My Partner in Crime

by lauren atkinson


I'm the worst at sharing beds. No, I don't mean that sexually (I said we'd get personal, but you're not my OBGYN so don't flatter yourself.) I am terrible at sleeping next to someone else. My whole life I've done this thing where I tap my feet until I pass out. Then once I sleep I roll the blankets into a cocoon or cave (depending on the night) and more than likely, I wake up half outside the sheets. I'm not sure what happens. But that's not all. I also wake up in panic states some nights. I cry in my sleep. Talk. But heaven forbid I remember any of it.

But through all of it, my husband sleeps. Like, corpse-stillness sleeping. The only time he wakes up in the night is when I am talking or crying. It's like an X-man sense. A force. I don't know, but whatever the case my husband is the best at gauging when things aren't right. And even when I'm being unreasonable, he indulges it. He wakes up to my stammering about an intruder climbing the balcony, and flicks on all the lights in the apartment until my sleepy brain is satisfied. (This statement is sincere. My husband doesn't get up out of the manly-caveman Idea of "need. Protect. Wife" no, it's because I'm the scaredy-cat of the relationship. If for some reason I was the brave one, I'd do the same for him.)

My marriage works because we like each other and want the best for EACH OTHER. 

I brag about my husband a lot but there's some things about our marriage that I really do think are pretty rare. Other cultures and religions talk about marriage as being spiritual and two souls combining; a unit. They blame it on gods or outside forces. With my husband, I'd like to think we are separate individuals that figured out we could do things together as equals and partners. We met. Liked each other, were honest about it, did something about it and continued to work on it and continued to like each other. Honest. From the second I met the guy, I knew we could do damage on the world: a force to be reckoned.

Many people before they're married like to dream of the perfect relationship. If they're single, they set expectations that sometimes are never lived up to. They think it's magic: prince charming woos the lady and birds are chirping all around them with fairy dust constantly in the air. With people in relationships, they look to outside influence of how they're supposed to function as a couple. I'm not saying everyone does this, but I will say it happens more often than not. What's so rare, and most beautiful is when those ideals happen organically and when people admit: Marriage takes fucking work even if you're great at being a couple.

A lot of people in marriages enjoy making excuses for their failures or build up their spouse without taking any credit. What I'm going to tell you is this: a marriage or relationship takes two people. The best relationships take two extraordinary individuals that found each other and made shit work. It's not really about being soulmates or finding the puzzle piece that matches yours: It's about finding the person you want to do life with and enjoy doing life with, then making it work. Where one fails, the other doesn't, and it works in reverse. If you start something together, you finish it together. "Partner in crime," because we can totally get in trouble together, but would completely take the fall for one another. 

I read a "love letter" recently that was masked as selfless. The writer said marriage wasn't "for him." And went on to tell a story about how great his wife was and that his marriage wasn't for him, it was for the future and for the other person. It's "for a family." My husband and I don't intend on ever having children, does that mean we married for the wrong reasons? Absolutely not. I also didn't get married to make my husband happy.  Marriage is for me. I would not be the person I am without my husband. As cliche as that sounds, he keeps me sane. I got married because I found my partner in crime and decided I wanted to do my entire life with him by my side. No matter what happens, my husband is my support. 

I'm a whole person without him, sure, but he allows me to be fully me. The weird, emotional, nerdy sides of me. And again, that's not to say we are both easy. We just really somehow know each other. I'd be myself and figure things out, but I wouldn't function the same. Bonnie without Clyde.

I think all marriages work differently. And the good ones don't compare themselves to other people.  

So to get back to my bragging, my husband isn't the one that messes up. Society often likes to paint the picture of the male being the one to do that. No, generally if we fight (which is I think twice in our relationship...) or argue (which happens but our arguments are always silly) the issue is resolved pretty fast. Like, minutes fast. I'm generally the one causing the argument and it's usually about me suddenly becoming emotional about something I never have before and taking it out on my wonderful husband. And guess what, he takes it. Like a fucking pro. And instead of getting mad, he talks it out. He talks me down. He understands when I'm crying out of stress and not about him. (Let's be real, it's always stress and never him.)

Before you make assumptions about relationship dynamics, don't. Men aren't always insensitive: sometimes women are. Men aren't always irrational and self-motivated. Women do that too.

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 Maybe we are just the rare, completely honest types. Maybe we just function so well because we don't take ourselves too seriously. Or maybe it's something bigger. But I do know that he's seen the parts of me no one else has. (Again, not dirty. Serious) Marriage isn't always about selflessness. It's not. It's give AND take: It's a partnership. A badass one: Batman and Robin. Jules and Vincent. Skully and Mulder. (Or whatever the heck badass team you want to put in there.) I know that if I robbed a bank, my husband would be in the getaway car waiting. If I decided I wanted to eat some crazy diet or to only eat doritos for the rest of my life, he'd probably join me.  

I could go on-and-on about my opinions on marriage, but I don't even know if that's why I am writing this post. I think I just wanted to brag about my partner-in-crime. We work together. We belong together. And I don't mean in the weird spiritual-universy-way. We just work. And we work best when we aren't comparing ourselves to other people.

