Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review: My Little Dish

Book Review:
My Little Dish 
The Story of Your Creation Through In Vitro Fertilization

     Recently I saw an announcement on Facebook from a friend about the publication of her first book.  Excitement for my friend rose as I explored her posted link to learn more about her book.  I knew immediately this was not just any book, this book was written from a special place in her heart. Author, Sari Dennis, the inspiring woman behind My Wellness Counts, shared a private part of herself in her book in hopes to reach out to other women and families who share in the miracle. Sari wrote My Little Dish: The Story of Your Creation Through In Vitro Fertilization, a charming story of how a beautiful baby came to be with the help of in vitro fertilization. 

     I have previously shared my own struggles with infertility due to PCOS. This endearing book touched my heart. The love and care Sari put into this book is captured in the beautiful story of how one little girl came to be. Sari makes it a point to generalize the process of in vitro fertilization in her story, encouraging parents to customize the story to their own experience. She includes pages for parents to write down the journey they experienced and to add the details of how their special baby came to be. 

     This book is more than just the story of how the baby came to be; it is also a teaching guide. Sari includes a glossary of terms to aid the explanation of the medical language. This special touch makes this book a beautiful family tool. As children grow and ask questions, this book grows with the child. The story can be told simplistically, and later, the story can be deeper and more personal as the child grows in maturity and ability to understand. 

     I highly recommend this book to people that has expanded their family using IVF.  This is a fabulous book, a guide with colorful illustrations to be personalized and treasured for years. Please visit Sari's website to obtain a copy of this book for yourself or for a friend or family member.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

6,500 Followers GIVEAWAY!

We are going celebrate 6,500 with a bag!

     I want to celebrate reaching 6,500 people by spreading the message of self love and body positive thoughts. We are worth more than the sum of our parts or the number on the scale. To celebrate this goal I am hosting a bag giveaway! Take a body positive message with you and spread the word. 

     The contest winner will be determined by activity on the Facebook page and New Figure Forward blog page. The more you help to spread messages of body positive and self love the more entries you will receive and the more smiles you will help pass on. 

     The top 5 active fans will be entered into a drawing. From the top 5 I am going to pick one awesome fan to choose the bag of their choice! 

The contest will run from Tuesday May 19th-Tuesday May 26th.

Here is how to enter:
1. Like this post on Facebook page and comment "Spread the Love"
    -This is key! Only the people who follow this step will be entered.

2. Over the next week the more you like, share, and comment on ANY post(s) the more entries you will receive. 
-Old or new posts. I encourage people to explore my blog and Facebook page for inspiring articles and messages and share them with friends and family. Help spread empowerment and self love! 

3. Share my Facebook page and encouraging your friends and family to become fans. For every person that leaves a comment saying you sent them, you will earn 5 more entries. 

Might be my favorite!
That is it! The top 5 participates will be entered into the drawing for the bag of their choice. My goal is to reach as many people as I can in 2015 with the body positive healthy living message and I need my fans to carry out my master plan. 

I want to lift women up into greatness, for greatness has no size requirement! 

I wish I could hug all of my fans! Good luck to all that join me on spreading body positivity this week! Thank you for the support of New Figure Forward! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


     Recently I opened up about my struggles with PCOS and infertility (click here to read the post). Neither of these topics is easy to talk about as it can feel like rubbing salt on a wound. However, since allowing myself to be vulnerable and honest I have had readers reach out to me to say thank you; Thank you for being a real woman behind this blog; Thank you for not sugar coating or pretending that my journey to find my healthy has been a walk in the park. When I opened up about my infertility, due to PCOS, I had a reader reach out to me and offer me a gift to help heal an aching heart.

     Crystal told me about her Esty shop, Fertility Gems (click here). She creates beautiful pieces specifically for women struggling with fertility and/or PCOS. She also sent me bracelet for PCOS. It represents holding onto hope - hope that there is always a way and to never give up. Her genuine thoughtfulness and compassion touched my heart. I share my stories to help other women know that they are not alone and Crystal reached out to say thank you.

