Category Archives: Musings and Thoughts

Resolution Rebuttal

In this first Enchanted Zaftig blog post of 2015, I have no intention of going into a lengthy dialogue of what my personal resolutions are – not because I don’t believe in them, but because I think every day should incorporate the same resolution: make each day the best damn day it can be.

No matter how earnest you may be in the beginning, when you make New Year’s resolutions and don’t follow-through with them, you’re left with heavy disappointment and a sense of failure. To some degree, you may even experience self-loathing.

In my opinion, life is too short for that kind of negative thinking.

It’s absolutely crucial to have personal goals, and to pursue activities, friendships, studies, travels and cultural experiences that will further nurture our all-too-short time together on this earth. But to admonish yourself for not getting to the gym twice a week or not losing those extra pounds you gained at Christmas or not saving enough money to buy that certain something you’ve been wanting is contrary to living a harmonious life. Inner conflict robs us of a peaceful existence and affects our relationships with others.

When New Year’s Eve rolls around every 365 days, I find myself not drumming up resolutions, but rather reflecting on the activities of the past year – not for what I didn’t accomplish, but for what I did.

For instance, in 2014, I

  • celebrated my 8th-year work anniversary and further expanded my position there, which I have continued to do every year since I started.
  • applied at a local community college to begin taking courses that will supplement my knowledge of business administration and marketing.
  • continued to nurture my relationship with my teenage son, encouraging his personal interests, keeping him on track academically (which can be a challenge) and being a present and caring parent.NYE1.jpg
  • dove even deeper into a loving, fulfilling relationship with a man who possesses everything I could hope for in a life partner, including intellect, compassion, good looks, artistic abilities, strong sexual appetites and the propensity to treat me like a queen.
  • purchased a 1997 mint-condition Mercedes Benz C-class sedan (granted, this may seem trivial, but it is, in fact, the first car I have ever owned that was not a hand-me-down vehicle or a get-me-by clunker, and that brings me joy.)
  • participated in an authors’ reading event to help raise funds for a friend’s fight against invasive breast cancer, which was nothing short of inspiring.weddinglaughter.jpg
  • obtained a Certificate of Ministry in order to officiate my brother’s wedding, for which I also penned the ceremony script; it was a beautiful day.
  • added to my personal art collection, including the purchase of “Gratitude”, a bronze sculpture by Adam Schultz, which exemplifies how I’ve felt all year.
  • created The Zaftig Papers, an online platform where I am able to share some of my more obscure and spicy writings, in conjunction with the Enchanted Zaftig website.Curves_2.jpg
  • stayed connected with friends, both near and far, and made some new friendships along the way.
  • enriched (hopefully) and inspired those who have seen or read Enchanted Zaftig content via the internet or in person.
  • continued to encourage everyone to Embrace Your Curves and love yourself where you are.

Although not all major accomplishments, these points exist to remind me of what I contributed to 2014 – to my own life, as well as to the lives of others. Even the pitfalls come back into focus. Reflecting on moments of tragedy, conflict and struggle, whether personal or worldly, allow for progressive healing and growth. “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~ Joshua J. Marine

My personal mantra for 2015 will continue to be the same mantra I’ve held since 2010, when I finally broke free from my shell and came into my own:

“Strive to live an extraordinary life, even through ordinary circumstances.”

Additionally, I’m going to make each day the best damn day it can be.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

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Without Fear of Judgment

It was because I needed a break, some time away from my job and my everyday obligations, that we ended up in Salida, Colorado for the weekend. It was a chance to not only indulge in romantic interludes but also to relax and breathe in the fresh air and remember why I love being in the mountains so much, no matter what time of year.

The weekend getaway also gave me an opportunity to try out my new bathing suit.

After waffles and huevos rancheros on Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I gathered up our swimsuits and beach towels and headed to the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs in the small town of Nathrop, just outside of Salida, nestled in the majestic Collegiate Peaks. The weather that day was perfect for early springtime in the Rockies: sunny and warm with only a handful of clouds in the sky. Although the following day we were hit by a springtime blizzard that blinded our path and rattled our nerves the entire treacherous drive home, our one day at the hot springs was perfectly perfect. And exactly what I needed.

The Mt. Princeton Resort offers mspringsultiple soaking opportunities, from man-made mineral pools of varying degrees to a natural creek that flows both hot and cool year-round. A somewhat surprising and pleasing aspect of these hot springs is the absence of sulphuric odor. No stench of rotting eggs that you often smell at bubbling mineral pools, and no trace of chlorine you encounter at regular swimming pools. The only scent in the air was pine resin and a hint of sunscreen. I could not wait to sink my tired body into the warm waters and allow the natural mix of lime, magnesia and potash to soothe and cleanse me. As I anticipated, perfectly perfect.