If you want my only relationship advice on how to function as a couple: stop asking me for advice. If you want to work it out then make it happen and find the way for yourselves. What works for us might not work for you. Find your own sappiness and stick to it. 

 


Transitions

by lauren atkinson


Recently, I started to have a little bit of a meltdown because the stress of making friends can be rough and being alone isn't something I'm really comfortable with happening. Throughout this whole moving process, I've realized I have never been in an atmosphere where I knew absolutely no one. Every place I have gone, I knew at least one person, who knew someone else that had another friend, and so on. But here, it's a little different. I'm starting with just my husband and one of our best friends.  And at first, the quiet was a little deafening. 

But there's benefits to starting over in this way: you learn things about yourself that you didn't know before. You learn your strengths. You learn more about your passions. And, if you're like me, you learn what quiet is like and aren't uncomfortable with it. 

Another great thing I've learned is how to do things on my own and not freak out. In the past, if there were things I had to deal with that I didn't know how, I would default to asking questions to everyone I knew before arriving at the instructions and how-to. Here, I've had to figure out the right and wrong way of doing things. I've had to rely on strangers. I've had to blindly use public transit or drive my car into neighborhoods I don't know. I did things that would normally scare me, but because I had no choice.  It's given me perspective and I've also seen some amazing things and places I wouldn't have if I didn't take the risk of going out alone.

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I've also changed the way I approach conversations with new people. I'm not just asking questions to be polite, I'm asking questions to genuinely learn about them. I think small-talk happens out of habit or necessity when you get into a routine. Instead, I've been asking the questions I want to know about a person. I'm becoming that person that used to perplex me: the one conversing with strangers in the grocery line, asking about what they plan on making with their vegetables and if they prefer a brand of tofu over another. 

And it's all resulted in some great things. I am learning the public transportation and would rather take it than driving. I've been encouraged to work on hobbies I've let go of. I go on walks by myself which is something I never would have done. I explore. I find my time with others more valuable and rewarding. 

I encourage you, even if you aren't starting over, spend some time getting to know yourself. Relearn old skills. Train yourself to do new things. Step outside your comfort zone. Talk to people you normally wouldn't. Ask questions.

 


Bite Your Tongue

by lauren atkinson


I know that recently I wrote about how important it is to share your emotions towards situations and feelings about people. Well, there's a flip-side to that notion: biting your tongue.  

I could quote all types of proverbs about the "tongue being the sharpest sword" and I could give plenty of anecdotes about hurtful words, but that'd be obvious. I could also tell you that I learned from Bambi, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," but we all know this. 

Something, however, many people have forgotten is that the internet isn't as anonymous as we'd like to think. You can't completely hide behind a keyboard.  There's plenty of things that need to be said if you're just bottling it up inside but there are other things that should be left alone. And let's get real: the place for honesty isn't always the internet. 

There's been plenty of times I've read a facebook or twitter update, or even someone else's blog post, and thought something snarky, typing it out and then quickly hitting the "delete" key. I've had to remind myself that if I wouldn't say it to the poster in person, I shouldn't say it from my keyboard. It's just a rotten thing to do. 

If you don't agree with someone's post think about what you're typing before you hit "post". Is that comment you are about to write doing that person any favors, or is your goal to make them feel dumb or silly? Are you contributing to their post positively or are you being a bully? Was your goal to humiliate or educate, tear down or encourage?

Guess what, you don't have to respond to everything you don't agree with. You don't have to correct every person that you think is wrong.  

As adults, this should be a lesson we have already learned, but I don't think that we all have. I need a reminder as much as others: maybe it's time to bite your tongue, pull back your fingers from the keyboard, and think about what you're about to say. Know the consequences of your actions before you even take them.  


Power in Words

by lauren atkinson


In the past I've been told that I am a hard person to read. I don't always show my emotions through the normal visual cues of facial expressions or body language. This has caused many a former friend and couple ex-boyfriends to completely misunderstand what I am saying, or take my lack of visual response as apathy toward situations. That's not the case at all. It has also contributed to a number of strangers and acquaintances getting a completely wrong first impression of me. I'm not as cold as I come off.

I have found though, through several misunderstandings and conversations about my inability to express proper emotions, that if I can't express it with my visual cues and responses, I need to say it. 

I've thought a lot about the times that others have impacted me. Those times that I have been deeply moved were never by their facial expressions or body movements; The times that I remember being moved by someone else, it was by their words. Whether it was that person was upset with me or they were simply overcome with emotion, sometimes, you just have to let it out. Let's be honest, I just do not respond to other people's tears. 

And really, how much better do you feel when expressing your emotion by saying what you truly feel? How many times have you told someone what was on your mind and heart and they were surprised? 

Talk it out. Words do matter. Even if you think what you're going to say is scary. 

