Thursday, January 17, 2019

The F Word (Fear)

My saying in 2019 is "F the F Word", how about that?!? Well actually it's "I will rise", but lately I've been feeling feisty about the F Word (fear) so I thought I'd post about it.

Fear. It can be exhausting, exhilarating or both. It can push us toward our goals or away from them. It can spring us into action or stop us in our tracks. The kick in the pants? Our brain doesn't know the difference from perceived fear and actual fear. Perceived fear can send our brain into the same fight or flight path as an actual fear driven situation.

As I continue to heal this herniated disk in my neck, I've decided to become curious about pain and learn what I can do differently when I experience it. I just finished the book Why I Hurt by Adrain Louwe. In all my 19 years of having a neurological illness, it's the most game changing and easy to read neuroscience based book about pain I've ever read.

They say that knowledge is power. Knowledge is also freedom. Understanding how the brain responds to pain, or even the fear of pain is helping me to better manage both my injury and my illness.

As a person who is passionate about wellness, it got me thinking about the role fear plays in our weight loss journeys. It's why for several years I got in my own way while trying to lose weight for the gazillionth time.

Change is downright uncomfortable. I prefer to hum along in my nice and cozy comfort zone. What makes me really uncomfortable is unpredictability. That's why it was easier to stay 40 pounds overweight than it was to lose the weight. I knew how to be tired. How to be sad. I knew what it felt like to have no energy. To box myself in. To avoid the hard. To limit myself. And I sat in those feelings like toddler running around in a dirty diaper, uncomfortable yet not quite ready to be changed.

I feared what my new life would look and feel like and what I'd look and feel like (but it feels oh so much better than I ever imagined). I feared losing friends and gaining friends (and both happened). I feared people would judge my efforts or give their two cents along my journey (and they sure did). I feared that I wasn't disciplined enough (turns out it's not so much about discipline as it is consistency). I feared I'd mess up (and of course I did). I feared that I'd lose the weight and gain it back (#reallifehappenssometimes).

These fears are real, but they don't have to stop us from reaching our goals.

The thing about fear is that it's all about perception. If you asked me to hold a snake I'd be terrified (not sure I'd do it by the way) but many reptile lovers do it every day. The snake is scary depending on how we view it. It's the same with weight loss.

We must change our mindset in order to reach our goals. Because if we are afraid, the brain starts sending out S.O.S. signals and we are unintentionally blocking our own process. Our brain goes into self protection mode and will send us back to our old habits because they feel better. The cool thing is that the choice is ours. We get to choose how we see the journey and how we view ourselves along the way. We hold the power.

Once I started viewing my pain in a different way, moving my mindset from victim to victor, I was filled with a sense of peace.

I've been working with an awesome PT to help me to push past my fear of pain. Until I'm willing to push through past it, I won't be able to move forward. I'm realizing that I'm fearing a perceived fear. I'm fearing the "what if" and that's super unproductive (but a natural reaction).

That's why it's important to focus on the day at hand. Not what you looked or felt like in the past. Not how far you've fallen. Nor how far you have to go. Just today. Just the next meal or movement. One healthy choice at a time. Instead of fearing the future we can embrace the unknown.

I am working on saying "God, I'm open to what you put in my path today." Keeping my mind and heart open to change. Replacing the "F word", from "fear" to "faith". Faith in myself. Faith that change is possible. I also want to be grateful for my current circumstance, no matter what phase of life I'm in. Gratitude also brings about peace and reminds me that my life is abundant.

The choice is yours. Make a choice. Commit to the choice. Continue with courage.
Hugs & friendship,


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Settle for More

In what area of your life right now are you settling? Your wellness/fitness? Your job? A dream you want to pursue? Your marriage? Your finances? Your friendships? Your education?
The next question is...why?
There are plenty of reasons as to why we settle. Because change is so damned hard. Because fear of the unknown is paralyzing. Because addressing the issue at hand might just turn your entire life upside down.

