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Friday, December 9, 2011

Wear a piece of self-love everywhere.

30% off all our handmade necklaces this month! Grab one or two for a friend, or better yet, for yourself! ;)

And while you're perusing etsy, you can snap up some cute winter gear (scarves, fingerless gloves, hats) at my other shop,, at newly discounted prices.

Happy shopping!!

And we hope to be back soon with some "real" blogging again soon! ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Confidence in Being a New Mom

You've probably read about my struggles with confidence know the journey I was on to get to where I got. Well, let me assure you, nothing has ever tested my confidence level quite so much as being a mom!

I second-guess every decision I make. I constantly wonder am I good enough for what this perfect little baby deserves. I feel helpless and inadequate sometimes and wonder why the hell I ever thought I could be a mom. But then some days I feel like the best mom ever (besides my own) and rest in the knowledge that I will make mistakes but that she will be okay because no one will ever love her the way I love her. She's one month old already now, and we're still learning each other and figuring out our routines. Between a scare about her weight dropping too much at one point and breastfeeding challenges, I can really work myself into a frenzy of "mom guilt," feeling like I'm failing her. But, really, when I step back and look, I am doing a good job. All new moms go through a slightly crazy period the first two or three weeks after delivery. Your whole life has changed in an instant (or, in my case, after 39 hours of labor, lol), and not only that, but you suddenly have this tiny little person that you love so much you can hardly bear it. You feel pressures you never knew before and would do anything, anything, just to make them happy, healthy, and safe. I'm learning as I go, as all new moms do. Some days are filled with crying - mine, not hers! - because I'm so scared of everything. Others are calm and peaceful as I just hold her and watch her face because it's so lovely that I can't look away. It's up and down but all amazing. I've officially done the one thing in my life that I couldn't have lived without, and that in itself gives me confidence if I think about it. I can hardly believe she's here; every action I made my whole life has been leading up to her, and now, here she is. So many choices that I made in life were because I was thinking of my future daughter.

Whenever I start feeling really scared and overwhelmed, my husband reminds me of my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It's definitely something I should mentally call upon any time I feel like I can't do something from now on. If I could do that, I can do anything! If you're interested in this sort of thing, here's the short version. I think I mentioned before that I was planning on a water birth and had taken a HypnoBirthing class. HypnoBirthing is self-hypnosis (essentially very deep relaxation) that centers around delivering your baby calmly and with as few interventions as possible. It goes on the premise that birth doesn't have to hurt like we are taught in our culture. We expect it to hurt, so it does because our bodies tense up, and the tension causes the pain and actually hinders the baby's progress coming out. I'd been practicing with the relaxation exercises almost daily for months, to the point where it became completely ingrained in me and I could get myself in that zone anytime. I wasn't scared about giving birth at all. I knew we would have a calm, relaxed labor and birth...and yes, I know, "calm" and "relaxed" are not typically words you hear to describe giving birth! But I can honestly say that's exactly how it was. Anyway, I was planning on an all-natural birth, and I almost got it. The first sign my labor had started was my water breaking. I started having contractions (called "surges" in HypnoBirthing, which sounds less scary!) not long after that and started playing the HypnoBirthing exercises on my iPhone. When the contractions were about a minute apart, my midwife asked me to come into the office to get checked out to make sure I wouldn't get admitted into the hospital too soon. I was 4 cm then, so we went ahead to the hospital. I was talking through my contractions. We all thought it would be a pretty fast labor...but baby girl had other plans. I labored in the shower, in the water birth tub, standing up leaning against a chair...I had no concept of how much time had passed, as I was completely in my zone of relaxation, and nothing could interrupt it. No one could even tell when I was having a contraction unless I held my hand up for them to be quiet during it.

Eventually, over 30 hours had passed, and she was very low but not getting any lower. My body started to give out; it was most comfortable at that point to labor standing up and rocking from side to side (I had to give up my water birth because her heart rate had increased enough to where there was a risk for infection), and my legs were shaking and could barely hold me up anymore. I had the incredible urge to bear down, but it wasn't accomplishing anything. I developed a slight fever, and at that point, we needed to help her out a little. I was 9.5 cm then and not in pain...I mean, I wouldn't say labor is the most comfortable thing I've ever done, but I can honestly say it was not painful. We made the decision to induce just a little and get an epidural - again, not for pain but because my body was completely worn out! When it was time to push my little one out, the epidural had worn off enough where I could feel almost everything. It took a lot of energy, and having the epidural had given me time to rest and try to recharge some. I continued using my HypnoBirthing techniques throughout. Just when I thought I had expended all my energy again, my husband said, "Your dream is about to come true!" and that gave me the last burst of energy I needed. And then, suddenly, there she was! They put her on my chest, and I can't even describe the feeling of looking into her face for the first time. I didn't get the natural birth I'd planned on, but I have no regrets. And if I can labor for that long with no drugs until the very end and keep myself absolutely calm and relaxed throughout, good God, I can do anything! And, I might add, any woman who has birthed a human being out of her body, whether she did it naturally, with drugs, or had a C-section, should feel like she can do anything in life as well! Carrying a baby for 40 weeks, give or take, and then giving birth is nothing short of an amazing feat no matter how you do it.

There's actually nothing special or different about me that enabled me to do it that way any more than anyone else; I'm not more brave. I just have knowledge and resolve going for me. And, okay, I admit I'm one of THE stubbornest people I know, and when I want something, there is absolutely no stopping me. But the ability to birth this way is not unique to me or anyone else...anyone can do it! I learned everything I could, made a decision, took the class and read the book, practiced the relaxation exercises regularly, and, most importantly, believed it's possible. I'm really happy with the way things went; it's our own unique birth story, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

So I'm now trying to regain that same sense of calm and confidence as a mom, and I'm getting there! I've started listening to HypnoParenting relaxation exercises and affirmations, and they really help me calm down when I'm freaking out. I had gotten so used to doing the HypnoBirthing exercises every day and then suddenly had nothing like it anymore, and as dramatic as it sounds, I really felt a big hole not having relaxation exercises anymore. HypnoBirthing principles can work for any situation in daily life, and the basic ideas are quite ingrained in me, but I needed something to listen to that was tailored to being a mom rather than birthin' a baby. I felt so different after listening to HypnoParenting. My whole perspective has shifted into something much more positive and less fearful. Some things in particular about it really stuck out to me. One is the part where she has you visualizing hugging and appreciating your inner little girl, which was powerful. It might sound a little cheesy at first, but it's quite healing. That was actually one part of a hypnotherapy session I had years ago that I had kind of forgotten about. It made me see myself the way my mom did, LOVEABLE and WORTHY. Seeing myself as a child, I could see myself similar to how I see my daughter...perfect and wonderful...and there's no reason I wouldn't still be that way now that I'm an adult. Besides, if something so perfect and wonderful came from me, I must be pretty darn awesome. :) Before having a baby, I was one of the most confident, self-assured gals I knew (well, most of the time, anyway), trying to show other girls how to be the same through this blog. But being a new mom has challenged every ounce of my confidence. Most of the calm and "centeredness" I'd had in pregnancy and labor went out the window when my baby cried. It just breaks your heart and takes a while to adjust to hearing it. I feel now like I'm on the right path towards gaining that confidence back, now not just confident as a woman but as a mama. I am deciding to stop doubting myself and chill out. Lately, I've seen some of my mom instincts paying off, even little things like stuff I bought before she was born that we are finding out we need now. It's reaffirming. I'm choosing to focus on the positive things I know I'm doing right and give myself the freedom to just do my best and remember that I don't want to teach her that making mistakes in life is a bad thing and does not make you "less than."

Even if you're not a mom or planning to be one soon, something you can take from this is that even when you've built up a healthy self-confidence level, sometimes things in your life might crop up that challenge it all over again, and that's okay. Just remember how you've drawn strength from within yourself in past situations, and above all, try to get yourself in a relaxed state of mind so that you can calm down and view the situation more objectively. That will help you to know what to do and have the confidence to do it and be your best you. And remember, everyone messes up from time to time. You can beat yourself up for it forever, or you can plunge on and do your best from that point forward.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Halloween from the Narcissisters' offspring :)

Here we have KameraWhore's beautiful 11-year-old daughter, E-Bug, dressed up as a lion for Halloween (fabulous facepainting done by Kam)...she knows how to work the camera just like her mama. hehe Kam dropped her camera and broke it, by the way, and she feels like half herself right now! :(

And here's my beautiful new baby girl, J-Bug, dressed as the lil punkin she is!! Not quite 3 weeks old that day, and already she knows exactly where to look at the camera like her mama too! ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My baby girl is here!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New belly pics - 38 weeks

KameraWhore (a/k/a Kam) came over today to take some belly pics of me. I'm 38 weeks along now (out of 40)! It was just what I needed, truly. I hate to say it, but I have been feeling so frumpy and puffy the last couple of weeks...I felt like I had lost my pregnancy glow and was just kind of down on myself. It happens to most women toward the end, I think, because you're so uncomfy. Except for the belly...I LOVE MY BELLY, and that never changed. :) When she first got here, I just didn't know if I'd like any of the pictures we'd end up taking (no reflection on her skills). But when I looked at the pictures she took, I realized it hadn't gone anywhere at all. I think I've only been feeling that way because of the swelling and the lack of clothes/shoes that fit anymore. But seeing the pictures makes me feel like the most beautiful pregnant woman in the world again. She's a very talented photographer in addition to being one of the best friends I could ever have. And regardless of how I feel about my appearance, nothing matters except that soon my baby daughter will be here in my arms.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Karaoke Night with the Narcissisters

You didn't know the Narcissisters were also awesome singers in addition to just being plain awesome, did ya?? hehe My birthday was a couple months ago, and the gals took me out a-karaoke-ing, so we thought we'd share! I had never been before, and the place we went to was really neat. It was a place with private rooms (so no embarrassment) and mics that make you sound good. They played funny, random videos on the screen that had nothing to do with the songs. We spent about 3-1/2 hours there! I highly recommend it as a confidence-booster!! No joke. If you actually watch the whole video of us singing, you are a super devotee. ;) I apologize in advance for the chafing reference. lol "Two Best Friends Singing About Two Best Friends."

Jen, Bonnie, Kam, and Alana
You can tell we didn't know this song very well...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Post of the Year Nomination

If you've been hanging out with us at TCN for any length of time, you probably know how fond I am of Ally's blog, Shybiker. She is doing a really nice service to bloggers right now with her "Post of the Year" contest, where oldies-but-goodies posts get resurrected out of the woodwork when they might otherwise get overlooked by readers since they aren't brand new. An older post of mine called "Jenarcissist Bares All: a History of Insecurity" has made it into the top six nominees! That was the first reeeeeally personal post I wrote for our blog and detailed a lot of things I went through to become the [more-often-than-not] confident person I am today. It took a lot for me to write it, but I've never regretted it. I would love if you'd take a quick sec to vote for me if you liked it. 

Even if you don't vote for mine, and I mean this sincerely, I hope that you get something out of it that you can use in healing your own perspective of yourself. And no matter who wins, I must say, I am really enjoying seeing people vote for themselves - yeah, narcissists!! ;) 

You can vote here:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Does Wearing Lipstick Make You More Confident? Lip Noir Might!

For me, my confidence no longer depends on whether I have on makeup or not. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me a little boost. :) Especially when I'm wearing a fabulous shade of lipstick; there's just something about it. 

I came across this little article saying that "seventy five percent of women believe that lipstick makes them more confident, according to a L'OrĂ©al survey." Now, the fact that the survey was conducted by one of the most prominent lipstick-makers in the world does kind of make you wonder about the statistic. hehe But I know for a lot of women, it's true. I don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with lipstick/makeup boosting your confidence as long as you're not dependent on it for the way you view yourself. Makeup is fun and creative and allows you to express yourself.

So, if you haven't heard yet, my favorite lipstick brand, Lime Crime, has just released a new collection called LIP NOIR that includes some really gorgeous colors for fall. I'm especially intrigued by the gray Chinchilla color! I have all 10 original Lime Crime lipsticks and am eager to add this one to my collection (and Mint to Be before time runs out!). They go on just like they appear in the tube...creamy, opaque, and smooth but without feeling too lipstick-y. 

The weather here has cooled off substantially all of a sudden - we'll see if it lasts, but the drizzly, cool weather definitely makes me want to don a new fall lipstick...and a jean jacket over a dress and tall boots...yeahhhh...

Click here to shop this collection or to see all the colors Lime Crime has to offer!

What’s your take on lipstick/makeup and confidence?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Shower for Baby Narcissist

No, that's not what we're naming her. lol Let me tell you, this was the best shower I could've hoped for but felt rather really sank in that I was not a guest at someone else's but was there because I'M the one having the baby!!

Of course Rob was there to cheerfully greet all the guests at the door.
The gorgeous hostesses: Kam, Alana, and Bonnie...thank you, my lovely
and generous friends, for making it a perfect day!
Kam was extremely proud that she won the "guess-the-circumference-of-Jen's-belly" game!
I got a perfect score on guessing all the melted candy bars in the diapers.
Do I know my chocolate or what!
Kam handmade this beautiful baby blanket!
The aftermath! We got so much stuff that it took up more than half our living room.
The cats and dogs had to investigate.
And last, but not least, this is our baby girl! If you look closely, you can make out her
chubby cheeks and chin, curled fist, her button nose, and lips like her mama's!!
I can hardly wait to meet her in person. :) 7 weeks to go!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jen's Vintage Outdoor Wedding

Considering I tied the knot 10 months ago, I guess this post is a little overdue! I've been meaning to post about our wedding for forever. My brother-in-law (my husband's brother) just married one of my closest friends last Friday, and of course it just takes me back to all the magic and splendor of ours. I was a bridesmaid for them and also did the bride's makeup, which was obviously really exciting for me. Their pictures won't be ready for about a month, but lots were taken of her makeup getting applied, which I plan to share with you later. I'm a lover of all things wedding and always have been; I just love looking at pictures of anyone's wedding whether I know them or not, so I thought you might want to see some of mine. (Same goes for pregnant gals; I can't get enough of belly pics, and I hope you can't either since I like to post mine here!) Despite the tongue-in-cheek title of our blog, my purpose here isn't to show off but just to share some of my very happiest memories. The only sad part of the day was that my mom wasn't physically there...but I know she was literally there in spirit and sent plenty of little signs to let me know.

