Because Your Mama's Worth a Buck

At least, I would assume she is. I know I am. I even asked The Husband I was worth a buck and after his face stopped contorting itself into inexplicably pained expressions, he totally gave me the thumbs up.

I figure that means he was too overcome with emotion to say the actual words, but awkward silences and dirty jokes are our love language, so I am confident in telling you that his thumbs up meant "Yes, my love, I would certainly buy you your book for 99 cents on Amazon as it is currently on sale through May 9 for 99 cents if your book was not, in fact, your book." And then he would pause, look into my eyes lovingly while trying not to laugh, and say "You are totally worth a buck. I'd give you a buck all day long."

Isn't he romantic? This is exactly why I said yes to becoming Mrs. The Husband fourteen years ago. He's a keeper, this guy.

To celebrate Mother's Day and the BabyFat sale, I'm going to have a little fun. I have a 24-hour giveaway on Amazon for ten winners to get a kindle copy of my book. No purchase is necessary, but you can't win the book if you already own it. (I might even run another contest before the sale is over just for fun!) 

How else can you be amazing and support me and this crazy writing dream?

If  you just wanna be awesome and help me claw my way to a spot on the Amazon bestseller list, you are more than welcome to gift Babyfat to everybody you have an email address for. Your mother-in-law, wife, girlfriend, sister, best friend forever, and that mom you made eye contact with at the last PTA meeting would be very grateful for your consideration and very impressed with your taste in books. Because really, BabyFat is like six degrees of separation from Neil Gaiman because Jenny Lawson blurbed the book and I tweeted Neil asking if I could send him and his wife, Amanda Palmer, a copy of BabyFat and he actually wrote back and said yes and...

Wait. That's only three degrees and now possibly a PPO, so it's probably a good thing I screen-shot that tweet so I have something to hold on to. Did I have a point here? Oh yes...BabyFat is on sale, I want to know how many mamas you know that you think are worth a buck, and I love you. 

Don't forget to enter that contest

The end. 

One of my favorite features in the book is that each chapter starts with a social media update from friends and followers. 

One of my favorite features in the book is that each chapter starts with a social media update from friends and followers. 

Have Kindle: Will Sign

Did you know that Babyfat for Kindle is still on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon? Or that if you buy the kindle copy, that you can then sign up for a free account on Authorgraph and request my signature? Of course, if you bought BabyFat for kindle already, I can sign that, too. This doesn't just apply to new purchases, y'all. 

That's right, people...I CAN E-SIGN YOUR E-BOOK BECAUSE TECHNOLOGY IS FUCKING AWESOME. 

Observe:

I've been meaning to write about this for months, but we all know that I'm nothing if not always behind myself on getting the To-Do list done, so technically I'm pretty much right on time. 

Before I go, I've got a contest for you. I'm giving away one signed paperback to one lucky reader. All you have to do is follow me on twitter and RT this update: 

One winner will be randomly selected and notified on twitter at the close of the giveaway. Good luck! 

Servin' Up a Sample: BabyFat Excerpt, Chapter Two

Yes, I know the book launched in October of 2015. I'm also Mexican and have ADHD so, by my calculations, I'm showing up for this party right on time.

You're Welcome. 

I've been asked a few times where readers can find an easily accessible book excerpt from BabyFat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops, & Trying to Stay Sane, so I figured the easiest place to make that happen was right on the blog. I'm sharing chapter two with you, Internet. Click here for the Amazon link if you like what you read enough to buy the book! 

Cover design by Michelle Fairbanks. Find her on twitter at @freshdesign_BC

Cover design by Michelle Fairbanks. Find her on twitter at @freshdesign_BC


Chapter 2: Gimme an F! Gimme a U!


@FreshDesign_BC: Just fished a towel out of the toilet and had to tell toddler to stop licking the walls. Seriously.


July 28 

Ever have one of those days that starts out with unicorns and rainbows and then somehow magically warps itself into someone pissing in your Cheerios? 

