Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Four Letter Word

I grew up in a home where there was lots of cursing. I consider myself a "cursing Christian" and am always happy when I meet a fellow CC :). I find cursing to be theraputic and actually once read an article in a health magazine that said studies show that people who swear are less stressed than people who don't. So that's a good thing! But the four letter word I am talking about today is not a "swear word."

Love is a four letter word.

It's amazing to me how something so amazing and precious and beautiful as love can also bring so much hurt and pain and devastation. There are so many people around me who are experiencing great heartache because of love. Relationships are severed. Strained. Longed for. Complicated. And sometimes, the cynic in me wonders if love is really worth it. Is it really worth all the pain and heartache?

We grow up (especially us girls) watching Disney Princess movies and having fairy tales read to us. And in all of these stories they have one common theme. The girl's life is terrible, but she meets a "handsome prince" and he rescues her, they fall in love and live happily ever after. So because we are fed this over and over and over and over again as we grow up we believe that this is how love works. That our life will be better when we fall in love and that we will be content and happy if we are loved and in love. WHAT A LOAD OF BULLSH*T!!!

Love is not about being happy all the time. It is not all about lust and passion and romance. It is not being swept off your feet and being rescued by prince charming. That is not love. Those things can be a byproduct of love, sure. But love is so much more than that. Love is hard work because people are people and that means that we all make mistakes, we say things we don't mean, we don't say things we do mean, we hurt each other from time to time. We all have baggage and issues! Love is not a cure for those issues. Love is about sacrifice. Love is fighting when you'd rather ignore the issue. Love is dying to self. Love is supporting someone in a time of need even though they've hurt you in the past. Love is forgiveness. Love is accepting someone for all of who they are - the good and the bad. Love is not easy. A dear friend of mine always says. "Love is in the details." And I so agree with that.

The definition of love is: a deep, enduring, emotional regard for another person.

To me, the key word in that definition is enduring. To endure means to suffer patiently. Ouch! Who wants to do that? But if we say we love someone that means we must not only take the good (romance, joy, friendship, connection), but we must also be willing to suffer patiently in order to have the good. As scary as this kind of love sounds - I want it! I want it in all of my relationships with my friends. I want it with the man who will some day be my husband. I want to suffer patiently for him and for him to do the same.

Love is a four letter word. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. But for the right person, it is so worth it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Journey Through The Pain

I am currently in the process of getting a phoenix tattooed on my left thigh. It's huge. It's beautiful. And as the artists in the tattoo shop continue to tell me, it's "badass!" :) I've spent nine and a half hours laying on a table while the BRILLIANT Steve Schram tattoos my leg and I have five hours to go. And oh my goodness, it's been painful! There have been parts that were just irritating and uncomfortable, but bearable. There have been parts that hurt like hell and I just wanted to scream (I've only said the f-word once so far). There have been moments where I've wanted to stop and be done because I couldn't handle it anymore. During these nine and a half hours I've had time to talk to Steve and get to know him and how effing amazing and talented he is, what a beautiful human being he is and what a loving father and husband he is. And I've also had LOTS of time to think and reflect. And this whole process of getting tattooed, the pain/discomfort on so many levels, just makes me think of my life at different times. Life can be very uncomfortable. It can hurt like hell. It can make you want to throw in the towel and just give up. And I think about this journey to a healthy me that I've been on and how hard it's been. How I've just wanted to give up because in the moment the pain seems so unbearable and so not worth it and it seems that the only alternative is to quit. And that's where I've been with my weight loss journey - I've quit. But as I laid on that table getting tattooed, I realized something...If I can push through the pain, find a way to get through it, then the reward is something so beautiful!!! And it's a reward that will last a lifetime!

All of that kind of ties into why I chose to get a phoenix tattoo. A phoenix is a mythical bird, that when it dies, it burns and turns to ash and out of the ashes, a new phoenix is born. In the Japanese culture, a phoenix represents feminine strength and beauty. This tattoo represents the last couple years of my life. When I turned thirty, I decided to get my life together. All my life I've just been this sad, lonely fat girl who just wanted to be accepted and to have people love her. So I spent thirty years living my life for other people, trying so hard to be who they wanted me to be, that I didn't even know who I really was anymore. And at thirty, I discovered running and found out so much about myself as a person and how beautiful and strong I really am. I also began my weight loss journey and the journey to feeling comfortable in my own skin. So this tattoo is a culmination of all these things and represents a new chapter in my life - a new beginning to the real me.

