On Kissing Like a Horse (Sponsored)

The following post is the first in a series sponsored by Chase - a strong supporter of the Bully Project, a program committed to ending bullying and ultimately transforming society. Learn more here.
circa my "Kiss Like a Horse" days, 9th grade
My first published story was called Hopscotch and Tears. It was published in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II after my ninth grade teacher, Mr. Roberts, offered his entire class extra credit to submit a personal essay to an anthology. He wanted us to familiarize ourselves with the process of submitting and I had just finished reading the first Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul book.

Fast forward to years later when my story was finally published and the next three years when I contributed to the series as a staff writer, recounting my teenage experiences almost in real time. 

It was kind of like blogging except it took about nine months for the essays to see publication, which was ideal, in a way, because I could pour my heart into something that I would be long over by the time the book hit shelves. I could admit that I had feelings for boys I routinely hid feelings for. I could write about my experiences with the older girls at school without having to deal with the ramifications.

I wrote as a way to cope with some of the less ideal situations, heartache, bullying. I wrote about my experiences in high school and through the years published dozens of personal essays both pre and post graduation. Perhaps the most daunting (and mortifying) of them all was a story I wrote about being bullied. It was called I Kiss Like a Horse (Tough Stuff) and it was about being called for, yes, kissing like a horse.


Where I grew up, girl on girl meanness was prerequisite. From seventh grade on, we were told to fear the older girls and we did. We feared them all. We would avoid them when we could. Sit on the other side of the quad from them. Say nothing as they pushed by us snarling.
photo-1 with friends Mere & Kendra, 8th grade
IMG_4277 9th grade
10th with Kendra & Dani 

We were younger so they hated us. That's how it worked. You got pushed around until it was your turn to do the pushing. You got to be the butt of all rumors, to pay your dues as an underclassman, until you were old enough to do the bullying. To be the hard-ass bitch.

It was the emotional equivalent of trashcanning and where I went to school, it was status quo. My best friend Kendra, who was beautiful (but completely oblivious to this fact) got hit in the face with books on her way to class. ALL the time. She had sodas routinely dumped on her head and had to wear her PE clothes home from school frequently. She was beautiful and popular and boys liked her and that was just the way.

Same went for all of us who made the "mistake" of hooking up with older boys. Of being seen with older boys. Glanced at by older boys.

"Oh, you are SO dead," they'd say. "I'm going to kill you. WATCH YOUR BACK! We're gonna get you."

And I believed them. (Of course I believed them!)

There was one day when I had a full on panic attack on my way to PE class because some of the girls in the class were older. And in my head it was only a matter of time before they jumped me in the middle of class and pounded my face in.



But being sixteen is dramatic enough without waking up every morning to the word "SLUT" on the garage door of your parents' house. Without fending off crank calls from girls threatening to kill you. Dodging glass bottles at parties and having to be escorted to class by older boys for protection. That's pretty much how I spent my first year of high school. Because I liked the wrong guy and the wrong guy liked me back and game over, Becca Woolf, you are DONE.

"Oh, It's just girls being girls. You know how they are."

I wrote I Kiss Like a Horse because I was O.VER. the same old story. The "popular girls" vs the "nerds"... the "jock" who beats up the "freak". I never spoke up about being bullied in school because I never felt like I could. Because when it comes to bullying? Nobody wants to hear from the homecoming queen. (Insert eyeroll, right?) And although I assume bullying was rampant in every social circle, it was also brutal in mine.

Paralyzingly so.


I would like to think I was innocent. That by the time I was an older girl I knew better. And I did. Mostly. Although I did participate in several group toilet papering missions Junior year. 

It's just what we do, was the justification. 

"Because the older girls did it to us and now it's our turn."



When I Kiss Like a Horse was published, girls responded. Hundreds. Letters poured in from girls of all kinds. Some of whom were beat to a pulp because they wore the wrong thing, kissed the wrong boy, had the "wrong kind of face." Some that changed schools because they couldn't deal with the rumors. Some that turned to drugs. Hurt themselves.

"It's just girls being girls."

And this was before social media. This was before facebook and twitter and all the new ways in which to push and punch and pursue.


One of my biggest bullies in high school later became one of my closest friends. Because she wasn't a bad person. She was awesome, actually (Hi, Brooke!). Underneath her raging bitch suit, she was an amazing girl and is now an incredible woman. She just happened to hate me because once upon a time she, too, was hated. She, too, had beer bottles thrown at her face. She too had her name atop the same "whore list" three years in a row. And now? It was her turn.

I think of her often when the word "Bully" comes up because all these years later, I love her. I love the girl who made my Sophomore year hell. I love the girl I thought was going to kill me. She is one of the most incredible women I know.

And yet...

"It's just girls being girls."

"You know how girls are?"

"Girls are awful to each other."

Are they?

Do they have to be?

Is there a way around it?