   When my bracelet arrived it was lovingly packaged. 
This package was more than just the delivery of jewelry. It was the delivery of a hug from one woman to another. Crystal extends her love and compassion to women through her hand crafted jewelry and her work is beautiful.

     Although I have made peace with not having children, I still struggle with the symptoms of PCOS on a daily basis. PCOS is the reason I think about the food I eat, the importance of exercise, and the loving care I need to give my body and soul.  This beautiful bracelet is my reminder that I am not defined by PCOS. I have the power to allow it to make me or break me and I have learned over the years that I do not break easily.

     As women we do not break easily. We suffer in silence and go forward in our lives doing the best we can with smiles on our faces. Crystal and I would like to offer a token of hope to someone who needs to be reminded that PCOS and/or infertility does not define her self-worth. We have elected to give a beautiful hand crafted bracelet away! This giveaway comes from our hearts. It is                                                                                                     our way of extending the hug of support through                                                                                                       the mail.

The giveaway rules are simple:
1. Please Like both New Figure Forward (click here) AND Fertile Gems (click here) Facebook pages.
2. Like this post on New Figure Forward's Facebook page.
3.Please leave a comment under the posting of this blog on Facebook about what you love about yourself.
4. Tag a friend or family member that could use a hug through the mail and both you and your friend receive bonus entries.

That's all. Easy.

The contest will run for one week. The winner will be announced on Thursday, November 6th.

     Our goal is to help remind a deserving woman of the power of hope and never giving up. We cannot help everyone everywhere; however we can help someone somewhere. As one we are strong, as many we are unbreakable!

Thank you to all that entered. I was beyond moved by the stories that where shared with me. I wish I could make everyone a winner, but alas I cannot. HOWEVER, I CAN offer my readers a special discount if you would like to purchase this or other pieces of Crystal's work. Click here to be sent to the Esty store. At check out enter code: NFF5OFF and receive $5 off your purchase. 

Congratulations Krystal Earl McDonald!! You are the winner. Please private message me with your mailing information within 24 hours. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Rainbow Divided. A Lesson in Gender Equality.

     My son is 9 years old going on 35. Really. He's been tested and has an I.Q. of 125. He is literally too smart for his own good. His ability for adult logic occasionally throws me off guard. His logic taught me a lesson in gender equality I will never forget! I never put much thought in gender equality, it had not affected me until now. 

     While Jacob was getting his glasses fitted and learning all the necessary glass care directions, the man helping him asked him what color glass case he would like then reached in and pulled out a case before Jacob could answer. He held in his hand a pink case. My son's eyes lit up and a huge smile broke out across his face because his favorite color is pink. I held my breath to see what would happen as this man's joke was about to blow up in his face.

     The first thing Jacob did was grab the box and say thank you while jumping up and down in his chair. The man looked taken back and at a loss for words. "Oh, you want that one?" I sat silent allowing my son to speak for himself. Jacob assured the man that yes he did want the pink box, pink is his favorite color! "Oh, you don't maybe want blue or green?" The man was looking at me for support to helping to change my son's mind. I remain quiet. My son very happily held on to his new glass case with zero intention of changing his mind.

     He has been denied "the pink one" every time pink has been an option. Not by myself but by society. If there is a pink option along with a green or blue option, he is always given the "boy" colored choice.  This man gave my son the choice and Jacob excitedly held on to the pink, happy to not have to pretend to like the blue or green box. I could see the wheels turning in this man's head, as this has never happened to him before. His handing a pink box to a boy had always sent little boys screeching "YEUW!! PINK!! No way!!" Not my kid.

     On the drive home Jacob held his pink box like it was a treasure. Then he asked me why boys are not supposed to like pink. Huh, my first run in with a gender equality question and it is coming from my 9 year old. I copped out and asked him why HE thought boys were not supposed to like pink.  "Well, I noticed that when a boy, like me, likes pink or purple they get made fun of but if a girl likes blue or green no one picks on her." I felt this ache in my heart when he said that, because he is right. I asked him, "Why do colors belong to boys or girls? Who said boys can only have some of the colors?" Now brace yourself, for what this 9 year old boy said next is beyond his years. Ready? He said, "I do not think God meant for the rainbow to be divided." Stunned silence. I was at a loss for words. My child, in that moment, blew my mind. 

