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Saturday, October 1, 2016

my experience with a cult

I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I'd been thinking about it for months; hearing other people's experiences and enlightenments tempted me, but still, I was hesitant.

I was confident I wouldn't fit in. I would be an overweight, lumbering CrossFitter and weightlifter, wading into a sea of skinny white basics.

But, if I ever wanted to try SoulCycle, now was my opportunity.

Picture totally downloaded from

I've been a member of an online workout support group-of-sorts for about a year. I join in the online discussions, "like" the other members' photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, and offer encouragement if someone seems to need it. But, whenever the topic of the monthly meet-up/workout is broached, I fall silent.

These women had become my sisters, my confidantes and my support group, but I was terrified to workout with them. What if I'm the biggest one there? What if I can't keep up? What if, once again, I feel like the fat one out?

But I knew SoulCycle was dark and arranged in lines, so people were predisposed to not see you. The leader of the online group had managed to swing a free class for us, which rounded up the utter annihilation of my excuses.

I stepped through the glass doors, from the harshly lit, hot and humid Houston into the welcoming, cheerful - and somehow also serene - foyer. I was terrified, immediately surrounded by beautiful, fit people. But, they managed to put me at ease with smiles that offered comfort and inclusion.

I signed in, received my shoes, and headed down the white hall - passing the bright yellow Big Ass balloons that indicated a party was afoot - to the co-ed locker room. (Adjacent to the separate men's and women's bathrooms and showers. Phew.)

Picture totally downloaded from

Amid the beautiful women (no really. Like, stupid beautiful.) in the, again, all-white, locker room, my fresh comfort and confidence began to waver. The Kool-Aid offered to me by the receptionist's smile was wearing off. But, my cup was quickly refilled by both the veterans and the newbies who helped me find my locker and showed me how to operate it.

With my belongings in stow and my feet in borrowed shoes, I clacked, water bottle and towel in hand, back down the hall to the, thankfully sparsely populated, studio. I found my bike, situated my water bottle and climbed to the seat.

Oh no. 

The seat was too high, too far back from the handlebars. I tried to get off but the foreign shoe had clipped itself into the pedal, refusing to release me from the cult's grasp. Panicked, I looked around frantically. Again, I was greeted with a smile. "Having trouble?" asked the friendly cyclist pedaling away caddy-corner to me. I managed a nod. "Don't worry; they'll set you right up."

Her hand shot in the air. "It's happening!"

Immediately a friendly face with a yellow SOUL tee was by my side, guiding my foot out of the locked position and showing me how to adjust the bike's three components: the seat height, the handlebar height, and the distance between the two. She helped me up and taught me how to clip in (on purpose).


No. I don't think I belong here. I'm not a SoulCycle kind of girl. I've never been to a spin class. I'm sitting on a pole. And my clipped shoes make me feel like there's no escape.


The class filled up quickly and soon I was surrounded and being greeted by a voice that was trying to be soothing but was clearly meant to yell.

We began, guided by our leader, Catie, calmly saying "left, right, left." According to her, with everyone on the same foot, the energy becomes palpable. Soon, the class became one. Our feet moved in unison left, right, left faster and faster. Did I have no control over my own body? My legs spun of their own accord, matching, spin for spin, those to my right and left. Left, right, left. Before I knew it, I was tapping it back.

Picture totally downloaded from

Twenty minutes into the class I felt death approach. My mouth was filled with cotton balls, my Dri-Fit tank drenched. I reached for my now half-empty water bottle, and watched it fall from my fingers to the ground in slow motion. Oh no. 

Disoriented, I went to grab my towel and it, too, slipped from my grasp. I tried to unclip my shoes to pick up my manna, and I couldn't figure it out. I was trapped on the bike from hell with no water and no towel. I'm going to die here.

With zero regard to my dire situation, Catie persisted. Left, right, left. So, I pressed on. Again, my body matched the tempo of those around me. We pumped together, up and down. Swayed together, left and right. Spun together, faster and faster.

"How's my back row feeling?" Catie demanded.

A voice sounding suspiciously like my own responded, "Woooo!" Was that? Noooo. Was that me? Did I just woo?