I have my third and final session with Steve on July 1st. It's going to be very bitter-sweet. I cannot wait for the finished product and to see this amazing piece of artwork on my body. But I'm also going to miss the process, miss hanging out in the shop, miss talking to Steve. But they say all good things must come to an end, so I'll just have to start saving up for yet another amazing tattoo!

Write A Book...Maybe

So, I’ve been told by many people that I write well and that I should write a book. I always laughed that off because I’m not an author, sure I was an English major in college, but that doesn’t mean I can write. And yes, occasionally I can spout off something witty or thought provoking after I’ve had an experience, but that would account for a few pages, not an entire book. And what would I write about? I don’t feel like I’ve arrived at anything and have no authority to give people advice on anything. But what if I did write a book? A non-fiction book. What would I write about? People say you should write about what you know. I know about sorrow, loss, heartache. I know about working my ASS off to lose weight only to have it come off very slowly. I know singleness, being an outsider, always feeling like I’m the only one bold enough (maybe dumb enough) to challenge things and ask questions about why they are the way they are. I know what it’s like to be the fat girl wherever I go and ALL the things that come along with that. I know what it’s like to be an aunt to two of the most beautiful little people in the world. I know what it’s like to grow up on a farm and what it’s like to use your imagination to play outside instead of being cooped up with video games. I know what hard work is all to well. I know what it’s like to have parents who did their best, but their best wasn’t always good enough. I know what it’s like to grow up in a home where you had to perform, where praise was void, where affection was absent, where feelings were stuffed because no one wanted to hear about it. I know what it’s like to live my life as a people pleaser who spends most of her energy trying to make others happy and becoming lost in the process. I know what it’s like to be a fighter, to cling on to hope. I know what it’s like to fail and fail big, yet eventually pick myself back up and try again. I know what it’s like to have desires, deep longings and not have them realized. I know what it’s like to be my own worst critic and never feel like I’m good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, kind enough, loving enough, and the list is endless. I know amazing friendships that have forever changed my life. I know deep loss of those same relationships. I know laughter, laughter so good it hurts and makes you cry. I know giving up, throwing in the towel, settling. I know feeling lost, left out, isolated. I know not fitting in. I know being bullied. I know the overwhelming joy of finishing my first half marathon. I know crying myself to sleep. I know laughing so hard I peed my pants. I know getting up early. I know routine. I know solitude. I know me.

Finding The Smile

Finding The Smile
So there’s this blogger that I follow. His name is Ben Davis (bendoeslife.com) and he has lost 130 pounds after discovering a love for running. He has completed countless races and has even completed an Ironman! He’s badass, super funny and easy on the eyes:)!!! Once in awhile he will write something deep and thought provoking, and yesterday I came across one such post (see below). As I read this post, I felt like I was reading my own life - that Ben has been sneaking into my journal and into my head. These last few months of my life have been filled with sadness and a rollercoaster of emotion. And the saddest thing about all of it is that I gave up on me. I decided that I wasn’t worth fighting for. I let the darkness creep in and take over. I allowed comfort to beat out sacrifice. I decided that being sad was easier than fighting to find the joy. I quit on myself. I lost focus. I decided to settle for comfort because it was safe. It didn’t matter that the comfort was sucking the life out of me. BUT…I’m back! I have rediscovered that fire in me, that fight, that inner badass! And I am learning how to fall in love with myself all over again. I am learning to take care of myself, to drag myself out of bed in the morning to let Erin kick my ass at the gym, to push myself beyond what I think I am capable of. And I know that I will probably slip up again. This isn’t a fight that is won only once. This is a fight I will have to win time and time again. But with every slip comes wisdom and tools to use to fight the fight harder and smarter. And that makes it easier to find the smile…

Finding the smile
It’s no secret that a lot of people in the world are sad. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that most people have some area of life that is unsatisfactory and, in many cases, it is bleeding through to the rest of their lives in the vicious cycle that has become the cliché of depression and unhappiness.