While youre trying to eat them?

For me, that’s today. Mom, Pati, and I decided last night to skip Eliana’s gymnastics class for once and venture into town for our first look at the Tucson Mall. The Husband and I moved here from the East Coast in March for his new job. Because my father passed away just a few weeks before my thirtieth birthday, Mom joined us on our move cross-country. It’s all part of a deal my father struck with The Husband that said we’d look after her after he died. Pati must have stowed away in my mother’s suitcase because she wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal. 

Pati showed up six months after my mother. I’m sure it had to do with Pati needing to be near my mother after losing our dad. She’s the baby of the family, so I bitched and moaned about Eliana losing her playroom and then drove to the airport to pick her up. 

Anyway, the plan had been to be out of the house by 9:15 a.m. to arrive at the mall by 10 o’clock. With a forty-five minute drive to sales and civilization, I wanted to make sure we got the biggest bang for our buck when it came to gas and mileage by spending the whole day there. We all figured we’d be fine since Eliana’s woken up at the crack of dawn since we moved here thanks to her internal clock still being stuck on Eastern Time. Good for me since having my mother and sister in the house makes it so easy to revert to family habits like sleeping in until noon. So I didn’t bother setting an alarm.

That was my first mistake.

I’m cocooned in bed, still thanking God and all of creation for my all-weather Ikea quilt. It might be 100 degrees, but I have an innate desire to be wrapped up in all things snuggly. If Ikea didn’t exist, I’d be sweating my ass off with one leg hanging off the bed for ventilation like The Husband does. 

I can hear Eliana laughing and talking in the kitchen with my mother, who graciously takes the morning shift so I can recover from my vampire-friendly writing routine. Figuring I’m two hours ahead of schedule, I roll back over and pass out for a few more precious moments of sleep. Staying up until 4 a.m. has earned me the right to more than three hours of sleep, and I’m estimating it’s about 6 a.m. I’ve got time to kill, right? 

My cell phone vibrates loud enough to shake me out of my haze and I reach for it, still groggy, to Tweet whoever it was that tagged me. It isn’t until I’m already bending over the sink to wash my face and hastily yanking on a pair of Lane Bryant crops that I realize it’s already ten minutes later than we had planned on leaving. 

Shit! 

I barrel downstairs, fully dressed and expecting my mother to be ready with diaper bag in hand, Eliana dressed, and choosing the “baby” she wants to bring (baby Elmo almost always wins) with Pati cranking the air on the minivan so we don’t melt en route to the mall. 

“Mama!” squeals out my fuzzy-haired, diaper-clad Eliana as I run into the kitchen. “I LOVE you!” She emphasizes the word “love” like Elmo does in the theme song to his own show. 

My mother, still in her pajamas, laughs at Eliana’s reaction.

“What’s so funny?” asks Pati. She is still sporting the bra-less PJ look that tells me we are not getting out of the house any time soon. 

“Funny!” Eliana repeats with a mouthful of waffle. 

“Nothing is funny, baby girl. We’re running late, so let’s get moving,” I say, hurriedly calculating my breakfast points and shoveling three-fourths of a cup of Chex into my mouth while Pati runs upstairs to get dressed in the ten-minute window I’ve just allotted her. Drill sergeant-ish? Perhaps. But I know my family. Either I light a fire under their asses now (and keep myself focused in the process) or we won’t be leaving until well past lunch. 

“Aren’t you coming?” I ask my mother, who has made no move to change out of her pajamas. 

“You guys go ahead,” she says. “It’s too hot to leave the dogs outside and I don’t want to crate them all day.” She nods at the couch where our dogs, Finnigan, a border terrier mix, Catherine (Cat) the Great, a Rottweiler, and Francis, our street mutt, are all lounging. The first two are mine. Francis belongs to my mother.

“Damn it!” I hiss when I stub my toe on a chair in my rush to stock the diaper bag full of cloth diapers, wipes, a spare outfit, and a snack. Pati rushes back down and follows me out to the minivan, her desire to shop clearly stronger than the desire to spend forty-five minutes running up my water bill while showering.