A few weeks ago I had an aha moment during an appointment with my spine doctor. He's been treating me for a herniated disc in my neck which is triggering my trigeminal neuralgia and has turned my life inside out. I did (yet another) neck pain analysis and we determined that my pain at that time was a 2 (much better than the 10+) and he seemed tickled. He leaned back in his chair almost like he was going to clap his hands together like it was a done deal, I was healed. Now I do really like my doctor and he has a great reputation and his job is pain management and in that aspect, I suppose he succeeded. But I was thinking "WTF!!! The only reason my pain is low is because I'm not doing anything...for the love of Pete!" <insert lots of cursing here>

I didn't truly embrace a wellness lifestyle (nutrition, movement, self care, prayer, meditation, sleep, positivity, stress management) until I was 40 and it was only 3 years ago (at 43) that I discovered how much I love being fit and active. I have waited most of my life to get to this place. A place in which I feel delighted with every aspect of my life- mind, body, spirit. A place in which I feel whole. Where I live my life around being active and enjoying that time with my family. Here is my doc asking me "Is level 2 pain manageable for you"? Ah, n-o. And so I made this collage of the active life I have built for myself and my family. A lifestyle I've used to help others embrace fitness and wellness and I took it to my next appointment. Because it's taken me all these years to see that I was settling and was living a shell of myself, minimizing my potential because I didn't think that I deserved more or could even do or be more. I made myself small and I boxed myself in due to the limits that I put on myself. 

For so many years, I didn't think that I was good enough. In some ways I thought that I had to earn my way to being more. Through people pleasing, rule following, perfectionism. And so I just survived, went through the motions and accepted less. Less in my relationships. Less in my finances. Less in my job. Less in my wellness. It's crazy the limiting beliefs that we put on ourselves but I can say that if you look at my childhood and the trauma I went through, my adulthood makes sense. I have created a zone of safety for myself. Because I fear judgment. I fear rejection. I fear failure.

In 2012 my family and I went to Guatemala on a mission trip. It was a risk for me because of my trigeminal neuralgia. The climate, construction noise, food, uncertainty, all potential pain triggers. But it turned out to be an incredible life-changing experience and I promised God that whatever He led me to, I would say yes. That was a grand promise while I was in Guatemala, but when I got home, it was a little tougher to put into practice. It took faith, trust and a belief that something/someone greater than me is guiding my life. But I've done it. I've said yes over and over again. Risking failure, risking feedback (man oh man, perfectionists hate feedback). And every yes has led me to where I am today. Becoming a Weight Watchers leader. Starting a wellness related small group in my church. Opening myself to new friendships. Organizing Saturday morning fitness classes at my church. Becoming a Beachbody coach. Becoming a fitness instructor. Expanding my reach on social media. Being willing to put myself out there for people to judge me. I've shared my story of being sexually abused and my recovery. Starting my Color Street business. Taking on a new role at work. I have listened and I have tried to go wherever God wants to take me. I want to be obedient, even when I'm afraid. I want to continue to live my best life. By continuing to say yes even when I'm terrified. By being open to new experiences that feel paralyzing. By pushing past the fear to reach for more.

And so I ask you again "In what area of your life right now are you settling and why? What changes do you need to make to settle for more?"

You are worth the work. You are worth the discipline. You are worth the minor or major life alternations.
Because guess what? You are already more. But we can always get a little bit better. One decision, one action, one change at a time. Believe it and keep moving forward.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

It's OK To Not Be OK

There are moments, seasons, phases of life when it's OK to not be OK. Contrary to many of the pretty, shiny and often fake social media posts...there are times when you just might not have your shit together- and that's OK.

This past weekend, I met up with one of my besties for lunch. She asked me a simple question "but really, how are you doing?" I knew what she was asking, she knew that I wasn't doing that fab and she was giving me the opportunity to talk about it. And so I replied "meh" and then I rambled on a bit and got totally off topic to what I really wanted to talk about. Not because I don't trust my bestie to share my heart (bestie if you're reading this, I love you), but because I wasn't ready to say out loud what I've been feeling for a few months now- I'm not OK.

Last night at my REFIT class during our post-workout discussion, I got a little emotional. I couldn't get out of class soon enough (REFIT ladies if you're reading this, I love you) because I knew that an ugly cry was about to commence. When I got home, I said to my husband "we need to talk" and so it all came out along with some tears. An aside, my husband has been my best friend since I was 17 and knows me like no other. He is a patient listener and in general a saint for putting up with me. Husband, if you're reading this, I love you.

