Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Again: Something to Get Us Through

It's Monday. Again. It also snowed in Chicago so that glimmering hope of spring has been put on hold.

To remind all of us that there's happiness in the world, I complied a few of my favorite things. I made this post mostly pictures, to make it easier to digest on this heinous Monday. Hang in there, lovely.


That Time I Got A Sting Ray To Give Me A High Five at Brookfield Zoo:

sting ray, zoo


The Fact That I Will Never Be Too Old To Miss Photo-Ops of Humping Animals:

zoo, humping animals


The Fact That I Have Questionable Taste in Movies--Jaws1-4 Are Among My Favorites--and This Slot Machine Took My Money But Entertained Me Oh So Much:

jaws, casino, plus size, ladyjwanderlust


That Time At Shakepeare in the Park When I Had Perfect Timing and Caught Will Staring At Us:

shakespeare in the park, chicago shakespeare theater, william shakespeare



That Someone Took The Time and Tenacity To Make This Awesome Sign. Burn, Bike Thief:

funny, bike thief


That I Live In A City That Has the Potential To Look Like This... Eventually:

chicago, boat cruise, sunset, chicago sunset



Happy week everyone. I hope you're all warm and in the sunshine. Preferably making important decisions without pants on (a personal favorite on the days I work from home). Maybe Mondays don't have to be so bad after all.

Jean

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Was A Misguided Kindergartener

When I was in kindergarten, I thought being a waitress was the coolest job on the planet. It was the career I said I longed for at my kindergarten graduation, to the entire crowd.




I should really explain the context of that last statement.

At the age of 5 I never really honed in on what I needed to become.  I had wanted to be an actress like many other little girls: getting ready for close-ups and pretending to be other people, trying on fancy dresses and attending premieres. Or a ballerina like my ballet teacher (to this day I am still obsessed with ballerinas)--the problem was, I knew there were no chubby ballerinas, so I was going to have to give up pizza and ice cream. At age 5, this was a deal breaker. 

This is not a body that enjoys pizza or ice cream. Beautiful

So, I thought maybe I could become a princess because I had watched too many Disney movies. However, even at age 5, I noticed that the princesses didn't really do anything--they sang and folded laundry and inevitably became sick or injured by an evil force. This bitch wanted a career, not an escape plan.

No, I would have to find inspiration elsewhere. In the real world, I could see something I liked. Hmm... What did I see that I liked? Oh yes, a waitress.

Yep, waitresses again. Let it sink in.

Jean had a Golden Girls' Childhood: When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandma's house, who lived with her three sisters.

My Aunt Dorothy even looked like Bea Arthur, true story.

My elementary school was in Chicago, close to their home, so they could take me to and from school, via public transportation (none of them drove). This afforded me lots of people-watching time and adventures. This also made our commute less than direct and therefore taking up more time.... leading one of my aunts to always believe I must be hungry so we should eat something after picking me up from school. (Or they were hungry and blamed it on me, who knows.)

There were two restaurants (and a McDonalds) in between my school and home that we often visited. If you visit the same places over and over, people begin to know your name and face. Usually, these people are waitresses.

Hence, I often saw and talked to the same waitresses. They told me how pretty my big green eyes and strawberry blonde hair were (of course I loved these women). One even went to Walgreen's on her break and bought me chamomile lotion when during my linner (lunch-dinner) when we discovered I had indeed contracted chicken pox. Waitresses are humanitarians.

Many of the waitresses also told my aunt(s) and I stories of celebrities they had served, upcoming vacations they were planning to take and generally interesting chatter. Also, they always wore sparkly jewelry, bright colored makeup and teased hair. I thought they were the most glamorous people on the planet. I wanted to be one of them.

See how pretty!?
So, I side-stepped the logistics of what waitresses do (take orders and bring people their food) and decided it was the most glamorous job on the planet and I needed to make it my own. And I told this to everyone.

My parents, although they might have thought it cute, were concerned. I did not waiver.

Around this time, I was ready to graduate kindergarten. A segment of our graduation skit was that we needed to tell the audience what we wanted to be when we grew up. I knew what my answer was. I was sure of it. I did not feel the need to rehearse with the other misguided children. (Astronaut? Bitch, please. You eat glue during Arts & Crafts.)

At graduation, I was excited like everyone else. And I did tell the audience I wanted to be a waitress when I grew up. I don't remember if anyone laughed--as a child I had the confidence of a serial killer and couldn't have cared less. What I do remember is the boy next to me, whom I will call Jason (that's because Jason is his real name and the little brat doesn't deserve protecting) whispered, "A waitress? You're stupid."

