There I stand in front of my door-length mirror. I’m dressed in a curve-hugging, thinned-strapped, black dress that falls just above my knees exposing my freshly sun-kissed legs from an outing at the beach earlier in the day. My dark-brown hair drapes over my shoulders in light waves, falling to my slender waist-line, and my eyelids are shadowed in a mix of golden-brown and dark-purple. My lavender heels lift my five-foot, two-inch frame another inch and my gold and silver cross gleams from my neck.
I smile. I’m ready to paint the town with my peeps. Ready to show off my inner sex kitten that usually hides underneath the jeans and flowy tops. I rub cotton-candy smelling lotion on my arms, spray some perfume around my dress, and look myself over in the mirror one last time. For a breath of a moment I think I look great. I think I can stand among my good looking friends, swaying my hips with “Don’t you wish your girlfriend look hot like me” attitude.
But my mirror is a liar.
Oh sure. For the first minute and a half, my mirror acts like my best friend. Reflecting off my brilliance and beauty. I was pretty sure if I asked it if I was the fairest of them all, my reflection would have instantly responded yes with a dazzling smile.
The smile I’m wearing forms into a frown as the mirror reveals early signs of wrinkles, deep bags from lack of sleep and blackheads on my nose. My mind starts to wonder: “Maybe my legs look too skinny in this dress?” “Maybe the eye shadow is what’s making the bags under my eyes look so prominent?” “This dress doesn’t make my legs look too skinny; it makes me look too skinny!” “Maybe I should try a different dress” which inevitably leads to the thought “Maybe I should just put on some nice jeans and a nice top and call it a night.”
The smile disappears completely now and I turn away from the mirror in a huff, wondering why I bothered staring into it to begin with.
How nice it would to be to blame the mirror for my lack of self-confidence or lack of self-belief but a mirror is an inanimate object and the only thing I can blame it for is, well, nothing. I learned from really young that the way we determine our self-worth is through our mindset. The mirror is a reference tool but what stares back at us, or rather what version of ourselves we think stares back at us, lies in how we think of ourselves. We are a testament to our thoughts—what kind of person we will be, how successful we are in life, how happy we are or vice versa, what we believe in. It begins with one single thought. The problem lies not in only learning to conquer our traitorous thoughts but having the discipline to change them.
From the moment we are born, we are lead to believe that we have the power to do anything and as we age, as life beats us up, we stop believing so much in the possibility of what we are capable of, and settle for the little we can do in the futile hopes it will be enough. I grew up in a house full of broken people who desperately sought peace, but settled for the smaller pleasures that alluded to a temporary kind of peace. I was also one of those people.
As a tomboy in a family of women who were the definition of girly-girl, I was the black sheep. I only wore long pants, baggy tops, sneakers and always had my long, dark-brown hair wrapped in a tight bun. I had a unibrow and mustache. I didn’t shave my legs till around the age of sixteen. I used to wear jackets with every outfit. I walked with slumped shoulders and never looked people in the eye.
And I barely talked. I was CRIPPLINGLY shy and I struggled to converse with people. I mean I had friends from school and around the neighborhood because I grew up with them but I never felt like I was one of them, like I was accepted by them. I always felt like the freak in a land of pretty people who knew how to piece together the right outfit, wear the right make up, style their hair the right way, and had fuller bodies where mine was rail-thin skinny.
I always believed if I could just stop being skinny than somehow magically all my other insecurities would disappear. All I needed was a fuller waist-line, a bigger butt and bigger boobs and I’d be totally be set. I mean I’m Puerto-Rican, everyone pretty much has big boobs and big butts and curvy figures, so my skinniness made me feel even more like the black sheep.
From childhood, I hated being skinny. I hated mirrors because they reminded me of how skinny I was. I was told I looked like a super model, even by my pediatrician, but I never believed it. I thought super models had the right kind of skinny and somehow my skinny was wrong.
When I was fourteen (at least I believe it was when I was fourteen. Maybe thirteen?? Apologies. The mind tends to wane with age and only keeps track of useless information nowadays), I had gone to the mall with my then best friend and her mom. I hadn’t eaten for a few days prior to that point. I hadn’t even realized I hadn’t eaten food. An hour into shopping and I started feeling horrible. The kind of horrible that makes your whole body break out into a sweaty mess, your stomach turns into knots as tight as clenched fists and the world around you is spinning uncontrollably. I used all my strength—er, well, what strength I had—to keep myself on my feet and quickly rushed to the bathroom where I did the unmentionable while vomiting and my body broke out in fits of uncontrollable shaking.