I started in with "I'm not sure I'm OK"...

Have you ever gone through a time in your life when things seem a bit off? That's where I'm at. Not necessarily depressed or anxious (I've been down that road before), but lost and restless. As I've blogged about before, it's been a year of change and while I don't think this is a mid-life crisis (gasp I am at mid-life), I've lost my way a bit. I've lost my focus and dare I type this, my purpose. Not my purpose for life so don't get all freaked out and worried about me if you're reading this but that statement will hopefully make more sense as I go on.

As my "kids" are now 25 and 19, I'm not really needed much in the parenting department anymore. Well, I'm needed, but not in that day to day grind. So last summer to fill that void I became a certified fitness instructor. It was great to learn something new and to challenge myself. It kept me mentally and physically busy. I launched a class at my church and things were humming along. And then, injury. Little did I know it (it took almost 8 months to get the proper diagnosis) but I have a herniated disc in my neck. And while I don't want to ramble on and on about it, the disc is sitting very close to my trigeminal nerve and it has flared up my trigeminal neuralgia (think child birth lightening bolt pains in the head) something fierce. So I had to stop leading class and my mobility is limited. As I was hashing this out with my husband last night, I came to the conclusion that 2 of the main things I use as coping mechanisms for my illness I cannot do because of my herniated disc. I can't exercise much (not what I usually do to heal and relieve stress) and I can't do DIY/art work which also keeps me occupied and content. Many times my neurologist has recommended counseling to deal with my illness, because it can be a real pisser. Until now I have found other positive ways to deal with it. And God has blessed me with some serious mental fortitude. But this herniated disc has emphasized just how much my illness takes from me (and my family and friends), so I'm considering the counseling.

I could blog (and I have before) about focusing on the things I can do, as I firmly believe in the power of taking control of your thoughts and actions. I could talk about how my life is truly abundant, and it is, and about how I should be grateful. But what I really want to write about is that feeling of not being OK. I don't like it. Feeling "meh" or "blah", that sense of complacency. Because I am a go getter. I like to be driving toward a goal. I'm extremely impatient. I don't do well with stillness. I'm not a dweller. Yet here I am like a toddler in a dirty diaper, sitting in it. And it's downright uncomfortable. I do believe that for a moment, a season, a phase of life, it's OK to sit in it. Sometimes it's necessary. To acknowledge, to feel, to accept that our feelings are true. That what we feel is real. To cry, lament, scream, beat our chest. Yes, life could be worse and yes, life could be better but this is how life is feeling in this moment, Fortunately I know it won't be forever.

You may be sitting in it right now. A marriage on the rocks. An issue with your child. Job loss. Death. Addiction. Illness. Injury. Change. A life transition. And it sucks. And some well meaning people are going to give you all kinds of platitudes. But sometimes we want to hear that it's OK to not be OK. In this moment, in this season, in this phase of life, it's not OK, but it will be.

I've had this song in my head all day- Exhale by Plumb.

It's okay to not be okay.
This is a safe place.
This is a safe place.
Don't be afraid.
Don't be ashamed.
There's still hope here.
There's still hope here.

No matter what you've done or who you are.
Everyone is welcome His arms.

Just let go let His love wrap around you.
And hold you close.
Get lost in the surrender.
Breathe it in until your heart breaks.
Then exhale.

Breathe it in and exhale my friend. No matter what you're facing, let God's love wrap around your heart. As I type this I'm exhaling because I know that God's got me. It fills me with a sense of peace. He has lead me to this very place. As uncomfortable and lost as I feel, I know that this time in my life is for my good, my growth and His glory. And so I welcome it, gratefully broken.

Hugs and friendship,

PS- If it's been a good while and you're still not OK, it may be time to get some help. Seek wise counsel, from a friend, a family member or professional. You are not alone and you don't have to go through it alone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Changing my Weigh

A little over 2 months ago, I was tossing around the decision to try Beachbody's new nutrition program the 2B Mindset. My biggest challenges to overcome were:

Facing the scale on a regular basis
Veggies Most
Believing that I could lose weight without exercise

As I was seeing some awesomesauce results coming in from my Beachbody friends, I cast my doubts aside and decided to give it a whirl.

