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Why Do We Hate Ourselves?

I don’t know why, but I’ve been noticing a lot more than usual how negative women are about their bodies. I don’t think this is because I’ve started hanging around particularly negative people lately, I think it’s more to do with the fact that for whatever reason I have begun to notice it, where before I must have ignored it. After all, it’s endemic. If you stop and pay attention for that specifically you’ll start to hear women in the coffee shop, the elevator, the bathroom (especially the bathroom), etc. talk about how much they HATE some part of their body. Women hate their curly hair, their straight hair, their big noses, their small teeth, their fat ankles, their thick thighs, their non-existent butts, the wrinkles on their forehead, mouth, eyes, hands etc., etc., etc. I truly believe that if you listen long enough to enough women you will hear that there is at least one woman out there that hates every single part of the female body. I honestly don’t think there is a body part that will escape scrutiny, and that makes me sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely complained about my own body. For example, my ears don’t match. Seriously, they look completely different, like they’re from two totally different people. How does that even happen? As far as I know, ears are supposed to be a matched set, emphasis on matched! (Also, side note, do you have any idea how hard it is to take pictures of your own ears?)

Right Ear

Left ear
















I also have insanely long and skinny toes. They’ve been called everything from prehensile to gross, thank you to my sister for that one. Not to mention my feet are so narrow it’s impossible to find shoes that fit, so I always have redness or some sort of blister on my pinky toes that is impossible to hide when wearing sandals and always draws notice.



That being said, I don’t hate those things about myself. They are part of what make-up the quirky package that is Kat Michels, so how can I hate a part without eventually hating the whole? Let me say that again. How can you hate a part of yourself, without it eventually creeping in and causing a hatred of your whole self? Hate is an insidious thing, and if you give it purchase anywhere, it will eventually have purchase everywhere. So every time I hear a woman say that she hates some aspect of her appearance, it breaks my heart a little bit, because each utterance and each thought is a hammer blow on the chisel lodged in that woman’s self-worth. We as women determine our own self-worth, it comes from inside us. So every time we disparage ourselves, it gets chipped away a little bit.

I know that a lot of people will argue that they don’t actually ‘hate’ whatever body part it was that they mentioned. To them I ask, why do you say you do then? What do you actually mean if you don’t ‘hate’ it? Do you not like it, or do you wish it was different? How is that better? Why do we spend so much time fixating on the things that we don’t like? Especially things about our physical body that can’t be changed! How can you hate the wrinkles on your forehead? They are proof that you have gotten to spend time out in the sun – some of it hopefully in leisure – they are often times proof that you have smiled, sometimes they are proof that you were gravely ill, but were able to pull through, and they are irrevocable proof that you have lived long enough to get wrinkles. That is a privilege that is denied to so many, that I can’t understand where the hate comes from.


A similar argument can be made for any other body part that women hate, but better yet, let’s stop justifying things based on other people’s misfortunes. Let’s turn the focus on ourselves. Each and every body part, each aspect of our appearance makes up part of who we are. Yes, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts matter too. Not only do they matter, but how we talk about them to ourselves and to others matters. I truly believe that we need to learn to not only be nicer, but be more positive to ourselves. Instead of fixating on what we hate, we should be fixating on what we love, no matter how small. I’m not saying that you have to love each and every part of your body. That is asking way too much. But I have a feeling that if you shift your focus to the parts of you that you love, you’ll soon discover that those other parts of you all of a sudden don’t matter so much anymore. Because like hate, if you give love a place to roost, it will take over the whole damn place. And to me, that doesn’t sound too bad.


**It was brought to my attention that I should mention that I have not always felt this way or had this kind of confidence when it comes to my body. I spent all of middle and high school wishing that I could walk around with a paper bag over my head because my acne made me feel like I was hideous and gross. Even when I got to college and the acne was gone, I still didn’t have anything nice or complimentary to say about myself or my appearance. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, with the guidance of a therapist and several years of persistent work to change my inner monologue, that I made it to where I am today.

