Do I Deserve Love?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love. I’ve been thinking not just about romantic love, but many kinds. . . the love between family, the love a mother is supposed to have for her children, and even self-love. You see, my life has definitely lacked love in places where there should have been much, much more.

I was a child bride and had a husband that loved drugs and alcohol, he loved humiliating me and hurting me, but he didn’t love me. I have a family that isn’t close and doesn’t show love at all towards one another. Way more “fuck you’s” are thrown out between each other than “I love you’s.” Hugs don’t happen with my family and support is virtually non-existent. The biggest pain with that is that there is more love and support shown for some of us from my mother than others. Growing up feeling like I was somehow flawed, because I must be if my own mother can’t like me but clearly loves my siblings, has made me not love myself. If the easiest love to come in the world (the love of a mother for her child) isn’t there, and then my own husband couldn’t love me, then I must be truly broken and unlovable. That was my thinking for a long time anyway.

I’ve written several times about how women are harsh to judge and judge ourselves more than anyone else. We have constant media in our faces telling us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, slim enough. It makes self-love incredibly difficult. Then, when you add in abusive people, absent or hurtful parents, or other issues and incidences that cause pain, self-love becomes even harder.

For me, I had the lack of bonding with my mother as my foundation in life. Then, I got married as a teen and had 4 children back to back with an abusive man. I didn’t take good care of myself through those hard times in my life (thank you, depression), and so of course, I gained a ton of baby weight and didn’t lose it. I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t have any family there for me, and I was living through an abusive marriage with no idea that I deserved any better. I did not love me. In fact, I didn’t just not love myself, I downright hated myself.

Now, we can fast forward several years where I have been away from that man for a long, have lost some of that weight, have made many achievements and advancements in life, and had much personal growth. I’ve struggled still with self-love though. I’ve struggled feeling worthy, and as I’ve recently had a falling out with my family and have endured some other tough events, I’ve been thinking even more about love.

I realized recently that I’ve spent a long time hating myself. I’ve hated my tender heart, I’ve hated my body and the weight I’ve struggled with since I started having children almost 18 years ago, I’ve hated how easily I cry, I’ve hated my lack of self-control in so many areas, and the list goes on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked my face in the mirror and told myself ugly, hateful things because I felt I deserved it. If I exercised, I would think those horrible things to myself out of frustration that I ever let my body get this out of control. I just have been truly disgusted and so I punished myself with hate.

Well, several days ago, I suddenly had an epiphany. I’ve battled my weight for a long time. I’ve also battled many emotional issues for a long time. While I have continued to try to fight against these issues, I’ve tried using the same methods and with the same self-loathing I have always had. What’s that saying about insanity…trying the same way over and over again while expecting different results? That’s what I have been doing. I have decided that no matter what is going on with my family, no matter what man I do or don’t have in my life, and no matter how my body looks, I need to love myself anyway. No matter what, I am deserving of self-love. So now, as I do my daily squats, I’m telling myself in my head, “Look at you go! One. Good job getting active! Two. You are beautiful! Three. You deserve love! Four. Look at you empowering yourself! Five. . .” You get the idea.

If hating myself has gotten me nowhere, then there’s an entire world of possibilities if I love myself instead. It’s been easy to be negative for a long time, so I’m not going to assume that it’s suddenly going to be much easier to be kind to myself, but I can promise that I’m going to keep trying. I am worthy of that much.

This new journey of self-love is important because it’s not only for me, it’s for my children, for my friends, for my coworkers, and for everyone else around me. The better I feel inside, the better mom, friend, and employee I can be. It’s a win for everyone. So, here’s to my new journey. . .

Signing off with a smile and love,
Moonshine Niki

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Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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I Lost Him, But I Found Me

When he first told me he was leaving, I was understandably devastated. I couldn’t believe it and was in total shock. It hurt deeply and every day since has hurt. I didn’t think I could live without him. But (and it’s a really big but), I’m doing it! I’m healing a little one day at a time. Where my heart has been pained, I see it sting a little less every day. Where I once couldn’t imagine life without him, I’m getting used to the idea of it. Where I thought I couldn’t be happy without him, I woke up happy today. I wanna cheer! I want to get up and do a happy dance because I didn’t feel strong initially and it took me only a short time to be able to see that I am indeed strong.

