Politics vs. Servant’s Heart

Ciao Tutti!

As I have been far far removed from the goings on in that big ‘ole US of A, I have had time to learn and appreciate something so spectacularly beautiful and different: the Italian way.  Whether it’s a random coffee break at 3:31 or an old man dressed to the nines just sitting on a stool, Italians know how to have a good day. There’s none of this herding employees in at 9 o’clock sharp. Nah uh! A true Italian strolls leisurely into work at around 9:15, looks around, and leaves for a coffee break. Ideally, said Italian will be dressed in all black with maybe some wingtip leather boots to pull it all together.

Once at the bar (yes, bar), said Italian will chat cordially and very animatedly (lots of hand usage) with Marco, the bartender, until finally ordering a cafè espresso portare via (to take away). They chat a bit more, Marco begins to sing opera, said Italian pays and strolls on back to work. Not a bad start, eh?

In all seriousness, Italians just know how to live. In the words of Tina Fallani, a woman who sat on Frederico Fellini’s lap as a child and helped edit movies like The Godfather and The Dead Poet’s Society, “Italians are the only people who know how absolutely horrible life is, but they smile anyway.” To be fair, life is very hard in Italy because the government is so poorly run, becoming successful is a hopeless endeavor, and taxes are 53% of total income. With all that against them, I’ve never heard an Italian complain. And why do you ask? Because they are CONTENT. They are happy to just live their lives. They don’t want fame or fortune (or maybe they do, but it’s impossible), so they just are the way they are.

Coming from America, this was a serious mental adjustment. Success, big business, even economic growth are things not even considered. In America, you’ve got new businesses popping up everywhere, you’ve got successful people starting off with two nickels in their pockets. I needed almost two months before it all made sense. And once it clicked, man, I was changed.

How great is the idea of becoming successful at something? It’s a great thought. But when is that success actually achieved. What’s the salary? Where’s the house? What’s the account balance? Do truly successful people ever stop and say, “Now I’m successful, and I’m going to take it easy.” Or is it that these people become blind to this idea of enough. Enough for the kids’ college, enough for retirement, enough for that next car, enough for her, enough for him, etc. Where does the bar start, and where, along the ride, does it disappear.

And for the record here, I’m never going to give value to the statement, “I just want to be secure.” Life is insecure by definition. People get cancer, people fall off bikes and never walk again, people get married after two weeks and live happily together until the end, and humans are in and of themselves insecure, so how can anyone expect money to cure that. Having money is never going to make it any less hard, beautiful, or painful.

It’s not a race, it’s a life.

I once asked my professor about the 53% tax rate, and before I could even finish my question, he said, “I’m proud I pay. I pay because it’s my duty, and I feel good knowing I’ve played my part.” So basically, Italians live in a grand-scale play. Each person is crucial in telling the story. If one actor fails to hold up his/her lines or task, the play is made weaker. The plot, less convincing. In no way is this a perfect government; however, I would argue that this forces people to care for one another.

Now, America. America runs in similar fashion to a cross-country race. The gun is shot, and instantly, the best are separated from the middle, and those with the least training or skill fall to the back. It doesn’t matter how strong someone looks, if they haven’t had the practice or support, they won’t win. How can they? It’s a tooth and nail fight, and the race is never really over. Man, that’s exhausting.

And not only that, but you’ve fought so hard to make ground that all of a sudden, you find yourself less and less charitable. No one ever admits that, but it’s the truth. It’s human nature. You can donate to a thousand charities, but as long as you have the newest iPhone in your purse, are you not contradicting yourself? Are Americans forced to choose between consumerism or being labeled a Marxist?

I don’t know which government is better: Italian or American. I mean, I have a lot of goals. I eventually want to live and make my career in a world surrounded by art, and depending on the path I choose, that may mean money, but, more than likely, not. I can accept a lack of “success” as long as my personal goals are met. But that’s just me, and to some reading this, that’s simply unacceptable. I get that. You’re not bad for wanting nice things. I grew up with them, but I wonder if I’m alone in not being able to take myself seriously due to the climate or environment in which I was raised.

