Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year End Review - 2015 Edition

Wow, the end of 2015 has arrived.  As I look back, I see change, but more important, I see growth.  It may have taken me until the final months of the year, but I took chances and life has never been better.  God has truly been good.  

When I do this post (or journal entry), I try to come up with a name to help me remember the year.  Typically, it takes all 365 days.  Although I cut it rather close this year, it did not take all of those days.  Ok, maybe it took only 357 days, but I finally have a name.  This year has been the year of the survivor.  

January started off rocky, but it was nothing I could not handle.  I decided to take a chance at a business venture.  Although I will not be continuing, it did open an abundance of doors I never thought was possible.  All because I took a chance and someone took a chance on me.  

For those of you who truly know me, you know the struggle I had in March.  If you don't know me, you are about to learn a lot about me.  I turned 30!  What is supposed to be a great start to a new decade of life actually started off with me bawling like a giant baby.  I spent over an hour on the phone with my mom the night of my 30th.  In the time I spent on the phone with her, she could have been close to my place.  She offered to come down, but I told her not to.  So, why was I crying on my birthday?  That's simple, but I felt like no one understood.  

I come home to an empty house every single day.  I walk in.  Put down my stuff.  Maybe get in a workout.  Maybe cook.  Do some work on my blog(s).  Make sure I'm not missing anything on my calendar.  Shower.  Watch TV, listen to some music, or both.  Not everything happens in that order, but you get the picture.  Any other normal day, it doesn't bother me.  I'm used to it.  I've been used to it for years.  However, walking in my place on the big 3-0 and not having anyone around me to tell me happy birthday or have a munchkin grabbing on to my legs and barely letting me in the door was a bit of a slap to my face.  I mean, I'm thirty.  According to the American Dream, I'm supposed to have that.  However, on the 9th anniversary of my 21st birthday, it felt too much like the American Nightmare.  Want to know the weirdest part about this?  I was perfectly fine the day after my birthday  It was like nothing ever happened.  

The best mini college reunion happened when I had the pleasure of being in the wedding of a fabulous person I met freshman year at UNC-Charlotte.  A few of us were in the wedding and it was a weekend of love and laughs.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  Absolutely not.  The happy couple, in their own way, taught me a new lesson about love.  Then, the wedding party itself was amazing!  I met some fabulous people and for that weekend, it felt good to not have to worry about anything other than having a good time.  

So, I was determined to get a new job in 2015.  Not that I didn't like what I was doing, I just new a few things - I was not going to get a promotion in my department for a while because those jobs had been filled and I was capable of doing something different.  Even if it meant me traveling more than an hour one-way to get to work, I was willing to do so.  However, the biggest blessing came on the weekend of July 4 - I was told I had a new job!!!  Simply elated, I started two weeks later.  I am happy to announce I'm still happy in my position and I think it was a great career move for me...and then the water came.  

I was literally still getting my feet wet in my job and then a storm system like no other came.  My day job title is hydraulic design engineer.  In English, that means I work with water.  In technical English, I design drainage systems for roadways and bridges.  I woke up one Sunday morning to go to church.  I never turn on my TV because I turn on my radio when I take a shower.  When I turned on the TV and saw the live shot of the interstate, I thought, that's how I come home from work.  Flipped to another station and thought, that's how I go to work downtown.  What both shots had in common were that both interstates were under water.  The place I have called home for about 4 years was under water and I don't think it will ever look the same.  Let's just say work got interesting.  

We were #ColumbiaStrong and #SCStrong.  Those are still mantras today.  However, I found a strength I didn't know I had.  I'm an only child and I have no family where I live.  On the other hand, I've been extremely blessed to create a family down here full of wonderful friends.  The majority of my blood relatives never called to check to make sure I wasn't posting on Facebook from the house of someone else or a shelter (to the few of you who did before my Mom did her thing, THANK YOU!).  My friends offered their homes, their water (because I had none for 10 days), and I quickly learned that family isn't always blood.  I've never been so thankful to live on higher ground, but others around me weren't so fortunate.  Each day, I see the devastation.  Each day, I'm thankful for higher ground.  Each day, I'm thankful for the people God has placed in my life who were there when my neighborhood was down to one way in and one way out.  

Then came the holiday season.  I traveled for Thanksgiving, spent some time with the parentals, and looked back on the year 2015 has been.  

So, those leaps of faith?  Well, I took a giant one when I started a small group with my little sister I never thought I wanted.  Yes, I call her that.  We were in the same small group at our church (NewSpring) and as we grew in Christ, we decided it was time to start a small group of our own.  Our group has only been together for a few months, but I feel like I have known those ladies all my life.  At NewSpring, we believe you can't do life alone (#YCDLA).  It's a true statement.