     As I think about it; it is asinine to limit colors for genders. My 9 year old is right; why should he be made fun of for his color choices and not a girl for liking brown? He waited for me to clarify his confusion of the word and I could only offer him words of empowerment. Digging into my body positive speeches I found myself telling him the same thing I have told friends and family who have been down on themselves, "You have the right to like what you like and no one has the power to make you feel bad about it unless you let them. When someone picks on you for liking pink tell them you are allowed to like what you like, you don't comment on the stuff they like." It felt like a feeble attempt to strengthen my son, who has learned to have thick skin when it comes to bullies. He is the shortest boy in his class, likes pink, often sings Elvis or Johnny Cash, and can quote I Love Lucy. Unfortunately he is used to bullies, however he will not let them get to him. Jacob is not ashamed of who is, therefore someone else's opinion of him is not his problem. 

     I think Jacob is one of the strongest kids I know. I take that back, he is one of the strongest people I know. I am proud of his unwavering belief that he is allowed to like whatever he likes and if someone has a problem with it, it is their problem - not his. Jacob sees no logic in judging people for what they like or what they look like. Jacob can teach our society a few lessons on acceptance and gender equality.  My son likes pink and he makes no excuses for it because God did not intended for the rainbow to be divided! Jacob makes me very, very proud. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Words That Are A Punch in the Gut. Every Time.

Not easy to write about. At all. 
      I had no intention of ever writing on the topic. It felt too personal and embarrassing. However, recently I have felt the universe pushing me expose a tender secret. Having already shared so much of myself with my readers, what is one more skeleton ripped out of my closet. I share because I know I am not alone and connecting with others who feel the same is what I need to truly heal.

     I have already spoken about having PCOS and the side effects. I have not spoken about the infertility part of PCOS. I have not shared what it feels like to be a broken woman.  I feel broken, like my box did not come with all the parts. There is a part of womanhood I will never experience and I admit I am jealous of those who do. Jealous so much that when someone tells me they are pregnant or I see a post on Facebook it feels like a punch to the gut; like many, many punches to the gut by an angry boxer going for blood.

     My husband has a 9 year old son from a previous marriage whom I have the joy of calling my son. I do get to be a mom and I love my step-son with all my heart but it's just not the same. I did not get to do the baby part; my step-son was 3 when I came in to the picture. A short time ago my husband and I came to terms with not having a baby together. A year or two ago my husband and I worked with fertility doctors and quickly found ourselves about to lose our savings and all future savings for a decade or two to cover the cost of a bunch of maybes. I never cried more in my life. I lost 125 pounds in hopes of fixing myself. I quit smoking. I made exercise a part of my daily life. Only to have it feels like it was all for nothing. Those months were extremely difficult for me, for us. My husband and I did come out on the other side, tear free and confident in our choice to no longer pursue a baby. It is a choice that I am content with. 97% of the time.

     We have lists of reasons why we tell ourselves we are ok with our situation. In an emergency we have been known to watch YouTube videos of screaming babies to help turn off the "I want a baby" feeling.  It works. I am able to swallow the empty feeling and continue on; I have no choice, and I refuse to be a victim of my situation. Recently, however, the universe has been making my ability to not think about babies very difficult. Facebook friends with adorable baby pictures, a pregnancy announcement from a family member, then several from friends. Back to back to back. It overwhelmed me and a few nights ago I found myself in uncontrollable tears.  I just could not stay strong any longer.

