Women’s March on Washington

I am so proud to be a woman today and was almost moved to tears about the support from millions of people around the world for women’s rights.

Yesterday, a man was sworn in to be the leader of my country, and he has shown me that he does not respect a woman’s rights. I will not call him President Trump. He will forever just be Trump for me. I do not and will not believe any thing that comes out of his mouth because he has gone against his word so many times throughout the last year that I don’t know what is true, what is not, and what to believe. I did not vote for Trump and I cannot support him. I will respect the office he now holds, but I can only view him as the con artist that I see. You may disagree with me, but that’s my opinion. If you voted for Trump, good for you. That’s your right.

I could not walk in the March today because I had to work, but I proudly cheered on the 500+ people who marched in my small, rural town this morning. Here are my reasons why I support the March and why I will fight for my rights with the new President and Republican-majority Congress:

I will NEVER let any man tell me what I can and cannot do with MY body. I do not want a law being put into place where I do not have a say with my body, but a man can do what he pleases with his body without anybody’s approval or any repercussions.

For some of my friends, they refused to walk because of abortion for religious reasons or personal reasons and there is nothing wrong with that. I will support them in their decision. I am Pro-Life to a point. I do not believe in using abortion as a means of birth control. If you refuse to use other forms of birth control, pill, condom or otherwise, and do not want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. Period. Simple as that. I am for abortion, however, when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest because no woman should have to be reminded of that horrible instance every single day for nine months and I believe rape and incest are not reasons to bring a child into the world. But whether or not a woman aborts a pregnancy due to rape, incest or any other reason should be her choice and her’s alone. Abortion is ending a life and there is no other way to look at it. I will support any woman for making such a difficult decision because it will affect her for the rest of her life and she is the one who has to live with that decision.

I am also for abortion when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life and the fetus is not viable. My friend had to terminate a pregnancy last year, because the baby would not have survived and would have killed my friend as well. In order for my friend to survive so she could be around to raise her other children, she had to lose any and all hope of ever having more children because the only way to save her life was through a hysterectomy. Should she be punished for aborting that pregnancy? No. No one should. Should her other children be forced to grow up without a mother? No.

I hate that this Republican- majority controlled Congress wants to take away affordable birth control for women while men can still buy condoms for fairly cheap. How is that fair? Sure, women can buy the condoms, but we cannot buy medication for our bodies? The government is making it sound like men are the only ones who get to decide when a woman gets pregnant and she has no say in the matter. There are other health benefits to taking birth control. I had to take it for several years, starting when I was sixteen, to regulate my hormones because I was having cramps so bad I felt like I was paralyzed.

I stand with my LGBTQ community. While I am a straight women, I support everyone in who they are and who they choose to love, no matter what gender they happen to be. We are all HUMAN!! That alone makes us equal. Just because someone disagrees with another person’s choice, by personal or religious reasons, does not mean they cannot and should not have the same rights. LOVE IS LOVE. Gender does not decide that. The heart and soul do.

I stand with the transgender community to use whatever bathroom they want. We are all there to do the same business. Who cares what gender you are or choose to be? I stand with transgenders to be viewed as equal to anyone else.

We now have a President that acts like women are nothing more than “play-things” and I have yet to see him deny this. I saw a video that compared how Obama and Trump talked about their daughters. Obama praised them, that his daughters were kind, respectful, smart, funny, and compassionate. Then it showed Trump talking about his daughters and he kept saying how they have nice legs or that if they weren’t his daughters, he’d date them. I find that revolting.

I’ve heard reports since the election was over and that Trump was elected, that so many men believe that just because Trump got elected, they can grab a woman however they please and she cannot stop them. I’ve also heard rumors about the government wanting to lessen or even get rid of punishments for violence against women. This simply cannot happen. My body is not a “play-thing” for men to grab whenever they please. Any man who tries to grab me without my consent will find himself in the hospital after being throat-punched and the shit kicked out of them. I know how to defend myself and I’m not afraid to.