After month 1, I wrote this post about my love/hate/hate/hate/hate (did I mention hate) relationship with the scale and how my mindset was starting to shift.

As I just closed out month 2, I thought I'd share my continuing shift in mindset.

Facing the scale on a regular basis
It seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but facing the scale on a more frequent basis has released me from the bondage I've felt to the scale my entire life. Fear of the scale was literally weighing me down. My weekly weigh ins used to cause anxiety and stress. What the scale showed could ruin my entire day. Blah! Life is stressful enough, know what I mean? One of the premises of the 2B Mindset is to weigh in every day. The reason behind this is to simply view the scale as a tool to help you to assess your journey and recalibrate your choices as needed. I was super duper afraid of this premise because as a recovering perfectionist, this could seriously mess with my mind. I was fearful that I could become obsessed with it. But as it turns out, the more frequently I weigh in, the less afraid I am. And let me emphasize, this is not because I'm having rockstar weight loss weeks every single week- I'm certainly not. I have fluctuated between the same 2 numbers, I have lost and I have gained. I am not weighing daily but I am weighing in 3 times a week. Monday so I can see how I did over the weekend and I can break the mindset of "eating whatever I want" on the weekend and "getting back on track" during the week. Wednesday as a mid week check in. Friday as a reminder to not go ape shit crazy with my eating over the weekend. This pattern is working for me. It may not work for you. Maybe every day works for you. Maybe once a week works for you. But here's the deal and my biggest revelation- the scale doesn't lie. Of course our bodies will fluctuate due to hormones, water weight, strength training and so forth. But all in all, the scale is a tool that reflects our efforts- the good, the bad and the ugly and I'm OK with that. I know full well that when I weigh in and have a gain, that I will look at my tracker and see that I've been making crappy choices.

Veggies Most
Due to my absolute hatred of veggies, I should probably dedicate a whole post to this topic. But let me break it down for you. If I can try and eat new veggies, anyone can. Before the 2B Mindset my veggies were starches- peas, corn, potatoes (and oh I did like green beans). I set a goal to try 2 new veggies a week. I must admit I got "all veggied out" by the end of month 1, but I did it. And lo and behold I found a few new veggies that I like. Roasted/grilled peppers, onions, carrots. Sautéed snow and snap peas. And the biggest shocker, cauliflower rice. As a matter of fact I've got Asian chicken in the crockpot and I'm serving it over cauliflower rice tonight for dinner. My biggest veggie issue is texture. So I keep trying different ways to cut and cook veggies and I'm hiding more and more veggies in my recipes like spinach in my lasagna rolls and cauliflower rice in my stuffed pepper skillet instead of brown rice. My 2nd biggest veggie issue is appearance. Broccoli is a no go as it looks like little trees. Snap peas look like caterpillar cocoons (I got over this one). Zoodles look like worms and I've tried zucchini every which way but it's still a no go. I know, I need counseling. The bottom line is that I did find some go to veggies, I'll continue to try more and my health is all the better for it. Coming from the woman who is a veggie detective and used to pick them out of everything, including getting the chunks of tomatoes out of chili- change is possible. Full disclosure, I am still not eating veggies most, but I am eating veggies more. Progress, not perfection.

Believing that I could lose weight without exercise
Once again, I need to write an entire post on this. I have used exercise to compensate for "treats" my entire adult life. If I had a donut, I'd do a Core de Force kickboxing workout and burn off the 500 calories. The 2B Mindset promised weight loss without exercise. It was challenging to wrap my mind around this yet I know for sure this is possible and true. Abs start in the kitchen. I know that nutrition is everything and exercise is a bonus. Yet I have fought against this because...well...I love sweets...and food...and to eat...Yet as I went into month 1 of the 2B Mindset, I also had a herniated disc in my neck and I could not exercise. In the past I would have just waited until I could exercise to start a new program. But I went for it and guess what? You can lose weight without exercise. I'll be darned, the scale went down!