Brief history...hubs and I had been together for about six years prior to the wedding and lived together for four, not as a "trial run" but as a "marriage is inevitable, so we're doin' this." We intended to do the actual ceremony a lot sooner, but as he would often joke, we had "the other M-word" tying us together pretty tightly: mortgage! ;) He would've gone to the courthouse ages ago and done the deed, but I wanted an outdoor ceremony. I'd been married before, you know, but this time it's to the right guy and was a long time coming, and I wanted to really celebrate it big! And I also thrive on creating, decorating, planning, the works, which worked out well for us because we had a super limited budget. 2010 just somehow felt like the right year to do it, so we started planning in January. He still managed to surprise me with a ring somehow even though it's not like the engagement was a surprise. We wanted to get married in the fall since we wanted it outside and it gets dreadfully hot in Georgia in the summer (thank God the other wedding Friday was indoors). So we got married on 10-10-10...I mean, if you're gonna get married in the fall of 2010, how could you not? The weather turned out beautifully. It was much more like a spring day than a fall one, which worked out well with our springlike colors.

First on the list was: where to get married. We both agreed we'd like an outdoor ceremony, somewhere with trees. Twinkle lights and candles. A big, open field with a barn. Not expensive. One night when I was hanging out with KameraWhore at her house in the country, her daughter asked why we didn't just do it at their house...they have an open field with a barn and surrounding trees, and, as she pointed out to really get to me (she's a smart kid, that one), it was free. We kind of chuckled at first, but then as I looked out the window to their barn, which is actually more like a workshop made to look like a barn, I realized...well, why not?!? Their field is divided into two sections by wire fencing - perfect for using one side for the ceremony, one for the reception. I don't know that any of us, least of all Kam and her husband, knew what we would be getting ourselves into at the time. :) DIY weddings can be quite stressful because of the time and energy involved in, well, doing it yourself. But everything couldn't have been more perfect! It even turned out they had the perfect tree to get married under that was dead center for where the aisle went, like it had been planted right there just for us. A lot of people thought I was completely nuts for thinking I could transform the area into a wedding site, not because her house is in bad shape or anything like that at all but because they just couldn't see the vision I had in my head and were used to people getting married mostly at ready-made venues. People would whisper to my husband, "Is she sure she wants to get married here?" and he would reply, "I don't know how she's gonna pull it off; I just know that she can!" I'm really glad for his faith in me, and of course Kam, who never doubted! Anytime I've gone through some self-doubt since then, I will think back and decide if I could pull that off, I can do anything. I'm sure giving birth will trump the wedding, however. ;)

Not spending too much money was a major priority. I think the biggest expense we had was probably my dress, but before you assume anything, it may be designer but was bought on sample sale for a reasonable price, and I maintain to this day that it was worth it. I had gone into it thinking I'd wear a pretty, thrifted vintage number...until I saw THE dress in a bridal magazine, and nothing else held a candle to it after that. I wouldn't have been able to get it if it weren't for one local store, Kelly's Closet, carrying it and giving it to me at sample price. It needed some custom alterations, mostly to the top because it originally had sleeves, but was mostly a perfect fit to my body already, like it was made for me. I told you, vision boards work!

Ceremony seating was a combo of mismatched benches, hay bales, and my grandma's handmade quilts.
Tablecloths were mostly vintage sheets with some of my grandma's old textiles thrown in, with burlap runners.
The four wooden poles with string lights created our dance floor (so pretty at night!), and the canopy area was the kids' play area.
We also had a croquet set and fire pit set up.

We had SO much help along the way...too much to even list here, too many people to thank for helping us create the wedding of our dreams, and I hope I'm not leaving anyone out. The vision may have been mostly mine, but the end result was truly a family-and-friends affair. People not only worked hard that whole day but that whole month helping us prepare everything, at least. They moved heavy things, cleaned out the barn, dug holes, wired electricity...not to mention cleanup the day after. One of my fathers-in-law (my hubs' stepdad) even got ordained just so he could marry us. :) That was incredibly special. And my other father-in-law, his dad, built the kissing booth and wooden tables. Kam and I painted the booth, and few things are more fun to me than doing an art project with her.

We had a favorite local restaurant called Urban Cannibals cater an all-vegetarian menu for us, and I don't know what else to say about them besides that they're amazingly nice people and amazingly fabulous chefs (not to mention one half of the duo is Doria Roberts, a very gifted singer). We already had a super talented photographer in the family, a good friend who is an awesome singer/songwriter that we asked to be our reception band, another friend in the independent film industry who agreed to video for us, another from a local band who was our pre-ceremony guitarist (ceremony music was all 60s tunes!), and yet another good friend to do my hair who's been my hairstylist for several years now. We gratefully borrowed some things (and some wonderful ideas) from a friend who runs an event planning company. For everything that we had to rent, such as the outdoor bathroom, chairs, etc., and buying the flowers, I found places that were as close to Kam's house as possible to save on delivery costs, and let me tell you, that really saves tons of money. Kam made our beautiful and scrumptious wedding cake and groom's cake, and a pro baker couldn't have done any better, and she did so much other stuff to help as well. I got 175 yards of fabric to drape on the walls of the barn for $1 a yard because it was "seconds" fabric, which means it supposedly had some sort of defect that caused them to be unable to sell it retail, and you know, we never found a single thing wrong with it.

Wow, talk about havin' the hookup!! I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such talent!

I did my own makeup (there might be a video tutorial in the future). I made our save-the-date magnets and vintage-style hankie invitations (with help ironing from hubs and family), plus the ringbearers' bowties, the framed silhouettes, and can't even remember what else. lol If it was crafty, I probably made it, with a few exceptions. I bought most of the vintage china we used on eBay and Craigslist. The barn chandeliers and silver table candelabras, as well as some other things, came from my crafty designer pal Sarah of Rusty Bluebird, who was also sweet enough to take me estate sale-ing. A friend made our ringbearer pillows. I don't think any of the bridesmaid dresses were more than $20, and their necklaces were inexpensive brooches on ribbon. My hairpiece and earrings were purchased from two friends who have an etsy shop full of handmade beauties made from vintage bits - they also sell gorgeous handmade wedding dresses. (I also sell custom-made save-the-dates and invitations on my other etsy shop, though, at present, I will need lots of advance notice because of our upcoming bundle of joy!)

Our friend Bon, whom I think you'll be meeting soon, is the one to my right in the group photos.

Notice how Kam's looking at me in the 3rd one down on the right - representative of our faux competitive spirit. ;)
You might notice my tattoo is repeated in several places throughout the wedding.

There are so many ways to pull off a beautiful wedding without spending too much. I admit, we still ended up spending more than we would've liked, but I can't say I regret anything either. It was very "us." And I ended up making friends with so many new people just during the planning, kindred spirits who just felt like they were supposed to come into my path to stay long after the wedding was over.

If it weren't for the cost and the way that planning a wedding can completely run your life for several months :), I would do it over and over again every single year! (To the same guy, of course!) And on my worst day when I feel like I look as bad as I could possibly look, I can always look back on that day as the day I felt completely, indisputably beautiful. As it should be for every bride. Of course, now I'm pregnant, and I don't care how it sounds; I think I'm the cutest pregnant gal who ever was!! ;)

There was a special, palpable feeling in the air the whole day and evening of our wedding; we even had several people comment on that. It was just this feeling of everything happening at just the right time and place and being surrounded by love and support from people who were just as excited about our marriage as we were. And no matter what type of wedding a person has or how much or how little is spent, what's more important than that? So many people get so caught up in the dress, the stress, the details, and "making everything perfect" that they lose sight of why they're doing this. We did get stressed out the day before while we were frantically trying to finish up some things, but overall, we kept the process fun and light; at the end of the day, it was about celebrating each other and nothing more. The same feeling, I am very happy but not surprised to say, permeated my brother- and sister-in-law's wedding.

Hope you've enjoyed this peek into our wedding day as much as I do every time I reminisce! Thank you again to Kam for hosting - and helping me create - the wedding of our dreams.

Monday, August 15, 2011

An update on Rob's whereabouts!

Rob is a true animal lover.

My new carpool buddy.

My hot new intern at work. It's been a LOT of fun scaring the crap out of people. :)

And notice my shirt...that was the other b'day present from my hubs. In "Breaking Dawn," Bella calls the baby her little nudger when she feels her starting to kick, and I thought that was really cute, and my husband remembered. :) 10 weeks left to wear it til my own lil nudger arrives!

Don't worry, this is not going to turn into a Twilight/Rob blog...but sometimes ya just gotta have some fun!! ;) But don't be surprised if you see him with us at the Grand Canyon or something.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy birthday to meeee!!

I've been so focused on the birthday coming up in October (when our baby will be born) that I hadn't given a whole lot of thought to my own birthday this year...other than to not-so-subtly hint around that I wanted something Twilight-related since today is the anniversary of Edward and Bella's wedding. lol I didn't think anyone had taken me too seriously; I mean, there is the fact that I'm turning 31...

But my hubby, wonderful guy that he is, listened to my cries - and this is what I woke up to near the bed this morning. I'm surprised it didn't scare me, but after all, I guess most girls are happy to find a vampire at the foot of their bed? Who has the best husband ever - >THIS GIRL!<

You know how much weirdo fun I have with the Rob iPhone apps where you can put him in pictures with you, but this is way more fun!! I can actually take him places and freak people out! If you've ever heard of Flat Stanley, this is my version!  

I've already decided we can legally travel in the HOV lane. And I think he will make a very comforting fixture in the nursery (okay, I'm kidding about that one). We are trying to sell our house, and I think Rob makes a great welcoming committee right when people walk in the door, don't ya think??

Oh, Rob, wherever will you go next...stay tuned!! ;)

And here's a funny video of one of our dogs barking at Rob while another one stands next to him like, "What's the big deal?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Perfect Pick-Me-Up

Do you ever feel like you look younger than your actual age? Do people tell you that you could pass for a teenager? Okay, maybe a college student. I have told Jenarcissist several times that I would love to go on that show where they put you in a glass box in the middle of the city and have people guess your age. Oh, what was the name of that show? Anyway, it was a makeover show and the people who went on it were always in dire need of help. The ages guessed would always be well over their actual ages. It was quite sad, but they would make a complete turn around by the end of the episode! Anyway, my motivation for wanting to go on the show is quite narcissistic indeed- I want to hear how young people think I am. Terrible I know! But I am just being honest, and my perception of how old I look may be way off. That's okay, because I feel good about myself and that's what is important.
Well, I came across a couple of websites that will post your photo and have random people (guests to their website) vote on how old they think you look. Needless to say, I couldn't get my pics uploaded fast enough. I tried to pick a flattering photo, but I didn't make any edits to it aside from cropping it. It took several weeks before enough people had voted to see the average of their guesses, but boy was it worth it! I now have the perfect pick-me-up for when I'm feeling down about getting older. I averaged 19.6 and 23.3! I'm actually 31.6...Woo Hoo! It's also a lot of fun to vote on other people's pictures too! Check out these screenshots from the two websites, How Old Are You? and Guess My Age.
Take a look and see what you think. Let us know if you upload your pics and how it comes out!

Is Shyness a Form of Narcissism?

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people."

-Andre Dubus

I came across this quote while randomly reading about narcissism and self-love. It really made me stop and think, as I have been terribly shy since childhood. I have never, however, made any connections between my shyness and narcissism. It really does make perfect sense, though, that the two are connected in some way. When I was younger, my shyness was certainly more extreme and even debilitating at times. I remember feeling like a complete outsider during the second grade. I think I maybe had one, possibly two friends that year. My dad had moved my sister and I from California to New Mexico, so everything was different and unknown to us. I felt like everyone was watching me all of the time and judging me. I had always been shy prior to this, but in school I had been fairly social and relaxed. The next year Dad moved us to Georgia, and my shyness continued to be a painful part of my life.

As I entered Middle School, it just got worse. I felt as though I was being filmed, and everything I did or said was being watched by everyone. Everything I wore was being scrutinized. I was all anyone saw and they were judging me hard. It didn't help when I started working in the 8th grade and a popular cheerleader shouted at me amidst a huge crowd of kids, "Do you like pancakes?" She knew I was working at IHOP and for some reason she found pleasure in mortifying me in front of what seemed like hundreds of kids. To this day I would like to tell her how belittled she made me feel that day. I would like to tell her that my family had no money, and that if I had any intention of buying new clothes or owning a car when I was 16, that it was on me. What blows my mind is that she didn't even know me, as we had never spoken. She was just one of the popular kids and a big bully. I was just a random target, I guess. But boy did it hurt.

Up until that time, I don't think my shyness was narcissistic at all. I had had a really rough childhood and we moved around a lot. My sister and I lived with uncertainties and an unknowing of what to expect at home and for our futures. As far as I'm concerned, my shyness was a protective blanket from the existence that was my life.

I came into my own a bit more during High School. My family life was quite a bit more stable, though still pretty messed up in comparison to the norm...whatever that may be. My friends and I weren't popular but we also weren't the "geeks". We were pretty much the ones who got by without much notice. I was involved in art and the drama club, as well as some other activities. I continued to be shy, but now my shyness was more connected to how I felt others viewed me. Did my hair look okay? Were my boobs big enough? Were my clothes cute? Is that hot boy talking about me? Was I prettier than that popular girl who gets any guy she wants? These were the type of questions fueling my shyness and inadequacies. This is certainly when my shyness made a turn towards narcissism and never looked back.

I became a changed person during High School. I began to believe in myself. I knew that I was smart and felt that I could accomplish anything in life that I wanted. I could be anything, despite where I had come from. I realized that I was no longer that awkward kid and I had grown into a pretty cute girl. I was nice too, unlike some people I had encountered through the years. Even back then, I knew that who you were on the inside was a great measure of one's beauty. Overall, I thought I was a great package...I still do. So is my beautiful sister who survived with me, along with a couple of extra bumps in her road. And my wonderful best friends...they made it through their own trials and tribulations. We all grew up enveloped in our shyness, and we all eventually transitioned, or might I say, blossomed, into the "narcissistically shy" women that we are today.

How I look and how I perform is important to me. I do care what others think because I am trying hard to be a beautiful person in every way. Maybe I shouldn't care, but to me it's a positive because it encourages me to be my best. When I am feeling shy, my mind is telling me that people are watching me and judging me. Well, I want them to see a person who respects and loves her body, and who takes care of herself because she deserves it. Just as any person should. I want others to see a woman that they can look up to. I want young girls, my daughter especially, to see that inner beauty is what shines the brightest.

As I grow older, I can see that my shyness is slowly fading. I am becoming more sure of myself with each passing day. I now aspire to be different and would rather not fit the mold of what people expect of me, a 31 year-old married teacher with an 11 year-old daughter. I don't think I'll ever live without a lingering bit of shyness, however. It is who I am. And I'm okay with that, because I am pretty awesome despite it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"What to Expect" at an Open Casting Call :)

Today I did something totally different from anything I've ever done: I went to an open casting call for a movie! "What to Expect When You're Expecting" - I mean, what else would they name a movie about pregnancy than the classic manual? :) They actually film a lot of movies here in Atlanta these days, and several have been close by enough where I could go to the casting calls, but, for whatever reason, I never did, even though I thought about it. Well, when my incredible mother-in-law sent me this article from the newspaper, I knew I had to go to this one since they were calling for pregnant women and babies!

Hubs couldn't go, and I was a tad nervous going alone in case I couldn't figure out where to park and where to go. But then I decided I'm not alone; little baby girl is always with me. ;) That gave me a huge boost of confidence, and off she and I went. I'm ALL about my baby belly, and any chance to show it off is where you will find me!

I got there a little after 1:00, and there were still hundreds  of people waiting! I can only imagine how many actually went since they started at 10 am. Never having done anything like this before, I assumed someone would ask you questions and maybe even shoot a quick video of you to see how you appear on camera. I waited in line about two hours - thankfully, it was indoors in the A/C, and there were seats now and then so I could sit and rest, although it didn't take long for my hungry baby to tell me I should've packed a granola bar. (I should know better by now.) I was so glad I wore comfortable shoes. I chatted with the gals in front and behind me in line. The one in front of me had been an extra before and was there with her beautiful baby girl, and the ones behind us were not pregnant but go to extra casting calls regularly, which I thought was neat. We wound and wound our way through the hotel in line and finally got downstairs. Someone took the little paper I filled out with my info and wrote a number on it, and then I got one picture taken by a guy with a regular digital camera while I held up my number. And that was it! As the article says, you can also submit a photo to them via email or text in lieu of going in person, and now I know it wouldn't have upped my chances to be there. But I'm glad I went in person; just the experience of doing it made me feel so good about myself and was really interesting. It was total and complete cuteness overload with all those adorable babies and children and the equally adorable pregnant women everywhere! I'd hate to have to be the person to decide who makes the cut!

Here's what I wore...I thought maybe they wanted natural-looking people more than dressed to the nines.
I'm assuming they need extras for things like doctor's office waiting rooms and birthing classes. (?)

25 weeks along now (a little over 5 months)!!

I've heard they start filming next weekend and will be shooting the next several weeks, so I have no idea when I'll be contacted if I'm chosen. It's just casting for extras, so you probably won't see me with a speaking role anytime soon...though they do say they might feature some extras with one-liners. But how neat would it be to be on the screen in a movie for even a fraction of a second, especially with my baby belly? Even if we had to pause at just the right moment to catch a glimpse of me, I could tell her someday, "Look, there we are in the movie!"

After I left, I texted Kam to tell her I had done it...I hadn't mentioned anything about it to her before then. She responded that she had just submitted pictures of her and her husband (Vain Shane) for a different movie filming locally! We always seem to be on the same wavelength and do the same things at the same time, even when we're unaware the other is doing it. :)

All in all, it was a really neat experience! Thanks, mom-in-law! And now I have this song stuck in my head. hehe

Well, I bet you I'm gonna be a big star
Might win an Oscar; you never can tell
The movies gonna make me a big star
Cause I can play the part so well

- The Beatles, "Act Naturally"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Please Vote for Kam's Video!!!

I am SOOO excited today because our very own Kam (a/k/a KameraWhore) has made it to the Top 5 in a video creation contest for one of our fave singers, Langhorne Slim! Won't you please check it out and vote for hers?? She's unable to post right now, and I wanted to get the news out as soon as possible. She did ALL the drawings and animation herself! She's so talented. Hers is the only animated one and by far the most creative!! Watch it above and then GO HERE TO VOTE! And please tell your friends!

Kam meeting Langhorne

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Talk to Little Girls from Miskabelly

Flickr image by Krista Kruger

Hoping you'll check out this post on one of my fave blogs and let us/them know your thoughts on the subject. Whether you have kids of your own or not, I'm sure each of you knows at least one little girl. :) I left my thoughts in a (long, of course - I don't know any other way to be!!) comment on their blog.

There has been a lot of buzz on the interwebs this week surrounding this Huff Post article about the way we interact with young girls, which makes an extremely valuable point:

"Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What's missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments."

You can find Miskabelly's post here. And I will say I think Amanda's position on the subject is much healthier and balanced than the article writer's seemingly all-or-nothing approach, though I completely get where she’s coming from.

P.S. HAPPY FRIDAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!! And a happy and safe 4th for those of y’all in the States.

- Jenarcissist

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bathroom Stall Inspiration in Atlanta

Friday, June 24, 2011

Using Vision Boards to Achieve Self-Love

Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

So many times, I will write someone an email or leave a comment on someone else's blog, and then I realize I'm formulating a new blog post without realizing it! That's how this one got started as well. Here's the proof. This is a comment I left on my pal Ally's blog to our mutual pal Ashelle as she was asking for some advice on how to achieve her goals toward self-love:

Something that helps me tremendously is my vision board. I made one a year and a half ago and have achieved almost everything on it except for one. When I look at it now and realize that, I marvel. Mine was all life stuff I wanted to achieve, but you could just as easily make one for goals like these. Just steer clear of adding magazine photos that have to do with appearance or "how you wish you looked" unless those images constitute health and vitality. Inspiring phrases and quotes are especially helpful. If a board seems like too big of a project, try cutting a notch in the top of a shoe box and dropping clippings or notes in it as you're inspired. I just read about the box idea yesterday. It doesn't matter how you go about it; the idea is that the physical act of doing it is your way of stating to the Universe that you believe your goals are going to happen. When you really believe it...they do. Uh-oh, I feel a blog post coming on. ;)

