You Are Loved <3

“UNIVERSAL LESSON:  YOU SEE THE WORLD THAT YOU HAVE MADE, BUT YOU DO NOT SEE YOURSELF AS THE IMAGE-MAKER.” 

Gabrielle Bernstein, “The Universe Has Your Back”

Personal development has never been something I pursued intentionally.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to acknowledge during my health and fitness journey is that in addition to weighing almost 300 lbs, I was toting around at least that much weight in emotional baggage.  It was literally weighing me down, drowning me in depression and despair.  Unwilling and unable to even leave my house most days, because I was so ashamed and embarrassed at how much I’d let myself go. I kept trying to claw and dig my way to the surface, only to be dragged back down again by the hands of my perception and self-loathing.  It was a cycle I didn’t know how to break.  I didn’t weigh 300 pounds just because I loved food, and I knew that part of my health journey was going to include delving deep into my heart and rooting out the negative and self-destructive emotions that brought me to the edge of the precipice I found myself on the eve before I decided to have Gastric-Sleeve surgery.  I didn’t want to ever end up back in that place, literally hanging over a dark abyss of self-hatred and fear.  I knew losing the weight was only half the battle, delving into my personal “why” was the key.  Why had I allowed this to happen to my body?  Why did I do this to myself?  I was hiding behind the extra weight.  Hiding behind the poor choices.  I needed to figure out why.  I couldn’t let this happen to me again.

Gabrielle Bernstein says something over and over in her book (The Universe Has Your Back) that really stuck with me, “Energy flows where your attention goes.”  Our perceptions create our reality or projection.  Gabrielle compares it to a movie reel.  What we perceive is what we project on the movie screens of our life.  If you find yourself struggling, whether it’s with your weight, your marriage, your relationships, your life…ask yourself, what movie have I been projecting?  I began to really think about what fear motivated me in a negative way to make the poor decisions that led me to this crossroads in my life.  I knew I had choices.  I could keep doing what I’d been doing and continue to live in the shadows, afraid to step out.  Or, I could take a different path.  I could step out of my 300 pound shadow.  I could stop being a spectator in my very own existence and make the decision to actually live!  I could make the decision to be fully present, living my best life, not just watching from the sidelines.

Somewhere along the line between childhood and adulthood, I decided that love was conditional.  I developed along the way this idea that I had to walk the tightrope of perfection in certain relationships in order to be loved and feel love.  If I missed a step, if I failed to say the right thing or do the right thing, that love was withheld from me.  It was taken away.  Whether in my mind or in reality, it was my perception and it colored my attitudes and emotions.  Food became a comfort, a coping mechanism.  Metaphorically, I could hide my shame and low sense of self-worth behind my weight.  If no one could see me, they couldn’t hurt me.  Obviously, I see the fallacy in my thinking, but when you are trapped in a particular mindset, it’s extremely difficult to see your way around it.  The self-destructive behaviors make a weird sort of sense.  You begin to find comfort in the things that ultimately will bring you down.

It’s difficult to explain in words, and I’m probably botching it up, but it’s really painful to open yourself up in this way and bare your soul.  I carry these feelings in the deepest parts of myself.  I’m always waiting for friends and family to realize how screwed up I really am and turn away from me, realize I’m not worth loving and walk away.  This is the movie, I play in my head.  This is my projection colored by my perceptions.  I don’t want to live this way.  I don’t want to gain the weight back.  I still have weight to lose, work to do and part of that work is being 100% honest and transparent.  I don’t want to always feel as if I have to hide behind humor and self-deprecation.  I want to shine a spotlight on the deepest and darkest parts of me, so I can change my “movie”, my perceptions and project a different outcome.

Sharing my thoughts and feelings in such a public forum allows me to feel empowered.  I want to reshape these negative thoughts and structure my life in a more positive and productive way.  As it turns out, losing 100 pounds was the easy part.  Changing my perceptions is where the hard work really begins.  If I want something I’ve never had, I have to do things I’ve never done.  I find inspiration in the support of others.  A big part of me expects failure.  It would be easy to listen to that voice.  That voice tends to get louder when I shut myself off from loving and being loved by others.  The stories I sometimes allow myself to believe about myself block me from feeling supported and happy.

It is difficult sometimes for me to reconcile the fact that I’ve come so far in my health and fitness journey.  I’ve lost over 100 pounds!  I don’t celebrate this amazing achievement often enough.  I usually say something along the lines of “yeah, I’ve lost 100 pounds, but I still have another 50 or so to go.”  My emotional health is an integral part of my overall health and fitness.  I can’t ignore it.  To ignore it leads me right back to where I started and I don’t want to ever visit or live there again.  I need to acknowledge and congratulate myself on the hard work that has gotten me this far.  That sense of accomplishment needs to be the light I shine on the projection I want to play in my daily life.  I don’t want to stay stuck in the negative rut of that old reality.  I want to break down those walls, squash those feelings and crush that mindset.  I have to be purposeful about connecting to the positive images of my success and accomplishments rather than focusing on the negative and destructive.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will I be.  I am perfectly imperfect, a child of God, and learning to love myself, forgive myself is essential to my growth and progress to being the person I was meant to be.

Writing the positive story of my life makes for a happier, more joyful me which radiates a power and light that forbids me from hiding in the shadows of my old self, hiding behind those old fears and spiraling down the staircase of destruction.  Being present in my life, being an active participant is my power and from that power I derive my motivation and my inspiration to continue down this new, unchartered path.  Seeking the approval of others is an integral part of who I am, connecting to those feelings, recognizing and acknowledging those feelings without letting the outcomes control me is key.