I’m with the mothers who breastfeed in public. If you don’t like it, turn away. The woman is just trying to feed her child in the most natural way. Breastfeeding babies is why women have breasts. Don’t belittle a breastfeeding mother. Don’t make her feel like a horrible human being because you find it disgusting or unsexy. Simply turn away and don’t look. And don’t make her go into the public restroom to feed her child while sitting on a public toilet. If you wouldn’t eat your lunch in a public restroom, why should a baby?

I stand for my right to be seen as an equal. My favorite picture of a poster I saw today said, “I don’t know why I still need to protest this fucking shit.” Why do we seem to be going backwards? It’s the 21st century for crying out loud.

I am a woman. I have rights that SHOULD be equal to a man’s. I have a voice. I will not be silenced. I will fight and I will show you how to fight like a girl. And today it was apparent that I’m not alone.

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This is Me

I finished watching the first ten episodes of This Is Us. Amazing show. I laughed. I cried. I was able to relate to it.

Even though I haven’t blogged much in a long time, I have discussed my weight loss before. I am on that journey once again. With This Is Us, I can relate to Kate the most because I know what it’s like to be morbidly obese and to be that way for the majority of my life. Maybe not to the size that Chrissy Metz is, but she is an amazing woman. Not to mention, beautiful.

I have never looked my weight. People are shocked that, one, I’m not afraid to be honest with my weight and, two, I don’t care who knows how much I weigh. Who cares? That number on the scale does not reflect who I am as a person. I wish society could see that. NBC is tackling this subject very well along with other very difficult subjects that many families around the world can relate to.

Three and a half years ago, I was at the heaviest I’ve been in my life. I stopped stepping on the scale because I didn’t want to see THAT number on the scale. It was like, if I didn’t see THAT number, then I could never weigh what I knew I did. I weighed about 325 pounds at my heaviest. I’m not proud of that. I didn’t realize that I was that big until this summer when my grandma took a picture of me using a saw for the first time in my life. It wasn’t until I found another picture of me when I was at my heaviest that I saw the difference. I cried.

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Me in 2013 (left) and me in 2016 (right)

One thing that so many people who haven’t struggled with their weight don’t understand is that when you look at yourself in the mirror every day, you tend to not notice a difference until that difference is significant. I know the pictures aren’t from the same angle, but I remember sucking in my stomach for the picture in 2013. One thing I can see in the mirror is how slimmer my face is. In the three and a half years between these pictures, I have lost 80 pounds. That is the most weight I have ever lost.

I was weighed by the doctor in 2007 at 275 pounds and by 2009 I was down to 225. Then stress at my job and depression fully kicked in and I turned to food as a comfort and ended up where I was in 2013. While I was so excited to lose 50 pounds, I ended up gaining 100. Food doesn’t judge you. Food is always there for you. So it’s understandable that so many people turn to food as a comfort.

There’s a part in This is Us where Chrissy Metz’s character Kate gets frustrated when she’s been counting her calories and closely watching what she eats. She works out so much and she barely loses the weight, where as her love interest isn’t working as hard as she is and he loses quite a bit of weight. I know that struggle. I’ve been there. I think every one struggling to lose weight has.

One thing that I’ve learned that works for me is to lose the weight really slow. I’m not in a hurry to lose my weight. I’m not on one of the weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss or My 600-lb Life. What people have to keep in mind, is that on all of those shows, the participants are under strict doctor supervision. I’ve always been told by the various doctors I have over my life that people should not lose weight as quickly as they seem to on most of these shows. With that being said, I’m not a doctor, but I don’t see how losing 20 pounds in one week is healthy for anyone.

So here I am. The beginning of 2017 and I am starting this year out at 247 pounds (I gained 2 pounds over Christmas but I refuse to fret over it). While most people are making the New Year’s resolution to lose weight, I’m not. I don’t make resolutions. I will however, focus on eating less, eating healthy, drinking more water, and getting closer to my goal of 175 pounds. I have been on Weight Watchers for the last few months and I also need to focus on using their system to its full potential too since it really does work. I’m not losing weight to make anyone but myself happy. After almost losing my life in November of 2014, I just want to be healthy and be healthy for me.

