Am I Beautiful Now?

Am I Beautiful Now?

Written By: Morgan, founder and creative director of Unpolished Journeywater-droplets

What is beauty? How is it defined? Can I be beautiful one day and ugly the next? Is it something that must be maintained? Can I slowly fall away from beauty if I am not constantly working to keep it close?

I wrote a poem the other day. It was called “I Had a Thought”. I attached it to the end of this blog post if you wish to read it, but the premise of the piece was noticing thoughts that I am both beautiful and ugly fill my mind. Some days I am both of those things within a matter of hours. Whereas sometimes I remain ugly until an aspect of my perspective shifts a couple weeks down the road, and I am suddenly beautiful once more. This got me to thinking, what does is it mean to have the thought that you are beautiful if thoughts are so fleeting?

I honestly can say that the thought that I am beautiful is a difficult one to come by. It never exists when I am looking in the mirror, getting dressed in the morning, or shaving my legs. In moments where I am intimately aware of my body’s appearance, beauty disintegrates and all I am left with are judgments, too fat, too round, too speckled, too soft, etc, etc…. But then I go out running, scuba diving, dancing, or hiking.  These moments where my body is showing off– how it can swim or jump or leap or, just simply, breathe– and then judgements are replaced with thankfulness. Thank you legs for being strong, lungs for filling with air, heart for beating, eyes for blinking. I become overwhelmed with the complexity of the body’s machinery and the access it gives me towards experiencing the world. Then I have that thought, I am beautiful.

When I ask you what is beauty? What is the first thing that comes to your mind? The latest covergirl model? The unrealistic standards of human bodies? The newest designer trends? Or does your mind wander to thoughts of mountains and oceans, birds and dolphins? Do you think of the cosmos and the planets? How we are one small speck in the center of a beautifully complex world?

Where your mind lands in response to what beauty is gives an enormous amount of insight into the sustainability of beauty within your life. To find understand beauty as a reflection of the flesh, the body, or an outward appearance is superficial and fleeting. Appearances change, bodies age and constantly shift.  Our bodies are simply the casing for the eternal existence of our souls. To put our definition of beauty into how they appear is like putting your worth into the size of your home.

For myself, it doesn’t bother me that I don’t find beauty in my reflection. I know those times when I am consumed with disatisfaction in my appearance are not my definition of beautiful.  Those are lies fed to me by the world and by past experiences. And if my perception of my appearance is built on lies fueled by an blind world, then I will let those lies run off my soft, speckled skin like water droplets. I would never again want to confuse my beauty with the world’s because believing the world’s lies about beauty, for years led me down paths of destruction that I never again want to feel the repercussions of.

I know that because of my history of hating my appearance that my perspective of my appearance has and always will be skewed by worldly standards. You cannot erase memories. You cannot rid yourself of thoughts. Those experiences are a part of my story, but I find freedom from my past when I eliminate the effort of trying to rewire my body image thoughts.  When, I stop trying to rewrite my entire history with poor body image and instead walk down an entirely different path. A path where I disregard my thoughts about appearance as lies and instead start filling my mind with truth. A path where the goal is not to look in the mirror and think I am beautiful, but to start to understand beauty for what it was naturally intended to be. Nature. We are natural beings, not meant to be put on display for ourselves or anyone else.

Since I no longer feel the pressure to fall in love with my appearance, I can now look in the mirror in the morning and have the thought I am ugly, label it as a lie I have obtained from the world, and then set out on my day in search of truth.  The truth about beauty lies somewhere in my running legs or in the mountain tops, in diving below the ocean’s surface or feeling water droplets fall off my skin.  Truth is anything deeper and more meaningful than learning to love the way my thighs touch or appreciated the rolls on my back.

Am I beautiful now? It is a question that can only be answered by yourself, but when you search to find the answer don’t confuse it with the lies from the world. Beautiful will not be found in the mirror. It is not supposed to be found in the mirror. Beautiful is found deeper, where the soul finds rest, where the universe aligns. We all radiate beauty the moment we know where to look for it. Turn off your eyes and turn on your heart. Find what connects with your inner self, the self that is and always will be stunning.

“I Had a Thought”

By: Morgan Blair

I had a thought that I was beautiful

It spread like warm milk through my fingers,

Dripping crystals on the floor.

It felt so nice, leaking crystals from my hands

That I took the thought and stored it away

So it would be hidden for another day.

I had the thought that I was ugly.

It infected my tongue with thorns.

A vine wrapped down my throat and through my eyes

My thorned tongue has licked my face

So my tears were streaks of blood.