“Damn it!” Eliana is on a roll. She does a killer parrot impersonation and keeps the show going while I strap her into her car seat and head out of our subdivision. I don’t mean to brag, but this little girl has always been pretty far ahead of the game when it comes to verbal skills. This is great when at pediatric well checks. Not so great when you happen to have a penchant for dropping more “f-bombs” in conversations than most convicted felons. 

Finally, we are on the freeway heading for civilization.

I’m still pissy from running late, so Pati shifts her attention between her iPod and answering Eliana’s occasional questions about why the airplanes in the sky are going back to their families or where the caballo-horsies are. My Spanish skills call me out as a hyphenated American to the family members who are on permanent visas (and any Mexican with a regional accent), but I’ve been trying to teach some of what I remember to Eliana. The result is usually an adorable mix of baby-voiced Spanglish. 

I concentrate on staying calm while navigating one-lane roads behind a long line of drivers content to coast along ten miles under the posted speed limit. Let me just put this out there: I’m from Detroit. Motown and Big Beaver, exit 69, baby. Seventy-five means eighty and stay the hell out of the left lane if you weren’t prepared to drive like a maniac. Needless to say, it’s been a little difficult adjusting to driving down here in the land of desert and tumbleweed. Then again, my sisters like to say that riding shotgun with Mama Leadfoot and her potty mouth has always been a fantastic form of free entertainment. 

“We’re almost there,” I finally announce, after checking the GPS. Thank God. I need some real food and I can’t wait to…

Dammit!” 

My sister is too busy focusing on my barely contained rage to stop and laugh at the chipmunk-voiced profanities being repeated from the car seat as I continue to throw them out. “What’s wrong? Are we out of gas or something?”

“I wish,” I sigh, pulling into the very same emergency vet clinic I was at two days before with an injured poodle I found wandering my subdivision. This was the last destination I’d entered into my GPS, of course. In my haste this morning I hadn’t thought to enter the address of the mall. Angrily chewing on a baby carrot (zero points!), I Google map the Tucson Mall on my iPhone. The last forty-five minutes have been a total waste of time and gas and my perfectly laid plans for a long and relaxing day strolling the air-conditioned mall are continuing to blow up in my face. I silently thank God The Husband wasn’t with us. He’d be the first person to point out that I and my crazy self like to make my own life more difficult by rushing everything and then ending up surprised when I find I’ve done something stupid.

I consider turning around and going home. I’m tired, cranky, and need to eat. Carrot sticks and cucumber slices only work for so long. But I promised Eliana a surprise and staring at the flashing “Open” sign in the veterinarian’s window from her car seat doesn’t quite cut it. I hastily plug the correct address into the GPS and breathe a sigh of relief. We’re just twenty minutes away. 

Thankfully, Eliana’s a pretty patient kid. I reach back with one of those snack trap cups filled with dried cereal to tide her over and head back onto the road. I’ve got a sea of pizza and Chinese takeout to navigate in that food court just to get to my low-point cold-cut sub. 


***


Poundage Peepers Journal

Subway six-inch turkey and ham with cheese and veggies: six points

Baked Lays, one bag: two points

Diet Coke: zero points


***


Awesome. I survive the mall with its giant and soft pretzels, with only an eight-point dent in my daily allotment. My wallet? Yeah, that took a hit. 


***


Maybe for you it’s balancing kids and a job or rocking the Soccer Mom thing. Or maybe after grocery shopping and getting the kids from school and making a dinner they won’t eat because the crusts aren’t cut off, you move the clocks up an hour without telling them and sit down with a glass of wine after the house is quiet instead of digging the elliptical out from under the pile of winter jackets. Maybe then you channel your inner Orphan Annie and focus on the fact that the sun will come out tomorrow and then you can try again. 