I did. I woo-ed. I was - dare I say it - having fun. Mind you, a torturous, killer-cardio-driven kind of fun, but fun nonetheless. My thighs no longer felt like they were on fire. (Truthfully, they didn't quite feel much like anything.) And I finally felt ... home.

That's it. I was home. There was peace here. Comfort. No judgement, no side-eyes. No one was looking at me differently for being big. I didn't even feel big here. I felt new, sure. Not as great at cardio, duh. But I didn't feel big.

In CrossFit, my size is both an asset and a hindrance. During the strength portions, I can lift on par with much more experienced women. But, during the intense workouts, I founder. My knees give, my form suffers and I steadily lose tempo with those around me. In both portions, though, I'm constantly aware of how big I am.

Not so at SoulCycle. At SoulCycle, I almost felt like I was one of them. Not a skinny white basic, but a person who enjoyed community and health. A person who wanted to better herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and, yes, spiritually, in one workout. A person who cares about her body but not its size.

Now that someone has helped me unclip my shoes (again), the endorphins have worn off, and I'm well-hydrated, do I feel like it was the soul-changing, spiritually awakening workout of legend? Not this time. But, I did just sign up for three more classes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

gwynnie bee

I love fashion. I always have. Even when I was an overly opinionated co-ed and declared fashion merchandising a waste of a degree, I loved it.

I loved finding new ways to wear old pieces. I loved creating unexpected color combinations. I steered clear of the vapid wasteland of Vogue and InStyle, never realizing that the fun I had with my clothes meant I actually belonged with the lemmings.

But, let's be real. Plus-sized fashion isn't a thing. Obviously there are so many more options out there than there were even a few years ago, but you have to look for them. More than that, you have to know where to look. At the Houston Galleria, I can count on one hand (even if I were missing a few fingers) the options I have to shop plus size, let alone plus size I like.

Most of your plus size options are online. But, when you're plus sized, how can you be sure that anything will really fit? Though I'm big, I still have an hourglass figure, which is completely different than my apple-, pear- and banana-shaped sisters. (I am a bit grateful to not be qualified as a food item. But I suppose Oreo-shaped would work.) And their bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio is vastly different from my own.

But, for the sake of argument, let's say I adore everything at Torrid, Seven7 or Rue107 and they all fit me perfectly. My weight is still always in flux. I went from a size 12 to a size 22 in one year, and now I'm a size 18. (That's a whole blog post in itself.) I honestly don't want to buy new clothes every time I change sizes.

I mean, I do. Of course I do. I always want new clothes. But I don't want to out- or under-grow them in a matter of months.

Enter Gwynnie Bee.

I first heard about Gwynnie Bee through a Facebook Ad when I was a size 12. It wasn't for me then, but I logged it in my memory and have been making excellent use of it for about a year.

Gwynnie Bee is basically Netflix for plus-size fashion. You pay a monthly subscription fee, determined by how many outfits/articles of clothing you want at once, shop in their online store to fill your closet/queue, and let them do the rest.

They'll send you the first outfit you chose that they have available, along with a return envelope. Wear it as little or as much as you want and ship it back. Then wait for your next piece of clothing to come. They take care of everything — postage, item selection and even dry cleaning!

If you really love an item, you can keep it and let them know to charge your card. Bonus: because everything is pre-worn, you can buy everything at a significant discount.

I love Gwynnie Bee because I basically have a rotating closet with them. I'm always receiving new clothes that fit, and I don't have to commit to them unless I truly love them. When my body changes as it inevitably will, I simply change my size selection online.

Gwynnie Bee is the plus-sized fashionista's dream.

Do you have any favorite shopping spots and secrets?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

me before you

Last night I had the opportunity to screen "Me Before You," a new British rom-com based on the book of the same name. How excited was I? Let me count the ways.

First of all, how can any closet nerd not want to see a movie with Daenerys Targaryan, Finnick Odair, Neville Longbottom and Clara Oswald? Bonus: it also features Mr. Bates and Tywin Lannister. It's a glorious nerd-world amalgamation/love fest!