Ipso Facto

Over the past year or so I have noticed that I have had more people tell me that they are proud of me, then the sum total of times that that phrase has been uttered to me throughout my life. When it first started I was somewhat taken aback. I didn’t feel as if I was really doing anything that was all that different from what I had been doing before. As the trend continued I started to suppose that maybe I was simply spending time with people who were more liberal with their praise. Upon closer inspection, this wasn’t true. Some of the people who were saying this were people I had known for years. So if the people weren’t different, than clearly I must have been doing something different.

It was then that I realized that this trend started right around the same time that I had embraced my dream. I’m a writer, and as such I have always written, but for the majority of my life it has been in a casual way. I would write our family’s Christmas letter, poems, short stories, papers for school, etc. I had never looked at writing as a profession. As something to pursue as a vocation. It has only been in the past two years that I have changed that thinking. That I have started to pursue writing as a career.


In that pursuit I have acknowledged, what I must have inherently known all along, that to be an author is not just my dream job, it is my calling. It is what I was meant to do. The more I have embraced this, the more prolific I have become. The more prolific the more open I have become in sharing my work. The more I have shared my work, the more confidence I have gained in my work. One leads to the next and with each step it feels less like a dream and more like reality. The more it feels like reality, the more pride I feel in myself.

I am proud of myself, so ipso facto other people are proud of me. It makes a certain amount of sense. Although, perhaps the better line of inquiry is why I was questioning people being proud of me . . .

Believed She Could

Do The Work

And then you have that moment that freezes you. A hundred things to do, a hundred distractions, brain going a hundred miles a minute and then it all just stops. The spinning, the panic, the deadlines, the need to rush, rush, rush. All of a sudden you freeze and even if the wolves were at your door, you can’t get moving again. You’ve lost all momentum. Then your brain starts to ramp up. Things to do, prioritizing tasks, consequences of ignoring tasks move across your consciousness, then begin to run and swirl until it is all one big jumble. But your body remains frozen. It won’t be compelled to action, because unlike your brain, your body responds to your heart, and the truth of the matter is that it is your heart that is frozen through. Terrified, petrified, stuck wide-eyed in the middle of the highway waiting for the impending doom. Your brain knows what needs to be done.

Your brain knows the work that will make your heart beat again. Will make your heart sing again. But the body won’t listen to the brain, its taking its cues from the heart. A classic chicken or egg conundrum. The heart won’t beat until the work is done, but the brain can’t do the work until the heart beats. Silence, silence all around. The brain screams at the body, “Do the work! Do the work and the heart will follow!” Slowly there is a flutter, not in the heart but in the hands. The brain is getting through, the hands will listen. The hands do not need the heart, they are tools to be used.  They move, they type, the page slowly fills. The brain keeps up its insistent mantra, “Do the work. Do the work. Do the work. The heart will follow”

The pages fill. The head discards them. The hands fill more pages. The head discards them. The work is being done, but without the heart it isn’t any good. The brain starts to waver, the conviction is lost, “But I’ve done the work, why hasn’t the heart followed. Why won’t the heart beat?” Through the despair a tiny voice breaks in from the hands.

“It’s not enough. We must do more work.”

With no better option to put to plan, the brain starts up its mantra once more. This time a drone,

“Do the work. Do the work. Do the work.”

Over and over and over again. The pages are filled the head discards. The pages are filled, the head discards. The hands ache with cramps and the brain’s mantra has turned into soft, but steady pounding on the wall. The brain is so intent on moving forward, building the momentum, building the framework, keeping the work going, that it fails to notice the tiniest of beats coming from the chest. Faint and weak to start. The fear is still strong, the heart doesn’t know if it’s safe to move. But the endless monotony coming from the brain acts as a catalyst, a promise of protection with its unending chant.

“Do the work. Do the work. Do the work. Do the work.”

