Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Coming Home - A Christmas Memory

This is a post I wrote several years ago when I got to see my husband for the first time in months due to his service in the military. It was Christmas time and I was missing him so much. I thought I would share it again with everyone because it my favorite Christmas memory. Very rarely does life give you a movie-perfect moment, and I never want to forget this one.

I was waiting for Stephen at the airport. And I thought I would pass out before he actually got here. I was bouncing around, trying really hard to hold still, and failing miserably. The airport was crowded with a bunch of people with signs for LDS missionaries coming home, long lines of people waiting to get through security and people pouring out of the exit and into the baggage claim. They all smiled at me indulgently, probably thinking I was waiting for a missionary.

I saw Stephen coming around the corner from his reflection in the glass and I promised myself that I would hold still.

I lied to myself.

As soon as he got out from that long hallway I found myself running towards him and throwing myself in his arms. The whole airport burst into cheers. People in the security line were jumping up and down, random people took pictures. It sounded like we had just won a big football game. Everyone was yelling, clapping and cheering like crazy. And it went on for a while. I was crying, with my head buried in his uniform and arms wrapped firmly around his neck. He maneuvered us to the back of the crowd, carrying me and two large back packs. I was too overwhelmed with happiness to be of much help. We just held each other for a minute, and I cried some more, and then made our way to the escalator.

As we went up, people below saw us and again started cheering.

It was awesome.

And I think that for the first time ever, the outside world sounded exactly like how I was feeling inside.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sub for Santa

I was raised in a family that taught me how important giving is, especially in the Christmas season. Even when we didn't have a whole lot, my parents made sure that we took care of others. I have always appreciated what my parents did for me, and I want this tradition to carry on to my family.

During the Holidays it is so easy to get swept up by crazy to-do lists and party schedules. I know that last night I skipped the gym to go shopping. Last year I signed my family through United Way to help a family out. With the help of family and friends, my husband and I were able to help a struggling young mother have everything her family needed. On Christmas Eve, I took my siblings to drop off gifts. They loved playing Santa's elves and wrapping gifts for someone else!

This year I wasn't sure if I would sign up again. We have a lot on our plate what with school and paying off medical bills for Stephen's knee surgery. But my sweet, angel of a little sister told me that her favorite part of last year was dropping off the gifts for that family in need. She said she wanted to do it again this year. So I signed up!

This year we have the opportunity to help a family of four have a good Christmas. The dad has a chronic illness and lost his job because he couldn't work back in September. The mom is trying to make ends meet and is currently working nights. They have a 14 year old boy who loves soccer, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, and adventure books And a 9.5 year old little girl who loves to skateboard, watch movies and read adventure books. After speaking with the mother, I found out what these kids really need this year (as well as want!)

Unfortunately, we can't do it alone. If you are looking to help a family out or give this season, maybe consider getting something off this list:

If you have any hand-me-downs in the following sizes, please let me know!
Shoes - Mens 10
Shirt - 16-18 boys
Pants - 18 boys slim
Favorite Color: Red, black

Shoes - Girl's 4
Shirt - size 8
Pants - size 8
Favorite colors: yellow, light blue, purple

There is also an incredible, wonderful, heart warming project going on over at the bloggess! Some wonderful people there have already started to help us make this Christmas a great one for this family in need. You can always peruse the needed items there and fulfill a wish there as well!

If you feel so inclined to give, but can't give much you can always send a $5 amazon gift card to me at ames.jeannie at gmail dot com and I PROMISE to use it ONLY for this family (scouts honor, cross my heart, pinkie swear.)

I am sooooo grateful to the many people who helped make my birthday so wonderful by donating to the Center for Women and Children in Crisis. I feel like I am always asking for help with these things, and you guys always step up. Thank you sooooooo much for support, love, good wishes, good vibes and everything else you all do for me and others Every. Single. Day.

Love to you all this Christmas Season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Observation and Confessions

I always feel like the best thing we can do for ourselves is be honest. Somethings we really don't want to tell the world. In fact, many wouldn't ever tell you that I swept for the first since returning home from India. Yes that was over three months ago. (Sorry Mom. I know you raised me better... I do.). But that is the truth y'all. I swept AND mopped for the first time in 3 months this past week. It felt good. And now, everyone can feel better about themselves. You're welcome.

