Today I go home to Kansas City for the first time since I made the move to California. In a weird and unplanned twist, it marks six months to the day that I first arrived and became a resident of Southern California.
I have accomplished a lot in these past six months, but I have to admit to myself that the one thing that I haven’t done is completely come to terms with the life that I left behind.
This is clear by the notable fear and anxiety that I have about returning home. Yes, I am entirely excited about seeing my family. The relationship I had developed with my mother and cherished so dearly has been replaced with weekly phone calls that don’t come anywhere near replacing what role she played in my life in Kansas City. I miss her. My heart still breaks when I think about how much a simple hug from her could change my entire day, and then quickly realize that I have to find my own way to comfort.
When I left Kansas City, I know there were some that said, “Well, she’s just running away!” And at the time, I thought, “Well, ya’ll just keep drinking the Haterade!”
But, you know what? Now that I really think about it, there is SOME truth to that. By leaving Kansas City, by leaving my family, by leaving everything that would ever remind me of my ex-husband and our life together, it made it very easy for me to minimize my pain and sorrow. No matter how happy I am about going home, I know that this trip is going to be painful in many different ways.
If I was still in Kansas City, if I was still married to Haywood, I would be preparing for Thanksgiving dinner in the Jackson home on 38th Street right now. The 38th Street house was my dream home, and it was with the greatest pride as a wife, a daughter, a sister, and an aunt that I welcomed my family into our home each Thanksgiving for several years.
I loved the holidays, and I especially loved them as I shared them with my family. As the full holiday season approaches this year and I head home today, I realize I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do the holidays anymore.
I don’t know how to do the holidays as a single woman. I don’t know how to do the holidays as a visiting family member. I don’t know how to do the holidays and not think about Haywood. I don’t know how to do the holidays and not think about all that has been lost. I don’t know how to do the holidays, and not be completely afraid of missing all the wonderful things that I used to be a part of.
I guess, in the end, it doesn’t matter how far you go if your heart still cherishes the memory of something you once held so dear.
While I was all too excited to catch up with Steve this past weekend and head to the theater to see Dumb and Dumber To, he had to reschedule and that left me with a little bit of a hole in my weekend plans.
As fate would have it, I was extended an invitation to road trip up to Ojai, California, with my darling Brittany M. as she was going to housesit for her aunt.
Ojai is famously stunning country, just about 30 minutes north of Ventura in Ventura County. I had never been before, and since Brittany’s time in California is now running short, I couldn’t help but think that there was no better way to spend the time.
The ride up to Ojai did not disappoint, as the sun shone down on the sprawling hills, mountains, and farm land, covered in the most brilliant greenery that set perfectly against the most brilliant blue sky.
It’s time like these that I realize I can’t get enough of California, and I now know what it means when I’ve heard so many Californians say that they are spoiled. Between the fabulous weather and the beauty at every turn, you have to understand that not everyone wakes up each day and gets to see the things that we see, to feel the things that we feel.
Yeah, sure, it’s easy to forget at times, what with the hustle and bustle of the day and the trials and tribulations of a normal life. I mean, most of us still work and it’s not like we’re always sitting by the beach with a Corona in hand. But when you do get the chance to have moments like these, the real beauty of California and all it has to offer comes back to you. And you see that whenever you are in need, sanctuary is never too very far away at all.
I keep going to the ocean to pray,
Not really sure why,
Maybe just to remind myself
That there is something out there,
Something bigger than me.
Something more important.
A thing more vital to the world
Than the musings of my heart,
And the ramblings of my mind.
It humbles me, I think,
To stare out into its vast expanse,
And realize that God made
This magnificent thing,
Just like he made me. You see,
It’s not the ocean that humbles me.
It’s not its size,
It’s not its mass,
Or even its sheer power,
But God’s that overwhelms me.
It’s his plan, and his purpose.
And in these moments,
Where I feel powerless,
Where I feel abused and abandoned,
I can go to the water’s edge,
I can stand with my kin,
And we can be one,
In the sheer wonder of our Creator.
While they did not succeed in their goal to “Break the Internet,” Paper Magazine sure did get a lot of people talking with their recent Kim Kardashian oiled-up rump cover, and they’ve made themselves a nice little chunk of change in the process.
I wasn’t going to say anything about it. My original thought was, “I don’t want to give this woman any more publicity than she’s already gotten.” But, I realized something important while I was reading all about the racial implications of the cover image, and what her entire spread truly means for the magazine industry. I realized that there is a perspective, a unique perspective that I have, that no one is talking about.
The Body Confidence Movement is REAL. It’s a living, breathing, tangible thing that means something extremely important to millions of women across the globe. You can’t Google it and find its founder, or its origination. No one really knows how it all started. All most of us really know is that sometime a few years ago, big, curvy, and beautiful women (mostly plus size bloggers) began to stand up and say, “Hey! I’m here! And I’m beautiful! Screw you for saying otherwise!!!!!”
We found that we had an amazing appetite for life and happiness, and all the fat shaming and photoshopped ideals of women that couldn’t possibly exist in the real world were leaving a real shitty taste in our mouths.
I believe in THAT movement. I believe in THOSE women – those soldiers of the impossible curves, those muffin-topped matadors, those patriots of pretty, at any size.
Kim Kardashian is not a part of that movement.
No, Kim Kardashian is not plus size, I’m not saying that she is. And I’m also not saying that she’s not an absolutely beautiful woman. What I am saying is that her willingness to appear naked wherever she goes is being mistaken for the same kind of heroism that the true pioneers of body confidence display on a regular basis.
And that is our fault. Because just like the infancy of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Body Confidence Movement’s beginnings have been shaky at best. What started out as a positive, uplifting, and absolutely necessary movement, has turned out to be another tried-and-true marketing ploy.
Sex sells, and the Body Confidence Movement has fallen prey. We have lost our way, big girls. Instead of images filled with confidence and respect, we are churning out images of our naked/nearly naked bodies, and we are selling them to the highest bidder and for Instagram likes. We say, “Good for her!” and “Way to go!” We cry, “She’s so sexy!” and “I wish I could be as confident as her!”
My question, my loves, is why do we have to be naked to be pretty, or confident? Why do we have to shed some clothes and bare some skin to get people to notice us and take us seriously?
I am not without fault here, please understand that, my dears. In my modeling and blogging careers, I have been all too happy to bare my body to the world. And I realize now, that I never even questioned it. I never once thought about why I was doing it, what it meant to me then, and what it would mean to me years after.
We have to do better. I have to do better. If we’re going to really make a difference when it comes to body acceptance for our generation and beyond, we have to stop confusing this all too important concept with pornography. Real body acceptance is not sold to the masses in print and online. It’s not photoshopped and lathered in oil, then exchanged for a pay check.
Real body acceptance is earned after we’ve shed all our tears, and we’ve endured all the pain we can stand. It comes to us when we look at ourselves and say, “I am beautiful, and I don’t need anyone else to tell me so.”
“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ‘em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ‘em.” – Shel Silverstein
You could say this little quip from Shel is about perspective, and ultimately, an optimistic perspective. And you would be right, but the piece of this quote that I really connect to is the bit about “How much love inside a friend?”
It’s a simple enough premise – we get back what we give. When we give our friends our love and our loyalty, we can reasonably assume that we will get the same in return.
I feel at times; however, that I get so much more from my friends than what I give. Some I don’t see every day, some I don’t see every month, or every year even. But it doesn’t mean that they impact my life any less.
I adore each and every one of my best friends, my close friends, and even those friends that I may not talk to regularly, but if I were to see those friends today, I would hug them and mean it when I say I was overjoyed to see them. Every friend adds something particularly special to your life, and I have been blessed with a beautiful friend here in California that offers me something that I didn’t realize would be so important to me.
Truth is, I get homesick…A LOT! I adore California, and I know that moving here was definitely the right thing for me and my life at this particular time. But leaving everything you know, leaving all of these people, places, and things that you love with all your heart…well, it’s tough, to say the very least.
That’s why I’m so grateful for my stunning Sara. You see, Sara is another Midwest-to-California convert. I’ve known Sara for years, kind of a friend-of-a-friend relationship to start with. But a couple of years ago, Sara and I made a bond of our own during a particularly difficult situation. And when I made the move to California, well, our friendship truly solidified.
Sara is not only a sweet, amazing, and kind person, but she’s also a piece of home. And even though I have friends and family here that I see on a regular basis, when I’m with Sara I have the feeling that somehow we’re back in St. Louis or Kansas City, and those we love and miss terribly aren’t so very far away at all.
It’s one of those overcast, hazy kind of days in California that I’m still getting used to. It reminds me of those fall and winter mornings back home in Missouri, where the full cover of the clouds in the sky seemed to blanket the earth in a tone of gray. When those kinds of days came around, it usually meant snow was on its way.
There’s NO chance of that happening here. No, most likely it’ll fade around noon, and the sun will shine down with a clear blue sky as its companion.
I wish the cloudiness of my mind could fade so easily. Unfortunately the mind is a much more complicated animal than the steady and true weather patterns of the Great State of California.
Today, I have a lot of competing thoughts on my mind. My grandmother’s death and all the memories I have of her are still fresh in my mind, but thoughts of John are sprinkled in there, as well. God, if this man wasn’t such an idiot, he’d be the most amazing man I ever met! I’ve been trying to forget him, but it’s pretty hard when he does something like overnight a beautiful porcelain angel with a note about how sorry he was for my family’s loss.
You know, when I set out to begin dating in California, I never imagined that I would find my heart so completely touched by someone again. I remember telling myself, “Just go meet people. Don’t get serious. Have a little fun, babes, you’ve earned it!”
And I did, for a time. I started my dating life in California with a very “fun” guy. Terry lived in San Diego, and was a 28 year old personal trainer. He was a sweet, entertaining, extremely handsome guy, but I realized after about a month that there wasn’t much between us. Terry was the easy choice, someone that didn’t take a lot of effort, wasn’t offering much and didn’t ask for much in return.
He was what I needed at the time, and let’s be honest, for a lot of people (myself included) it’s just too hard to be alone right after a divorce. You don’t really want a relationship, but you still want to be held, you want someone to validate you, to tell you you’re beautiful, to remind you that you’re still desirable. It’s a completely selfish need, and one that is tied up in all the insecurity and low self-esteem that only a divorce can bring upon you.
After I said goodbye to Terry, I thought to myself, maybe I just shouldn’t date at all for a little while. I was at a point where I was building up my life again. I had found a good job that I loved, I was spending time with my family, and I was making new friends. Life began to seem not so desolate, and I felt myself returning to, well, me. I was me again, and that was a pretty spectacular feeling.
And while I was sitting there so amused by my changing circumstances, something happened that I wasn’t expecting. This one guy sent me a message on a dating site I had set up on a whim. I hadn’t put much stock in it when I put up my profile, and I hadn’t even really put my heart into it when I first set it up.
But there was something about this particular man, the way he talked to me, the kindness in his eyes in his photos, how he approached me in his messages. Well, I couldn’t resist. And so it was that when John finally called me and asked me on our first date, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I had NO IDEA at the time that I was setting in motion what would be my first real relationship after my divorce, a relationship that would end entirely too soon and in the most peculiar way.
At 10:22am on November 4, 2014, the loving, powerful, and irreplaceable matriarch of the Whan family passed peacefully into her eternal life. Evelyn Whan, my grandmother, was a woman like no other. She was creative, strong, brave, caring, passionate, beautiful, and a great many other things. She touched so many people’s lives, and she claimed the hearts of every person she came into contact with.
With her passing, there are now holes in all of our hearts that can never be filled. As we shed our tears as a family today, we all recognized the truth of that simple yet overpowering fact. But as I looked around at my family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousin, and my father, I realized that we are her legacy. We are the pieces of her that are left on this physical plane. We are parts of the same whole, her whole, and no matter what issues have separated us at one time or another, it is our love for her and our love for each other that will bind us forever.
Grandma, I am going to miss you terribly. Having you as a near daily part of my life for the last several months has meant more to me than anything. While you were facing your own battles, you loved me, you gave me strength and courage, you consoled me, and you supported me. I love you with all my heart. I won’t say goodbye, because I know I’ll see you someday, when hopefully I’ve lived a life as full and as meaningful as yours. Until then, I’ll find you in the stars…
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932
Getting old is something we all do. We each get older with every passing day.
But reaching that point in your life where you know your time is near, knowing that any day might be your last day, and choosing to live your life with grace…well, that is heroic, and not everybody can be a hero.
My grandmother is a hero.
If there is one thing that I am most grateful for about making the move to California, it’s that I get to share and be part of my grandmother’s final days.
Several weeks ago, my grandmother was finally placed on hospice care, and while my Aunt Diane has been her caregiver these last several years, my Aunt Debi has also decided to take some time off from work and spend this time with her mother.
Since I moved here, I’ve immensely enjoyed the time I’ve spent with my grandma and aunts – home-cooked family dinners, lunchtime visits during the work week, playing dice until way passed Grandma’s bedtime, and hearing about all the wonderful things Grandma learned from Bob Ross that week – they are all memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Grandma is trying to live her life as she see fits, but you can see that some days are very hard. So much so that sometimes it feels strange to even ask, “How are you doing today, Grandma?” Because I know every day is a tough day – between her breathing treatments, hospice care and physical therapy visits, and just generally mustering up the strength to get dressed and live a life undaunted by her circumstances…God, she is amazing! Every day that I spend with her I stand in awe of her strength and her courage.