I’m worthy of being loved

The above statement, a mantra I repeat to myself daily, sometimes multiple times per day.  I am flawed.  I am imperfect.  I make mistakes.  None of those things discounts me as a person worthy of loving herself and accepting love from others.  In losing 100 pounds, this is what I’ve discovered.  I choose to look back and see my 300 pound self cheering me on, wanting me to succeed instead of trying to trip me up or praying I fail.  I understand that my intentions, my perceptions color my reality.  By being the change I want to see in myself and the world around me, I turn outward judgment into self-reflection and action against the only thing I can ever truly control, myself.

If you are feeling stuck, unloved or in a place where you harshly judge not only yourself but those around you, I hope you find comfort and solace in what I’ve shared here today.  I hope you take the time to stop and think about the movie you’ve created of your life and the part you want to play in it, realizing the power to change the direction and the outcome does truly lie within you.  Empowering yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.  Forgive yourself.  Love yourself.  So that you may more freely forgive and love others.  Choosing to be intentional, empowering yourself and those around you, projecting the life you want and desire is a daily practice.  I find myself having to redirect my negative thoughts and actions over and over again throughout the course of a day.  Some days are better than others.  Don’t let fear be the guiding principle of your internal dialogue.  The point is to be intentional and purposeful in the changes you want to see and that will direct your thoughts and actions in a positive direction.  Taking responsibility for the lives we’ve created can be scary.  It’s much easier to blame those around us, or our circumstances.  Believe me, I know.  By acknowledging that my perceptions of self-worth, my negative thoughts and feelings and my destructive habits and choices were shaping the reality of my existence, my world, I was able to choose a different path, including the experiences in healing my heart, body and soul that resulted in the loss of 100 pounds and the journey to find the me God intended when he created me in His image.

The bottom line.

You are not alone.  You are loved. ❤

Something To Talk About

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

You have 24 hours to spend with an ancestor. What do you talk about?

It was submitted by: It was submitted by: http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

I’ve been thinking about my Great-Grandmother quite a bit lately.  She passed away over 20 years ago.  I know her in the way a child knows a grandparent.  I wish I had known her as an adult.  I remember sitting on her front porch, shelling pecans or snapping beans, listening to her talk, telling stories.  I’d love another chance to do that again, even just for 24 hours.

I don’t know much about my ancestry, but even if I did, I can’t imagine wanting to spend time with anyone else.  Grandma Dowell left a huge impression on my young mind and heart.  Every morning, I’d wake up on our visits to find her reading her bible.  I can thank her for my love of bacon, the kind fried up in a skillet, steeped in grease and love.  Yum!  I can only really remember her being on the porch or in the kitchen.  She was always working, never stopping, those bent and gnarled arthritic hands constantly in action.  I loved going through her purses, she also kept gum or mints stashed in them.  She had a little apartment attached to her house, my sister and I would spend hours playing in there.  I sat, entranced, in front of her television, watching MTV.  You know, back when MTV played music videos.  Videos like Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” or “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.  Oh!  Another good one, “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran.  I know I’m totally dating myself.  Remember “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel?  “When The Doves Cry” by Prince makes me all nostalgic.  I would slip into a music video coma when “Take On Me” by a-ha would come on.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention “Like A Prayer” by Madonna or “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, which was also my first album by the way.  Ah, the memories.  Good times.

She loved me.  I don’t remember her being overly affectionate, verbally or otherwise, but I never doubted that she loved me.  She cooked all my favorite foods.  She spent time with me.  She listened to me.  She spoke to me as if I were an equal, as if my thoughts and feelings mattered, making me feel grown up and treasured.  She had such patience for my litany of questions, cautioning me once that “curiosity killed the cat.” I’d laugh and say but “satisfaction brought it back.” I miss her.  I’ve been thinking about her so much lately, even before I got this prompt.  I’m not sure why.

I wish my kids could have known her.  I wonder what she would think of me now.  All grown up.  Would she be proud?  She kept a box of letters and pictures.  She told me she was keeping them for me because she knew I would be a writer someday, and I’d want them.  I don’t know what happened to that box.  I wish I had it.  She believed in me before I even understand what to believe about myself.  I feel like I’ve let her down.  I let life get in the way.  I let my doubts and insecurities hold me back.  Would she lecture me?  Admonish me?  What words of wisdom would she have for me?  There is so much I want to tell her.  I need her advice, her wise counsel.  She’d probably tell me to get over myself.  She wasn’t shy about giving her opinions.  I loved that about her.

I remember her house dresses.  Someone should bring those back.  I’m a big fan of pajamas that are socially acceptable in public.  I also remember the first time she took her teeth out in front of me.  That was horrifying.  I didn’t know anything about dentures!  I wasn’t allowed to put my elbows on the table, but she could place her teeth on it!  That didn’t seem fair.  She just laughed and laughed.  Her toothless smile wide as she patted me on the head.

I remember sitting crouched in the hallway during a tornado warning.  It was so scary, a tornado literally touched down behind and in front of her house, just missing us.  At least that’s how I remember it.  During the whole ordeal, grandma was in the kitchen making popcorn.  The old-fashioned way, on the stove-top, completely unaffected by the chaos upending everything outside her four walls.  I remember waking up to finding a huge snake in her kitchen.  I don’t remember how she got the snake out or what happened to the snake, but I remember how calm she was in the midst of my hysteria and panic.  That’s the best way to describe her, she was a rock, a stable force in my childhood.