So that's my report at the end of month 2. The knowledge I've gained about nutrition on this program is more than I learned in my 20 years of being a Weight Watcher (disclaimer I still love Weight Watchers, it works). The 2B Mindset has truly shifted the way I eat and how I view food. It's a comfort to know that I'm not "on a diet" I am just living my best life. I am choosing foods that will fuel my body and leave me feeling satisfied. I have dropped the "woes me I can't have this" deprivation mindset. I am having treats. Food freedom means being able to find a way to eat better for the rest of my life and treating my body with respect and care, while enjoying myself along the way.

Hugs and friendship,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Lost my Weigh

I started my love/hate relationship with the scale way, WAY back in the day. In elementary school I was aware that I was chunky, and by the time I hit middle school, I was already body conscious. I was a part of a baton twirling corps and it was basically my life. My husband is probably laughing as I read this but I had mad baton twirling skills and I had found my tribe. To be a part of the senior baton corps, there was a weight requirement. Gasp! Can you imagine if an organization did that now? The parental outrage. The thing is, it was just one weight requirement, they didn't base it on your height or body make up. On top of that, even though I am only 5'3", it was an unhealthy and unrealistic weight for me, about 15 pounds lower than what my body was meant to be. But of course, I was determined to be a part of the senior corps, so I lost the weight. I was only 13 and had no clue about fitness or healthy eating. So I drastically cut calories and did heavy cardio and the pounds came off. So began my obsession with the scale.

As an adult, I've lost 40 pounds twice, once through Weight Watchers in 1996 and again through Weight Watchers in 2011. In that 15 year span of gaining control of my wellness, I had a major fear of the scale. My Saturday morning weigh ins were angst provoking. I would fret all the way to my weigh in. Sometimes I wouldn't sleep the night before. If I lost weight (or maintained once I got to the maintenance phase), life was good. If I gained weight, even a quarter or a half of a pound, I would mope about it all day. Argh! It's kind of embarrassing to share this, but I share this knowing that many women (and men) have this kind of relationship with the scale.

Fast forward to 2016, in 2016 I started Beachbody and started a new relationship with the scale. Beachbody combines healthy eating, exercise, a positive mindset and group support. My thoughts about the scale started to shift. Because there is a strength training component to many of their programs, I was building lean muscle which meant that sometimes the scale wasn't giving a complete picture of my progress. I could be losing inches yet the scale wasn't moving. I began to focus more on how I felt and how my clothing fit. I weighed in after every program (basically every 21-30 days) and let me tell you, it was freeing to let go of the vice grip hold I had on the scale that was unhealthily linked to my self-perception. "I am more than a number" was my motto. In my mid-40's, I was healthier than I've ever been. Last summer I was able to rock a Mother of the Bride dress that I never dreamed possible.

 <Insert real life here>. Sometimes life comes at you hard. Late summer and fall of 2017 into the winter of 2018 has been a season of change. My daughter and her husband moved to the Middle Easter for work. My son went 5 hours away to his first year of college. I wasn't as prepared for the empty nest as I imagined I was. Change. I found out my job role was coming to an end. Fortunately I was able to continue to work for my company, but it was touch and go there for a while. I ended up in a brand new role, with a new boss and a new work team and getting there took some hustle. Change. My son had a rough start in his first semester and it was super stressful for my husband and me. Change. I injured my shoulder and it triggered my neurological illness so badly that 7 months later I'm still dealing with it. Change, like seriously, who needs it?!?

A month ago, I heard about this new Beachbody program called the 2B Mindset. It's a program that focuses solely on nutrition. I started to think, maybe this is perfect timing since I can't move my body much right now. I hesitated. Did I really have the mental capacity to start something new? I decided that sometimes what seems like the worst time to start something turns out to be the best time. I began the program on Monday and faced the scale for the first time in 10 months. Yep, you read right, 10 months. Ugh! I not only let go of the scale, I forgot all about it as it sadly gathered dust in the closet. To prep for the program, I weight, measured and took before pics (double ugh)!

My weight is up, my measurements are up and it's time to get my butt back into gear. I've got to say that I am loving this program so far, but there is one scary part that I am not quite ready for. Accepting that the scale is a tool and using it daily (yes daily) in combination with a food journal to analyze what went well, what did not and to recalibrate. I understand the principle, but I've worked so hard to not become so reliant on the scale that this is almost a turnoff to the program. I fear it could lead to obsessive behavior. The creator of the program suggests that in place of a daily weigh in (baby steps), you weigh in on Mondays to see how you did over the weekend and Fridays to see how you did during the week. And that's my plan.