How disappointing, then, to discover the somber mood in the women’s locker room. Entering the changing area with a bag over my shoulder and a skip in my step, I encountered a scatter of women desperately trying to dress and undress without being noticed by each other. With an open design similar to most locker rooms, this rustic mountain dressing area had benches and mirrors lining the walls, leaving nowhere to hide unless one chose to wrench in and out of clothing in one of the cramped toilet stalls (which some did.) Because of this, every female in the room was forced to undress not only in front of one another but also in front of those imposing mirrors, which kindled feelings of self-doubt and body insecurities so thick, the negative aura hung across the room like a shroud.

No one seemed happy in that dressing room, despite being at one of the most beautiful, relaxing resorts south of Kenosha Pass.

Call me naïve, but I was not aware of how insecure women can become around other women, especially when placed in the vulnerable position of being naked together. Unfair comparisons are made: “She has a flatter tummy.” “She has bigger boobs.” “She has less cellulite on her thighs.” “She has prettier hair.” How sad. There should be more camaraderie. More forgiveness. An irrefutable bond that ties our gender together.

I won’t lie and claim that I don’t also take notice of similarities and differences between body types in such situations; it’s human nature to observe and compare. But I guess I’ve learned over time to appreciate the differences. Every body is completely unique – no two entities are alike – and I embrace that crazy, beautiful aspect of life.

So in that locker room, I removed my clothing and got naked without reserve, without fear of being judged and without placing judgment upon myself. My large breasts wiggled, my fat stomach jiggled and my flabby arms rippled as I clumsily slithered into my new bathing suit. Yes, I saw my own reflection in the mirror, and yes, I noticed the eyes of others looking my way and then averting, but I was not ashamed. I WAS NOT ASHAMED. My new bathing suit has a built-in bra feature that requires clasping in the back, and I must have looked quite a sight trying to make it all work and fit correctly without assistance. If anything was embarrassing, it was that, but I smiled at my own clumsiness and moved on. I also smiled at the other women in the room who looked my way, because nothing helps clear the air of misery better than a shared smile.

And when I exited the locker room and met up with my boyfriend, who had undoubtedly been ready for the last 10-15 minutes, I was met with a wide smile and the words, “Wow, honey, you look amazing.”

We found chairs in the shade to lay our towels upon and dipped our toes into the soaking pool. The temperature of the water that day was 105°. Rather than needing to carefully step in on tiptoes for fear of freezing, as you might at a regular swimming pool, we were able to simply wade right in. The sultry heat of the water rolled upon us, enveloped us, hugged us close like a soft blanket that immediately began to work its magic on washing our cares away. There could have been nothing better.

Moving in water is a weightless experience. For someone who carries an abundance of body fat around with her on a daily basis, feeling such weightlessness is an incredible sensation. In the soaking pool, I had the pleasure of floating effortlessly, with limbs as light as feathers and a torso that bore no weight, and I thought to myself: “This must be what skinny feels like.”

I do not long to be skinny. But I did like that feeling for a moment, to experience what another body experiences that is unlike my own. If a thin woman was given the opportunity to carry around 2-3 times her own body weight for an afternoon, would she appreciate the experience? Perhaps she’d at least gain a better understanding of the struggles we face. That is what I long for: a better understanding of the myriad of differences that we embody as individuals.

I also long for women to uplift other women and for body shame to be cleansed from our psyches. I long for deeper connections and more love and a higher purpose. Is that too much to ask for..?

I don’t care to be skinny. I don’t care to be fat. I just want to be me. EZ. Wiggles, jiggles and all. Here I am – no judgment.

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” ~ George R.R. Martin

bathingsuit1.jpg

 

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The Roundness of Things

charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-violet-blueberry-564Every time I see a photo of myself, I am consistently reminded of how very ROUND I am. Like a giant beach ball with legs. Or Violet Blueberry from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

As though if I didn’t have legs, I would roll around or need to be tethered to something to keep me from floating away.

I am not discouraged by this, mind you. When I look at pictures of myself, I don’t cringe and think, “Oh God, I look so fat. I look so ugly. I look so horrible. I need to lose 10 pounds/20 pounds/50 pounds. I need to do something with my hair. I need to wear better makeup. I need to wear better clothes. I need to never go out. I need to never let someone take my picture.

No, when I look at pictures of myself, I simply think, “Wow. I’m round.”

Hips. Thighs. Belly. Breasts. Head.

All round.

Round and wide.

And when I’m standing next to someone, they look so very un-round compared to me.

Does that make me wish to be un-round, too?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of round is:

: well filled out: plump, shapely : complete, full : direct in utterance: brought to completion or perfection : presented with life-like fullness or vividness :

Conversely, antonyms of round include: inadequate, small, low, weak, haggard, waspish.

It is true that I carry a lot of weight around. And it is true that my short legs don’t quite keep up with others. But neither of those aspects prevent me from being active or enjoying life. And I would much prefer to see photos of myself next to the un-rounds, than to be left with no visual documentation of my activities and achievements at all.

This is me:

AfA2.jpg

Vivid, full, direct, complete.

Round.

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Pillow Talk

“But there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark… that sort of make everything else seem… unimportant.”

– Stella Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams)

What happens between a man and a woman in the dark makes everything else in the world seem unimportant…  Such truth in a phrase!

Shutting the blinds, pulling the curtains, locking the door, falling into your lover’s embrace.

What a liberating moment!

The stresses and demands of the world, of everyday life, diminish and wash away like dirt beneath a cleansing spout. Even in the darkness of a bedroom, there is emanating light and rejuvenation as two breathless souls intertwine in a choreographed dance of emotion and salaciousness.

It is intrinsic. It is instinctual. It is perfect harmony, untouched by outside influence.

What happens between a man and a woman in the dark makes everything else in the world seem unimportant…

Flesh.

Kisses.

Satiation.

Pillow talk.

When combined, the effect is magical; medicinal.

 

Never underestimate the restorative power of carnality.

 

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Perfectly Flawed

With cushions from our 1960’s red tapestry couch lined up along the carpet of the living room floor, I attempted to perfect a simple cartwheel. Arms high, legs apart, feet pointed and concentration focused, I twirled. And twirled. And twirled. Over and over again. Trying to perfect a simple cartwheel. 

Hundreds and hundreds of times, I tried.

But I could never get my legs straight. I could never twirl in the air like a windmill. Each time I attempted to perfect a  cartwheel, I landed sideways, off of the cushions, onto the floor. Every single time.

Completing a simple somersault was even difficult for me at times.

I never yearned to be an Olympic gymnast as a child. I never held dreams of winning gold medals and standing on a podium, representing my country while singing along to the National Anthem. Being on the cover of a Wheaties box or a ‘Sports Illustrated’ magazine held no relevance to me. All I wanted was to be able to flip through the yard on my hands and feet, feeling the cool grass between my fingers and toes as I brilliantly and cleverly defied gravity… just like other girls my age were doing. Friends made it appear so effortless and easy, I couldn’t grasp why my own body didn’t cooperate. Was I physically challenged? Had I been dropped as a child? What was my handicap? It was frustrating and disheartening.

As time passed, I slowly came to the realization that I simply did not possess any gymnastic coordination or aptitude (never for lack of trying, mind you, but for lack of capability.) Maturing from child to woman at a very young age, my hips, chest and mid-section grew at an alarmingly rapid rate. Physical coordination was nearly impossible for me during that time. In particular, I recall hiking frequently with my family during numerous childhood camping trips, and my hips and ankles would ache on an almost constant basis. I would tire easily and become light headed during most activities and would pray for a quick finish.

Experiencing ‘growing pains’ was not merely a metaphor, but rather a vivid reality.

Learning to dance The Hustle was perhaps my biggest achievement in P.E. class. I was incapable of bending into a backflip, I couldn’t climb a rope (most girls can’t, but it frustrated me anyway) I couldn’t run track, and I couldn’t balance for more than two seconds on a balancing beam. Free-throwing a basketball into a hoop was doable, and I was proud of my achievements in that category, but dribbling that same ball down the court was quite another story.

Now, this is not to say that I was inept at ALL physical activities. In fact, I quite excelled at roller skating, had been swimming since toddler-hood and could ride a bike all over the neighborhood and back again. But my overall physical aptitude was well below-par, in my perception. So, the rounder my body became, the less I tried to tackle gymnastics and sports and simply concentrated on other, more attainable goals: writing, painting, drawing, immersing myself in academics. I stayed active with roller skating and bike riding and running around with friends, but I pushed the need to perfect a simple cartwheel out of my mind. Eventually, I accepted the shortcoming and moved on.

To everyone, there are limitations; we all face them at one time or another, much to our chagrin. However, an honest attempt should still be made to overcome those limitations – because challenging ourselves is a crucial component to discovering our abilities. How else are we to know what we are truly capable of? Experience everything, at least once, but ultimately, don’t beat yourself up over an inability… because chances are high that you’ll succeed in many other areas, and those successes will reduce those shortcomings to mere dots on the grand scale of life.

Perfection is overrated. Why not try being perfectly flawed instead?

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Embracing a Vision

The following is an article I authored for a women’s magazine. Unfortunately, the publication never quite got off the ground. I decided this piece needed to be shared, regardless. 

