I believe that when I was fourteen years old I purchased my first copy of a Cosmopolitan magazine.
The only thing that would have been more thrilling than buying it would possibly have been stealing it.
I spent $5.00 to explore the world of being a woman while I was returning home on a vacation with my grandmother.
I thought I was quite badass possessing something my mother would have been appalled to see me reading.
It turned out that Cosmo was not for me, although it took a couple years for me to realize and accept that.
When I was young, the same old recycled sex tips were new and exciting to me, but I know that reading them was my primary motive to begin with.
I never spent much time thinking about the rest of the magazine till recently.
I have spent some time considering what outside sources and influences affected me as a child that caused me to become a young woman with an eating disorder.
I am aware that nature and nurture both played their part in my strange aversion to the very thing that keeps me alive.
It’s almost like deciding to stop breathing then wondering why I’m choking.
Food is the core of my existence, yet it is my dearest adversary.
A lot of it is my own warped thinking, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also think about society and the message it sent to me as a young girl, and how that compares to what it is telling me today.
I’ve gotten a couple of Seventeen magazine and Teen Vogues addressed to me in the mail while I’ve been back for the past few months. I believe it is a marketing ploy.
Before recycling a couple of these I saw on the cover of a Teen Vogue a feature titled “Scared Skinny”.
I ended up flipping through the entire magazine to find the article, which detailed a trend in social media that has been females in high school.
Increasingly I’ve been seeing more of these talked about, where girls will be posting photos of the gaps between their thighs or similar, bragging about how thin they are.
Upon reading the piece, it was apparent it was actually uplifting at the end, talking about how two girls had started a charity for recovery from Anorexia.
Yet simply taking a cursory look at the article, the feature title, picture, or summary, a reader might never know that.
Is this article increasing awareness of an issue or furthering the trend, I wondered.
Comparing it to the pictures of underweight and most likely airbrushed females that are spread across the pages, I was inclined to say it was simply going to trigger those who are skimming through the magazine, already feeling bad about themselves.
When I Googled the magazine a social media widget on the side of the page is told me that the magazine recently debunked the “myth” that ballet dancers don’t eat. I found it hard to believe it was a myth before Teen Vogue decided to call it one.
I’ve decided some people in Teen Vogue have the right idea buried in the content, but nothing on the surface of the magazine is about taking care of oneself in a self-fulfilling way.
In my opinion, no magazine will ever be able to tell anyone what their worth is as a human being.
Especially when that magazine includes a celebrity giving beauty advice to not wear makeup in one page, while her photo-shoot picture features the opposite look and is covering the next page.
I, for one, will be staying far away from these magazines, and encourage anyone who values themselves to do the same.
The first thing one might notice about Matt Bergen is that he appears to be younger than that he actually is. But don’t let his looks fool you, this 21 year old business owner of B.E. FiT Personal Training Studio in Agawam, MA is much more mature than his years would suggest.
As part of my series on interesting people and their stories, I sat down with Matt to learn more about his studio, how he acquired it, and what had led him to pursue this direction for his future.
B.E. FiT is located at the intersection of North Westfield Street and North Street in Agawam. The outside of the studio features nine large rectangular windows, and a tall sloping roof. Upon walking into the space, I was struck by the sheer amount of light and brightness from those windows as well as the open floor plan and the various workout equipment that lined the room.
The walls had been painted a cheerful blue color, and motivational posters and artwork added character to them. Phrases such as, “The difference between the impossible and the possible is in a person’s determination” lined the room. Instead of being a simple two story set up, the second floor had been drawn in toward the back of the studio to become a balcony overlooking the area, with a staircase leading up.
Matt teaches a variety of classes at B.E. FiT, including Cardio Kickboxing, Survival Fit, Fit for Her, Teen Fit, and he even trains MMA fighters and motocross teams. He believes in doing things as unconventionally as possible because eventually something will click. Keeping this in mind, he decided in order to make it more affordable for people to be able to use his services and help more people at the same time, he would conduct personal training in group sessions.