Thank you NBC and the writers for This is Us. It’s a great show and it is dealing with many issues that people face every day. Thank you to the cast for giving this show life. I’m anxious to see what comes next in this heart-felt story.

Here’s Where I Stand…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment of the United States Constitution)

Last night, I voiced my opinion on the election on Facebook and ended up feeling like I was attacked by friends who disagreed with me. We as Americans have to right to voice our opinions and to disagree with anyone. This was, in my opinion, the most fearful election America has seen in a long time.

In school I paid attention to my civics just enough to graduate and it’s something that I regret at almost 35 years old. I’ve read up on the government and civics more in the past ten years than I did in twelve years of school. I’m not saying that I’m an expert, in fact I’m far from one. I still have a lot to learn and I will learn more.

I voted for Obama twice and I don’t care what you think. He said that he wanted to do a lot of things that I thought would benefit this country at the time. He unfortunately had to deal with a shitty Congress that fought him, no matter if Obama said anything about not needing Congress. We need Congress and the President to work TOGETHER in order for this country to work, but that unfortunately will never happen. A lot of people thought that I voted for Obama because of the color of his skin. This is not true. I voted for him because I respect him. I also respect the Obama’s for dealing with the shit and criticism they have been given over the last eight years with grace, class, and dignity.

Michelle Obama is a great woman and a worthy role model for many, many young women out there. I have loved everything that she has done as the First Lady. She brought childhood obesity to the forefront of the nation. She has fought to end that. I’m obese and I’ve worked really, really hard in my life to get healthy. In four years, I’ve lost roughly 75 pounds. I support her in her efforts to get children to be healthy and getting schools to offer healthy food to their students. I love Michelle for that. Thank you.

I’ve dealt with a lot from bullies, very similar to Trump, in my life. At almost 35, I have little to no self-esteem because of bullying. I’ve been told that I cannot make the same choices that a man can make because women should not be allowed to think for themselves. That women are inferior to men. That women are weak. I’ve been told by bullies that I’m worthless, ugly, a waste of space. I’ve been degraded as a woman. Like so many women in this country, we have dealt with misogynists for centuries. People like Trump made me want to end my life at ten-years-old because I was told that I was nothing. That my life does not matter.

Trump once said that he does not condone violence even though, in the beginning of the race, he encouraged his supporters to punch anyone who disagreed with him. THAT defines a bully. I’ve had my life threatened by a bully and I feel sorry for the minorities that have been trying to become equal.

I don’t care that he said that it’s okay to grab a woman by her pussy ten years ago. I’m angry at that statement because he said it. At one point in his life, he said it. That statement has caused so many misogynists to now believe that because Trump got elected, he will make it legal for any man to grab any woman by her vagina and we have no say for our bodies. THAT makes me fearful to go outside for the fear that I will be grabbed and treated like nothing more than a toy for men to play with. I’M NOT A FUCKING TOY!!!!!! Trump treats women like shit and acts like we should just sit back, take it, and not fight back. I fear for the safety of my young cousins who are girls and are entering into puberty and now have to learn and deal with the ideology that women are nothing. Women have fought for equality for a very long time and now we face losing whatever equality we have managed to get.

Trump wants to throw out all Muslims whether they are citizens or not. You cannot do this. Go back to the top of this post and re-read the First Amendment. I will reiterate something that I’ve been very vocal on. Not all Muslims are terrorists. We need to stop viewing all of them that way. Only the extremists are the terrorists. One person alone cannot stop terrorism and bombing a certain area of the world will not stop it either.

I have bashed Trump for months and will continue to hate him. Just because he got elected doesn’t mean that I have to like him. So many people hate Obama for many reasons and that is their choice and their opinion. I don’t have to agree with it and I don’t. But don’t treat me like shit because I’ve hated Trump and everything that he has said for many, many years, way before this election.

Most of the backlash I received last night was because I said I was embarrassed to be an American. I’m sad that I’ve said that but it is still true. I’ve always been thankful and proud to be American, but we have become a laughing stock to many of our allies. I threatened to leave the country if Trump got elected but in all honesty, I will not leave. I will not give up on this country. We’ve dealt with a shitty government for a long time. Only time will tell what this Presidency will do for this country in four years.