This is what my mother is doing right now. 
I just had to add this one. Because: Penguins.
But this isn't really what I want to talk about. I just wanted to break the ice. Show you how very human I am. What I wanted to talk about was my current journey. We are all on one. Most days I feel like mine is a journey between the loony bin and my bed (I love my bed.) But really, I am just trying to live my best life.

I've talked about how food and I have a long and complicated relationship. Our relationship is more drama filled than most soap operas. And I've really had this weird bungee jumper like attitude about food. I just stand on the precipice with my heart in my throat, and curse words running on a loop in my head trying to figure out how to jump. How do I take the plunge and just leave all the garbage behind?! And then I get so confused and scared that I ignore it. Take off my helmet, sit down a good five feet from the edge and indulge in a bag of marshmallows.

I decided that enough was enough. That I wasn't going to try and change anything, but simply observe. I read that the most effective health and weight-loss tool ever is a food journal. I decided I wanted to take my food journal to the next step. So, I am recording when I eat, what I eat, why I ate and how I felt before and/or after I ate (both emotionally and physically.)

There is no judgement involved. Last night, when feeling and recognizing all these emotions involved with food felt raw and open and overwhelming, I self-sabotaged. I didn't go to the gym like planned. I ate marshmallows and potato chips and pie. (Curse you delicious pie!). But I didn't judge. I just wrote it all out. How I felt when I went scrounging for junk food. How I felt afterwards.

And this morning, when I had oatmeal for breakfast and an orange and hot tea for a snack I wrote down those emotions too. When I am just observing there is no way to "fall off the bandwagon." I'm actually sitting comfortably in my bean bag watching all the bandwagons file by.

I don't have a lot of conclusions quite yet. I am noticing that I feel "good" or "bad" when I eat certain foods. I felt like I was "being good" when I had an orange as a snack. I felt like I was "being bad" or "breaking the rules" when I ate marshmallows. And this is something I want to break I don't want anything like my self-worth or ability to "be good" attached to food. I am both good and bad. I am human. I am imperfect and messy and trying my hardest. Food is just that: food.

For the first time I am not trying to change my eating habits to "be good". I am trying to give myself grace and love and the ability to process my emotions. I think that as I find and work through all the negativity that surrounds food that my eating habits will correct themselves.

I am sharing this because I know I'm not the only one who struggles. I know I'm not the only one looking for a way out of the food guilt and frustration. Keeping this food journal is actually easy. I have a little book and pen with me all the time. I use one word if possible to describe my emotions. So it looks something like this:

When - 10:30 am
What - hot tea
Why - feeling cold and low
Felt - warm, like I was "being good"

See, short and sweet and to the point. Some are even shorter than that! Sometimes I eat because I'm simply hungry. And after I eat I feel: full. No emotions were involved. Other times, I've ended up with a paragraph trying to figure out why I ate what I did in the first place. But it rarely takes longer than 1 minute. The most it has taken is 5 minutes.

I don't know how long I will keep this up. I don't know what the true and lasting repercussions are. I just know that I am giving myself permission to just be. And I'll sit back and observe. And maybe at the end of all this I will have let go of a lot of unneeded stuff.

Anyone is welcome to join me! Its easy. And you can keep it to yourself. On top of simply observing my eating habits I have one health goal, and only one, and that is to run 2 full miles without stopping by Christmas. Cause I want too, dagnabit! I've done it before and I shall do it again!

So tell me, what goals do you have for yourself? Does a food journal sounds like something that could be helpful to you?  I want to hear what you have to say!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Herd of Cats

Anyone who has just two wolves is pretty lucky. I have found that I exist with a herd of cats living inside of me. A whole bunch of cats, each trying to be the "alpha" cat. Each frolicking and trying to out purr the other. Life is difficult with a whole bunch of cats chasing lasers inside of you.

Meet Lucy. She is wise.

One cat, let's call her Lucy, she is a conscientious little one. She wants us to eat organic, and be a dedicated yogi. She likes to look at new recipes of green smoothies that have odd ingredients like kelp, chia seeds, hemp and who knows what else. She likes the idea of eating paleo, or carb free or whole grains. She believes in meditation and doing sun salutations to work through emotions.