“College students are always more liberal because they’re young, and they want to save the world,” a patronizing acquaintance once told me. In truth, I fail to see what’s wrong with that. Maybe my lack of a corporate job keeps my eyes open to the need still present in the world. People need other people, and like it or not, money keeps governments moving.  So people with money should be able to see the great need and help, right? Is it really more complicated than that? Does your ONE corporate job mean more than a single mother’s FOUR part time jobs? Does your degree make you any better than the hardworking man stuck in a cycle of poverty and racist oppression.

I want to help. I want to know that my work and toil during the day does play a part in the greater picture.

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.”
― Bob Dylan

They’re something probably too simple or naive, but these are my words.

All the Shapes

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If you know me well, you have probably heard me mention my weight at least twice. Now, if I consider you a very close friend, then you’ve heard all about how fat I am at least thirty times throughout our friendship. Feel honored!  I would consider myself a semi-private person, so why would I share such a personal thought so freely? I finally decided to figure this out.

Yesterday, I made a note every time I had a bad or insecure thought about my body in order to see how strong these emotions had to be in order for me to share them. I was expecting the number to be fairly low because I woke up feeling happy and healthy. But by the end of the day, I had racked up twenty-three insecure moments. From walking past a size 2 beauty, who was kind enough to hold a door open for me, to passing too many mirrors while wearing leggings, I had twenty-three moments of doubt. Moments of self-hatred. People, this was a good day for me! If anyone had asked how my day was, I would have said, “Man, it was so relaxing and fun!” Am I so used to my own sense of insecurity that I would consider that a good day?

You know it’s ironic because I love looking at people! I enjoy all different body types because it’s amazing to me that though our bodies function the same way, humans can look so different from each other. One man has a long torso and short legs while another has no torso and the longest legs you’ve ever seen. I’m intrigued! Much of my favorite art is the human form. I love seeing depictions of real people: women at the beach with big thighs and big smiles, men sitting outside a cafe with pouchy stomachs and looks of pure contentment. It’s real and that makes it so beautiful. So why am I the one who has to be skin and bone? Why do I put that on myself when I love seeing the imperfections of real people. 

In high school I was always trying not to care or just caring way too much. I ate good food, and on multiple occasions, I was even called out for my obsessive clean eating! I love the gym and how it makes me feel like I could join the lineup of WWE. I pushed my body every single day. I would never not drop my bag at the door, throw on some gym clothes, and jog the half mile to 24 hour fitness. I lived for it! It got me through my parents’ divorce, gave me bizarre friends, and made having clean t-shirts impossible! It made me happy…until, I looked in the mirror before I left for college and said, “This is the way I look, I guess.” It broke my heart. I had worked so hard, eaten gluten free everything for a year! Do you know how disgusting that stuff is if you love bread?! I had muscle, but I still looked like me, and it wasn’t enough.

I wanted to be somebody else. That’s the bottom line. I wasn’t looking to change my thighs or my arms. I was looking to change my life, my family, change my bone structure, change the fundamental things that made me Mimi.

I went to college, and things were different, like they always are in college. I lost twenty pounds my first semester purely by walking everywhere. I felt amazing…until, I looked in the mirror and still saw myself staring back. I stopped eating food. I mean, I ate “food,” but not food. For months I lived off Builders bars and steamed vegetables. I went home over Christmas, a shell of my former self, and I was being talked about, people were noticing me, and I felt beautiful. I felt like somebody worth talking to, and I felt amazing…until, I started eating again, and my body reacted in the way it should after being starved for months. I bloated up and then gained back. Every. Single. Pound. It broke my heart. I was just me, again. 

Here I am, a year and a half later, feeling better, but not yet fully satisfied. In truth, I know and have always known that I am a broken human being in need of a Savior. I may only feel beautiful or worthy or beloved when I am seeking after the only One who truly knows me, and made me. Psalm 139 will always be the life vest keeping me afloat, but God is the great rescuer who pulls me out of the water. 

My life either revolves around my weight or trying to be successful. Do you know how exhausting that is? I’m either not good enough because my jeans feel too tight, or I’m not good enough because my design wasn’t chosen for the student gallery. What are these troubles compared to those of so many others? But they are mine, and I will use of the armor of God to fight them until my dying day. 

