NO MAKE-UP WEEK SPECIAL

It’s Day Four of 7 DAYS OF GIVING, 7 DAYS OF BLOGGING! Join me in my efforts to raise money for the 2010 San Diego AIDS Run.
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Today, I’m honored to feature a special guest post for No Make-Up Week written by my beloved housemate & friend Ellie. I was curious to know what she thought about make-up because she started wearing it only recently– even more so because she studies Sociology and Anthropology & concentrates in topics like gender/sexuality. Ellie’s even done experiments during which she’s put make-up on her male partner & observed how people reacted in bars & at the gym. Ellie’s story of strength & exploring sexuality will speak for itself.

I started wearing make-up when I was twentyish. I am twenty-two now, so it’s still kind of new for me. Holding out for so long wasn’t easy, especially considering my man-hair during the first two years of college made me difficult to differentiate from a boy. I also have bee-sting boobies. And an affinity for ugly clothes. This means I pretty much looked lesbian on good days, and androgynously manly on bad ones. I’m not kidding. My lack of feminine indicators made me look so cross-sexual I made other women uncomfortable in changing rooms. I made my own mother uncomfortable in changing rooms.

I was lucky though, because my naturally gorgeous mother refused to buy cosmetics for my two sisters and me when we were adolescents. This forced us as teenagers to cultivate our inner beauty. You know, the real kind. I’m talking about things like integrity, wisdom, and selflessness. So while our peers emphasized outward appearances and focused on cosmetics, we learned to draw strength from within and pursue intellectual growth. That’s pretty much all you can do when you’re nineteen and a fourteen-year-old looks more “grown-up” than you. You grow. You grow stronger. You learn to derive your confidence from things more substantial than looks. Total disengagement from hegemonic norms builds character like that.

No Make-up Week is a great concept, and I love how this challenge is pushing women to re-examine their priorities– but seriously, try No Make-up Life. Now that’s praise-worthy.

For me, make-up is art therapy . I’m not saying this figuratively. I really go to art therapy once a week, and my (really cool) art therapist has pretty blonde hair and a tough attitude. She encourages me to have a daily creative outlet. Enter eyeshadow and painting brushes.

I go to art therapy because I’ve had art lessons since I was a kid. (My favorite medium is gouache. Holla at all the painters out there.) But mainly, I go to art therapy because I was sexually molested in high school for a couple of years. In my youthful ignorance and stupidity, I chose not to disclose this information to the majority of my family and friends, and tried to ignore/deny/ignore/ignore it into nonexistence. These things don’t just go away, however, and it wreaked havoc on my individual sexuality. I became so afraid of men and sex that I tried to make myself as unattractive as possible. I purposefully blurred the gender line by cutting my hair like a boy, dressing androgynously, and of course, not wearing make-up. I enjoyed downplaying my physical beauty. But things began to change when a crazy, stupid boy fell into my life. He thought I was pretty even though I was trying to be unappealing. Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Blind? Absolutely not.

This boy told me, “Natural is best!” I wholeheartedly agree! So I started growing out my hair and wearing chapstick. I was slowly warming up to being a female.

But then some more unfortunate things happened. I was raped repeatedly last summer, despite this crazy, stupid, loving boy’s efforts to stop the evil rapist. This, of course, wreaked havoc on my individual sexuality. The difference was that this time around, I started going to art therapy to confront my problems and find solutions.

Instead of kowtowing to male desires by hiding my sexuality, I decided to stand tall and meet them head-on. I curled my hair and fashioned them in elaborate designs. I wore clothes with frills. I used mascara and blush. I learned to love myself as a woman. See, sexuality and body image is a different battle for many rape survivors, and for those like me, we have to work towards it rather than step away from it. No Make-up Week is too easy for victims like us. What I’m working towards and the role that make-up plays in my narrative is almost converse to the majority of females.

My take on make-up is complicated. It can be a tool for strength, and an agent of power, but don’t kid yourself and use these excuses unless it’s really true. Bottom line: Teenagers and young women need to learn to forgo make-up and draw their confidence from something other than outward appearances. Girls who don’t feel good about themselves seek affirmation from others, and that, unfortunately, almost always empowers male desire, and leaves girls susceptible to flattery, to manipulation, even to abuse.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the great crusader for the rights of women, reminded us that women are independent, rational actors rather than decorative objects tied to the whims and fortunes of men, “God has given you minds, dear girls, as well as bodies.”

So, ladies, use your minds.

If you missed it, check out my own No Make-Up Week post here– partly inspired by Ellie’s story of self-discovery & sexuality.