The heart takes a risk and takes a step. It is smooth and solid ground. The beat strengthens as a second and a third step are taken in complete safety. The road has been paved. Slowly the heart begins to explore and the beat grows strong, infusing the body and thawing the blood. The fogs roll away and the way is clear. The heart can now skip and dance, free in this world. The hands cease aching and fly across the keys. The pages fill. The pages fill. The head goes to discard and stops. It’s amazed. The work is good. The brain quietly lets its mantra die into nothingness and with this new silence it hears the beat of the heart. Relief and gratitude fills the brain. The terror has past, the fear is gone.

The brain looks to the heart, “You followed.”

The heart looks to the brain, “You did the work.”

Do The Work

Pity Party, Table of One

This is apparently my week to contemplate moods. A friend of mine asked me yesterday, in all earnestness, how she could snap out of her bad mood. Without a moment’s hesitation I shot back at her a smart ass response of:

“Decide to be in a good mood.”

At the time, I had definitely intended that remark to be sarcastic, but in retrospect, the advice is sound. How do you get out of a bad mood? You stop being in a bad mood. I think it’s actually that simple. Instead of focusing on what is wrong about today, instead of focusing on who is to blame, instead of being hard on yourself, you can choose to focus on something else. I truly feel that whatever you chose to focus on, will determine your mood. It’s really hard to be in a bad mood when you’re thinking about happy things. Focus on how good your coffee tastes. Focus on, and congratulate yourself on, the cute outfit you put together. Focus on the positives of the task you’re working on and all of the things you’ve already completed, and I truly believe that you can walk out of a shit-storm clean. You just have to make the choice to focus your brain on the positives in your life and let the negatives roll off your back. Which is much easier said than done.

I tend to find humor is just about everything. So much so, that I have had the comment made in my general direction that I was being inappropriate. Have you ever noticed how people who make judgments like that will rarely say it to your face, but always say it to someone else in a way that you are sure to hear? Drives me nuts! At any rate, I try to find the humor no matter how bleak the situation. There are times when the proverbial last straw fell so long ago that the poor camel has been in traction for months, yet more straw comes down. There are times when you have battled through so much and overcome so many obstacles, yet your path is still blocked. In these times you are faced with two choices: you can either laugh or cry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done enough crying. So I choose to laugh.


I choose to laugh in the darkest of moments, the hardest of places. It might be bittersweet, but it’s laughter. So why can’t I do the same on a day to day basis? When my day sucks, when everything seems to be working against me and I’m tired and worn out, who’s to say that I can’t laugh? That I can’t stare down the crappiness and proclaim that I will not let it get the best of me. Not today! That I am going to smile and I am going to find something good to fixate on. To cling to like a buoy in the ocean if I have to, but I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself. Because in most cases, that is really what is at the root of a bad mood. I wasn’t treated the way that I would like to be treated. I didn’t get what I wanted. I have to do something that I don’t want to do. I am being kept from my true calling, and so I am going to feel sorry for myself. Pity party, table of one. My bad mood and I will each have a glass of wine so that we can stew in our stupor of self-righteous indignation.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are times when it is justified and you truly have been treated like crap, and taken advantage of and been kept from your dreams. However, even in those instances, you don’t have to stay there. You can get up and leave and choose to be somewhere else. I need to work on that. I need to remember to keep choosing to be somewhere better. I need to choose to laugh more often. I think we all do.

Life is a Cliché

There comes a time in everybody’s life when you realize that you are going to have to finally face the music and either accept the life that you have, or start making some serious changes to become the person that you want to be. You can change your look, your location, your job, you can even buy all the latest toys with the coolest bells and whistles available, but until you start to change your own thought patterns and processes you’ll still be the same person. You’ll just look different and be surrounded by cool stuff. But what happens if you choose to make those changes?

I recently made that choice, specifically pertaining to my attitude toward my job, and let me tell you, it has been like a breath of fresh air. I get more done and I’m happier. You see, I am still in a sustenance day job. It isn’t anything that I specifically enjoy doing, but I also don’t hate what I’m doing. The problem lies in the fact that I know what I would rather be doing, but I haven’t gotten to the point that that pays the bills. So until then, sustenance job, and somehow I managed to find that needle in a haystack job that pays the bills, but doesn’t consume my life. It doesn’t stress me out, and when I leave, I leave it all on my desk. Work doesn’t come home with me.


