all coming back to our launch pad as if we missed some crucial directions before we set off back in May. Everyone tells you how hard “the real world” in terms of financials can be, but no one ever tells you how fucking lonely it is.

Talking and spending time with my friends, visiting my old dorm, and seeing what everyone was getting into felt right and good, but it was only temporary relief from the reality of where we all were in our transition. That we would all be retreating back to where we found ourselves after graduation, only a little more driven to fight off this feeling of loneliness now knowing that our feelings were all very mutual.IMG_0461.JPG

Me going back for homecoming ended up being way less comforting then I had initially planned as it so blatantly pointed out how not at home I feel in my life. I cried on the way back feeling emotionally exhausted and confused as to where I needed to be going next. However, I had gained a helpful and very necessary reminder of who I am when I’m in my element.

I think all the throw pillows and Pinterest canvases have established that home is not a place, but a person. However, I’d like to think that home is really the place that vibrates at the same frequency you do. It’s how you don’t feel lonely when you’re in your favorite place alone or when you’re reading a good book or having a night of snacks & secrets between friends. That matched vibration is the exact opposite of feeling displaced and lonely.

And for a brief moment in a library I’ve never been in and will never be again, surrounded by books and leaves and movement, I found my vibration being matched. What I felt leaving homecoming was not knowing where I’d be finding my matched vibration next, but I understand now that it’s instinctual and if you let go, you’ll pull yourself there.

x

Lillie

October Favorites

Hello my favorite spooky queens and fashionable fiends, your girl is back back back again this week with a new kind of post for my blog: monthly favorites!

I obviously don’t specialize in one sort of thing, so you’ll get a mix of various things in my life that I enjoyed this month, so much so I’m taking an entire blog post to talk about them.

I love a good lifestyle suggestion as much as the next queen, so here is what I’ve been loving this month:

TV: American Horror Story: ApocalypseIMG_8935

The witches are back and that’s all that matters to me these days. I’ve always been a big fan of AHS, but I’ve avoided some of the past seasons as they have not lived up to my love for Asylum & Coven. Nothing gets me into the spooky fall spirit like the end of the world and a bunch of witches. We are about half way through the season and every week has me on my toes waiting for what will happen next.

You’ll love this if you like: spooky TV/ witches/ the devil/ dark humor/ stevie nicks

xoxo, your next supreme.

Podcast: Thick & Thin

IMG_9583I’ve been doing a decent bit of traveling this month, especially to and from work and a podcast is always a great way for my cheap ass who doesn’t have Spotify premium to enjoy something other than the same 5 songs on the radio.

I’ve followed Katy for years and I’ve brought up her podcast in the past, but I love listening to Katy and her experiences in New York (a place I hope to move to soon) and being a recent college grad (such as myself.) She brings her life musings to the people who need that insight the most and she always gives you something to think about in terms of your own life and how you’re living it.

You’ll love this if you like: NYC/ being a 20 something/ talking about fuckbois/ need an extra kick of motivation or self love

Listen here

Habit: 10 Minute Clean Up

This month has really kicked my ass in terms of working between my two jobs and it can often render me useless in other areas of my life. What has been helping me get my life in order is by timing myself for 10 minutes to do a quick clean of my room. I have to set the timer or it doesn’t work. Once my space is clean, I am able to approach all the things I need to do with a clear head and jump of motivation.

You’ll love this if you like: Being clean, but not that clean/ having a clear head space/ not having the same dirty clothes on the floor for a week/ feeling like a real adult

Book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

x400
credit: harper collins publishing

Y’all, I am a card carrying queen to not 1 but 2 libraries in the area. One in particular has a really great selection of YA and since I work in a book store, I’m constantly surrounded by things I should read. After seeing this one at work, I checked it out and devoured it in a week.

It has all the things I love is a good book, travel, adventures, queer characters, feminism, and a cute love interest. What more could you want?

The premise is that our boy Monty is going on his European Tour (1700’s style) before returning home to take over his family estate. Monty is a wild play boy, in love with his best friend Percy, and not at all prepared for the reality that awaits him and Percy when they get home. Along with Monty’s sister Felicity, the 3 get into wild adventures all across Europe. The book has a surprise sci/fi twist I don’t want to ruin.

Find out more here

Fashion: DIY Rings

img_9585.jpegY’all know I’m a proud, cheap bitch. So naturally, I bought some rings at a thrift store with the anticipation of making them wearable. I’m mad in love with how they turned out.

All I did was take these shape rings that were completely flat, took my favorite nail polish colors and did two coats on them. What is also great is that I can easily change the colors with nail polish remover and new polish. I’ve been wearing them none stop.

Food: A Good Ass Grilled Cheese

Tis the szn for warm soups and sammies, am I right? And I’ve constantly being jonesing for comforting grilled cheeses and this month has not disappointed. My favorite has been homemade with sharp cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, basil, and tomato herb bread from the local farmers market. To DIE for.