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I am not my hair. : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

The first time I chopped off all (well, most) of my hair, I was 13.

That weekend, I was going to dress up as Tokyo Babylon Sumeragi Subaru, a CLAMP character– for my first comic convention. (Incidentally, Subaru means Pleiades in Japanese, ahem…)

It was the first time I got my hair cut by someone other than my mom, with whose skills I had been less than satisfied as of late. I handed the lady at SuperCuts a print-out of a manga scan of Subaru and his twin sister, Hokuto, and she told me she couldn’t use it– it was a “comic book character, for deity’s sake!” She would not give me the faux-sideburns that the character required– instead, she proceeded to hack off everything into something much less cool than a bowl cut.

I looked like a boy. (Wasn’t that the goal, anyway?) No matter. I was mortified. I had Chinese school in an hour. Could I get by with wearing a hat?

And more than just feeling mortified, I was incredibly depressed every time I looked in the mirror. I felt terrible about the loss of my hair. At least before I had my hair cut, I didn’t look too bad.

Worse, being that it was middle school (the new version of high school in terms of being the epitome of peer pressure and meanness– kids start to mature so much earlier these days!), I became the brunt of bullying.

Not just being teased that I looked like a guy (and dressed like one already, too). Instead, I was “worse”– I was “a lesbian”, they jeered, staring at me and my hair with disdain, treating me like something absolutely grotesque.

For the rest of 8th grade I was ridiculed for looking “not straight”. I didn’t understand; why could the girls with makeup and long hair slap each other’s butts, laughing, and hug each other tight… but if I hugged my best friend, people would look at me as if I were not just weird but disgusting? Because I didn’t wear cute clothes or “look” like a girl?

I had serious gender identity crises. Why did I see a cute guy that I might even be attracted to, when I looked in the mirror? Why, if I tried to see myself as female, I thought I was ugly?

After a while, though, I became comfortable with my short-haired self, even reveled in the fact that I didn’t look like everyone else– but eventually decided to grow out my hair, citing a goal to grow enough hair to donate to Locks of Love, and the fact that I had never really grown out my hair past a certain length.

The second time I chopped off all my hair was the year I turned 18. I felt like I had to reclaim a part of myself somehow before I teetered towards the first number of “adulthood”– I was heart and stomach deep within an eating disorder, a different kind of depression I didn’t understand, a sort of quiet numbness that made me feel hollow– I felt like having short hair again was like coming back to myself, to the self that actually knew how to feel once upon a time, knew how to cry bucketloads instead of being a stone. Anything better than the soul-paralyzed anesthetic I constantly felt then.

So I took a pair of scissors (I never trusted SuperCuts again…) and chopped off my hair. Unevenly and unperfectly, but I did it.

I also dyed my hair black, the last time I ever dyed my hair, and the first time my hair was its “natural” color in 7 years. (I had dyed my hair at least once or twice per year ever since I was 11, convinced that black was just “so boring!”)

And I felt like I transformed somehow. I felt like I returned to my real self a little bit. But I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish. I don’t know if I saw it as a panacea for all my problems at the time. It was still a symbolic action for me, though. Something changed.

And then I grew out my hair again. I wanted to dress up as Tifa Lockhart with my natural hair at least once in my life, and I still wanted to see how long I could grow it out.

Recently, though, I’ve gotten a little sick of having so much hair. I love my hair, surely, but it becomes a burden when I run, it rarely behaves, and it always seems to get in the way. Even after my first haircut this month, after I showered, the generic style I got didn’t want to replicate itself again without the prodigious amount of products the hairdresser had piled on at the salon.

So I decided offhandedly that I wanted to go back to short hair. I really did feel different when I had short hair. Like it was a way of being true to myself, to the way I saw myself inside, within my spirit.

But this time, after I got it cut, I didn’t feel too different as I stared at myself in the mirror, waiting for my sister’s hair to be done as well. I do feel a little more satisfied with my hair (no more bangs in my eyes and excessive amount of hair left everywhere I go!), and that short hair suits me better and expresses my inner self more– but I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much.

I don’t feel like just because I look different physically, my internal feelings will change, too. Not anymore.

That’s my milestone. How I look on the outside doesn’t affect my inside anymore.

And it’s not just hair. But my body– my nose, my lips, my eyes, my legs, my arms, my hips, my stomach, or how well I fit my bras.

As long as I’m healthy, as long as I’m happy… on the inside.

And that realization, cemented in my heart, brings me more happiness than any physical change ever could.