I would ask her to cram all of our shared memories into 24 hours so I could record them and keep them forever.  I’d want to hear more about her life and her marriage.  She was born around 1894, when I think about all the things she witnessed, the history she lived, things I’ve only read about, I’m filled with wonder and curiosity for what life must have really been like for her.  For my birthday every year, she’d send me $1 and a pair of pantyhose.  $1 was a lot of money to her and pantyhose a luxury item.  Things I didn’t appreciate as a child growing up in a generation of X’ers, the world of plenty.  Going to visit her was like going back in time, a slower pace, more thoughtful and deliberate.  Peaceful and serene.  I’m probably waxing poetic about my time spent there in a way that memory allows, I don’t know how reliable are my thoughts and memories, but it makes me feel good, this version I tell myself.  It feels magical and special, a time in my childhood to be cherished.

I’d spend our 24 hours on her front porch, soaking her up like a sponge.  My adult self recognizing how special she was and how luck I was to know her at all, if only a little bit.  She makes up such a small part of my overall history and life to this point, but she made such a huge impact. I’d tell her all these things.  I’d make her fix me bacon again.  I’d share my time with her with my husband and children. I’d love nothing more than to give them a chance to know her, and vice versa.

Everyone should have a Grandma Dowell in their life.  I’m blessed and grateful she was a part of mine. ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy              http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                           http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                           http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                              http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

Simply Shannon                                      http://shannonbutler.org

The Bergham Chronicles                           http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom      http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                         http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                           http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated  Mom                              http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

When I Grow Up                                     http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Disaster, Thy Name Is Me

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Did you ever put your foot in your mouth and then instead of pulling it out, put it in deeper? Were you able to ‘fix’ it or was the situation a complete disaster?

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

I know everyone who actually knows me and just read my secret subject got a very good laugh.  I know I chuckled.  I mean, if putting your foot in your mouth was an Olympic sport, I’d be gold medaling all over the place.  I’m the Simone Biles of awkward foot eating.

Where to even begin.

For those of you who don’t know me well or personally, I’ll start with an introduction of sorts.  I am actually extremely shy and introverted.  My spirit animal is probably a hermit crab.  If I didn’t have to interact, I probably wouldn’t.  I’m better over social media than in person as a general rule.  I always feel awkward.  I suffer from chronic verbal diarrhea.  It’s horrible.  I’m worse around other women and specifically mom’s.  I feel more comfortable with men, but usually am still super awkward or say super inappropriate things.  I really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house, which would be fine by me honestly.

I revert to self-deprecation and humor in hopes of covering up my extreme social awkwardness and foot gorging behavior, but sometimes that really just makes everything worse.  My poor husband…  I feel like he follows me around with a pooper scooper, just shoveling and cleaning up the social disaster that is his wife.  I think if he could muzzle me at times he would, and I wouldn’t blame him one bit.  I mean, I tease and say he finds these qualities of mine, endearing or even lovable, but I’m mostly trying to convince myself.  I’ve always felt I was the counter balance to his more taciturn and serious demeanor.  I’m the Lucy to his Ricky. The Jerry (Seinfeld) to his George.  The Pooh to his Piglet. The Jerry (Lewis) to his Dean.  Okay…maybe not.  But you understand what I’m trying to convey.  Hopefully.

As I mentioned, I feel the most awkward when talking to other women, especially other mother’s.  I don’t know why, probably insecurity.  I feel that if they spend too long talking to me they will see what a fraud I am and how I totally don’t have this motherhood thing down and I’m completely faking it 99% of the time.  I feel as a general rule that everyone is doing the whole parenting thing way better than me, and being complimented on my parenting makes me extremely uncomfortable and I often resort to making embarrassing comments or inappropriate jokes.  I can’t really think of specific examples, I feel as if in parts my entire life is a series of blooper reels on repeat and in slow motion being regurgitated for the entire world to mock.  I know it seems ridiculous, I have great kids, why shouldn’t I get some of the credit, but honestly I really think they are awesome in spite of my parenting skills or lack thereof.

My biggest problem, the way I see it, is that I perpetually feel like a 14 year old girl on the inside.  That mechanism people have that stops them from saying certain things in front of certain people, yeah I think mine is defective or broken.  I say a little prayer or mantra if you will before going anywhere that usually goes something like this:

Please don’t let me say anything stupid today.  Don’t let me forget to make eye contact and smile.  Not a crazy I’m probably going to boil a pet bunny on your stove later kinda smile, just a normal, nice how are you smile.  Don’t bring up sex, poop or private body parts.  Instead of thinking ahead of a witty comeback, actually listen to the person speaking to you, like really listen.  Do: If someone attempts a hug, just hug them back and be grateful they want to love on you. Don’t: If someone attempts a hug, launch into a 5 minute diatribe on how uncomfortable and awkward hugging makes you feel ending in a rather maniacal laugh and claiming you have to run to the loo (I never say loo except in my head because it sounds more sophisticated) because you haven’t pooped in 3 days. Just BE normal.  Be kind.  Be nice.  Again, because it needs repeating, BE NORMAL.  Breathe.  Don’t forget to breathe. You got this girl!

