Scar Tissue

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Skirt: Nordstrom Rack, Top: Thrift find, Beaded Necklace: Thrift find, Silver Necklace: Hobby Lobby, Shawl: Thrift find, Sandals: Old Navy, Sunnies: Urban Outfitters, Scrunchy: American Appera, Lipstick: MAC

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Shorts: Urban Outfitters, Lace Tank: Thrift find, Shawl: F21, Necklace: Thrift find, Shoes: Thrift find, Fur: Vintage, Sunnies: Marcellas Boutique Denver

   My recovery process has seemingly been going very smooth. It’s like I’ve finally taken the steps to fall in love with myself once again. I’ve started speaking my mind when I usually would stay silent. I think my trauma did that to me. It slaughtered my voice and I’m barely finding it.

   My friend Hope from back home in El Paso came to visit and don’t take me wrong it was lovely seeing her and showing off this wonderful city I live in to her but a lot came up for me during her visit. First, I realized how far I’ve come since the 16 year old mess I once was. Seemed like some of my old friends are still trapped in the vicious cycle of excess, filled with substance abuse, late night puking, and the morning after’s that come with nothing but regret and shame. I no longer experience that in that aspect. Perhaps it’s my eating disorder that is still a roller coaster but right now it’s on its way up and I’m doing everything in my power to keep it on that upward flow. I’m so sick of playing the victim because I’m not. I’m a survivor. I’ve come to far. Now that death isn’t a viable option my only choice is to keep fighting and moving forward. It’s intimidating to know I have a future ahead of me. It’s frightening that I will soon be independent and steering the wheel the best way I find suiting.

   Lately, I’ve been taking up this practice of doing some asanas in the sanctuary room of our house completely naked. It sounds bizarre but the longer I actually acknowledge and thank my body for all it allows me to do the closer I am to obtaining self-love. I mean yoga is the journey to the self, through the self. On this journey I’m able to see my capacities, my strength, my ability to find the right stance to achieve balance on and off the mat. The more comfortable and used to being naked takes me back to being a newborn child, clueless as to what it means to inhabit a body, a body that establishes your place in the world. It seems silly that I’m almost 22 years old and barely coming in touch with that notion. But it’s always better than never.

   I feel myself on the right track. Like I have everything in order to proceed on to the next chapter and no matter how intense my anxieties are over flipping the page I can’t help but be elated that something brilliant is in stock for me if I don’t let myself collapse. I do fall. There are days when I just feel its equally exhausting to fight for a healthy life and to just sit around and give in to the demands of your decade long unhealthy behaviors but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no turning back.

   Not to mention I’ve been having really positive body image days from time to time which make dressing and going out even more of a joy. Not just dressing and going out but I’ve finally been able to get intimate with complete loss of inhibitions and constraining thoughts of, “O shit my body is gross therefore this person wanting to see me bare is gross.” Pause, freeze. I can’t do this.” That didn’t run through my head. Progress right. Sorry I just feel the need to keep tabs so I don’t forget on those dark ominous days that I am going forward.

   For this photo shoot I stilled myself in a neutral color palette of beige, tan, baby pink, and black. It was an easy to throw together outfit that just came at me as I went through my piles of clothes. For some reason my styling is merely intuitive. Hardly ever do I go on to see what other designers are bringing to the table. I have good intuition when it comes to clothes and I don’t abide by the rules of what’s in and what’s not. My styling world is mine and mine only. My outfit is soft but rough around the edges. I like that you can see the battle scars on my legs. It reminds me of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Scar Tissue. Especially that line by Anthony Keidis, “I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl.” I know he’s referencing his addiction to heroin but to me that encompasses the power that my eating disorder has over me. The thing is I don’t want to crawl to the moon any longer. I want that fresh start the band got with their new guitarist and shift to a more melodic sound. It was like a reset for Anthony and it resonates with me. With the birds I WON’T share a lonely view. I have so many supporters to watch it with me. This ensemble captures the extremes of my battle. Everything seeming black or a color lacking saturation. I feel the small dark components of the outfit really capture my evolution into self-transcendence. I’m not longer walking around with a black and white mentality. I’m assuming colors will create a balance.