And then there is another little kitty, Susie. She is a hellian. She loves marshmallows and Cheetos. Working out is hard work, and therefore should be avoided. She really likes netflix. And lounging in the sun. Sleeping is the number one priority. Followed, of course, by eating the delicious and easy things in life.

I hope Helen has a cat-stache
Now, these two sweet felines sure like to tustle and fight and make me crazy. Let's be honest, Susie usually wins because hers is the path of least resistance. And it has the cheetos. I don't know if you know this, but (for me) cheetos trumps chia seeds. But, like I said, I live with a herd of cats. I'm hoping that within the tumbling fur balls and emotions there is one that promotes moderation. I hope her name is something sensible but quirky. Like Helen. You don't meet many Helens these days.

Truth is, I've always struggled with the concept of being moderate. I've been an all or nothing gal since I first made up my mind. Honestly, that isn't a horrible thing to be. It has its advantages. I dig in and I don't give up when I make up my mind. Its how I navigated college at fifteen. But finding middle ground is something I struggle with. Something I'm not comfortable doing. Some find that they can easily make "healthy choices" and allow a few "unhealthy" things to slip in now and again. Those "unhealthy" things don't ruin their diet, their exercise plan or their desire to be healthy. It isn't the end of the world or an era or anything. It was simply a choice.

To walk the path of moderation is a mystery to me. It just doesn't make a whole lotta sense. In my black and white brain, you're IN or you're OUT. Being healthy isn't one of those lovely sloping pools where you can splash around in the shallows - half in and half out. Slowly making your way deeper if that is your desire. Sun bathing in the shallows with a veggie platter and a slushie. Its an Olympic sized diving pool, and its sink or swim.

Progress might be in my future. At least that is what I'm hoping. I mean, the first step to change is seeing that change must be had. And the second step is the desire to make the change. Granted, sometimes this is both the easiest and hardest part. But still. I'm on my way. I read this article last night and I think this might be the path for me. Who knows? It is a starting point.

What I DO know is that it is important to accept yourself. All of you. Every individual cat in the herd of cats. It frees you from all kinds of unhealthy emotions. So, here is to Lucy, Susie and (hopefully) Helen, To the impulsive and lazy parts of me. The passionate and peace-loving frolicking felines that all make up who I am.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Real Life - the Spider Incident

Let's talk real life for a second.

I hate spiders. I might have lived in India, and I might now have a much higher tolerance for sharing my space with bugs. But spiders? Nope. Not gonna fly (ha, see what I did there? Punny! No? Ok. Nevermind.)

So last night, I walk into our tiny little bathroom. And there is a HUGE spider above the mirror. And I'm pretty sure it locks eyes with me. It has me in its sights. And the thing is growing by the nanosecond. By the time I run screaming from the bathroom it has taken on Hobbit proportions.

I am NOT as brave as Bilbo.
Of course, my husband comes to investigate his frightened wife's screams. Only to also retreat to the bedroom where we can both peek at the terrifying, awful thing from around the door, with the safety of a wall between us and IT.

While Stephen watches to make sure the monster does not disappear, I run to the kitchen to find something, anything, to capture it. We didn't just want to kill it. Not because we are against killing spiders (we aren't. At all. Ever. Kill them. All of them.) But because we wanted to see what we were dealing with. I mean, if the thing was a poisonous, procreating, spawn of Satan we would need to spray for spiders.

All I could find was a vase. And not just any vase. The one vase I have left over from my wedding. We decorated tables with these beautiful vases. But it was now all that stood between us and imminent death.

Stephen carefully placed the vase over the spider. And the spider immediately went berserk and started to attack his hand. I, being the brave soul I am, freaked and hid in the bedroom. I'm not proud of my actions. I just want to say that. I am not a brave soul. There is a reason I was born in the 21st century.

So there Stephen is, holding our wedding vase over the spider. Stretched out, practically on tip toe, because the stupid thing was above the mirror. The spider is periodically trying to attack his hand. And this is when he announces that he really has to pee and that I need to come and hold the vase.

Guys, I tried. I gathered my shredded dignity, my non-existent courage and I tried. But instead, I pretty much started crying and screamed, "I can't! Just pee in the sink! I can't!"

