Life in Italy: So Far, So Good

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Hey lovelies! 

In today's post I want to talk a little bit about adjusting to Italy. What else do you want to hear about Life in Italy? Leave a comment below!  

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So firstly, my anxiety was at an all time high in London. I think I'm starting to believe that different cities mesh with different personalities. When I visited Amsterdam I was completely relaxed (and not just for obvious reasons) but also because the people that live there genuinely seem content. I saw a guy leaving his house one morning...with a smile on his face. It's not a common thing to see in London so I was shocked.

I hate to admit it, but London doesn't vibe with my personality. I guess I needed to live there to truly understand that. I still have trouble accepting it since I was obsessed with living in London for years. But the truth is - it really is a great city - to visit but living there is a whole other story.

After finishing my Postgrad degree in London I struggled to find a job in the film/tv industry. The industry is smaller and far behind what we're doing content-wise in the states therefore people were less willing to be supportive, share information, collaborate. People were also less willing to recognize my previous work experience, which was disheartening. 

During a job interview, the woman whom I was interviewing to work for gazed at my resume and said she felt like, "based on my resume I was overqualified for the position" (I was overqualified for the position). Then she added, "At the same time, you're so relaxed right now that it makes me question whether you'd be competent at this job." Yes. She. Said. That.

It was crazy coming from a woman to whom I'd had to explain what a Masters Degree was and who'd admitted she didn't even have an undergraduate degree. Shocking, really. I didn't even wait for her to not hire me. I withdrew my application via email later on that day. Even if she had hired me there was no way I would've been able to tolerate her British Becky-ing on a daily basis. 

By the time I'd resigned myself to working at a burger restaurant for the Holiday season and had endured sexual harassment from the manager who'd hired me with, "reservations" (apparently you need a Phd to be a waitress in London) I was so ready to leave London.

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Fortunately, my husband had been feeling the same way. One evening we got to talking about moving to Italy. I was nervous because I didn't know the language and I worried about finding work here too. But then I thought, "Anything's got to be better than my current situation." We agreed that if an opportunity presented itself we would move to Italy and leave London behind. 

The Law of Attraction is a serious thing.

As soon as we spoke those words we breathed life into that reality. A month later a job opportunity presented itself for my husband. Less than six months later we were moved into our new place in Italy.

I've mentioned on my Instagram how much more chill the vibe is here. So my anxiety is so much better. I was also able to get work pretty much right away. It's all about timing. I happened to join a Facebook group and there was an opportunity. So easy, so simple. 

I'm starting an Italian course next week so (hopefully) pretty soon I'll be more confident about speaking with other people and perhaps I'll start making new contacts or (dare I say it) friends. 

It's only been a few months but so far, so good.

That's not to say there aren't drawbacks. There are. For instance, things don't get done when you want or need them to get done. If you need to see a doctor or send a package or apply for residency you have to have a LOT of patience.

The one awesome thing about London (besides the free museums, public transpo and free healthcare) is that it was so easy to get things done. As long as you came prepared with all your documents, had all your ducks in a row, crossed every T and dotted every I - you could pretty much be successful in all your errand endeavours. The massive drawback with the efficiency of London is that everyone is so busy trying to be cheeky and miserable that they make human interaction utterly dismal.

*Take that with a grain of salt, people, please remember I suffer from anxiety and also my experiences won't be the same as yours. But my experiences are valid. 

We are slowly getting settled here. We've already found our favourite spots including a take-away restaurant, an apertivo spot, a casual restaurant with the most amazing beers and burgers and an amazing homestyle Italian restaurant with the most delicious risotto I've had to date. 

 

On the weekends, we have date nights, we do the shopping for the week, we travel to Milan or other nearby areas and we have brunch with the in-laws. Weekends are lovely.

We are also slowly decorating the new place, trying to make it home. I've recently gotten back into DIY projects so I've got several small projects in the works. The new place has space for an office, which my husband and I share. We're still in the process of decorating it, although we have two very distinct styles. 

I'm looking to make my corner of the office space cozy and tranquil so I'm looking to fill the walls with word inspiration, a vision board and photos. I also want to get candles, lights and right now I'm obsessed with making the bookshelves look organized but stylish. 


We also recently adopted a baby kitten called Gatto Paul. He's about 4 months now. He's a gray and white striped European Shorthair and he has stolen our hearts. To the point where I've actually started an Instagram for Gatto Paul! Follow his shenanigans here ----> http://Instagram.com/IamGattoPaul.

We love shopping for Gatto Paul too! He's going to be the most spoiled kitty come Christmas! Honestly, I'm more excited about buying cat furniture than I was about buying new furniture for the house. That's Love!

I think the best part about living here (besides having access to all the amazing wine!) is that my anxiety isn't as bad. When I do feel overwhelmed I have the time and space to really sort through my feelings and get through the bad patches. 

I don't know what new adventures are to come but I am in a good place. 