I had the thought that I was strong

Before the sun had shown its face

All was still, my breath was deep

And I lace my skin in steel

Down below where waves don’t crash

My armor serves me well

Leaving suspended deep in space

I had the thought that I should die

It was followed with nothing more

I am addicted to feeling pain, or really feeling at all

So I took that thoughts and chewed it down

Destroyed on my tongue of thorns

I went swimming through the oceans

I saw how vast and true and big

And I had a thought that I was beautiful

Remembering its hiding place

Julia’s #imnotsorry Story

Julia is the cousin of Morgan. She is currently studying art at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has an amazing spirit of creativity.

#imnotsorry that I changed my mind.

I once believed that life could make sense; that I would be able to write out a logical progression of events and choices that led to my ‘success’. But living life so it can make sense on paper is like drawing a circle around someone and forbidding that they should ever venture beyond it; it makes for a profoundly boring and limiting existence. And bored was exactly what I felt when I took the next logical step after high school and went to Boston College.

I kept waiting for that moment when all the hours of studying, over-programming, and anxiety would suddenly feel worth it. I’d imagined that an intense wave of relief and inner peace would wash over me upon being dropped off at college, and a voice in my head would tell me, “you made it”. But that moment never came. Rather, the voice continued nagging and taunting, and the familiar scripts of self-defeat and doubt ran like a broken record in my mind. Now there was only more to prove, greater competition and higher stakes. I was on a treadmill I didn’t realize I could step off of, and one I never realized I had a choice to step onto in the first place. This pressure was voluntary, but believing that it was imagined was like trying to believe in Santa Claus in your 20s: you’re the only one who still believes.

So when I announced I would be transferring to art school people looked at me like I had just told them I still believed in Santa. I got responses like “I can’t really see you as an art student”, “But you aren’t weird”, “You are smart though, why are you going to art school?” and “Don’t waste your potential”. More than feeling discouraged by these words, they made me realize that no one had ever really seen the real me. I had sketchbooks full of drawings, folders full of poems, and novels I had started writing piled high on my desk. But all they saw was a ‘normal’ girl that did what was asked of her. I had done challenging things in my life, but had never challenged anything.

This change of heart was not throwing in the towel, or running away from the pressure. Rather, I was running head long into the scariest decision of my life. For it is far more terrifying to fail at what you ask of yourself, than to fail at what others ask of you. Throwing the validation of others out the window and relying almost wholly on myself was like shedding layers of protection I had built up over the course of 19 years. Standing naked and alone in my decision was simultaneously the most invigorating and vulnerable moment of my life. In the months and years following my decision to pursue art professionally I have learned that vulnerability is what makes me feel the most alive and what fills my artistic practice with the most passion. Without it I would once again be too shielded from myself to see what truly gives happiness and inspires me. I will never apologize for my seemingly ‘illogical’ decision to stray the course, because now I know that life is far more exciting when it doesn’t make sense on paper.

The Body as Art

Written by: Morgan Blair, founder and creative director of Unpolished Journey

Image result for norman lewis drawingThis week I read for my art therapy class an excerpt from the book Art is a Way of Knowing by Pat Allen.  The book works to break down how art-making can be a source of insight into our imagination by looking at colors, shapes, sculptural forms, and materials as spokespersons for our internal experiences.  In the chapters I read, Allen describes drawing as “energy made visible”, color as “feeling made visible”, and painting as the act of allowing “feelings to become visible through color”.  In other words, Allen is saying that elements of art-making become visual translations for how we are interrupting the world around us. Art becomes the script to an internal dialogue of which we may have previously been unaware existed.

Now, this afternoon I went to the Image result for norman lewis untitled painting human formNorman Lewis art show at the Chicago Cultural Center. Norman Lewis is a well-known modern painter who spent most of his career in Harlem, New York.  Much of his art deals with issues centered around identity of urban black life.  As I walked through the paintings, my stomach leapt in excitement.  My body is always the first to tell me I connect with a piece. I feel it in my gut, that space I call intuition, that space that my eating disorder severed from my body. But my intuition, after many years fighting to find recovery, has been repaired and now it calls out louder than ever as if to make up for lost time. I find it ironic that the thing I spent so many years hating, my body, would now be the spokesperson for what I most deeply connect with. My body offers insight into things that matter before my mind even registers their significance.

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Now, the paintings that struck me most were the one’s that incorporated the human form in nontraditional ways.  In some of the paintings, the bodies were transformed through letters and numbers, other paintings left the bodies as mere lines covered in multiple colors so they appeared like streaks of a rainbow.  In one painting called American Totem, the figure was comprised of blocks of white paint across a black background.