Of course, he protested. And I did this little dance where I would come close-ish to the bathroom and then hastily retreat to the safety of the bedroom. And, in the end, in a cowardly act of terror I shut the bathroom door and just yelled, "JUST PEE IN THE SINK!!!!"

And that is what the poor man had to do. Because his faithless wife abandoned him in his time of need.

In the end, after I calmed myself down enough to stop shrieking, I found some cardboard, we took the spider outside and.... threw the whole kit and caboodle over the neighbors fence and did the "Is it on my dance" while booking it back to the house.

Yes, my vase is in the neighbor's backyard. I'm not sure how we are going to explain it to them when we go to retrieve the vase. "Ummm we threw a huge wolf spider in your backyard with our wedding vase. Hope it doesn't get in your house... Mind if we retrieve the vase?"

We are cowards. We are bad neighbors. We pee in the sink. Our shame knows no bounds.

But, the silver lining? While this aggressive, awful, nightmarish spider turns us (me) into sniveling cowards, it is NOT poisonous. According to the internet it is a wolf spider (thus the aggression) and does not "pose a medical concern". That is, if you don't count heart-attacks and abandonment as medical concerns.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Tribute to my Grandpa

There have been many people in my circle of friends and family who have recently lost someone. Sometimes they have lost a loved one, a friend or coworker. But the overwhelming theme lately seems to be loss.

I'm not sure why that is, but it prompted me to think of the deaths I have experienced in my own life. I've lost two grandpas, and several of my husband's grandparents/aunts have also passed in the last two years.

But, for me, the loss that stands out the most is the loss of my great-grandfather. Grandpa Asay is a staple in all of my childhood memories. He was there for violin concerts, birthdays, baptisms, baby blessings but most of all every Sunday evening was spent with him. Every Sunday evening my mom would pack us all in the car and we would head off to Grandma and Grandpa Asays. There we would watch Bambi on repeat, play with lincoln logs, old fashioned telephones and mostly explore their magical backyard.

I would ask Grandma for a candy, and Grandpa would sneak me two. Outside, Grandpa never failed to push me on the swing, sending me soaring into the clouds. He would show me where to find the best of the raspberries, and he proved my mother wrong by showing me that money DID grow. Just not on a tree. He turned his, then, giant backyard into a magical land full of elves, cowboys and baseball.

When I was learning to write my numbers he painstakingly taught me how to write my 2's. Curly and distinctive. I write my 2's the same way to this very day, and I often look back and smile at the memory of him patiently showing me how to make that 2 just right, dim lights: yellow counter top and squeaky pencil.

Easter egg hunts were better in his backyard. And Christmas wasn't Christmas without going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, where all the unmarrieds would dress up and act out the nativity and then sing Christmas songs until Santa made his appearance, because Grandpa asked him to drop by. And then the brown paper bags with candy and little oranges were given to all. And I would sit on Santa's knee and boldly ask for ponies, puppies and a little sister.

Even as a teenager I looked forward to those evenings at Grandpa's house. There is something about being in a place so full of love that not even the babies want to fight. But as I grew older, so did he. That didn't stop our special connection. He often told me how I was his "special girl, and I love you more than you know."

Soon, the dementia set in and instead of seeing me for me, I was my mother in high school. I happily answered to, "Shirlyn" and cherished what moments I had with him.

Soon, but really a few years later, he was suddenly gone. I remember the night of his death so clearly because I knew he was gone before the phone even rang.

I had been engaged, and just a few weeks earlier my fiance had out of the blue called off the wedding and broken my heart. I had gone home for the weekend, wanting to be cuddled by my understanding mother. That night, I was laying on the hood of my car staring at the bright summer stars. In the country the stars are so clear and close they can take your breath away. I was feeling so alone and discarded, like I had done something horribly wrong and deserved this broken heart. My eyes had just filled up with tears wondering how I was supposed to move on with my life. And then, Grandpa was there.

His presence was so strong that I felt if I just turned my head I would see him sitting next to me. I had that, "you are loved and safe" feeling he exuded just wash over me. And, clear as a bell, I heard him say, "Jeannie you are my special girl, and I love you very much. You deserve the best things in life." And then he was gone. And I knew that he had transitioned from my earth angel, to my guardian angel. Just as sure as I knew that I would and could go on with life.