For some of us, this manifests itself in the form of sitting in front of a screen rotating between our email, blog, Facebook and Twitter. Over and over. We get sad, but we look around and there’s nothing else, so we hit refresh one more time. And again.

The hours don’t fly, they drip like molasses.

Others fill that emptiness with substances. Some use alcohol and drugs. Some find excuses to eat. Others simply sit and stew, waiting for the clock to tell them it’s time to go to sleep again.

The sad things we fill our lives with aren’t important.


What’s important is to understand that if we’re going to fix it—if we’re going to get better, whether it be through our own methods or professional help—we have to find something to replace the bad. That time can’t go unoccupied, because when it does, we allow the habits to creep back in.

I found races. But it doesn’t have to be running. It doesn’t have to be Crossfit or yoga. It doesn’t have to be working out at all. Get creative and make it fun. And make it worthwhile. But, whatever the cost, put a positive force into play where the negative used to be. Life can be exciting. Life can be fun.

Replace the bad with the good. It’s necessary.

All In A Day's Run

Some of you know that last year I trained for and completed my very first half-marathon. It was one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had. It helped me to realize that all my life I have allowed others to define me and that I didn't really know who I was as a result. All the training and completing the run was about proving something to myself. It was amazing! (See my note More Than A Run for more on that experience.) Well, I decided I was going to participate in the half marathon again this year. Training began a couple weeks ago, and I will complete the run on Mother's Day. I went for a six mile run this morning, and had a bit of an epiphany about my life. You see, when I do something once, I automatically make this assumption that I have conquered it/mastered it and if I do it again, it will be a piece of cake because I know what to expect. Well, I have ran the six mile distance hundreds of times, but today it was a real struggle to complete. And as I was on my run this afternoon, I was beating myself up. I was calling myself a failure. I was doubting my abilities. I almost quit - turned around and walked home. But about half way through the run Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtGY4G7II6s) came on my pandora radio. This song has meant a lot to me and how much I have changed as a person. This song is about freedom and writing your own life story and not allowing others to do that for you. And it pushed me to keep running. And then a few songs later, Pink's "F-ing Perfect": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G5T9bIdYlE came on (this link it to the edited version!). This song too, just speaks to me and my struggles with loving myself and believing that I am worth it. So I continued to push myself to finish my six miles.

And as I completed my run, I thought about my life and how difficult and impossible it can seem sometimes. Sometimes I want to quit. Sometimes I want to just give up. Sometimes I doubt myself. Do you ever do that??? In spite of all my doubting today, I did it (and faster than I ever have before). I just needed to overcome myself and remember that I AM worth it. I CAN do it. I AM a fighter. I AM strong. I AM good enough. And when I choose to believe that, then I can preserver.

Please know beyond the shadow of a doubt that YOU are amazing! You have strength and abilities that you didn't know you had!!! May you find that song or that quote or that verse that can help remind you of this the way I did today!

More Than A Race

Well, it’s been one month since I ran in and completed my very first half marathon! And it’s actually really hard to believe that I did it or that it was even something that was in the realm of my abilities to do (due to my own personal demons and things I was told/experienced as a young lady about myself and who I was and was not). So I have to remind myself that I did actually do itJ. Completing this race was not only good for my body and physical self, but it was so good and needed for my heart and my attitude toward myself and who I am. And what is even more strange is that I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me that I’ve inspired them. It is so odd to me to hear people say that. I’ve never considered myself as inspiring. I’m very flattered, but again, I don’t often believe in my own abilities and impact. So that has been a big thing for me.

This whole process has changed my life! It was like my own little personal Breakthrough trainingJ. I never could have imagined how training for a run would have caused me to grow as a person. It was the hardest and most amazing thing I have ever done in my life to date!!! The only thing I can possibly think that could top it would be giving birth to my child some day. It really was a phenomenal experience. I find myself walking tall, speaking my mind more – having greater confidence in myself and who I am.