I first saw the trailer with Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin back in February, and instantly knew I needed to see the movie. But first, I needed to read the book.

From Amazon -
"Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsMe Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?" 

Even though I read this book specifically to watch the movie, I always get a little nervous about a Hollywood adaptation of a beautiful piece of literature. As is the case with all books-turned-movies, except Tuck Everlasting, the book was better. But, the movie was a fair adaptation.

Sam Claflin captured Will Trainer's morbid humor, while Emilia Clarke perfectly embodied the incandescent joy and quirkiness of Lou.

The movie did fail to bring in a few plot points from the book that I thought were integral to both full character development and the comprehensive plot of the second book. So, now I ponder with a slightly pouty lower lip: are they even planning to cinema-fy the second book? They did well to end the movie with closure, but the sequel just provides so much growth for Lou and her journey to self-discovery and fulfillment.

The good news is that you don't need to read the book to understand the movie. You can see "Me Before You" starting June 3 (and don't forget your tissues).

Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the movie or book in the comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

mother's day gift guide

One of my absolute favorite things to do in life is get gifts for those I love. It's kind of like a game for me: finding the perfect gift for the perfect person, whether it be sentimental, useful, or something they  had completely forgotten they'd wanted.

I admit, though, that shopping for gifts can be hard for even me sometimes, so I love gift guides! Hopefully, these will help you find the perfect gift for your mom this Mother's Day.

Clothes + Jewelry

Bags + Purses

House + Home

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a-force vol. 2

Last we saw the women of Arcadia, they were battling unknown beasts from unprecedented portals to  other lands. Under Victor Von Doom's rule, none of the worlds are supposed to interact, so this crossover is troubling indeed.

(I feel like I've got a bit of comic-book-narrative voice going on ... and I kinda like it. Someone call Stan Lee so we can talk.)

The A-Force's fearless leader, She-Hulk, took it upon herself to find out exactly what was going on and disappeared into an unbelievable world: an apocalyptic Manhattan.

"I am the Baroness of Arcadia, the most blessed island in the whole of Battleworld. In the past 24 hours, we have been attacked by giant sharks, overruled by our unknowable god-emperor and his wizard-staff-up-his-butt vizier—lost one of our finest lieutenants for doing her duty, discovered an incomprehensible portal in our ocean—and met a universe incarnate adopted by my youngest and least emotionally stable operative. And fought a giant robot.

"So, I would say someone is trying to destabilize Arcadia, and I'd say they're doing a pretty fine job."

Almost as soon as She-Hulk lands in this new world, she is detected by some crazy robots and has to kick some ass. In the middle of her ass-kicking, though, Doom's minions find her and threaten to banish her. Because comic book characters never overreact.

She-Hulk tries to reason with them and explain that she didn't create the portals, but is only trying to protect her land. (Sorry for the fuzziness. I was completely off my photography game [the little I had] when taking these.)

With the minions refusing to listen, She-Hulk flees the battle and travels back through the psychedelic portal to Arcadia, while the rest of her team awaits her return.

She-Hulk realizes the portal was made from Arcadian magic. Just as she is explaining to A-Force that there is traitor in Arcadia, and that the minions are trying to blame Singularity (the cute little starry-skinned being that fell from the sky), said minions appear in Arcadia. Another battle is about to ensue when the traitor reveals herself.

Thankfully, one of She-Hulk's closest friends is only giving them time to escape. Medusa isn't really the traitor (phew). But who is?

Crazy ensues, and I'm not a fan of spoilers, so I'll just tease you with these faces:

A-Force is ordered to  split up and search for the traitor. She-Hulk resigns from her post as baroness as she is now considered a traitor by Doom and must go into hiding, but not before giving one last order: "Alert Arcadia. We are no longer safe."

"We tried to build a paradise. We knew we were blessed, and we rejoiced in everything we had, everything we were. Our eyes and hearts so full of the world we loved that we were blind to the little things beneath. A summer's day, a flight, a fight, a sacrifice ... And now, we are here.