Instead of paying for each hour of his time individually, as most personal trainers charge, members of the studio are given the option to purchase a membership including a certain number of days or classes.
Matt expressed to me that his clients really respond to the group atmosphere and that it also works well with his goal of being a holistic health coach. By being coached together in groups there’s a feeling of being on a team, and working toward the same goals. Matt considers training to be all encompassing. That is, his clients come to him not just for physical improvement, but also for mental and emotional working out.
Speaking with Matt, it is hard for me to believe that he is so young and has already achieved so much. I asked him to tell me more about his life story and what had brought him to be where he is today.
The story begins eleven years ago, when Matt was hit by a car at the age of ten, while attending the annual Granville Harvest Fair. As a result, he ended up with a variety of health problems, one of which was Nephrotic Syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which the kidneys are attacked by the body. Matt was on and off Prednisone for years afterward, and dealt with depression from being different from others.
He admitted to me he got so emotionally and physically drained from these problems, having to manage them in a public school setting, that he tried to take his own life multiple times as a teenager. It was clearly difficult for him to talk about this matter, but we both agreed that it really drives home the point of why he opened the studio; to help others who may feel this way about themselves and their lives.
After a certain point, living with these ailments had worn down his will to live, his motivation, and ambition. But when Matt was 18 he made the decision to live without the medications and have a full, happy life.
He began to learn about health, nutrition, and physical fitness, attending Branford Hall Career Institute in Windsor, Connecticut for a year to obtain his certificate in Professional Fitness Training and went on to get certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Matt is currently going to school for nutrition through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition so he may better help his clients.
Although he was discovering how to improve his mental and physical health, this future business owner found himself at 19/20 without any real idea of what he wanted to do with his life career-wise. So he began looking into being a trainer for other gyms and fitness centers.
When Matt began to rent space from other gyms, he found many flaws with the way scheduling was managed, and felt he wasn’t able to give his clients what he needed in that setup.
What enabled him to leave that line of work was a job he landed with a motocross team, training them for racing. He found with the team working together in a group with him as the guide, he was able to create the most favorable atmosphere for his clients.
They collectively paid for Matt’s time, which was advantageous to both parties. The personal training price became affordable, and Matt was able to make enough money to provide for himself with the earnings. He was also training other clients on the side, but he wanted to have the people come to him, not the other way around. Finally, a conversation with an encouraging mother of one his friends gave Matt the last push he needed to begin looking for a space for his own studio.
With financial support from his father, who is also a business owner, and the help of a good realtor Alex Kwatowski BKaye Realty properties were visited and considered over 20 in a 7 day span. Although many were seen, Matt had no problem making the decision. He knew the one he was going to pick as soon as he arrived at 360 North Westfield street in Feeding Hills.
Since I had worked directly with a marketing specialist for six years, I feel qualified to say that Matt has made some very smart choices so far with what he has done. Impressed, I asked what his next plans were for the studio and his business. Matt told me about the Grand Opening he has been organizing, set to happen on Friday, July 18th.
Working with an event planner, he is going to be having games, music, raffles, door prizes, and more from 4:30 – 8PM. Good food and live music will accompany class demonstrations, giveaways, and plenty of fun. Anyone is welcome to attend, and bring a friend, because Matt will have discounted cards to attend classes for those who come by and show support.
It’s hard to believe that Matt has come all this way and done so much in just a short amount of time. Growing up with serious injuries and taking strong medications over and over, I might say Matt had every right to be resentful and unhappy. Yet, at only 21 years of age, he is giving back to the community, trying to help others live healthier and longer, and not rely so much on medicating as they do on living a healthy lifestyle.
This is the Facebook page for the studio, and here is his website at Befitma.com. You can also contact him at 413-250-3933, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I encourage anyone who reads this to visit Matt for his open house, take advantage of that free class, and start learning how to better care for the mind and body. See you July 18th.