I would love to see this country get rid of the political parties and make the men and women that run this country responsible for all of their actions. Don’t give them something like a political party to hide behind. It would make the American people vote for who they think is the best candidate, not because they feel obligated to vote for only their party. I understand that that is perfectly okay for the people who want to vote that way. That is the beauty of America. We have a choice. We have the right to choose what we think is best for our country. So many people in other countries do not have that choice or that right.

I’m sorry to anyone that I may have offended with this. That was not my intention for this blog post or anything I’ve said on Facebook. You also have the right to voice your opinion. I just got upset with how I felt I was treated. Stand up for what you believe but be respectful to others’ opinions as well. I may not have acted in a way that I should have, but what’s done is done. I am ready to move on.

To Donald Trump, just because you got elected to be the President of my country doesn’t mean that I have to like you or even respect you. I hate most of what you stand for. You keep saying that you can make America great again. I disagree. I believe you will set us back to a time when most of our citizens did not have rights and were treated like shit. You have four years to prove me wrong. Prove to me that you can be a great leader. Prove to me that you can look beyond race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender to decide what is best for ALL citizens of the United States. We are divided more than we have ever been. You have four years. Don’t waste them. Don’t screw up my life because I think you’re an idiot and are not qualified in any way to run this country.

This is my opinion and nothing more.

GISHWHES Helps to Save the Bees

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The milkweed in my garden is over 6-feet tall.

Do you like honey? How about flowers? Need non-battery operated candles for when the power goes out? Want to keep these things that we love around? Thank a bee.

The bee population has been dwindling and it’s unfortunate. Bees are great for the environment in many, many ways. Most people view them as just pests, but they are not. At least most of the time.

Bees are responsible for pollinating 100,000 plants in just the United States alone and they produce delicious honey. If you just moved to a new area and have allergies, you can eat honey from that area to help get your body used to the plants that you may not be used to. Just remember to not feed honey to any child under the age of two.

Honey bees only have one sting in them or they die. They mainly sting out of defense so, please, be nice to them. The only people to really be afraid of them are those who are allergic to bee stings, but still don’t do anything that will make them sting you.

Did you know that only female bees can sting? I didn’t know that until today.

As the commercial honeybee industry declines due to Colony Collapse Disorder, it is more important than ever to have backyard beekeepers maintaining feral honeybees. Many apprentice and beginning beekeeper classes are offered at nurseries locally. (San Diego Zoo Website)

You can encourage honey bees to stick around in your yard and collect the pollen from all your beautiful plants by simply planting milkweed. Bees, monarch butterflies and other insects depend on this plant. There are many varieties, so ask you local nursery which milkweed would be beneficial in your garden. The milkweed in my garden is well over six-feet in height and it mainly blooms at night.

bee ballonIf you have a bee problem in your yard and want to get rid of them, please DO NOT kill them. Relocate the bees instead. The following sites have experts that can safely relocate the bees to an apiary in your area and help save them.

Bee Removal Source

Pest World (US & Canada)

Honey Bee Relocation Services

Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS)

You can do a simple search too for Bee Relocation Services. If you are not sure of the best way to safely remove bees from your yard, ask someone at your local nursery or apiary and they just may have an answer for you.

There are also a lot of non-profit bee preservation organizations that you can donate too if you like.

Don’t let us loose our beloved bees, especially the honey bees. We need them.

Sincerely,

Courtney (a.k.a #caitlyanna, team #sequinedlovenuns, #GISHWHES)

 

Five Months Off and My Trip Ahead

I cannot believe it’s been five months since I blogged. Wow. Time flies when life grabs you by the horns I guess. There has been so much going on with me lately. The biggest up-and-coming thing with me is my first international trip by myself.