"By little things, we find meaning. By little things, we lose empires. 'Someone has come for Arcadia. Engineered hatred within the ranks of A-Force. Opened holes in our defenses. Taken those we love from us. Brought the rage of Doom and his Thors down upon us. We must bring them to justice.'"

And then guest appearance by Halle Berry, which I don't really understand. But, then again, I'm new to comics and the Secret Wars and really think I should have started further back to get some context ...

As the women are both looking for the traitor and trying to find safety, Singularity offers a gift to repay the kindness she was shown:

I'd say that's a pretty solid ending, but I am starting to get more confused as I read on. Why are there three female Thors who are somehow on the "evil" side (with Doom)? Is every female Marvel superhero living in Arcadia? Is that why Storm showed up: because she was already there?

If you have any answers (or questions or comments) let me know below!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

brunch and babies

Brunch, I think, is one of those small joys in life reserved for catching up with girlfriends and pretending that it makes you Upper-East-Side classy. It's a time for laughter, indulgence, and maybe a little drinking before noon without guilt.

And then, someone brings a baby into your sacred brunch restaurant. Yes, babies are adorable and pudgy and make your ovaries yearn for a life yet to come. But they also cry. And scream. And their adorable little noses run and get their cute pudgy faces crusty. And they throw hashbrowns on the floor. And, though they sit in a perfectly clean restaurant, under the gaze of a watchful mother, somehow their little fingers end up grimy and sticky, and dirt inevitably makes its way under their fingernails. And they look up at you, all big eyes, toothless smile, dirty fingers and snot-encrusted face.

Yeah, they're cute. But you're still silently judging their mother for desecrating brunch.

But, brunch is still brunch. It's a beautiful, magical time that, whether with girlfriends or by yourself, allows you to escape the pain, sadness and complexities that may wait for you in real life.

It's for healing and discovering and forgetting and indulging. And, if you believe hard enough, it's two hours a week when calories don't count.

My favorite food at my favorite brunch place (a classification that qualifies it to compete for the coveted title of my most favorite thing of all) is cinnamon roll french toast. Way too sticky and sweet for a meal when calories do count, it's how I hope Heaven tastes.

Said most favorite brunch place is in Baton Rouge, and I have yet to discover an adequate Houston replacement. So, take to the comments below and tell me your favorite brunch places and meals. (Maybe we can even wear some of these brunch-approved clothes when we go.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

patsy walker, aka hellcat! #2

When we left Patsy, she had just begun the process of starting her own business—a temp agency for out-of-work heroes and people with powers. In the meantime, she's having to work retail.

The story opens with Patsy in a frenzy during her first shift at "The One-Stop Crop Top Shop."

"I'm not big on talking about my old life, but I'll tell you this for free: I've been through a lot. I've fought demons, aliens, monsters, robots, and more than a handful of regular joes with too much money and a superiority complex. The type that always called me 'lady' when we fought. I'd like to say most of them were worse than Gwenna, my new, 17-year-old boss, 'cause I know she's just trying her best, but still ... as of right now, she's on my list."

Patsy's day gets worse when she reads a feature story of her nemesis, Hedy Wolfe. (Hedy took the right's to Patsy's mother's books about Patsy's life and has republished them ... and is reaping all the benefits.) Hedy plays the victim in her interview about her and Patsy's relationship when, in reality, she isn't taking calls from Patsy or Patsy's lawyer, Jennifer Walters (A.K.A. She-Hulk).

While she's working, Patsy has to turn into Hellcat to chase a shoplifter with magic powers. Sadly, just as Patsy's about to catch her, the thief disappears into her magical Mary Poppins-esque bag. But, not before indicating, rather cryptically, that she works with someone who would love to have Hellcat as a captive.

Poor Patsy can't catch a break. Once the chase is over, Hedy shows up at the store, looking for Patsy. Patsy won't talk without Jennifer present, so Hedy disappears, leaving a path of insults in her wake.

Patsy refuses to end her day on a bad note, and so calls an emergency meeting for burgers with all her best girlfriends/superheroines. During the meal, Thor lets Patsy know exactly who was behind her attack at the mall: Casiolena. (But we don't yet know who exactly that is.)