(I can’t wait to shave my head in a couple years, too. Originally it was scheduled for my 30th birthday, but I figure why not sooner than later?)

Thank you India.Arie for the title… I was stumped for a moment 😉

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promise yourself to be strong : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

(Click to see a larger version!)

I happened upon this little notebook in Shanghai one day, and I have to say it was lucky… I’m glad I can have this and carry it around with me, even if most of the time I’ve taken it for granted that the message’s there.

Promise
yourself to be strong that
nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

look at the sunny side of everything

and make your optimism come true
Think only of the best
Work only for the best and expect

only the best. Forget the mistakes of

the past and press on the greater
achievements of the future

[edit, December 2010] I discovered the text on this random notebook is actually a quote by Christian D. Larson! It continues as such: Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side as long as you are true to the best that is in you! [/edit]

Speaking of which… another reminder to myself, from February 10th, 2009…

Life is hard. Life is so, so hard sometimes.

You can be on the edge of dying. Not dying physically, necessarily, but in spirit. You could be simply losing your will to live. Your will to stay alive one more second. Your will to wake up. And be conscious when the world keeps on going, when time passes.

Life can be so hard it tears you apart. It makes you fall apart. It rips you up.

But that’s why you keep putting one foot in front of each other. That’s why you learn to get up, even when both your legs are broken or missing or gone and you just. don’t. want. to. go. any. further.

It’s okay to want to give up. And it’s okay to feel like giving up. It’s okay to realize that, whatever you’re doing at this moment that’s making you feel such despair, maybe it’s just not what you need right now. And it’s okay to admit that.

Whatever you feel.. whether it be weak, or simply too tired… it’s okay.

But you ARE enough. And you will ALWAYS be enough. And even if you feel disappointed in yourself.. it’s past. Right now is right now. You can recreate your life starting this very moment.

Remember what she said? Remember what she told you?

No matter what.

Yet, you live on.

Despite anything.

You don’t just stop living.

So don’t hide. Don’t hide from the world. Don’t run away from consciousness.

When you don’t know if you’re about to fall apart or not.. let yourself unravel. Fall for as long as you need to. If you don’t let it pour from your heart, you’ll never be able to let it go.

People can say a million things. Other people can believe in you so much. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t even do so yourself.

If you don’t believe in yourself, you cease to exist. To yourself and to the world. You can’t think you exist, you can’t think you’re living, if you don’t believe.

So believe. And dare. Dare to do something different today. Dare to love yourself. Dare to run outside, no matter the weather, and realize: I’m alive.

Dare to say, I deserve to take care of myself.

And do so accordingly.

*

Funny thing, this part–
Remember what she said? Remember what she told you?
No matter what.

Yet, you live on.


Who is she, you wonder?

Me again… aha.

And what she– er, I– meant was…

No matter what happens, wonderful, terrible… Yet… we live on. We still continue living. Our lives keep on going, keep on moving whether we like it or not. So might as well hitch a ride and relish in the new journey, painful or pleasant.

Keep on loving. Keep on living. Because regardless of whatever happened in the past, life is still happening. You can’t avoid it, but you can choose to press on.

Keep on learning to love yourself, take care of yourself… because no matter how hard it is, nobody can do it but you.

I’m here for you.

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how to hang in there when things get tough

Note: I originally wrote/compiled this Hang in There/Never Give Up/Keep Pressing On/Stitching Back Together a Broken Heart kit– a collection of inspiring, uplifting, and motivating quotes, poems, songs, etc.– in September 2008 after moving to San Diego for the first time… and to be blunt, I was beyond miserable for every throbbing painful minute of the first six months. Since then, whenever I’m having a hard time, I look back here and grasp onto what I have left, knowing I literally can’t give up.

I hope this kit brings you solace and light in your own times of need.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

“We will all come to the point in our life where we have to admit that we feel defeated, that something has conquered us. We must change, not because we want to, but because we desperately have to. We can not take life in its current suffocating state, even to admit such desperation shows that we are feeling deserted, wandering the barren desert, a shell of our former selves. It is only up from here, it is impossible to sink any lower into ourselves or our circumstances. But we can be salvaged, a deliverance. No vice can stand, no fix can take. The thorn in the side can be removed, but you have to be willing to admit and surrender. Surrender your habits, your lifestyle, your past, your present, and your future. This is your new surrender. The new surrender.”