I'm happy.

Ciao for now, 

That Former Sidekick Girl x

Happy National Boss’s Day!

In honour of National Boss’s Day I’m sharing this post written by Lauren Smith Brody author of: “The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby.” Lauren has partnered with Total Wireless to share her tips on being a Boss Mom and I’m passing on the goods to you. Enjoy!

CELEBRATE BOSS MOMS THIS NATIONAL BOSS’S DAY

By Lauren Smith Brody

Did you know that today (October 16) is National Boss’s Day? Here’s my take: The bosses who should be celebrated with the most cupcakes and flowers today are Boss Moms—working moms who do it all and get it done at all hours of the day, and with only a fraction of that time rewarded with an actual paycheck. In fact, according to a recent survey by Total Wireless, 95 percent of moms say that the most stressful part of being a working mom is the pressure to juggle work and family responsibilities to perfection. Do they always get it done without ever losing their cool? Au contraire, ma mere.

In my version of this national holiday, being a Boss Mom means you bless the mess, celebrate the journey that got you to where you are today and realize that a satisfied life is rarely a balanced one…but a happy one. That’s why I’m teaming up with Total Wireless to celebrate Boss Moms and how they do it all on National Boss’s day and beyond.

1) LEARN THIS TERM: “MENTAL LOAD.” The mental load is the reason that I know how many eggs are in our fridge right now and how high the temperature has to be in order for my boys to be allowed to wear shorts to school (love that dress code). It is also the reason that I occasionally forget to sign a check that I put in the mail (thank you, payment apps for helping me out here). The mental load is the labor we do in our minds keeping track of 1,273,038 things even when we aren’t technically working or parenting. And that work deserves to be acknowledged.

2) HOLD THE JUDGEMENT, PLEASE. Here’s something wonderful about 2017 (an otherwise complicated year, to say the least): We are officially no longer living in a society where it is socially appropriate for working moms to judge stay-at-home moms, and vice versa. I’ve interviewed hundreds of moms for my book and company, and the general consensus was this: We are all just doing our best to raise the next generation. And yet, so many mothers still admitted to judging themselves. Enough, I say! According to the same survey by Total Wireless, 95 percent of moms know that the journey to success hinges on having the confidence to make the necessary choices…and often those choices include sacrifice. Do not feel guilty. Instead, celebrate your accomplishments. It’s all part of the journey of satisfaction we’re modeling for our kids.

3) SKIP SOMETHING. Want to know the best feeling in the world (better than the candle-lit bubble bath you’ve been meaning to take for three years now)? Open up your calendar and delete one thing from next week. Here, I’ll even give you your excuse: “I’m looking ahead and realizing I’ve overscheduled myself for next week. Let’s please cancel/move our lunch/meeting/obligation/endeavor/commitment.” Another option if it’s something you can’t miss entirely: Downgrade an in-person meet-up to a phone call. Everyone’s more efficient that way, and you can order groceries online at the same time if needed.

4) CALL YOUR OWN BOSS MOM. Better yet, FaceTime her (because you know she won’t mind if you’re not wearing any makeup…or if you have to leave her staring at the ceiling while you attend to the 2-year-old’s bloody nose). Whether your mom worked out of the home or not, the list of skills you learned from her is surely long and mighty. (The same survey I reference above found more than half of working women consider their own moms the ultimate “total boss.”) Did she teach you to drive (thus ensuring you can do that last conference call of the day while in the privacy of your own car)? Did she force you and your sister to “work it out between you two” (and give you team-building skills that you use to this day?). It’s vital to acknowledge that stuff, not just because it makes her feel appreciated…but because it makes you realize how much wisdom you’re imparting to your own kids that they’ll use one day. Oh, tell your mom that part too!

This National Boss’s Day, join me and Total Wireless in celebrating working moms for everything they’ve accomplished—including the choices and sacrifices they’ve made to get where they are today.

With great coverage on America’s largest and most dependable 4G LTE† network, Total Wireless gives you the confidence to plan and celebrate the ‘total boss’ mom in your life—all from the palm of your hand with your smartphone. Learn more at TotalWireless.com.

Lauren Smith Brody is the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement to help businesses and families improve workplace culture together; she is the author of the best-selling book, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. Prior to launching her own business, Lauren had a 16-year career in magazine publishing, most recently as the executive editor of Glamour magazine. She’s partnering with Total Wireless to share her Total Boss Mom strategies—hectic schedule, two little boys, messy home, and all. Check out TotalWireless.com to learn more about the latest phones and the best deal in wireless.

*The 30-Day cycle for Shared Data Family Plans begins on the day the first line/device is activated. Any line(s)/device(s) activated later in the first 30-Day cycle will receive only the number of days remaining in that cycle. A month equals 30 days.
†To get 4G LTE speed where available you must have a 4G LTE capable device and a 4G LTE SIM card. Actual availability, coverage and speed may vary. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. Please always refer to the latest terms and conditions of service at TotalWireless.com.