I write this to prove to myself that I am imperfect. By sharing my story, I no longer have to maintain this front of ‘having it all together.’ I am free to find and love the daughter of Christ I am meant to be, Wholly broken and fully saved.

Illustration: Leah Reena Goren

 

 

Favorite Things: Summer


1. Franco Sarto Clog-

These shoes go with absolutely any style. I haven’t taken them off for weeks! You can wear them with a pair of cropped jeans or a breezy sundress. Either way, you’ll love the way these shoes make every closet decision just that much simpler this summer!

📷: Franco Sarto Clog

2. Lovely Lace-

I am a strong believer in pretty underwear. There’s something about putting on something truly feminine that just kicks your confidence through the roof! Also, when battling the summer heat, these thinner bralettes will keep you feeling cooler and less constricted! This bralette is from Adore Me (which every woman should be apart of), and I won’t be taking it off until my next one comes in the mail!

📷: @brianapash (Quinn Bralette)

3. Group Partner Leaves Pot-

I have been head-over-heels in love with Group Partner pots since high school. I tried desperately to convince my art friends to make one for me, but alas, it takes a bold person to give a pot a pair of boobs. I never found that person, BUT now that I have three jobs (!!!) I can finally get my hands on this little guy (or should I say girl)! She’s fun, hilarious, and beautiful, so you should pop a succulent in there and call it stylish!

📷: Group Partner Leaves pot

4. Design Lovefest IPhone Case-

Honestly, if Bri Emery designed it, you should know about it! This girl is on fire for all things beautiful and fun. Her line of phone cases are ALL amazing, but if you know me, then you know I have a thing for the confident nude woman, so my pick is “Ladies” by Leah Goren. However, if you feel weird about sporting twenty nude ladies on your phone (no idea why you would), then you should check out her other designs because they all say SUMMER!!!

📷: Design Lovefest Ladies case

5. The Alissa Clutch-

Simple. Clean. Oh, so soft! The Alissa Clutch has been my obsession for months. It never helps for me to work the accessories counter at Magnolia Market, and this is proof! This bag is the perfect size, style, and overall look for literally any personality. You could be a vocalist straight out of Evanescence and this bag would still work for your style! (Maybe don’t quote me on that…) Style it with simple and classic looks like a white tee and some light wash jeans for the perfect summer go-to!

📷: Alissa Clutch

6. Design Lovefest for Target Cups-

Ok, you’re really getting a glimpse of my obsession with Bri Emery here. Her simple and fun To-Go cup kits are for sale at Target! And for every pack you buy, one meal is donated to End Hunger! Pretty sweet deal if I do say so myself! So basically, you can Instagram the sunrise and your cup of coffee without being embarrassed of your old thermos, and someone gets to eat a meal they wouldn’t have had otherwise! Yay!

📷: Yay Paper To-Go cups

7. Stella Perfume-

This perfume is actually Joanna Gaines’ favorite. It’s light and floral, which is perfect for hot summer days when you just need a little help smelling nice! I’ve gotten used to heading to the jewelry table before every shift at Magnolia and giving myself a little spray. What can I say, if Joanna loves it then isn’t all of America going to, too?

📷: Stella Perfume

These are just 7 of my favorite things for Summer 2016! Thank you for caring about stuff I like! Enjoy the heat (91*), and keep up with me because I love when you do!

Coming to you from Waco, TX

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Hello Hello Hello!!

I have not written in about 7 months. That is baffling to me. So many new things have started to unfold on this curving path of life, and I want to catch this crowd up!

  1. I have started some truly amazing Art courses where I’m working under renowned artists from all over the country. (yes, it’s incredible)
  2. I have an amazing job at Magnolia Market where I get to work under Chip and Joanna Gaines (HGTV’s Fixer Upper) and be a part of this new and fast-paced company with them here in Waco, TX
  3. I have decided to go to Florence next fall and study Studio Art at the SACI University of Art (which I am more than a little excited for)🎉
  4. I am so excited to be a part of Buttoned Bears Pop-Up Shop of this Spring 2016! Come see me and buy some of my WILDTHREADS CO. embroidery hoops on April 29th from 3:00-6:00 pm!🌵
  5. I am currently a t-shirt chair for AXO here at Baylor, and it’s been pure S-T-R-E-S-S
  6. I’ve started writing a short story about a mother and her son (which I have no plans for😂)
  7. And I am, everyday, surrounded by the most genuinely beautiful girls, and it is my privilege to call them friends

I get to draw, paint, weld, torch, knit, and sew on a daily basis. My hands are constantly layered with charcoal or ink, and I cannot describe the joy it brings me! Yes, these projects are hard and very challenging. I have burns, cuts, stains, and scars, but, man, is it fun! I will never stop thanking my dad for the gift of Baylor and then my other Father for the blessings that have followed me since day one!