-S. Christian

Hope never goes out of style.
-Nami♥

*

This is my personal toolbox, kit, whatever you’d like to call it, for “hanging in there”. Hopefully I don’t forget about this post, thus defeating the purpose.. but if you’re in need of some hope or good cheer or just something to keep you going.. hopefully this will help.

First, my favorite prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom always to know the difference.

*

“What is to give light must endure burning.”
-Viktor Frankl

Affirmations: Great to just affirm yourself of your own self-worth– whether you’re battling an addiction or just having a rough time.

*

“It is the Law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, no matter what they are, must be exactly what you need most at the moment, to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”
-Emmet Fox

Song Rec: Simon by Lifehouse (just the song and lyrics, not an MV)
You’re alright, you’re alright, you’re alright…

*

Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen (HIGHLY recommended for anyone to watch!)
Brother and sister together we’ll make it through,
Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know that you’re hurting but I’ve been waiting to be there for you

and I’ll be there just helping you out whenever I can…

“People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.
-Ramona L. Anderson

“I remembered reading about people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. One of them who survived said: I realized in the seconds after I jumped off the bridge that everything in my life I thought was unworkable was really workable– except for the fact that I’d just jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.”
-Geneen Roth

*

Some lists of to-do’s or instructions for life… and some reminders to keep on going.

Simple Instructions for Life by the Dalai Lama

Live. And Live Well… by Kyle Lake. (Rest in peace.)

“Do not fear death… only the unlived life.
You don’t have to live forever.

You just have to live.”

-Tuck Everlasting

Write a Time-Traveling Reminder to your Future Self

Promise Yourself to Be Strong

*

Read some uplifting poetry on life to brighten your day!

No, seriously.

DO IT! You won’t regret it 🙂

*

Videos that are just simply funny, and thus cheer me up. Maybe they will have the same positive effect on you?

Korean History Channel and Korean History Channel: Cultural Affairs: I love these. JAPANESE DINOSAUR NEVER SAY SORRY!!!

Hi, I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC: Iron Man and Batman #4: Poking fun regarding The Dark Knight.

*

And the original idea behind this post entirely was because I heard “The Unwinding Cable Car” and wanted to make a mix for just “not giving up”.

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

o1. You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) – Josh Groban (not an MV, just listen to the song! the actual MV is touching though)

Don’t give up
It’s just the weight of the world

When your heart’s heavy I
I will lift it for you

Don’t give up
Because you want to be heard
If silence keeps you I

I will break it for you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you

Everybody wants to be loved
Don’t give up

Because you are loved

Don’t give up
It’s just the hurt that you hide

When you’re lost inside I
I’ll be there to find you

Don’t give up
Because you want to burn bright

If darkness blinds you I
I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you

Everybody needs to be loved
Don’t give up

Because…you are loved

Don’t give up
It’s just the weight of the world

Don’t give up
Everyone needs to be loved

You are loved

o2. Broken – Lifehouse

o3. Don’t Give Up – The Whitest Boy Alive

Give me a reason to stay constantly ignored
Give me an angle that I haven’t tried before
A guarantee for being honestly compared

You want to live when life is achingly unfair

Don’t make a move you’ll look ridiculous again
You share no interest but it’s easy to pretend
Don’t start the action it will turn against you soon

No one is going to follow and you’ll stand there like a fool

You left the people when the people left you out
Back in the suburbs you’re craving for the crowd
Only minded now with defeats of yesterday

The mantra spinning in your head will keep it raised

Give me a reason to stay constantly ignored.
(I don’t think I can)

Give me an angle that I haven’t tried before.
(Not from where I stand)

A guarantee for being honestly compared
(Could not be found)

You want to live when life is achingly unfair
(Stick around)

Don’t give up
Don’t give up
Don’t give up

o4. Learning to Breathe – Switchfoot (No MV, but the video has lyrics!)

Hello, good morning, how ya do?
What makes your rising sun so new?
I could use a fresh beginning too

All of my regrets are nothing new

So this is the way
that I say that I need You
This is the way

This is the way

That I’m learning to breathe
I’m learning to crawl
I’m finding that You and
You alone can break my fall
I’m living again, awake and alive

I’m dying to breathe in these abundant skies

Hello, good morning, how ya been?
Yesterday left my head kicked in

I never thought I could fall like that
Never knew that I could hurt this bad

I’m learning to breathe
I’m learning to crawl
I’m finding that You and
You alone can break my fall
I’m living again, awake and alive

I’m dying to breathe in these abundant skies

So this is the way
that I say that I need You
This is the way
That I say I love You
This is the way
That I say I’m Yours
This is the way

This is the way

o5. The Unwinding Cable Car – Anberlin

o6. Si Nian Shi Yi Zhong Bing (Longing is a Kind of Disease) – Zhang Zhen Yue

o7. Yu Zhi Xing Fu (Anticipating Happiness) – Guan Wei Jia

o8. Don’t Give Up – Ceng Guo Hui

o9. Feng Er Dai Zhe Wo Men Piao (The Wind Takes Us Floating Along) – Peng Tan (This is a favorite of mine. It used to sound depressing to me, despite the carefree lyrics, but now I experience it for what it is. I also wasn’t aware of the video until searching for it, and it’s pretty awesome too!)