     I do not think about babies on a regular basis. It is not at the forefront of my thoughts, until someone tells me they are pregnant, and then the boxer comes out gunning for me. I have developed "happy baby face".  I know what to say and I might even jump up and down if the occasion calls for it. I am good at being excited for someone else. The only person who sees what I am truly feeling is my husband, who is always stronger than I with baby announcements. I do not begrudge my loved ones the joy of being pregnant, but sometimes I wish they could understand what it is like to know I will never get to say those words. No one will ever jump up and down for me and I'll never know that bond. 
My dog, Marty, is my heart. 

     The boxer leaves me alone most days, to rest in his corner, waiting for someone to announce a baby, and only then do I feel that punch in the gut. Only then do I scramble to YouTube to watch a video of a tantrum. Only then do I shed a few tears in private. Only then do I question all the rational choices I have made myself make many times now. I will not have a baby. I will be the best damn step-mom I can be. My husband loves me regardless. I will always baby talk to my dogs. I will spoil my family because they are my world. One day it will just be my husband and I and I am ok with that. Most days. 

     I cherish the time I have with my step-son, he and I are very close. I am Mom to him. I volunteer in his classroom, I cheer for him at soccer games, and use my spit on a tissue to get the schmutz off his face. I treat him no different than I would my own. I am blessed to have my family and I love them dearly. 

     I share this with you, my readers, because I know I am not alone and a reminder helps every now and then. If I am your reminder that you are not alone, I hope I help. When a woman cries for the loss of what never was, she does not cry alone. We are women and we are incredible. You are incredible. I am incredible. My, our, inability to create life does not take away from the love we show those around us. We matter to someone! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Depression Tried. I'm Still Here!

      I struggle with depression. Depression is not easy to talk about. There is a stigma to it which can bring on shame. I was first diagnosed with depression in high school; however I know I struggled at an earlier age. I have experienced dark times over the years. I have closed myself off as a way to hope the world would forget me and my sadness would not affect those around me. I sought medical help.  For several years now, the majority of the time I have a handle on it. I eat right, I exercise, and I removed negative energy out of my life (where I could). I still have bumps in the road, however, it has been decades since I was plunged into the darkness. The clock starts over; I survived my summer of darkness.

     Skipping the personal details, the best description I can give is my world, my snow globe, was shaken. Hard. I found myself lost and ashamed. I found myself resorting back to old habits for comfort. I started gaining weight - fast. That plunged me even further into despair. When I had to buy bigger size pants this summer I found myself on the dressing room floor in tears. Not only was I struggling with events around me, but now I found I was not able to take care of myself. 

     I shut down. I stopped answering my phone, my blog slowed down, and I hid away as much as I could. The stress that started the spiral downward was getting better though the damage I had done to myself was not. I became unable to fit into my clothes. This hurt the most. I could hear things people said to me after I lost my weight; "If you gain weight again your husband will leave you," "If you gain weight no one will like you." Yes, these are things a few people in my life thought were appropriate to say to me and that's all I could hear in my head. I felt like I had failed, I blog about health and here I had tossed mine to the side. 

Wouldn't let depression win! 

     I did my damnedest to shake the 
depression off. I still put on my bathing suit and I swam in a pool with my son for the first time ever. I did not hate my body and even if my clothes do not fit, it was not my body's fault. I stopped eating healthy and exercising. I started sneaking junk food. I pushed my husband, who only wanted me to feel better, to take us to Sonic for shakes. I ate my way through my depression all summer long. When school started I had gained close to 
30 pounds in 3 months! 

     30 pounds in 3 months is a hard reality and one that I was not sure I should share. After all, my blog started as a way to discuss the afterlife of weight loss and here I had gained weight! My blog may have started out that way; however it has evolved into a body positive blog, fighting for the freedom to love our bodies just the way they are. It turns out that includes my body, even when I am not taking care of it. 

     The reality is that life happens and hard times will shake all our snow globes at some point in our lives. It is unrealistic to think we will be able to maintain our comfort zones forever. This is why I am sharing my story. I am not perfect. I ran screaming from the wagon and didn't look back. I ate my way into a bigger size, I had maintained my size for 7 years, putting on a bigger pair of pants felt like a punch to the gut. However, I have learned that the wagon is never going so fast that we cannot catch up to it and get back on. My skies are brighter and the darkness is fading. I am human and I will make mistakes. I am human and I will learn. I am human and I will get better.  

