Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Tattoo for Sisters

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Matching tattoos. 

My sister and I have rarely shared the same taste in anything. Music, movies, boys (with a few rare - and awful - exceptions) and even clothes. It took hours digging through one anothers closets to find something to borrow simply because our styles often clashed growing up. We were - and often still are - complete opposites. So when we had the idea to get matching tattoos, we each scoured Pinterest for ideas, ultimately coming up with very little that would fit us both. But then I came across a little idea off of Buzzfeed and we put our own little twist on it.

It's been four years since our folks moved to Colorado, ultimately abandoning my sister and I to the lonely wilderness of suburban New Mexico, both of us living literally blocks away from the childhood home we spent our formative teenage years in. The home we became sisters in. The home we each fell in love with the men who we've share our adult lives with.

So it made perfect sense to honor that home (despite that it no longer belonged to our family, and the current occupants have completely fucked up the landscape) by permanently inking it's coordinates to remind us of where we came from. The home that taught us about love and family, and ultimately (though I doubt the parents planned it that way) God.

Tattooed by the awesome Samm Skywalker at Blue Jay Tattoo in Rio Rancho, NM.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Confidence Is . . .

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Confidence has always been a struggle for me.

The majority of my twenties was spent looking at pictures of my teenage self and melodramatically weeping over the fact that I never took pictures of my 18 year old boobs that I could longingly admire in my late twenties, recalling their perkiness. I had plenty of other pictures to feel sad over. Pictures of beautifully tan skin, an un-dimpled ass, long thick hair, and a waist that was miraculously smaller than my hips.

But I always forget that teenage Jia was filled with self pity and hatred. She picked at her skin in the mirror obsessively, weighed herself compulsively, and cried herself to sleep over the fact that her friends were all skinnier than she was. Aside from that, teenage Jia hid herself away behind others who stood out more.

Most of my friends that I've remained in touch with recall me as this wild, outgoing girl with brightly colored hair and a personality to match. A confidence that I borrowed from my friends who were wilder, more outgoing and more brightly colored than I was. I stood in their shadows because the warmth of their light came without the fear of standing out on my own.

I faked it trying to make it, but I still went home feeling sorry for myself.

"Confidence... We Got This" An amazing project by Brittany Herself that I am beyond proud to have participated in! 

Confidence can still be struggle some days, but now I have tools to work through it.

When I started being my authentic self online I discovered that I wasn't alone. I began taking risks. Wearing red lipstick and dressing to show instead of to hide. And then one day several years ago, I dyed my hair pink. Pink isn't something you can hide. Confidence or not, you walk out of the house with pink hair, you are forcing the world to draw their eyes to you. And I lucked out. Because my beautiful community here in New Mexico is filled with artists, bright individuals with souls that are yearning for equally bright hair - and many do! Pink became my confidence, and soon I was taking more and more challenges to face my fears of self doubt. Bare arms, short hair, and bikinis!

"I wish I could have your confidence." 

My sister said that to me a few weeks ago. We were headed to the pool and I was wearing the same tankini that I've had for way too many years. Cleavage spilling out of my top and my belly exposed, I strutted toward the pool beside my little sister who weighs almost 100 pounds less than me.

"Do I look like shit?" I asked her.

"What?! No, of course not!" She replied.

"Then why should I feel like shit?" Was my answer.

It's something that's taken me WAY too long to learn - and I still have to remind myself every single day. Sometimes I have her remind me. Sometimes it's my best friend, or my husband. Sometimes it's hundreds of like-minded women in the beautiful tribe of curvacious kindred spirits that I've found online.

I want to tell teenage Jia that she won't always have to force that smile when she looks in the mirror. One day she'll catch herself by surprise.


So much thanks to Brittany and the girls at Curvy Girl Guide who daily inspire me to love myself. Please check out "Confidence... We Got This" and show support for everyone who chooses to step out of their comfort zone for this incredible project!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19th 1986 - You Could Save a Life

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This is the seventh year in a row I've done this. Posted about the death of my mother. This year it almost took me by surprise, which I suppose is a good thing. But here I am, doing what little I can do possibly reach one more person who will pledge to never drink and drive. Even if it only saves one life, that will be one life worth saving.



