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December 2012

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You can access the personal MBA website here.

K – Read on my Kindle, N – Read on my Nook, S – Short, L – Library, C – Children’s

Body and Other Four Letter Words

There are many reasons why I haven’t blogged in well over a year, but today I’m going to address one of the main reasons. One of the main reasons I decided to blog in the first place was simply to address issues most important to me, and with the issues of body image and infertility, I’ve failed to do just that. How do you address something that affects every single aspect of your life? How do you address something so overwhelming that no one, not even those who love you the most, wants to hear it? The thing is that the longer I let these thoughts fester, let these words go unsaid, the longer I wonder if there is something I could’ve done for girls and women dealing with the same issues.

As a child, I can precisely pinpoint the moment when I was told my body wasn’t good enough; it was the day I entered kindergarten. Prior to kindergarten, no one called me fat or felt the need to constantly remind me just how short I was. Sure, I was a “stocky” kid, but I was also active. I played outside constantly with my little sister, cousins, etc. I never felt self-conscious in a bathing suit; I was having too much fun swimming. I never felt the need to compare myself to anyone else. Did I envy my older cousins? Of course I did! I looked up to all four of them (all female), but even as a small child I knew that to compare myself to someone so much older simply didn’t make sense.

Everything changed in kindergarten. In gym, I was always picked last for teams. When we had to line up by height (again, in gym), I was inevitably last or next to last. Sadly, I was compared to a little girl who was much larger than me. I just remember the anger and outrage of such an unjust comparison, and yet, I felt empathy for the other girl. Was that really how other kids saw me? As time wore on, kids started making rhymes about my body. 25 years later, and I still remember it all: “Short, fat, and squatty; got no face, got no body.”

In some ways things got better in junior high. I went from being bullied to being mostly ignored. As others paired off and experimented, I just threw myself into my school work and books. Sports were never much of an option for me, and unfortunately, sports at the junior high/high school I attended were the key to popularity, especially if you were a girl. I wasted my time on crushes who couldn’t be bothered to even talk to me, much less date me. Once my little sister joined me at the same school, I was bombarded with comments such as: “I can’t believe you two are sisters! Your sister is so pretty and popular!” The implication, of course, being that I was the exact opposite: ugly and unpopular.

As an adolescent, I would’ve given anything to look like my Mom and sister, both of whom I considered relatively thin (though they would both fight me on that one), beautiful, and popular. At the time, I wanted blonde hair and blue eyes if it meant acceptance. I remember driving with my Mom in her new red Grand Prix as a young teenager. GM had completely redesigned the Grand Prix, and my Mom had one of the first redesigned models in the area. My Mom had lost a lot of weight, and frankly, looked great. Every time I went somewhere with my Mom, it seemed as though we would get stares, mainly from men. I couldn’t help but wish I was the one making heads turn, not my Mom. Despite all of the disparaging remarks my Mom would make about her own weight, I never saw her as anything but beautiful.

Adolescence is hard, but it is even harder if you are short and fat. At the time, I thought I was huge, and that there was no chance I’d ever lose the weight. Today, I’d love to weigh what I did in high school. In college, I proved myself wrong and lost a lot of weight due to walking Michigan State’s campus and walking all over Spain during my semester there. What I wasn’t prepared for was how I would be treated differently. People were interested in me, in my life – even a few men.

After college, after moving to Houston, Texas for my first “real” job, things changed. I took all of the stress of that job, the joy of being in a relationship, and the loneliness I felt before Brian joined me in Houston, and I did what I do best: I used it as a license to eat. The desk job didn’t help either. Not only did I gain back all of the weight I lost, I kept gaining more too. It got to the point that my Dad and Grandma were shocked when I returned to Michigan. They couldn’t even hide it as I’d gained that much weight.

Today I’m at a point in my life where I’d love to lose the weight again. I’m single, and frankly, happier than I’ve been in a very long time. The thing is that I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that I’m scared: I’m scared of all of the attention I’d receive if I did lose the weight. The experience of having lived through that once left me angry. Am I really that much more of an interesting person if I am relatively thin? As I thought through all of that, I realized that losing weight would only be temporary (again) if I didn’t deal with my own body issues. I’m left wondering how I am supposed to do that when everything in our society states, quite bluntly, that my body, even at its best, will never be good enough on account of my height alone.

If there is anything I want girls and women to take from this, it is this:
We should not feel we have to be a certain weight to feel loved and accepted for who we are, society be damned.
Never let anyone tell you differently.

We as a society need to come to accept the simple fact that people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Words hurt much more than most people realize.

Is this what we want for girls?

Is this what we want for girls?

Through all of this over-thinking of body image as of late, I came to realize that I’ve never truly even liked my body, and much of the reason stems from infertility. The first thing I ever remember wanting out of life was to be a mom. At no point in my life did I ever not want a family of my own. Unfortunately, biologically, it just isn’t going to happen. Fortunately, I came to terms with the fact adoption is a wonderful alternative a long time ago. And yet, I’ve never quite forgiven my body for so fundamentally betraying me.

If I resemble anyone on either side of my family, it would be my Great-Grandma Suszko, my Dad’s maternal grandmother. At nineteen, I was working with my Grandma (her daughter) when she opened a package from a niece containing her parents’ wedding photo, newly redone. My Grandma kept staring at the photo and then back at me. It was clear she thought I looked like her Mom, although the fact that I was the same age as the girl in the photograph probably helped. As someone deeply interested in family history, I have a copy of Great-Grandma Suszko’s naturalization papers. Her physical description could fit me perfectly, with one exception: she was two inches taller than I am. My Great-Grandma Suszko had ten children, all but one of whom lived well into their 70s. Add in the fact that my Mom has four sisters, and I came up with one conclusion: My body should be built to bear children. It just isn’t.