I have a hard time thinking about his funeral, about saying that final goodbye. But I remember, after the service, they set up a mic while his many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren ate the food Grandma would make sure was on their plates. Anyone who wanted too could get up and say a memory. I couldn't manage to get up there. His final goodbye to me was still so near to me, and I knew that I would be incomprehensible if I tried to say anything else.

Its been years since he has been gone. But he has shown his presence in my life when I needed him most. At the time in my life I felt so alone and helpless and hurt, he was there. With those same words, and that overwhelming love. I miss him every single Christmas. And at my cousin's recent baptism I found myself in tears at his absence. Part of me still misses him every single day, even though he has shown how active in my life he really is.

Sometimes when I'm faced with decisions, the decision I go with is the one I know Grandpa would be most proud of. But I also go through my days with the complete knowledge that he loves me. No matter what. Forever.

"Because someone we love is in heaven, there is a little bit of heaven in our home."

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Fire

I woke up angry this morning. Like, raging, watch-out-world angry. At least, angry is what I thought I was at first. I don't know if I can necessarily call it angry for long, because it wasn't really "anger" in the sense that I am used too. I usually get angry when some injustice happens, when someone crosses a boundary, or I see someone I love hurt. This was different. 

This was an alarm going off in my brain. A loud, shrieking siren with flashing lights. It was a "Wake up!" feeling. One that said, "FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS." It was a shadow chasing, light shedding, alert. My body has had enough.

What I am about to say may put me in jeopardy of some judgement. See, I never get zits. Even as a hormone fueled teenager, I would have (at most) two zits in a month. I currently have more zits on my face than I usually get in an entire year. (6 zits, to be exact. SIX! With one bright red, volcanic little number that is trying to take root as my third eye.)

So, lets just add up everything that my body has finally said, "ENOUGH!" And is calling me to action about. (this sentence is driving me nuts, but I can't think of a way to fix it. So I am leaving it the way it is. Though it may drive me to the looney bin.)

My hair is falling out. In handfuls. I am shedding more hair than a pack of poorly groomed golden retrievers. (I so wish I was joking here, but I'm not.) I have to sweep and vacuum multiple times a week if we don't want to be wading through mountains of hair. Gross, I know. Sorry for the mental image.

I'm exhausted. Getting out of bed after 8 hours of sleep is one of those monumental tasks akin to spouting off the Gettysburg address, after being spun around a hundred times with a mouth full of marbles. While being attacked by a bunch of needy, claw-happy kittens. And that exhausted feeling follows me around all day.

The aforementioned zits.

I lost almost 15 lbs while in India. And in less than 6 weeks gained it all back again. Part of this is due to being malnourished in India (apparently you can't be sick 4 times a week, never eat fresh fruits or veggies and live off of snickers as your primary source of nutrition and be healthy at the same time). Once I returned from this little adventure, my body went "AHHHHHHHHH" and immediately started storing everything it needed for the next season of famine. Poor body doesn't know that short of being shot, returning to a place such as India and living there for any amount of time just isn't gonna happen.

I've gone to my doctor and had some blood work down (still waiting on results), but what I really know? Things gotta change. Eating habits, workout habits, sleeping habits. Mainly all my habits. Which, if you think about it, isn't entirely comfortable. Change is hard. And my relationship with food and exercise is complicated. But it is something I'm going to get over. Starting... now. Because my health is more important than just about anything (Except for Ross and Rachel, I mean, come on. Priorities people.) 

So what does this look like? I'm not sure entirely. I know for sure that is means all processed foods and sugar are a no-go. Starting..... NOW. (That ellipsis was me eating the only food in my office. A bagel. Cause I hadn't eaten anything for breakfast. So we can start now.) Yoga errrrrrry day. Cause, well, duh. Its yoga. And I shall take up running like I always said I wanted too. 

How all of this is going to play out, I'm not quite sure. I mean, I'm not going to be crazy about this. But what I am thinking is no processed foods/sugar until my birthday. That is only a few weeks away and totally doable. And then I can eat what I want on my birthday, and then go back to being prudent until Thanksgiving. Where I shall eat all the pie, because I've been looking forward to that pie since last Thanksgiving. Guys, I love pie. I'm not giving it up. You can't make me. 