   For Suzy’s outfit I went in the polar opposite direction. It was an abundance of loud, bright colors and textures that just screamed excess. I’ve been reading a lot of Bret Easton Ellis novels and the concept of excess has stuck. Suzy’s outfit isn’t something I normally wouldn’t wear but she insisted on adding pieces like a fur scarf and a fake tattoo sleeve. I’d say her outfit was a tad over the top but we live in a society of excess and it seemed to work for me at the time for her to just rejoice in dressing it up as much as she pleased.

   I mean as much as I want this project to be an archive of my own styling choices I always value and agree to suggestions. I have no ideal destination so the road is ours and we can use it as vastly as we find suited. It makes the creative process so much more interesting and fun when you have a collaboration of ideals. I guess that’s especially true these days when I’m on a more minimalist styling train.

   Suzy doesn’t want to write an excerpt on her experience because she feels we need to talk more about the project and she felt the photo shoots were quick. This has never posed a problem for other participants in my project but I shall respect her request and instead just share our creations.

“Soft spoken with a broken jaw
Step outside but not to brawl
Autumn’s sweet we call it fall
I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl and
With the birds I’ll share
This lonely view…”

-Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Remember be kind to yourself. Embrace your insecurities they are part of the beauty that makes you who you are and you are beauty, you are soul, you are love. Channel that into the world and a more fulfilling glass of water is what you’ll be sipping on”

-Juanna Gutiettez

 

 

Outside the Box

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Skirt: Burlington Coat Factory, Bandeau: Thrift find, Necklaces: Thrift finds, Earrings: Jewelry Box, Lipstick: MAC

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Skirt: F21, Bandeau: Urban Outfitters, Vest: Urban Outfitters, Flower Crown: Self-made, Sunnies: Marcella’s Boutique Denver, Lipstick: MAC

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Button-Up: Thrift find, Lace Undershorts: American Apparel, Fedora: Thrift find, Necklace: F21, Lipstick: MAC

 

   So my roommate Bear is back from her trip to Boston and I couldn’t be happier because she really is a reminder of why I’m fighting so hard for recovery. Amongst many reasons, a vital one was so we could aid each other on our recovery journey. I can’t imagine having come this far without her. She solidifies all my motives for wanting a better life. On Friday we had coffee at the Gaslight Café and lunch at the Chicago Diner and after telling her what I’ve been doing while she was gone I was reminded of all the progress I’ve made all on my own.

   It’s good to know you have support but to it’s also important to take note that it’s just support. It has been me, on my own working my way to freedom. It feels silly thinking, knowing, and acting on unleashing the very chains that I tied myself down with. But I must remind myself that I didn’t know any better as to what I was doing then. This is now. Now I know better, I’ve fallen, and have or better yet, continue to learn. I don’t have even half of my life figured out but just doing what needs to be done now is all I can do. It’s all anyone can ever do. I can no longer plan, I can only aspire and dream. Life has made a fool out of my plans but it has yet to relinquish my dreams. Those may seem foggy and even out of sight sometimes but other times they are vivid, obtainable, and some even touched by the edges. Makes me think effort and desire is what I need to become well acquainted with which seems to come easier when you have cheerleaders along the way. And blessed I am to have plenty of them.

   I haven’t quiet yet gotten the whole routine/being on a schedule sort of thing going for me yet. I guess that’s why I’m not very consistent with posting. The thing is, and it’s not an excuse, I’ve either felt writers block put on by excessive anxiety, or just haven’t been home and without a computer because being around others is just what keeps me, one: in check, and two: from retrieving into my own delusional world I so easily get caught up in.

   For this set of outfits I let the girls take the lead. Alex basically came up with her very bohemian and earthy outfit. I styled Olivia in a bandeau for two sets of ensembles and Alex wanted to jump on that bandeau wagon so I let her just play with my things. Despite not personally styling Alex, I can honestly say that what she came up with is something I would throw together. I mean it’s a total play of textures, prints, and wooden jewelry. Not to mention a fabulous balance between body conscious and exposed up top and loose, flowy, and modest on the bottom. Alex has that boho spirit that I try to get in touch with within myself. It’s not wonder she sports the look so effortlessly.