Despite this, for a good long while, I have hated my job. Because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing and it took up precious time that I could have been devoting toward my writing. The game changer for me happened when I realized that by hating my job I WAS taking it home with me. I was creating more stress than necessary and allocating unnecessary head space to a sustenance job. How ridiculous is that? So I decided to stop. I decided to stop dreading coming in in the morning. I decided to stop counting the hours and the minutes until I got to go home. I felt a bit like a fish out of water for a while, but I’ve started to get used to this new attitude and getting out of bed in the morning is so much easier now. Not to mention that my days are much more pleasant!

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like every day has become a bed of roses for me. I still have my down days, and every now and then I find myself in bed like a petulant child telling my alarm clock that I don’t wanna get up! But things are better. The fact that I’m getting up earlier also means that I have time to make some coffee to drink on my way in to work, so I’m sure that that helps too. But really, it’s the attitude change that has really made the difference. This is a step. And quite frankly this step is probably the calm before the storm, because I’m a hop, skip and a jump away from being able to venture out on my own and I definitely feel like there won’t be very much calm then. Lots and lots of busy, but good busy so I’m looking forward to it. The trick will be to keep that attitude once I’m there! What attitudes can you change that will make your life better?


*This blog brought to you by @SteveLeeHwd who challenged me to write a blog using all nine of the clichés listed in this article from HuffPo.


I’m Still Gonna Eat Cookies

Over the course of this year I have been put on three different medications, and all three of them came with the oh-so-wonderful side-effect of weight gain. Lucky me! Because of that I now weigh more than I ever have in my entire life. I am overweight. Not to the point that my weight is causing health problems, but to the point that losing some weight should be a top priority. So, exercise and eating a clean, healthy diet are at the forefront of my life, right? Wrong. I was recently diagnosed with costochondritis, a swelling of the cartilage around my sternum and lower ribs. Yes, it hurts. A lot. Wanna know what the cure is? Rest, and don’t use your ribs as much as humanly possible until the symptoms go away . . . which could take up to six months. That’s right, I’m not allowed to exercise for up to six months.

Cookie w Oranges

So I find myself in a year with unprecedented weight gain, unable to exercise. Crap! That means that the only hope I have of getting back into my size 10/12 clothes anywhere in the near future is to watch my diet like a hawk. No sweets, no fried foods, no grease. Sign me up for salads, lean proteins and diet shakes. Right? Wrong.

I am choosing to embrace my new size.

Instead of stressing myself out and hating the way that I look in my size 14/16 clothes, I am choosing to love my body the way that it is right now. A really strange concept for someone who lives in Los Angeles, let me tell you. But this is the first time in almost a year that I have actually felt healthy for more than a day or two in a row, and that is more important to me than fitting back into a size 10.

Do I still plan on watching what I eat and filling my diet with fruits, vegetables and lean proteins? Of course. But I’m not going to deny myself a cookie every now and then. Or a burger with fries or pizza while out with friends. I have no intention of denying myself or being miserable simply because of a number that is sewn into my clothes. That number doesn’t dictate who I am, no matter how big or how small. Do I plan on exercising as soon as I’m able? YES!!! I can’t tell you how much I would love to have my ass kicked by a Pilates instructor right now. Or how fantastic going to the gym and zoning out on a rowing machine sounds. That would be absolutely blissful! But I can’t. I’m one month post-diagnosis and walking my dogs is still too much for me.

So I am choosing to embrace my current reality. I am choosing to embrace the rest and relaxation that have been prescribed. (For all those who know me, pick your jaws up off the floor.) I am choosing to embrace my size. I am choosing to embrace the way that my body looks right now. There is time for weight-loss later. For now I am going to heal, and that’s going to happen a lot faster if I’m not miserable and stressed-out.