Image result for norman lewis american totem

Put these two concepts together, Pat Allen’s idea that painting allows feelings to become visual through color and Lewis’s abstracted human forms, and there lies an interesting idea.  What if the body became the work of art?  What if we were able to look in the mirror and see the our arms as the letters “L” just as Lewis painted in his work?  What if we were able to call our running legs the visual representation of energy just as Allen described drawing as?  What if we could look at our hair as brush strokes and our eyes as dots of paint? What if our words become the rhythmic translation of our heart’s beat?  What if our breathing was the visceral response of living?

And guess what? It is.  Our body is a work of art. It is carefully crafted with artistic precision.  Each hair on our heads is named. Each freckle on our skin is known. Our words matter because they speak of the sensations within our souls.  Inside we are a vibrant, energetic painting.  Our words, movements, breaths, and laughs all then become the translation of that internal experience. Each day we are recrafted. Each day the painter reaches down and adds a hair or erases a thought or incorporates a wrinkle. We are ever-changing. We are like the paintings in the show; abstract forms with hidden meanings.

When I think about just how precious the human body is, I have the same reaction I had to the artwork of Norman Lewis.  My stomach leaps and so I know that my intuition is speaking about something.  It feels the same as when I see well crafted art because the body is the ultimate display of creative beauty. Each different. Each its own.  Each translating to the world a unique experience. Allen writes that art-making is a way to “know” yourself so if we are art then to “know” ourselves is to simply be. The body is already art therefore there is nothing more we have to do.
We all should have our own art shows to display the inner wonders that our bodies have to offer.

More on Norman Lewis: https://www.pafa.org/normanlewis

All images found on google, but our Norman Lewis’s paintings.

Melanie’s #imnotsorry Story

Melanie is the selfless and loving mother of Morgan and Emily.  She just finished her cancer treatment in July after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer last November.  She is a warrior and a fighter.  

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#imnotsorry for losing my hair.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2015 and by January 2016, I was in full chemo mode.  Shortly after starting chemo, my hair began to fall out.  I would comb it only to find big clumps falling to the ground with each stroke.  My daughters, Morgan and Emily, were home so we bought a hair clipper, and the girls began to shave it all off.  Of course being brave is the only thing you can do.  There is no choice in the matter.  When you go through chemo, you will loose your hair. Now, losing the hair on your legs or arms is one thing, but the hair on your head is another.  I was literally bald – no hair.  I realized after it was all gone that I had to dig deeper into my soul to even love myself because the person in the mirror was a stranger.  I did not recognize my reflection and had to do a double take to realize it was really me.  I always loved to play with my hair, style it, go to the salon (where I love my stylist), and put it up in a ponytail when I felt like it.  But now there was nothing there.  It is hard to explain to anyone, but as a woman you feel naked without your hair; especially when it wasn’t a choice. Losing your hair can seem like no big deal, but in our society, it really is.  The focus is always on shiny, silky, and smooth hair. When you are left with none of those features, you can’t help but become hyper-aware of your baldness.  

I have become very mindful now that not everyone with short hair consciously chose that style.  In the past, I would just assume it was everyone’s choice to wear their hair as they pleased.  Now I know that many women have gone through the same thing as I have experienced.  They too lost their hair in a fight against cancer and they too are learning to be patient as it grows back.

Of course there are bad days where you don’t want to be seen, and then there are the good days where you really don’t care.  I am beginning to have a lot more of the good days.  Right now, I am still a stranger to myself.  I have short hair that is very wavy and not really sure what color it wants to be.  There are definitely white patches, which I guess for now I will call my highlights.  It is very different from what I had a year ago, but different doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

There are many benefits to having short hair: my shower is super short, I can get ready in no time at all, there are no tangles to comb out, I don’t have to worry about any salon appointments, I am saving money, I don’t use as much water, I can roll down all the windows in the car and not worry that my hair will get messy or tangled, even in the humidity my hair holds its style, when I work out there is no sweaty hair on my back.  I could go on and on.  Needless to say, I have much to be thankful for.

I have been told that I look great in short hair, that I can pull it off, that I look like Mia Farrow (thank you, Mike). A few people have stopped me in stores or parking lots and complimented my hair style.  I will take every comment as a positive for now and consider my short hair a gift as it has encouraged me to become more aware of who I am on the inside.  It is nice to know the people who truly love and care about you always will, regardless of your appearance.  Of course I would not expect anything less because I really do believe in the greatness of humanity.  Sometimes God knocks us on our butt for a reason.  I believe it is always to get our attention to draw closer to Him.  I have done just that because I still have a life.  Many people do not get the chance for one more breath, another day, another chance to live, love and laugh, and spend time with those we love.  For now, I am living one day at a time like never before, and each day I recognize myself more and more.  Maybe my short hair was just the gift I needed right now.
#imnotsorry I lost my hair and for having short hair now.  