Maybe it’s that. Or maybe it’s my hypoactive thyroid or my insulin resistance or my PCOS, which I like to refer to as The Trifecta of Excuses for a Fat Ass. I’m one of the lucky ones who can claim a reason for my muffin top. It might be easier to blame the doctors who have, for the most part, left me on my own to figure out what works and what doesn’t. After all, they like to say things like “eat less, exercise more” while throwing prescriptions at me as they move on to their next patient, leaving me to run back to Dr. Google to research diets and lifestyle changes and fix myself. 

But now that I’m finally back on the right medications and working on my diet, I’m finally realizing a very important distinction: My medical conditions are just medical conditions. They are not reasons to stay fat. And under no circumstances are they ever to become reasons to stop trying to lose weight

That, my friends, is where I screwed the pooch. I let my body become its own excuse. 

Why bother when nothing I do seems to work, right? 

“You’re so lucky,” I’d gush to new mom friends who were trim and fit and rockin’ their MILF status like a shiny new engagement ring. “I wish I could have lost just a few pounds! And here you’ve already lost it all and then some!”

They’d smile brightly (but not too brightly so as to not hurt my feelings), always rushing to make me feel better with a, “Yeah, but look how good you look considering…”

Considering. The Trifecta of Excuses implied but not named. 

So consider I did. Eventually I considered myself lucky to only have gained the weight that I did. Then I considered myself resigned to my fate. I began to consider eating peanut butter from the jar with chocolate chips sprinkled across the top as a pick-me-up snack. Then I woke up one morning feeling like crap and wishing I could feel as good as I did before I started considering, so I decided to do something about it.

That’s when I joined Poundage Peepers.


July 31

The Husband is thirty-six today and I’m having fun reminding him that I was just a little eighth-grader when he was walking across the stage to receive his high school diploma. He counters by reminding me that he is regularly confused for a twenty-something while the last time I got carded was before I became a Mrs.

His eyes disappear into a smile.

So far, everything is going great. We have a small group of friends over and our shindig consists of good food and plenty of booze. I’m enjoying the fruit plate I prepared for myself and doing a mental tally of the points I’ve saved up for this very splurge. 

Thanks to some very careful working of the system with plenty of veggies and fruit that barely put a dent in my daily points allotment, I can have a few more glasses of wine before I even have to worry. 

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Eliana blinks up at me, her fork poised over the plate. She’s waiting for the signal to strike. “Now, Mama?” She looks hopeful. 

“Now,” I say, kissing her face before it’s covered in frosting.

“Birthday cake!” she squeals, her brown eyes crinkling in a smile just like her dad’s, and dives in with the delightfully carefree outlook of a child unaware of the complexities that come with fat grams, cellulite, or calories in versus calories out. I’m jealous, but plan to make sure cake remains a magical part of her childhood—like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy—for as long as I can.

I’m proud of myself, considering I chose a really bad week to jump on the weight-loss bandwagon. First we had the mall food court full of Bad Food the day after our first meeting. I even behaved at The Husband’s birthday dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack last night. It was his suggestion, and I promised him naughty things for choosing a place where I could truly enjoy myself. Shellfish is my favorite food group in the whole world, and minus the butter you can eat a shitload of the stuff without breaking the calorie bank. 

“It’s good stuff, isn’t it?” a little girl asked me from the next table, her mouth formed into a silent “O” as she watched me suck a crab leg dry with all the gusto of a porn star wannabe. Jenna Jameson, eat your heart out.

“Yes, thank you,” I said indignantly as I cracked into another leg, stopping only to gobble up a shrimp. I’m not sure if she was amused or horrified, so I smiled and took a breather. Her mother told her to stop staring and I can bet I was the topic of conversation on the way home. 

But I can’t help it. Ever since I was a kid and made trips to Red Lobster for shrimp cocktail and raw oysters on my birthday, seafood has been the ultimate escape for me. Normally I behave with a bit more decorum, but I had starved myself all day to allow for a nice splurge with some wine and baked potato. All bets are off and I was attacking those crab legs like a death row inmate enjoying her last meal.