PENIS-SHOWING BACK STORY: Jason was a jerk. He was also a pervert. He would show all the girls his penis during story time. He and his penis were usually not in close proximity to anyone, so the girls would scoot away from him on the story time carpet. HOWEVER, he once showed me his penis during Spelling and offered me candy if I touched it, while sitting at our desks, and since I could not easily scoot away from him I did the only reasonable thing: I punched him the face.

When the teacher told my Aunt Audrey I punched Jason she asked me why I did it. I told her (I had not told the teacher, embarrassed) and she said "Good. I hope you do it again."

BACK TO GRADUATION: Jason was being a jerk again. He was trying to crush my dreams. So I did the only reasonable thing: I punched him in the face. Again. At our kindergarten graduation.

This time, no one noticed or had grown sick of Jason. I didn't get in trouble as he held the side of his face and cried during our rendition of "Here Comes Mr. Sunshine."

Somehow his judgment bothered me. Were my glamorous, exciting, kind waitresses stupid? No! But, I decided I needed a big sample size before filling out a job application.

This is likely the kind of waitress you'll find in her 20's
As the years went on. I realized not all waitresses were so amazing as the ones from my youth. Many of my friends are or have been waitresses, but I grew to understand this wasn't my calling--maybe a side job.

Somehow this once-loved career became a phobia. As an adult, I am terrified to work in the food industry. I cook well, and like to have dinner parties, but don't want to do it for a living. Somehow becoming a waitress seems like a terribly difficult job, full of missteps and judgment from people who will most likely be rude to you. How odd and sad.

My 5-year-old career ambition has become more of a quirky story than a game plan. And now I'm trying to figure out the real thing.

Here are some other career paths I have considered:
  • After visiting the Renaissance Faire I decided I wanted to be Queen of the World (since my first name is Jean, Queen Jean had a nice ring to it). --My mother informed me the world had no absolute government system so perhaps I should aim to be President of the United States of America. No, if the world is not willing to call me 'Queen Jean' I am not willing to govern it.
  • After seeing Honeymoon in Vegas (Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicolas Cage and James Caan's masterpiece) I wanted to be a Las Vegas Show Girl. My father informed me I probably wouldn't be tall enough. I decided to put this aspiration on the back burner until seeing what height puberty afforded me. At about 5'8, I think I can pull it off if I take more dance lessons. 
  • After enrolling in DePaul University to finish my college degree, I was at a crossroads whether I should finish up in Journalism, or get what I heard was a better writing degree in the English department. Or, should I go crazy and head over to Commerce. Confused, I walked towards my first class in the English building. Once I opened the door I saw two students break dancing in the lobby and a man dressed as Waldo from Where's Waldo running up the stairs distributing flyers. Yes, I thought. I belong here. With my wackadoos. I am the proud recipient of a bachelor's degree in English with honors.
  • After seeing Mary Louise Parker on "Weeds".... well, you know where I'm going with that.
What did you want to be when you were little? Go on, it's therapeutic.

Reach for the Stars,

Jean

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is Weight Affecting Your Sex Life? Yes, It Is.

For most adults, we've all had periods of fitness changes; we lose weight/gain muscle in the summer, we gain weight/lose tone in the winter. And whether it's five pounds or two dress sizes, how we perceive ourselves has little to do with the actual number. So, during the times of change, how was weight/fitness level affected your sex life? I took a survey and here are the anonymous results:

sex life, plus size, fitness, fitness goals, weight loss, weight gain, secret life, great sex
 