 

Have you ever viewed a painting or a sculpture, heard a poem or read a story that awakened your senses? Made you feel passionate about a subject and perhaps initiated a personal catharsis in you?

Art possesses the ability to capture awareness, stimulate thought and ignite emotion. Usually, one cannot view an artistic creation without feeling a reaction toward it, be it positive or negative, compelling or indifferent. Although some artists claim that interpretation is up to the individual, most probably desire a specific reaction; they want you to see what they see, feel what they feel, according to the passion and earnestness of their created work.

Prince Charming

With his sculptural series, “Goddess,” which showcases voluptuous, rotund women in enchanting poses, Adam Schultz hopes to inspire and influence a change in what qualifies as beautiful.

“Art is one of the most powerful ways to promote positive body image,” he states. “When people see these body types represented in a sensual way, rendered in the timeless medium of bronze, they are forced to reexamine their personal opinions of others – and of themselves.”

I first met Adam at a gallery in Evergreen, Colorado, where he was demonstrating part of his sculpting process using oil-based clay. Although we had been in correspondence prior to that evening, speaking with him in person and witnessing his work-in-process was pivotal for me. As an appreciator of the arts, I am constantly inspired by the creativity of others, and Adam’s works speak to me on a very personal level, because 1.) I have the body type he molds, and 2.) We share the same passion about changing the narrowing views on beauty.

Fibonacci’s Girl

Having sculpted a wide range of artifacts for over 25 years – including animals, portraits, memorials and monuments for both private and corporate collections – Adam decided within the last decade to begin creating the figures he loves personally but rarely sees sculpturally. “I find the sensual curves of full-figured women inherently beautiful,” he tells me, a point which is made evident by the delightfully abundant “Goddess Series.”

Adam did not begin his artistic journey as a sculptor, however. In college, he chose drawing as his major and had dreams of becoming an illustrator. It wasn’t until he learned to sculpt that he realized his true passion. For 20 years, he worked at a foundry in Northern Colorado, recreating the styles and textures of many different artists in order to cast their works in bronze. It was during this time that he became an expert in every phase of the “lost wax” process and discovered his own style. To this day, he continues to take sculpture workshops and apprentice with some of the finest figure sculptors of our time. As he says, “I never stop honing my skills.”

So why the focus on full-figured body types?

“I see people feeling ugly their whole lives,” Adam reveals. “I see them hurting and mutilating their bodies to try and emulate Barbie dolls, and I wonder why unique, lovely and curvaceous body types aren’t perceived as beautiful also.”

When his two daughters were around the ages of four or five, both complained to Adam that they needed to lose weight, which determined him even further to play a role in changing perceptions and reversing the low self-esteem crisis pervading our population, particularly in women.

Galatea on view

Although he realizes that not every person who views his sculptures will embrace his artistic intent, he remains committed to promoting positive body image. According to Adam, his biggest critics tend to be those individuals who have fallen into the “thin is in” rhetoric and who find the celebration of rotund bodies distasteful. Adam treats these negative moments as opportunities to educate and introduce a different opinion, as well as to perhaps change a misguided perception.

For the most part, the response to Adam’s “Goddess Series” has been overwhelmingly positive. And that is most pivotal.

“I’ve had women burst into tears after viewing my work,” he shares, “and thank me for helping them to see themselves – sometimes for the first time – as beautiful.”

Art can perform an integral role in drawing attention to a subject and affecting change. Although Adam Schultz realizes that not every person who views his sculptures will embrace his vision, he remains committed to promoting positive body image and making a difference through his abundant sculptural forms.

To view more of Adam’s work, visit www.adamsculpture.com

©2012 Enchanted Zaftig

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The Woman In The Dark

Sitting in the Dark With Red Hair ~ by Juan Alcantara

Sitting in the dark, in silence and solitude, tranquility and discernment,

A woman faces her fears,

Her bare flesh resplendent, encouraging her on,

Diminishing her shame and self-loathing.

She needs no mirror, no reflection, to assuage her hesitations

For the vivid truth speaks to her in a language she’s only just now begun to understand.

“I am wonderfully created.

Each and every fold and curve,

          hill and valley,

             rise and fall of my ample flesh

                gives proof to my unique existence.

My beauty shines from within and without and resonates to the world.

I am electric and noticeable, invaluable and admirable, worthy and unashamed.

I am me.

And I am content.”

The woman in the dark has a conversation with herself that alleviates even her most powerful doubts.

It cleanses and awakens her, offers a life-changing, uncharted path  of revelation and acceptance, love and respect, hope and fortitude.

“I am me,” she sings harmoniously to herself.

“And I am content…”

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