Winning Silver

I few weeks ago, I was driving in my car listening to Jonathan Van Ness’ podcast, Getting Curious with JVN, as I do every week. If you’re unfamiliar with JVN, he’s on Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye as well as being my own personal Jesus. Additionally, he is an avid fan of ice skating and is a burgeoning skater himself. This week in particular, he hosted the skating legend herself, Michelle Kwan, to talk about her life and figure skating.

At one point in the podcast, Michelle recounted an interview she had with Jay Leno after the 1998 Olympics where she placed 2nd behind Tara Lipinski in the Ladies Singles figuring skating competition. People at the time kept asking her how it felt to lose the gold medal at the Olympics, especially coming off her US National Championship win just two months previous.

In response, Michelle retorted with, “I didn’t lose the gold, I won the silver.”

Self Doubt_It's very difficult to connect deeply with ourselves while thinking our body needs to change._ (1)

I was an athlete for 7 years and the high expectations to perform extended to every facet of my life, well after my throwing career was over. My mantra of sorts went something like, “Throwing is fun because winning is fun.”

Truthfully, I think this mindset had begun before my athletic career. Growing up as the youngest in my family laid the foundation, athletics just exacerbated the problem and gave it a channel through which to grow.

When I was competing, if I wasn’t #1 then nothing I did seemed to matter.

This personal philosophy has rolled over to every activity I’ve done or wanted to do; if I wasn’t winning or being the best, then my attempts felt fruitless. From a young age, I felt like I didn’t need my mediocrity over-saturating the market.

Why bother if someone was always going to be better/more deserving/smarter than me?

Revelation

What struck me with Michelle’s response was that she was still happy and satisfied without that gold medal. Michelle gave herself permission to be proud of how she did, what she did to get there, and what her being visible did for so many others.

This concept felt new to me and yet so rational, that you can be good and even great without the self loathing of not being the best.

I realized in that moment how many times I invalidated myself and the things I’d like to do because I didn’t consider myself the best. I’ve stopped so many creative pursuits because it was easier to alleviate some shame by quitting than reworking my mindset.

I’m grateful now to have the tools to transform my mindset and to begin the process of giving myself permission to unabashedly love and create and share.

Silver Lining

There will probably always be someone who’s better than me at a variety of things. Luckily, there is no master list of who’s best to worst in any given thing. It’s something we create for ourselves as a road block.

Comparison is the thief of joy and I will repeat that phrase until I finally get that the only thing in my way of doing what I want is me, not the person I feel is a step ahead.

_It's very difficult to connect deeply with ourselves while thinking our body needs to change._

We are all running our own races and seeing someone ahead of us, somewhere in the distance, holds no relevance to our own race.

As any good thing does, my loves, this change and transformation is a process that takes time. But I believe we will find the place where we appreciate, honor, and enjoy our silver, not resenting it as a stepping stone or as a short coming, but for what it is: worth it.

x,

Lillie

Writing Love Letters

“Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.”
—Washington Irving

If I believe in anything, I believe most in the sharing of truth. Truth in experiences, in emotions, and in word.

This moral high road, it seems, has lead me into the DM’s of boys on a few occasions, letting them know how great I think they are and how great we’d be together.

Inevitably met with rejection, I felt like these propositions had taken me farther away from my classic romcom ending and closer to periods of fiercely avoiding eye contact on my college campus.

Although, once I got over my initial embarrassment, I felt incredibly empowered by my honesty and boldness.

I didn’t even know these boys terribly well and yet I was able to be upfront with any sort of feelings I had.

I was more afraid of missing an opportunity than not receiving mutual affection.

Having the mindset that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain is such a key factor in how I’ve built confidence in who I am and in the way I carry myself in this world.

If I can be honest with strangers with my affection towards them, then I must be as bold in sharing endless affection towards myself.

You can lose nothing by being kind to yourself.

No matter how much I want my Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts moments, if I waited around for the “perfect” people to suddenly realize how great I am, I’d never realize it for myself.

I’m not waiting on these boys to write me back so I can receive the love letters I’ve been wanting. I have to be the one to do it.

This Valentine’s Day, I want you to write yourself the love letter you know you deserve to receive and the one you need to hear.

Tell yourself how you love how strong and beautiful your body is, how you can light up a room with a single smile, how your friends trust you deeply with their secrets, and how the world is a much better place with you in it. Write all that and more.

Add stickers, doodles, pictures, and of course hearts. Grab an envelope and write your name carefully and with hearts over the i’s. Act like you are sending this to the great love of your life, because you are.

Washington Irving was right, the love you give comes back to you in the best ways, if not from others than from yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day my loves.

x,

Lillie

Note: I’d love to see and share these letters, so please slide into my DMs on Instagram @fleur.de.Lillie with your love letters. I can keep them anonymous if you wish. I’ll be sharing them on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th.

 

2018: Thank u, next.

2018, my dear, you are one for the books. Or really, the blog.