In exactly one week, I will be flying out of LAX to Vancouver, BC. I’ve been to Canada once before in 1996 to visit Niagara Falls but that was back when you didn’t need a passport and Americans just needed to show their driver’s license. Since 9/11 the rules have changed. I got my passport back in May when I really started finalizing my trip. I knew they were expensive, but I wasn’t expecting the total price. People told me that it took months to get one, but the lady at the Post Office said that it usually takes one month. I went ahead and spent the extra for expedited because I wanted to make sure I had it. It took two weeks and cost me almost $250.00 after the price of the photos and the various fees that go with getting it. I also had to get a copy of my birth certificate because my mom wasn’t sure what she did with it. Now I have my own copy.

Then came the hotels. Since I’ve never been to Vancouver, I don’t know where the best neighborhoods are. Thank God for Google Maps. I love taking the little orange figure and placing it on the streets and then looking around the area. I found a cute little hotel in New Westminster, BC that is in a vintage building and has very few rooms but the price was decent. My original plan was to only spend five days in Vancouver and three in Seattle before heading to Portland, OR for a week. My family told me that Seattle would need to be about a week trip in order to see the whole city and what it has to offer, so I decided to spend an entire week in Vancouver instead. I wanted to extend my reservation at The Met Hotel but the price ended up being a little more than I really wanted to spend. I ended up spending it anyway, but found a hotel in downtown Vancouver that is close to the Olympic torch. Both hotels are really close to the Sky Train so getting around Vancouver shouldn’t be that difficult.

My list of things to do in Vancouver is fairly lengthy, but if I do things just right, I’ll be able to fit all of them in. Once I found out about the aquarium, I had to go. I have loved dolphins ever since I could remember. The majority of my folders for school growing up had dolphins or whales on them. I am a Picses and I love everything that has to do with water. I was able to see some dolphins in the Pacific Ocean on a trip to Catalina Island in 1996 for a school trip but I’ve never seen them up close. I’ve been to zoos but I’ve never been to an aquarium. I knew I had to go when I saw they have beluga whales. They are so ugly they’re cute. I love them. I followed the advise on the website and ordered my ticket to avoid having to stand in line. It was only $30.50 CAD but cost me (at the time) $26 and change.

Knowing I will be spending a lot of time at the various airports due to having to go through customs, I decided to save myself some time and headaches and ordered my Canadian money through work. One thing off my list. I’m going to try to follow Rachael Ray’s $40 a day with food and hopefully I can do it. I plan on spending one whole day at Granville Island and will probably snack throughout the Farmer’s Market there so then I can splurge on Kai, a Japanese restaurant. I was surprised to see how many gluten-free places there are in Vancouver. I cannot wait.

The second half of my trip, I get to ride on a train. I have never been on a train, except the train at Disneyland. That doesn’t compare to Amtrak. At all. I got my ticket last night. I am set. I will taking the train from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon.

For what ever reason, the idea of moving to Portland has been at the back of my mind for about three years. I am taking this trip to see if I live the city and to see what the apartments look like and the job market. I know finding a job everywhere sucks but I need out of Bishop. This place is driving me mad. I need to leave. Period. The best part is Tia will be there visiting her family. We get to meet!! Finally!! And I get to see the baby bump because he is pregnant with #4.

I was able to go on this trip because I decided not to go to Comic Con this year. It felt weird not going but I think I need this trip more that I needed to go to Comic Con. This is a huge trip for me. I am going by myself and will be a LONG way from home. I will be safe. I will have fun. I need this for my sanity.

Thank You Glee

Glee tackled a topic tonight that touches my heart and is something that I’ve been dealing with the consequences of over the last couple of days. I’ve written about my days of being bullied in school. I am a few days away from turning 30 and the various insults I had to endure over a decade ago still hurt. Physical scars are always better than emotional scars. Physical scars fade, emotional ones never leave, they never fade, they are always with you.

Glee has tackled the bullying subject before but nothing to the level they reached tonight. It seems that their message throughout the season is “Life is short.” I cannot agree more. That is something that took me a long time to realize.

Lately, I’ve neglected taking my anti-depressant and ended up spending two full days in bed not wanting to do anything. This is not how I want to spend my life and life truly is short. My life is nowhere near where I thought I would be when entering into this stage of my life.

