the weight of Insecurities

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

Perhaps you saw my sulky tweet about going for a physical. The one where I gained 6 pounds since the last time I visited the doctor two years ago. I don’t usually tweet things like that, I highly doubt you care how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained, but I do. In 10th grade I got fed up with being the only girl who wasn’t naturally thin, so I made it my goal to become skinny. I wanted to be pretty, thin, and get noticed by the hot guys in my grade. I wanted desperately to have a boyfriend. I went on a strict NO JUNK FOOD diet and worked out with Billy Blanks tapes every day. Eventually I lost the weight but it didn’t get me a boyfriend, nor did it rid of my insecurities.

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Feeling beautiful is all that matters. Thin, thick, whatever. Beauty is on the inside. Oh and CHOCOLATE TASTES AS GOOD AS ANYTHING FEELS!

The thing is that I will never be thin — maybe subtly toned and thick but never thin. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that or be okay with it. Even nine years later, I don’t feel confident most days. I try on clothes and even though I’m “tiny”, it doesn’t make me enjoy shopping any more than someone who isn’t. In fact, trying on clothes isn’t the only thing that irks me, I hate seeing myself naked. I despise bathing suits and refuse to look at myself before heading into the shower. In the mirror all I see are the same imperfections I’d notice when I was sixteen years old. I see extra skin or flab that wasn’t there before, I see cellulite from my bum to my upper back thighs and I grimace. How can a 25-year-old woman not love her body? Not love the skin that’s treated her well her entire life? It baffles me and sickens me that hearing that I am now 129lbs instead of 123lbs is something that could ruin my day but it does.

So what now? Is this vanity or a simple case of I don’t look like the women I see in magazines or movies? Or is it something even worse than that? Have I made being “thin” “skinny” or “tiny” my main characteristic? Am I vain enough to think that that’s how people remember me or am I silly enough to hope that that’s how they remember me? The more important question is why, why would I want that to be the way people remember me? Wouldn’t I rather have people say “Vanessa? You mean the writer from My Pen, My Voice?” or “Vanessa? That sweet girl with a weird but fun sense of humour?”  or “Oh Vanessa? Ya I remember her! She’s awesome.”  There are all kinds of beautiful out there and they don’t start with a number on the scale.

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This is me. Today. I’m a writer, traveller, and reader. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, girlfriend, cousin, and friend. I have brown eyes, big thighs, and a small waist. I have big feet and love having my toenails painted. I like my lips, they’re exactly like my moms. I love to laugh, especially if it’s over a Lavazza latte. I like working out and I am healthy but I love my mom’s muffins and cookies too much to give them up. I love Italian food and penne alla vodka is my favourite dish. I weigh 129lbs and I am beautiful, not in spite of or because of that number. It’s just one little piece of who I am and if I can have so many people love me for all of these things, then I can learn to love myself too. It’s a journey, a process, and I’m on the right track.

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

I am "THAT WOMAN" [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

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This morning, I sat down with I AM THAT WOMAN by Vanessa Shields and a cup of coffee. I was swept away by this beautiful collection of poetry. Vanessa Shields is a writer, poet, and novelist living in Windsor, Ontario. We’re Twitter friends, and I am now a huge fan of her work. I’m also a writer (poetry and other things) living in Ontario, so not only do we share a name but a love for the written word. Her poems are strong, sexy, seductive, and raw. She lives on the page, she breathes life into her words, and bleeds until she makes you cry. I do have favourites and have flagged them all (Tell Me Stories, Space to Unload, There, Using Cancer to Get Out of a Speeding Ticket, Why I Won’t Meet Tom Cruise For The First Time When I’m In A Coma, Where Is The Love?, A Woman’s Love, etc). I love the poems about writing, I adore her poems about love, and her poems about sex and love quench a thirst I haven’t known before. Her words and poems are imaginative, feminist, and so real they will give you goosebumps. When Vanessa signed my book she wrote, May you find pieces of yourself on these pages. Although I may not know what giving birth is like, or How to Sneeze After You’ve Given Birth Twice, pieces of myself found me as I flipped through the pages. I (too) AM THAT WOMAN. This book of poetry is the only book I will keep in my purse at all times, I want to savour it over and over again.