What people who don’t have infertility fail to realize is that dealing with it is an on-going process, not a one-time deal. Just when you feel you are fine with it, accepted it fully, and have moved on, something happens that forces you to deal with it all over again. For me, one of the hardest things to deal with was the day I realized that I fully met the medical definition of infertile (I’ll spare you the details). There just wasn’t anyone I could share that deep sense of loss with at the time, even my boyfriend. I’ve talked a lot about my experiences with body image, but it just wasn’t complete without discussing infertility as well. There was a time in my life that dealing with infertility was so painful that I downplayed my desire for a family of my own. I downplayed it to the point that my own sister never realized that I wanted children. It saddens me that those I love most can never fully understand due to the simple fact that they are parents.

What Losing 100 Lbs. Taught Me About How We Treat Overweight People

14 Things Every Fat Girl Absolutely Needs to Hear

Daughter of Body Image Advocate Slams Brand for Her ‘Drastically Altered’ Modeling Photos

Spring 2014 - Holding my niece Ellloyse.

Spring 2014 – Holding my niece Ellloyse.

Happy Times - 2002

Happy Times – 2002

It’s That Time Of Year Again! 9th Annual Gateway To Writing Workshop

I participated in this workshop in years past and can’t begin to tell you all I gained as a result.  It is put on by a local writing group, of which I’m now a member.  If you live in mid-Michigan and are interested in writing, check it out.  I always come away learning something.  I will be there!

Saturday, September 28th

Northeast Arts Council Building, 3233 Grove Street Rd., Standish, MI 48658

9:00 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Cost — $25.00 (lunch and materials included)

Keynote Speaker:  Marla Kay Houghteling

Keynote Address: Writing Close to the Bone:
Transforming Personal Experiences into Written Language

Workshop Session with Marla Kay Houghteling:
Rules of Writing That Can Be Broken

Workshop Session with Angela Cook-Hoekwater:
Flash Fiction: The Essence of the Short, Short Story

Roundtable Discussion – Come with ideas on writing process,
groups, contacts, publishing outlets, reading suggestions

Sponsored by Mid-Michigan Writers, Inc., and Northeast Michigan Arts Council
For more information call: 989.846.8211 or 989.846.6546 or 989.482.9005

Good Doogie


As the dog days of summer are coming to a close, I thought I’d share the latest from the Middlest Sister… Time to get back into a routine.

Originally posted on The Middlest Sister:

Tess grew up in a haunted house. The ghost was mischievous, unpredictable, and ever-present. A little spooky, sure, but he was easy to laugh off in the light of day. At night, though… well, I think Tess can be excused for wanting an escort…












It’s time that long-suffering Doogie got some credit for being a Good Boy.

If you like Doogie, you might want to check out this entry from my sketchbook, Call of Doogie: Bark Ops.

Also, The Middlest Sister will now appear on, which is a cool way of browsing for new webcomics. The site displays just the first frame of webcomics, and if you decide you want to read the rest, you just click on the frame to take you to the comic right at the creator’s own site. Pretty neat!

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NaBloPoMo: Lilies of the Field


This post just about had me in tears! I will never understand why we have to tear one another down. It sickens me to think that most women are not happy with their appearance.

Originally posted on Once A Little Girl:

When I was still a little girl, and turning toward teendom, I asked Mom, “What would you do if one of your kids turned out ugly?”  Up until that time, I never thought about whether I looked or acted beautifully.  I was just me.  What else could I be.  I suppose that’s what it means to “Be like a child,” or free from worry, “like the lilies of the field.”

Mom’s eyes opened so wide that the white around all that deep brown showed.  Her brows arched up high on her forehead.  I knew that look.  That was the kind of look where she got sorta peeved at me for asking so many questions out of nowhere.

Mom’s response was as wise as any prophets:

“Why I never gave it a thought.  Why would any of my children turn out ugly?  Each of you are already so beautiful.  What in…

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Happy July!

Garrett and Sunny playing fetch at the Russell Canoe Livery dock.

Garrett and Sunny playing fetch at the Russell Canoe Livery dock.


Once again I find myself trying to get back into blogging.  Last month I’d hoped to write daily about my roots.  It just didn’t work.  Don’t be surprised if I do finally get around to exploring every nook and cranny of that topic in the near future.  Working at my parents’ canoe livery, Russell Canoes, this summer, organizing old family photos and memorabilia, and living in my Dad’s childhood home have all conspired to bring back wonderful childhood memories.  Did I mention that I love working at the canoe livery?  We truly do have the best customers and employees, past and present.

Here are a few vintage Russell Canoe Livery pictures I recently shared on our Facebook page.  I took the pictures above the other day.  I love getting to work with my little brother!  We had fun playing fetch with our parents’ gold retriever Sunny as we waited to take out canoers and tubers.  Happy July!

Grandpa Owen summer 1973.  Love this pic!  It shows our main location in Omer prior to any store.

Grandpa Owen summer 1973. Love this pic! It shows our main location in Omer prior to any store.

Company tubing trip circa 1985.  My Dad is the driver's seat.  Loved his old truck!

Company tubing trip circa 1985. My Dad is in the driver’s seat. Loved his old truck!  Also includes a couple of our first buses – Buses B and D.  Grandpa Owen back by the tailgate.

Another view of the tubing crew.  My Mom is in the passenger seat.  Circa 1985.
Another view of the tubing crew. My Mom is in the passenger seat. Circa 1985.