So, that's the plan Stan. Feel free to offer all the words of advice/comfort/commiserating that you wish. Encouragement is always nice, so if you have any extra of that please pass it along.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Know the Enemy

There is something to be said for knowing your demons, for recognizing the monsters that hide in your closet before you see the whites of their eyes. Knowing the enemy, it helps.

On those mornings you wake up and can't quite find your enthusiasm for a new day. Or even a glimmer of joy for a day full of unknown possibilities. You know what each hour will hold, at least this is how you feel. And each hour is going to be full of boredom and fatigue and there really isn't a good reason to get out of this warm and comfy bed.

When you know the enemy, you have the weapons to fight. When it starts to feel pressing and heavy after a few hours of work, you grab the day by the horns and take a walk. When you start to feel lonely and useless and small, you reach out to someone. Not to ask them to alleviate your feelings of crushed being. But to remind them of their own beauty and joy. Because when you shine a light on someone that light bounces back and suddenly your day is filled with those small rainbows on the wall, Sunshine glinting off the shiny ring of friendship.

Sometimes the enemy at your door is really a wake up call. It is your body saying, "Wake up! Help! Please, I need something different. Something better. A little more care." And, since you now know the enemy and how it breached your defenses, you recognize this distress signal and marshal the forces of change and better well being.

I know my enemies. When the ugly, sluggish shadow form of depression begins to ooze under my front door, and anxiety beats its frantic wings against the window, I know them. I used to blame these feelings on life, relationships, work. But now I know, these enemies slipped past the outer wall. The guard dogs and moat weren't quite enough. And that means that something needs to change. Something isn't right. I know how to keep the enemy at bay.

I go through my defenses. The drawbridge is weak - I need more sleep. The usual vigilant dogs are lethargic - more exercise and fresh air. The moat is dry - less sugar, more nutrient dense foods. The sentries are overburdened - time to take a break and renew myself.

I know I will win the war. The enemies may be staring me down now, but I know how to beat them. I know what to do. I will bolster my defenses. And with a steely determination and an army of support today's battle will be won.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Lucky Charms Kind of Freedom

I've been thinking lately ("A dangerous pastime." "I know.") After reading a random article on Facebook about body image, yet another one I should say, one thing stuck out to me. The author posed the question of "How much time have you spent worrying about your looks, counting calories, obsessing over weight and numbers." (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the article and have no idea who wrote it.)

This hit me, and I started to think about it. How often does my mind drift to my appearance? How many times a day do I worry about my weight? How much longer does it take me to decide what I am going to eat because I am counting calories against time spent exercising? Or, worse, feeling guilty about NOT exercising or eating something that is "bad"? How many times do I end up changing what I am wearing because I look "fat"?  

When I started asking these questions, I didn't like the answers. It isn't just the time but the amount of energy that is going into constant worry and fear. Because, if you break down all those thoughts, it comes down to only negative things: fear, guilt, shame, jealousy. By allowing the obsessive thoughts of what you look like, what people are thinking, not being thin enough, you are also cloaking yourself in negative thoughts and destructive behavior. 
What my thought process looked like

            You know the thing about negativity? It is contagious. You hear one person (I won't even say "woman" because men are also part of this awful truth) bashing what you see as a perfectly good body and immediately start thinking, "They think they have flabby arms?! But what about mine? They are so toned and I am so not!" (truth - this happened to me. I never once thought about what my arms looked like until spending time with someone who was very self-conscious of their arms. And it made me worry about my arms.)

            I won't go on and on and on about how the media and the world has created these crazy expectations. They have. No doubt about it. But you know what happens when you focus only on the bad effects they are having? It perpetuates it. Yes, we need to talk about the unrealistic expectations, photoshopping, body shaming, messed up world we live in. I am not saying that we are talking too much about these things. Nope. Not at all.

But you know what I want to see more of? Confidence. Joy. Celebration. And, hear me out, apathy. Apathy, as defined by google is a “lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concern.” That’s right, I want to see a complete lack of concern about what others think. I want a lack of interest in what the world portrays as the “right” body or look. I want a total and complete lack of enthusiasm for new “trends” in what a body needs to be beautiful (i.e. the formidable thigh gap).