It wasn't perfect.  There were plenty of days where it wasn't pretty.  I learned a lot though.  I learned I have an amazing Mexican family.  (Chill out, people, I can call them that!)  My Angie and her security detail are awesome and she has been a rock when my feet were not stable.  From 2 states away, Samantha, I don't know what I would do without you, twin.  Stacy, even though you are still holding my other alter ego hostage, I love you dearly.  (Only she and I will understand).  To my fabulous mentor, thank you for your encouragement!  Jay, thank you for listening to me when I could barely talk through the tears and for laughing with me during the absolute best of times.  Zandy, love you to the moon and back.  To my Columbia Momma, thanks for keeping an eye on me, even though you don't get to see me every day anymore.  Finally to my love, thank you for loving me, even when I'm a brat.  

I think that just about covers it.  Now, there are 366 days next year.  I look forward to each day being adventurous, even those days when I'm down to my last nerve.  Bring it on, 2016...I'm more than ready.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pleasantly surprised

Not every post I do is going to be something long and full of words.  This may be the case tonight!  However, I have to tell you about an adventure I had yesterday that was really amazing.  

My mom and I went shopping together.  For those of you who actually know us, you know that has the potential to be a disaster.  We just don't do well together when it comes to shopping because our styles are so different.  On the other hand, there are those moments when something amazing happens - we agree on something perfect for both of us and only one of us will buy it.  Yesterday was my lucky day.  

She had a gift card to a store - Macy's.  We're both plus divas, but neither one of us had taken a chance on clothes in Macy's.  For her, it's her jewelry and shoe store.  For me, it was the store I kept walking past.  Weirdly enough, both of us came out of there yesterday with some solid finds and even better deals.  

In the city I live (I live in another state from my parents), I can get to Macy's in about 10 minutes.  The only time I've stepped foot in my Macy's is to get to another store when I didn't feel like going through the mall entrance.  After yesterday though, I am going to start adding Macy's to my list of places to shop.  

I cannot wait to wear my sweater (or at least that is what I am calling it).  However, if the southeast doesn't get any cooler, I won't be wearing it until next winter anyway.  Where is winter so I can rock my new gear from Macy's?  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thinking until my brain hurts

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about something very exciting happening in this blog.  Just in case you forgot, FEATURES are coming to this blog and I am thrilled to be doing this!  It is something I have thought and prayed long about.  I don't know how it is going to turn out, but please know that I'm excited for the journey.  

Well, now I have to help guide you to these particular posts!  Keep in mind, I've been thinking about doing these features long before I announced them to you.  That translates to this - I've been trying to figure out a name for the features that fit my personality and also is cool if (well when) I start featuring guys in my blog.  After much thinking and running a few ideas past a really awesome friend of mine, the decision has finally been made!  

The features will be titled...."Backstage Pass"!  I'm so excited to share the name with you.  Now, you know when you see the title, you know it is a feature.  The person being featured will also be in the title so you know who you are reading about.  

I think that is about it for tonight!  First feature is happening in the early part of January.  I'm so excited to share my first guest with you and she is excited to be featured.  Bring it on, 2016 - I got you! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Facebook Fast

Well, the title is pretty obvious.  I've taken a step back from the other social network.  Don't worry, I don't plan on taking a break from Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr any time soon.  Why the break from the book of faces?

That's just it - it's a book of faces.  People I knew (or thought I knew) were not the same anymore.  People will do anything for likes or shares.  A lot of people forgot where they came from. and some people never left.  

I love Twitter because I love the business connects I have made on there.  I love the people I've "met" and some of the conversations have been so deep.  I feel some days on Facebook is a popularity contest.  It felt like high school all over again.  I've been out of high school for more than a decade and I really wasn't planning on going back.  The last thing I remember, since my hiatus, was a fight taking place between this guy and the family of the mother of his child.  Yes, I mean the whole family.  Don't get me wrong, the same madness happens on Twitter too, but I have enough people on my TL to keep that to a minimum!  

Why am I telling you this now?  Honestly, I just wanted to let you know.  In some of my other posts, I have the link to my Facebook page.  Well, since I'm not on Facebook, that page is no longer active.  I don't want to go back through all the posts and remove the link because I may rejoin the Facebook one day, but I don't know when that day is going to be.  It could never happen.  

I'm enjoying the quietness of my non Facebook life.  I'm also enjoying the productivity of my Twitter life.  I've been working really hard the past 6 weeks to take this blog to the next level in 2016 and everything seems to be working out perfectly fine.  I can't wait to share it with you.  