Can you teach empathy? Compassion? Can you fix jealousy? Insecurity?

"It's just girls being girls."

I refuse to believe that. I can't. Especially now that I have daughters of my own, in no time flat, will be posing for the same pictures with their best friends. Not now that I see what a lasting effect all those years had on me, my relationships with other women, myself. Now that I know how incredible women can be. Girls, too. Even the "mean" ones. Even the bullies.


I don't know if my story kept anyone from bullying. Probably not. But it kept a few people from feeling alone. And it empowered me to feel I could speak on my own behalf. I felt liberated, even as I revisited my mortification. I went on to tour on behalf of the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul series. I visited local and not so local high schools, middle schools, brought the book, read my story.

...A story that was in no way extreme or brave or even surprising. In fact, there wasn't a single person in any group I spoke to that didn't raise their hand when I asked if they'd ever felt marginalized by their peers.

Not one.

"How do we stop this?" I'd ask.
There wasn't a single person in any audience who had an answer. No one even raised their hand.


Eat Well: Drink Your Veggies

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
My doctor recently prescribed a no sugar, no gluten, no fruit diet…which could alternatively be called the NO FUN diet. (I’ll let you know why when I finish getting the results of my tests back.) Removing sugar and gluten from my diet is hard enough, but I am a FRUIT MONSTER and love all fruits in every form. Normally in a given day I probably have three or four pieces, not to mention dried fruit in my morning groats. On my new regimen, I can have an occasional apple and a few strawberries once in a while as well as limes, lemons and grapefruit in moderation, but summer is almost here and that means bounties of plums and peaches, melons and apricots. I am depressed just thinking about a summer without them.

What I can have is vegetables…the more the merrier. And I am supposed to have fresh vegetable juice every day (without carrots or fruit). After a week of spending 6 dollars a glass at my local organic grocery store, I bought myself a juicer. I figure it will pay for itself in a few weeks. And I actually look forward to my juice—it’s the sweetest thing I am allowed to eat all day!

There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of juicing vs. blending. When you blend, you get all of the fiber, which is great for you, but it also fills you up so you don’t get as many vegetable vitamins as you do with juicing (it takes longer to digest the fiber). Also, a smoothie made from 100% vegetables is not that tasty. All the smoothie recipes I have found call for either fruit juice or fruit as the base with a few vegetables slipped in for more vitamins. Fruit smoothies are yummy but they are high in sugar so they’re banned from my diet, at least for now.

Vegetable juice, on the other hand, can be delicious without any added fruits. I like to start with some cucumber or a couple of stalks of celery as the base (an apple works great, too). These are high in water content so they add volume to your juice. You can add any vegetable you want. I can’t add carrots or beets because of their high sugar content but they are delicious in veggie juice. Remember that gigantic cabbage I had last week? It’s almost gone because I have been juicing it! It turns out that cabbage is fabulous to juice. It’s sweet and flavorful and amazingly good for you (it can cure a lot of gastric diseases including ulcers, colitis, IBS and even help people with Crohns disease). Parsley is great for your liver and adds a lovely flavor. Other veggies I like to juice are kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and dandelion greens (these are a little bitter but are great for you, especially if you are detoxing). And I always add a slice of ginger or a ½ a lime to my juice. They give it a kick and add more flavor. It’s fun to experiment every day with a new blend. What is great about juicing is that you get the vitamins immediately into your system…no digestion required. And vegetable juices cleanse and detox your body.

If you want to make your own juice at home, buy a juicer with a wide chute. I bought the Breville Juice Fountain Plus and I love it. It’s easy to use and clean. You can use the leftover fiber to put in soups or to thicken sauces, or add it to ground nuts or beans for a meatless loaf. (If you eat meat, you can add it to your meat loaf.). You can also add it to cakes and muffins. Or, you can compost it in the garden. I have a composter but if you don’t, just dig it into the ground. The fiber is so fine that it will decompose quickly and add nutrients to your soil.

Juicing requires a lot of vegetables, so if you have a garden, it’s an ideal way to use your bounty. If you are buying, it’s best to use organic vegetables since you are juicing the entire vegetable. Make sure all produce is washed well, and in the case of root vegetables, scrubbed. Only make enough juice for one day. Vegetable juice doesn’t keep well.

Wendy’s Favorite Vegetable Juice blend 

2 stalks celery
1/3 of a cucumber
1 hunk of cabbage (2-3 cups)
½ apple (more if sugar isn’t an issue)
½-1 inch hunk of fresh ginger (or ½ a peeled lime)
½ bunch parsley
2-4 kale leaves (or mix and match with chard and spinach)
(optional: 1 beet or 2 carrots (or both))
Juice the cucumber, celery, apple, and cabbage and ginger on high speed (all of the hard vegetables). Roll parsley and soft leaves into a ball before juicing and juice on lower speed if your juicer has that option. Push slowly for these softer vegetables.
Makes about 16 oz of juice.
There’s lots of room for experimentation in this recipe. Your taste buds will tell you what combination works best for you! Happy Juicing!