This survey was commissioned by Total Wireless and conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata interviewed 1,069 online respondents between September 29, 2017 and October 4, 2017. For further information, visit www.survata.com.

I’d be a better writer if I listened to better music.

I've never had good taste in music.

I'm not being self-deprecating, it's true. I mostly listened to Gospel music growing up (not always by choice) and as I've never been a die hard fan of any music artists (except for Alicia Keys and I was recently re-inducted into the Beyhive. But that's another story) I don't really follow the music scene. Therefore, I listen to whatever's popular.

So my taste in music has always been questionable.

It's not that music isn't important to me. I sang in choirs in high school and won a couple of vocal competitions. I played the trombone and clarinet and was in the marching band. I studied musical theatre. I'm obsessed with Broadway songs! I love music. But I would never volunteer to share my Spotify playlist at parties or on car rides because I know - I know - ain't nobody gon' like my mishmash of eclectic tunes.

There's literally no organization to my playlists. It randomly ranges from Nina Simone's "Ne me quit de pas" to Beyonce's "Rocket" with anything from Katy Perry, Cold Play, The Chainsmokers and Shawn Mendes in between.

My taste in music is all over the place.

And I think my writing suffers because of it.

Lemme explain.

I was up late one night doing some writing. Well trying to but, of course, I was having trouble. I'd put Spotify on 'Discover Weekly' and this song comes on...and all of a sudden I can't move. I'm frozen - like, no joke, my body randomly went into rigormortis. It was as if the song had put some kind of spell on me. It felt like actual sound waves were physically coming out of the speakers and wrapping around my body, holding me in place.

I literally wasn't able to move until the song ended.

When the last strains of the guitar faded out I opened up the Spotify window and looked up the song, intending to save it to my library. The artist was Bibi Bourelly and the song was called "Poet." Bibi's voice is "hauntingly beautiful," but it was the lyrics that really had me transfixed.

"You're like a poet

and every time you say my name

it sounds like the ocean.

Lost in the middle

you're like a riddle

and when I look inside your eyes

you make me feel so little."

Something about these lyrics really got my creative juices flowing and suddenly the words I'd been grasping for came to me in a rush and I was able to write. Like, that song seriously unlocked something in me using the key hidden under the matt, came inside, fixed itself a sandwich and curled up on the couch to watch Wendy Williams. The song got under my skin is what I'm trying to say. 

 

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It's not the first time something like this has happened but it's been awhile. Music doesn't usually have this kind of effect on me. Normally, if I like a tune I'll nod my head to the beat, maybe dance a little. If it's a Nicki Minaj song, I'll memorize the lyrics and dress up as Nicki for Halloween. If it's anything from "Lemonade" I'll do a parody of the song for Youtube. If it's Taylor Swift I'll turn it off.

 

That's about the extent of my reactions to music.

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But every once in awhile I'll get lucky and come upon a song that seduces me, gets under my skin, makes me really explore my thoughts and access my emotions.

It's nice when that happens. I'd like it to happen more often. Maybe it could if I listened to better music. In fact, I'm going to make an effort to seek out new music by artists I don't know very well and see if I can get an inspiration fix on a regular basis. Check out this playlist I put together for Writing Inspiration. Let me know if you like any of the songs.

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"Poet" is 5th on the list. Have you heard of this artist or song? What do you think of it? Am I hyping it up too much?

Ciao for now,

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3 Easy But-Kind-of-Obscure Halloween Costume Ideas

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If you know me then you know I LOVE dressing up for Halloween. I love going to Halloween parties, I loved going to the parades in New York and LA. I love guessing other people's costumes. I love the candy. Did I mention I LOVE the parties?

Even though people in London and Italy don't take Halloween as seriously as we do in the States, my love for (most) things Halloween has never dwindled. The only time I get a little wary about Halloween is when people dress in Black Face or participate in Cultural Appropriation and try to act like we should be flattered by that. Other than that nonsense I truly enjoy Halloween.

 

Anyway, we've decided to have a Halloween party in the new place. It will be kind of a housewarming party since we haven't officially had that yet - though we have hosted a few apertivos.

I'm asking (strongly suggesting) that our guests wear costumes. I don't know if anyone will actually heed my (very strong) suggestion but I hope they'll be good sports and join in the Halloween fun. I certainly intend to!

I love to see other people dress up in elaborate costumes. There have been some great costumes over the years but for me it's more about the creativity and working with what you have. I don't enjoy breaking the bank for a Halloween costume and I'm not all that great at DIY. So I have to use my imagination and simplify.

Here are 3 Easy but somewhat obscure costume ideas that won't cost much time or money to created.

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Natalie Portman - Black Swan

Your choice. You can either dress as Natalie Portman as the Black Swan or you can dress as Natalie Portman in Black Swan. 

Natalie Portman as the Black Swan consists of white make-up, black eye shadow/eyeliner and a black corset/leotard/tutu combination. You can add black feathers to make it more like the costume in the movie and if you're so inclined, wear nude or pink tights and grab some ballet slippers.

I love this idea because it's sexy without being obvious and everyone looks great in tights.

Plus you don't have to wear heels, score!

Natalie Portman in Black Swan is a very simple ensemble. It's basically Natalie Portman's character's go-to outfits throughout the film. My favourite outfit is from one of the scenes where she's wearing a grey sweatshirt, pink scarf, pink sweatpants and cozy boots. I think she's also wearing a pink bodysuit so if you want a bit more colour feel free to add the bodysuit!

This costume is perfect if you don't feel like wearing a bunch of make-up to a Halloween party. Just throw on this outfit and let your friends marvel at your ingenuity.

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2. Olivia Pope - Scandal

If you watch the Shonda Rhimes created TV series starring Kerry Washington then you probably already know where I'm going with this.

Yup. Giant wine glass. 


See if you can find the most ridiculously giant wine glass, feel free to actually use it to drink your red wine (or beverage of your choice) at the Halloween party.

Combine it with a giant, cozy blanket OR simply wear a comfortable yet stylish sweater. Make sure your hair and make-up are on point and boom, your costume is Olivia Pope at home watching TV on her awesome couch.

You could also be Olivia Pope at work if you feel inclined to rock a powersuit and heels. Dress like a gladiator, again make sure your hair and make-up are on point. Don't forget your matching  giant handbag and white hat.

At the party, only speak to the other party guests in long, passionate monologues, remembering to repeat many of the same sentences until you drive home the point that "You have half a life" and "It's handled." Then tell them to call you "Sweet Baby." This costume could actually win prizes!

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3. Apollonia / Raspberry Beret

You guys know Apollonia? Apollonia 6? Purple Rain? Prince? OK I think we're on the same page now.

I was listening to "Raspberry Beret" recently and I thought, "I should dress as the woman he's talking about int this song." So I watched the music video (for the first time) and sadly learned that the images of the woman were animated and probably wouldn't be a recognizeable costume anyway.

I'm cool with obscurity but that was a bit much. I'd spend most of the night first explaining my costume then explaining why I'd chosen such a random costume and then finally explaining where I'd purchased the raspberry beret. Depending on the party, I might even have to explain who Prince was and play the damn song on my Spotify all night. Too much work.

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But I wasn't quite ready to give up on the idea. I researched the song a bit and discovered that it's believed to be based on Apollonia or at least inspired by her or in some way referencing the sex scene between The Kid and Apollonia in "Purple Rain." This isn't conclusive but was enough to keep me inspired.

I looked up some images of Apollonia and thought why not combine the two? Just get yourself a raspberry colored beret. So easy.

And to get that Apolonia vibe get yourself a black bodysuit. It can be sexy or modest. Personally, as I'm a grown woman I think I'll lean toward a sexier look. But you do you, boo.

Depending on the weather and the style of bodysuit you may need to add a black cape or a feather boa - do what makes you feel good!

Complete the look with dramatic eye make up, big feathered hair (wigs might be the way to go). Throw on some fishnets and your choice of black boots and boom, you're Apollonia wearing a raspberry beret.

Your friends will seriously worship the ground you walk on.

Which of these costume ideas do you like? How many Halloween party invites have you gotten so far? Can you think of any other obscure costume ideas? Or movie/music video references that might make good costumes? I haven't quite decided what I want to be but I'll definitely post pics to my Instagram when I get my costume together.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a very happy and safe Halloween.

Ciao for now,

 

Who Are You Becoming?

"Who are you becoming, Dawn?" 

The 10 minute message came through Whatsapp  about an hour after it'd been sent it and I decided to take a break from housework to have a listen.

As I relax on the bed and press play to hear the message, my gaze lands on the oversized exposed lightbulb hanging over the bed. It's the kind of bulb that looks like it would appear in a cartoon thought bubble after someone gets an idea or has an 'aha' moment. It's cute and surprisingly perfect for our new minimalist bedroom.

We'd hastily chosen it because we hadn't been able to agree on a light fixture and the additional - ahem - input - from the in-laws was adding pressure to the already tedious task. So we'd just grabbed it as a placeholder with the intention of going back to the store for a more suitable light at a later time. But as soon as we'd installed this random light bulb we knew it was here to stay. It was just perfect.

It's happy accidents like that that make me smile.

So I'm staring up at the lightbulb with a smile on my face listening to this voice message when this question comes up and snaps me back to reality. 

Who am I becoming?

I'm shocked as I realize I don't have an immediate answer. My mind was actually blank. In fact, one of my favorite movies, "Back to the Future" pops into my head and I start thinking about the scene where Marty is playing the guitar and he looks at this picture of himself and his siblings and he's slowly disappearing. That's how I imagined I must look to the rest of world - like I'm disappearing. Because if I'm not who I used to be, a sidekick girl, then who am I?

Hmmmmm...

I continue to ponder the words long after the message ends. "Who are you becoming?" A light breeze blows through the open window and I watch the lightbulb swing gently back and forth like a pendulum.

Who. Swing. Are. Swing. You. Swing. Becoming. Swing. Swing. Swing.

And finally a quiet voice whispers, "I don't know."

I'm definitely not a sidekick girl anymore. I say I'm a Former Sidekick Girl. But if I'm being honest (and I truly hate to admit this) he's right when he says that by calling myself a Former Sidekick Girl I'm still attached to that sidekick girl story. And...I don't want that story to continue.

I want a new story.

I want to write a new story that's completely separate from that sidekick girl.

But who am I becoming?

Such a simple question yet I'm at a complete loss for words. I'd never given much thought to it other than calling myself a Leading Lady, it's a question that requires a lot of reflection before I can come up with an answer. 

The wheels are turning though. 

You know you're in good company when said company inquires about your character, your core values and concerns themselves with your personal development. I'm finally starting to understand the importance of Tribes and Squads. You need a power circle of people who inspire you to grow and encourage you to take a long, hard look at yourself. I'm taking a long, hard look at myself now.

I might have an idea of who I'm becoming.

It's not fleshed out quite yet. She's not fully formed but I can see shades of her. Of the person I am becoming.

I am becoming someone who is more responsible with my time, my money, my friendships and relationships.

I am becoming more secure and confident.

I am becoming someone who practices self-love and is adopting a Carefree Black Girl mentality and lifestyle.

I am becoming more comfortable with being alone and with being my own best friend.

What else?

I don't have all the answers right now but that's a start. 

What about you? Do you think about this kind of stuff? Do you have a tribe or squad to turn to for these types of discussions? Who are you becoming?

Ciao for now,   

Travel: A Wedding in Puglia!

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They told me that a wedding in the south of Italy would be like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. They weren’t wrong. Check out the pictures and read all about it below. 

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It was a fairytale wedding and an unforgettable occasion.

It’s a 10 hour drive from Varese, Italy to Puglia so we opted to fly.

We were only staying three days so I packed light. Just a couple of my favourite dresses from Asos, a few pairs of shoes, three swimsuits…Ok I didn’t pack that light but I was able to stuff everything into my carryon.

Unless I’m going on a long trip I usually bring a carry on so as to avoid baggage claim. I’ve been using a hardshell spinner suitcase. I switched to it when I started traveling more often and I’m never going back. You can find a wide selection at Amazon. I’ve got my eye on a few new ones.

The multidirectional wheels make it so easy to maneuver around a busy airport. I like the hardshell because they’re pretty durable and if I’m unlucky enough to have to check my bag due to a packed flight then I’m not worried about it getting damaged.

Our flight was quick and painless.

I listened to my new favourite audiobook “Sometimes I Lie,” by Alice Feeney for the duration.

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When we arrived at the airport in Brindisi we had to wait 20 minutes for our ride so we started the celebration early with a cold beer, which we ended up having to chug since our ride arrived earlier than expected.

We then headed to meet the rest of the family for a big lunch with the groom. I mentally prepared myself for all the food I would be consuming over the next couple of days. There’s. So. Much. Food.

After lunch, we went on a very quick tour of the tiny town. I immediately fell in the love with the architecture and the colours.

We then checked into a quaint little BnB, which was right across the road from “Mosquito,” the only bar in town. The rest of the family arrived for a few drinks before going back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. Again, I mentally prepared myself for all the food we were about to consume!

After dinner we went with the groom to his bride’s home where he serenaded her with a song. It was romantic and I started to cry. Like, I was seriously emotional about it. Possibly too much Prosecco? After the singing we had more Prosecco then went back to the bar for more drinks.

We spent the next morning at the beach where I mostly slept off my hangover. Then it was time to get ready for the wedding. One would think I’d be all wedding’d out considering I’d just had my own Italian wedding just one month prior but actually it was even more fun because the pressure of being a bride wasn’t on me this time around. I could relax and enjoy being a guest!

All of the guests looked so beautiful but the bride and groom shined, of course. I didn’t understand a word of the ceremony since it was all in Italian but it was nice to be in a church again – even if it was boiling hot!

After the ceremony it was time for the reception. We all piled onto a charter bus (I affectionately called it the “drunk bus”) for the 45 minute drive.

The venue was absolutely stunning, the food was delicious, the music was perfect and I’m still dreaming about the dessert.

We poured ourselves into bed at about 4am. It took about a day to fully recover from all the fun. I’m bummed I didn’t get a picture with the bride because she was absolutely stunning. But I did have a memorable experience. Weddings truly are magical.

And I’d love to visit Puglia again soon.

Ciao for now,

I’m Back! And I’m Still a (Former) Sidekick Girl

Hi. I'm Dawn Melissa,

And I went away for awhile but I'm back.  

This blog, like me, has done a lot of migrating over the years! It's gone from WordPress to Blogger to Wix to Weebly and even Tumblr. Now it seems That Former Sidekick Girl has come full circle - back to WordPress.

I've also done a lot of moving around! I left Los Angeles and moved to London. I also got married. Now I'm living in Italy and drinking Limoncello every night. I've managed to do a bit of traveling and I've seen a few amazing places including Barcelona, Amsterdam & Prague. I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list. 

I'm not the only one who's undergone a myriad of changes. I'm still in shock at the sad current state of affairs - especially in the States. But along with the horrible agent orange there's been a silver lining of good happening in the world. 

When I left WordPress I was confused, angry and emotional. I was a sidekick girl and I thought  - I thought - I was the only one. I'd been lead to believe that it was all in my imagination or it was my own low self-esteem that created this "sidekick girl" mentality.

I was called a racist for pointing out that the POC in films and on TV were always the sidekicks while the lead actors were always white. That shook me. I didn't want to be racist. I stopped being as vocal about it - but didn't stop being angry.

It turns out a lot of Black girls felt the same way.

Except they were brave enough to stand their ground. Thanks to them we have awesome hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic and #CarefreeBlackGirl to remind us that we are #Queens. Yes, others may appropriate but we are the innovators and creators. I love that we're connecting and building each other up more through social media. If feels so good to look at my Instagram feed and see an beautiful Black women just being magical. 

We also have new terminology to help us (Black Women) articulate our points when we stumble into these unfortunate encounters with YT women. I didn't invent any of them but I'm happy to add them to my lexicon because they make it all so clear in my head.

From white women "white womening" whenever Black Women get any type of praise or accolades to the '5 Types of Becky,' I feel like I can finally - FINALLY - put a label on the crazy situations I've been in with white women. And I have a new understanding of why I received the reactions I got when I first started this blog.

Shout out to Black Women just because!

I had to come back to That Former Sidekick Girl after all that. Not only because I have so many stories I want to share but also as a Former sidekick girl I am transitioning from supporting character to Leading Lady, stepping into the spotlight and telling my own stories.

I'd been discouraged by the lack of support from friends and by the white people who kept trying to tell me to "get the chip off my shoulder" and "racism doesn't exist" and other bullsh*t. I literally almost gave up.

But that's the thing about being magical, being melanated - being LIT - we never quit. We never give up. Our fire never dies. We keep falling but we keep getting back up. We fix OUR crowns and we get back to work.

Then we say 'Thank You' to everyone who tried to discourage us, tried to put us in our place, tried to shame us. Because they kept us motivated and determined.

They brought me right back here - back home.

I'm so happy to be here.

Ciao for now,

Youtubers, Body Image & Influence

Yes this blog post is about Patricia Bright from Youtube’s Britpopprincess. She got new boobs and many of her followers/fans/subscribers/stalkers have had a lot to say about it.

Patricia Bright is a super popular Nigerian Fashion and Beauty Blogger based in London.  You’ve probably heard of her and if you haven’t then you will.  Many people have actually been very supportive of her boob job simply saying things like “Do you, boo” or “She grown and it’s her money” and others have said she looks beautiful, which is true, she does look beautiful.  But there are other people who feel like Patricia is fake telling us to “embrace the body we have” but then turning around and getting a boob job.

Personally, I don’t care what she does with her body.  I’m actually more impressed with the fact that she was brave enough to undergo surgery in the first place.  I’m terribly afraid of surgery and anything hospital related so kudos to her for having the balls to do it. I agree that it is her body and her money and she can do whatever she wants. Honestly, I didn’t even notice the change until she posted the pic of her in a revealing halter top that showed a lot of cleavage and it was finally obvious that she’d gotten a boob job.  But prior to that I hadn’t noticed.  I don’t really go around checking out other women’s boobs unless their wearing a blouse I wish I could squeeze my own boobs into.

Having said all that…it is somewhat contradictory to post videos like:

(Edit: Video title has been changed since this blog post was published.)

And then go get a boob job.  It sends a mixed message to the younger teens who watch her videos and adore her. Admittedly, it also made a grown woman like me feel a little confused too.

As someone who developed early I’ve always had trouble finding blouses that I could actually button up without busting through.  I often fantasized about getting a breast reduction.  I don’t have back problems or anything due to my breast size, I just wanted to wear strappy dresses and mesh tops and blouses.  Aesthetically, I thought smaller boobs would suit me.  I don’t think the smaller boobed ladies out there really appreciate how lucky they are to have the freedom to go bra-less, wear bikinis that fit without having spillage, wear cute bras (because for some reason manufacturers only make DD and DDD bras in ‘ugly’), and find a simple blouse that actually buttoned up all the way.  On both sides there are drawbacks.  The grass is always greener I guess.  I mean, aside from just clothing I also got a lot of unwanted attention from boys at a young age.  People would tap on my boobs like they were  bongos or pretend to squeeze them or sometimes my guy friends would pull me into inappropriately long hugs just to cop a feel.  It made me feel cheap and disrespected but we can go into all that in another blog.  For a long time I really just wanted a breast reduction so that I wouldn’t feel so self-conscious.  I said if I ever got the money to I would.  In the meantime, I’m on a weight loss journey that will naturally reduce my size somewhat.  But I still give the side eye to the B and C cup ladies who can still leave something to the imagination.

I first stumbled onto Patricia Bright’s Youtube page about three years ago when I was working for a Youtube network.  I wasn’t into fashion and make up then so I don’t know why I kept watching Patricia’s videos.  Something about her just made me want to listen.  Back then she talked more about God and Prayer and family and Faith.  I enjoyed her look books and tutorials but it was the videos about her personal life that really drew me in.  As her channel grew, so did her success (she now gets sponsorship from a ton of different brands).

Patricia always talked about loving ourselves the way we are and working with what we got.  I was encouraged to start exploring make up after watching her videos.  I started to believe that I could be beautiful at my size, with my natural hair and with my 38DDs (G-cup in some stores).  Living in Los Angeles totally stripped me of any confidence I had in my looks but over the past three years, just watching Patricia’s videos helped me change my way of thinking.  I wasn’t giving the side eye to smaller boobed chicks anymore!  I was working with what I had and finally starting to feel confident again.

So I can understand why this recent change has caused such a stir amongst Patricia’s youtube subscribers and instagram followers.  I have to admit, I felt momentarily crestfallen.  I thought, “Oh.  It’s work with what you got until you can afford to change it,” (which opened up a whole other can of pain for me because really – I work in retail, when am I gonna be able to afford a breast reduction, lyposuction, butt implants, a nose job and to remove that annoying bunion?)  For a split second it was back to square one for me.

But then I started to think about the bigger picture and how Patricia Bright’s shiny ample-sized boobs are just a small part of what’s going on with the internet. 7 years ago YouTube was a great escape from the same lame crap in TV. Also it was our platform to express ourselves blah blah blah. Now its totally exclusive. Hollywood totally had its fingers in it. We cant escape commercials. Celebrities are doing web series. And body image has is an issue that’s transferred from movies, print and TV to our so-called safe haven. I thought the internet (specifically YouTube) was the answer to the Hollywood exclusivity problem. I was wrong. But that too is another blog post.

Anyway, one thing is for sure, Patricia (and Beautycrush who also recently got a boob job) are confirmation that getting sponsors is a really well-paid gig.  Patricia has been going on all sorts of amazing trips, she’s been encouraging her readers to enter competitions with major brands, some of her videos have product placements and she’s been featured in several magazines.  She’s doing well. Seeing her grow and change over the years has been pretty awesome and inspiring.  I want to see good things happen to her even though I don’t know her.  But changing her body makes me worry now about how Youtube is becoming like TV and Films where body image issues will again rear its ugly head. Yutubes biggest beauty gurus have gotten boob jobs.  Whether they like it or not, they are sending a message to their viewers.

I went to bed a little sad last night after reading Patricia Bright’s instagram post.  I was more annoyed with myself for caring so much.  I got into Youtube to be entertained not to actually be influenced by people I don’t know.  But ultimately that’s what happened.  I started to think of Patricia Bright as my “big sister” in a way and after seeing that post I started feeling insecure about my boobs again. I started thinking that they may be big but they don’t sit up pretty without a decent push up bra.  I had that ugly horrible moment of comparing myself to other people again.  It sucked.  It sucked that someone’s actions had such an affect on me. Truth Bomb: staying positive and confident is my daily struggle.

If you’re a Patricia Bright fan (fanatic) please keep reading before you get all defensive here.  I know it’s up to me to get over my own issues.  I know that Patricia Bright never officially came out and said she wanted to be a role model.  I know that at the end of the day, she hasn’t done anything wrong.

But for every action there is a reaction.  It’s probably a good thing that I’ve had the reaction that I did toward Patricia Bright’s boob job because now I can reprogram my brain. I remember why I got into YouTube and can distance myself a little. I can be less obsessed with living life vicariously through Patricia Bright (because let’s face it, that’s what we’re all doing when we eagerly click on her videos salivating over her Primark and Top Shop Hauls and say “You’re so gorgeous!” over and over again after every instagram photo) and I can refocus my attention on own journey.

I have this bucket list I’m trying to get through.  I’m still on this (former) sidekick girl journey and I really have to stay vigilant about being positive and moving forward and not slipping back into old habits.  Habits like thinking I’m not pretty enough, or thin enough or have perky enough breasts…I can’t be that girl again.

I just want to reiterate that I am not judging Patricia and I don’t think she’s done anything wrong.  She’s a beautiful person and I’m really glad I found her Youtube channel.  What she said in her instagram post was so on point – Change Happens.

Yes.  It certainly does.

So why did I write this post about Patricia Bright’s boobs?  Because I wanted to.  Simple as that 🙂

I Could Be That Girl

“Head down…as I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground…”

Beyonce’s “Smash Into You” is playing on my Ipod and I’m 1 mile into the three I plan to run on the treadmill.  Earlier this week I’d run the three miles in 34 minutes – 6 minutes faster than last week and I wanted to beat that time on this night.  Incline at 2.0 – I’m panting and sweating and my sides are burning and I’m thinking somewhere in another dimension there is a version of me who could do 3 miles in 30 minutes in her sleep.

This other version of me has been healthy all her life.  No freshman 15 (or 20) to slow her down.  Her 20s were not a clusterf*ck of scrambling to write screenplay after screenplay — jumping from random job to random horrible job just to pay the bills (and barely doing that).  She was not disorganized or lazy and she didn’t suddenly decide to go to musical theater school and waste 2 years only to find that musical theater was not her passion.

This other version of me feels so far away.  So far ahead of where I am in life.  She’s probably engaged or married and ready to start a family.  She’s probably a homeowner and spends her weekends gardening.  This other version of me has probably been to London dozens of times.  She already has her Master’s Degree.  She doesn’t waste her time writing a bucket list or overthinking important life decisions so much she doesn’t get anything done.

I run faster and pant harder and sweat even more as I think about this other version of me.  If I could just push myself a little more….almost at the 2 mile mark….maybe I could reach her.

Maybe I could catch up to her.

Because two weeks ago it took me 45 minutes to run 3 miles.  And last Thursday I ran it in 40 minutes.  And earlier this week I ran it in 34 minutes.  I could run three miles in 30 minutes on this night.  Maybe I couldn’t do it in my sleep or without breaking a sweat but I could do it.  And if I could do that…I could catch up to this other version of Dawn Melissa…maybe even surpass her.

I didn’t do everything right – even though I imagined I would.  I made mistakes, got lost, took the wrong jobs and passed on the right ones.  I made the wrong friends and let the right ones go.  I didn’t become a famous writer…but it doesn’t mean I’m not the Dawn Melissa I was meant to be.  And this other version out there somewhere….she’s just fine.  I could be that girl.

But I’m OK with being me.

2 weeks into my training…I’ve lost 3.5 pounds and my best time running 3 miles….is 30 minutes.

And yay…today is my rest day.  I get to rest.

(Official) Bucket List

Is everyone calling these lists the bucket list?  I feel like there might be another name for it.

Anyway, I was reticent to post my bucket list because I was afraid that if I put it out there and I never accomplished some of these things that I would look like a jackass.

But I’ve decided that’s silly.

So here’s my Bucket List (or whatever you want to call it).  A (growing) list of things I’ve always wanted to do and things that I have a new found interest in doing.

1. Go to London

– March 2013, done!  I went for a month and even got a BONUS trip to Paris out of it.  Best trip of my life.  I cannot wait to go back!  Hopefully for a much longer stay.

2. Get a Tattoo

– April 2013, done!  I posted a picture of it- check out the post: “Tatted…Finally!”

3. Get down to 140lbs (Bonus if I get down to 130 lbs)

4. Shoot another short film (and get it into a bunch of film festivals!)

5. Get (at least) 100,000 youtube subscribers (Hey…you never know!)

6. Backpack through Europe (or some variation of that.  I don’t necessarily have to backpack)

7. Drive across the U.S. (or let someone else drive or take turns driving)

8. Learn to cook (like for real, not just a couple of recipes for learn to cool for real)

9. Learn Italian (or Spanish…or both)

10. Master RP (I will have an authentic sounding English accent!)

11. Win a (major) writing competition! (i.e. Nicholls Fellowship or Fox etc)

12. Land My Dream Job (whatever that may be, a job that makes me happy and I can look forward to go to everyday)

13. Try Bikram Yoga and/or run a marathon

14. Finish My Book (Check out my blog – Cabernet in the Dark, (Mostly) True Tales of a Side Kick Girl)

15. Make a new friend (I know, right?  Cue the violins)

16. Make a great first impression (People don’t usually warm up to me until about the 3rd or 4th meeting)

17. Make an impression on someone else (Inspire, enlighten, encourage, uplift!  How can I make you smile today?)

18. Get My Master’s Degree

19. Develop a new skill (Would you believe I’m not really that great with using Excel or Photoshop?  Shhhhh, don’t tell anybody.)

20. Find a new hobby or craft (other than cooking).

I may add more to the list but for now this what I’m looking forward to doing.  My vlog (youtube.com/DawnMelissaVlogs) is mostly about doing everything on this list so check back in with me every once in awhile!

Accompanying video coming soon!

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