Cleaning Up With Damn, Girl

Woman climbing into a dryer

Growing up, cleanliness and order were never priorities in my house. My family of five lived in a van until I was about four, my siblings and I sharing a chest of drawers for a bed. As fucked up as that is, it’s still a little bit adorable, admit it.

Once we settled into a bit more space, that space was decorated in the classic “insane petting zoo from hell” style. At one point, I shared my bedroom with seven chickens.

With thirty-seven cats, three dogs, five screaming peacocks, two horses, an angry little pony, six goats, and a very energetic hoarder to manage them all, my childhood home could turn the strongest of stomachs.

I have fond memories of our unneutered male pygmy goat “Bill” rising proudly from the open trunk of one of our many broken down cars and chasing the school bus. Every morning, with his little goat beard full of urine and a stiff twelve-inch erection, he would charge the driver as the bus screeched out of the driveway. Needless to say, I wasn’t the fucking prom queen.

A goat in a mailbox

Keeping a house up properly was definitely a skill I had to learn. Today I wanted to tackle the mindset and habits that keep so many people’s homes in disarray.

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Gagging on Christmas

A collection of gift tags

It’s safe to say that my husband and I come from very different sides of the track. His upbringing was firmly upper middle class and my upbringing was firmly skipping class to go to work ‘cuz I got siblings and someone has to feed these damn kids.

It was ten years ago this winter, that I trekked up to my husbands beautiful little mountain town to spend Christmas with his family.

But first, a tale from the Ghosts of Christmases past;

I was raised between the foster care system and the streets. Most of my Christmases were spent in the faded lime green or grey walled buildings of mental institutions visiting my mentally ill mother. We used to drink dixie cups of chicken “soup” that came out of the vending machine next to the coffee and hold hands across metal tables, carefully supervised. My mother would give us bright little drawings she made.

Other Christmases spent in children’s shelters and homes were more eventful. Socks, toothbrushes, packages of underwear, new sheets, and one year a boombox from the local fire department; my pride and joy. Need-based gifts were the name of the game and there were no complaints from me.

So when I spent my first “real Christmas” with my then boyfriend, now husband, at the tender age of nineteen, I was still fresh from the Christmases of my childhood and totally unprepared for what was about to happen.

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The Skinny Confidential

Lauryn Evarts, The Skinny Confidential

Here at Damn, Girl, I talk a lot about taking risks and asking others for the things that you need.

And I follow my own advice… mostly.

I get anxiety about pursuing the things that truly matter to me, just like every other creative.

While I am sure this is true for every person, I feel there is a larger stigma for women when it comes to pursuing their goals with the direct, relentless passion it takes to actually get shit done.

This is in part due to to the fact that in order to achieve our goals, we need to ask for support. We are made to feel that by asking for support, we are admitting our lives are not perfect. And there is nothing if not a great pressure to make our lives seem perfect.

Not just perfect, but completely self-achieved. Like we are some glorious island that has its own oil, the best mangos in the world, and a thriving, self-sustaining economy. We have entire platforms for this illusion: they’re called WordPress, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Don’t get me wrong; I love stalking celebrities’ sandwiches on Instagram as much as the next person, but the popularity of the “perfect life illusion” kept me from even considering blogging or talking about my experiences at all. They just weren’t that shiny.

That’s when I read The Skinny Confidential.

Lauryn Evarts was seemingly the same: perfectly blonde, fit, put together, drinking rosé in France and glowing for some damn reason (seriously, how the hell do you all just glow? Is there some switch I don’t know about? Is that what nipples are actually for? Have I been using them wrong?).

But then I came across a post of hers called “I Hate You Anxiety” and for the first time, I saw one of these perfect people talking about something real. I continued reading her blog. She dished on jaw swelling, constipation, all the nasty stuff that I thought never touched these people.

The more I read, the more I grew to love her voice. Lauryn was sweet, she loved and supported women, she talked about real things. It was The Skinny Confidential that inspired me to start this blog.

I knew that I wanted Lauryn in my corner, so I decided to take my own advice and reach out to her. To ask for the support that I needed.

Sure, I had some wine first. Psyched myself up. Waited for the inevitable “Please do not contact me, loser” message I was sure to get at any moment.

Turns out asking for the things that I needed turned out to be ok. Lauryn was sweet and supportive and was kind enough to pass on her blogging tips to the readers here at Damn, Girl. So tuck in, and enjoy some tips from the master:

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Dehumanizing Your Future Self

Woman in a hoodie

I thought growing old would take longer.
-Old guy’s shirt at the grocery store

As many of you know, I teach ballroom dancing. I spend a lot of my day with people in their 50s-80s, recently retired, looking to fill their work-free days or reconnect with their spouses.

I love spending time with the older demographic. They come in for their lessons, doze off to sleep, wake up, knit a scarf, make a stew, find a quarter behind my ear…and off they go.

No, actually. That doesn’t happen at all.