As the title may suggest, this is a guest post of poetry! I am very proud to share a friend’s work with the blogging community, enjoy. 🙂
Light and love can go so far
As breaking night or paling tar;
While hungering for work and rest
I have by love been soothed and blessed.
My smallest debt, if I paid back,
Would leave me in eternal lack,
And yet there comes a time I choose
Life’s candy offerings to refuse.
A moment comes sometimes I’ve found
I’ve wandered far from where I’m bound;
I’ve lost my key, and can’t begin,
And chance shows me a place within
With which no blessing can contend,
A certain silent somehow friend.
There no question lingers low
Beneath a thin, too early snow;
No clouded moonlight can obscure
A night no dawn can make impure;
Not earth’s turning well rehearsed,
Or the urge the universe had first.
There no question “why” or “how”
Is posed to everlasting now;
But those words are uttered still,
Without prospect, aim or will;
Gratitude in wanting’s guise,
No one listening, no replies.
And yet when singing calls insist,
That empty waiting can’t resist,
For there so must be beasts and men
That crawl about the earth again
That through the root chaotic sprawl,
It breaks their sleep and heeds the call.
No dear clasped calm waiting silence
Holds long against the fated violence.
Perhaps there is a God somewhere
Whose only universe is air;
There space is empty and serene;
No monster charts the earthly scene;
The flying cosmos goes unmapped;
The gift of life is left unwrapped.
But where our primal kingdom waits,
Eyes rose up and gave it gates,
And perfect love has made us Hell
That love may be our sentinel.
May our gates be all unguarded,
May we be peacefully departed,
And forever as we come and go,
May there be love we never know.
Since my last post of poetry garnered a lot of good feedback, I figured I would treat you all with some more, and give me a chance to keep working on my other stuff and share something that I have already written. I hope you like it. This is from March when I spent a night in Boston. I was not sleeping or eating regularly so you get to take a look into my sleep and food deprived brain. Enjoy!
I can feel the hum of self-awareness,
And the gathering of many thoughts.
Clouds of discontent, desperation, and even madness
Cross over head, while resolutely
The sun shines on,
Reflecting brilliant diamonds of light.
Man-made structures are weeds in the landscape of life.
The majestic oceans and mountains remain unconquerable to us,
Where some of the wisest beings on this planet dwell
And look onto us with the compassion and understanding
To know that we are naïve and stuck in karmic cycles.
But an age of empowerment approaches.
Mental shackles will be thrown aside,
For higher realities we shall enter as a whole people.
Karma is being restored.
What is done will be undone.
Awakening is only the first step in a series,
But one of the most important by far.
The only path that shall be taken now
Is the one of love.
Letting go of the past and forgetting regret.
This life is but an illusion, accepted as such on the grounds
Of learning and growth, schooling us in the ways of
Compassion and humiliation.
The time has come for admitting that we are all one
And there is no separation of identity.
The beauty of life is striking, yet it fades
In the time it takes to have a dream of something better.
The better is here, feeling it is the endeavor.
Paint a word picture of a public place without using adverbs.
The office is about ten by fifteen feet in dimension, in my opinion. Where I sit at the desk I am facing outward toward the white doors that lead outside, to the hallway, and to the studio, the latter of which functions as a room for yoga and tai chi.
Although the ceiling and floor are reminiscent of an industrial office, with the same white paneling and scrubby blue carpet, the rest of the room is designed with Indian and Eastern decor, prints, cloth, trinkets, and an emphasis on bright lighting and a relaxing atmosphere.
What I like most about the room is the very large, square window that is across from me and a few feet up, stretching to the ceiling. I can see the beautiful blue skies and green leaves of the trees outside beyond the panes. My other favorite feature is the small bookshelf next to me, featuring three rows of tomes about yoga, meditation, and happiness.
The walls in the office are all marigold, save for the deep warm red of the one directly behind me, with a white trim. The furniture is comfortable and efficient, including a pastel colored sofa, a couple of wooden tables, a rocking chair, a few folding ones, and the office chair that I rest on now.
The color schemes present are soothing to my eyes, and the room feels bright with a wonderfully positive energy. I am feeling fortunate to be able to spend a few hours in the yoga center, volunteering in exchange for classes. It is an amazing day, and I feel serene.
Write a post about comparison of two different things. For a twist, use dialogue.
A vase of water on the table held three dead and withered roses, that had once sung with the love of the two identities that now stood on either side of it, quarreling loud enough that the stagnant liquid began to vibrate with their dulcet tones.
The room was lit by candle light because the electric bill had not been paid that month, which was the very reason the argument had surfaced. What once would have been a romantic time alive with attraction had become the very worst experience it could be..
An accusation containing the physical force of a slap across the face, ” If you just paid more attention to your money, we wouldn’t be in this situation!” rang through the room tinged with resentment and despair.
“Me paying attention, when you are the one going to the mall nearly every day, spending the hard earned money that I bring home for the very purpose of keeping the damn lights on!”, came the retort. Shame and rage colored the voice with their angry red and crimson hues.
The candles that crowded on every available surface of the bedroom flickered with the uncontrolled emotions of deep infatuation poisoned and corrupted to become something resembling hatred. The self-loathing in the room was almost tangible, and, if it were possible, the dead roses would have shriveled even further upon themselves, an echo of the emotionally damaged children that a once starry-eyed, untainted couple had envisioned once for their partnership.
As those fights tend to do at times, the words moved from the conflict of the lights, to character attacks and damaging words that could never truly be taken back or forgotten.
“Don’t you EVEN talk about my mother! What about all the nights you used to come home crying, looking for my sympathy to build you back up! Maybe you should just run home to her, it’s clear you prefer her company to mine now. You’re just as big of a bitch as her now, and you swore you never would stoop to her level! If I were you-”
But the words were cut short as the offending party made to duck to avoid the hot candle, dripping wax over the carpet, as it sailed across the room, the heavy glass of the holder aimed true and just avoided a collision with the head that formulated those harsh words.
“You know what! She was right about you, you are just like my father, fat, lazy, stupid, and MEAN!” The last word was emphasized by second candle, one that this time made its mark, trailing more melted wax, and ending at the gut of the target, winding and no doubt bruising the other party with heavy metal candlestick holder.
Many more words would be exchanged about evening, none of them kind and all of them vile as possible.
As the sun crested over the eastern horizon after the many hours of conflict and strife, the candles became unnecessary, what were left of the ones that had not found their way to the floor in the ten hours that had passed.
As an orange glow began to permeate the room, reflected off the placid lake outside that contrasted with the torn apart room and ruined furniture, blankets, pillows, even the television, which had somehow found its way through one of the sliding glass doors and out onto the patio.
Another trail, this one of clothing, lead to the spare bedroom. The master bedroom continued to flood with light from the broken slider, the results of a passion neither one could contain remaining as evidence of everything that had transpired that night.
She turned over onto her side, under his arm, her head on his stomach as she listened to his heart beat strong and rhythmic under his flesh. The blotch that would become a purple and blue reminder of this latest fight caught her eye, and she looked at the mark with revulsion and regret.
He met her eyes, his warm brown gazing into her sapphiric blue irises. He opened his mouth to make the requisite apologies that always followed these nuclear explosions of emotion, but she silenced his unsaid words with her mouth. The tenderness and love that passed between them would never have indicated the fight beforehand.
She rested again against his shoulder and arm, as he watched the sunrise continue through the bay window facing the bed. He put his lips to her hair, and without even thinking about it, whispered the very anti thesis of everything he had said to her, “I love you, dear, more than life itself”.
The she was sleeping tranquilly, and his words were just have to wait. And presently he nodded off to join her in the dreamland where life was perfect and nothing ever went wrong.
Write about the most interesting person you have met recently, or who just stepped into your life. For a twist, make the piece into a character study.
The retreat was set for June 6-8, 2014. The location was a convent and former home for unwed mothers, a place of healing it had been for decades. Before that, it was originally the house that the owners of the Crane Paper Company, which provides paper for the US currency, resided in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Friday night at the beginning of the retreat, a woman named Andrea stood up to speak. She would be the retreat leader for the weekend.
Hailing from Washington Heights, New York, she was a tiny little thing, seeming to be around middle aged, modestly dressed, and in good spirits.
As the retreat was for members of a recovery group that deals with food and eating problems, for nearly an hour and a half Andrea boldly stood in front of most of the 33 retreat attendees, and bared her soul for all to see.
Andrea’s charming disposition, humorous interweaving, and big smile that constantly lit up her face made her instantly relatable and likeable. She had a charisma that silenced the room and her energy was so strong, one could imagine to see her aura – bright yellow and green – surrounding her in that well lit room, that contrasted with the darkness outside.
Her sincerity and humility as she spoke made Andrea’s tale, which sounded like something from a movie, ring with a truth that brought the listener from that room in Westfield, to the streets of Manhattan to experience a journey of hope, strength, and recovery.
This petite woman, who told the audience about weighing over 300 pounds for much of her life, being a person she couldn’t stand, and all the self loathing that went along with it, seemed to be the actual physical embodiment of what can only rightly be described as a miracle.
And although her story contained many depressing elements, and very real deep emotional hurt, this red haired ball of passion never let what she said bring the audience down, always replacing wit with despair.
Andrea would joke about anything and everything to offset the serious subject matter. She was never not completely open and honest, but the way she learned to look back on her past and see the humor in the distance, as well as an ability to have fun in her everyday life, inspired and amused the attentive listeners.
She brought the members of the retreat into her life, gave an up close and personal tour, and narrated the journey that led to her being there, in that room in Westfield that night.
A pretty green dress with a belt, a pair of black flats, and simple clip in her hair with the additional of three cheerful daises completed the picture of a courageous individual who had not only been to hell and back, but came out alive. Andrea was not only alive to tell her story, but she was thriving, and her energy and spirit revealed her truth to all.
The rest of the retreat she would lead the members during various meeting sessions, always happy to share and grateful to be able to inspire and change lives with her message. She was a survivor, a role model, and a friend. Her role in the program and retreat will never be forgotten by those who attended.
Write about finding a letter, reading it, and then wanting to return it to the sender. For a twist, be as brief as possible.
A $50 bill for a tip. Rare, but not that rare at a fine dining restaurant.
When it is handed to me it is crisp, new, and folded in half. It is not until I open up and flatten it out that I see the dark writing trace a black-inked story that covers the bill in miniscule writing, all but obscuring the lavender and aqua shades of it from end to end.
When I get home, a glass of red wine and the note accompany me to my room. I lay the bill out once more, find the magnify glass I use from time to time, and set to work reading what it had to say.
It only takes me about 15 or 20 minutes to decipher the scrawl to read it through the first time. Then I read it over again at least a dozen times. Transfixed by the message, I gaze at the page, my brow furrowed, as I sit deep in thought.
Suddenly, I rise, upsetting the grey cat that was sitting at my feet. He hisses, but my mind is racing too fast to notice. I grab one of the long candle lighters from the fireplace, don a sweater, and take the backdoor to the concrete steps.
Twisting the $50 bill upon itself, I hold the flame an inch away. The full moon watches overhead, shining brightly, illuminating the entire scene far beyond the lighter’s ability. Yet the light of the flame makes the note opaque, and the writing gleams upon the paper.
For a second I feel surreal, and a little mad, then I remember the words I had read. With no further hesitation, I touch the light to the paper, and watch as it first catches at the corner, then engulfs the bill, and extinguishes itself upon the concrete where I drop it.
Brushing the ashes off the stoop, I return to the house, as the moon looks on unchanged. I however, would never be the same after that night.