  • Increased confidence, sexuality, willingness to engage  
  • I think all women can agree, when you lose the extra pounds and you feel good about yourself, sex is so much more enjoyable. You are able to connect with your partner on different levels when your not worrying about feeling vulnerable because of your body. 
  • Yes! When my boyfriend and I started dating I was 20 lbs lighter. now I just don't feel comfortable all the time. he tells me how beautiful I am and makes me feel that way, but some days I just don't feel that way. I am striving to get back to where I was. because we had sex multiple times per week prior to this, now it's maybe once a week. gotta get my groove back!!
  • Weight loss: increased confidence and an ability to be more... flexible :) So, that was fun! Which resulted in a desire to do it more often. Which I did! Weight GAIN: simply not as engaged; I don't like how my body looks of feels; the decrease in attraction to my own body seriously deters any desire to be naked. And missionary is so boring; but it's all I'm aesthetically comfortable with, so... no sex, basically. I'm just starting to entertain the idea of becoming active again, but with the help of lingerie that I can leave on during the act. Cover up the 'ick' with some pretty or saucy or... whatever mood fits! Fingers crossed! :) 
  • Sex life? What sex life? When I gained weight after a knee injury I felt unattractive and lethargic. My fitness level, as you put it, changed and my weight. After my knee healed I still used it as an excuse to not have sex because I didn't feel sexy anymore. I felt worse lying to my husband about my knee still hurting, because he helped me, so the unattractive feeling got worse. Until I told him and started taking water Zumba to make myself feel active again we rarely had sex. It's getting better now and he tells me how pretty I am often.
  • When I gained weight I shied away from receiving oral sex. I lied about having my period when I didn't and other excuses. It was in my head, my girlfriend didn't see me any differently, but I thought I looked horrible. When I lost weight I enjoyed it more and initiated. It's all in our damn heads!!!!
  • Weighing more makes me stop wanting to be on top. It makes me harder for me to enjoy myself so I get angry at myself because I know I can change it and it's me that is causing the issue 
  • Lost weight, broke up with a shitty guy, sex life with my new boyfriend is FANTASTIC!!  Besides him being a better man, I know I feel more confident and it's made it great for both of us. He tells me I'm beautiful, but I don't need it, I feel it this time. Get fit, don't try to be the skinniest girl around, but do enough so you feel confident. that's the best advice I can give.
*UPDATED AS OF 3/16/2015*

 
sex, plus size sex, weight gain, sex drive, lack of sex drive, sexy curvy women
We're letting our beds grow cold in times of weight gain. Stop the shaming!
  • Weight Gain = I had more boobs and a booty. My thighs were thicker and he likes it. Things giggled more during sex rocking and thrusting along with us. My fella said he liked it more and I liked that he was once again initiating sex. He was giving me attention that I felt had been lacking. So weight gain made our sex better. I don't feel unattractive and I am embracing this change. I won't gain any more, but this was a pleasant surprise for me.
  • After Holidays I weigh more and the sex spark is missing. I hate it and have been less adventurous about where we have sex (only in our bed) and as often. I want to be perfectly showered, shaved, dressed cute to feel sexy where before I would jump him whenever I felt like it. I gotta get me back, this don't feel like me.

The results? We act differently when we gain/lose weight... but we feel the effect even more strongly during a weight gain versus weight loss (I am theorizing that by the details given regarding weight gain versus weight loss). Ladies [and men], we're beautiful. I advocate health, but how we feel about ourselves is even more important.

You're a beautiful woman. Man. Whatever. Know it and act like it. The person you're with already believes that to be true, so the job is ours. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Jean

Monday, March 2, 2015

What I Learned Working In Hell: Decoding Intimidating C-Suiters

It's almost that time of year: Starry-eyed kids are graduating from university and jumping into the real world. I wish someone had been more honest with me about working in the private sector, so here is my job-tips mini-series: WHAT I LEARNED WORKING IN HELL.

I used to work in sales. Actually I used to work for a company where I worked in every department (start-up), but as a girl with an English degree and a love for libraries and theatre, sales was trial by fire. And I worked for a company that made me learn most of this on my own, as direction and management was shoddy at best. I did this right out of college.

I do not tell you this to brag, I made many mistakes. I do tell you this to hopefully help anyone dealing with unruly higher-ups in any facet of your life, with the wisdom of retrospect and some things that went right. If you can learn from my mistakes, my hope is that no one ever makes you feel as judged or ill-prepared as I did: I thought I didn't fit in the business world.

I was wrong, I was just surrounded by insecure assholes.

Intimidating C-Suite executives. Successful people. Partners, Presidents, Chief Officers, Founders - Take-no-shit people. The scary ones that you admire but don't think you can be. You can talk to them, you can be them, but first you should know your strengths and their humanity.

If there is one thing I can tell you, that I hope you believe, it is that these people have more insecurities than you know. They excel at their jobs, but the nagging resentment they feel makes they want others to feel inferior.

Not all successful people (of course) are of this stock, but you will encounter a few. So I'm starting off with the worst kind:

1. The Power Play: Male or Female, there is an unfortunate group of people who relish in making others feel uncomfortable. I think they get off on it. They think finding someone's weakness is resourceful and plan to use it to their advantage. Typically they want power, they might not know what they want to do with that power, but they want it. Be the girl with the most cake, if you will.

They are the people who will call you for a meeting in their office, sit down, and then stare at you, until your discomfort makes you speak first. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of the end: to these jerks, whoever speaks first has lost.

Dealing with them: In my mid twenties, these people scared me the most. I completely bought into the notion that they had it all together, they were superior to me and I should wear kid gloves when dealing with them. That I should catering to their every need and being grateful for positive reinforcement -- as I wanted their financial sponsorship and advertisement money.

maya angelou, never forget how you made them feel, job tips, interview
True and topical. Rest in peace, Maya Angelou

This, I believe now, was a huge mistake. It is never ok for another person to intimidate or dazzle you. Before dealing with someone like this, write down every point you want to touch on. Rehearse it. If the individual, for whatever reason, scares you research them on the internet. Look at their LinkedIn or whatever Google grants you -- make them real, not the holier-than-thou being you've built in your head. Know what you're dealing with.

As you are consumed with being nervous and trying to do/say the right things, you will lose focus of what you are getting out of this interaction. You must remember this, because they will push for everything they want, without giving you an inch, because they are probably used to getting what they need and will demand satisfaction from you. If become more nervous and accommodating, they will push for more, as they see your weakness as a way in. Offered an inch, will ask for a mile.
  • Dress in your favorite suit/business dress. - Whatever makes you feel best, wear it. You will be judged on your appearance in this scenario.
  • You want to pause before you speak. - Take your time, let your thoughts process, speak thoughtfully, not reactively
  • Sit back in your chair - do not lean forward with anxiety
  • Speak calmly - as you get nervous, people often speak too fast or in a shrill tone. Remain composed. A break in speech is better than speaking too much
  • Make them ask questions - you are making a deal, but you still need to highlight their benefit and maintain your authority. Ask if they have any questions. If it sounds good to them.
  • Do not fidget. Sit relatively still
  • Make eye contact. Do not stare at the wall. Make eye contact during speech for a few seconds, look away, and then return your gaze
  • Bring samples/media kit material/mock-ups. You will feel more at ease with samples to use as reference and you look prepared
  • Hand them a business card at the end - I used to think this was stupid, as I was a lowly representative and they were partners at companies. But it's all in your head -- this type of person might act smugly whether you ace this meeting or not, be confident in who you are and act as if you are significant. People like this often respect moxie, because they believe they ooze it.
  • Thank them - Good or bad, thank them for meeting with you with a smile and head nod. Always. Regardless of their behavior, you don't have to lose your manners. This also shows, in my opinion, that you aren't fazed.
  • Schedule your next move: Whether you've signed a deal or just opened a conversation for more information, you need to show assertiveness and schedule your next move. Ask if you can call them on X to follow up, Tell them you will be sending an email with more information -- make it known you are making another action after this meeting.

Know what you can give/offer and stick to it: If you find yourself in a position where you are asked for more (a bigger discount, an extended contract, amenities at an event) tell them you will check to see if you can offer that, and will get back to them as soon as you can. (Make a call after your meeting, and get back to them ASAP with a call/email). No need to get flustered.

I know, I sound very cold world and Wolf of Wall-Streety right now. But people like this -- even though they aren't the majority-- do exist and you will encounter them. Don't let them walk on you, once you deal with a few of these individuals, outcome good or bad, you will get used to identifying their idiosyncrasies.

Since these people work to create an aura of power, fear and control it is the opposite that they respond to -- do not agonize over how to impress them or what will make them happen. Instead, focus on you. What are your strengths. What are you bringing to this relationship (never lose sight of that) and what do you want out of this interaction?

This is part one of my Working in Hell series. Part Two will be: The Man Behind the Curtain

Good luck out there,

Jean

Friday, February 20, 2015

Survey: How Has Weight Loss/Gain Affected Your Sex Life?

Hello, a reader reached out to me via email and asked why I don't do more surveys like the ones featured in Warning Sign and Secret Stuff.

plus size sex, slow sex, sex life, sexual health, loss of sex, hot sex, great sex, sexless

My answer? I didn't know you wanted more. So I'm conducting a new Sexual Health survey: How Has Weight Loss/Gain Affected Your Sex Life?

All the answers are recorded and kept anonymous. If you would like to participate click here, I am writing a post about it to be featured soon. Hopefully this is a topic we can talk about, learning and helping each other.

UPDATE2/23/2015 -- Thank readers for sharing your thoughts! The survey is still open if you'd like to share yours.

Thank you,

Jean