Beauties, do you know what also is contagious? Positivity. Confidence. Joy. Celebration. Freedom. Do you know what it feels like to put on my new favorite shirt and not give a damn about whether or not I look “skinny” in it? It is a super awesome shirt! It makes me happy. Very happy. And I don’t really care what others think.

Me and my super awesome shirt

I have only recently found the joy in freedom. I have only started to celebrate this beautiful bod of mine. It isn’t easy turning off the voices, images and misconceptions that have been branded into my thought process by years of media brainwashing. But you know what? I have so much more energy now.

I have always always always wanted to be a runner. I look at those people running down the street and think to myself, “They must have some kind of crazy super power.” But I’ve wanted to run so that I looked different. Sure I said it was to be healthy. Part of it was. But the underlying motive? To have those long, lean legs.

Hello deliciousness
Guess what happens when you take away the negative energy that goes into wanting to just look different? To not being yourself? You want to run because how cool would it be to run super fast?! (Pretty cool, guys.) Food? There is no “good” or “bad” food. Sure, I don’t want a diet of twinkies and twizzlers. But I am also going to celebrate my lucky charms cereal on a Friday morning. It made Friday more magical. And guess what? I walked a mile at lunch because it felt good. Not because I had marshmallows floating in sugary milk for breakfast.

I believe that if we stop focusing on what we’re not and start focusing on what we are – that is when the magic happens. Those willowy girls who can out eat a football player and still look like Audrey Hepburn. Those wonderful men who are made of the stuff of tree trunks – solid, unmoving, strong. Those incredible women with the curves and softness of age old Greek goddesses. Those who we call gangly, wide, big, small, hourglass, pear and square. Those whose hearts are still pumping, lungs are still breathing. So pretty much everyone – celebrate what you are.

Be healthy. Because we want to keep you around for a while. Don’t ignore your health because you want to ignore the media. Look after you as only you know how! If you know that you need to lose a few pounds so that you have a healthy heart, then do it because you love this life so much you want to make every heartbeat count. If you need to start eating healthy because starving yourself is shutting your body down, do it. Not because you’ve been taunted and want to prove those bullies wrong. Not because you think you won’t be loved until you look like a runway model. Don’t try to change you to get acceptance. Be who you are, right in this moment, and love it. Once you accept yourself, the other guys won’t matter any way.

I am choosing freedom over carrying around a bucket of self-doubt. I’ve been around these free souls, and they inspire my freedom. We can change the world through positivity. Through shining and celebrating and eating our lucky charms (or our kale). Be free, and others will suddenly see that freedom is an option. The only way we will ever change this world is if we learn to love ourselves so deeply that it spills out into loving the world.

“We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wrong Side of the Bed

This morning has been all kinds of wrong side of the beddish. No reason, really. That is the whole point of a "wrong side of the bed" morning. You wake up, and everything feels off. Nothing feels quite right. You can't put your finger on the source of that deep-down grumpy feeling. It just is.

This doesn't mean that the whole day is down the pooper. Or that good things can't be found. It just means that everything feels a little off kilter. That being out of bread isn't just an inconvenience, but a big deal. Because you woke up on the very wrong side of the bed.

I did my best to combat the feeling. You know, easy morning. Headband in the hair. Wearing one of my husband's shirt and my most comfiest jeans. After getting ready and staring at the toaster that had no bread, I went in to say goodbye to my sleeping husband. And ended up snuggled beneath the covers with him. His arms circling me and nose nuzzling my neck. He whispered words of encouragement, but still let me be grumpy. Which is important. Forcing someone to be in a good mood always back fires. At least in my case.

And so, after a few minutes of stolen morning cuddles, I marched myself to work. The only thing I could find for breakfast was a cupcake. Which, to some, might seem wonderful. But to me just felt tragic. What was my world coming to if I was eating a cupcake for breakfast?! For the love of Gatsby!

But I survived eating a delicious chocolate-peanut butter cupcake, made lovingly by my sweet sister Julianne a few days before. And I survived listening to my favorite morning radio show. And I even survived going through my morning emails. My day is looking up. The worst has already happened, you see. What could be worse than love piled on love all showered on me?