You see, I felt like when I was losing him, I was losing me too. Who am I without him? Who am I as just Niki, and not B’s girlfriend? How and what is my life by myself? You know what though? I’m still losing him, but I’m actually finding me! I can’t emphasize this point enough, but keep reading because I’m going to tell y’all how.

So since this all started, I’ve been talking to a few friends about my heartache. One day, one said, “You know what helps? Running.”

I laughed it off and said, “Have you ever seen a picture of me? I’m not going running.”

He assured me, anyone can do it. He gave me the name of an app that even beginners can do. I downloaded the app but then left it for days without doing anything about it. I was being swallowed up by my hurts and just didn’t care about starting. That was on top of my normal issues that get in the way of exercise (especially something hard on my joints). I struggle with chronic pain, I have a busy life, and let’s face it, I’m just really good at making excuses. The idea stayed in the back of my mind though. I even mentioned it to one of my dearest girlfriends (who happens to LOVE fitness and exercise). So on Saturday morning, when I texted her about the anxiety that seems to come in waves right now, she immediately followed up with telling me to get my tennis shoes on and get my booty outside. She told me to use it as fuel, to go until I can’t breathe, and put all of that negative energy to use. So you know what I did? I put on my tennis shoes! She offered to put her kids in a jogging stroller and go with me, so that’s what we did. It may not seem like much, and I definitely didn’t start with jogging, but we power walked 2 miles with much of it being uphill. When we got back, I literally had sweat running. Wanna know something else? It felt so good!!

I kept myself fairly busy the rest of the day and tried to focus on anything other than letting my brain go into overdrive about what I can’t change. I had a planned date on Saturday night with another girlfriend and was happy to get out and do that. Unfortunately, that meant not getting much sleep, and the sleep I did get was poor. But you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning and could feel sadness and loneliness seeping in? Yep, you guessed it! I put on my tennis shoes! Without my friend this time, I took the dogs around the block, dropped them back off at home, and then did that same 2 mile loop. I pushed myself hard. I got home again covered in sweat and feeling on top of the world.

I went inside and went to get in the shower and paused to look in the mirror. I looked at how red my face was and how my hair was wet from sweat. I looked at my deflating belly that is already noticeably smaller with my breakup weight loss. I stood there and appreciated myself for the first time in I can’t even tell y’all how long. I saw beauty in my face where I’d forgotten it was once there. I saw attractiveness in my body where for several months I’d just been able to see fat. Where my self-esteem had once plummeted dangerously low, I saw and felt my worth for the first time looking in the mirror that day.

In this recent heartache, I’ve had more time on my hands. I’m not rushing anything to spend time with a partner, so I have time to focus. I’ve started lovingly taken care of myself. I take great care in the little things that I’ve previously not done as often or done hastily. I’m taking the time to shave my legs with care, to take good care of my feet, brushing my teeth, washing my body, moisturizing my face, lotioning my skin. Most of these things are obviously things I was doing, but doing them now is different. It’s with love and affection for myself. It’s done slowly and well. All of this is with new exercise and good water intake. I’m not consuming soda (okay, well except for that night out drinking hehe). I’m not consuming junk food. My initial weight loss was from stress, but hey, since it’s started, now I’m going to take it and run with it (literally as I haven’t yet started to actually jog, but I promise, I’m getting there). I deserve to be well cared for and there’s no one better to do it than me.

I lost him, but it’s giving me the chance to find me and make the changes that should have been made a long time ago. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m dedicated to this new self-care thing. It’s about time that I seek no love but my own. So hello, me, I’ve missed you.

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STOP! Stop Comparing Yourself to Her.

Anyone on my Facebook knows that I feel there is great importance in lifting others up, especially women. While that sounds great in theory, it seems to be something that is difficult for us. Why is that?