It’s Time to Stop Apologizing

Written by: Emily Blair, the sister of Morgan (founder of Unpolished), co-director, and logistical mind behind Unpolished Journey.

What does it mean to truly stop apologizing for who we are?

That’s a great question, right?

What we mean here at Unpolished when we say “apologize for who they are” is to say that someone feels it is necessary to suppress their authentic self and rather adopt characteristics they think society will accept.

I have a message, actually quite a few messages, to those out there who are continuing to apologize for who they are.

To the girl who apologizes for wearing unique/different/abnormal clothes, stop apologizing for your authenticity.  Keep going against the norm.  Keep wearing dresses that go down past your knees or accessorizing with that new head wrap you bought last weekend.  Keep embracing your unique style.

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To the boy who feels pressured to try out for sports but truly loves theater, stop apologizing for your admiration of theater.  Although your parents or friends may look down on the theatrical world, their opinions do not dictate yours.  It’s your life, your decisions, and your opinions.  You DO NOT have to apologize for deciding not to pursue a life filled with football or basketball.  I say make the decision to act, to sing, to dance – to do what you truly love.

To the college student who desires to be a teacher but chose a medical path due to her parents’ demand, stop apologizing for choosing a meaningful career over a monetary-based one.  Being a teacher is one of the most underappreciated jobs and deserves to be respected so much more than it currently is. I ask that you pursue the degree that makes you happy and fills you up.  Pursuing a degree out of obligation will only drain you and leave you with nothing left to give.  And most of all, do not apologize for deciding to change your degree.  Your parents should recognize and understand it is your decision to do what you want with your life.

To the man who has decided to go to treatment for struggling with alcoholism, stop apologizing for deciding to better yourself.  Society may stereotype you and make assumptions about you in light of the choice you have made, but the opinions of judgmental individuals are worthless.  Those that truly care for you will stand by you at the end of the day.  And the act of deciding to pursue a road of recovery in the midst of a critical society is one of the boldest and bravest decision any individual could make.  I respect that decision so much and look up to you in more ways than you could imagine.

To the woman who works a job and is a mother as well, stop apologizing for being ambitious with your life.  You are pursuing two paths that reflect the desires of your heart, and no one else has a right to determine what your life should look like.

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To the woman who is a stay at home mom, stop apologizing for not being a business woman in tandem with parenting.  It was your decision to solely dedicate your time to your children and that decision rests with you.

To the woman who doesn’t want to have kids, stop apologizing for just that.  Society puts so much pressure on the “ideal” or “perfect” family involving kids in the picture.  If that’s not what you want for your life, don’t let others’ pressures push you to be apologetic.

To the man who is sensitive, stop apologizing for crying.  Society claims that a man who cries is weak, not tough, feminine, not masculine.  These are all lies.  Such lies.  Crying is an act of vulnerability and that is surest sign of strength there is.  So please, never, ever apologize for opening up in that way.

To the girl with small boobs, stop apologizing for how you were made.  And okay, maybe you don’t literally apologize but maybe you crack jokes about it with your friends as a defense mechanism to avoid addressing the insecurity.  Do not apologize for the way our creator made you.  You are beautifully and wonderfully made and do not need to change anything about your authentic self.

To the girl with big boobs, stop apologizing for how you were made as well.  It’s okay to look different than the girls around you.  It’s okay to be curvier.  Like I said before, maybe you don’t literally apologize for this, but maybe you crack jokes as well or only wear certain types of clothes or refuse to go to slumber parties because you’re embarrassed.  Do not let this part of you dictate the rest of your life.  Embrace yourself fully.  You too are beautifully and wonderfully made and deserve to love yourself

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To the boy or girl that has trouble making friends, stop apologizing for having fewer friends than others.  Stop comparing the number of friends you have to others to begin with.  And more importantly know that a number of friends does not determine your worth.  Also know that people would be lucky to get to know you and get to be your friend.  You are worthy of starting conversations with people, you are worthy of approaching people to talk to them, you are worthy of sitting with that group at lunch, you are worthy of going to that event on campus, you are worthy of blessing those around you with your presence.  You have so much worth and so much to offer the world.