   So it turns out Olivia is a sucker for army print. Lucky for her I jumped on that trend a while ago so I used an army print with studs and tribal embroidery to throw over an orange satin bandeau. I like composing outfits by putting pieces that normally wouldn’t be put together with each other. In this case a delicate black lace skirt. It’s not super far fetched, I mean the embroidery on the vest does play down its hard edge to make it look well with the skirt. The black flower crown with studs and the small subtleties of orange all around is what tied it all together.

   With my outfit I went with simple goes chic. I LOVE chiffon, funky prints, lack of color, and not wearing pants and this oversized button up gives all of those to me. To maintain the color palette of the shirt I threw on a silver cross necklace and a grey fedora. The outfit says simple, easy, comfortable, and fun.

     “Girls of all kinds can be beautiful—from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky , clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy though because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box…think outside of the box…pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”

-Tyra Banks

 

It’s a Revival Baby

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Body suit: Thrift find, Disco Pants: American Apparel, Hat: H&M, Wedges: F21, Earrings: Artisan Made, Lipstick: MAC

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Jacket: Vintage, Pants: American Apparel, Bandeau: Urban Outfitters, Necklace: Old Navy, Sneakers: ALDO, Sunnies: Marcellas Boutique Denver, Lipstick: MAC

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Dress: Outdoor Vendors in Miami, Denim dress: Thrift find, Cap: Thrift find, Booties: ALDO, Chocker: Self-made, Bangles: Passage to India Miami, Lipstick: MAC

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   I’ve been stuck in mud these past couple of days trying to figure out how to keep moving forward so I haven’t been able to bring myself to write something positive and inspiring, but then I realized that what Olivia wrote and how she and Alex posed and modeled for me is an inspiration all on its own. I mean just the very fact that I’m finding women that want to put themselves out there in front of the camera in clothes they wouldn’t normally wear. I mean I do have a very quirky fashion sense that not everyone usually prances around in. That reminded me that I must carry on and continue trying to find ways to keep my spirits lifted and my foot in front of the other.

   For this shoot was thinking colors and prints galore. With prints I went with everything from polka dots, to zig-zags, to funky 80s print and with colors I wanted vibrant colors and mix and match between cool and warm colors. I always love working with black and white and incorporating a pop of color and so that’s what I did with Alex’s outfit. Each outfit could easily have been worn in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I’m telling you I’m a sucker for vintage clothing from past generations. I will not let them rest. It’s a revival baby!!

   Alex sports a black and white polka-dotted body suit that hugs her body beautifully and flaunts her upper lady parts. I wanted something completely body con so as bottoms I went with some disco pants that hugged her body much like the leotard. The details included a Charlie Chaplin black top hat, black and white dangly earrings and shiny black wedges, which were very easy to strut in by the way. Isn’t it lovely when you can add a couple of inches still in comfort?

   Olivia’s outfit was very funky 80s girl inspired. She brought that multi-colored jacket for me to style so I went with purple riding pants and an orange bandeau and sunnies that all matched those same colors on her jacket. To keep it casual I went with platform sneakers. Her hair is so new age cool girl, which totally added an edge to the ensemble.

   I put myself in a very stretchy and brightly colored dress I bought at a boutique in Miami and paired it with a button up denim dress that I left open to make it appear as a long vest. To go in line with the red of the dress I added a shiny Mario Bros looking cap and suede red booties. Keeping in that 90s spirit I went with a black choker and some bangles.

   “Everyone has their own tips and theories on achieving a stable recovery, here’s my advice: Capture YOUR moments. What I mean by this is that it’s easy to lose ourselves in the vast sea of negative thoughts, especially those about ourselves, but we will always (regardless of frequency) have those moments of clarity of who we are or what we truly want in our lives. When these moments do occur, you capture them! Whether it be written, recorded, taken in a photo, told in a story, etc. It doesn’t matter how you capture it, so long as you have it.