“If this had been our first date,” The Husband said fighting laughter, “you do understand that I probably would not have called you for a second, right?” 

I shot him a death glare as I finished up. 

“Oh fuck off, sweetie. I love you, too.” 


***


August 2

While there are a few lucky ones, most of us are still not fitting into our pre-pregnancy jeans anytime before the baby’s first birthday. More likely, we are leaving the maternity ward looking like we still belong there. 

“When are you due?” ask kind strangers as they reach for our still swollen bellies. Maybe our children are with Daddy, or perhaps we have left them with the sitter for some much-needed “me” time. Either way, there is no outward evidence to match up with the baby belly we’re sporting. We raise an eyebrow, defensive. Where the hell does this asshole get off? 

“I’m not pregnant,” we respond stiffly. “In fact, I gave birth six months ago.”

Or maybe it was six years. In any case, our bodies were irrevocably changed the moment we crossed into the second trimester and there really was no turning back. The world no longer revolves around us. Our needs are not foremost in our minds. The role of mother (what baby/toddler/child/teenager needs) now comes first. Who has time to devote to a regular workout schedule when trying to juggle diaper changes, playdates, laundry, soccer games, parent/teacher conferences, and that precious little thing called sanity? 

But, well, there are those who are living proof that balancing Motherhood and Self—while only slightly easier than impossible—can be done. And to be perfectly blunt, I think it needs to be done, or we chance losing ourselves to the motherhood role. I’m not saying to let the kids go feral and start roaming the neighborhood in packs just so Mommy can get a few precious moments to herself, but it is necessary to refocus our lives to keep ourselves somewhere at the top of our own priority lists. Because if we lose ourselves in the effort to be all that we can be to our kids, what are we really giving them? 

So it’s time to get busy and find my body; the one I lost when I pushed a baby out and let myself go to hell. Just let me change this diaper first.

Beautiful in Black & White: My Experience with the 4th Trimester Bodies Project

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

It started with a request to sign a copy of my book. She'd be in the same state, after all, and seeing as how I only live four hours north, maybe I could meet up and we could take a few selfies together to prove we'd inhabited the same physical space after years of conversations in 140 characters and status updates. 

"Of course," was my response. No matter that I would be the one driving the four hours. When you're this far north, hotel rooms and rest stops are just real life if you want to maintain contact with real life. Besides, Target and Starbucks don't exist where I live. If I want you to like me in person, I'm not about to ask you to make a first impression while navigating around Amish buggies and breaking for moose standing in the middle of the roadway. If I had stopped there, if nothing more had come out of my mouth, maybe signing a book and laughing over bad camera angles would be all that had happened. But I didn't. I kept talking. "Maybe I should get naked for you, too."

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos/ Book by Ashlee Wells Jackson.  Click here to purchase.  

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos/ Book by Ashlee Wells Jackson. Click here to purchase. 

There was a chuckle in response. Or, I think there was one. I'm a writer. I hear the rhythm of the voice writing the words that would be spoken if the conversation was a spoken one. I fill in the blanks with facial expressions, uuhhhmmm's and ahhhh's, and the blinks that take up the space around the words I hear in my mind. She chuckled when she read my sentence about getting naked; eyes twinkling, probably. She knows my sense of humor. We've known each other a few years now, at least. "Maybe not naked," she said. "Just down to your bra and panties." 

"Only if you buy me dinner first," I shot back. And she chuckled again and I laughed out loud because I actually did Laugh.Out. Loud. I detest the LOL acronym. I know for a fact my sister never LOL's even though every single text she sends indicates otherwise. When I Laugh.Out.Loud, I actually am. Otherwise, I am merely SWMWME (Smirking While Smiling with my Eyes) or LIMH (Laughing Inside My Head). LOL is like the push up bra of the Facebook world. We all know you're selling us more than you've actually got, so let's drop the act and just call it what it is, okay?

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

It was all in fun. No commitment. Just banter. But then she said "YES" and I knew the yes wasn't about the dinner joke but about the me getting down to my 'chonis thing because, it turns out, my friend, the famed Ashlee Wells Jackson of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, had an opening for her Portland, Maine, shoot, and she was sending me a contract to sign and ... and ... 

Holy...

Shit. 

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

This is what happens when you make a habit of pushing your own boundaries using thinly-veiled sarcasm. There's really no commitment because a No in response to your Maybe I could can be brushed off as a joke and no one gets their feelings hurt. A Yes still comes with an automatic Out because I was Totally Kidding and can quip about how I never let a date get to third base before the third date, at least, because I have fucking STANDARDS. There's alway a moment of pause when the Yes happens. The window of opportunity to wrap my arms around the Thing I Probably Really Want to Do But am Totally Terrified Of is small. Generally, it's understood that I am verbally agreeing, all semblance of general smartassery lost, because Shit Just Got Serious, y'all. 

I'm signing the contract before I have had a chance to process the ramifications, not because I'm an idiot, mind you, but because posing for a shoot in your well-endowed bra and Lane Bryant panties is scary shit, indeed, even for an outspoken body image activist like myself. If I even stop to think, just for a moment, I'm going to Come to my Senses and say But I was Joking and tell the Ashlee's in my life that they'd better give that  open slot to someone else cuz I'm not about to put All of THIS on the internet -- not when my every day is Spanxed and layered and carefully pieced together so as to maintain some semblance of containment and purposeful form. 

Photo credit: Laura Weetzie Wilson

Photo credit: Laura Weetzie Wilson

 

Even after signing the contract, though, I toyed with the idea of backing out. Eliana didn't know it yet, because I needed to come to terms with the Actual Doing before I got her all jazzed up about a mother/daughter photo shoot with a famous and celebrated photographer, but she would be there, with me, celebrating herself as she is next to the mama hoping she was brave enough to do the same. I wrote a book about accepting the bodies we have right here and right now, the scale and Other People's Expectations be Damned. I have a website celebrating our bodies and ourselves in every possible way (which I suck at keeping updated because the aforementioned book takes a lot of time to write and edit and promote upon publication). I am outspoken about my struggles with mental illness - anxiety, depression, ADHD - and my eating disordered past and ever-present body image issues. Once it's a part of your story, it always will be. But until now, I've been able to hide myself behind words and stories that painted pictures for readers to relate to and see themselves in. 

I’m not important enough for media coverage. No need to find the most flattering dress for my shape to talk about my work on daytime TV. No magazine spreads to hope the PhotoShop Fairy I usually hate sprinkles her fairy dust over to maybe make a few bulges here and a few inches there smooth out and disappear. 

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

This is real. Black and white. No tummy-controlling undergaments. No bullshit. 

Period. 

It’s everything I stand for and nothing I’ve been brave enough to make happen. 

Until now.

Before packing up the overnight duffle and looking for a hotel, I told The Husband about the shoot and asked him to check out the 4th Trimester Bodies Project site, and waited for his response. I wasn’t looking for permission, mind you, but maybe I’d been hoping for an excuse to say no. “My Husband is being a giant asshole about this whole thing and I’d just rather not deal with the drama” is way easier to say than “Yeah, I know this is exactly what I stand for, but let’s pass on this round because I’m scared shitless that I won’t see myself as beautiful, okay?” But he only waited for me to tell him why I had directed him to the site to begin with because he knows me and simply nodded when I told him I had been invited to participate in the project. “You know I’d never stop you from doing something like this,” is what he said. So I was left with no way out but through my fear and self-judgement, booked the hotel room, gassed up the truck, told the excited little chingona-in-training what we were doing and why, and listened to her sing Eliana Mercedes Originals all the way to Portland about celebrating our bodies and loving who we are.

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

As we stood in the dressing room at Lane Bryant (because I’m not about to drop my pants for the world unless it’s in brand new undies, my friends), Eliana joked with me about third boobs and very solemnly pointed out the styles of panties and bras she thought fit best and so those are the ones I bought. I mentally patted myself on the back for taking the emotion out of the dressing room and replacing it with logic and reason. My audience was watching my every move and I wasn’t about to taint every future dressing room experience with tears and squished face disgust at what perceived flaws. My todays are building the foundation for her tomorrows, after all, and while I may be far from perfect, I’m working with what I’ve got. 

“Mama,” she asked me while trying on her black leotard at our last stop before we checked in for the night in Portland, “What’s so hard about celebrating our bodies? All we have to do is appreciate what we have.”

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

These are the words I remembered and held onto that night, because I didn't sleep. They are the words I remembered when I stood before Ashlee in nothing but a bra and panties the next day. The words I held onto when she pointed the camera at me and asked me why I was there during the pre-shoot interview. 

“What made you want to participate in this project?” she asked me.

I looked at Eliana, waiting patiently to join me for the session. She smiled at me because she knows I am not as brave as I say I am, and that’s okay. 

 

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jacskon

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jacskon

Looking into my daughter’s eyes, I responded. “Because perfection is photo-shopped. Because self-acceptance is reserved for the finish line. Because you can’t step on the winner’s podium until after you’ve proven your worth until after you’ve stepped on the scale. Every day, I wake up ready to teach myself love the me that I see again. Because this little girl is my reset button. 

Because there was no reason that wasn’t an excuse to say no and every reason that matters to say yes.”

And then we did it. We smiled and we laughed and we posed and celebrated our way through every shot and then again while working with Ashlee to select the image used for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. There was a headshot. There was a safe image. And then there was the one where I wasn’t shielding myself with my daughter’s body because I’m the one that’s supposed to be on the frontline helping her find her way, dammit. That’s what you see. This is who I am.

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jackson

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jackson

We signed books for each other at the end, as planned. We hugged and smiled and selfies and hash-tagged because we don’t know when we will see each other again. I didn’t even make her buy me dinner. 

Later that night, after hours on the road in between errands on the way home, I saw the status update in my Facebook stream indicating that Ashlee had tagged me on her fan page. There were no tears. No self-deprecating tearing apart of the self I saw standing next to the future I am raising. “Look, Eliana! It’s us!”

“We’re beautiful, mama!” She squealed with pride. She beamed. She looked into my eyes, waiting for me to answer the question she would never dare to ask.

“Yes, baby,” I smiled back and met her eyes because I know this will be one of the moments she look back on as she grows and I need her to see that I believed the words I was saying are true. “Yes we are.” 

Unfiltered in Black & White: 4th Trimester Bodies Project

I have so many words to share but I'm still processing. It's not every day that Ashlee Wells Jackson asks me to participate in a photo shoot for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. And it's even rarer still when I drive four hours, through the fear and self-doubt, and find myself in front of   a real photographer for a real photo shoot while wearing nothing but a bra and panties. 

I won't lie. I wanted to turn back. 

But I didn't. 

Because, body image. 

Because, eating disordered past.

Because, BabyFat.

Because, Girl Body Pride.

Because, self love.

Because, setting examples and raising my daughter

Thank you, Ashlee, for the gift of being included in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Wells Jackson.

Thank you, Ashlee, for the gift of being included in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Wells Jackson.


#ScrewHumble

I've been told - and quite often, actually - that I suck at marketing myself. I don't deny or argue this fact. I'm a creative who is usually too busy focusing on the next thing to be done (blog post/book synopsis/art piece/essay/advice column) to focus on the business side of things. Which, if we are being totally honest, sucks big, giant balls.

Ginourmous ones, actually. 

I wrote this book once . #ScrewHumble

Here's the deal: You can be the best at whatever it is you do. You might even be fucking incredible at what you do. You gave it your all and are making those dreams you've harbored since your days of eating paste during show and tell in kindergarten. YOU SHOULD BE FUCKING PROUD OF YOU. Unless you're still eating paste. I'd wager it's fair to say that if you are still doing that, we've got a problem.