When Inspiration Strikes

There’s something that happens when everything falls into place and finally makes sense. When the path clears before you and no leap of faith is necessary because you can see every step that you will take for the next few feet, few miles, few years. You finally know who you are and what you are supposed to be doing. And all of a sudden everything else feels superfluous. It doesn’t matter and you have no idea why you’ve spent so much time and energy and stress on something so . . . inconsequential. The clarity becomes a numbing certainty and you realize that deep down you knew, you’ve always known.

This has been a part of you since day one, you just needed someone to open your eyes. Open your soul, peer inside and extract the very essence that pulses through your veins. That thing that makes getting up in the morning not just bearable, but joyful. That makes your job your work. Your life’s work. Your legacy that you will leave behind to impress upon the minds of all those who are yet to come. All those who are just a glimmer in their parent’s eyes. All those who will come from the eyes that do not yet exist to hold a glimmer. That kind of work. That kind of clarity. That kind of purpose. The path is clear. Just place each foot in front of the other.


A Room of One’s Own

When I was in college, the first time around, I took a women’s lit class.  Cause that’s what you do as a young woman studying at a Liberal Arts school!  For the most part I found my classmates, who were English majors not theater like me, wholly pretentious, elitist and out of touch with any sort of reality that I was familiar with.  Yes, I realize the irony of me calling someone pretentious and elitist, but that should give you an idea of the attitudes of these girls!  I would have completely hated the class, had it not been for the professor.  She was amazing, and secretly I think she felt the same way about most of the class.  Whenever they would go off pontificating about something completely ridiculous she would always look to me to wave the bullshit flag. Which I was more than happy to do, and whenever I would voice my opposition she was right there to back me up as the entire class would lash out at me.  She made it safe to disagree, to step away from the majority and think on your own. Lorna was a great professor!


However, I will always remember her as the person who  introduced me to Virginia Woolf, specifically A Room of One’s Own.  I LOVE Woolf’s writing and sitting down with A Room of One’s Own I felt like she was speaking directly to me with every sentence she wrote.  I don’t usually write in books, but this one I had to.  It was a compulsion, a need.  I had to engage, lay down my thoughts next to hers; make it a dialogue instead of a monologue.  Underline the sentences that spoke to my soul and block out the passages that gave my heart reason to sing.  All I wanted in this world was a room of my own and a desk to sit at for hours.  I read it cover to cover in one sitting, and then I read it again.  At the time I was studying to be an actress, so I don’t think I quite comprehended why it spoke to me so completely.  Now that I’ve hung up my character shoes and lost myself to pen and paper it makes perfect sense.

I’ve been thinking about Woolf this week.  Not because I’ve picked it up to reread, but because I finally cleaned off my desk.  It sounds stupid, but trust me it was a daunting task!  So this week I’ve been writing tucked away in my corner with my little lamp on, instead of kicked back on the couch with a computer on my lap and a puggle on each side.  It is truly astounding the difference that this has made.  That desk, that corner has only ever been used for writing, so sitting there has a purpose.  The simple act of scooting the chair in triggers a mechanism in my brain to start thinking in prose.  To become characters and allow their stories to unfold before me.  It feels right, because it is right.  No distractions, no excuses I’m there to write.  I haven’t quite gotten to a room of my own, but for now I’ll settle for a corner of my own.