June 19th, 1986 was supposed to be a good day.

Lisa Crew had a hair appointment with her sister and afterward she was going to take her two year old daughter over to a friends house to have dinner. Perhaps later into the night they'd all go out to the local amusement park and spend the night riding the rides and eating bad park food.

The youngest of eight children, Lisa had turned twenty-one the year before but had already been living the life of an adult for several years. When she was eighteen years old, Lisa and her high school sweetheart found themselves with a surprise baby on the way. Born a month premature in the spring of eighty-four, the newlyweds did their best to create a family. But sometimes the happily ever after doesn't come out right the first time. By the time their baby was two years old, the couple were divorced.

Lisa wasn't going to let anything stand in her way though. She was already in college studying to become a elementary school teacher. She was a young single mother. She was unstoppable.

Always positive, Lisa had the energy of a ten year old. 4'11 and weighing no more than 110 pounds, she was working on becoming a female body builder. Stories of the events in her life would be passed on for years to come. The time she broke into her ex-boyfriends house by sneaking through his cat door. She once took on an abusive boyfriend of her sisters. He - being over six feet tall and weighing over 200 lbs - was arrested in her stead. The cops didn't believe that a feisty little redhead under five feet tall had beat him senseless.

June 19th, 1986

After leaving their home, Lisa and her daughter headed out in their tiny red car. Doug Smith - a drug addict - was driving at the same time, under an extreme amount of alcohol and cocaine in his system. When the cars collided, Lisa's daughter was tossed from her car seat under the dashboard where both of the two year old's legs and pelvic bone were broken. Lisa - crushed by the weight of the steering wheel - reached across the dashboard to shield her daughters eyes from falling glass.


No one knew whether Lisa died in the car, the helicopter that lifted her into the sky, or at the hospital where she was rushed into the emergency room. All they knew was that June 19th, 1986 a family lost a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt. A man lost the love of his life and any chance at reconciliation. Friends lost a light in the darkness.

 And a two year old little girl was left without her mother.

The world was now less perfect. 


Lisa's friends and family were called one at a time and given news that would change their lives, test their faith, and ultimately leave them in a state of shock and horrific confusion.

Lisa's ex-husband had been called at a friends house and given the message second hand, "Your wife is dead and your baby's in the hospital."

Lisa's funeral was held days later, and her two year old little girl wasn't even able to attend. Strapped into a body cast after surgeries to mend her shattered body, all she knew was that her Mom wasn't there anymore.

 Doug Smith was charged with vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, intent to use and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

A murderer was sentenced to only five years in prison.

When released in 1991, Doug Smith was arrested again for vehicular homicide, this time killing an entire family. After receiving another mild sentence for his crimes, he took his own life in prison.

No remorse for the lives he had taken, or for the mother he had stolen from a child.

I know all of this, because my mother - Lisa Margaret Sanders Crew - was murdered June 19th, 1986 by a drunk and drugged driver. And twenty seven years later, so many people still don't seem to care. They drink, they use drugs, and then they drive. A large percentage of the ones who do get caught, ultimately get away with it.

Former Miss America, Jennifer Berry said, "The fact remains that drunk driving is 100 percent preventable, yet it continues as a plague of human behavior that we as a society continue to tolerate."

I've outlived my mother by nine years, as I recently turned 30. Every year the week of June 19th, I honor my mother. I give myself a moment to cry, to be angry. All other days I remember, and I am thankful that my life was spared.

Pains in my body still plague me from my once broken bones. Other health problems caused by the collision continue to rise as the years move on, though the emotional scars are more apparent. And though I was raised by a wonderful Grandmother, and loving aunts, nothing replaces a Mother in a child's life.


Don't drink and drive.

I've been asked in previous years to pass on this message on a larger scale. Please take a moment to spread the message with me. Feel free to take a button below and post it on your blog or website, pass along the story (and link back here) and sign your name to pledge not to drink and drive!

Please Pledge to Never Drive Under the Influence

Dear Readers: I get emails all the time and your words are so kind about my mother. Instead of just leaving a comment here, please spread the message. Add this link to Facebook, blog about it, post the button on your sidebars and tweet the following message:

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