Think about this, ladies; when you see an attractive woman walk by, what are your first thoughts and feelings? As you stand next to each other in line at your favorite coffee shop or at the grocery store checkout, can you easily throw out a “Hey girl, cute shoes/shirt/purse/hair/lipstick!” at her? Or do you quietly judge her in your head because you are automatically comparing yourself to her. Or better yet, comparing her great parts to your flaws? In my experience as a woman, the latter is much easier, but why?

In my post, I Am More Than My Cleavage, I talk about media, advertising, and the objectification of women. In that post, I was talking about the sexualization of women/girls and all the problems that causes. This post is similar because again, the media plays a HUGE part in this. It is in our faces constantly that we are supposed to be pretty, thin, curvy, confident, have perfect hair, have perfect teeth, have clear skin, be perfect mommies, be fashionable, be a sex goddess, be perfect wives/relatives/friends, and a million other unattainable perfections. This constant “in your face” media makes it damn hard to just be happy with ourselves and happy with the woman we walk by on the street.

One area I personally struggle in is being a mom. For a ton of reasons (none of which I will list here) I often feel a pang of jealousy when I see another mom doing something great. It used to really cause negative feelings in me. I would see something posted on Facebook and I immediately would think to myself about how that mom was just being boastful. Over the years though, I have grown a lot. In that growth, I can now recognize that my negative feelings for other women are so very often a reflection of my own feelings of failure. It had nothing to do with them, I just didn’t realize it. In fact, none of that was even a conscious thought until I’d reconnected with someone I used to be friends with. She is an amazing wife and mother of 5 children, and it clearly shows on her Facebook account. On Sunday, just as I was getting ready to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for my family for breakfast, my friend’s status showed, “Drinking mint tea and my morning smoothie! Breakfast: Fried potatoes with garlic, pepper, red and green bell peppers and onion, cinnamon rolls I made last night, bacon, sausage, English muffins and I have these fruits ready to there liking: Cantaloupe, cherries, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, sliced up pink lady apples, green and red grapes, sliced oranges, peaches, cherry tomatoes and bananas. Veggie choices: Spinach leaves, celery and carrot sticks, red and green bell pepper, sliced raw broccoli, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, green beans, snow peas, sliced cauliflower, cubed squash, buttered asparagus and raspberries. Three different yogurts, six cheeses, coconut milk or whole dairy milk and nuts galore to choose from! Now for these people to wake up, anytime now, serious!” For a split second, I thought oh my goodness, why can’t I be like that?! I immediately redirected my thinking and remembered that she is just that freaking awesome and it’s okay that she is amazing. It is also okay that my kids were “just” getting pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We were both feeding our families out of love and that is what matters.

Advertising works hard at making us hate ourselves. It does this because they want to sell products. Buy this teeth whitener, that brand of clothing, this brand of makeup, this diet supplement, and that bra. . . The list is endless because it is effective.  It’s mentally exhausting worrying about it and how we compare to others, and it requires conscious effort to remind ourselves that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ladies, it is not easy to remember with all that is in our faces every single day that we are all worthy and we do not need to compare ourselves, but it is worth the effort. There will always be someone else that is more pretty, has better hair, has a more flattering figure, etc., but those other women DO NOT affect you. Embrace the differences, lift each other up, compliment what you like in others, and go to sleep at night knowing that those around you don’t make you any less of the amazing woman you are. 

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Happy???

Happiness…

 

What is it? Why are so many people searching for it and yet it remains elusive? What is the key to it? I’ve been thinking about these questions lately, not only for how it relates to my own life, but for those around me too.

 

I’ve been searching desperately for happiness since I was a teenager. Back then, I searched in all the wrong areas—some of which I continued with for many years. I searched for it through my friends and their poor choices. I searched for it with my body and the affection of boys. I searched for it high and low and had an intense longing to feel this happy that everyone speaks of. It was nowhere to be found though.

 

I spent the years of my 20’s still searching for happiness as I struggled with so much more than most even know of. While dealing with my abusive husband, while taking care of little ones I had so close together, while crying alone with no friends and no support and hating myself, I continued to desperately seek happiness. I desired it so much that while drowning in the misery of my life circumstances, I sought it out with my physician in the form of an antidepressant, then a different antidepressant, then another one, and then with anti-anxiety meds too. Do you know that antidepressants do not equal happy? Most people realize this, but when I was a desperate young woman clinging to the hope of feeling better, I did not. In my naïve state, I also did not realize that there weren’t any drugs in the world that could fix my life circumstances and the impact they had on my health and well-being.