My soul's smile when a friend understood. 
      I opened up to a few friends and realized that I am not alone. For every person who hugged me and understood my tears I thank you. It is because of these souls that I share this with my readers. If you find yourself struggling, remember that it will not last forever and it is ok to talk about it. We tend to feel we are the only ones struggling and we are not. I did not fail because I gained weight. I did not fail because I stopped caring for myself. I failed because I suffered in silence for too long. Had I swallowed my shame and confided in a friend much sooner it may not have taken so long to recover. 

     It has been a few weeks now of slowly getting back into a routine of health.  I am finding myself again. I have returned to my gym classes, cleaned up my eating, and forgave myself. I will be my own best friend in this recovery process to getting back to my healthy. In the meantime I have to be patient as the weight comes off. I have to stand proud regardless of my pant size for greatness has no size requirement! To my readers, I will be honest with you along my journey and celebrate the good things. For example, today was the first day in three months that I ran and I felt like a million bucks! I'm still here! Maybe a little slower, maybe my gym clothes are a little tighter, but I'm still here!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Defending the Bearded Man

     Typically I write on behalf of women and women issues. I fight for the freedom for all of us to love our bodies the way they are; perfectly imperfect. However, I have come across a group of individuals that need a defending voice. I have witnessed complete strangers feel they have a right to speak their negative opinion on to others. I have witnessed close friends and family do the same. There is a group of people that society feels they can tear down without any remorse and it pisses me off.  I am speaking up for beards! 

     That's right, you read that correct. Beards and every man who has one and has had to listen to rude comments by people who have zero consideration for another person's feelings. I am passionate on the subject of beards because my husband has one and I am fed up the negative opinions people inflict on him. He has a well groomed manly beard and I love it! He loves it! To the beard haters out there, do all the bearded men in your life a favor and shut up! Just shut up! 

     It seems that a man's facial hair is an open forum for anyone, family or stranger, to impart their opinion.  I have been shocked, floored in fact, at the audacity of people. I have heard everything from "You look homeless," to "It makes you look old,” and so on. These are not comments from bullies on a playground; rather, these comments come from family, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Why does consideration for other human beings’ feelings disappear when they have a beard?

     A beard does not magically appear overnight. A beard is, in most circumstances, a choice a man made for himself. A beard is a commitment. A beard requires regular maintenance and grooming.  A beard is a cultivated source of pride.  There is even a world championship competition of beards and moustaches. Men take pride in their facial hair. Men “out man” each other with their impressive beards.  Beards reflect personal expression, like a tattoo, or make up, or a hair style. Speaking for myself, I would never belittle someone's expression of themselves. 

     For those who have not experienced the grooming habits of a bearded man, allow me to shed some light on this:

1. A beard's shape and length are a premeditated choice. A beard does not grow magically into the finished product, it is cultivated. 

2. A beard requires precision with a razor and scissors.  A man will hold his breath and pray he does not make a mistake and ruin his work. 

3. A beard requires shampooing and conditioning.  Men care about hair products when they are caring for their beard.

4. A beard may require the use of a hair dryer. A man does not just get out of the shower, dry off, and leave their beard a mess on their face. No, they brush it and blow it dry. 

5. A beard may require the use of styling products to keep flyaways at bay. 

6. A man looks in the mirror and admires his beard. He is proud of his ability to master his facial hair. Woosies do not grow beards. 

7. Men do not all have the same beard growing potential. Men respect other beards. 

     The beard has been one of many symbolic manly statements throughout history. Open a history book and count the beards. Open the Bible and count the beards. Look around in our society and see who sports a beard; fathers, husbands, and sons. Men that are loved, respected, and cherished by more than one person in their life. I implore the beard haters, before you spit out your degrading beard comment, think about what you are saying and who you are saying it to! It is not a joke to degrade a man for his choice to grow a beard, regardless of your personal opinion, or in some cases, your jealousy.  