Let's face it the scale IS a metric that I need to maintain a healthy weight and to check in. I kind of went too far when I neglected the scale. I'm above my comfortable weight range and without starting this program I may have continued to gain weight. Those pounds are sneaky, they come on a little bit at a time until OMG, I can't fit into my pants anymore.

So that's where I'm at. I am letting go of my fear of the scale and reminding myself that it's just a tool to get me to my goal. It doesn't define me, but it can help to refine me. I'll keep ya posted on my progress, here we go!

Make the choice. Commit to the choice. Continue with courage.
Hugs & friendship,

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Believe in You

7 years ago I penned my first blog post, deciding to publicly share my weight loss journey. Well at least for the 2 whole people that might read it (haha). After trying and failing to lose weight for the 3 years previous, and at the peak of my neurological illness, I was emotionally and physically at the end of my rope. As a person who has battled her weight since childhood, and feeling at my lowest of lows, I really had no hope that this time around would be different. But I knew it was time for a change, not only physically but a complete overhaul of the way I lived and viewed my life.

When I reflect back on those early posts, I can feel my fear, anger, exhaustion, doubt, frustration and weariness. Yet day by day, week by week and year by year- my whole life changed.

In honor of my 7 year blog-a-versary, I thought I'd share 7 things I've learned and put into practice along with way.

1) Choose faith over fear. Faith is believing in something we can't see. If you are just beginning your wellness journey, are muddling through or are starting over- believe in your possibility. Believe in yourself enough to crush those feelings of fear. Believe that God has good things in store for you. And if you can't believe in yourself right now, surround yourself with people who will.

2) Be consistent. It's not the heroic or extreme moments that lead to change, it's consistent daily actions. Make a plan and stick to it. Know that on occasion life is going to throw you a few curveballs, but do not waver. Trust the process. This is gonna take a while. Push through, you're worth it. You really, truly, are.

3) Learn from the setbacks and roadblocks. In order to move forward, you must leave the pity party behind. Let's face it, life is hard sometimes. Like really super hard. There will be many ugly moments in your journey. But instead of asking "why me", ask "what can I learn". Take what you learn and use it as rocket fuel to propel you forward. Setbacks aren't failures, they are opportunities for do-overs. We take what we learn and we get better. Roadblocks aren't stop signs, they are simply re-routing our journey on to something better.

4) Be courageous. This journey is going to be downright uncomfortable. You may be trying to change a lifetime of bad habits. Your belief system might be shattered. Who you thought you were may be uprooted. Being in that in between place of who you were and who you are supposed to be might make you feel lost. You might want to retreat back into the old you because it feels more comfortable. DO NOT do that! Do not retreat! Push forward into greatness. Push through the pain of change.

5) Have a willingness to begin again. And again. And again. And 100x again. I can't tell you over the past 7 years how many times I've started over. How many times I've recalibrated my journey and my mindset. Mindset is everything, be positive. You hold the power in your journey. You have a choice to be a victim or a victor in your circumstances. Choose to have a mindset of abundance and gratitude.

6) Practice self love and care daily. Wash, rinse and repeat. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself when you mess up. Love yourself enough to invest in yourself. Love yourself enough to say NO, to people, to demands, to requests for your time. Let go of the guilt that comes with saying NO. There is only one you. Love yourself enough to say YES. Be open to new friendships, new opportunities, a new way of living.

7) Grab on to grit and grace and never let go. You may not know or believe this right now, but you are a fighter. You are stronger than you think. You are filled with grit and grace. I beg you, DO NOT give up on yourself. Believe that you are enough. Believe that you are worth every sacrifice that will get you to your goal(s). Believe in you.

Hugs & friendship,

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Blooming into Me

There was a time in my early twenties that my husband and I refer to as “the dark days”, except it was more like the dark year (or two, or three). As I’m now a Mom of young adults, I think that the early twenties are a challenging time for most. It’s when we really have to start adulting. Job searching. Dating. Going through the natural progression of pulling away from our families and finding our own way. My daughter used to get annoyed at the constant questioning from family and friends about her major, then her career path, then marriage and now babies (OK I’m guilty of that on occasion). It’s an exciting yet pressure filled time.