My passion is thick

My bravery is imperfect

My soul is scarred and mended

My here is shattered and sewn

And I am not alone

I recommend this book all of you poetry lovers out there.

Click here for information on the book launch!

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Talk soon, 

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of  I am That Woman by Vanessa Shields for an honest review.

Book Launch Photo Credit: VanessaShields.com 

Quote from: page 43 of  I am That Woman

Edited by: Grammarly 

I am “THAT WOMAN” [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

image

This morning, I sat down with I AM THAT WOMAN by Vanessa Shields and a cup of coffee. I was swept away by this beautiful collection of poetry. Vanessa Shields is a writer, poet, and novelist living in Windsor, Ontario. We’re Twitter friends, and I am now a huge fan of her work. I’m also a writer (poetry and other things) living in Ontario, so not only do we share a name but a love for the written word. Her poems are strong, sexy, seductive, and raw. She lives on the page, she breathes life into her words, and bleeds until she makes you cry. I do have favourites and have flagged them all (Tell Me Stories, Space to Unload, There, Using Cancer to Get Out of a Speeding Ticket, Why I Won’t Meet Tom Cruise For The First Time When I’m In A Coma, Where Is The Love?, A Woman’s Love, etc). I love the poems about writing, I adore her poems about love, and her poems about sex and love quench a thirst I haven’t known before. Her words and poems are imaginative, feminist, and so real they will give you goosebumps. When Vanessa signed my book she wrote, May you find pieces of yourself on these pages. Although I may not know what giving birth is like, or How to Sneeze After You’ve Given Birth Twice, pieces of myself found me as I flipped through the pages. I (too) AM THAT WOMAN. This book of poetry is the only book I will keep in my purse at all times, I want to savour it over and over again.

My passion is thick

My bravery is imperfect

My soul is scarred and mended

My here is shattered and sewn

And I am not alone

I recommend this book all of you poetry lovers out there.

Click here for information on the book launch!

cropped-IAM_std_LAUNCH_REV1

Talk soon, 

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of  I am That Woman by Vanessa Shields for an honest review.

Book Launch Photo Credit: VanessaShields.com 

Quote from: page 43 of  I am That Woman

Edited by: Grammarly 

Little Gestures

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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A striking older man walked into the restaurant I work in, I mean a seriously handsome man. I’m talking Humphrey Bogart kind of good-looking, but with thick dirty blond hair, brown eyes, and professor-like glasses to boot. Anyways, he walked into my work on a mission and asked me if I remember what his wife and her friend order when they come in for coffee. I did, so he asked me to add two cupcakes to that order and handed me his debit card to pay. On his way out he asks me not to tell them who paid, “Tell them it’s from a secret admirer.”

The ladies LOVED it when I told them that their order had already been paid for. They blushed and giggled like two school girls, trying with everything in them to get me to tell them who paid for it. It was the nicest, sweetest, romantic gesture I’ve seen in a very long time. It takes five minutes to light up someone’s face. It takes five minutes to show someone how much you really love them. They say it’s the thought that counts, right? So, show the person you love that you’re thinking about them.

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Thank you to that gentleman for showing me that romance can exist at any age.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

The girl who stopped living

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

When you read this, I’ll be in New York with one of my best friends! And while I’m exploring the city for a second time, shopping, and hopefully getting inspiration for a travel diary, I thought I’d leave you with a little poem. My first writing voice was a poetic one and I like to come back to it once in a while. They tend to be my most personal journal entries or blog posts, they always leave me feeling empty, spent, and satisfied. I hope you like it.

When Girl Meets Boy

The girl who stopped living

and the boy who just wanted to be alone

they met in the most unlikely place, filled with people, music and drinks overflown

The girl who stopped living (or perhaps never lived before)

forgot about her fears, her pain, and her insecures.