*

EDIT 112108.

I can’t believe I forgot one of the happiest songs ever!

Mei Li Xin Shi Jie (Beautiful New World) – S.H.E

Translation forthcoming, I love this song!

And a neon sign for hope?

EDIT 121408.

Some more happy songs!

A Praise Chorus – Jimmy Eat World

Today Will Be Better, I Swear! – Stars

EDIT 021509.

I randomly remembered my favorite happy song from childhood. I still love it and the video (and Celine!).

That’s the Way It Is – Celine Dion

*

EDIT 052809.

A melancholy-sounding but ultimately uplifting song about not giving up. Everything will be fine. Details in the Fabric – Jason Mraz feat. James Morrison

And also, the beginning lyrics of Eminem’s Till I Collapse, which are also quite darn inspiring:

Sometimes you just feel tired.
You feel weak.
And when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of you, and get that motivation to

not give up, and not be a quitter,

no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

*

EDIT 062909.

How did I not include this before? A favorite quote from Zidane from Final Fantasy IX…

And through our memories, future generations will see that we can overcome any fear! …We can’t give up now. …We have to fight together. Even if we lose, it doesn’t matter… Our memories will live on inside others. So, even if we are born to die, I’m not afraid.

I’m gonna live!

EDIT 063009.

Of course.. Defying Gravity (by Kerry Ellis) from Wicked!

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts

Close my eyes: and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity

And you can’t pull me down!

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cuz someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity

And you can’t pull me down

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was

Is ever gonna bring me down!

EDIT 022611.

I haven’t added anything to this kit in a while, but this video might brighten your day:

I might update this post periodically. Until then, I hope you enjoy.

Keep your chin up, and NEVER give up on yourself. ♥

write a time-traveling reminder to your future self : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

I’ve been writing and writing and writing and I encountered a note to my year-later self in my journal, a few pages before I began to run out of pages completely:

This was where the bookmark was when I first bought this journal on 3.16.09.
Right now I am writing on 3.18.09 in the middle of the night. I know not when
you will read this but I pray it finds you in
good spirits, in a time of your life when

every moment is filled with exquisite
love and simple enjoyment for

simply being alive

. Hopefully that

describes every moment, really.
For real. All I have to say

is love yourself, let go,
stay in the present,
breathe, conquer
your fears, move on
from the past,

release yourself

from guilt,

love, pray,

and live.
have a beautiful day, my lovely.

Reminds me of the Never Give Up/Be Strong/Keep Pressing On “toolkit”– uplifting and life-changing quotes, videos, songs, etc.– I compiled when I had sunk down into the deepest emotional abyss I’d ever experienced.

(It actually wasn’t called the Never Give Up toolkit– it didn’t have a name– the title was simply: Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.)

I’ll be posting it here soon, along with several other entries that have been wafting around in my head but haven’t seemed to want to take the leap from mind to memory 😉

(Edit: Here it is! The Never Give Up/Be Strong/Keep Pressing On kit!)

       
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“Maybe, the people who do bad things… maybe they’re just lonely.” : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

I woke up yesterday morning, I had to be somewhere in half an hour, and instead of rushing as I would have otherwise, I just stopped. I stopped and sat, and something stirred within my chest and I started to cry.

Because I woke up with this song (from a Shaman King clip) in my head, and the same feelings that I had while writing the very first entry of this journal came back. Once again, upon waking.

Loneliness, loneliness, loneliness.

Loneliness, this deep sadness after the ending of almost every story I love because each of those stories (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Shaman King…) is about lonely people. Lonely people who find each other and maybe eventually leave each other. Lonely people who’ve been alone their whole lives and finally find friends. I love each character, empathize with them, relate to their solitary and lonely life. I feel as if I’m one of them, too– another lonely person who just wants friends, and finds them somehow in this other world. As if every character were truly my friend, the kind of friend and companion I’ve yet to encounter in real life. But at the end of the story, when the unreal world disappears, I’m the one alone. Of course… it’s only a “story”.