     Beard haters, shut up, because the person you’re imparting your "wisdom" on has just moved you down on the list of people they enjoy talking too.  The more you speak negatively about something a man has pride in, the less respect he will have for you. When you open your mouth to express how you hate his beard, you have shown him how little consideration you have for his feelings and well-being. Are you really that big of a jerk? Do you want that person to think you are an asshole? Think before your speak because your words will not be forgotten. 

     Grow on bearded men, grow on! Embrace your facial hair and wear it proud! Just like I tell women to ignore the beauty standards of a narrow minded society; I tell bearded men to ignore the unsolicited comments from those around them and grow on! The body is not a public forum. Every human being deserves the freedom to express themselves however they choose and no one has the right to tear them down. 

To my husband, who has witnessed my smack down shut your face come backs to those crazy enough to make a comment in front of his body positive blogger wife, I love your beard! You have my full support to express your inner manliness! 

Example of competitions:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Drum Roll Please!!

...and the Winner is.....!!!!!

    I am thrilled to be putting a years worth of these amazing lashes into the hands of a woman who is about to be blown away. These lashes transformed my face! 

     Ladies, thank you all for entering this contest. I wanted every reader of mine to see and know about these lashes. They are amazing! My friend and trusted hair dressed, Melissa, has made it so you can purchase these lashes!!!

Thank you all for entering my contest. I will be having another contest before the end of the year. In the meantime, spoil yourself! 

The Winner is.....
Laura Landry
Please private message me on Facebook with your mailing information.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Love It So Much I Am Giving It Away!!

I have always wanted beautiful thick eye lashes. I wanted Hollywood glamour lashes. In 8th grade, I thought I could cut my lashes off to create a doe eyed look (don't do this EVER!). I have purchased every mascara under the sun, from the cheap to the expensive.  Some are better than others; however none have given me the sexy eyes I wanted.  I tried fake lashes. That was a mess and all I accomplished was gluing the lashes to my eye lid not anywhere near my actual lashes. For the safety of my face I made peace with the best I could get from Covergirl.  

My lashes have thinned out more over the years due to my PCOS.  Again, I learned to make peace and accept me for me.  I'm never going to have long thick hair or thick glamour lashes. OK. The list of everything I do have is a hell of a lot longer.  I am at peace. There is a saying; "It is when you stop looking that you find it." How true!

My trusted friend, confidant, and hair stylist gave me a gift that rocked my world. She put in my hands a black box and said, "Try this you will love it!" Little did I know in that moment my face would be forever changed. She handed me Younique 3D Lash Fibers and I have been transformed!

Melissa's eyes

I was blown away with the results. Floored in fact! I am not the only person transformed by this product. Check out Youtube for reviews and how to use (super easy).  No wonder Melissa is known as the Vegas Lash Lady

My eyes!

I look in the mirror now and even stare for an extra second because my reflections make me proud; I embrace this moment!  Younique's 3D Lash Fibers have given me a few more extra stares at myself.  The old Hollywood glam I love is now in my make-up case.  My new favorite quick look is BB cream, 3D lash fibers, and some lip gloss.  I don't bother with eye liner anymore; my lashes stand out on their own now.  

The best part is I am giving away the 3D lash fibers!! 
Not just giving away a box. No. I'm giving away a year’s supply!!! 
You read that correct; a YEAR’S SUPPLY!!!
 I Know!!! We're talking a $150 prize!! 

How can you win? Here are the contest rules: 

1. Like New Figure Forward AND Vegas Lash Lady (Click to Like Vegas Lash Lady)
2. Like this post on Facebook. 
3. Leave a comment saying "I want to win!"

Bonus Entries for sharing this post! 

Extra entries for both you and your friend!  For every friend who writes on New Figure Forward's wall and leaves your name, you BOTH receive 10 extra entries!  (Sent by -your name here-) 

 This is my biggest give away yet!! Don't miss out on your chance to take home a years supply of my new favorite make-up find! 

Check out how great this product and company is! I know you'll love them!