To the man who wants to start over in a completely new career at a late stage in his life, stop apologizing for leaving a life of stability and venturing into the unknown.  You are doing what so many people wish they had the guts to do.  You are the brave one.  You are the one that people secretly think about and say, hell, that guy has balls.  Don’t let the judgmental comments on why you decided to leave a life of certainty and security stop you.  A life of security does not mean a life of happiness.  And you deserve a life of happiness above all else.

To the girl with a birthmark on her face, stop apologizing for having a feature in a different place than most.  That birthmark is a symbol of your strength and beauty.  It is a part of who you are and has been through everything with you.  You are whole with it there and are incomplete without it.  So learn to embrace it even if you can’t even fathom that being a possibility.  I’ll embrace it for you in the meantime and hopefully in the future, you can say with assurance you love that birthmark.  

To the person who loves being alone, stop apologizing for wanting to grab dinner by yourself or wanting to go see a movie alone.  You love and enjoy those moments.  You deserve those moments.  Everyone responds to environments around them differently, and your place of solace is being alone.  People should be respectful of your independence.  You provide an aspect of introspection and critical thinking that most lack.  Without you, this world would be unfinished.

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To the person who really wants ice cream but chooses not to get any because everyone else isn’t having any, stop apologizing for wanting ice cream!!! Your human for goodness sake.  We all want ice cream.  Heck, now I want ice cream just because I’m thinking about it.  Please listen to your body, listen to what it truly desires and wants, and if the answer to that is ice cream, you don’t need your three other friends to buy three scoops in a waffle cone with you.  Be brave and order it alone.   

To the high schooler that doesn’t want to pursue the traditional route of college, stop apologizing for doing something outside of the norm.  Go on a gap year, initiate a start-up company, work on your art – do what you want with your time.  Society pressures you to follow one set route – i.e. a four-year university where you can earn your bachelor’s degree – and says that leads you to success and happiness.  I will say that does give some individuals a sense of happiness and purpose, but the important thing to note is that’s not the case for everyone.  Just as one ice cream flavor doesn’t satisfy everyone, the same goes for society’s one route to happiness.  Step outside of society’s definition and pave a path that leaves you feeling fulfilled.  

To the student who received a “low” score on the ACT or SAT, stop apologizing for what you received.  A number by no means dictates what you are going to do with your life.  Society pressures us to always quantify aspects of our lives, and at the end of the day, who we are and the knowledge we have is not quantifiable.  Your experiences and perspectives mean so much more than some dumb ACT or SAT score.

Guys, we have to stop apologizing for who we are, and we have to start owning ALL aspects of ourselves.  Please post a selfie claiming a characteristic about yourself by using #IMNOTSORRY.  It’s time we rewrite our stories to be one of loving ourselves entirely and see how that lets us experience life so much more fully.

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#imnotsorry I love theater.

#imnotsorry I decided to go to treatment.

#imnotsorry I don’t have 50 bajillion close friends.

#imnotsorry I look different than you.

#imnotsorry I don’t want kids.

#imnotsorry I like to be alone.

#imnotsorry I didn’t score what you deem acceptable on the ACT.

Fingerprints of the Cosmos

Image result for atacama desert

The Atacama Desert stretching 600 miles from the southern tip of Peru to the northern part of Chile, is the driest place on earth. There are stretches where rain has never even been recorded. Nothing lives here, no trees, no clouds, no moisture of any kind.  It is the one place on earth that if you were to look at on a satellite image would appear brown because there’s no humidity present in the air. Do to the lack of moisture these 600 miles become the ultimate conservation ground, preserving anything and everything left behind from fossilized animals to human remains. The dry and rocky wasteland becomes a snapshot of frozen memories where you can shovel through and unearth organisms that once called this space home (Atacama Desert, Priit J. Vesilind).

I was watching a documentary the other day called, Nostalgia for the Light, where the story line paralleled that of astronomers peering into the desert skies and women digging through the dry grounds in search of lost loved ones. The documentary explains how in Chile, there are groups of women who go out into this massive desert in search of lost loved ones who are thought to have been killed by the Chilean government somewhere in Atacama. Knowing that the desert’s dryness would have preserved the bodies leaves the women hoping to one day uncover their loved ones remains. Wanting some kind of closure through being united with that person once more, they work tirelessly  digging and digging and digging through the sand beneath the perfect blue skies.

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Now, the completely clear skies of the desert brings teams of astronomers anxious to uncover the mysteries of the atmosphere. The blue skies make it the perfect place to study.  So, through massive telescopes they probe the cosmos searching for a deeper understanding of the universe in which we live. Perched along the exterior of the desert, the astronomers, quite literally, surround the work of the digging women.

Isn’t that a fascinating thought? Not that women would have to search for dead bodies among the dry dirt of the land, but that we have people in search of answers regarding the past in both the concrete, the ground, and the unexplainable, the cosmos.  That there are astronomers trying to define what it is that this universe is comprised of through massive telescopes that peer into a world thousands of miles away. Then simultaneously women are digging into the ground hoping to unearth answers into the mysterious disappearances of their loved ones through concrete materials such as minerals and soil.

An astronomer once said that the present moment doesn’t exist (Nostalgia for the Light).  That light travels to earth too slowly for us to experience it in real time therefore by the time we see something that thing has already evolved and passed, leaving what we understand as the now allusive. Shouldn’t then, the lines of what is present become grey?  I mean, this astronomer just shattered our understanding of the present moment. But even with this knowledge, astronomers still search deep into the skies for answers and we look at the past trying to make sense of the future. We want to understand even though we know that there are things, like how quickly light travels, that our human brains simply are not equipped to experience.

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I think about the human experience. I think about those women trying to find their lost loved ones. The tireless hours of searching and digging with the only hope being that of uncovering a series of calcified bones. And I understand. I understand the need for closure and answers in order to move away from loss.

Then I think about the astronomers. I think about the number of times they have peered through those massive telescopes and seen glimpses of the universe that the rest of us only can imagine. The stars, cosmos, planets, all of the mysteries of this world. All of the beauty that encases us here on earth. All of the unseen.  And I understand their work.  I understand the need to piece together the history of the universe in order to explain the world we live in.

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Then I think about the correlation, both literally and figuratively, between humans and the expansiveness of the universe.  Did you know that stars are made up of calcium, the same substance that lies in our bones?  Did you know that the images that those astronomers are so desperately seeking in the skies are comprised of the same materials those women are digging for in the ground?  We are linked with the universe in that way. It is, literally, etched into our bones.  The bones lying in the ground hold pieces of memory and the stars hold answers about the world and both are, on a molecular level, the same.  We hold answers in our bodies.  We need only to look to the stars to understand just how amazingly beautiful that correlation truly is because from the stars to our bones and back again we are all fundamentally the same.

Sources:

All images found on google images!

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/features/world/south-america/chile/atacama-text

http://icarusfilms.com/new2011/nost.html

http://www.pbs.org/pov/nostalgiaforthelight/

Also, you should all watch Nostalgia for the Light on your own time. 🙂

Gracie’s #imnotsorry Story

Gracie is a a good friend, spiritual soulmate, and recovery warrior of those at Unpolished Journey. Currently finishing her masters in social work, Gracie is rediscovering her soul after years in a dark battle with an eating disorder. 

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“So…are you seeing anyone?”

“Hey, it’s so good to see you! What’s the boy situation like?”

“I meant to ask, is there a lucky man in your life?”

“Hey, hey, hey, any boys on the Radar?”

…any boys on the Radar?  On the Radar…hmmm…let me think…I believe that my radar is showing patches of brilliance, a wave of independence, a downpour of success and taking adventures, with a 100% chance of deep and meaningful friendships.

#imnotsorryimsingle.

Society, relatives, friends and coworkers too often see a bright and brilliant young woman and immediately look desperately to her right and her left to search for her “leading man”.  They look at a vibrant life force and see her as only half there…missing the essential other half—the boyfriend, the fiancée, the spouse.  This phenomenon does not only echo the heterosexism and heteronormativity within society, but it degrades the strength and worthiness of the woman, just as she is, without the addition of a partner.  Too often I have panicked before a family get together or the weddings of friends because I lack the essential: “Grace Mayer and GUEST”.  I should march into these situations eager to talk about graduating with my master’s degree.  I should be excited to tell my family about my life-altering trip I took to Africa.  I should be ecstatic to talk about completing my first marathon and training for more.  I should march into these events with confidence and excitement to share updates on my wildly wonderful life full of rich friendships, spontaneous weekend adventures and challenging questions of what the future holds.  I would love to attend a function where the first questions asked were…

“How is your life?!”

“What are you up to these days”

“Will you tell me all about your dreams!?”

I would the chance to talk about my goals, my triumphs and my struggles.  I would love to talk about the wild and wonderful things that are on my Radar without topic: Hurricane Love Life. Whether I am dating someone wonderful or whether I want to embark on adventures, meet a variety of people and get married when I’m 40 I do not fundamentally change the person that I am.  The presence or absence of a man does not change the core of who I am as a person, and I am not sorry for who I am because who I am is something worth asking about.  The person I am is worthy of taking up space in this world…with or without a counterpart.