Tammera - http://www.redbubble.com/people/tammera

A Room of One’s Own – Tammera – http://www.redbubble.com/people/tammera

To Young Women – Cultivate Goals, Not Dreams

In my quest to build a platform for my work I have found myself chatting with a cornucopia of people from across the globe. More than a handful of those people that I have chatted with have been young woman – late teens into their early twenties.  Quite a bit of my work speaks to them, especially Heroines of History. So we chat about that, we chat about literature, we chat about what they’re studying in school and what they want to do once they’re out of school.  Without fail these young women open up and tell me the career that they long for and then type something along the lines of, “Well, that’s the dream.” I can feel the longing dripping from the screen.  It’s not like they are saying that they want to be a princess, bring peace to the Middle East or eradicate world hunger. Instead their dreams are to own their own business, or be a publisher. To these women I always have the same response, “You are using the wrong word.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, words are incredibly powerful. Make sure you choose the correct one.  To these women I say that that is not a dream. That is a goal and the first is much different than the second.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, a dream that one day America would live up to those sacred words put down by our forefathers that this nation was founded on the belief that all men are created equal. MLK Jr. knew words.  He knew the power behind them and he chose carefully.  He did indeed have a dream, not a goal.  A dream implies that something is unrealistic; something that you hope for even though you know it is unattainable.  A goal implies something that you work toward, something that can be achieved. Martin Luther King Jr. did not have a goal because he knew that what he wished for was not attainable in his lifetime.  He knew that it was unrealistic to think that he would cross that finish line himself. But that didn’t stop him from dreaming; didn’t stop him from acting and moving forward so that one day his dream would become someone else’s goal and the race would finally be run. That is a dream. An admirable dream, and one that I hope we can achieve some day.

When a young woman tells me that her dream is to publish young adult novels I can’t help but tell her that she is using the wrong word.  That is not a dream.  That is an attainable goal. A goal that she can work towards and achieve in her lifetime, and she doesn’t need luck or well wishes from me. Instead, I wish her patience to stay the course, because any goal that is truly worth achieving takes time. I wish her perseverance to push through the hard times and never give up. I wish her the insight to recognize opportunities when they appear and most of all I wish her the courage to go after those opportunities, or create her own, with all of her heart.

This is what I tell young women. Learn the difference between a dream and a goal.  Dreams are to be enjoyed, never stop dreaming.  But goals are to be achieved, and the only way to do that is to work like you’ve never worked before.

Stairway to the sky

More than Black and White

Years ago, when I first started to have the beginning glimmers of what is now my novel; I knew that I wanted to have a bad guy like Col. Tavington from “The Patriot.”  You know, he’s the one that orders that the church be burned with all of the inhabitants of the town inside.  He is nasty, ruthless and shows no remorse.  He’s a bad guy that you love to hate.  In fact when he dies at the end, you can’t help but cheer on Mel Gibson for exacting his revenge against this loathsome man.

Fast forward to present day, and I have just recently re-watched “The Patriot.”  Only this time, I wasn’t nearly as impressed by Col. Tavington.  Yes, I found him just as nasty. Yes I still think that he is well deserving of “bad guy” status. But I didn’t find him nearly as interesting as I had years ago, because he is very one-sided.  He does these horrible things out of ambition.  The only remorse or regret we see is when Cornwallis tells him that he probably won’t get rewarded because he methods are so inhumane.  As an audience we never get to see any other side of him.  Which means that after subsequent viewings the intrigue of this character wears off.  He is a quintessential bad guy who does bad things and we accept that he does them because he is obviously evil through and through.

Boo! Hiss!

Boo! Hiss!

Yawn!  Now I realize that this is a movie, so they don’t have time to delve into the complexities of his character.  However, I have come to expect more from my bad guys.  My character Captain Henry was originally based off of Tavington, but I am happy to say that even I have trouble seeing the resemblance now.  Captain Henry does some horrible things, but we get to see other facets of his character as well.  He shows remorse for some of the things that he does, and he shows absolutely no remorse for some of the other things that he does.  He’s complicated, and I love that about his character.

When I first started writing, if anybody had asked me to name the protagonist and antagonist I would have very easily said Kady and Captain Henry.  Now I’m not so sure.  Kady is definitely my protagonist, that one is easy.  But I don’t know about Captain Henry any more.  He does bad things, but does that make him a bad guy?  Does that make him the antagonist of the story when there are other characters vying for the position? I don’t know.  I feel like as the author I should know, but then part of me thinks that it doesn’t really matter.  It’s my job to tell the story.  Let someone else figure out the labels.

I do know one thing though.  Captain Henry is not black and white.  Hopefully none of my characters are, but him in particular – lots of grey!