There's been many times recently where I've had to back-track and tell people that just because I'm not crying, doesn't mean I don't care that they're sad about me moving, or even that I'm not sad-- because it is quite the opposite. I've also bottled up a lot of emotions towards the stress of moving and guess what, the times I've admitted it, I almost lifted the stress away immediately. 

I shut into myself when I'm overwhelmed emotionally. I get grouchy. Admit it-- I know some of you are the same way. So let's all avoid the bad days that we are creating ourselves by just letting it out. Say what you want to say. Words of honesty are far more effective that just shutting down. 

 

 


Makeup Monday: Pop Princess

by lauren atkinson


In my mind, I find few things more glamorous and sultry than a bright lip against a clean, fresh face. Think Dita von Teese, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Gwen Stefani-- Can you picture what I'm getting at? It's the pop of colors I'm talking about.

My summer makeup routine has been all about keeping my face and eye makeup simple and clean, while making my lips as vibrant and pouty as I can. I have fallen in love with shades of pinks, reds and surprisingly- corals and oranges. I never thought that I would find shades so bright that could look so chic and elegant. Sometimes-- it's all in the application. Other times, it's just about the risk!  

Here's the swatches of my five must-have pops of color this summer:

 

From top to bottom:  MAC satin VIVA GLAM NICKI, Maybelline COLORsensational in 870 Shocking Coral, Maybelline COLORsensational in 895 On Fire Red, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in 677 Siren, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in 040 Rendezvous

From top to bottom: MAC satin VIVA GLAM NICKI, Maybelline COLORsensational in 870 Shocking Coral, Maybelline COLORsensational in 895 On Fire Red, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in 677 Siren, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in 040 Rendezvous

Wearing On Fire Red by Maybelline

Wearing On Fire Red by Maybelline

What are some of YOUR favorite beauty looks for summer? Any favorite lipstick shades you'd like to share? Any favorite celebs donning a bright color? 


Change starts inwards.

by lauren atkinson


Many people struggle with body image. For some people, it's a phase that they go through in their teens, and subsides somewhere around the time that they reach adulthood and move their attentions to other things. For others, body image is like a disease, interrupting much of their life. And for some in each of those groups, body image plays a role in changes both positive and negative. 

Now in my life, I would never describe myself as ever being fat or ugly because I know that I never was nor am I now. But there were many times that I did get on myself because I felt like I wasn't as pretty as other people, or as skinny. Sometimes that did plague me with self-defeating thoughts of "maybe you just shouldn't eat" and the thoughts certainly contributed to radical changes in my appearance; I was constantly experimenting with my clothing and hair. 

I would argue that MOST people feel this way about themselves at some point.

Somewhere around my heaviest weight, when I had the most self-defeating thoughts and felt the least "pretty" I decided that I needed to make changes. I took a look at the things contributing to the negativity, and more than the issue of getting down on myself, I just was not taking care of myself. I was eating out at greasy diners and bars 3-5 nights a week, and didn't have a schedule for meals. I was drinking lots of beer. And I wasn't working out. I didn't sleep at normal times: I'd get only about 4-5 hours at night and take an hour nap during the day. I ate about 8-12oz of high-calorie, high-fat ice cream daily, sometimes twice a day. Looking back, my calorie intake was 2500+ in high fat foods with little nutritive value outside of keeping me from falling asleep. 

I'm not saying that these choices are terrible for everyone, but for me they weren't just causing me to gain weight, they were distracting me from a bigger issue. If I feel down on myself, maybe there's a reason. Maybe it's bigger than feeling unattractive and fat. Maybe I felt those things about myself because I wasn't doing the things to take care of myself and my confidence. Not to get all "Dr. Phil" on you, but if you don't take care of yourself, how can you care for others properly? How can you expect others to care for you? 

So I started small. I got a gym membership and worked out a little each week. I swore off fast food. I ate ice cream only twice a week. Slowly, more than weight coming off, I had more energy. I had more energy AND I was sleeping at night. I felt more confident and more fulfilled in my days. And soon, I stopped being so self-defeating, despite looking quite the same: The change happens first inwards before it can happen outwards. 

Now, it's been a little under 3 years since I've started working on myself. I've had ups and downs: severe weight fluctuation, slip-ups in my workout routines, changes in eating and sleeping behaviors and some bad moments of feeling depressed. But I can tell you this, the times that I started to slip were the times that I stopped taking care of myself and became distracted by other people. Always remember that other people's progress with themselves is personal. Use it for inspiration but remember that what works for some won't work for others and sometimes the healthiest routes are the slow ones. 

Remember, you're not perfect. I'm not perfect. But that's what is so wonderful. The journey towards change. It happens constantly and it's a beautiful thing. 

All that sappiness to say: You're allowed to have goals and celebrate when you reach them. From three years ago to today, I've lost over thirty pounds. I can bench press more than my weight, squat the same and I completed my first half-marathon in October, despite an injury. I sleep at night. And really, I am happy. 

Sometimes, you have to live for yourself and everything else will fall in line behind it. 

What advice do YOU have for people struggling with weight or body image? What things have worked for you?