   I’ll admit I don’t have these epiphany moments as often as I’d like, but I’ve learned to catch hold of them when they do come. They serve as reminders of my love for My Life and aspirations. This photo project with Juanna, I’m grateful to say, has become one of those moments. For me, this shoot started out as fashion fun and ended with a deeper reflection of my yearning to build my self-confidence and self- esteem, which I daresay have felt hazardously low. 

   It was a wonderful experience to step out of myself and into someone else’s stylistic vision. Juanna’s room was a fashion wonderland and I’ve never really tried the types of outfits and makeup she dressed me in. But I loved it! Initially it was a little strange because these clothes and makeup were practically foreign to me and I felt a tinge insecure about how I looked. But after looking at the photos of myself as well as in collaboration with the other chicks (Alex & Juanna) I was thrilled to see how great the set came out. It felt empowering to be able to see myself rock out an outfit I would never even think to try out, and I feel less anxious about taking a bold step to broaden my horizons in personal appearance and style. It’s something I feel I need to do for myself and my confidence, and this photo experience just further solidified that drive in me.

   Overall, the experiencing was liberating and soothing to my esteem. I learned that to successfully rock it on the outside you have to show love to your inner side, and self-transformation isn’t going to be comfortable and easy. But what I’ve learned is that it’s always possible and more importantly, there will always be others who empathize and support you. I try to count my blessings as best as I can, and I can honestly say this experience with Juanna was one of them :) Thank you.” 

- Olivia Wozniak

Whimsy Daisy

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Skirt: Thrift find, Top: Nordstrom Rack, Booties: Charlotte Russe, Hat: H&M, Pearl Necklace/Bracelet: Thrift finds, Sunnies: Free People, Lipstick: MAC

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Top: Free People, Shorts: American Apparel, Wedges: ALDO, Headpiece: Urban Outfitters, Sunnies: Stella McCarthy, Lipstick: MAC

 

   So I’m finally back on track and it feels like bliss. It’s a baby pink cloud I’m floating on really. It really takes demanding effort to tell yourself, “this hole you’re sitting in, is yes very familiar and comfortable but familiar and comfortable isn’t your style lady!’ So with that said I’ve managed to put myself on an eating and mild exercise schedule as well as started applying for places to volunteer at. I feel I need to have a purpose where I feel I’m giving back because right now I just feel stuck and not too hot about myself. I know it’s a temporary feeling and things like school, a job, helping others, and things along those lines of giving me a sense of accomplishment will really enrich my life. Not to mention that it will give me a routine and as a bipolar 1 individual that is essential if not I’ll keep falling off the boat.

   I don’t feel ready for a demanding job and as much as that makes me feel like poop, I’ve radically accepted it and am taking steps in doing something that can ease that shitty feeling. Not that I already haven’t. It just feels that having photo shoots, blogging, reading, practicing yoga, watching movies, going to festivals, and going for walks just doesn’t feel productive. All those things help and they give me glimpses of peace and happiness but I don’t get the whole enchilada, and ultimately that’s what I’m hungry for. Little by little I’ll get there. I’m just so nervous I’m almost 22 years old and I’m still so dependent on my parents. I want to rely only on myself but that on its own paralyzes me with fear. What if I can’t handle it? What if….I have so many what ifs, it’s not even worth going through all of them. I’ll only throw myself into the panic zone.

   Anyways for these set of outfits I was thinking ensembles for a whimsical Easter day. I know Easter is long past but I love the soft, pastel colors the holiday is composed of. That and this season is trending with pastel colors. Mardi’s fair skin inspired a soft on the eyes and classic look with and off white pleated skirt, an aquamarine, green, and white body con crop top, baby blue booties, a pearl necklace and bracelet, and a light tanned hat. I gave color to her lips to create a focal point. The look is innocent but full of subtle sex appeal.

   I put myself in an easy to put together outfit. I went with a very hippie/bohemian off white long sleeved shirt with beautiful flower embroidery going down the center. The sleeves were loose and full of movement. As bottoms I went with simple black lace shorts and to strut in I went with beige and tan wedges. I hardly wear heels or wedges these days. I’m become all about comfort and practicality since moving to the city, Before, I was that girl that “couldn’t think in flat shoes,” now I can’t get around without them. Talk about change. If I can change in that realm why not in others right?