Ryu, the character from Shaman King who sings that song, spends his whole life searching for companions, for his “best place”– the place that he belongs. After he meets Yoh, he’s found it. He’s found his best place– through companionship, through friendship.

When I was thirteen I told everyone my biggest fear was being alone. But I was wrong: I’m actually okay with being alone. In fact, I love solitude, relish in it– perhaps even more so than most people. But loneliness is a completely separate being from solitude.

We can all be in the middle of, not just a crowd but people we know, even love and care about, and still feel lonely.

I know I am blessed; I am so thankful. There are amazing people in my life and I know it. And I’ve been fortunate enough to find and be with a great partner, too.

But I still yearn for that sense of companionship. It’s not even that I need it… I’m content with what I have. I really am.

But because of that, I understand lonely people. Because even though I’m not alonenone of us are; we are all interconnected, interdependent– I feel lonely. All the time.

(And I realize I don’t talk much about weakness– especially not my weakness. I try not to show it, to admit it. I’ve been eating out of stress lately and I didn’t even want to admit I was stressed… and still don’t. I don’t feel that stressed. But I do feel … a little tense, a little nervous… I’m aware that I’m using food to comfort and medicate myself, and I’ve made the choice to do so. I still refuse to be unconscious.)

Not everyone understands why I want to love everyone in the world. Truly love each individual being. I might not like them, even. But I want to love them, to wish them happiness, to help them out in times of need. I want to love him and her and you.

In fact, I’ve had the epiphany lately that not many people understand why I would want to love every being on earth at all.

Maybe… the people who do bad things… maybe, they’re just lonely.” Said the ghost of a murdered girl at the end of Tokyo Babylon.

And I believe it. God, do I believe it.

Nobody is bad. Nobody is unworthy of love. “The people who deserve love least… need it the most.” (Heart Warmers)

Think about it.

I truly believe there is no such thing in this world as a “bad person”.

There is no good or bad. In the end: “The only true justice is love.” (Quoth Marco from Shaman King.)

That’s why I love Shaman King so much. It’s a story of a group of loving and naive shamans– who are really just kids– trying to defeat a man who, over the course of a whole millenium, spends three lives (two reincarnated) murdering and trying to exterminate the world of all humans. He hurts and kills so many, robs countless families of their fathers and mothers… yet in the end, it’s only because he is the one lonely and utterly alone, and it was humans who killed the only loved one he had.

Even those who do bad things have their reasons, their broken hearts. Their anger, their sadness. Their loneliness that may have no end to its depths.

Nothing can excuse their actions, but what if.

If we stopped to be more understanding and loving towards those we are quick to label “bad people” instead of creating more hatred… how might our world change?

If we forgave those who did us wrong, and set them and ourselves free from anguish, from the lingering pain of bitterness and resentment… imagine how different our lives would be. How free we would be. If we forgave ourselves.

If we realized that every rude and inconsiderate person we come across might be suffering from something terrible in their lives. If every customer that was impatient and annoying was in a hurry to go to the hospital for their loved one. (I learned this from customer service training at my second job as a hardware store cashier. Thanks, hardware store, for inculcating me with a lifetime start towards customer/client/human satisfaction.)

If we paused and tried to understand people who hurt us instead of reaching for pettiness and revenge.

If we stopped to consider that lashing back at and trying to hurt someone– who might be acting out of pain to begin with– just creates more animosity, hate breeding hate.

Forgiveness heals. Love always heals.

That’s why I try to love, trust, and forgive as many people as my heart can take. I’m human… but I can at least try my best.

I’m not telling you you should, too.

But the world, each individual in it– can always use a little bit more understanding. So turn the other cheek… at least sometimes. Reach out to the bully who’s acting out once in a while.

Behind every horrendous action lies a human who, too, has a heart.

Remember that.

read more:

  1. the man who didn’t believe in love.

 

         
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This is me. The cellulite on my thighs, the stretchmarks on my hips. : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

Hi.

I’m me.

I’m 5′ 5″, or 165 centimeters. I was, and still am, too short to model, though once upon a time I actually had such a desire. (Nowadays I’m on the other side of the camera, capturing the beauty of others instead.)

I haven’t weighed myself since summer 2007. I don’t even remember how much I weighed back then. Frankly, I don’t care.

I used to cut off the size labels on most of the clothing I wear, but I still remember them. One of my strapless dresses is size large. And a year after I got it and cut off the tag, I really don’t care at all. It’s a versatile dress and the straplessness suits my shoulders well.