For many women who already struggle with confidence, self-esteem and self-love, the message that she is incomplete without a man is only reinforcement that she is not enough.  This also instills a false belief that—if I struggle to love myself—I should just find a man who will do it for me.  No.  Young women and young men need to learn to love themselves first and not rely on someone else to provide a false sense of worthiness.  As a person who struggles with self-esteem and battles to find true self-love, I would love to see society shift to recognize each person as enough, just as they are.  I often wonder how the lives of young people would change if we asked about their dreams and goals instead of their love life, or lack there of.  I want to be seen as complete, just as I am.

I am the leading lady, this is my life.  I would welcome a sidekick, but it makes it hard to rush off to rather save the world.  Imagine for me, if you will, how different the stories would look if Batman had to stop in the face of emergencies because the majority of Gotham City is asking why there is not a lady in his life.  I want to answer the world’s call to take my place in the world.  I want to be recognized for all of the unique facets that make my contributions special.  I would love to hear Gotham City whispering, “there she goes, she’s powerful, she’s brilliant, she’s capable, and she’s not sorry”.

How to Change the Way We Look

Fridays are by far my favorite day of the week.  Ever since my freshman year of college I have made a point to keep my day free of classes and because of this it has evolved into my day of rest. Everyone needs one, a day during the week that feels lighter than all the others, that offers renewing energies, that gives you time to simply be and enjoy the company of yourself and others who build you up.  Though, I get that life is busy, things get crazy, and a lot us feel unable to build into our week this space of rest. But I have successfully done so and will continue to because in my search for recovery I have found my day of rest to be a necessity.

Right now my Fridays look like this.  I get up at the crack of dawn, as I do nearly every morning because I have a deep fascination with the sunrise and the symbolism it brings for overcoming darkness.  I sit at my desk, looking out at the changing horizon, and write, meditate, and dive deeper into my faith before hoping in my car and driving 45 minutes out to the suburbs. Driving, once out of the stress of the city streets, brings an intense amount of release. With the music playing, the windows down, and the city skyline fading behind my back, I feel more open and less claustrophobic.  Then while in the suburbs I get to see two of my favorite people. The first being my amazing art therapist where we dive deeper into art as a translation of my experience in recovery.

From there I go to the same brunch place, to sit in the same chairs, and chat with my friend Gracie. And we chat and chat and chat about life and recovery and the universe and connection.  We chat all the way until the cafe closes and we are forced to call the conversation quits. If you are a fan of Harry Potter then you would remember the hourglass that Professor Slughorn had in his classroom where the sand would spin slow or fast depending on the intensity of the conversation at hand. Well, Gracie and I’s conversations leave the hourglass spinning slow and steadily as deep, meaningful topics naturally roll off our tongues.

A couple of weeks ago, Gracie brought up something she had seen in a documentary called “What the Bleep” where Buddhist monks prayed certain words over water and then photographed the molecular makeup of the water. She said that when they prayed love over the water, the molecules became beautiful snowflake structures, but when hate was prayed over them the molecules appears jagged and unpleasant.  I was fascinated. The body is 60% water. What would occur if we meditated on kind words instead of hatful? How would our bodies begin to shift on a molecular level? So, I dove deeper into the subject.

With further reading, I came across the work of Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto and his work with water crystals. Masaru Emoto first became known for taking samples of water from generally clean and beautiful sources around the world and photographing the molecular makeup. France, New Zealand, Japan. All the photos appeared uniquely different. Okay, so water is different all over, that’s cool, but not exactly conducive with my search for how to better my well being.

Water crystals from the Fountain in Lourdes, FranceWater crystals from the Yusui Moutain Spring, JapanWater crystals from the Mt Cook Glacier, New Zealand

  1. Fountain in Lourdes, France
  2. 2. Yusui Moutain Spring, Japan
  3. 3. Mt Cook Glacier, New Zealand

So I read some more and found pictures showing the formation of water in response to different types of music. Music for healing producing a soft and pleasant molecule, heavy metal music producing a sharp, strange spider web type formation.  Cool, so the music I listen to throughout the day can either relax or constrain the molecular structure of the water inside my body.

Water crystals exposed to music for healingWater crystals exposed to heavy metal music

1. Music for healing                                  2. Heavy Metal Music 

Some more reading. And here is the most interesting part. Masaru Emoto lined up bottles of water with the words “thank you”, “love and appreciation”, and “you make me sick, I want to kill you” attached to the outside. He left them overnight and photographed them in the morning. This is what he found.

Water crystals exposed to the words 'Thank you'Water crystals exposed to the words 'Love and appreciation'Water crystals exposed to the words 'You make me sick, I will kill you'

1. Thank you              2. Love and Appreciation      3. You make me sick, I will kill you.

How amazing is it that something as simple as water responds so viscerally to words.