By the way, I've been off Facebook since before Halloween.  Two months and counting!!! 

Keep in contact with me on other social networking sites @TheShaylaEm.  


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Favorite show to date

During my day, I keep on a certain radio show.  They make me laugh and the show plays all day long, along with some other things on their app.  I can honestly say that I love them and today they had a really interesting conversation.  I wasn't sure where they were going to go because none of them are really qualified to talk about the topic (we'll get to that later), but I did like the twist they put on it to make it fit for everyone!  

I know you are curious, so yes I will tell you the show.  I listen to the Ace and TJ Show (@TheAceTJShow).  Well, at 10am EST on their app, they do More Show After the Show.  This is 30 minutes when they just let go and let it happen.  Today, one of the topics they took on were rather interesting because, as I said before, none of them are really qualified to talk about the topic.  However, I loved the twist they put on it and it made perfect sense!!!  
One of the topics were concerning the fat shaming that Lane Bryant has found themselves involved in.  I won't get too involved with it in this post because it is all over the internets (you have to listen to the show to understand internets).  However, real quick, the deal is the "I'm no angel" campaign from Lane Bryant has taken an interesting turn because many fellow plus divas believe that although the models are plus size models, they are not true representatives of the bodies of some of us in the "real world".  

As far as I am concerned, I do agree that the models being used by Lane Bryant do not look like me.  I have a bit more skin in my tummy area, but yet I wear a size 16 or 18.  I'm not sure, but I think one of their models is a size 16, but she is also taller than me and we do not have the same body.  However, I'm not mad at how she or any of those models look.  I'm just glad there are plus size people making it in the modeling industry because in the not so recent past, that wasn't even a possibility.  

Keep in mind, I did say that we don't have the same body.  I didn't say she was ugly because she didn't look like me or that I hated her body, I said I'm not mad at how any of them look.  The girl on the Ace and TJ Show, Lindsay, she made a really solid comment.  She said something to the effect of, "I don't look like the Victoria's Secret models".  My ears were already perked up because Lindsay is a former NBA dancer and is not plus size.  On the other hand, she is a beautiful young woman.  Depending on what you heard, you either heard a smaller chick telling us bigger chicks to take a chill pill or you heard a smaller chick tell everyone, we're not all supposed to look alike.  I heard the latter.  

Ladies, big and small, or whatever size definition you wish to identify with (curvy, chunky, skinny, etc), can we please for one day just celebrate the fact that no matter how different our bodies look, they are pretty powerful?!  We can give birth and walk around the same day.  How awesome is that?!  We are awesome beings, but you would never know it because we spend so much time tearing each other down.  

In this blog, even though geared towards plus size women, I like to celebrate everyone.  I love to talk about my skinny friends because they like to go shopping with me in some of my exclusively plus size stores.  Most important, I love to talk about my smaller friends because they love me for me - not because of my size, but because of my brains, my willingness to help, and the fact I love them too.  

One of these days, and I hope it is really soon, we will get along and accept each other.  That day cannot come until we learn to accept ourselves.  This leads me to TJ.  

TJ is very honest and what comes to his brain comes out of his mouth.  It's awesome!  Today, he made a very valid point about the words we use.  We have taken all these words to describe plus size women - plus size, curvy, fat, chunky, chubby, and whatever else - but we do not have a clear definition of what each word is.  Is fat someone a certain height and higher than a certain weight?  Is curvy someone with a certain breast, waist, hips ratio?  Is chunky someone who wears a certain size?  This is madness!!!  Just in case you were wondering, I define myself as me.  Depending on how I feel that day, I may feel fat after having a really awesome meal.  Depending on what outfit I have on, I may feel curvy because it shows off my curves. On my social media sites, I say I'm plus size.  I even say I am a plus size blogger (#psblogger).  Seriously, you can see the name of this blog itself and see I how primarily identify myself.  

I'm not hating on Lane Bryant or any of its models.  Personally, I think Ashley Graham is beautiful and I am so proud of her an the work she has done as a model.  I wish I had her confidence.  And that is all it takes - CONFIDENCE!!!  Be confident enough in yourself and love yourself enough to stop looking down on people.  We all have one goal - to get through this life the best way we can.  With everything going on in the world around me right now, body shaming is very low on my list of things to do.  Right now, I'm just trying to be the best me.  Some of you need to give that a try - you might like where it takes you!   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

She said she was jealous

Looks can be deceiving.  I bet when you read the title you thought some thick chick is jealous of her skinny friends.  Well, in a wonderful role reversal, you are really wrong.  