I have short legs and wide hips. I love my hips. I am bottom-heavy.

I have stretchmarks and cellulite on my thighs and hips. I have stretchmarks and cellulite on my arms, and my arms are soft and padded. My cellulite is proof that I am woman; I would never want to hide it. I am soft all over; My softness is my womanhood.

I have deep creases in my stomach where my tummy divides into rolls.

I have broad, broad shoulders.

I never shave… anything. My armpits only recently started growing thick, curly hair. My legs have been hairy for years. They’re also covered with scars from mosquito bites.

I have a dent in my jaw from a fall last summer. I have a pimple scar between my eyes. I have an overbite.

I never wear makeup. I wore more makeup when I was 10, trying too hard to grow up, than I do now.

I went to eat dumplings over the summer, and my parents’ friend asked if I liked to eat them frequently. The answer was yes; and her response was “No wonder she’s so fat.” I shrugged it off and laughed and didn’t care at all, and kept on eating those delicious dumplings.

This is me.

I know I am beautiful, and I love myself.

This is me. The cellulite on my thighs, the stretchmarks on my hips.

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water YOU doing about water? how to conserve water, save money, & sustain the earth! : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

(Click here to read the facts about bottled water.)

Only 0.37% of the Earth’s water is drinkable.
We ALL need water to live.

California’s not the only place with a water crisis (Northern California provides much of the state’s water, but Southern California uses most of it)– the world is battling with a water (and energy) crisis (whether you believe in global warming or not, we’re depleting our resources much more rapidly than we are replacing them).

The United States is one of many countries blessed with clean drinking water (aka tap water) yet we spend billions of dollars on bottled water (the quality of which is often worse than tap water, since it’s not regulated– apparent if you’ve ever drunk Arrowhead). Each bottle of water we buy is not only costly to our wallets but to our environment (and also to our health– there are various toxins in all kinds of plastics, which is why even using a plastic reusable bottle is not as advised). Click here to watch the Story of Bottled Water.

And that’s not all. Many day-to-day activities use much more water than most people think.

Each time we…

  • flush a toilet, we use 5 gallons of water. It might seem disgusting to some of you, but “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”– if you own your own place, seriously consider only flushing when absolutely necessary, or flushing with excess tubs of water. It really isn’t required to flush every single time, especially if you drink a lot of water and honestly have to go to the bathroom a lot. (Like me.)
  • take a bath or shower, we use 40-50 gallons. Turn the water off when you’re shaving or sudsing up! Take shorter showers.
  • run the dishwasher, we use 15 gallons. Wash only full loads, or, better yet, wash by hand (saves 5 gallons, but still uses 10 each time). Wash first and then rinse all your dishes at once.
  • do a load of laundry, we use 30 gallons. It’s best to only do full loads of laundry once or twice a week instead of every day. (I never even knew people did laundry every day until recently!) There are many energy-efficient laundry machines available, too, and most detergents are extra strength, so only half or less of a cup will clean a large load!

    And unrelated to water but very much related to energy (and ultimately the Earth) as a whole, if you want to save energy, drying your clothes on a clothesline saves a LOT of energy! You don’t need a house or even a backyard to do it!

  • wash the car, we use 50 gallons. Not only that, but the toxic chemicals we use to wash our cars drains out into rivers and the oceans and act as pollutants. Even if it seems “cheaper”, there is an enormous cost to the environment. Actually getting a professional car wash actually helps save water; they’re required to recycle the water, and they also don’t dump into the drain that ends up in the clean water that we need to play and drink.
  • water the lawn, we use 300 gallons. Three hundred!! Not just a movie, if we water the lawn EVERY DAY we’re using 300 gallons on that alone! And the sad thing is, grass isn’t indigenous to many areas, thus we have to use more resources to conserve it. Like sprinkling water all over the sidewalk to water the tiny strip of grass that serves as decoration on roads and the islands in the middle of them.

    (One big criticism of San Diego is that it’s naturally a desert climate yet the city uses gallons of water merely to be decorative, soaking mostly concrete in the process.)

What are some more ways to save water?

  • Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. What’s the point of all that water running anyway? It’s not making your teeth any cleaner, that’s for sure.
  • Use a reusable water bottle. This alone saves you countless dollars while helping the environment.
  • Recycle. This is too big a topic to express in one bullet point, but do recycle water bottles, if you must buy them!
  • Fix leaky pipes as soon as possible, and turn off dripping faucets. Just one drop every few seconds costs a lot after only a day– both to you and the environment.
  • Save the water you use when washing food or taking a shower (or bath!), and use it to water your plants or flush the toilet!