The boy who just wanted to be alone bumped into a girl

her bright brown eyes, so filled with life, caught him by surprise

— but he opened his palms and rolled the dice

“Hi” he breathed “can I get you a drink?”

A nod of her head and he could no longer think

red on her cheeks and he knew this was it

That evening they spent, attached at the hip

in the dark and quiet corner

whispering and things.

As the night turned to day, and the sun was born

the boy said goodbye to the girl, eyes still bright and warm

As she linked arms with her friends and strutted away,

the boy (for the very first time) felt lonely,

in the worst kind of way.

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

* Poem written on October 27, 2013 by me (Vanessa Grillone), share with care or leave it be! *

“Opportunities look a lot like work”

Just for Fun

It’s Friday and I needed some words of inspiration this morning — have you seen Chris Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the 2013 Teen Choice awards?

Watch it.

Teen Choice Awards 2013 - Show

“Opportunities look a lot like work.”

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart… be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”

“Everything around us that we call life was made up of people that are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life — don’t live one, build one.

I’ve never thought of Ashton Kutcher as anything more than Kelso from That 70’s Show (unfair, I know) but this speech is one of the best things I’ve heard in a while. It’s honest, it’s real, and I think it’s says something when the sexiest man ever tells kids that the sexiest thing in the world is BEING SMART. I think statements like the ones above can give a teenager (or twenty-something trying to find their way) a lot to think about. It can give them the little push they need to start their life, to build their life.

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So, on this lovely Friday, do like Ashton does :

“Find your opportunity and always be sexy.” 

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Creeps [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Lifestyle/Personal

When a copy of Creeps by Darren Hynes showed up in my mailbox I was ecstatic! I love YA novels, particularly ones that are REAL or depict high school in a true light. Creeps is The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Fault in Our Stars meets Invisible — three books that I love dearly, so you can only imagine how I feel about this one.

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Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?

Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.

Creeps is a tough book to read, in that it hurts you your heart. For a fifteen-year-old kid to feel so helpless and so alone, to be picked on to the point insanity, whose only comfort is writing un-sent letters, your heart bleeds for this child. The language, scenes, and bullying leave very little room for imagination. They are what they are and there’s no sugar-coating it. Some kids go through hell in high school and this novel is a testament to that. It’s an eye-opener for anyone who doesn’t believe that there are real bullies out there. Bullying seems to be worse now than when I was in high school. It’s harder to ft in, it’s harder to stand out, it’s harder to be accepted.

…I’ll take the job anyway because it’s good to have somewhere to go and something to do and someone other than the wall to look at and say stuff to.” (Page 59)

Wayne, is a character I won’t soon forget, he is everything I was in high school. The kind of kid who likes the quiet, who writes instead of speaks, who knows that the day will come when he or she has to get LOUD, has to stand up for his or herself. His words and his letters will stick with me for a long time. His fears and his insecurities are things that I would never wish upon anyone. He is a great character that can teach readers many things. He can teach you by showing you. He shows you that we all have problems, even if we try to keep them inside. He shows you what it is to be brave in ‘silly’ little ways. He shows you that you’re not as alone as you think you are. He shows you how big of a difference one person can make.

…he wonders how it could be that yesterday he felt so young but now feels like a man and it occurs to him that something begins at the same time something ends, so he’ll always be in motion, moving towards and away from things.” (Page 180)

With his raw and sincere writing style, Darren Hynes has crafted a book that should be on the TO READ list of every ninth-grader.

Creeps will have you turning pages, shedding tears, and hoping for the best possible ending, because Wayne deserves it.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

if you think adventure is dangerous…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

photo-1Somehow summer is nearly over and I haven’t done anything that I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to go to a cottage, head over to the beach, have lunch or brunch on a patio downtown, take a stroll down Queen Street and maybe hit up Kensington Market again, and I definitely wanted to plan a girl’s weekend. The only thing I “did” so far this summer was read and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m not complaining so much as I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the time to do the things on my SUMMER LIST.