When I was thirteen years old, I had a coach/teacher tell me I could not be on the basketball team because I was fat……..That one moment totally changed me and my life. I allowed that one comment to dictate who I was, what I did and who I was going to become. That day taught me that I was limited. There were things that I couldn’t do, even if I wanted to. I was less than. I wasn’t good enough. My size dictated my worth. And shame on me for thinking I could be/do something I’m not. A fat girl is not an athlete. A fat girl is not beautiful. A fat girl is not confident. A fat girl is not popular. So after that moment, I learned to be what people expected of me. I allowed others to place me in a box. I became the quiet, bubbly, nerd who was smart and a band geek. That was who I was. And I have carried this around with me ever since. As I have grown into an adult, I am still effected by this one moment and continue to limit myself for the fear that someone will tell me I can’t do it because I’m the fat girl and fat girls shouldn’t do that.

So eighteen years later, I allow my crazy friend Erin to convince me to train for a half marathon. And during the whole process, I was just waiting for the moment when I would fail, when I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. But that moment never came!!! I did it! I really did it! I ran 13.1 miles. It took me three hours and twenty-one minutes and I may have been the last person to cross that finish line, but I did it! And I had such a great support system and all of my friends were there cheering me on and Erin was there running along side me the entire way. And the moment I crossed that finish line, I began to weep. Part of those tears were about the physical and mental exhaustion of what I had just done, but most of those tears were about something much bigger. In that moment, I took back my life!!! Eighteen years ago I gave it away to hate/judgment/ignorance. But when I crossed that finish line I proved to everyone, and most importantly, myself, that I am so much more that “the fat girl!” I am strong. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am an athlete. And I can do anything I set my mind to! So now I have a new moment to look back on that can help to shape who I am and who I become. That race was so much bigger than just running around the city of Kalamazoo. That race was about taking my life back and for the first time – living it!

Some Wonderings

Do you ever feel better about yourself/about life when you're around someone? There are people in my life who just make me feel good about who I am. I find myself smiling and laughing a lot more around them because their personalities are so infectious.

Do you ever wonder if you get in your own way in life? I wonder this a lot actually. Do my own fears and insecurities hold me back? Have I missed out/passed up some great things because I was scared or unsure? And sadly, I'm positive the answer to this is yes.

Do you ever wish you could get away with saying exactly what was on your mind? Gosh, I really wish I could do this….sometimes I don't say things I want to because I'm afraid of the way it might be received and sometimes I don't say it because it may be deemed inappropriate. And sometimes I don't say it because I'm too nice.

Do you ever just want to grab ahold of someone and kiss them? Man…I wish I was a little more bold and brazen sometimes!

Have you ever just wanted to do something really crazy and spontaneous because the person you're with makes you feel safe and brave? I love it when the people I care about bring out the sides of me I didn't know existed.

Have you ever been so enamored with someone you couldn't take your eyes off of them? Just watch them makes you happy. Seeing them smile makes you smile. Seeing them frustrated makes you frustrated. Words are not needed to share feelings between two people.

Have you ever, as an adult, been too excited about something to fall asleep?

Have you ever wanted to just touch someone? And not in a sexual way, but touching them makes you feel this spark, this connection. I can't imagine what the world would be like without physical touch.

Do you have moments in your life you wish you could freeze in time? Everything about a specific moment is perfect, the mood, the emotion, the company – and you don't want that moment to end.

Men And Me

I am going to begin this post with a disclaimer (which probably means I shouldn't be writing it, but I'm going to anyway)....The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone. I am speaking only for me and not the enitre female population. And the paragraphs to follow are written with deep emotion (hurt, disappointment, frustration, fear, saddness, lonliness). So these are not always my opinions, just today:).

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way...... I have to say that I L-O-V-E, love men. I relate to men much more easily than I do women. I grew up the only girl in a family of tons of boys. Two of my very closest friends (people I would lay my life down for) are men. I trust them completely and adore them with my whole heart. Men are fantastic, really they are. BUT men can be big shallow, self-absorbed jerks sometimes too. What is that all about? Why is it a man can say that he wants a woman who's going to love him for who he is, who's funny, who's kind, etc, etc...but when she's right there in front of his face, she's ignored or rejected??? What is that about? Is it me? Is it bad timing? Is it insecurities? Is it shallowness? Is it fear? I'm asking because I don't know. And I'm at my wits end here. I'm 32 years old and single. All of my life my dream has been to be a wife and a mommy. I believe God has placed this desire in my heart, but sometimes I wonder if I will ever find my Boaz, my partner in crime, my best friend. I've been holding out for God's best for 32 years, and I refuse to settle. I am an amazing woman. I am beautiful, funny, creative, intelligent, compassionate, driven, selfless (I could go on, but I think you get the point). I am an amazing catch, any man would be lucky to have me. So why haven't I been caught yet? Can anyone answer this question? I guess what is really driving this frustration is two fold. One, it seems like everyone around me is getting engaged/married and having babies. This leaves me envious and a little scared that I've missed my opportunity somewhere along the way. The second part of my frustration is that I feel like I'm still single because men have bought into the worlds idea of beauty. And because I don't fit into that (I'm not 120 pounds), I'm passed up/looked over/ignored/rejected. And this is especially frustrating to me because the last several men I have been interested in (and found completely sexy and totally wonderful) are men who do not fit worldly standards. I saw their hearts and their personalities (and their humor) as more important than their physical appearance.