And it was no different when we found ourselves, a happy quartet of Whan women, headed out to spend a day at the swap meet last Saturday afternoon. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen, these days you kind of just have to go with the flow. And while Grandma had not had the best of days leading up to Saturday, apparently this day she was determined to enjoy the California sunshine and a little shopping with her daughters and granddaughter.
As we prepared to leave and Aunt Diane was getting Grandma’s oxygen tank together, I heard Grandma say something that I’ll never forget. She said, “Well I’m not going to sit around here and just wait to die.”
I didn’t say anything to her, I didn’t acknowledge that I had heard her say it. I just looked away because it touched me so much. It was the first time I had actually heard her say the words. Sure, she had alluded. Sure, I knew that hospice had been called in. Sure, Aunt Debi and Aunt Diane had talked to me about what was going on. But to hear her say it, the truth of it all became very real to me in that moment. And the way she said it, well, she said it the only way I could ever imagine her saying it now that I’ve really gotten to know her.
“Death is coming, but I don’t fear it. I will choose my life, and I will choose it all the way to the very end.”
Instead of letting the dark cloud of the end cast a shadow on her remaining days, she chose to dance. And that gorgeous afternoon spent in the sun with my grandma and my aunts, will be one that I will cherish forever.
Today, I drink iced coffees from Starbucks and I go to yoga. I lay by my pool on sunny, Sunday afternoons in the fall while I do my laundry, and I rarely miss Taco Tuesdays. I spend time with my family, especially my grandmother, who is terminal. And with every meeting I realize how much I am like her and that always puts a smile on my face. I’ve lost my appetite for a great many things, one of the most important being bullshit.
And I no longer have much of a desire to be in front of the camera. I don’t know, something about this life, this steady pace of contentment, moments of peace and acceptance that I immerse myself in completely, it just seems silly to stop in the middle of it all to put together a photo shoot. Not that you won’t catch an errant selfie or two on my Instagram these days, because you definitely will. It’s not like I totally forgot that I still like how I look.
These are the simple things, little things that no one would really notice but me. And as I take a reflective look back at how my life has evolved in the last five months, I realize that it’s more than just the little things that have changed – I have changed. My being, who I am, what I am, what I am to become, they are all vastly different notions than the sad ones that stared me down just a few short months ago.
And I was sad, blindingly so. While many of you took courage, strength, and support from Curvy in Kansas City, you must know that I took the same from you (if not more so). Curvy in Kansas City was my light, it was my pat on the back when I couldn’t seem to find one good thing about myself, it was the compliment that I needed when I felt terrible about the person I was becoming. It was the spark of what was left of my inner self, a light that was dimming from being surrounded by darkness, but that so wanted to shine like the rays of sun that reflect off the waves of the ocean.
Don’t get me wrong, now, I’m not sitting here in some metaphorical sea of bliss. It’s not like I just moved to the Sunshine State and suddenly all was bright and cheery in my wonky world. No, not at all. I still have moments of despair, moments of doubt and weakness. Because let’s be honest, there are still hard times to be had, the people of this world can still be cruel, and I WILL ultimately find myself broke down by some curve in the road that came out of nowhere.
In the last five months I have mourned the loss of a marriage, uprooted myself and moved across the country, and struggled to find a new way of life while missing so many amazing people who have meant the world to me, especially my mother. I have tried to come to terms with the strained relationship that I now have with my father, and the heartbreaking news that his mother, my grandmother, may not be with us for very much longer. And, if you can even believe it, I have even had my heart broken once again by a man.
I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that just because I left one problem behind and moved on, didn’t mean that I was never going to have to face serious problems ever again. This is life, the good and the bad, and that is, really, what has finally changed in me. I have realized and accepted that there is nothing that I can do when the storm comes but have faith that I can weather it and come out of it standing on my own two feet.
I remember the moment so vividly when this idea began to take hold of me. I was lying in my bed at Dad’s house, and I was crying, every inch of me wept with, “I can’t go on!”
I was wallowing in it, knee deep in my own sad, sorry, insignificant existence, and like we always seem to do when we cry like that, I sat up to look at myself in the mirror. Why? I’m sure there’s some interesting psychological explanation for this behavior…maybe my buddy, Steve, could tell me. But for me, I think it’s just because we need to be the witnesses to our own destruction. It’s human nature to want to see the pain of the world with our very own eyes, even if it’s our own singular pain on display.