   “I was really flattered when Juanna asked me to model for her. I’ve struggled with body image issues for as long as I can remember and felt a lack of confidence. But, this experience was really fun and enlightening. I not only felt beautiful, but a whole array of positive thoughts enveloped me. I feel one step closer to letting go of myself and loving to my full potential. Thank you, Juanna for such a great experience!”

-Mardi Robinson

Ode to Red

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Shorts: Thrift find, Top: Thrift find, Belt: Thrift find, Sunnies: RagStock Chicago, Sneakers: ALDO, POW Necklace: F21, Bangles: Old Navy, Red Lipstick: MAC

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Scarf: Thrift find, Pants: F21, Wedges: F21, Sun Hat: Thrift find, Sunnies: City Soles Chicago, Red Lipstick: MAC

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   I’ve been feeling detached, introverted, confused, and anxious. I feel paralyzed by this need to feel needed and wanted but I’m deathly scared to be intimate. I start getting to know someone and suddenly I feel pressured to take my clothes off and I just want to scream. I know I would freeze and it would only further detach me from myself so instead I’m running. Why must I put myself in these situations then if I’m so obviously not ready? This is just some of the abuse I feel I need to inflict on myself, but I shouldn’t! I deserve (although I hate the word ‘deserve’, Like who the hell dictates who deserves what?) to feel loved and not pressured into anything I’m not ready for. I’m thinking that for now I’m just going to continue flying solo. As much as I want a partner to share my successes, shame, fears, happiness, and growth, I can’t seem to fathom someone around my age only being able to deal with just a platonic relationship.

   I guess I’m just not emotionally ready to deal with someone else’s emotions. It’s like if I want a relationship I have to give as much as I’m going to take. I feel I’m still a myriad of miles from attaining that love one needs to cultivate for thy own self before I share some of me with someone else. It’s really hard to come to terms with that considering I’ve never been in a romantic relationship and I suddenly find myself longing for one. All that is doing is confusing me and I won’t allow it.

   The thing is this past week though I’ve started to hang out a lot more with my friend Stephanie, who I’ve styled in previous blog posts. It’s really been lifting up my spirits and making me look at things in a more positive light. Her and her boyfriend, Davidson, remind me of what I want in a relationship. That is when I feel I’m ready to take steps in that direction. It feels good to have real, understanding, loyal, and two-way street friends to lean on. Stephanie really just radiates confidence and nurturance. I feel at ease and even comfortable in my own skin around her. I don’t find myself feeling less around her. If anything the very fact that she and Davidson want me around them flatters me and makes me think I’m worth having cool and genuine friends.

   On another note, I took this set of photos as an ode to the color red, featuring this lovely milk kissed skinned beauty, Mardi. I always am left in awe when I see super fair skinned girls in red. The contrast is amazing and it really accentuates their features. I love denim. It’s one of those classics that always work no matter what route you take with them. That’s why I dressed Mardi in all denim with subtle touches of red and black making it all very classic, casual, and cool.

   For my outfit I tied a red scarf with flowers and a gold design outline around my chest to make it a top. I don’t particularly feel too comfortable in strapless tops or dresses but all in the name of fashion. I paired it with a pair of black MC Hammer pants and a big red sunhat. I wanted my outfit it make red seem ardently fabulous so I wore some super comfy black wedges and oversized black sunnies and of coarse red tinted lips.

   My landlord has a garden that grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers in the backyard that is very vibrantly green. Being that green is red’s complimentary color I felt it would be the ideal place to have a photo sesh and so we did.

   “The further along the road I walk, certain things begin to unfold. I’m baffled by what I see and feel. It’s only later that I realize what I saw and what I felt had a purpose. In other words every day I learn something new. Sometimes I refuse to acknowledge those things but eventually I have to come to terms with acceptance and then taking action. There are no other options. Death is no longer optional. I want to live. Really live, not just get by. What is the point in that? The biggest thing to accept right now is that it’d going to take time, so patience is key. I must just continue doing small things that make me useful. As small as dressing up women and men to make them feel confident and empowered.”