My heart, as well as the heart of every woman, is extremely fragile. And men act like a bull in a china shop most of the time, having no care or concern for the mess they leave behind. And we're left to try and pick up all the pieces and glue it back together. Have you ever broken a dish before and tried to glue it back togther? It's quite a process. You have to find all the pieces, put them back togther correctly, apply the glue, hold it together as the glue dries. It takes a long time and sometimes several tries to get it put back together. And you can never find every single piece. There are always little chips missing. The dish is never the same again. It's scarred and more fragile than it was before. This is like the heart. Each time it is broken, it becomes more and more fragile - to the point that you're afraid to use it.....

I know there's a man out there for me. I just pray that he's man enough to follow his heart/his gut/the prompting of the the Holy Spirit and pursue me. And to this man I say, thank you for being a man!

What's That on Your Foot?

I have a tattoo on the top of my right foot that's been there for about four years now. When people see it, they always ask me, "What's on your foot?" And I always say it's a heart shaped rock with the hebrew word, hesed, that means unconditional love. And they look at me strangely and I reply by saying that it's a long story, but I have the actual rock that is tattooed on my foot. So, I decided to explain my tattoo here...In the fall of 2005 I had my heart completely shattered. I had fallen in love with a man whom I thought loved me back. It turns out that he did love me, just not enough....basically it came down to this - he cared for me and another girl and had to make a choice and one week after my 27th birthday he told me he was in love with her and wanted to marry her (people work fast in the romance department around here!). I was shattered, broken, devistated. I cried for about three days straight. I didn't know what to do. I thought this was the man God has given me to be my husband, but I was wrong. One day I was walking down my driveway, crying out to God, asking Him why this happened and just pouring my heart out to Him. And I look down at the ground and see a heart shaped rock on the ground about the size of three fingers and the perfect shape. A few weeks later, I was walking the same path, questioning God again, and found another heart shaped rock. I have found four of them in all. Call me crazy if you like (you wouldn't be the first person to do so), but I really feel like God gave me these rocks as a sign - a sign of His love for me. He loves me so much and it pains Him to see me cry, so He gave me these rocks to comfort me and tell me that He loves me and that it's going to be okay and that He has an amazing man for me, but I just need to be patient......I have since healed from this heartache and am now really good friends with this man and his wife. And I know that God has an amazing man of integrity and compassion (and who's funny as heck) in store for me...so I got this tattoo to remind me of how much God really loves me. And the pain I endured for this is nothing compared to the pain Christ had to endure for me.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Food and I have quite the history together. It's really a love hate relationship - I love food, and it hates me and my body. I've realized how food treats me and have tried to end the relationship many times, really I have. But it's soooo hard. Food tastes so good, and it can be so comforting sometimes. I know that there are times when I eat my emotions instead of dealing with them. Sometimes sad and lonely is a plate of chocolate chip pancakes or pizza and stressed out is Qdoba and a candy bar....not good, I know. I've decided the only way I can end the vicious cycle is that all food needs to either taste like crap or I need to remove the tastebuds from my tongue....I'm just kidding, but life really would be a bit easier if food didn't taste so wonderful....But seriously, this is something I'm really trying to work on. I don't want food to rule my life, and I think I'm making pretty good headway on this one. And hopefully one day soon I'll be able to see the fruits of my labor...So Food, we're over...through....I'm done letting you rule my life. This relationship is over!