To be perfectly honest, 2017 was a year straight from hell, so I really started 2018 only being able to go up from there. And did she exceed expectations.

Overall, this year didn’t throw me as many hard learned lessons as much as it challenged me to slow down and practice patience.

2018 told me life is not a race. There are no line judges and there are no timers. Life is seeking the joyful moments between that daily commitment to yourself to just keep going.

A year ago, I don’t think I could have pictured any of the amazing memories and moments I had the joy of sharing. The best things that happen to you in this life are the things you could have never planned for yourself.

So here for you, my dear readers, is my 2018 in highlights.

January:

New Year with my iconic purple velvet jumpsuit, Indian food, and good friends.

Sorority recruitment, welcoming new sisters, and getting to wear lots of glitter. Joining a sorority was the best decision I made in college and I had the unique opportunity to share some beautiful vulnerability during recruitment and it only made me closer to the amazing group of girls.

February:

Celebrating my beautiful friend Emma’s birthday. Coaching my favorite frat boys to a not quite dodge ball victory, but they will always be winners in my heart. An incredible date function with one my darling Brittany, kicking everyone’s ass in Go Karts, and bowling down in Balltown.

Seeing my roommate and real life BFF Dayna get little’s and starting our Constellation Family. MCing a talent show with Brittany. Working at the Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution and getting paid to eat all the catered meal with some of the best people.

March:

Taking photos for a wonderful friend. St. Patrick’s day with friends. Staying up all hours of the night for Relay for Life. Making new, amazing friends.

Ms. Vangie and just Drag Queens in general. Pancake Mondays with my beautiful Emma. Enjoying the sun and taking v fashion photos with sisters.

April:

My sorority formal, spending the night with new friends and old, being awarded Miss ASA, crying cause I got Miss ASA, taking a cup full of spinach artichoke dip home and eating it while wearing a flower crown surrounded by good people.

Conducting a bunch of kick ass research and then presenting that research at a conference. Senior pottery and pizza night with my sorority seniors. Getting my beautiful paddle from my little.  Having an amazing, emotional, affirming senior send off with lots of crying and laughs.

Volunteering with Special Olympics Track and Field. Pi Lambda Phi spring formal with some absolute loves of my life. Getting ice’d at senior photos. Harassing a famous movie star to send well wishes to his biggest fan.

May:

Finishing an amazing application for a grad school I thankfully didn’t get into. A very rainy senior week.

Having one last breakfast at my favorite local diner with Kristen. Photo shoot in Norfolk with lots of Chimichurri Parmesan fries. Senior recognition brunch. Candlelight ceremony. Getting an award for Sociological theory.

Graduating College. Watching a good friend get married and having the privilege to be a bridesmaid.

June:

Sadly having to say goodbye to one the best people I had the privilege to meet in College. Trips to Richmond. Adjusting to the pace of not having to do anything at all.

Thrifting up the East Coast, having the best Tacos ever, visiting Maine, having the best bagels of my life, enjoying the hell out of a lobster roll on the side of the road.

July:

Spending two weeks in China, making new friends, eating new food, and going to some amazing places. Getting stuck in a bus for 8 hours, finding out Chinese people love Peppa Pig, falling in love with KTV and Hot Pot, the Great Wall of freaking China, going to a Beijing club via our Russian connection, Bread and Cup pastries, Rio Light Grapefruit/ Vodka canned cocktail, and flying internationally by myself.

Recovering from major jet lag with a new precious kitty we call Nuggy. More trips to Richmond to visit friends.

August:

All of the Bingo with my mom and grandma. Launching Fleur de Lillie. Yard sale-ing through the summer.

Traveling across the country with my best friend, spending time with family in New Mexico, Choke Cherry, Happy Birthday Bad Bitches ice cream cake, thrifting across america, New Orleans, Beignets, po-boys, night of pizza snacks with teen movies in Atlanta, taking quizzes out of pre-teen magazines.

Spending time with Emma in her most precious apartment, good falafel, ice cream, and better friends.

September:

Fashion photo shoots. UVA games and adventures in Charlottesville, being blessed my Roots for the first time. Picking wildflowers. Friendship adventures in Richmond. College football with my Dad.

Mexi Unlimited Taco night. Having a homemade cake for my birthday and celebrating with my parents. Birthday dinner with my Big and eating as much spinach artichoke dip as possible.

October:

Being hired at The Lady Jane. Enjoying fall. Public libraries. Farmers Markets. Homecoming.

November:

Pastries. Family. Grandparent dates. Visiting Princeton, thrifting, and having more bomb tacos.

December:

Learning how to make Macrame, every day at the shop, great falafel, amazing and thoughtful gifts. Taking some time to rest.

 

So here’s to you, 2018. You rocked and I loved you dearly. And here’s to you, dear reader, for being here and making this year absolutely phenomenal. Enjoy the remaining days of the year and I’ll see you in 2019.

x,

Lillie

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.

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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

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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