For those of you who kicked the habit in the first grade, it's time to talk turkey. Even if you and your tiny little slice of the internet are proud of you and your awesomeness, you aren't going to be climbing any higher than where you currently stand if only you and your tiny little slice of the internet are aware of your very existence. On the flipside, maybe you're slightly obnoxious and entirely lovable in 140 and twitter/facebook/instagram/pinterest/your blog/tumblr/snapchat/vine/youtube/periscope/blab is totally your bitch, we need to verify that twitter/facebook/instagram/youtube/pinterest/your blog/tumblr/snapchat/vine/periscope/blab is actually aware that your particular platform of choice is in fact, your bitch.

THIS LADY thinks that book I wrote is awesome.  You should buy hers . Right now. 

THIS LADY thinks that book I wrote is awesome. You should buy hers. Right now. 

What do I mean by that? Sharing yourself and your talents with your fans and audiences is a good thing. You build a following that way and this is a good thing. But, if like me, your goals include things like All the Book Deals and Podcasts That Not Only My Mother Listens To and Best-Selling Books and Legions of Fans Everywhere, you need to reassess how it is that you present yourself online. I'm not talking about covering your tattoos here for the dayjob. What I am referring to is everything that I happen to suck at; namely, showcasing your street cred when there is most defintely street cred to be showcased.

Read that last sentence again because yes, I'm talking about me, too, here, and yes, that probably sounded a little pompous. Wherein lies one of the biggest reasons so many of us are busting our asses for little recognition when those already following our journeys are left to wonder when the universe is going to wise up and give us that big break we totally deserve -- we don't want to sound like assholes who are stuck on ourselves but we don't know how to find the right balance of pride and humbleness that is going to feel right and get the job done. That's where I lose interrest in the whole thing and say screw it, throw my hands up in the air (because I truthfully do not care most days), and distract myself from sucking at self-promo with a sharpie, a new ceramic tile, and a sassy #Chingonafest quote that probably would fall apart if I took the F-bomb out. 

See what I mean? 

See what I mean? 

I've had this conversation with a number of respected colleagues recently and every single time it happens it's because of a new project or promo requiring a long bio and stats for vetting purposes. If I've reached this point in a convo with another party, it's usually because they already know something about me and it was enough to get them to ask for more details. This, my friends, is when the conversation comes to a screeching hault because the street cred currently impressing the other party is - and this is important, people - SHIT THEY SHOULD HAVE ALREADY KNOWN. Turns out, I'm totally awesome but I'm awesome INSIDE MY HEAD and pretty much only inside my head. I'm not shy by any stretch of the imagination, but I've had Don't Show Off beat into my head since I was old enough to realize being the oldest meant new shoes and hand-me-downs made my little sisters hate me.

I'm not going to pretend to have suddenly become an expert at self-promo because I am not now and probably never will be. What I do know is this:

Being humble is killing the potential, people.

We need to stop standing in our own way.

After the Evolve or Die panel at Be Blogalicious with fellow speaker, Karen Walrond. Yes, I fan-girled. No, I am not ashamed. 

After the Evolve or Die panel at Be Blogalicious with fellow speaker, Karen Walrond. Yes, I fan-girled. No, I am not ashamed. 

So, I challenge you to celebrate you and all that makes you fabulous: in your online bios and media kits and blog posts and facebook statuses. Tell your husband that your ass looks fabulous in those jeans you just bought because asking him if they make your butt look big is doing nothing for your self-esteem and everything to make sure you continue to leave the acknowledgement of your worth up to someone else. See where I'm going with this? No? Lemme show you:

Things I should have tattooed to my forehead (Read: #ScrewHumble)

And just wait until I get my shit together and itemize this list into individual tweets and social shares. I'm just getting started. I've got a lot to learn, and I may never have this marketing thing entirely right, but I'm doing okay, I think. Now? It's your turn.

What's on your #ScrewHumble list?