Our bodies are about 60% water.  Imagine what would become of us, on a molecular level, if those messages of body dissatisfaction, self-hatred or any other self-deprecating thoughts were transformed into words of acceptance, peace, love, and appreciation.  Instead of playing on your internal monologue “I hate myself, I hate myself. Why did I just eat that? Why do I look so fat? Why did I say that? Why am I such a screw up?”, you repeated “Be patient you are relearning your relationship with food. I appreciate what my body can do. I am satisfied with who I am right now. I am at peace within myself”. Could you foresee the transformation of how you would feel?  That 60% of your body that is water would evolve into formations similar to those beautiful crystal snowflakes I shared above.  On a molecular level, your body would transform.  How then could you not experience a difference in your overall energy?
I used to think it was simply a change in my thoughts that were reaping more positive days than not, but now I have come to the realization that thoughts are just the beginning of a total body transformation leaving you feeling and, quite frankly, looking more alive and more at peace than ever before.

More on this topic:

http://www.unitedearth.com.au/watercrystals.html

http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html

Emily’s #imnotsorry Story

Emily is the sister of Morgan (founder of Unpolished), co-director, and logistical mind behind Unpolished Journey.

image1When I was a junior in high school, the guy I was dating at the time told me that we could “perfect my face.”  It was a punch in the gut.  I thought dating someone, or even just being a friend to someone, meant accepting them for who they are.  Each and every piece of them, right?

I had always been self-conscious about my acne.  I constantly dealt with shame surrounding the red specks on my skin that never, ever seemed to go away, but instead seemed to constantly be multiplying as if inviting more and more of their little speckled friends to the party.  There were mornings when I would cry and not want to leave the house because I was so ashamed of how I looked. I became acutely aware of how often people discuss that one zit on their cheek, while I’m sitting right next to them, suddenly more ashamed and hopeless than before.  It was one zit.  One freaking zit.  As I sat there with a lot more than one, it was clear they weren’t aware of how their comments made me feel.

Now, I will say that I don’t have as bad of acne as some, but it’s definitely on the worse side of things.  I will also say some types of acne can be painful, and it would be more pleasant to not have it there, so it makes sense that people would find a means to get rid of it.  With that said, I think the reason acne had become such a major concern of mine was that I let it define me.  I let myself be seen as less worthy because acne was a part of me.  I genuinely believed I was a lesser human than other people.  I wanted to sit in a room alone until my era of acne was behind me because then I could become a confident woman.  That was my solution to the problem.

Guess what?  Confidence does not come when your insecurities are gone.  Confidence is the strength to embrace your insecurities and learn to love them.  I know this is a whole hell of a lot easier said than done, and I’m still a work in progress in that respect – but I’m learning day by day.  I have acne scars around my chin that are a constant reminder of the specks that once stood there.  But it’s also a constant reminder of the strength it took to endure those moments of feeling worthless, to endure the inconsiderate comments made by others, to go to school in the mornings when I looked in the mirror and saw nothing but acne.

So, I guess what I’m saying is #imnotsorry that I deal with acne.  #imnotsorry that you have to look at the pimples on my face.  #imnotsorry that I have acne scars or that I don’t meet society’s “perfect skin” expectation.   I’m genuinely not sorry.  And man it feels good to say that.

Unpolished Journey’s #imnotsorry Campaign

#imnotsorry

It’s September 1st – a new month, new school year, new apartments for Emily and I, and the smell of fall is beginning to seep into the air.  Therefore, here at Unpolished Journey, we only thought it acceptable to launch our very first call to action campaign. We are calling it #imnotsorry.  The campaign’s main purpose is to debunk what society considers acceptable or normal.  We are asking you to post selfies with #imnotsorry in the caption explaining something that society has lead you to believe needs to be changed about you, but in reality is just a part of who you are. Emily and I will be participating alongside you guys in sharing what we no longer have to apologize about.  So check out our Instagram, @unpolishedjourney, in the afternoon to see our selfies alongside yours to see what aspects we are learning to own about ourselves.

In addition, Unpolished Journey’s blog will begin posting personal #imnotsorry stories from individuals we know or have connected with within the Unpolished community. So keep a look out throughout the week to read and share those blog posts.

Now, if all that wasn’t enough here is a video Emily and I put together trying to explain the campaign.  Watch, enjoy, share, and contribute. Also, check out the blog tomorrow for mine and Emily’s  #imnotsorry stories for inspiration on how to get started. We are looking forward to seeing all of your amazing faces while we debunk societal standards together!