For example, over Thanksgiving, I met my husband at work for the staff luncheon.  He works in a church.  At the beginning, we get in this huge line, and everyone holds hands, to pray before we feast.  I’m not a big fan of touching, unless it’s my husband or kids, so I was pretty proud of the fact that I picked the end of the line and only had to hold my husband’s hand, avoiding any potential awkwardness.  At some point, I realize everyone is looking at me and then pointedly looking over to the left of me.  I’m confused.  I offer up a blank stare, then I look to my left and realize, our line is supposed to be a circle.  The other end of this line that I have to bridge to make the circle is our Senior Pastor, essentially, my husband’s boss.  I thought I only groaned and said “oh no” in my head, but no… I voiced this objection with my out loud speaking voice.  Everyone chuckled,  out of awkwardness I’m sure, and I seriously wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.  It’s not that I didn’t want to hold his hand, I’m just not a fan of hand holding in general.  What if my palms were sweaty, or unusually dry and had I even washed my hands, had he?  I’m pretty sure I licked my finger like 2 seconds ago, will he notice? I picked my ear earlier, I mean personally preferable over a nose pick but still…and not with the same ear picking finger.  I don’t think.  I’m pretty sure it was a different finger.  I think my hands are sweaty now.  Did I really just say no?  Why do I leave the house? WHY? He probably doesn’t even remember this incident, but it’s haunted my mortifying nightmares for weeks.  If I haven’t felt stupid in a day, it’s probably only because I haven’t left the house and talked to anyone.

The other thing I do when I’m nervous or talking to people I don’t know that well, or even people I do know well is that I ramble…or babble incoherently, however you want to phrase it.  This is especially true with someone that I really want to like me or someone I want to impress.  You should hear me in job interviews…oh the horror.  I get nervous and worry about not sounding intelligent or witty so I just open my mouth and holy highway of verbal vomit someone please stop me I can’t help myself make it stop punch me in the face right now please.  I probably need to be medicated.  For reals.  You are now probably thinking, omg she’s NOT medicated?!?!?  Nope.  I’m not.  I’m free-ballin’ this crazy thing called life 😀

I’ve always used humor and sarcasm as a defense mechanism.  It’s hard for me to relax in social situations so I’m pretty much guaranteed to use my foot as an all day sucker.  I have to work really hard to appear more extraverted than I actually am.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  My hope is that people will in general find me endearing and humorous and spend the majority of the time laughing with me and not at me.  I hope they understand my heart is usually in the right place and I never intentionally mean to offend.  It’s much easier for me to share and be open in the social media arena than it is in one on one situations.  I’ll post pics of my weight loss journey all over Facebook and Instagram, but when I see someone who liked or commented on my photo, my inner 14 year old girl is screaming “OMG THEY SAW ME IN A SPORTS BRA AND YOGA PANTS WITH MY BACK FAT HANGING OVER AND MY BOOBS SWINGING LOW AND SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT!!!!”  RUN!  HIDE!  DO NOT ENGAGE!  WARNING!

I’m not sure I did a great job of answering my secret subject this week, but I’ll wrap up by saying, I’m basically a walking social disaster, but I hope you’ll love me anyway ❤

And pray for my husband.

Especially that.  I’m exhausting.

Have a wonderful and blessed Friday!

xoxo

Baking In A Tornado                    http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy        http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver      http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                  http://thelieberfamily.com

Confessions of a part time working mom    http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                     http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

A Little Piece of Peace                     http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                     http://www.southernbellecharm.com

If Google Could Talk…

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My words are:

pixie dust ~ paramedic ~ cardio class ~ high school ~ Fraizer fur ~ pop tarts

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

My first thought upon seeing my words for this installment of Use Your Words was what in the heck is a Fraizer Fur?

Naturally, when I don’t know something, which is often, I google it.  Sometimes I get really paranoid about what I google.  I think maybe it’s going into some big database somewhere that the NSA is tracking and I’m on some watch list.  Or I’ll die suddenly, and people will go thru my google history which would embarrass me more than being found by a paramedic with 8 week hair growth on my legs and dirty underwear.

WordPress has this feature which tells you what google searches brought up your blog in the search engine.  I see weird things here all the time.  People searching for things like “high school nip slip.”  My first thought was why on earth would someone from Finland google that particular phrase?  My second thought was equally horrifying, WHY DID MY BLOG COME UP?!!!?!? I’ve talked about some questionable subjects to be sure…  Well, now that I think about it, I’ve probably covered topics on pretty much every body part, so even though I don’t remember specifically talking about nipples, it’s not a farfetched idea.  However, I still don’t know why anyone would be googling it and can’t imagine they are up to any good!  I also imagine they were very disappointed perusing through my blog, because while no body part may be off limits as far as topic conversations go, there are no accompanying nude photos or graphics for viewing pleasure. This is just not that kind of blog.

Anyway, I digress.  I googled Fraizer Fur and got really worried.  Well first I got annoyed, then worried.