-Juanna Gutierrez

Reality is an Illusion

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Dress: Thrift find, Shawl Vest: Thrift find, Flower Crown: Self-made, Beaded Necklace: Thrift find, Multi colored Beaded Necklace: Old Navy, Elephant Necklace: F21, Jean Jacket: Mogujie.com, Sandals: Nordstrom Rack, Red Lipstick: MAC

 

   What lately feels like no work towards my recovery is quiet the contrary when I start looking at the small things I’ve accomplished. Finally I feel ready to take on the work that needs to be done psychologically and emotionally with my trauma. I’ve found a trauma specialist therapist and have an appointment to see if she’s a good fit for me. Furthermore, I’ve taken the steps to riding myself of some people in my life that are just flat out unhealthy for me right now.

   I guess now that I feel I actually have self-worth I’m no longer blinded to noticing the signs that someone is hurting me and in short stunting my growth. One person in particular called me the Jessa of her friends (Jemima Kirke’s character in the HBO series girls) in the form of a compliment. The old, self-destructive Juanna would have been flattered, honored, even overwhelmed by the “compliment.” The current Juanna sees Jessa as a black hole at a dead end. I may have been a lot like her then and I may still be eccentric and individualistic but I’m no longer a lost puppy seeking its next thrill. As you can see I was instead quiet offended and hurt. I couldn’t believe someone that has witnessed my process of self-transcendence say such a thing. I’m glad it happened because it was the last straw. I drew the line. I can’t have friends that see me in this light. Not to mention people who are willing to manipulate me into giving into their demands. I’m way beyond people pleasing. Right now I just need to work on doing my best to satisfy myself. That’s hard enough of a task all on its own. I don’t need “friends” that are going to remind me to self loathe.

   For this set of photos I went shopping and on an overall rendezvous of admiring street art with my dear friend Nick. He snapped pictures of me by a brightly colored mural and a van covered in art. The weather has come along with a nice breeze so a light jacket can easily be incorporated into my ensembles in the evening. Believe me I’m not complaining. After Florida’s weather I’m beyond ecstatic for cool evenings. They allow for long, contemplative walks.

   Bonnaroo Music and Arts Music festival and Pitchfork Music festival have been keeping my inner flower child load and alive. That is why this outfit screams 1960’s Woodstock. I wore a long, lace, and flowy dress with a brown long vest over it. The detail included a yellow daisy flower crown of coarse, red lips, and three dangly necklaces. It’s sandal season so I threw a pair of aquamarine green sandals with golden studs. It was a very easy outfit. Perfect for walking and fitting in with all the fashion enthusiasts of the Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square areas of Chicago.  

“Every single one of us goes through life depending on and bound by our individual knowledge and awareness. And we call it reality. However, both knowledge and awareness are equivocal. One’s reality might be another’s illusion. We all live inside our own fantasies. It’s exciting to be so much more in touch with myself now that I can actually fantasize and realize my reality isn’t set in stone. I may not think much of myself but I may mean the world to someone else. For that matter I must stay strong when I fall so I can gather it to get back up and keep going on this long and endless journey.”

-Juanna Gutierrez

It’s the Small Things In Life

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Dress: Free People, Sandals: Old Navy, Hat: H&M, Gold Lipstick: MAC, Sunnies: Marcelas Boutique Denver

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Dress: Free People, Hat: Free People, Red Lipstick: MAC, Wedges: Charlotte Russe

    I was reading back on my initial blog entry and I can’t seem to believe I was in that motivated mind space.  It sort of shook me up that I can totally return to that place. I just need to take the initiative to continue investing on my recovery. I’ve been in this avoidant mood that just isn’t taking me anywhere but into a damn hellhole.

   Yesterday was when I prepared the ball and today I got it rolling. I want to be back on track and it shouldn’t be impossible because I have so much support. I’m just, like everything else, avoiding it. I’m avoiding getting trauma therapy, I’m being mild in my initiative to find a job, fearing I’m going to panic and not be up for it. I’m avoiding talking to my family out of reluctance to tell them what is truly going on. I’d rather dodge them, than have to lie to them, and most importantly I’ve been avoiding processing my feelings. This keeping them buried is what is making me feel stuck but I can’t seem find the proper shovel to get digging. 