 

Over time, much of my situation got better. I left the abusive husband, I left the town and bad friends I’d gotten into trouble with immediately after my marriage ended, and I moved back to the safety of my hometown. But guess what? I still wasn’t feeling happy. Don’t worry though, this one is really a happy story (no pun intended) and a breakthrough was in the making…

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I had moments I felt happy when my life was really hard. My children obviously were something to feel happy about. I would occasionally have friends to talk to too and that made me feel happy. But overall, miserable would be a much more accurate adjective for my life through my 20’s.

 

The breakthrough…

 

A pivotal moment in my life was when I decided to go back to school (for the 3rd time) and…I succeeded! I had tried twice previously and stopped going. The first time I began college, I was already enrolled and waiting to begin when my daughter passed away. I thought that I could still do it, but I was wrong and couldn’t handle it. The second time I went back, I managed to succeed one semester and was onto my second when I finally had the guts to leave my husband. The downfall of that was that my entire life fell apart at first, including my attempt at college. So understandably, I was incredibly scared to try again. I feared failure more than anything for several reasons (other blog posts will happen later to describe those events). Taking the step to get back into college was scary. Two years later when I finished that last class and knew my degree was coming, I was on top of the world! I had endured working full time, a breakup, the daily life of being a mom, and so much more, but I still did it. That coming on the heels of having to get myself out of a very large hole that I’d dug myself into without any support or help from anyone else (again, as I referenced in my very first blog post, there will come a time I’m ready to write about that, but that time is not here yet) made me feel like I was on top of the world. I was starting to make something of myself finally in my late 20’s!

 

Would you like to guess what came about with that success? That’s right—happiness! It was my first step in adulthood that I was truly proud of and could share with everyone. I finally felt like I was worthy in this world. I finally felt like I could contribute to society instead of feeling like I was a problem. For the first time, I finally felt like I was more than a teen mom, more than a screw up, more than just someone for my family to gossip about and look down their noses upon. It was truly joyous for me.

 

After that came more baby steps to being a better person. I continued working, I improved many areas of my life through hard work and dedication, and then came a pivotal moment…I learned that I am more in control of my own emotions, thoughts, and feelings than I could have ever guessed.

 

I have a dear friend that told me one day that I could indeed control my feelings. I was shocked and thought she was maybe being a little self-righteous as she was explaining that it was something she works on with herself. She talked about training one’s thoughts and redirecting oneself when the mind turns to negative thinking. I thought she was crazy. Now…I wonder how many people think I’m crazy when I talk about the same thing—because it works!

 

As my life has changed as time has gone on and I’ve gained some wisdom with age, I’ve also become even more independent and self-sufficient. I’ve worked on controlling the negativity in my head and that’s something I continue to work on daily. When I get weighted down with thoughts that aren’t positive, I remind myself that that’s not where my focus should be. It’s constant redirection. In that focus on positivity, I’ve made much personal growth.

 

When I went through a break-up a year ago and began to struggle severely financially, I didn’t cry about it, I didn’t take to Facebook to whine about it, and I didn’t expect someone to fix it for me. I went out and got a second job. I worked my tail off to get myself into a better financial state and was able to quit the second job. I felt so good knowing I could depend on myself and take care of my own needs. I felt…you guessed it—happy!

 

I’m not without struggles now. I have normal stress just like anyone else. I deal with financial issues, teenagers, household stress, and hurts. I just choose to put my focus on my blessings. I’ve taught myself (with the help of others) how to be happy.

 

So let me share this; if you’re longing for happiness, it’s not something you will magically find. It’s definitely not something that you can purchase. And it’s not even something you find in someone else. We each hold happy inside of us. It’s each person’s job to pull it out of him or herself, and it starts with deciding…I’m happy.

Healing in a Hat

When I told my boyfriend this morning that I was going to write a blog about my new hat, I literally laughed out loud. It sounds like such a silly thing, but there’s a big reason behind it.