The first thing that popped up from Mr. Google:  “Did you mean: what is a frasier fir” 

Is that what I typed Mr. Google?  NO.  I don’t need autocorrect or made to feel stupid, this was the word I was given now tell me what it is without the commentary!  Is it just me or does Mr. Google feel awfully judgmental sometimes?  I scrolled down a bit, and saw a link to the Animal Liberation Front, which I clicked on against my better judgment.  Now I’m really freaked out that I’m on some NSA naughty list somewhere.  Just typing that phrase probably puts me on a list.  I don’t want to be on a list.  But curiosity got the better of me.  So I clicked.  Apparently, a bobcat was freed from a Montana fur farm, the Frazier Fur Farm in Plains, Montana, not to be confused with the Fraser Fur Farm in Ronan, Montana.  Whew!  Cause I mix those two fur farms up all the time.  Apparently, this is the first recorded live liberation in the history of the Animal Liberation Front.  They opened the cage and let the bobcats “run free to the wilderness.”  I mean I’m happy for the bobcats, but am I the only one concerned about the ramifications of “freeing” bobcats that have been caged for who knows how long?  In other news, another anonymous group freed a group of 4,800 mink in Idaho.  I worry for these animals and their newfound freedom, this doesn’t seem very responsible action to me.

All this research is making me hungry.  I’m seriously eyeing my son’s pop tarts.  The brown sugar cinnamon kind.  Honestly you could sprinkle cinnamon on anything and I’d probably eat it.  The fact that I really want to eat them is disturbing to me, because honestly is there a more gross breakfast treat than a pop tart?  Have you ever looked at the ingredients in a pop tart?  It’s got yummy ingredients like tbhq for “freshness” and sugar and corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup and dextrose and palm oil and wheat starch and did I mention sugar?  Is it any wonder I’m seriously considering eating the entire box.  In one sitting.  This really highlights the nature of my distress over my google findings.  Of course one pastry is 210 calories and 7 grams of fat.  A typical box contains 6 packs, each with 2 pop tarts per package.  So let’s see…math is not really my thing.  Hold on a sec.

If I ate the whole box that would be in the neighborhood of 2,500 calories and 84 grams of fat.  Since I can’t just magically sprinkle pixie dust all over myself to keep my stomach and thighs from absorbing all these calories and fats, I’ll be forced to do hours of cardio class, squeezed into uncomfortably tight workout pants, panting and sweating, trying to make it look easy and still look sexy for the incredibly hot (and probably Australian) male instructor who sounds remarkably like my Siri pal.  I’ll start to feel nauseous (all that tbhq) and decidedly not fresh, which will be followed quickly by my friend dizzy and her cousin light-headed.  I collapse into a heaping hot mess of sick and tired, upon which the hot Australian instructor is forced to do CPR, trying to avoid the dried cinnamon sugar at the corners of my mouth and bottom of my chin, and call the paramedics who in turn discover my 8 week unshaved leg growth and dirty underwear while searching for my phone to call my next of kin and chancing upon my dodgy google history!  In their attempt to revive me, all I can mutter are short phrases like “Fraizer Cinnamon Fur” and “Animal Liberation Tart” and “Save the Pop Minx!”

(I feel quite strongly that the entire paragraph above might come under a google search for “word porn”…)

(I’m also thinking that the visual I just gave you has you feeling quite jealous of my husband right about now)

(If you’re finding yourself getting too excited, my husband has been known to refer to some of my workout outfits as “man repellant”so yeah…)

Now that we are all calm and under control…

I still don’t know what a Fraizer Fur is but I’m leaning towards a tree of some kind?  Excuse me, I see a pop tart with my name on it! Disgustingly delicious!

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Southern Belle Charm                            http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle                         http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade                               http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                         http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                   http://dinoheromommy.com/

Confessions of a part time working mom      http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

On the Border                                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Climaxed                                                 http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

So, I’m Basically Moses

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My Bible study this week has been focusing on Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  This study couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  When God tasked Moses with liberating the Israelites, he was full of excuses about how it would NEVER work.  Moses was a bit of a whiner.  I’m not judging.  To judge Moses would be to judge myself.  Not that I think I’m ACTUALLY Moses reincarnated or anything like that (although…), just that I completely understand his fear and reticence towards the monumental task set before him.  Moses basically attempted to dissuade God in three primary ways:

  1. Moses didn’t believe in himself or think he was good enough.
  2. Moses was afraid people would doubt his authenticity or credibility.
  3. Moses believed himself to be a terrible public speaker.

I am 45 years old and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I’ve always wanted to be a mother.  I’m not terribly ambitious.  I mean I can be super competitive, you probably don’t want to find yourself my adversary in a board or card game, but in the world of business, not so much.  I don’t have any desire to climb the corporate ladder or further my education.  I always knew I wanted children.  It’s the only life ambition I can ever recall truly wanting and craving.  Part of being a mother, meant helping to support our family, so working outside the home was a necessity.  I don’t have any regrets, but as I enter a new season in my life, I find myself floundering.

Our three girls are out of the house, adapting and thriving in a world outside of our little bubble.  We couldn’t be more proud of them.  Our son is only 10 and still living at home.  I don’t know where we went wrong with him.  I keep encouraging him to get a job and be a contributor in life, but he’s full of excuses (just like Moses).  Apparently, he’s under the impression that 10 is too young to work or drive.  I tell him he’s just not trying hard enough.

Obviously, I’m joking.

Or am I?

But seriously, most of the time, it’s just me and little man hanging out.  My husband (in addition to working 2 jobs) is in Seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity degree.  Unfortunately, we don’t see him as much as we’d like (never thought I’d say that!)  I’ve taken the last year off from working outside the home, choosing instead to focus on little man, my health, my faith, my husband and my girls.  We’ve focused these last few months on simplifying our lives.  We will be downsizing from 3600 square feet to 1300 square feet of living space in a few short weeks.  I feel like we are either selling or giving away our entire life and history, it’s both terrifying and exhilarating.  Like many people, we have entirely too much STUFF.