Liner Notes 5/29

Slowly coming back down to earth after what has been a very long few days. Long weekends are equal parts wonderful and overwhelming (wonderwhelming?) these days and although holiday weekends used to be the stuff of all-day adventures via mixtape infused roadtrips, i'm basking in the relief that is this pressure-free life. Surviving the day is adventure enough and I'm sure, eventually, we'll go back to weekend exploration-a-thons, I'm more than happy to spend the weekend hosing off ye olde rustic water table, spreading towels across the lawn and sitting barefoot in the grass with my favorite creaturefolk.
IMG_4163IMG_4217 IMG_4033 IMG_4162 IMG_4185 IMG_4168 IMG_4216
...Which is pretty much what we did this weekend. We enjoyed the backyard that in thirty days, will no longer be ours.
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(Holy shit.)
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We celebrated Archer's birthday on Saturday with his two best friends. By far the best birthday party ever. We ordered a pizza, cut up a bunch of watermelon, set up some soccer goals and sat on the deck while the kids ran around like banshees for the entire day. Low stress. High fun. Amen. 
ED: Every time one of the kids has a playdate at our house I marvel at how much easier it is to have, say, six kids, here, rather than four, mainly because it keeps the big kids occupied. The pressure is no longer on Hal and me to entertain while juggling babies. We can relax while juggling babies instead.
My sister was here at the end of last week which was awesome...
My mom was here, too, which was also awesome but I don't get to see my sister much so having her here was really special.
Rachel has the same happy in her heart that Fable has and seeing the two of them together is like watching a unicorn spoon with a rainbow trimmed in puffy-paint beside a flock of hologram flamingos.
IMG_4017 IMG_3417 (fablecorn)
We have to be out of our house in thirty days which is equal parts nerve-wracking and thrilling. I packed one box so far but spent much of the weekend throwing everything away in my head. Archer made a list of all the things we should keep and the list looks like this:

Car tracks
Water table
Soccer ball

Tempting. We've only been in this house for two years but with the arrival of two new little people, our stuff has seemingly tripled x infinity. (Our board game to human ratio is something like 800:1.) so the idea of doing a massive stuff detox is a lovely one. Especially as there is zero closet space in our new house. (Everything in the house is original, harking back to the 20s when minimalism was the only ism.)

But more on that later!

(One of these days I'll have news to share about the house we call Esteban. Just waiting on some final finality. So just go ahead and ignore everything I just told you.)
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We shot episode five of Childstyle on Friday in Huntington Beach which was a grand 'ol time. (Ed: speaking of ChildStyle, we shot episode four a few weeks ago and Jessica of The Eagle's Nest wrote a post about it! Awesome!) I'm really enjoying the act of working outside my house. Putting on makeup and clothes that aren't maternity leggings. Hanging out with awesome adult-sized people is wondrous.
On Friday Hal and I are flying to Miami for a Westin gig I'm doing with Babble. The timing could not be worse/better. Worse because, hello crazy life house babies moving packing house move. Better because, hello. 

Hal and I haven't been in an airplane together (sans kids) since we attended a wedding in Minneapolis in 2007 so even though we'll only be away for two nights and I'll be spending more than I'm making on babysitters to assist my amazing mom who offered to spend the weekend with all 87987398247 of my kids, it will be worth it. It's been a tough few months and mommy and daddy need some quiet time. And also some (ahem) loud time.

Something scary: Reverie is still an infant (shhhh. she's still an infant) and she's already climbing furniture wtf.
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Meanwhile, Bo is TRYING to climb furniture. She watches Revi out the corner of her eye and then tries to follow her crazy-assed lead. So far she has not been successful. But girlfriend is a determined little thing so we lowered her crib to match Revi's and I'm bracing myself for synchronized skydiving.  
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Something exciting: I lost seven pounds this month (after losing ZERO pounds the past three months. ZERO) which means I am officially back in my pre-pregnancy jeans. As in, I can BUTTON them.

Baby steps, right? I felt so fierce about my post-baby-still-kind-of-pregnant-but-getting-there-sohelpme body that I changed my facebook photo to something other than me holding a baby without makeup. It's the little things, yes?

It's the little things.
IMG_4100 currently: 162. goal: 139 (pre-pregnancy weight)

Because I decided the time has come to be FIERCE. I am writing a self-help book for myself in my head and it is called "YOU ARE FIERCE!"
And you know what? I feel a thousand times better than I did two weeks ago. Hell, I wore lipstick today AND a dress (SANS maternity-leggings) even though I left the house never.

You know why? Because the first commandment in my (personal) self-help book is also the FIERCT commandment this 29th of May, 2012 and it strictly states that the best way to work from home is to WERK from home."

I learned that from my daughter who is my muse in the fiercely awesome department.
Snap snap, girl.