Friday, May 16, 2014

Gradumacation Day

After nearly 8 years working at LSU - selling the campus to potential students and working with its alumni - today, I feel like I’m officially joining the club. And it has been a long journey. I took my first Public Admin class in the spring semester of 2008. It was Seminar in Public Administration, back when Dr. White still taught it. I missed four classes (all due to work), somehow still made an A, and decided this was a program I could see myself enjoying. Six years and a few hiatuses later, I have finally made it through the 42 credit hours in 14 classes. 

I know I wouldn't have had a chance to make this happen without the support of my other half. She is the one who made the true sacrifices: working with me through the night classes, rushed research papers, and group meetings- even after Lily’s debut 3 years ago and wrangling two kids during the past two months. Rachel, for this, I wholeheartedly thank you my dear.

I also owe a huge thank you to my professors for their knowledge and inspiration as well as their willingness to share it. I know that I am a much more informed and engaged citizen because of the understanding I have gained and the experiences I endured. I know so much more about bureaucracy and what it means to be a true public servant. Not a politician, mind you, but someone genuinely concerned with making a difference in the day-to-day lives of the average citizen. I also now know that a grade of 89.88% is a not an A, no matter how bad you want it to round up. Numbers are objective and care not what side of the line they fall upon, and that’s really what makes them so wonderfully terrible. And as fate would have it, that B would be the only one I made in grad school. Lessons are learned holistically in PADM.
Make no mistake, now that I am an “authentic” Tiger, it doesn't change a thing about how I feel about LA Tech. It will always be my first love. It gave me the knowledge and the foundation to get me where I am today and without a shred of doubt I feel like I've been a part of the best Louisiana has to offer in higher education. English majors can make it in this world!

Anyway, time to walk across the stage and grab that coveted piece of paper that represents countless hours of reading books and journal articles, writing policy analyses, crunching CAFRs, listening to guest lecturers, and correlating data sets.  Fun fact: I have never once sang the LSU Alma mater, not at a football game or even hummed along with the memorial tower at noon. Today, I feel like I might give it a shot. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I am beautiful.

Eight weeks ago, I had a baby. I gained 30-ish pounds during pregnancy and am currently six pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. In the comfort of my own home, I deem this a huge success. I'm not really dieting or cursing the scale. I'm actually proud of myself and how rockin' my bod looks in my yoga pants and t-shirts. Thanks to nursing, I have a pretty nice rack and my husband tells me I'm beautiful daily...and in our happy house...I believe him.

But then I go out in public...

I mean, did my post-baby bump and muffin top wait until I was out of the drive way to pop out of my too-tight pants? And on that note, I swear these pants fit at home!

The real world is harsh and full of assholes. Not once, not twice, but THRICE I was asked last weekend when I was due. Um...eight weeks ago...jerk! Seriously, did your mother not raise you right? NEVER ask a woman when she is due. Unless you see a baby exiting her personal area, just keep your mouth shut. Sorry, I digress...

I left the house that day in a cute little dress ( that was NOT maternity, mind you)  with my hair and make up actually done. I felt good about myself and was thinking I was adorable and then BAM, confidence shattered by a stranger. This got me thinking..

Why do I let the opinions of others affect how I feel about my physical self?

For years I've let people joke that I'm frumpy. What an awful word that is...frumpy. At first it was funny...but suddenly, I started to believe them. I allowed the back-handed compliments, ignorant comments, and unsolicited workout/diet advice lead me to believe that there was something wrong with how I look.  I became incredibly self-conscious about my my wardrobe. But...why?

Truth be told, I'm not frumpy.

I don't dress like they do on Vogue but I'm far from "mom jeans".  Even six pounds from my goal weight, I'm no where near overweight. I might not have a glowing tan but I also won't have skin cancer. I look nothing like the stereo-typical beauties on magazines or movies...but honestly, I don't want to. That's not me.

I don't want to count calories and miss out on yummy foods in an effort to be skinny. I like pizza and tacos and beer...and carbs, basically I really like carbs. I also don't want to live in a gym because I don't have time for that. Don't get me wrong, I think moderation and a healthy lifestyle are important...but there is no secret to being healthy. Don't constantly eat crap and get off your tail every once in a while! No need to obsess about it...just live it. Good food should be enjoyed and exercise should be fun. The number on the scale is irrelevant. Whether "my style" is in-style is irrelevant. All I want is to be a healthy, happy ME....the best version of ME.

This attitude change isn't only for me. More importantly, I have an awesome little girl that is starting to watch and mimic my every move. If I let the world beat me down...odds are she will too. And I will not have that. I want her to know she is beautiful but not because she is attractive...but because she is kind and smart and caring and funny and sweet. Pretty is as pretty does. I don't want her to put value in what "the world" deems accept the challenge of leading by example. The opinions of matter how loudly shared...are not important. It is time to stop obsessing about the facets of beauty that are irrelevant and start putting value on what really matters.

Am I healthy? Am I happy? Am I kind?

Then I am beautiful!