This is starting to sound like a long, overwritten Facebook status, and I’m almost expecting comments like:

“MIMI, YOU SOUND LIKE YOU ARE HAVING A GREAT TIME AT SCHOOL. SENDING YOU LOVE FROM MISSISSIPPI. -AUNT MARY”

(I really get these from my great aunt, 93, who has had her computer keyboard stuck on caps lock for as long as I can remember…)

But to answer her back: I am having a great time, Aunt Mary. I really am.

PS: Tell the dog I say hey

I feel like I’m right where I need to be, right in the middle of content and challenged, and I’m really liking the view…

 

From Accounting to Design

I wish I had a witty line with which to open up this post, but I’m honestly too tired to find one, which, I think, is a testament to how crazy my first few weeks at Baylor have been!

I started my first week as a business major, and after a stressful, comforting, and tearful Friday afternoon, I changed my major to my one great love. That’s right, my friends. I am now studying the great art of Graphic Design! The joy I felt when I signed up for my new classes (Design and Drawing) has not wained or faded. I am overjoyed with every project I’m assigned and all the new subjects I’m learning about.  I’m scared of the future, for sure, but what’s the point of getting a degree in something you can’t stand. Honestly, Accounting reduced me to tears on the first week, so I took that as my green light as far as making a change.

Despite the constant pep-in-my-step, I’m very tired most, if not all, of the time. Living off campus without a parking pass has been rough in the 100 degree Waco weather. Not to mention I’m taking 18 hours from here until graduation in order to fulfill my course load. But all that said, I am so blessed to just be here! A year ago I was floating around Lubbock with zero support system, but here in Waco, I feel loved; the intentional kind of love that only lifelong friends can supply. Also, my almost sister, Miss Holly Hart Draper, lives a block away from me, walking distance if its below 98 degrees!

I love where I am, right here, right now. It’s a full and happy feeling, and I’m so grateful.

Sic ’em, Bears!

Thompson + Hanson

My four week internship with Thompson + Hanson landscape design has already taught me so much:

  1. Linen clothing is always a good idea.
  2. Chacos are the only shoes you’ll ever want or need.
  3. Some people actually want landscapers to make their homes ugly.
  4. Plants are expensive.
  5. People of River Oaks will pay anything in preparation for a party.
  6. I want this job.

I was blessed with the opportunity to work alongside two amazing landscape designers. The job consists of meeting with new clients, getting an idea of what they want, picking the right plants for the job, and then installing them. I have had so much fun watching these ladies work. They get to be creative for a living, and the more I watch them, the more I want to join their team. This would be a perfect fit for me!

I have also found the most beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig trees here at the garden, and I am pondering a purchase.

You can’t beat those leaves, right?!

Banana Nut Oatmeal

There are some seriously amazing breakfast foods in the world, but none beats the classic oatmeal and brown sugar.  On a recent trip to Waco, Texas, I experienced the joy that comes with Lula Jane’s baked oatmeal, and I decided to recreate it as soon as I got home.

I knew I wanted as many nuts as possible. I love walnuts right now, and I think I put at least two cups in my recipe.


On the side, I made sure to have extra walnuts, some brown sugar, and some warm skim milk.

The recipe makes enough for four people, but don’t be afraid to chow down. It’s hard to stop once you’ve pulled out a spoon.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beat
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas for layering. 

1) Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the mixed dry ingredients. Mix well.

2) Line an 8″ pan (square or round) with parchment paper (for easy removal and cutting!). 

3)Layer some banana slices on the bottom. Pour batter into pan. Top with remaining banana slices.

 Enjoy a slice of (healthy) heaven!