 

Hope your October was as good as mine, remember to be kind, love yourself, and let yourself enjoy the little things life has to offer.

x

Lillie

How to: Develop Your Personal Style

Growing up with a different body than others and wanting to be a fashion icon has been the great opposition of my life. Imagine me 12 years old with a middle part, crying in department store dressing rooms because I couldn’t find a damn thing that could 1) fit my body & 2) something I wanted to wear. I just couldn’t seem to find anything for my outside that matched the best version of myself in my head. develop

I imagined myself as some fashionable Parisian wearing a chic pairing of neutrals (with a bold red lip of course) carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers in one arm and a precious straw basket with fresh bread in the other.

You must be asking yourself, “Lillie, isn’t that kind of you, like right now??”

And I’d reply, “I’m closer to living that lifestyle than in previous years, yes.”

And you may ask, “How’d you get there?”

And I’d tell you, “Keep reading…”

Like any plus size girl before the #BodyPositivity movement, if you wanted to be a fashion queen (or at the very least, wear clothes) you had to make it work. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years that can help you start dressing in the way that’s truest to you:

1. Be Inspired

People ask me what are the hottest trends at the moment & I could rattle off a handful of stuff I saw in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, but trends should be inspiration and not guidelines.

What do you like and what do you want your clothes to say?

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

Take some time to write down words that would describe your ideal style, what do you want others to think when they see you. Don’t get bogged down with all the things you think you can’t wear. Challenge that thought and keep asking why not? Know how I became a person who wore bright red lipstick? I started wearing bright red lipstick.

Also draw inspiration from places, other people, art, colors, and eras. Save that inspiration on a Pinterest board or folder in your phone and use it as a reference

2. Be Kind

I blamed myself for years for having a body that was seemingly not made for clothes. I was plus size, but I didn’t even fit the “acceptable” plus size mold. The styles that I liked often didn’t come for my body type.

Do not blame yourself, blame the societal norms that prioritize only certain kinds of bodies and the corporations that enforce those norms and play on our insecurities. Whether you are tall, short, fat, skinny, or somewhere in between: you are not the problem.

So love your body and stay true to what you like. You will find it.

3. Research img_9185.jpeg

Take some time and do some research. Go through style hashtags on instagram and save outfits you like or follow people who have similar body types to you. Use Pinterest and check out brand websites. Look around and see what others are doing and what you like and don’t like.

Having styles you’re looking for and an idea of how you’ll pair them makes buying clothes so much easier.

4. Experiment

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

At the end of the day, you just gotta go and try stuff on. I did this through thrift stores because I could try on a lot of different styles, brands, fits, textures, and colors all in one place.

It takes time, but you don’t know what something looks like on you until you try it. Once you get a better knowledge of your preferences, it really narrows down what you’re looking for in stores and where to find them.

Your style should be a true reflection of your best self. The moment I chose not to settle for just what “fit” and wear what made me feel good about myself, my entire personality transformed. Your style is an extension of you and how you move in this world. Let your style choices empower you to be your truest self.

x

Lillie

How to Survive Your Freshman Year of Life

I remember Freshman orientation for High School and for College, and yet in the past few months, I seemed to have missed the orientation for life.

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts last week (Thick & Thin) and the host finally coined a term for this weird in between stage I (and many others) are experiencing as the freshman year of life.

We may not be carrying our lanyards around our necks (although I gracefully skipped that stage of college), but it feels like people can still spot us from a mile away. I’ve had so many instances since graduating where I’ve been condescended and talked down to, something I never felt the last few years in school.

IMG_2744
Senior: Thriving

I left college in the best possible way: thriving but ready for the next thing.

However, no one tells you how hard it is to leave your established community after 4 years of carefully building it. By the end of college, I served a role in the organizations I was involved in, I was known as a genuine and unapologetic person, I was fabulous, and I was making new friends till the very end.

IMG_0076
Freshman: Not Thriving

I sure as hell didn’t start out like that though.

I started college with a group of hall mates that dwindled as the years went on, I made questionable fashion and hair color choices, I couldn’t take a selfie to save my life, and I was really hesitant to be myself in fear of judgement.

Just like I was figuring it out 4 years ago, I’m doing the same now, just on a different, much larger campus.

My freshman year of life consists of a volunteer internship opportunity. I just happen to be volunteering for myself to pay off student loans and for a move to NYC in a year. Housing is provided (via my parents) and I haven’t made many friends yet. I sure as hell feel like a freshman.

Since we didn’t get handy dandy survival guides upon graduation, here are 5 Ways to Survive your Freshman Year of Life:

1 . Keep In touch with your Genuine Friends

It doesn’t matter if your friends went straight to grad school, volunteering, or full time jobs, they all left their support systems when they graduated too. Who are the ones you really want to stay in contact with, who you’re willing to make an effort for, and who’s willing to make an effort for you.