You see, when I was growing up I kept all my emotions locked inside, including how much I loathed being so dang skinny, and I would literally forget to eat. I wouldn’t even think about it. My mom would have to ask me if I ate and that’s how I would remember that I should probably get something in my stomach. My insecurities about my body were so blinding back then, especially in my teen years, hence the above episode in the mall. Lo and behold, who woulda thunk I’d feel better after getting some food into my body *gasp*.
After that day at the mall, I decided I was going to start having to change the way I thought about myself or at least start speaking up a lot more about how I felt and definitely start paying attention to eating. I was scary close to developing an eating disorder without ever actually thinking about it. *shakes head*
But conquering your traitorous thoughts is easier said than done. Changing the way you think, ESPECIALLY about yourself, is as fun as putting a needle in your eye over and over again. What you really want to do is hit up the ice cream section at Wal-Mart, grab a pack of brownies from the bakery, and snuggle up in bed with a movie where things blow up, while you stuff your face so you don’t even think about how hard it’s going to be to change yourself.
It took a near breakdown when I was sixteen (a story for another day) to get me to a place where I was determined to change because I couldn’t take the self-loathing anymore or the demands of the world around me.
This is what I learned:
I Am Beautiful! Beauty is a relative term. For every person you ask, he or she will give you a different response. It took me a while to understand that I didn’t need to define my own beauty by comparing it to how it mounted up to anyone else’s version of beauty. Beauty can be found everywhere in anything and in anyone. It all depends on how you choose to define it. I believe the most beautiful things come from the most broken.
Being Skinny Rocks! This is a harder one for me. I have my great days with being skinny and my crap days. There are days I can dance around in shorts and a tank top with bare feet, shouting “Girls just wanna have fun!” with Cyndi Lauper and not give a care in the world how skinny I may look in my shorts. But there are days I keep trying to cover up my waistline and some days I can’t look in the mirror. It’s still a fight inside my own head. It’s crazy though! My mom was 98 pounds at 24 when she had my brother and my mom looked FABULOUS (she still does) and everyone says I’m my mom’s twin, so why can’t I see myself the way I see her all the time? *sigh* I think most days I’m good. I’m thankful to have a small frame and stature. I can fit in places other people can’t. I can move fast and agile. I can ride bike and chase after my nieces and nephews for hours. But sometimes, there are days when that voice whispers, “You’re not the right kind of skinny.” Those are the days I have to look in the mirror and tell my evil bitch twin self to shut the flip up and give her the finger. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. Just give the world the finger and laugh hysterically while you do it when you rather cry instead.
I Am Valuable BECAUSE of My Waistline! You can’t define your self-worth based off how much society keeps propagandaing pencil-thin waistlines, mega-huge boobs, and Marilyn Monroe blonde locks. If you don’t fit the stereotype who cares?! Your value as a person comes from WHO you are and HOW you treat others around you. Learning to love yourself isn’t selfish or conceited. It’s NECESSARY. In order to love others the right way, you gotta learn to love yourself. It may sound all Karate Kid wisdom but it’s still true.
The truth is I do love my skinny, short frame self. It may not fit everyone else’s concept of beauty but it fits mine. And in the end, my opinion of myself is the one that matters most *wink*
Have you ever wondered what could be hiding in the shadows?
Well, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom.
Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls.
Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.
Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.
Normal just got a deadlier definition.
About the Author
Annabell Cadiz was born in the sweltering heat of South Florida. She was raised surrounded by Puerto Rican chefs and band of siblings that weren’t all related to her. A self-proclaimed nerd and book-a-holic (her room does hold much evidence to prove her claims are justifiable), she created TeamNerd Reviews to showcase her EXTREME love for novels where, along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, she hosts book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Indie Shoutouts and much more. She also had the pleasure of being published in three separate issue of Suspense Magazine. She is currently attending Trinity International University to attain her B.A. in Psychology. She also adores Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, has an addiction to Minute Maid Orange juice, and is a proud Jesus Freak. Her debut novel, LUCIFER (SONS OF OLD TRILOGY, #1) was published January 2013 and the second book, MICHAEL, will be out Winter 2013/Early 2014 and the third book, NEPHILIM, will be out Spring/Summer 2014.