the smiths went campin’

I hadn’t been camping, in a tent, in many years. In fact, my idea of camping is being on a boat all day, a hot shower in a clean bathroom and mostly A I R CONDITIONING. I’m guilty, actually, of saying “people actually still do that?” when there is mention of camping in a tent. 

  
(She had the tent up and staked in 15 minutes flat.)

But this year, we didn’t want to be idle on Father’s Day. We needed a distraction. I was on vacation for a week and the girls suggested…

Camping. The real kind. Which they have done with their dad almost every year. They immediately laid down some laws.

No air conditioning, Mom. No makeup. No hair tools. Real camping outside.

So I borrowed a tent, bought pink chairs and pink fishing poles and asked my Uncle to lend me his portable air conditioner.

Mom, NO air conditioning. Not even portable! 

We took off for the Chickasaw Recreation Area in Suphur, Oklahoma. I heard many great things, the photos were beautiful and I NEEDED beautiful. 

  
Our experience was wonderful and here’s why.

  • We stayed in Cold Springs Campground which is shaded (gah yuuussssss) and heavily patrolled by park rangers.
  • I was immediately greeted by the campground host who told us how to find everything and came around often to check on us. (Three girls camping? This was important to me.)
  • The town of Sulphur, with donut shops, a reasonably-priced grocery store AND Wal-Mart was a two minute drive from our campground. (Two words. Coffee run)
  • The entire area was SO well-maintained and the no alcohol policy seemed to be monitored closely because there were zero issues or disturbances. (Again, single mom with kids, big deal)
  • At $14 a night, plus ice and food, this was the cheapest and one of the best vacations.

A few recommendations:

Water shoes! Very rocky and difficult to really explore without them.

A bucket. No showers means bathing under spickets.

FIRE STARTER LOG. This was us, the first night, after a lantern malfunction and trying to make flames from leaves.

  

Fishing poles! Veterans Lake is in the recreation area and it’s SO pretty with a perfect fishing dock.

  

   
 

Pack up food and drinks to hang out at Little Niagra for the day. It’s in the area as well and the kids never wanted to leave!
  

Jump! Do it!

  

I loved loved LOVED being with my girls without all the distraction. I loved waking up to birds chirping, and coffee at 7am sitting still with nature. I loved all the families playing, laughing TALKING to each other. I’m already on the hunt for our own tent, and new places to experience.

For more info: Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Happy camping!

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summer of the tankini

Last Friday, I shopped for a swimsuit. Nothing out of the ordinary, right, I mean, people do this every summer.

Yes, except that I hadn’t shopped for one in years because I had several to mix, match and rotate through.

Until none of them fit this year. Zero. Not one top. Not one bottom.

But let me back up.

Nine years ago, this was me.

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(I’m not sure if the scowl was “my nipples are cracked and bleeding” or “I’ve been up with a crying baby for daysss” or “is that REALLY breastmilk on my shirt?”)

Two years before that, here I am.

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And this one, taken somewhere in between the two daughter born three years apart.

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According to “they say”, (they being a panel of experts on the topic we currently need reinforcement for), I was a slightly above-average size woman.

I went through a divorce that crowned me single mother to two toddlers (ages four and one), and although I desperately needed one, I could not afford a therapist.

I joined a gym instead. Because I was crazy ya’ll. The bad kind.

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Day after day I took my anger, frustration, sadness, madness, gladness and the remaining roller coaster of emotions out on the weight room. I measured and weighed food meticulously. I wrote out workouts, monitored my weightlifting progress daily, and lived on that blasted scale.

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And yes, I am absolutely using this blog as an excuse to re-live my glory days AND to post hot pictures of myself.

People constantly wanted to see before and after pictures, dying to know the secret for my weight loss success, and their face dropped when I responded, “I just ate healthy and worked out.” Because saying, “I needed a free babysitter and I’m crazy” didn’t have the right ring to it.

At 34-years-old, I was in the BEST shape of my life. Not sans cellulite or stretch marks or loose skin, or anything else we women beat ourselves up over just in case our self-esteem actually blooms, but I mean, I was FIT!

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And although being strong and fit made me feel capable, I still felt chubby.

I.still.felt.chubby.

Here, in the middle of Central Park, having the best week of my life visiting my brother. I still.felt.chubby.

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(The caption on this picture, when I uploaded it to Facebook? I meant to stay on my diet, I really did.)

I enjoyed myself, of course, but multiple times daily I compared myself to stylish Manhattan women. I wore spanx under my summer dress for fear someone might spot my cellulite. I walked down the streets of Lower East Village on a HOT SUMMER DAY IN SPANX.

With my first trip to New York City still fresh in my dreams, I received a call from Mayor Mick Cornett’s office inquiring about my weight loss. One week later, I was on the phone with a producer from a national talk show. One month later, the Rachael Ray Show film crew was IN my living room with a custom-wrapped bus in my driveway.

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In just a few short months, I was back in New York City ON the Rachael Ray Show, sharing my weight loss success with the world.

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One guess what happened when it came time to be fitted in an adorable Jessica Simpson number for the show? (A size EIGHT for a woman who is 5’9 and makes Kim Kardashian look petite.)

Say it with me.

I.felt.chubby.

Sigh.

I missed living. Yes, that’s right. All those years of obsessing distracted me from making the most of my experiences.

When I look at pictures now, I see so much more than a girl feeling “chubby”. I see a week in (the most fabulous city) New York City with my baby brother, Justin, that I lost touch with over the years. We explored the city, ate incredible cuisine in dirty diners, and met the most beautiful people.

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(Donna from Turkey, and Wally, NYPD detective. I mean, I was safe in Brooklyn at 3 a.m. with a cop, right?)

My brother and I spent many afternoons talking and bonding on a blanket in Central Park.

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The subsequent trip to New York City, the opportunity of a lifetime that most people will never experience? The one that I kept reminding myself I was chubby? I took my first trip with my childhood best friend, Andi, and we frolicked in Soho and Little Italy for FREE.

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I had my hair styled by Ted Gibson from What Not to Wear, and he described me as “a ray of sunshine.”

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The next year, I hopped a plane to San Francisco to stay with an internet acquaintance I had never met in person. That weekend, was e p i c.

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So when I went swimsuit shopping Friday, and left devastated because I had to buy a tankini to cover up the last two years’ worth of skipped workouts and delicious food? I contemplated not taking my girls to White Water the next day.

I’ll just sit this summer out, I told myself. I’ll weigh and measure my food, schedule workouts and try again next summer.

I went through old pictures and then it hit me.

I wasn’t even chubby! Not even close! And even if I was, who cares other than me?

Am I so narcissistic that I think everyone else is obsessing over how I look?

Managing food and workout was once a way for me to retain some power when my life was spinning out of control, but I don’t need that anymore.

And anyway, who decides when one is chubby? Who decides a tankini is a negative? Who decides that delicious food and experiences aren’t worth extra pounds?

I do. I decide.

I decided that sunshine and fun and pools and camping are worth more to me.

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I decided that beautifully-crafted food and gathering experiences by the handfuls and exploring new places and making new friends are worth more to me.

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I decided that I wasted too many years speaking negative about myself.

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I decided that I respect everyone’s hustle, but mine isn’t consistently working out in a gym right now.

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I decided that I’m anything but average, even if I’m not rocking a bikini.

And I decided to stop talking about it, obsessing over it and simply choose peace..

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Disclaimer: Because I endure being a woman, I reserve the right to change my mind about anything at anytime, including but not limited to what I just wrote or might write in the future.