I’ve been looking into part-time jobs and opportunities, not having much luck or finding anything I’m truly excited about.  I feel lost and a little dejected if I’m being honest.  I’ve been channeling my inner Moses and whining to God about it.  I don’t do many things well, but I do think I’m a competent writer.  I haven’t figured out how to make money doing what I love, second only to motherhood.  I do feel I have a story to tell, and God has impressed this feeling onto my heart.  It’s scary to put yourself out there, metaphorically naked and under a spotlight.  I don’t like feeling vulnerable.  I’m embarrassed when I get complimented or even noticed.  I both crave and cringe that spotlight.  Maybe if I could keep my clothes on…?

As I read about Moses this week, I’m struck by his three excuses to God.  Why?  Because they sound so familiar!  Those same three excuses have been stuck on a loop in my head for months.

  1. I worry I’m not good enough
  2. I worry that people won’t like me or that I’ll annoy them
  3. I worry that I won’t be able to speak (write) confidently or authentically, that I will fall short and be judged harshly and found lacking

In short, I’m worried I will fail.

If you’ve followed my Instagram or Facebook posts lately, you’ll notice I’ve been posting more about my health and fitness journey. In my quiet moments of prayer and reflection, I feel like it’s this part of my journey that God wants me to share.  I keep making excuses and trying to ignore that little voice but it’s not going away.  I feel like there are so many people out there that have struggled with weight, poor self-image, terrible self-confidence and low self-esteem.  People who look at themselves in the mirror and feel shame, even hatred for the person looking back.  People who feel like they have tried EVERYTHING and nothing works.  People who have just given up, thrown in the towel, trying to convince themselves and others that it doesn’t matter anymore, that they don’t care.  People who are tired of failing.  Tired of feeling ashamed and judged.  People who find themselves spectators in their life instead of active participants.  People who just don’t feel good enough or that they measure up against the ideals of others, stuck in the perpetual cycle of despair and recrimination.

The other day, I shared my 21 day challenge group with all of you.  How it gave me new energy and focus, a sense of purpose and excitement.  My accountability group is comprised of an amazing group of women, who are motivated simply by helping and encouraging others.  I shared how in 21 days, I lost 3.5 inches overall.  I spoke briefly of how excited I am for my next challenge group to start.  In some ways, this group has given me a sense of belonging I didn’t even realize I was missing, a sense of purpose.

Over the last month, I’ve been reflecting and praying, listening hard for an answer.  What I didn’t realize was that it’s been in front of me all along, but I, like Moses, gave God a million excuses why I was the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.  I will fail.  I can’t do it.  No one will listen.  No one will like me or relate to me.  I won’t find the words.  I’ll suck.  It will just be another thing in a long line of things that I’ve attempted to do that I’ve failed or given up on.  This time, I’ll fail publicly and spectacularly.  I’ll withdraw into myself again, gain all the weight back and feed on self-loathing, self-pity and cupcakes.

WOW.

For real though, this is the rabbit hole I find myself diving into, time and again.  I’ve worked so hard to change my thoughts.  Changing my thoughts has changed my behaviors.  Changing my behaviors has changed my perspective.  Changing my perspective has changed my life.

So I took the leap.

I decided to become a coach, a fitness consultant for Beachbody, run my own challenge groups, be a part of an amazing team,  and see if I can’t reach the people who struggle just like me, need the encouragement and motivation of someone who understands.  Someone who gets how hard it is.  Someone who has to fight for every pound or inch lost.  I’m living proof that perfection is not required, just a willingness to do the work, to show up, every single day.  Celebrating both scale and non-scale victories is sweeter when done with people who truly want the best results for you.  I love my challenge group because it’s not just about physical change.  There is a heart change, a mind change, a willingness to believe in yourself because other people believe in you and are walking alongside you, cheering you on.  Where I saw failure, I now see opportunity.  I’m excited to embark on my new journey, this new stage in my life.  I’m scared to share it.  I’m terrified of not living up to my own expectations.  I’m even more terrified of letting my team down. I feel I’ve found a beautiful way to share my journey, help others while doing what I love most, writing about it.  I will still write about other things, participate in my writing challenge groups, share my thoughts and insights, but I’m focusing my energies primarily on my health and fitness journey.  Even giving my blog and social media accounts a bit of a face lift, revitalizing my writing and sharing space with a new look and a new name.

I struggle with this concept that I could possibly know or understand what God wants for my life.  I know that in those quiet moments of prayer and reflection, this direction, this path feels right.  I feel God is telling me that I am the right person.  This is the right time.  And I’m in the right place.  ❤

If you are interested in hearing more about my next challenge group, please don’t hesitate to message me!  We have another one starting on November 14th (prep week starting on November 7th) and it’s going to be fantastic.  I’m beyond excited and I don’t get excited about exercise or eating healthy!  So you know it must be good.

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I hope I’m the mouse, not the frog 😛

HAPPY FRIYAY!  ENJOY THE WEEKEND ❤ 

Wickedly Fit – A Halloween Challenge

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“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

On Halloween, I completed day 21 of a fitness challenge I joined called “Wickedly Fit.”  I’m all about the packaging, and the title of this fitness challenge group was just too cute to pass up!

My health and fitness goals have been stagnate for awhile now.  I hadn’t gained any weight, but I hadn’t lost any either.  I could see the old patterns of behavior, poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle sneaking back into my daily life.