Maybe you have seemingly lofty goals of learning to love yourself more too but aren't quite sure how to get there or maybe even how to begin. This post isn't necessarily the answer for everybody, but it is me telling you what has proven to work in my life. When you speak something into existence, that's half the battle of getting there. And when you have something concrete and tangible ever-present to remind you of your goals, no matter what those goals are, you're 10 times more likely to actually achieve them. I just made up that statistic, but whatever. ;) Visualization works. I believe in it so strongly that I am using Hypnobirthing techniques, not just when I have our baby but all throughout the rest of my pregnancy. (If you're interested, the gist of it is removing the fear from labor, thereby removing tension, thereby removing pain, and using exercises that use powerful visualization.) I know I sound like I'm only one step away from becoming a motivational speaker for The Secret, but when something has worked so powerfully for me, I wanna share it with you!

I have blogged about making a vision board before, but our BFF Bon emailed me about an alternate that she feels fits her a little better than the traditional board: a vision box, as I mentioned in the above comment to Ashelle. (Here's the article about them, which I strongly suggest you look at!) Instead of cutting out pictures and phrases and gluing them to a board, you drop them in a box with the belief that they will happen. One major upside to the box is there's not as much preparation involved...who doesn't have a shoe box lying around somewhere? You don't even have to decorate it if you don't want to; you just put "Whatever is contained in this box—IS!" somewhere on it and drop things in as you're inspired by something. Personally, I prefer the board, but that's just me...there was something very cathartic about the whole process of gathering magazines and craft supplies, poring through them searching for just the right pictures and words, gluing them on and feeling the weight of their purpose, and then having something to look at anytime I want, which helps with the visualization. Try whichever option resonates with you more, or come up with your own variation. We made a party out of creating our vision boards and burned little pieces of paper with our fears written on them at the end, and wow, was it ever healing for me, not to mention, I GOT RESULTS!! And I mean right down to the details. I ended up wearing the exact wedding dress on my vision board - it was way too expensive new, but I was so bent on getting it, and it ended up falling into my lap via a sample sale for a much lower price just when I'd almost given up hope. The only major thing left to achieve on my board now is learning to play guitar; everything else has virtually been checked off. If I could "conjure up" achieving some pretty big ole life goals by believing in my board, why couldn't you do the very same thing with your goals toward loving yourself more?

By the way, Bon always sends me the best emails in the world; she's the one who got me hooked on "Notes from the Universe" and If you're not already a subscriber to these daily emails, oh, you HAVE to do it today!! My day is no longer complete without starting out with them. In that vein, another thing I seem to be leaving in comments on other blogs lately is my firm belief that gratefulness is the absolute #1 key to everything: it’s the key to being happier, more secure in yourself and your relationships, attracting more and more things in life to be grateful for, on and on and on. People who have a truly grateful heart and live that way have the ultimate secret to contentment and self-love. When gratefulness is really a lifestyle for you, something that becomes so much a part of you that you even do it unconsciously, it's pretty damn hard not to also live in a state of self-love. You're far too appreciative of what you have to dwell too long on hating yourself. (You still have off days, sure, but we're only human, after all.) So when you make your board or box, if you really want it to work, you have to go into it with a sense of gratefulness that you will achieve those believe it so strongly that you're already grateful for them happening even before they have! This is part of the original vision board post I wrote on gratefulness:

Another tip I'd like to share concerning resolutions is to change your phrasing. Instead of saying, "I resolve to..." or "I will no longer..." and the like (because we all know it almost always fizzles out eventually), try switching up your wording to something like, "I am so thankful that I..." This is basic law of attraction/The Secret type of stuff. But trust me, it really works! The key to getting anything you want out of life is first being grateful for what you already have. The more grateful you are, the more you open yourself up to receiving even more of what you want. If you thank God/the Universe/your own self that you have already accomplished whatever it is, even though you haven't, you're more likely to believe that it's possible and therefore end up doing it. Just try it!

And, finally, something else Bon has taught me (she's so incredible) that really helps me is a very simple exercise you can do anytime, anywhere. I mostly use it for stress release and fear/anxiety release. But the principle could easily be used for increasing your confidence and sense of self-worth. She just repeats the words "release and relax" to herself as she focuses on her breathing. I reverse the phrase and say "relax" as I inhale and "release" as I exhale; as I exhale, it feels like I am literally releasing the stress or fear. For self-love purposes, you could use this to calm your spiraling negative self-talk and release it away from your mind.  You could even change the words to something else that works for you. 

I hope some of these things will help all of you on your self-love quest! One more thing, since I'm kinda link-happy today...this is a must-read post over on "Looking in the Mirror": 

If you end up making a board or box or otherwise have suggestions for things that would help achieve the same results, we'd love to hear about 'em!