Starting at the age of ten, I threatened suicide for five years. I don’t know how many times I thought about ending everything. The pain was beyond words. The torture kids are capable of making is horrendous. Their taunts and name calling has stayed with me. I’ve spent the last twenty years replaying the parts of my childhood that I have not blacked out in my head. I still hear everything. I remember the pain and the fear. I want to forget but I know I never will.

While I never actually attempted suicide, I still consider that I was suicidal in that time in my life. I don’t know how many times I would look at the razor blades while I was shaving my legs and think that with a couple of painful swipes, the bigger pain would end. All of the torment and the taunting and the name calling would all go away. I had a lot of very dark thoughts go through my head during those five years.

I hate that I had to think those thoughts and feel that way, but at the same time I firmly believe that that period in my life has helped to shape me into the person I am today. The main thing that was taken from me by the bullying of my peers was my self-esteem. I to this day cannot look at myself in the mirror and see a beautiful woman standing there.

I have become so afraid of falling in love and opening up to one person that I have failed in the whole dating department. I am thirty and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I go after the type of guy that is unattainable because if I know I can’t get him, then why try. People are constantly telling me that I need to give up and something will happen. The problem with that is that I have given up my whole life and still I don’t get noticed. When I don’t try, nothing happens. When I do try, nothing happens. I’ve gotten to the point that I firmly believe that everyone has a soul mate except me. I’m starting to fully give up. All I’ve ever wanted was to fall in love, get married and start a family. I’ve been on a total of three dates in my entire life. It’s been over eight years since my first and only kiss. After all of that, why should I try? I am always hearing the girls in school tell me over and over that I will never be good enough for a guy for how can a guy like a fat girl like me. Hard as I may try, I cannot shut that little voice up that lives in the back of my mind.

I’ve watched my family and friends go off and live the type of life that I want. I’m happy for them, but at the same time I hate that when they start talking about those things, I can’t join in the conversations. I sometimes feel like a naïve sixteen year old trapped in a thirty year old’s body. I am trying so freaking hard to not fall into this dark space again, but I’m afraid that I’m already there. I’ve been through so much in my life and yet don’t have any stories to tell any future children (if I get lucky).

I love that Glee is not afraid of tackling these types of issues that kids and young adults are going through. I am glad that Mr. Schuester shared a story that his glee students could relate to. It helps to prove to the younger generations that bullying did not start with their class. It has been around for centuries and it’s unfortunate to still be ongoing today.

I will end this post by saying thank you. Thank you Glee. Thank you Fox. Thank you to the amazing cast, crew, producers, writers, directors, camera people and everyone else it takes to make Glee the success it has been. Thank you for showing what happens to those of us who have been or are being bullied. Bullying NEEDS to stop.

Body Gave Up

I have been trying for what feels like the last two months to not get sick that what happens? You guessed it. I woke up this morning with a cold. I hate being sick. I don’t think anyone likes it but it’s something that just cannot be helped sometimes.

At the end of September last year I began selling Scentsy (courtneymcelvogue.scentsy.us) and I came across one of their scents called Just Breathe. It is as simple as that. The last time I started feeling like I was coming down with something, I popped that into my warmer and the next morning I woke up with a clear head and chest. I put one in my warmer tonight and I hope it, along with vapor rub, I can breathe easier tomorrow.

This beginning of a new year has not gotten off to a great start for a lot of people that I know. My co-worker ‘sdaughter crashed on a dirt bike New Year’s Eve and had to get surgery to put her wrist back together, I realized that all of my credit cards were close to being maxed out, a customer’s computer got hit with a Trojan Horse virus, this morning another friend threw out his back and spent the morning in the hospital, Mammoth Mountain barely has snow and we rely on it for tourism (nobody wants to go skiing with no snow, it defeats the purpose) and now I’m sick and it’s only eleven days into the new year. Lovely.

On the other hand, I haven’t been using my credit cards for the smaller purchases and I’m really thinking about my purchases before I swipe a card. I am eating healthier this year and that will, hopefully, increase my immune system. So even though things are a little rough right now, I know things will turn around and this will be an amazing year. It’s all about keeping a positive attitude. Right?