The Metzgers grab at each others asses and play Candy Crush in the waiting room. The Sanchezes bring me in beers they brew at home and share photos on their iPhone of the trips they took to China or Mexico. The Watsons…well yeah, I mean, Mrs Watson does in fact bring in her knitting, but she has been knitting since she was like fifteen. And yeah, her chicken and dumplings are really good. And Mr. Watson has found almost four dollars in quarters behind my ears. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the Watsons as an example. My point is…

They are all totally unique individuals and when I talk to them about their pasts I find something truly astonishing:

They aren’t anything like us, they are exactly like themselves.

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Oh Crap, It’s About to Be Winter

Cranberries on a frozen branch

There is that first day of fall where you feel like the world is a magical place, full of wonder and change. A bit later comes that fall day when shit starts to get real and you realize you have fifty years of fucking winter stretching out before you.

On that day, which for most of us is between November 1st – 5th, you need to take your supplies of feel-good fall energy and use them to rescue your future self.

Seasonal depression is the bane of my existence. It will be the middle of July and I will be like, “You Fools! Put down your volleyballs and summer shandies! Winter Is Coming!”

I’ve been training for this all year, so consider me your honorary Ph.D in S.A.D. and how to dodge it

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The Damn, Girl Diet

Girl holding a half-eaten donut

Ah, dieting. The most futile endeavor of our times. Diets completely work while we are on them, and then suddenly stop when we go off them. It’s a mystery worthy of Scooby-Doo.

It takes a level of deranged self-importance to think that one could make a meaningful contribution to the endless amount of lifestyle tips, healthy eating hacks, or diet tricks at this point of insufferable saturation. Luckily, I have that level of deranged self-importance, and am going to blow your mind. Then run for president.

So without further ado, I present the Damn, Girl Diet:

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The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Tiny Buddha statue on a mossy rock

It’s becoming pretty obvious that our ridiculous full voicemail, texting, Netflix-watching, desk job, blue light, to-do-list-filled lives are screwing with us. We’re all anxious and depressed and overwhelmed and floaty-feeling because the last time we weren’t plugged into some kind of device, Bill Clinton was in office.

So, of course, the ones with all the obnoxious wisdom have spoken. It’s time to forest bathe, do yoga, and most importantly: meditate.

You know, sit in a quiet place, focus on your breath, practice mindfulness…pull your fingernails out one by one and try to boil yourself to death in a half inch of water. ‘Cause really, what’s the difference?

I hate meditating. God, it’s hard for me. My mind is a tireless athlete whose running inner monologue is essentially:

“Hustle, hustle, hustle, don’t end up like your mother, hustle hustle hustle, ooh, that’s a good idea, write that down, hustle hustle hustle.”

My “distracted ambition” (patent pending) is kindling for panic attacks.

So I visit the Pinterest boards filled with perky chicks wearing tank tops that say “Namastay Grateful.” I try so hard to read these posts, which are all soothing and helpful, and I can almost make it through one before the heat of irritation bubbles up into my soul and I go, “Ahhhhhhhh, I can’t even read about meditating, let alone meditate.”

So what do you do when you feel disconnected? Like you are a passenger in your own life? When you feel anxious? When you get that feeling that time is either going at a crawl or speeding by like lightning…or both?

Unfortunately, you fucking meditate.

Frasier GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here’s a guide for my lovelies who want to want to mediate: Continue reading “The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation”

DG Fall Essentials

Girl with a scarf holding a cup of coffee.

Things have been getting a little heavy around here at Damn, Girl. From declaring war on happiness to shitting on Lifetime movies, it may be time to take a walk on the lighter side.

This week I couldn’t decide between writing about “Why Your Grandma is Kind Of a Slut” or “The Surprising Health Benefits of Puppy Blood,” so I opted for a third option. A classic: Damn, Girl Fall Essentials.

Cat GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Today, Be Anything but Happy

A pineapple on the beach

Sometimes I read stuff like this article called “Why Pursuing Happiness is the Greatest Goal” and wonder why traditional advice doesn’t seem to apply to me.

I just absently blink at 90 percent of the “awesome truths” that “change people’s lives.” When I try to apply them to my own life, I end up totally dissatisfied, living in a yurt with a mouthful of chia seeds dribbling down my face, yelling positive affirmations into the mirror.

I’m pretty sure if there is anything that makes humans miserable, it’s chasing happiness.

Knowing that it’s The Goal of almost everyone I know is so tragic I can’t. Hardly. Even.

Before you get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with happiness…It’s just not a goal. And exalting one emotion doesn’t sit well with me

Nothing GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Fuck Lifetime Movies

Arm reaching out of the covers

You know the ones. They all star this legless bald chick with an IQ of 70 and anorexia whose stepdad beats her but she ends up going to Harvard and winning Miss USA and running a marathon and then goes on to inspire other bald legless anorexics to achieve their dreams.

Does the Lifetime movie channel play in other countries besides America? Cause it’s so fucking “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” American I could puke…and then make a hot chocolate and grab a box of kleenex and cry, “She’s. So-ooo. Ah…ma..ma..zing!” and then watch it again. Damn you, Lifetime movies!

I swear to God, this is the reason why we are all so crazy: the expectations. They are terrible. TERRIBLE!

This is coming from someone who is practically a walking talking lifetime movie.

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