I pride myself in having a cool set of friends.  Some are skinny and some look like me.  Some are homosexual and some are heterosexual.  Some are Christians and others believe in other things.  Point is, I love them all.  

Well, since this blog is about living the plus life, you have probably guessed this is about a funny plus diva situation we found ourselves in over the weekend.  A few of us were at an event over the weekend and we got into a conversation about how two people met one another.  Both of them actually met while working at a Torrid.  You know my love for Torrid and their clothes.  Of the 5 of us in the conversation, 3 of us are considered plus size women.  Here is when it funny...

One of my smaller friends asked, "what's Torrid"?  We began to explain.  My other smaller friend said, "Oh, I know what it is.  I'm actually quite jealous that I'm not big enough to shop there". 

Here is what a few of you just read, I'm actually quite jealous that I'm not BIG enough to shop there.  The rest of you did like the three of us did - laughed out loud!  So many times, people go by a plus size store and are afraid to walk in because being a size 2 in a store that specifically carries a size 20 is like a sin.  But here is what I learned about my friend - she's been in that store more than once.  I say more than once because you just cannot fully understand Torrid on one visit.  It just isn't possible!  Torrid is just that awesome!!!  

Why did I write about this?  Easy - everything around me inspires me, even the smallest of backwards (you just have to know her) compliments.  I feel good about having people around me that I can go shopping with and not be ashamed to go in a store with me.  I'm sure the other plus divas in the conversation felt the same way.  It's all about finding people that love to be around you no matter how you look.  Never be around people that bring you down, but make sure they are jealous of your fabulous outfit!  

Laugh at the last line people - laugh out loud!!!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Write About Now!

This is probably going to be one of those posts where the title is not going to come to me until the very last minute.  Seriously, it will probably come right before I get ready to press "publish".  However, I've been waiting to write this post and it deserves something a lot better than just "BIG ANNOUNCEMENT".

I've been writing this blog for two and a half years now.  I've enjoyed every moment of it and the blogging community has been great.  Each year I think how can I make this blog better?  I've always wanted to write things people would love to read and one day make my name someone people automatically knew.  Quite frankly, that is why I choose the background for this blog - one day I'm going to see my name in lights.  It's all about believing and speaking it into existence.  It's been a journey and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.  However, I wanted to do a change.  

It is no secret the world around me inspires EVERYTHING I write in this blog.  If I see an outfit, I write about it.  If I hear something on the radio, I will write about it.  If I have a conversation, I'll write about it.  If I see something on TV, I'll write about it.  If I go shopping, I definitely write about it.  If I get annoyed by something, I write about it.  Basically, I write about it.  It's just what I do.  It's in my blood and even though it may seem very surface, it all comes from the very depths of my soul.  

However, I've learned this one thing - just because it inspires me, it doesn't mean that inspires you.  Believe it or not, I pay attention to social media and see what tweets you like and what you.  I also look at what you are talking about.  Then I go back and think how can I merge all of this?  I want to remain true to myself, but yet I want to get more involved with you.  Well, this is when I had this idea and I think you are going to like it.  

Instead of just me talking about me and the things around me, how about we explore the lives of other people?  No, I'm not talking about doing a quick Internet search and me putting something on this blog that may or may not be true (I have a lot more integrity than that), but I'm talking about actually taking the time to get to know a person by talking to them face to face, via Skype, or via email.  It's time for me to get back to the roots of what writing was meant to be - for the people.  

Well, in 2016, that is exactly what is going to happen.  Starting next month (have to start January off right), features will be coming to The Plus Diaries.  Yes, I know I have done a few here and there, but this is something I hope to be very consistent with.  I've already lined up a few ladies (I may talk to a few guys too).  The ladies who are already on board are so excited to be part of this and I am so happy to have them.  

This is what writing is about - getting to know the story and then telling the story in a way that is understandable and (for me) positive.  This blog is about being positive and loving yourself, even when it feels like the world is crumbling around you.  I truly look forward to doing these features.  Do I have a solid title yet?  Nah - I'm still floating around with a few ideas.  However, believe me, when I feature my first person (and each person after her), you will know!  

I can't wait until this first feature and I hope you love getting to know these ladies as much as I have.  Also, if you have anyone you would want me to feature, let me know - we might be able to work that out.  And if you feel like taking a leap and want to be featured yourself, definitely let me know.  It's all about getting to know you because you have taken the time to know me.  Here's to 2016!!!  

And just as I suspected, the title is the very last thing to be written.  Hope you like it!