And now you see the irony, don't you? And the beauty maybe. That in my wildly wonderful, perfectly imperfect life, I have so much and yet I still can have a bad day. And that is ok. Because it is a human thing. And I am very human. I am human enough to scowl at a cupcake, and human enough to laugh at myself about it later.

P.S. - I know that I have all kinds of catching up to do, the end of India to document. Our return to elaborate upon. And I shall. All in due time lovelies. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Around India in 8 Days - Part 1

So, we've been traveling. Lots of traveling. Not quite "Around the World in 80 Days" traveling. But around India in 8 days is still pretty impressive. Right? So, get ready to be flooded by pictures. (But cool pictures, so it should be a good experience. I hope.)

We left Visakhapatnam (the city we live in) much to early for my liking on July 27th, and arrived in Delhi by midmorning. We headed to our hotel and then it was out to find food. I would like to add that the hotel had a closet with pug puppies. First, to find a pug in India is kind of odd. Secondly, to go sit on a couch in the lobby and hear squeaking, look over at  an open closet and see a pile of sleeping, squeaking puppies is awesome. The hotel may have been dirty and hot, but it had puppies. Not many hotels can say that. After getting a wee bit lost we found food. We had some McDonalds and then got thoroughly lost (see a theme here? We get lost a lot.), walked around for well over a few hours and then finally found the National Gandhi Museum.

The museum was amazing. I loved to see more about Gandhi's life and quotes. We were able to see one of the bullets that took his life. The whole museum was very simple and down to earth. I think Gandhi would have liked it a lot.

This puppy fell very much asleep on Stephen.

Trying to get un-lost

Building seen while being very lost

An old fort, also seen while lost. But seen from the back of a bicycle rickshaw.

Gandhi! "Whenever you are confronted with your opponent, conquer him with love."

After the Gandhi museum we went off to find the Lotus Temple. We found it quickly (yay!) and it was such a beautiful place. It was peaceful and the gardens were beautiful. The whole temple is built on lines of simplicity and is dedicated to all religions for meditation and prayer. It was peaceful inside, and we sat in there for about 20 minutes. I even snuck a picture inside!

One of my favorite people, Kendra, and myself.

Picture I snuck while inside of the ceiling. The whole temple is built like a lotus flower
about to bloom.

From here we went off to the local mall, which was gigantic, and ate some "American" fast food. (Hello McDonalds. Yet again.)

Next morning we all stopped at Starbucks and had delicious frozen drinks. Even if they did butcher our names. From there we went to Delhi Arch, where there was a ceremony going on honoring soldiers who had died in wars over the past 75-ish years. We arrived just in time for the end of the ceremony.

Stephen with the guards.
 After the ceremony, our group meandered at our own sweet will over the long grass strip between the arch and the presidential palace. We ate popsicles and did cartwheels and handstands and laid in the grass. It was so much fun to actually have GRASS (Sounds odd, I know. But really.)

That is the presidential palace Waaaaaaayyyy back there. They don't let you get close to it.
 After seeing the palace and other government buildings, we went to see the biggest mosque in India. Only problem was, they wouldn't let us American girls in. Others were going in, after they accepted this funny looking covers. But they didn't want to let us in. So we stayed out, while Stephen went in. It was a nice view though.

 Afterwards, it was time to go to the train station. So we walked. And we walked. And we got monsooned on, while we walked. And the streets were crazy, but we saw some nice things on the way. And eventually made it safe and sound, though dripping wet, to the train station.

We spent all night on the train. We were in first class, which mean A/C! (Miracle of miracles!) It wasn't so bad sleeping on the train. A little loud and jerky. You never really get into a deep sleep. The bathrooms are truly awful, and there is no hope of a shower. But it was a fun experience. And very, very early the next morning we found ourselves in Amritsar.

Amritsar is famous for one thing really, the Golden Temple. Which is a beautiful Shikh temple. Amristar borders Pakistan so it is an area of some unrest, but the temple was beautiful. And as tired as we were, we enjoyed the experience very much.

We saw this adorable little boy sleeping in line. He wasn't impressed with the Golden Temple.

After grabbing lunch we ran off to the train station for a 17 hour train ride across the Indian desert. It was as fun as it sounds.

Stay tuned for our adventures in Jaipur, Agra and Delhi (again)!