As I looked at myself (and it was ugly, ya’ll, I’m not even going to lie to you), some glimmer of reason sparked in my eyes. That reason led me to ask myself something…how many times have you done this before? How many times have you sat there and cried because some man “destroyed your life”? Or because something so monumental happened that it would mean the end of the world as you knew it? How many moments in your existence on this planet have you told yourself, “My life is over”?
The answer to all these questions? A LOT.
But here’s where reason really started to get me. It told me, “You’re looking at yourself in the mirror right now, and you know what that means? It means you’re still here. All those times you thought your world was coming to an end, it wasn’t YOU coming to end, it was just a part of your life. You’re still here, surviving, thriving, loving, hoping, praying, dreaming – just like you’ve always done.”
And you know what? That little voice inside my head was right. I’ve suffered a great deal in my life and I have always, ALWAYS, come out clean on the other end; and better, stronger, and smarter, to boot. I HAVE SURVIVED. And it is with my faith in this most magnificent truth that I will continue to survive. And not just survive, really, but find the light of life in every single day I have on this earth.
Curvy in California marks a new journey, my journey of truth, faith, love, and hope. It is no longer just a place to honor the curves on my body. It is a place to admire and extol the curves in my road. I look forward to sharing all that I am, and all that I will become, with you. And if you remember only one thing, my loves, remember this, a life without curves is just a straight line.
When I decided to have a going away party, little did I know that I would end up putting together one of the most amazing groups of people all representing very different moments in my life here in Kansas City. I also had no clue that I would end up taking a literal tour of some of my favorite KC bars and hot spots, including Sol Cantina, The Cashew, The Well, and Westport even for a final stop at Firefly. I seemingly danced my way across the city, all the while kicking it up with some fabulous women in tow.
I have to say thank you so much to Chyanne, Gabby & the twins, Willie, Jim, Kendra, Kim and Dominique for the great conversation, laughs, and general merriment! You guys made my last visit to Sol Cantina a memorable one!
I felt so fabulous thanks to the uber-talented Luis and Brayan of LB Styling & LB Glam who totally hooked up my hair and makeup for the night’s festivities. Even though you guys couldn’t make it to the party, I’m so glad I got to spend those fun three hours with you while you turned me into a work of art. The two of you are extremely talented, and I am blessed to have gotten to know you so well during my time here in Kansas City. I KNOW that I’m going to be seeing you and your work in California very soon! And P.S. I’m going to do my best to make sure that #thekhloeeffect becomes a thing! I love it!
I’ve talked so much the last few weeks about the things that I will miss, the people that I love and am saying goodbye to. Truth is, while I put on my smiling face and I laugh and joke, and crush on all the spectacular people that have made my life in Kansas City so wonderful, I am heartbroken. How could I not be? Goodbyes are hard. But what I keep trying to remember is this little poem, “Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you until we meet again.”
So now it’s time to say goodbye to Curvy in Kansas City. But this is not the end. You and I ARE going to meet again. While this may the final post for Curvy in KC, you have not seen the last of me at all. What I am most grateful for when I think about Curvy in Kansas City, and when I think about all my fans, is that I’ve been so encouraged to grow and do more. I want to go above and beyond anything I dreamed possible when I started this little blog that could.
So, my loves, be sure to keep tabs with me on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts (where you can also catch more photos from the Curvy in Kansas City going away party). You will get first-hand info there about what’s coming in the next few months. I’ll still be posting OOTDs, Want It Wednesdays, and all varieties of fun and mayhem to these accounts while changes to the blog are made!
With Love, Charity
I was ALL about the fatkini last year. Honestly, though, this year I’ve found some amazing one pieces that I just couldn’t live without.
Such as this amazing Torrid retro-styled leopard one piece…
But, I must admit, the fatkini is calling to me again, and I keep imagining how much I’m absolutely going to need at least one or two as a new California resident. I mean a Cali girl has to have her bikini, right? :)
Here are 6 of my must-have bikinis available right now!!!
1. Forever 21 Bombshell Bikini (Top $12.80, Bottoms $11.80)
2. Gabifresh Nala Underwire Midkini, Swimsuits For All ($58.50)
3. RUE 107 Andrea High Waisted Bikini (Top $55.00, Bottoms $55.00)
4. Nakimuli Red Mosaic Serengeti Swimsuit (Top $75.00, Bottoms $65.00)
5. Torrid Tie-Dye Cleavage Enhancer Swimsuit (Top $54.50, Bottoms $38.50)
6. Monif C Sao Paulo Plus Size Fringe Bikini (Top $98.00, Bottoms $80.00)