 

Let me backtrack for a second and explain that on Sunday morning, as the skies were blue and the sun was bright and the day was already heating up towards 70 degrees, we were preparing for a day outside in the sunshine. We stopped at good ol’ Walmart for a few necessities; water, sunscreen, a couple pairs of shorts for The Littles, and sun hats were on our list of needs. As we rushed through each department grabbing the items we were in search of, we ended at the sun hats. I personally would rather have my children’s faces shielded from the sun than to continuously slather them in sunblock, but the big deal for me was deciding what to do for myself. My 13 year old picked a mesh cowboy hat that complimented her personal style and I knew would be worn several times over the next few months of sun. The 5 year old picked a sun visor that matched the hat of one of her favorite people in the whole world—my 13 year old, and the 3 year old picked an adorable black traditional sun hat. I looked at the wall of choices that I’ve seen several times over the years when the weather turns warm, and I was secretly nervous.

 

So many times, I’ve walked by that wall and thought there were many cute choices, but I was too afraid to stop and try any on. Why, you ask? Because like many women in today’s times, I struggle with insecurity. This time, I was stopping because it was a true necessity, but I still worried about judgment. Am I too old to try the cute mesh cowboy hats? Are the big floppy brimmed hats too “old” for me in my early 30’s? Is there something in between that would be seen as more appropriate for my age and weight and looks? Would people judge what they see with me wearing one of these choices? Would younger/skinnier/more attractive women giggle to each other if they walked by while I was trying on hats with my kids? I was flustered at the thought of it all.

 

I realize that to many, it would seem silly to be so worried about picking out a hat, but for me, it’s something I’ve always been really self-conscious about. Lately, I’ve had a hard time in general with self-esteem. I seem to have periods of time that I feel confident and attractive, but then I have other periods of time where I feel fat and ashamed and unattractive. I’ve been struggling greatly with the latter these days. This is in part due to the fact I was recently a victim of Internet bullying. To have another human being put me down and shame me for my looks was a little bit of a hard pill to swallow. To have some woman that I don’t even know decide to single me out, taunt me publicly on social media, and then message my boyfriend about it all and put together a side by side picture of her and I pointing out how she’s thin and “more attractive” was more difficult to deal with than I thought it would be. That had a bigger impact that I thought possible. Every picture I’ve put on social media since, I’ve thought of people like her. I’ve wondered who is judging. I’ve wondered who is looking at it and thinking I’m unattractive and unappealing. I’ve wondered if there are those that think to themselves, “Oh, she’s pretty.” My point is, I’ve spent way too much time worrying over these things.

 

Back to standing in front of the wall of hats…my daughter and my boyfriend made it fun for me to try on different ones. I wanted one that was cute, but more than anything, I wanted one that greatly served the purpose I was looking for—to shade my face from the sun I would spend my entire afternoon standing in. As I picked up different styles and colors to try, I relaxed a lot with my fears of other people seeing me. I realized that to anyone walking by, I would look like every other Walmart patron and that most people wouldn’t even notice, let alone care that I was trying out hats. It was in that moment that I took a leap of faith and said to myself, “F’ what anyone thinks,” and I bought the big, floppy billed hat that I knew would be best for blocking the sun.

 

Looking back now just a day later, I can’t believe that I was really considering sacrificing the safety and comfort of my skin over what people ~might~ think of me. I decided to not care about what other people’s judgments might be. I put that hat on in the parking lot as soon as we left, and I proudly wore it all day long, and guess what? It worked wonderfully and protected my face, ears, and the back of my neck from the sun without the use of sunscreen, and I didn’t catch a single person looking at me funny because of my choice. I’ve decided that I need to take this approach with the rest of my life and all of my insecurities. I refuse to be a victim anymore to the mean people of the world. At the end of the day, while I may not be everyone’s cup of tea physically, that woman that chose to be cruel to me is much more ugly than I could ever be. She’s a special kind of ugly on the inside and no matter what the outside looks like, when you’re that ugly in your heart, you’re ugly everywhere.

 

Oh! And guess what else I did yesterday? I took a picture in my favorite new hat…and I put it on Facebook for the world to see.