Text them just cause, send cards, set up friend dates, and let people know you’re there even if you’re not close. We all need that support right now.

2 . Learn to be ok with being Alone

Life is terribly lonely turns out, like never before in my life have I understood why relationships could be so great. But we can’t make our comfort contingent on someone else, so it’s time to be ok with yourself.

Finds things to do alone that bring you joy, write down all the things you love about yourself, make up positive self-affirming mantras. Knowing and being content with yourself makes a lot of other things easier.

3 . Get a Library card

Be gone the days of all nighters (except for my grad school babes I’m sorry and I luv u) but libraries can still serve a major role in our lives. To cut down on the spending of money we don’t have, use a library card for books, movies, music. Libraries often have free events and other perks like free language softwares. Save money and keep being an intellectual.

4 . Pick small goals and run with them

I see this time as an opportunity to improve and change my lifestyle since moving into a different kind of schedule. I want to run my blog, exercise more, eat healthy, read more, learn a language, find a side hustle, and on and on and on.

As if this new time isn’t already overwhelming, there’s no reason to make our lives more stressful than they need to be.

So instead of forcing this large to do list on myself say I pick a few things like: aim to drink 4 full bottles of water a day and read a book a month. All manageable and simple enough to implement into my life. Good behavior will encourage and inspire other good behaviors.

5 . Find your passion project

You’re reading mine, so I guess I’m doing something right. Our first year out isn’t always going to be our first choice of what we could be doing, so keep the faith and have something you do in your downtime that helps fulfill your joy and purpose.

I get that from my blog, maybe you could try other crafts, writing, exercise, slam poetry: whatever floats your boat. The idea is to always have something that can keep you going even when everything else is hard.

The first year of anything is filled with awkward moments, lessons learned, and questionable choices but it’s all necessary for us to keep growing into the the kick ass person we are. Stay strong babes and power through, we’ve been around the freshman block before and we can do it again.

x

Lillie

The Definition of Life

If you look up the definition of life on Merriam-Webster, you get a lot of answers. It explains it in terms of the body before death and in terms of half life for subatomic particles. A few, in particular stood out to me:

6: a way or manner of living

10: spirit, animation

17: one providing interest and vigor

These definitions got me thinking, if life is the period between birth and death and if we are unsure of our capabilities post death, shouldn’t we be making the most of this existence that’s described as interesting, spirited, and vigorous?

The real question, I wonder, is why aren’t we?

My expensive college degree in sociology helps us point towards society and culture as a culprit. On one hand, those two things enrich and extend our lives but on the other hand, it limits us through other people, judgement, and perceived fear.

We generally think to “spice up our lives” we need to constantly be doing new, exciting things, but it’s easy to hit a wall on where to even begin. Maybe our first thought is skydiving or something equally as radical that is suppose to liven our lives.

Personally, I don’t give a damn about skydiving.

What we actually need to do is to stop looking for external forces to change us and focus our efforts on living this life.

Change will come naturally, you going out of your way to find it doesn’t need to be the catalyst.

I know it doesn’t feel like it, but we have everything we need in this moment to live the lives we are meant to be living. It’s not about endless to do lists and self help books that we expect to give us the answers; seldom do we ever reflect and think and choose for ourselves.

It comes down to asking ourselves questions, answering them for ourselves, and making choices.

This doesn’t exclude guidance, love, and support that we receive from others, it just means the change we seek is found within ourselves, not other people.

Somehow, we believe everyone else is so painfully put together that someone else must know how to “life” better than you do. Spoiler alert: they don’t.

The only reason those people are where they are is because they made choices.

You can too.

It’s the blind leading the blind out here; so if everyone is, at the core, as clueless as you feel you are, why not just lead yourself? You’ll make mistakes, but at least they will be your mistakes.

But here’s another secret, you’re not as hopeless or as clueless as you think you are. Like I said before baby doll, you have all the answers, you just need to be asking the questions.

So what to ask? It’s a start, but ask yourself how you want to live this life with spirit and vigor. My alma mater would ask how would you live a life of significance?

Ask for what you want. The important thing is to be brave enough to answer and braver to choose.

If life is the manner in which you live, you get to choose your life.

We are often so afraid to answer ourselves truthfully and even more so when it comes to making a decision, this is where our society and culture get’s the best of us and we let what others think and what is perceived as practical get in our way.

I hate to tell you to get over yourself, but yeah… you’re going to need to get over yourself. If it makes you feel better, so do I.

It’s a process, babes.

But committing ourselves to living authentically, committing to answering our own questions, and committing to just commit to ourselves will lead us through this beautiful and spirited existence, not wasting a moment of it.

You are brave. You are strong. You have the power to make your own choices and create the life you want to be living. Go forth my loves and make the choice to make it happen.

x

Lillie