What are you doing
to help conserve water?

If you want to help others save water (and sustain the Earth) too, please link, email, bookmark, share, and tweet this post.

Thank you, always. (And the Earth thanks you, too!) ♥

Thank you University of California San Diego/Scripps Institute of Oceanography Professor Driscoll (SIO35: Water) for the number of gallons of water per activity chart.

read more:

  1. the easiest steps you can take towards a plastic-free life

 

         
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5 reasons to read cynosure

  1. “You see, I met you while looking for some magic recipes about how to love myself in a better way: got my heart cracked open due to breaking up with the love of my life, and I was lost, trying to heal my wounds and move on.

    So I found you, Sui. And I say, you kind of changed my life.

    I will always be thankful for that.

    Everything you write is like a thousand bells ringing into my soul.”

    Sabrina Lanzoni Gonçalves

  2. “Sui inspires me to love myself the way I am.”

    Beth Terry, Plastic-Free Crusader at MyPlasticFreeLife.com

  3. “Talking with Sui is like having someone passing you down a rope and shouting encouragement when you’re trying to scramble out of that dark abyss we sometimes fall into.”

    Amelia J. Wells, Activist at ThatFuckingHippy.info

  4. “Sui, reading your posts connects me more deeply to my inner self. Thank you.”

    Kirsten Ogden

  5. “Your posts always read like poetry to me.”

    Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, Associate Editor at Psych Central & Blogger at Weightless

Want to read more cool things people have said? Click here.

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we all survive. we all heal. : cynosure : love + inspiration by sui solitaire

winter, maybe.

do you ever feel like you don’t know why you’re alive? sometimes that it wouldn’t matter if you were dead or not. a second ago you had passion for everything in existence, but now the flickers have whistled away. apathy is worse than sadness, in my opinion. anesthesia is the real depression, indifference the true disease. wishing you can’t feel pain doesn’t make pain go away, it just makes you numb to all– happiness and joy included.

when I experience a moment like this, sometimes the first thing I think is: I was supposed to be over all of this by now. I was supposed to have “healed” from whatever wispy grey of fog (or pollution?) clouded my heart once upon a time. I’m “supposed” to be happy. but that’s what I forget, that none of us really “should” be anything but ourselves. that the only thing we “should” do is let ourselves be.

when I forget why I’m still here, I force myself to remember: I’m here because of love. for love. to love.

I want to save the world. this bold statement in milder form: I want to help people. but I can’t solve every problem in the world, and though I wish I could sometimes, it just isn’t realistic.

how can I take on this task I’ve committed myself to, when I can be so scared? when I’m sometimes too afraid to call a loved one I haven’t spoken to in weeks, then forget to take responsibility when I wonder why we’ve drifted apart? when I want to speak to random people I see every day or once in a lifetime, but out of fear, chicken out and don’t?

but I have plans. I will break out. I will do what terrifies me. I am so grounded in this quicksand of comfort right now. and comfort is dangerous; it promises, of course, that we will stay safe. that it will be less likely for us to get hurt.

it also promises that we will stay in the same place for as long as we stay within the small cage we’ve built for ourselves. sure, we have some minimal room to walk around, but we’ve fenced ourselves in. it promises that it will be much more difficult to change, change for the better.

I will (re)learn how to talk to people, in real life. I will put myself in situations where I am not guaranteed immediate acceptance and lack of challenge, spoon-fed to me from people with whom I’m already quite familiar. I want to meet new people and love them in new ways.

we can discover kindred spirits, kind souls, lovers, family in those individuals least expected, each curious face we pass by as we go through our day. after all, weren’t our best friends strangers as well, once upon a time?

…in reality, we were never strangers. in our cores, we are not strangers at all– we are each a part of the bigger something that encompasses everything. we are individuals, but we are not separate. we might not always get along, but we are not as different as we think.

let’s stop fighting and hurting each other because we don’t always understand. embrace our differences and discover our similarities. accept and love ourselves and each other. talk to the person we see eating alone. recycle and respect the earth, because we all need this space to survive. step out of our usual circle and befriend unusually. give and love freely. open our hearts, our minds.

let’s stretch ourselves.

there are no limits.

read more:

  1. the answer is YES.
  2. the scariest things
  3. promise yourself to be strong

 

My work is entirely reader-supported.
Thank you for helping spread the word.

         

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