   When we moved in together, my roommate Bear and I did it for many reasons but one of them was so we could aid each other in our recoveries. Lately, I’ve been failing her miserably and have felt she isn’t there as much for me to rely on. Which is great because she deserves to have a life that doesn’t include a bag of potatoes weighing her down, but she really is my rock. For this very reason seeing her working so hard to kick all her unhealthy habits and moving towards a meaningful life worth living is really getting me down. It’s like a constant reminder of what I’m doing wrong. I feel awful because this is leaving me stripped of a way to be supportive. This only further feeds my thoughts that I’m a bad person and deserve to be punished.

    The thing is, if anything her progress and rigorous and determined battle against her demons should motivate me. Slowly but surely, today that thought has fiercely hit me. If she won’t give up hope for a better future and she believes fulfillment is possible, so should I. Not that I should (look at me constantly thinking of what I should or shouldn’t do) compare myself to anyone, but Bear is an inspiration to me. She’s the strongest, smartest, most empathetic, understanding, and caring person I’ve ever met. Despite her being so obviously beyond me, she doesn’t make me feel inferior. If anything she makes me feel like I’m worth something that should fight for a life that was made for her if willing to go the distance to obtain it. She teaches me so much, words wouldn’t even begin to describe. That’s why I suddenly feel some of her lessons. It’s like my head is less clouded and I can finally see that again.

     Yesterday, before watching the World Cup final over lunch at the Chicago Diner, my dear friend Karina and I had a short photo shoot. I’ve known Karina since I came to Chicago three years ago. She is this charming, passionate, involved, considerate, and shy soul that just had me at hello. I know it sounds cliché but from the start I knew Karina was a keeper. She wouldn’t hurt a fly and she’s so beautiful. What adds to her beauty is her passion for helping others and working as hard as possible to create a valuable and fruitful life. It is such an honor featuring Karina on my blog because she embodies inner/outer beauty, woman and Latina power, and gentle handed kindness. All things I’m working towards.

   I put Karina in a vibrant emerald green dress composed of velvet designs and flared sleeves and hemline. To accessorize I went in an earthy/southern direction, adding a brown leather hat, a silver necklace with a wooden medallion, and some tan wedges. Karina rocks her glasses on the daily so I allowed for them to give the look something extra. We shot around a patch of delightful orange flowers that complimented the color of the dress and her red lips.

    I kept my outfit simple, soft, and comfortable. I’m less hyperaware of my body in loose, chic dresses, which always makes life easier. For that matter I went with a highly sheer off-white dress with buttons going down the middle and embroidery at the shoulders. It’s a very delicate and fun piece to work with. I went with some gladiator like beige sandals and a black Charlie Chaplin top hat. I felt the dress and the shoes paired together didn’t need accessories. It’s so lovely having pieces that are their own accessory. I went with golden lips and orange sunnies in what was loudly hot and humid weather.

   “When Juanna asked me to be in this blog I was both honored and nervous. I was excited because I love the idea behind this blog. I think Juanna is not only doing something beautiful in the fact that she is encouraging us to be vulnerable by standing in front of the camera, but she is also empowering us to celebrate the things that we take for granted—the things that make us unique and beautiful. I was nervous to do the shoot because since a young age I was always a shy, awkward, and self-conscious girl. At one point in my life I found myself in a dark place, consumed on how by the way I looked, and I let food and the number on the scale dictate my life. Thankfully, God helped me realize the path I was taking was a painful, lonely, and self-destructive one, and he was able to help guide me back to the correct one. I am not going to lie there are days, weeks, and months where I find myself slipping again and turning to my old habits, but I have been lucky to find friends that have shown me I am the opposite of everything my ED mind has told me. Thanks to them I am beginning a long road that will lead me to happiness, self-love, confidence, and fierceness. One day not only will I be able to tell myself the following: “I am enough, I am beautiful, and the number on the scale doesn’t define me” but I will also believe these words from the bottom of my heart.”

-Karina Sanchez