After completing my internship at Random House and going back to Caruso’s Gourmet Pizza, I slipped back into a routine. Wake, eat, clean, work out, shower, read, write, eat, read, work, shower, sleep, and it’s been pretty steady for the last month or so. Contiki tours tweeted that Paulo Coelho quote yesterday and it’s been screaming over my thoughts ever since.

If routine is lethal, I’ve been dead for years.

So what can I do exactly? Head out on the open road and wish for an adventure? Try to pack in all of the things I wanted to do this summer in the last few weeks? FINALLY plan that girl’s weekend I’ve been itching to plan?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

ADVICE in the comments would be delightful!

___

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo

P.S If you haven’t picked up your copy of Twenty-One Truths or My Pen, My Voice on Amazon.com please do so shortly — they will only be available for a few months! XOXO

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun

9781443407236I fell in love with Kim Izzo’s writing after reading her second novel My Life in Black and White. Her work is filled with quick wit, classic charm, and fantastic fashion. They’re the type of novels where you get more out of it than you thought you would. They’re the type of novels that you can’t put down, and that you don’t want to end.  I was graciously sent a copy of her first novel by the author herself.  The Jane Austen Marriage Manual begins as most novels do, with a crisis. Kate is simply down on her luck, her mother gambled away their home, her grandmother is ill, her boyfriend dumped her for someone younger and put her into a load of debt due to his schooling, and she has lost her job. Her solution, take everything she’s ever learned from Jane Austen novels and put it into use. This forty-year-old ex beauty editor will try to solve all of her problems by marrying for money. She has been given a freelance writing assignment trying to answer the question, Is a woman of forty too old to marry for money? Kate finds the answer to that question and learns a lot more than she bargained for.

In truth, I have never read Jane Austen (gasp!), nor am I close to the age of forty, nor do I understand the desperation that comes with having everything taken away from you (thank goodness), but I still enjoyed this novel and related to it on different levels. Kim Izzo made me feel as though I had gone through ALL of those things and made me wonder what I would ever do in a situation such as hers. Could I marry for money? Could I pretend I was someone else? Do desperate times really call for desperate measures? For Kate they did and I enjoyed following her along in this journey. She’s a very flawed character, one that you even dislike for a few chapters, but she has such a tremendous heart, an independent mind, and has such a belief in true romance that you can’t help but root for her. What I like most about Kate is her determination.

I stomped away determined to prove that I could land in shit and come out smelling like a rose.” (107)

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual forced me to think about love, romance, and family relationships. How they’re displayed and depicted in movies and novels, and whether or not they can mirror real life. It’s so easy to get swept up in the kind of passion and grand gestures one sees and reads but, as the wise and handsome Griff states, “Love doesn’t have to be explosive twenty-four/seven. If you’d slow down long enough, you might be happy”.

Thank you to Kim Izzo for sending me this wonderful novel — I will definitely be following your writing, can’t wait for the next one!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

It's a little vain…

Lifestyle/Personal

Whenever I get a little down, I tend to obsess over Pinterest and Twitter searching for positive life affirming quotes. I also hang out with positive people who can distract or enlighten me, who remind me why I hate being a Negative Nancy (SP, RP, JP, AB). So what if I have to go ask my old boss for some hours? So what if I’m not exactly where I want to be right now? So what if I’m not as settled as some people I know? So what if my life is a little up-in-the-air? Is that any reason to be embarrassed? I’m literally doing everything I can do to get myself where I want to be and that should be enough. It’s funny how when a function is coming up and the guests are people you haven’t seen in a long time, you start second-guessing your life. You start to worry about what they will think about you, you wish you had better things to say about your life, you spend days picking out your outfit to make sure you impress them. People you never see.

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Why?

Who cares?

Not me. At least I know that I shouldn’t because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about and it’s a little vain to think that these people actually give two shits about how well (or poorly) your life is going. So buck up, shut up, and just enjoy the small-talk. You’ve got more important things to give your attention to, like the review you need to write, the next Workstory interview you need to conduct, asking your ex-boss for a few hours so that you can pay the bills, and that little something on Amazon that you need to look into…

It’s time to pull up the big girl pants and get focussed on the important things.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo