Don’t stereotype other people!
As I left off in the last part of my diary….I had finally conceived my precious child. The months went by quickly…my stomach growing with the life inside of me. I enjoyed buying pretty maternity clothing. I loved being able to start buying the things I needed to transform a room into a nursery. Every month that went by, I became more and more excited. On the day I was to go to my OBGYN for my ultra sound, I was both nervous and excited. As the doctor put the gel on my stomach and started moving it around, I looked at the monitor and saw the most miraculous site. My child was curled up, cozy in my womb. I remember crying with joy. He asked me if I wanted to know what the baby was and I immediately said YES! He took several pictures and began pointing out various body parts. Finally, he moved to one area and stated “Well, it looks like you are going to have a little boy”. More tears from me and an elation that far surpassed anything I had ever known. I had gone through so much to be able to live this moment. It was all worth it.
In my 7th month, we had a house-warming party. My husband and I had bought a new house and wanted to have our friends over to celebrate. It was a wonderful evening…until people started leaving. The cars were all crowded into our yard, so I went outside to help direct cars out of the driveway and grass. I was standing in the grass, directing one particular car, when all of a sudden, the driver ran over my foot! I screamed and it must have scared him, so he took the car out of reverse and ran over my foot again! I was rushed to the hospital. They had to cover my stomach with a lead cover so that they could take the x-rays. Fortunately, it was not broken. But my foot was black and blue and had pretty little waffle marks all over it.
The next month, I was in the kitchen cooking and dropped a glass cutting board that had pointed edges, right on my middle toe. The edge went into the nail bed and blood went everywhere. I sat down hard on the floor and screamed. My husband came running. I thought he was going to have a stroke when he saw all the blood. He thought something was wrong with me and the baby. Needless to say, I was a bit embarrassed.
So, the time was upon us. The doctor had told me after I had conceived that there was a possibility that I would not be able to have the baby normally because I had a small pelvis. I remember like it was yesterday, looking at the doctor in disbelief and saying “With the big ass hips, you are saying I have a small pelvis?!” hah! He told me that the pelvis had nothing to do with what was on the outside. I remember leaving the office brushing it off and not giving it another thought.
Well, I was wrong and he was right. I already had a pre-determined day that they would induce labor. My blood pressure was giving me problems and my ankles were swollen up like balloons. So on that day, they induced my labor and broke my water. I have always heard it’s the most painful experience and at the time, it was. After dilating so many centimeters, I was allowed an epidural. The bad thing about those is, you can’t tell when to push…well, I couldn’t. I labored with my boy for hours and hours. I don’t think I have ever been as tired as I was at that moment. The doctor decided to move me to the operating room because he was pretty sure I would need a C-section. He tried forceps, but my little boy just wasn’t coming through. So, they repositioned him back up higher so they could deliver him C-section. They prepped me and started the procedure. Just as he started cutting me, I remember yelling “Hey, I feel that!” The doctor looked at me and said “Nite nite”. They put me under. I was not able to see my little prince until the following day. All of my family told me that my poor little boy came out looking like a cone head! The next day when they brought him to me, I can’t remember a joy so wonderful as seeing my little boy for the first time.
As you can imagine, I gained weight while I was pregnant. Unfortunately, I continued to do so after while. While the surgery gave me what I wanted most in life, it was only a temporary fix to my problem. The pouch that they make in the top part of the stomach above the band, can be stretched over time. While I still can’t and won’t eat, platter after platter of food…my choices in WHAT I ate were the problem. Many people eat when they are depressed, I am not alone in that. Many people eat for pleasure. Everyone’s metabolism is different. I discovered that over the years, I ruined mine by not eating on a schedule, eating the wrong things and most of all, the up and down dieting I had been doing all my life.
In 1995, I was diagnosed with RA. In order not to repeat the entire story, please go to my blog post “Living With Disabilities”. It will explain what happened after I was diagnosed with RA.
Part 6 of Diary of a Fat Girl coming soon.
It’s been a while since my last post. Life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. I have had some difficulty getting things typed due to some RA issues in my fingers. My jewelry making takes it’s toll on my hands, but it’s not something I am willing to give up. Hmmm, I wonder if it would be a good idea to invest in one of those speech to type programs? Oh well….on to part 4 of my story.
There were many other instances in high school, but I would have to write a whole book to tell it all. After high school, I ran the gamut of experiences in life. I worked at a restaurant. I went to cosmetology school. I worked as a cosmetologist at Eckerd Drugs. I met and married my first husband. Throughout it all….my size fluctuated. My weight reached it’s highest after I married. By then, I had a good job at C&S Bank in the factoring division.
I had started feeling the “call of nature”. I wanted a baby. My monthly periods were sporadic at best. I had gone to see my gynecologist and got some bad news. “Unless you lose a significant amount of weight, I doubt very seriously if you will be able to conceive. If you miraculously do manage to become pregnant, your chances of carrying the baby safely, will be greatly reduced.” Those words out of the doctor’s mouth, were like being doused with a bucket of cold water. So, at this point in the story, I am sure you are asking yourselves “Why doesn’t she just go on a diet?”. It’s not that easy….at least for some of us.
Have I told you yet that my life had been a series of failed diet after failed diet? I tried every diet imaginable…pills (which when my school chums found out I had them….hounded me relentlessly to get their hands on them), shakes, fasts, pre-packaged foods….you name it. To say that I was an expert on fad diets, is an understatement. I knew I had to do something if I were to ever have a chance at having a child. So, I decided to go see a Bariatric specialist. He explained to me that a new surgery was available for obese people. The surgery, VBG or Vertical Banded Gastroplasty, was an option that he presented to me. One of the criteria was that you had to be 100 pounds or more overweight. I qualified in spades. As well as the 100 pounds overweight criteria, I also had to go through a mental evaluation. Without going into a long discourse on that, I have included this link concerning the mental evaluation process of VBG candidates. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096263/
So, I had my surgery in 1984. I went through hell after that surgery. It was a very difficult healing process. The incision ran from my sternum, all the way to my belly button. You have to understand that in order to get to your stomach, they cut through muscle. Just the act of sitting up from a lying position, was a major obstacle. I had to have assistance. Any kind of straining caused a lot of pain. Eating was a whole new experience. For the first month, all I could eat was soft foods…scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, jello, baby food. The reason for that was that the staples inside, had to heal up. Putting something solid into my stomach could rip them loose. Once I healed well enough, I was allowed solid food….which I had to chew extremely thoroughly. The problem with that was, if the food were not chewed to a pulp, it would become lodged in the banded area…causing extreme pain and discomfort until it was either passed on down into the stomach, or thrown up. Throwing up is literally a harrowing experience now. The food has to go back up past the band, then up the esophagus. In doing so, it is with much force and the resulting broken blood vessels in my eyes and face, are inevitable. This happened to me many times and still does on occasion.
Here is a link to a computer animation of VBG. It will give you a better idea of what is involved in the process. http://youtu.be/K4XApq-l6as
I would look in the mirror at my shrinking body. I knew that my eyes were showing me the correct image, but I could not help seeing the “other” me in the mirror from time to time. One disadvantage of losing weight so fast, is that your skin does not have time to shrink back properly. So, you end up with loose, saggy skin in different areas on your body. Mine was mostly the upper arms and legs. This became very difficult to look at in the mirror. So, I dressed appropriately. I made sure that these parts of my body were not visible to others. But I still enjoyed the compliments and praise that I received when I went back to work. I enjoyed the looks of men when I went out. I enjoyed buying smaller clothing. Mind you….I was still not a size 5…not even a size 12. But I was smaller. My periods returned to a regular cycle. I experienced difficulties from the procedure from time to time…but Life was different…better. But it was soon to be the best.
I lost almost 100 pounds and conceived my son in 1985. To say that I was ecstatic, is an understatement. It was a bittersweet day when I found out. That morning, I had gone in for a blood test. I knew in my heart that I was pregnant, although the EPT tests came up negative. Later in the afternoon, I got a call from my husband that his dad had had a heart attack and had been transported to the hospital. When we got there, his father had passed on. Needless to say, it was a heart breaking day. That evening, the doctor called to give me the good news that I was indeed pregnant. It was hard to know how to feel. But deep inside, my heart was full of joy. I was pregnant and would soon have a child.
This is my scar from my surgery…30 years later.
More in part 5 of Diary of a Fat Girl.
It’s almost spring and I am back again with a new blog! I have not blogged in a while due to health issues, (will detail in a separate blog) but I am back with the story of another wonderful Etsy artist!
I would like to introduce, Cindi from Lakota Charm! She is another disabled artist of Etsy with mad skills and a touching story. Her art is absolutely stunning and I am so happy to have found her! We have developed a great rapport and a budding friendship….you know what they say….birds of a feather DO flock together! I asked her a series of questions about herself, her artwork and her plans for the future. Without further ado…here is Cindi’s story in her own words.
I was in a very bad motorcycle accident in 2008. I have screws holding my shoulder together and I had to have a foot reattached that was ripped off in my accident. Since my accident, I have had numerous problems with my bones and joints. I now suffer from a degenerative bone and disc disease which is extremely painful. I have days where I am unable to walk or get out of bed on my own. Because of this, I am unable to work a regular job as I can not be on my feet for long periods of time and cannot be seated for long periods of time. It is because of this that I decided to start making jewelry as a way to have an income. It is something I enjoy very much.
I enjoy beading and seeing a design come to life. Someone who does Native beading knows the time you put into each piece. You have to love beading to do it because the money you may get from a pair of earrings is very little when you consider the time you put into each one. It truly is a labor of love.
Making and selling my jewelry has changed my life in many ways. It gives you such a sense of pride when someone buys a piece you made because they really love it. It gives someone like me who is fighting a debilitating disease, a sense of worth. When you cannot work and can no longer do some of the things you once did, you can easily fall into depression and you no longer feel like you have any self-worth. Being able to start my own business truly has saved me.
At this point in my work, I am selling my jewelry on Etsy. I have a Facebook page where I introduce many items, and I am in the process of setting up my website. I have also started doing art and craft sales. I hope within the next year to be able to expand and have my pieces for sale in different shops. I would love to be able to someday have my own shop to sell my pieces and to also sell other Native Artists items.
I am inspired by numerous Native artists. There are so many talented Native designers. It seems as though I find someone new all the time. Today I discovered Joy Lynn Parton from Pine Ridge Reservation. She has a store on Etsy called Rez Hoofz & Native Stylez. She has the most amazing painted boots and handbags. They are just beautiful. I encourage everyone to go take a peek.
When I started with Etsy I thought I was never going to sell anything. It took a couple of months to make a sale. But I kept adding items and one day I opened my mail to discover I had made a sale. Since then I have noticed an increase in traffic. More people add my store and my items to their favorites and I make a few sales. I think Etsy is a wonderful place to find beautiful handmade items and to connect with other people who also love making handmade items. I used to put items on Ebay but it has just gotten too pricey. I love Etsy and even with the start of my website and everything else I am planning, I do plan on staying with Etsy and adding more items all the time. I truly love it there.
I am getting married in 2012 and Lakota Charm would never be if it was not for the support of Joe…thank you!
I would also like to thank you, Deborah. I am very honored that you are writing about me. I truly thank you for supporting myself and other Native artists and other disabled individuals who have found a home on Etsy.
Well, there you have it, folks…another sweet, talented individual whom I am so happy to have found on Etsy! Thank you, Cindi for sharing your story with us. I know how hard it can be to talk about our disabilities. But I want others who suffer through disabilities to know that it is NOT the end of being a useful and relevant part of society. Etsy has given so many of us a place to do the things we love to do and help make ends meet as well.
Please visit Cindi’s Etsy shop at http://www.lakotacharm.etsy.com
Isn’t it strange how some things from the past we can recall with total clarity while what we had for breakfast this morning totally eludes us? I remember starting at a new high school after the school year had already started. It was 1972 and at this particular high school, 8th graders were included as opposed to being in middle school. It was hard enough being the new girl, much less being a “subbie” (that is what the upper classmen called us). It was also more difficult because I was overweight. I was not extremely obese at that point in my life, but I was bigger in many ways than most of the other girls…hell, even some of the guys! I have always been tall as well as big, so that also put me in the spotlight. I remember one of my nicknames (given to me by a boy) was “moose”. I did not particularly enjoy that nickname, but it was infinitely better than “fatty fatty two by four, couldn’t get through the bathroom door” or fat ass, lard ass, thunder thighs….and the list goes on.
I had made friends with several people (quite easily) because I decided I would NOT be a silent wallflower. I have always been friendly and easy to get along with and I never knew a stranger. Like most high school kids, they divided into groups or “factions”. In our school, it was the geeks or nerds…the jocks…the far-outs or stoners…and then the kids who pretty much fit in wherever they wanted. I was one of those kids, with the exception of the jock group. Although I had friends in that group, I never fit in with them because I was not athletic. I did, however, hang out with the far-outs and the nerds. I had good friends in both of those groups. Rather than being athletic, I was given the gift of song…so I joined the chorus. When I watch the show Glee, it kind of reminds me of my high school days because chorus geeks were not exactly in the “in-crowd”.
So, my life in high school was not all bad. I had some great friends, did my chorus thing and got decent grades. Then there were the times when I would come home from school crying. Someone had said something or done something to hurt me. I was never able to shake off things like that. I guess it’s because I always wore my heart on my sleeve…still do. I remember one incident so distinctly. It’s like it happened only yesterday, when in fact it was 38 years ago.
Two girls (names will be left out) came up to me in the hall one day and told me that one of the football players (again, no names) had a crush on me. They gave me a note that was supposedly from him. I opened the note and read it and it said that he thought I was hot and then proceeded to ask if I wanted to go steady. I should have listened to that little voice in my head that told me they were playing a mean joke on me. But I didn’t. I guess I just wanted it to be true because the football player was so cute. I should have known better. The note said that if I wanted to go steady, that he was going to put his ring in his desk and that I should get it after class. Silly me, as soon as the bell rang and the kids cleared out, got up and went over to the desk and started rummaging around inside looking for the ring. All of a sudden, I heard a lot of laughing and giggling coming from the doorway to the classroom. There stood the two girls and a few other people they had clued in on the joke. My heart fell as I realized a cruel joke had been played on me. I can’t remember for sure if they had told the football player about the joke or not. All I knew is that I felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. Hot tears flooded my eyes and streamed down my face as I ran down the hall. I went home sick that day and was out for the next two days afterward.
I never got an apology from those girls. I don’t even know if they really knew how badly they had hurt me or if they even
cared. I often wonder if karma came back around and bit them on the ass.
I had gone to a department store that was popular during this time period. It was called Rich’s. I think I was around 18 or 19 years old. Now, in this store…there was a department called (I believe I remember it correctly) the Regency department. My mother had sent me to pick up a dress they were holding for her. Now mind you, this department was very “exclusive” and they only carried “normal” sizes. I spent a few moments looking around before going up to the counter. Before I even had the chance to get to the counter, a woman approached me almost mowing me down! She looked me up and down and with a reproachful look on her face said “Miss, we do not fit YOUR SIZE (she emphasized the “your size” part) in this department!” I just looked at her. Did I really just hear her say that??? “Well lady, I said…I am not here for me. I am here to pick up a very expensive dress my mom has waiting to be paid for and picked up”. I wish I could describe the look on her face just then. It was really quite priceless. I almost called my mom right then and there to tell her what had happened. I know she would have told me to tell the lady to put her dress where “the sun don’t shine”. But, I didn’t do that. I just stood at the counter while the sales lady fumbled around ringing up the dress. It was apparent that she was flustered…but not for the reason you would think. Rather than being embarrassed about being so rude to me, I think she was more worried about losing a sale. It sort of reminds me of that scene in “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts goes into that swanky shop looking for clothes and the sales ladies were rude to her because of how she looked. I waited until I was out of the store for the waterworks to be turned on. I cried all the way home.
A couple of years later, I was invited over to my boyfriend’s place of employment (Days Inn) to go swimming. As usual, I dressed in a pair of cut offs and a t-shirt. I would not wear a swimsuit. To this day, I still don’t. Everyone was already out by the pool. I hated that, because I knew I had to make a solo entrance. So there was no “blending in” with the crowd. I noticed there were motel guests there swimming as well as my boyfriend, his brother and the rest of our friends. I walked across the pavement and descended the stairs, smiling at my friends and waving. There was a guy in a floating lounge chair with some girls surrounding him. They were all staring at me. I started to make my way across the pool to my friends and heard the guy say “Wow, I did not know they allowed hippos in this pool”. His gal pals all giggled at his joke. I was mortified. Embarrassed and hurt, I turned around and got out of the pool as fast as I could. I ran all the way to my boyfriend’s room where I cried my eyes out. I later found out that the guy had been a paraplegic. That amazed me completely. Here is someone who is handicapped and is probably familiar with staring eyes and whispered words…making fun of me. Searching for an answer, I could only come up with the reason that perhaps he was trying to take the spotlight off of himself and put it on me. I don’t really know. I do know that it hurt. It hurt deeply.
These are two examples of discrimination, ignorance and how words can cut deeply. These were not the first, nor would they be the last that I was to endure. Keep in mind that I dieted for years…enjoying success at times and finding failure at others. But it seemed that when I came up against people like these, I spiraled downward. It was a constant struggle.
In my next blog, I will talk about my high school experiences….some of them the most painful. Kids can be cruel, they say. They, whoever they are, are correct.
I see the way you look at me. I see the sidelong glances as I walk by. Sometimes, it’s not even a glance…it’s a head-on stare as you look down your nose at me. I hear the giggles and the jokes. I feel the animosity radiate off of you. You hate what you don’t understand…or so I am told. Understand this… I am a human being, just like you. I bleed. I cry. I hurt.
I AM FAT. There, I said it. No sugar-coating, no cute little nicknames for it. Plain and simple, I am a fat person. Am I happy about it? Of course not. Do I blame only myself? Sometimes, but I know there are more reasons behind it. Do I wish I were of “normal” size? Of course I do! It sure would have made my life a little easier. Have I tried dieting, you ask? The only answer I can give you for that is, DUH!
My weight issue has been a lifelong battle. I have been passed over for jobs, chased out of department stores, stared at, made fun of, had pranks played on me. You name it, I have been through it. But you know what? It has made me a stronger person. It has also taught me how to be forgiving, more intuitive, more outgoing and more appreciative of who I am inside. I guess you could say that instead of turning it in and letting it bring me down…I turned it out and decided to live my life and be the best human being I could be.
You may ask me…why are you writing this? Why are you putting something painful and embarrassing out there for the world to see? Because I want to inspire those that are walking in my moccasins AND let those who never had a weight problem in their life know what it’s like. Perhaps I can prevent someone from being bullied. Perhaps I can inspire a kind word instead of a hateful word. Perhaps I can make someone THINK before they act.
This blog will be in parts. It will not be chronological. It will be remembrances of things in my life as they come to me. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2 will be coming shortly. Please feel free to leave comments on this and upcoming parts of this blog, if it touches you in any way.
Oh, by the way…the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me”……IS SO NOT TRUE!
Once again, here I am promoting the wonderful artists of Etsy! Since I have been a member of this community (February of this year), I have met so many talented and friendly people! I am proud to be a member of this amazing community.
This blog, part 3 in my series, is dedicated to Debbie and John Rodgers of Sedona, Arizona. Their shop name is Thunder Rose. I have had a lot of communication with these fine folks and we have become friends. They did some work for me, putting together a deerskin and fox bag. I am unable to sew leather anymore, due to the RA in my hands. I approached John and Debbie with my idea of how I wanted it to look and they dove right in and crafted me EXACTLY what I asked for. I was so pleased! They are both friendly, talented and very accommodating and I love working with them.
I talked to Debbie about their shop and here is what she had to say.
When and why did you first become interested in working with leather and beading?
“About 30 years ago I became interested in beading. I love color and especially rainbow and fire colors. So I began making earrings and barrettes and anything I could think of. Learning new stitches as I went along. Around the same time I started getting into leather work. The beads complimented the leather very well. About 20 years ago this became my full-time business along with my husband John.”
What types of things do you like to make the most and why?
“I like to make functional items that people can use everyday. I love the feeling I get when I make something beautiful for someone and they feel very happy. Makes my heart feel good.”