At 21, I found myself thrust into motherhood. After becoming pregnant at the end of my sophomore year of college, I dropped out and moved home to try and figure things out. My husband (now of 23 years) still had a year of college to complete. So there I was, searching for a job with benefits and decent pay with absolutely no skills but working as a cashier at Acme Markets. It was humbling and it shattered my confidence. My career dreams put on hold, I took an entry level opening at a bank. The pay was so meager that with my husband working part time and being a full time student, we were broke. We abandoned our pride and signed up for government subsidized daycare, health care and WIC. Love doesn’t pay the bills.
I was in such an in between place. My college friends were still in college and although they were sweet I felt jealous that they were free to finish their studies while I was muddling through motherhood. Like seriously muddling. I struggled with finding where I fit in. My workplace friends were older and I had trouble connecting. Not because of them but really because I felt like I was an actress in a play going through the motions of being a Mom and a grown up worker.

It was also during that time that my Pop-Pop passed away. I lived with my Pop-Pop for many years growing up and he was (and still is) one of the most treasured people to me in the world. His passing left a huge whole in my heart and overwhelmed me with sadness.
And if that loss wasn’t enough, I decided it was time to confront my sexual abuser because I didn’t want him around my daughter. I had to find enough brave to face some deep family truths. This confrontation tore apart some of my closest relationships. Including the woman who was like a Mom to me (my Mom passed when I was young). This confrontation was met with disbelief. I felt betrayed, sad and alone. Side note- he is now in prison. But that’s a longer story.

I filled these holes of grief, shame, loss and pain with food. Looking back I was definitely going through a depression and should have sought help. I am thankful that my husband (who is my Jack Pearson if you watch This Is Us) stuck by my side.
All of these experiences became limiting beliefs that I carried into my adulthood. Even though I’m an achiever and perfectionist (I like to call it striving for excellence), there was a time when I just didn’t think I was good enough. I doubted myself constantly. I never felt like I measured up. Even after I went back to college to get my degree or bettered myself through certifications, I didn’t feel worthy. While I now consider myself an extroverted introvert, back then I just wanted to fade into the background. I didn’t want to be noticed. I was a withering flower dying for some light and water.

Enter God. At 28, my husband and I went back to church. We spent a year looking for “the right church” and finally found “the one”. The first time I sat in our church (I went by myself because my husband had grown tired of looking with me), silent tears rolled down my face. The worship spoke to me. I was home. I was loved. I was worthy. I was enough. I was forgiven. My life was redeemed. I was restored. Little by little God healed my hurts and closed my past wounds. Sure they open up from time to time, but that’s what comes with having current relationships from those who have hurt us in the past. Those scars don’t have to define us, but they are little pieces of who we are.
Year by year I started to bloom. My stem stood taller. My petals brightened. I kept my face to the Son. He gently warmed my soul and grew me from the inside out to who I am today. Disclaimer: I also went to counseling and did a ton of heart and soul work. A ton. Still am.

At 46, I love my life. I’m married to my one true love. My kids (now young adults) are my everything and are turning out to be some pretty darned amazing people. I’ve finally found my way to a career that uses my talents. My friendships are deeper. I have an extended family that I treasure. My dreams are bigger. I’ve become a risk taker. I finally conquered my weight (losing and maintaining 40 pounds let's hope for good this time). Over the past few years I’ve been a Weight Watchers Leader and Beachbody Coach. Last year I decided to certify as a fitness instructor. I now lead a REFIT® class at my church, blending my love of faith and fitness. Life feels really good right now. On most days I feel like a badass. And it’s not because my life is perfect. Those of you that know me or have read my blog know that I have faced my share of struggles, including a serious chronic illness that has no cure.

My life is full because my heart is filled with God.

And when I start to doubt. Enter God. And when I start to worry. Enter God. And when I feel like that broken girl in her twenties. Enter God. And when I lose some of my petals. Enter God. He grows me right where I’m planted. I couldn’t have bloomed into me without Him.                                            
Hugs and friendship,