It scared me.

But not enough to take action.  Yet.

I’d been creeping on this one girl’s Instagram account.   I didn’t know her.  I’m not even sure how I ended up following her to be honest.  I loved reading her posts and seeing her photos.  She’s adorable, motivational and inspirational.  I wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing.  It took me 4 months to get up the courage to message her.  Our stories are vastly different, but one thing I’ve learned is that unhealthy means different things to different people and it isn’t always just a reflection of the number on the scale.  In fact, I don’t even have a goal weight anymore and I’m seriously considering throwing out my scale altogether, especially after seeing the results of this latest fitness challenge.

I finally found the courage to message her.  She immediately responded.  Her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.  Before I even knew what happened, I was signing up for her fitness challenge. For the first time in months, I was thrilled about the prospect of working out and overhauling our pantry and fridge.  I know.  It was crazy.  I didn’t even recognize myself.

I’m not one to get excited about healthy eating or exercise.  Ever.  The only thing working out has ever made me want to do is nap.  I get endorphins for chocolate or Chick Fil A but not from exercise.  It had been just over a year since my Gastric Sleeve surgery.  The surgery had taken me as far as it could, the rest was going to be up to me.

I knew this.

I just didn’t want to know I knew this.

My highest weight recorded was 297 pounds.  I’ve never told anyone that number.  It took me 6 months to lose 10 pounds and that’s when I decided to look into Gastric Sleeve surgery.  When I decided to go in for surgery, I was down to 287.5 pounds.  The date was July 21, 2015.  My surgery date was August 19, 2015.  By January 2016, I was down to 216 pounds.  I lost 71.5 pounds in 6 months.  Unfortunately, there were side effects.  My hair thinned out, at an alarming rate.  I lost muscle and I found myself feeling low on energy and motivation.  My periods, while much improved, were still bad and irregular.  I lost another 10 pounds over the next few months, but by May of 2016, I had stalled out.  I didn’t exercise over the summer and I was starting to panic that I was going to eventually put all the weight back on.  Gastric sleeve surgery gave me an internal control over portion size, but I was filling up on all the wrong things and wasn’t getting the vitamins and nutrients my body needed.  I felt run down and worn out.  Not to mention, disgusted with myself.  Did I really put myself through all this only to quit, to fail?

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Was I going to be THAT girl again?

I hope not.

No, I definitely did not want to fail (nor did I want to see my chins having chins)!

So I gathered my courage and messaged this girl to find out what this Wickedly Fit program was all about.

I received access to a Facebook accountability group (my favorite part).  This group of women kept me going day after day.  They were positive and encouraging.  They were open and honest about their struggles and challenges.  We celebrated non-scale victories, participated in daily challenge questions/activities and posted all sorts of wonderful food porn (the clean and healthy kind).  I wasn’t intimidated by this group at all.  Quite the opposite in fact. I found myself sharing and opening up about my own struggles and daily challenges and even victories.  I found myself bolstered and encouraged and being a part of this special group of ladies gave me the motivation I needed to complete this 21 day challenge.

I also received a 30 day supply of Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix workout program and eating plan, complete with portion control containers.  This whole program is facilitated by Beachbody.  I was familiar with their programs, and had used them to bounce back in shape after my youngest daughter was born.  I knew they worked.  I knew it wasn’t a quick fix.  I knew it would take hard work and dedication on my part.

I was ready.

Sort of.

I mean, I paid for it.  So I’d better be ready.  I was nervous though…

Failure.  My biggest fear.  Always hovering over me like the Grim Reaper.  Whispering negative words of discouragement in my ear, making me doubt myself.  This particular demon has always plagued me, but I was learning to fight back.  I was learning to stifle and smother those negative thoughts and feelings.  I have good days and bad days.  Days when I see all that I have accomplished and days when I only see the ways in which I have failed. Before my surgery, I would binge eat those feelings.  Now, I binge watch Netflix.  Not quite the trade I should be making.  I know.  But still…a slight improvement.

The “before” picture was taken on Day 1 of the challenge and the “after” picture taken on the last day of the challenge.  21 days total.  I lost 3 1/2 inches overall.  I can definitely see subtle changes and I hope you see them too.  Naturally, I lost the most inches in my chest. Just proving that my boobs are the first thing to go when I lose weight.  Actually, despite losing 3 1/2 inches, I gained 3 pounds.  I weighed before I measured and I was devastated.  I almost didn’t even take my measurements, but I’m so glad I did.  I’ve never been one to record my measurements, but this 21 day challenge made a believer out of me.  I could see noticeable differences in how my clothes fit and how I felt that just wasn’t reflected on the scale.

It was a dark moment, and one that in the past I would have responded to by raiding the pantry.  Instead, I chose to reach out to my challenge group through Facebook.  Post my results and reveal what I considered to be a failure, the gaining of 3 pounds.  I’ve since adjusted my perceptions and I’m super proud of the 3 1/2 inches I lost.  I can’t wait for my next challenge group to start!  Despite what my scale would have me believe, I am transforming my body, making positive changes, gaining strength and confidence.

I’ve got this!

Today.

Tomorrow might be a different story.  But I’ll deal with tomorrow…tomorrow.

The last year of my life was about losing the weight and finding myself.  This next year, I want to focus on living a healthy lifestyle, strengthening my body, mind and soul in new and different ways.  Yes, I still have weight I want to lose, but I want to focus less on the scale and more on building strength and flexibility, pushing my body in ways I never imagined I’d be able to do again.  I want to transform myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  I want to develop attainable goals and then smash through them.  I want to redefine what beauty and success mean to me, not measured by what others think or believe, but about what works for me.

One day at a time.

I want to share my journey and experiences with others.  I draw strength from putting myself out there, as terrifying as it can be.  I hope that maybe someone reading this will be inspired or encouraged, reach out either to me or someone else.  I hope that maybe they won’t feel alone or afraid.  Our goals might be different.  Our struggles, challenges and motivations might be different.  At the end of the day, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves.  We all have desires, wants and needs.  Things we want to accomplish.  Let’s do it together ❤

Forget Me Not

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.  Except I’m horrible at keeping secrets apparently and accidentally divulged my secret subject at the end of my last post.   Oops.  This is why we can’t have nice things…  Hopefully, no one noticed.  Fingers crossed.  I shall be super vigilant in the future to guard my secret better.  Pinky swear.

My not so “Secret Subject” is:

SHOULD old acquaintance be forgot?

It was submitted by: http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

I admit, I had no idea what I was going to do with this prompt.  Who am I kidding, I still don’t know.  All I know is that this song has been stuck in my head for two weeks, and I want it purged.  Completely.  Forever. I mostly just hum it though, because I don’t actually know the words.  Does anyone really?  I can’t even pronounce Auld Lang Syne.

One of my favorite movies of all time is “When Harry Met Sally” and I think Billy Crystal says it best…

Now I want to watch the movie.  Literally, like right now.  I’ll be back.  Eventually.

(2 hours and a day later)

I love that movie so much.  Okay, I’m back, did you miss me? See, I’m terrible at this question, I went 5 minutes and forgot about all of you.  Also, I almost died.  My blog post page was empty.  I had nothing.  So, I did what anyone would do, I found something to yell at my husband about.  I mean, honestly, why is he home in the middle of the day.  Interrupting my mojo.  Noisily chomping on those chips.  Smacking his lips, talking with his mouth full.  Mid yell, I accidentally suck down the iron pill I was dissolving under my tongue.  Choking, wheezing…dying.  Husband laughs.

(a few hours and a day later…cause recovering)

I love the Christmas season.  It’s definitely my favorite time of the year.  I mentioned in my last blog post (you know the one where I blurted out my secret subject…let it go already!) that I view the week following Christmas as a time to reflect and reminisce on the events of the past year.

So, should old acquaintance be forgot?

Absolutely.

NOT 🙂

Every one you meet has the ability to impact your life in both big and small ways, whether or not the contact is brief, long-lasting or somewhere in between.  You should all be thanking the lady who waxes by eyebrows, otherwise they would be taking over the world, with Donald Trump’s hair. (mental note:  need to get that wax done asap).

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It’s surprisingly difficult to take pics of your own eyebrows.  What should the eyes be doing!?  Do I close them?  Look up or look down? To the right or to the left?  Bah! It made me kinda cross-eyed and dizzy for a second.  I digress, and it wouldn’t be the first time nor the last.

(still more hours later)

Not everyone in our current life makes it into our future life.  Perhaps by choice or not.  Maybe there was a move, a new job, a marriage, an estrangement, a birth or a death, whatever the reason, people come and go from our lives, leaving an impression or an impact, sometimes positive, sometimes not.  Our experiences shape who we are and what we think or believe, not only about ourselves but the world around us.  The ending of one year and the start of a new one, should be a time to reflect on those memories and experiences and the people who helped shape them.  It is in our connections to others that we find a sense of unity and belonging.

At the end of the year, I reminisce on the past year with my family and friends.  I reflect on how our relationships have grown and evolved.  I navigate the choppy waters of my mistakes.  Believe me, there are many, sometimes quite painful lessons.  I don’t turn them over in my mind to simply relive or revive, but to accept and relinquish.  I use this time to forgive.  Whether it be to forgive myself or forgive others.  I celebrate the accomplishments and the milestones of friends and family, reveling also in my own.  Some things need to stay in the past, and a brand new year is the opportune time to move forward accepting the things you can’t change and anticipating the excitement of new adventures.

Auld Lang Syne carries both a mournful and hopeful tune.  Mournful in the sense that maybe some friends or loved ones are no longer with us.  Gone they might be, they are not forgotten.  We are hopeful in a future we can only imagine, surrounded by friends and loved ones, old and new, near and far.  Life is a journey.  It can be beautiful, tragic, challenging, rewarding and arduous, sometimes all at once.  We should surround ourselves with people who support us, bolster us, cheer us on, offer words of encouragement and provide refuge in a storm.

Auld Lang Syne reminds us to be thankful and wistful.  It is after all a wonderful life.

We received a Blessings Jar for Christmas from one of our favorite families with a note that said:

This January, start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen.  Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what  amazing things happened that year.

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We think our jar will runneth over ❤

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com       Baking In A Tornado

http://dinoheromommy.com/      Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/        The Bergham Chronicles

http://thelieberfamily.com                            The Lieber Family Blog

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/            Spatulas on Parade

http://www.renasworld.com/                               Rena’s World

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com      Not That Sarah Michelle

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch       Confessions of a part time working mom

http://www.southernbellecharm.com               Southern Belle Charm

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com               Someone Else’s Genius

http://mybrainonkids.net                                       My Brain on Kids

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com               Climaxed

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/       The Angrivated Mom