Has your life changed significantly due to your love for what you do and why?
“Yes it has. Everyday I wake up and decide what I am going to make today. What colors of beadwork will I put on this handbag or pipe bag or whatever it is I am working on today. It is good to be your own boss. You do have to get up and get going in order for it to become a full-time business and you have to be flexible to what the day asks of you.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years and do you have any major plans?
“John and I live in the moment as much as possible. It’s hard to say what will be happening 10 years from now. We’ll probably be making handbags and doing beadwork.”
What has been your experience on Etsy?
“I really enjoy having a store on Etsy. I like the community feeling I have with other artists. It’s been a very good experience.”
Do you have any interesting stories stemming from your work?
“I have met people from all over the world. I have made so many different kinds of leather bags and beaded so many different kinds of designs. That has been fun and enjoyable. John and I feel so grateful to all the wonderful people we have met along our journey.”
Please make sure to visit Debbie and John’s Etsy store at
Their blog at
I urge everyone to go and take a tour through all the wonderful shops on Etsy. One can spend hours there, just browsing and window shopping. Ask me how I know!!! 🙂
I remember the first time I was introduced to these beautiful, noble creatures. My husband at the time, had taken me to visit Liz when we lived in Georgia. He took me as a birthday gift…so that I could meet the wolves. I have always been in love with them. It was a dream come true to actually touch and stroke the fur of a wolf. I had become good friends with Liz and her pack and it was not long after my first magical visit, that wolves became illegal to keep in the state of Georgia. She asked me if I would like to move to North Carolina with them to be a part of the sanctuary she was starting. I jumped at the chance!
I was even more enthused when I discovered we would be living in the mountains. For as long as I can remember, my family and I had come up to this area for vacations. We also went to the beach, but to me, mountain vacations were the best. So, I jumped at the chance to not only live in the mountains, but to be able to help the wolves as well. I knew I would not be much good physically(because of my RA), but I wanted to lend my internet expertise to the cause along with anything else I could do. So, in 2002, I moved my son Brandon and myself to a little town called Bakersville. The Sanctum is situated on 39 mountain acres. You have to drive up a long, gravel, switch-back driveway to get here. Things here are very different than that of a big city and took some getting used to. I grew to love this little town and our sanctuary very much. I could never move back to the city.
Over the years here…I have helped with our website and fund-raising for the wolves. Recently, I helped to open our new online gift shop which will help support The Sanctum wolves. If you have not yet visited our website and our online gift shop, please do so. On our website, you will meet the denizens of the Sanctum. Our little pack has thinned over the years… alas, like it is with all living creatures…death is inevitable. We miss the ones who have passed on and we even dedicate a page on our website to our departed friends. Our site also gives information on sponsorships, volunteering and information about our area.
Feel free to visit us at
Our online gift shop is at
Right now, the Sanctum is open to the general public on Saturdays from 12pm to 6pm (weather permitting) through the first week or so of November. All other tours must be arranged by the director, Liz Mahaffey. All info is on our website.
With her new business barely off the ground, Amy Estes has already booked sessions for weddings, engagements, family pictures and more. She has a keen eye and an imaginative mind, which makes her photography unique. Amy truly seems to love taking photographs and I am constantly amazed at some of the shots she gets.
I asked Amy to talk to me about her love of photography and this is what she had to say.
LOVED it and wanted to try my hand at taking photos of people. Then my parents bought me my first “real” camera for Christmas.
I had no idea where this venture would take me.”
What types of things do you like to photograph the most and why?
“I enjoy taking photos of everything, but mostly engagements and weddings. I love being a part of someone’s special
memories… like their wedding day. I have made some awesome new friends this way.”
What do you see yourself doing with your photography in the next 10 years?
“Oh goodness, I have many hopes and dreams. I will just be happy if I can continue on this path that I’m on now…making new friends and capturing their memories. I hope to one day have an office/studio of my own…perhaps on my own property. I’d like a small cabin-like building on a nice piece of land, with some animals and awesome backgrounds for shooting.”
I can really see that happening one day for Amy. She is a very talented young woman who I am proud to call my niece.
Go check out Amy’s website at: