In Two Weeks...

I have signed up for something that has me scared to death. And that is supposed to mean I am doing something good. But I'm scared. And excited. And terrified. And, well, you get the picture.

I have signed up for a writer's boot camp in Atlanta, Georgia, led by one of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg.

Her pup Hershey is going to be there too.

I'm pretty excited about that. I mean, who wouldn't be?

I have pretty much read anything Margaret has written and have heard her speak as often as I have been able to. I've even reviewed a couple of her books on my blog. I first heard of Writer's Boot camp a couple of years ago but it was in Colorado and well...Tennessee just isn't that close to Colorado. Plus all of Margaret's boot camp's sell out, usually within the first 24-48 hours. One time I missed it simply because I took too long to decide if I was going to do it and so I just kept watching the site until, BAM! It was too late.

This time, I heard about the writer's boot camp early, and I also learned that it was in Atlanta, GA. A mere FOUR hours from me.

Still, I almost waited too late. My fear and insecurities almost got the best of me.

A lot of people have told me I should write a book. My husband has believed for years that this is my calling. Me, not so much. Even though the desire is in there, the belief in myself and, quite honestly, the hard work that goes into writing a book, has kept me from moving forward. Plus, there is that whole marriage, family, raising kids, running a part-time private practice, yada, yada, yada.... in other words, LIFE.

But, quoting the late, great John Lennon, "life is what happens when you're making other plans".

My main reason for sharing this is to please pray for me. Send happy thoughts. I am my own worst enemy. I am going to this conference for me, because I felt it was something I was being called to do. However, I don't want my nervousness or fear and insecurities to take away from something that could be so great. I have done that too much in the past, and that's one of the main reasons  I went for this. When it was time to sign up I had convinced myself that since I wasn't close to writing a book, interested in getting published (at least anytime soon) and that the other writer's there would be soooo much better than me I should just put this idea out of my head. And I almost did.

Thankfully, I decided to be brave.

I don't have to have even have an idea of what book I want to write, or even an outline to participate in this conference. There may be people there who do, but it's OK that I don't.

Just because other writers that come to this conference may be close to publishing doesn't mean that I have to be. I'm going there for me.

I don't have to be the best writer at this conference. I just need to be me. I'm pretty awesome.

I write a blog. It has a small audience.  I try to write authentically. When I opened up last year about healing from past shame, I don't know how many people commented or came up to me and said what I wrote made a difference for them. Sharing about my food issues resonated with people, even people who I'm pretty sure weren't suffering from food issues. We all have some sort of hang-up. We don't come out of life unscathed. We all have experienced pain as well as happiness. We've had trials and struggles. We know what it means to experience intimacy and joy. Writing real and authentically, no matter what the subject,  hits people to the core. I know it does the same for me. Nothing I've written has come close to going viral, and honestly, that's not why I write. Writing is very healing for me and that's the main reason I do it.

Every time I get freaked out about going to this conference, I try to remember the reasons that made me sign up. I had to stop thinking and comparing myself to the strangers and fellow writers attending this conference. I'm not them. I'm me. And I'm pretty awesome. And I'm supposed to go to this and get out of it what I am supposed to get out of it, not what anyone else is supposed to get out of it.

That is why I am sharing this with you guys. My small audience. Think of me on November 2-4th. I'm going to be trying not to freak out in Atlanta. Oh, and pray that I am normal around Margaret. I tend to freak out around anyone remotely famous or who I look up to, and well, I'd really like the chance of authentic relationship this weekend, with everyone. Being closed off  to others is a way I build walls around myself. And being able to be real and be myself is really more important than anything I learn about writing at this conference. Yeah. There's that. I'm a hot mess. And I want to be brave enough to continue to be my hot mess of a person, regardless of what happens or who is at this conference. It's going to be OK. Whew.


Update on My Dad

I know I shared several weeks ago regarding my dad's health and I am happy to report that, after many tests, he does not have cancer. Because he is on dialysis, his health over all is compromised, which made the testing tricky. But the doctor feels 95% sure that the mass in his lung is not malignant.

Just felt like I left you guys hanging with all that intense reflection. It was a big relief to get the news that he is going to be OK.

During all of this I was talking about my dad, a lot. In front of my kids. People would ask how my dad was doing, etc. This did not get past my nine year old and he finally asked what was going on with Papa...

Thankfully, when this conversation went down we were pretty sure that dad wasn't seriously sick. But I explained dialysis and I explained the tests because there was a spot on Papa's lung. I spent more time explaining how Papa's kidneys don't work any more and how dialysis cleanses his system out. When my dad was in the hospital I was honest with both my boys that I was going to see Papa and that Papa was sick. My oldest said, "I don't want Papa to die".  I replied, "Honey, I don't either. Papa is sick, and he is in the hospital but he is not about to die".

Carter repeated that statement when I was explaining dad's chronic illness a couple of weeks ago. It just tugs at my heart in such a way that it is so difficult to explain. I want to spare my 9 year old pain, but I want him to know the truth. I want him to know that he can get the truth from me. That I'm not going to overly protect him from life.

I am so not the perfect parent and I could list over and over again the times that I failed my children; but speaking to them honestly about life will always happen. And I hope and pray ( and communicate this often) that they can know I will always tell them the truth. It will be age appropriate, but it will be the truth. And sometimes it's really hard, but that's when I know I am doing something right.

What about you?? If you have kids have you had any tough conversations lately? What about uncomfortable (sex) talks?? That seems to trip a lot of parents up... "Uhhhhhhhhhh".

I feel just as strongly about proper sex education as I do about telling the truth in other life issues. I've written before about talking to kids about sex so I won't repeat myself but, the take away is this.

Even with the most difficult, uncomfortable conversations, your kids deserve the truth. You can even give yourself time and say, "I know this conversation is important to you, and I want to give it the full attention it deserves, can we talk about it later?" And even saying, "Can we talk about this another time" is OK too. Even if you stumble and change the subject, you can always, always go back and say, "You remember that question you asked...I'd like to answer it now."

So go forth and TALK. Honestly and openly with your kids.

Our kids can handle the truth.

You can do it!

Rebellion and the Games They Play

This summer I have had the awesome opportunity to lead some ladies from our church through a book called Journey to Healthy Living written by Scott Reall. It's not really a diet "how-to" book. It's more of a "this is what society says and does and this is how we have reacted to it" regarding weight, body image and self-esteem.

I have felt really stuck in my journey for some time and it has occurred to me that, internally, I have put a lot of pressure on myself, and in turn feel less-than because, you know, I haven't lost any weight. And even though I have told people I am still working on getting normal with food after a lifetime of abnormal, and that losing weight has not been my goal, for now, I have inadvertently allowed negative thoughts in regarding this very personal battle.

I liken it to the little voices in our heads that are so quiet we don't even know what they are saying, we are so used to the negativity that we don't recognize the lies they are telling. No one did this to me, I did it to myself. Pressure. Expectations. What are they thinking about me???

Bottom line, this is a huge, enormous struggle. Both inside and out. And I'm still in the middle of it. And I allowed myself to think that "others" were thinking I should be further along than I was. That there should be some visible evidence of this change. Emotional change cannot be seen. And I've tried changing all the outside things (restriction, dieting, monitoring, food logging, etc.) that I almost had to just lay all of that down for a while and just live. Just be normal with food.

This past week specifically, I read two of Geneen Roth's blog posts about eating. If you aren't familiar with Geneen Roth, she is a pioneer in mindful eating. You know, not restricting what you eat but dealing mindfully with the why behind why we eat the way that we do. She wrote an amazing book, among many others, entitled "Women, God and Food". I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I posted Geneen's thoughts on our Journey to Healthy Living group because they just resonated with me and I didn't know if they would resonate with others, too.

The first one was about treating ourselves with tenderness regardless of how much we weigh. I know five years ago I was in such a place of really hating myself. I was depressed, I felt alone, ugly, and thought the only way out was to have a medical intervention, and even though it was not as drastic as it could have been, it was a big deal. And I lost weight. I thought that once the weight came off I could deal with all the rest of the junk but, until then I would just be sad, depressed, anxious, fat and unable to change. I was unable to change on my own.There. That would do it. I am 5 years later weighing about the same I did before the medical intervention. 20 pounds less, to be accurate. And I also know that you can't hate yourself into positive change. I lost a lot of weight, but the intervention I chose was not enough to keep the weight off forever. Initially the weight returned because I started overeating and abusing food 6 months in. I had no clue that I was sabotaging myself. I lost 70 pounds in the first year. But as suddenly as I started losing weight, the weight loss stopped. I didn't gain but I wasn't losing anymore.

The last three years have simply been me gaining weight back slowly. I got into therapy to figure out what in the world was going on.  I knew something wasn't right.It was then I learned of all the shame, guilt, depression and even a little ( a lot of) hate I had poured on myself through the years because I struggled with my weight.

The past two years in therapy have been a journey of struggle. Struggle to want to lose weight, but to also be free from the power of food in my life. And so, even though there will be moments like last year when I was really trying to just eat clean, eat mindfully and be free and it would work for a little while....invariably I go stop and go back to weighing the same.

As frustrating as it is to still be fat, to have no outside change in my body for at least a year, their have been triumphs in my life unseen. Unseen by others, but I am still trying to drink them in. One is the freedom with food. I have always a grazer. So not grazing all day is a huge accomplishment that needs to be recognized. Being able to look at food with neutrality and not in the context of being bad or good. Being able to know that I can enjoy a bite or two of something and thoroughly savor it and enjoy it and then be satisfied is a huge accomplishment.  Even indulging in eating dessert first and being OK with that is an accomplishment.

Or eating a candy bar in front of others. I did that last weekend and I did not feel one bit of shame or guilt. I was hungry, I didn't want to wait and order food from the late menu at the hotel so I grabbed a candy bar. And it was good. And I enjoyed it. And the women I was with at this conference have loved me enough where I am that I didn't feel one sense of judgement from them or me. Heck, I'm not even sure anyone of them even noticed what I was eating.  It seems permissive and counter-intuitive to losing weight when you just eat whatever, but it was a process that I had to come to and go through. And one day in the future I will be able to apply what I have learned when I get to the point that I love myself enough to start making more disciplined choices.

That's why Geneen's second post especially resonated with me. Here is a LINK  to her complete blog post, but the part that resonated with me was the fact that she stopped dieting. It's how she ended her struggle. It's how my therapist talks about ending the struggle with food. It just seems.....well, counter-intuitive to eat a brownie and ice cream for dinner (as she mentions in the beginning of her post).

Here's the part I loved and needed to hear:
My response is always the same: Once we are adults, it is not anyone’s job but our own to monitor what goes into our mouths.  It’s not that nutritional and medical information is not necessary or helpful; it is.  It’s not that loving friends and family are not necessary and helpful; they are.  But when it gets down to the particular foods you choose to eat on a given day, you are the boss.
Why?  Two reasons.  The first is that unless you begin claiming that right for yourself, you will spend your life eating cottage cheese in front of people who think you should be eating cottage cheese, and brownies and ice cream when you are alone.  You will spend your life as a child who is either obeying authority or rebelling against it, never taking the power that is yours.
The second reason is that as loving as any intention from a caring friend or family member may be, it is misguided.  When someone else comments on what you eat or how much you weigh, it evokes shame, and after working with tens of thousands of people over the years, I can say with absolute certainty that shame does not ever, under any circumstance, lead to long-lasting change.  Shame only leads to more shame, more hiding, more sneaking, more bingeing.
I have spent a lot of my adulthood rebelling against authority in the eating department. And it all started in my adolescence. And even though I knew in my head I was really only hurting myself, it was a difficult cycle to stop, and still is. I still rebel. So, as much as I would love to have lost weight by now, if I am going to make lasting, permanent change, I have to give myself time. And be okay with that time. And to acknowledge where I have come from and where I am going and the small, wonderful changes that I have made the last two years.

And it's also OK to acknowledge that you need help. That you might need more help. My metabolism is pretty much ruined over the weight loss and regain game I have played the last 10 years. I'm not getting any younger and neither is my metabolism. That can be extremely frustrating, especially when attempting to eat in moderation and you feel you are, yet you can't lose weight that way. It's a real bummer.

I would love to be like Geneen and lose the weight in a year and never look back (she had 50 pounds to lose). But, I'm not. And I'm not going to shame myself into thinking I need to be in a different place.

Each time I try to speed up this process I am met with my own resistance and subsequent failure or setback. The only difference is now I don't condemn myself or shame and hate myself. I just try to love myself, be understanding and keep going.

This is a little insight into my personal journey. Why this is so hard. Why I would love to be wearing a size or two smaller, but to recognize that I am several "sizes" smaller in the emotional healing part of this journey. And that is just as awesome. And it's important to recognize and accept that this is just part of the journey, I can attempt to avoid it, go around it, starve it, monitor it....whatever....but I want lasting change. And Rome wasn't built in a day, as they, here's to one more day. One more change. One more step in the right direction.

I raise my glass to me...and to you.

Let's just celebrate the journey. (even writing that is hard!!!)

OK, let's recognize it's a journey and as long as I (we) keep going we are moving in the right direction.


Just A Little Update on Us....

We have had a laid back summer. We started out with vacation in Hilton Head Island, SC. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, but we agreed that it's just not that easy to get there and if we are going to the beach in the future we will stick with the Gulf. I have only been working one or two days a week and have thoroughly enjoyed my time at home with the boys. It's great that they are getting older and more independent.

The boys have  (sort of) practiced math and reading over the summer, especially Carter. He needs to master his multiplication tables so we have worked quite diligently on that. We had a summer reading chart that was going really well, then life happened and even though Carter reads everyday and both boys are read to every night, I haven't been keeping track quite as well. We have had frequent trips to the Adventure Science Center, Circus World, playgrounds and the pool. The boys are finishing up swimming lessons and I am hoping Carter is not far away from being able to pass the swim test at the Y.

It's hard to believe that I will soon have a 4th grader and a Kindergartner. Yikes!

My weight loss journey has been pretty much stuck since my last updates. It doesn't mean I haven't been working on stuff, just trying to take the steps forward to health. Life keeps getting in the way, as it always does, but by no means does it mean my desire to be healthy has waned. I have a great trainer that I meed with twice a week, I am still in counseling (although not as frequent), I have been doing a summer group with some gals from church going through a great healthy body image study. I am also considering my options for getting healthy for good. Since I have been working on this for so long, and I don't want to give up, AND  I want permanent change, I am looking at all my options.

Sadly, everything hasn't been smooth sailing this summer. My dad has chronic health issues and this is his second year on dialysis. He's been doing well with that and is looking forward to switching to home dialysis soon. My step-mom had a major health scare in January and had major surgery and spent 10 days in the ICU. My sister and I were at the hospital with dad as much as possible. Thankfully, Linda has made a full recovery. During that time, dad had been diagnosed with pneumonia and the doctor's thought a spot on his lung may be cancerous. Thankfully, with treatment, the spot on his lung shrunk and the doctors felt that there was no cancer. All that was going on while Linda was in the hospital.

Fast forward to summer and my dad ended up in the hospital after an outpatient procedure preparing him for home dialysis. It was scary because they found spots on each of his kidneys, he had every kind of scan and test and after his second day in the hospital with more tests, I drove to Chattanooga to see what was up. Thankfully, the doctor's felt like the spots on his kidneys are cysts and not cancer.  Dad was released a few days later and I decided to visit him at home last weekend to see for myself how he was doing.

Unfortunately, they had gotten some pretty disturbing news at the doctor's office that day. The spot in daddy's lung has more than doubled. Worst case scenario, it is cancerous and it may have spread to his kidneys. Best case scenario would be pneumonia again. Since I wasn't at the doctor with them I really don't know what was going on, but Linda said that the doctor's face and expressions were quite serious. They removed fluid from my dad's lung and sent it off to be biopsied.

That was Friday. Today is Wednesday and we still haven't heard anything. So, I'm sitting here, waiting to hear back from my dad to see if he has cancer.

Kind of puts a negative turn on summer, huh?

I don't know if the scenarios in my head are worse than reality right now, but I don't think my body knows the difference. I can only imagine what dad is feeling. And Linda. At this point, I just want to know. Whatever it is we are dealing with, knowing would be better than the imagining the worst. Plus, we can have a plan.

It just stinks that I am sitting here, waiting to see if my dad has cancer, which would most likely be terminal.

So, I decided to share the journey we have come so far. Even if dad doesn't have cancer (and we are diligently praying he doesn't) his health isn't going to improve over time, unfortunately.

That means my sister and I are dealing with end of life issues with my dad, and that means frequent travel to and from East Tennessee and, in general, just worrying about what is coming next and praying for the best.

So, it's been hard and stressful. Not nearly as much for us as for my dad, but stressful nonetheless. Do we get dad and Linda to move here? Do they stay close to three hours away? How do we handle frequent hospitalization, and other aging parent issues. Linda is still recovering from a quadruple bypass that came with serious complications leaving her weak. Can she care for dad 24/7? How will we know when she can't. They are adults, completely independent, and have their full faculties....the decisions are in their hands.

So, I figured it was time to write, since writing helps me get stuff out. It also brings in prayer and support from others, and I feel that is needed too. Too long we carry the load and  burden all alone and we are so much better working as a team, asking for help, even if that help is nothing more than prayer. But how are going to know what to pray for if we don't share the struggles we are going through.

So, I am sure there will be more updates, more writing and we appreciate even more prayers.

Not Just Another Sappy Love Song...

I know the last few blogs have been full of heavy stuff. An inside to the shame and guilt I've carried throughout out all these years. Today, I wanted to share the picture of love. Redeeming love. I've been working on this blog post for several weeks, and I guess it seems appropriate to finally come all together the day before Valentine's Day.

I have been struggling with my weight for, well, as long as I can remember. I pretty much internalized everything growing up, in regards to negative comments, joking, whatever, regarding my weight. And there was a lot of focus on it. From my parents, extended family and the school and church environment in which I was raised. There were a lot of people who didn't say anything negative about my weight, and attempted to be neutral and supportive, but from 8th grade on, I felt immense pressure (from my family especially), to lose weight. And the tag line always added on for losing the weight was that I was too pretty to be overweight. Often, even with innocent comments in regards to noticing something about my weight, I internalized things very negatively. I own that.

Add to that a very strict, religious environment where you grow up with the same people at church and at school, and where most outside extra-curricular activities are discouraged and well, you grow up in a fish bowl, a very unhealthy fish bowl.

If you had asked me in my 20's if God had a plan for my life and He was protecting me and guiding me, I would have likely said "No". However, I knew deep down that all the messed up stuff I grew up in had nothing to do with the true God. I don't know how I knew that, but even with seeing other people deeply hurt by the church I grew up in, something deep inside me said "this isn't God doing this stuff". Thankfully, God placed in my life, at that time, people who were pivotal in strengthening me and giving me a different perspective. But, I admit that I was hot mess. I was also young, still growing up. I was socially awkward and trying to find my way and I guess my 20's were about survival. And I am very thankful for the people who were my friends and continue to love me through my messes. And some of those include  a couple of the other kids who grew up in that religious fish bowl. So, there is always good. Always. In every situation.

Flash forward to turning 30 and having a decade of growing up, influential (God-placed) people in my life, and I am now in graduate school and living in Nashville. God had placed in my life great friends, a wonderful church,  but there was still the struggle, the self-hate, disgust at myself for gaining so much weight. Low self-esteem. Ugh. I remember so well.

I spent a lot of time stating I was OK and didn't need anybody while desperately crying out for love. I kept people out. I built walls. I can see clearly now it was all a front, and that's why I always, always stepped back into bondage. Even spiritual bondage. The stage was set. It was perfect. I was reaching for freedom, this strong person on the outside. But that hurting person on the inside was clinging to what I knew. What was comfortable. What I knew seemed so much better and easier. I wasn't ready to fully embrace love.

There was a breaking point right after I turned 30 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I experienced spiritual freedom, healing and restoration and it was just me and God. I was ready to walk away from church and God altogether because I just wasn't going to do the walk anymore when I didn't feel anything. It made me question so much and because of that it led me to a deeper relationship with Christ.

All of this is leading to something. Something good. Now, I know this was part of God's plan. At the time, I didn't. Even though I had gained healing and self-confidence, I wasn't a total hot mess anymore, but I was still a mess.

We are all a mess, if we admit it. It's just better when we get to the point of admitting our shortcomings, admitting our need. This is where the healing begins.

During this time I lost a lot of weight. Because the weight loss program I was involved in was at church and tied to my spiritual freedom, I didn't realize that I was tying my self-esteem and acceptance into my  relationship to God. Which, on the outside, seems great, but what I didn't realize was that I was returning to the good/bad belief system instead of freedom in Christ.

 And as long as I was successful at losing the weight, then I must have been close to God AND successful, beautiful, fulfilled....blah, blah, blah. The principles of this study were good. But, for me, I tied it to my "obedience" and when I gained the weight back I thought God must be mad at me because I chose food over Him. Before I gained all the weight back, I finally felt beautiful.  I felt accepted. I felt loved. AND I WASN'T EVEN SKINNY! Damn it! I've never been "skinny", in all my attempts at weight loss. I admit I am a little bitter, because I have worked HARD and never tasted complete "success". But even still needing to lose the last 40 pounds, I felt so much better about myself. At the time I didn't fully recognize what great work I had done. I just kept thinking about how much more I needed to lose. I wasn't accepting any of it. And really, that's why the weight loss didn't stick.

 It would be YEARS before I realized how poisonous I had allowed this program to affect my relationship with God. I tied my self-esteem and worth into my success. And the religious program encouraged this. If you were seeing results it meant you were relying on God. If you died to self enough, then you would be free. I had no idea something founded in TRUTH could screw me up even more, but it did. I just didn't realize it until years later.

During this time I met this guy named Greg. And even though the lies were and are still in my head, Greg has repeatedly loved them out of hiding and brought them to light. The lies disappear with him. We dated for two years and were married in 2003. I was still a hot mess. And I am so thankful that even in our hot mess God can bless us abundantly more than we could ever imagine.

As much as I always wanted a relationship, if I had met Greg any earlier, it wouldn't have turned out the way that it did. And, if I had allowed the second best in, when I was struggling to find myself in my twenties, I might have settled for something much, much less. So yeah, God has a plan. It's a wonderful mystery and it keeps me believing how BIG God actually is. Because other's stories don't quite add up to the love story I have been given. It serves as a reminder, a humbling, constant reminder that God did have a plan and even through all the teenage angst and pain, I am loved. Which is what God has been trying to convince me of since day one.

                 Celebrating 11 years of marriage with this guy...

Before we were married I had gained all of my weight back. Greg still loved me. I questioned him. He just didn't see the fat. He saw me. And he has always just seen me. Always. He believes I am beautiful, nothing added or taken away like I like to do. Through the years there has been weight loss successes followed by the shameful regain.

 The thing is I was always loved and always had the ability to receive love. I just didn't. And even though the last 14 years with my husband (11, almost 12 years married) has shown me what true, unconditional love looks like, I continue to fight to believe it. The shame dies hard. But, I am finally winning the battle. By understanding that nobody loves me like Jesus and that He wants me to love me like He does. And Jesus blessed me with this great guy who loves me just. the. way. that. I. am. And Greg has continually been Jesus to me, showing me how He loves me. Over and over again.

Through every weight loss, gain, program, counseling, medical intervention, he has been there. Supporting me. Being my cheerleader, not my enabler. And never, not once, EVER has he thrown my weight regain in my face. He's never said, "should you be eating that?" He's never been angry at me because of my weight loss failures. He's just been there. Constantly loving me the best way a human can love another human being. And God has reminded me many times, "this is the picture I want you to see. This is a picture of HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU....when are you going to get it? How loudly do I have to broadcast it. How low do I have to whisper this truth?

To end this post, I am reminded of the very popular John Legend song. Here is the chorus:

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh...

It's absolutely amazing.  Greg loves all my curves and all my edges. Always has, and I hope always will. He gets extra points for always saying I'm not difficult to live with (yeah, right).

This is as sappy as I get, but I hope it has a much deeper message to you that resonates long past Valentine's Day. YOU ARE LOVED. Period.

Happy Valentine's Day, babe.

I love you, Greg Mayo!

Thank you for loving me!


Today I had to try on dresses for an upcoming wedding in a few days. As I lugged the dresses into the dressing room I told myself not to get depressed if clothes didn't fit. Kind of a mini pep talk to prepare me for what was coming.

All in all, it went well. Some dresses were too small, some fit, and the sizes were varied so all in all a typical trying on session that most people would experience. I even found a cute dress with a shrug and it was on sale. Score!


I didn't really register a change in my overall mood until I went to pick the kids up at the sitter. I had worked today and been away from the boys all day yet, my nerves seemed to already be running thin with them and I had just picked them up. The bad mood continued after we got home. It took a while for me to figure out I was sad. I was feeling upset about trying on dresses and how I looked in them. The fact that the dress I ended up with was a size 24. The fact that I have several dresses in my closet, and some of them may have fit, I didn't try them on yet, but the one I wanted to try on in my closet wouldn't fit because it was a size 18. I wore it to a fancy wedding in 2007 when I was a lot thinner.

My mood progressively got worse. I was snappy with my kids. Angry at my husband. And just plain sad. I didn't really connect my sadness about my weight and the dresses with why I was so upset until we sat down for dinner and I realized I was just tired.  Tired of everything. Tired of preparing meals, listening to kids whine, the routine.  I was unhappy. Deep down inside I was tired of the weight. Tired of losing weight only to gain it back. Tired of feeling like a failure. Tired of wearing a stupid size 22/24. I have been in and out of a 22/24 my entire adult life. I'm sick of it. Tired of thinking that even if lose the weight again, statistics show that I have a 95% chance of regain. And Lord knows, I know something about regain already.

It's times like this, when I think that losing weight for good is impossible that I feel the lowest. I wish I could just make it go away. But that's not going to happen. I have to walk through this road. I have to lose every pound, walk through all the emotional garbage, and get through it.

The only thing is I don't have to do it alone. But inside my head I was alone. And the task was insurmountable. That's why I felt so sad. So unhappy. Overwhelmed.

So after the boys left the dinner table I told Greg what I was feeling. And I started to cry; surprised at the emotional-ness of it all. He asked if I wanted to talk about it and I shook my head no. But the sadness I felt was deep.

Eventually I was able to share how I was feeling with Greg. He opened the door, I just had to pick when I wanted to walk through.

What I have learned in therapy is that I am unhappy on the inside. And no amount of losing weight on the outside is going to make me happy. It's just a whole lot easier to focus on what I can see and be unhappy about it than what I can't see. When I was younger I turned the unhappiness on myself. As a teenager I remember writing horrible things about myself. I would turn all my unhappiness on myself.

Now I know I am supposed to be kind to myself. Love myself. Not criticize myself. Not rip every part of my body that I despise. I'm not supposed to despise my body, I am supposed to be thankful for everything it has done for me. I'm not supposed to tear myself down. And that's hard. It's a lot easier to focus on what I see and is tangible ... like FAT....and focus hate on that rather than owning feelings and emotions.

See, everybody gets tired. Everybody gets worn down. That's why you need a support system. That's why we don't do it alone. This blog helps too. I share my feelings and I am way more transparent online than I am in person. It still shocks me when people talk to me about the blog and I go, 'oh yeah, I said that. Oops!". LOL!

Step by step I am getting there. It's a process. Recognizing that I struggle with depression and anxiety and have to work on those issues constantly rather than focusing on something negative I can see and not deal with the pain. I also have ADHD, and I know a lot of people say they are ADD or ADHD, but for reals, I have been diagnosed and with it a plethora of feelings around low self-esteem, failure, forgetfulness, guilt and shame come from experiences with that too.

And for the first time I am facing them. So I get sad. Add to it life's little stressors (that are also tremendous blessings) and it can be overwhelming. But, face them, I do. And this was one of those days.

I had a visual reminder of why I am unhappy and it led to deeper revelation about what I am truly unhappy about and even though I can't change this phase of life I am in, I know I won't be here forever and dealing with it now brings healing, so that next time, I can move a few steps closer to health.

If you struggle with anything significantly, I'm sure you've figured out that the path to healing is anything but linear. It's does not have a beginning and an end. I've figured out that healing is ongoing and sometimes messy and hard. It's a journey, not a destination. 

Here's to one step closer to healing. 

Love Every Inch!

Today I met a medicine ball during my workout. My trainer introduced us and he said some interesting words. He said I could use the medicine ball to get rid of pent up anger and frustration. I was instantly intrigued.

My trainer went on to explain today I was going to be throwing the ball at the wall. I could picture him there if I wanted (not a chance) or if I was angry at someone or something I could picture it there and work out my frustrations. I thought that was an awesome idea.

Since I have so much anger/shame that has turned inward, I can be kind of intense sometimes. I am well aware of it, have been told that, and have wanted to change that for sometime. Until I realized that I had the power to release all this shame myself, I had no real way of dealing with this deep seated anger. I had no idea that it was my shame that was causing most of the anger and reactiveness. It has been very eye opening and healing to understand where the brunt of this firestorm comes from.

My anger comes out in many ways, but the most frustrating way for me that it comes out is anger or aggravation at the people I love.  I used to bottle of my feelings so much and it would build and build and build that I would take it out on random people. This mainly happened when I was single and didn't have a lot of coping skills yet, plus I didn't have a significant other to project those reactive feelings upon. My immediate family felt the brunt of it during that time, for sure. Ugh, what a mess when I think about it.

Now, I feel my kids get the brunt of my frustration and I really don't like it. It's something I desperately want to change, yet, seem to struggle with each month. While I can see much progress and offer myself grace time upon time again and always apologize to my kids when I am being reactive, it still hurts and I worry the affect it will have on my kids. Maybe some of this resonates with you. My hope in sharing my story is ultimately to help others. Maybe seeing how my anger presents, you can take a deeper look at your own insides and reflect on how to best deal with whatever baggage you have left.

Anyway, getting back to the medicine ball and my workout.... When I was throwing the ball at the wall I pictured the word SHAME. I thought about the ugliness of it, the  years of pent up anger and frustration and I thought about freedom from it. How it no longer has a place inside. The shame needs to get out.

Needless to say, this was very liberating since I am really not angry at people, even people in my past that have hurt me. I've dealt with it and processed it and feel I have healed from it. It was liberating to realize that *I* can own my fear, frustration, shame, embarrassment, negativity. Nobody does those things to me anymore but I turned them so much inside over the years and had such negative talk about myself that it is literally taking YEARS to undo all that damage. I am just at the beginning. 2014 was like an epiphany for me. I have held on to so much negativity in the midst of overcoming a lot of obstacles. I didn't see it. It's like I was working at so hard at succeeding and overcoming that I missed healing the deep, deep insides of me.

I focused so much on the outside, losing weight (then gaining it back), and placed my happiness meter on what I looked like on the outside that I didn't see the hot mess on the inside, even though I knew, deep down, that it was there. When I gained weight I had deeply depressed feelings and I cannot even begin to tell you what I thought of myself. It all goes back to all the negativity during my adolescence and really never getting over that. Instead of being angry at other people I blamed myself and hated myself and all of that hatred turned inward and was unprocessed because even though I eventually forgave everyone else I never forgave myself. Enter SHAME.

I have no idea if this is making any sense, but the point of all this is that I am OK. I am better than OK. I have overcome a lot. I have healed a lot. But my focus has been misguided all these years because I never got past hating my adolescent self and anytime I lost weight I liked myself better, and tied my feelings about myself and my self-esteem to what was seen on the outside. With all the weight I have lost I have regained so........ So you can see that if I focus on that alone that no wonder I have felt like a total failure for the last 30 years, even though I have accomplished much.

If I am not happy on the inside, no matter what I look like on the outside, I'm still not going to be happy. I have to understand why I am unhappy to begin with.

That means I have to feel feelings. Yuck.

Not really yuck, but unfortunately, I can either feel my feelings or drown them in something else and I'm kind of tired of drowning them. I'm tired of being reactive and angry. I'm tired of feeling shame over something I don't need to feel shame about. I want to understand and overcome this process.

So throwing that medicine ball at the wall was quite therapeutic. I need to focus my anger and frustrations in other areas, not myself. Exercise is a great way to do that!

It's time to love. It's time to take care of myself. And it's time to thank this body that I have been given and fall in love with every. last. inch.

Because when I do that, I am not going to be able to tear myself down ever again.

Whew. Lots to chew on.

Take today and love on yourself. All of you. Every last inch. Thank your body for everything it has endured. Don't hate it. Start to embrace it. I say start because it is definitely a process.

The cellulite on your it.

Saggy it

Saggy boobs......what have those boobs done...I have to remember that I fed 2 babies from those boobs. Pretty awesome. Love it.

The butt and thighs with cellulite on it? Well, they may have very well carried children for 9 months. Love it.

Stretch marks...try growing a 8 pound human inside your tummy and see what happens. Love it.

Think about it.

A process well worth following through on.

What is a part of your body that you literally hate? My task to you today is to find how that body part has gotten you through this life. Supported you. Never let you down.

Think about it and let me know what you come up with!

Fight Back With Joy - a Review

I have had the privilege of reading Margaret Feinberg's new book, Fight Back with Joy. I am excited to share my review with you, but more importantly,  I'm excited to share one of my favorite authors and speakers with you!

Last year, Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer and embarked on a journey of diagnosis, surgery, treatments and much more, as she describes in her new book, Fight Back With Joy.

I have talked about Margaret on my blog before. Everything that I read of hers is just fresh to me. I've grown up on a lot of wonderful, godly women and their bible studies, but there is something about the way that Margaret writes and speaks that just reaches me. Hearing her share stories from the Bible always brings with it a new perspective.

This book was so refreshing because even though Margaret was sharing her private story, it wasn't every gory detail about her cancer diagnosis. Margaret used humor as only Margaret does, telling her story and how early on she and Leif made a commitment to face the future with JOY, no matter what. Margaret only gave glimpses to the gravity she might possibly be facing with her diagnosis. However, she shared plenty in the book about the her and Leif's fears, the surgery and subsequent treatments and how each of their relationships with Christ was strengthened through this process. Margaret is real about the ups and downs, the trials and strains on friendships. She discusses how she processed her feelings and how in every way she turned to God as much as possible for Him to guide her and for Him to be the gauge for how she should be reacting to things. I was very impressed with how she dealt with and handled her journey.

Intertwined in each chapter is a connection to a story in the bible. Something that helped her through a difficult time, something she felt would help deepen the story of each chapter.

Along with Margaret's journey, there is Leif's journey, the caregiver. At the end of the book there is a wonderful reference section that helps people going through the cancer journey to make their load lighter or a little clearer. Leif even gives some tip and suggestions on being a caregiver but also knowing how to take care of yourself so you can be the caregiver.

This book is an easy read, written in Margaret's down to earth musings about God and life and of course, JOY.

This book is for anyone affected by cancer or not. It is encouraging, insightful and helpful. It is also inspiring to see someones journey and commitment to look at a cancer diagnosis square in the face and trust God in those matter what.

Check out THIS promo video to hear more from Margaret about the book! There is also a fabulous Bible study that you can order and this video gives you a peek inside the Bible study!

I hope I've given you a glimpse into a book that will make it on your must read for 2015.  If you've never read anything by Margaret, then definitely start with Fight Back With Joy....and then ask me for my other favorites!

Click on the AMAZON and BARNES&NOBLES link to buy the book NOW!

HERE is the link to purchase the 6 week bible study!

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Here's To 2015!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!

We have had a completely relaxed Christmas and New Years season. At times I was bored, at times I was really  rested, but most of the time I just enjoyed the time. The time with my kids (although we have had our moments). My husband took an entire week off of work during this time and it was awesome!!! He works from home, so he is usually here, but he is very disciplined and stays upstairs in his office during the work day. It was nice not seeing him go up the stairs every day.

We didn't hang with a lot of family or friends. We had a very quiet, relaxing season. I obviously needed the rest. And even though I am ready to get back to my routine and have the boys back in school, I have to say I am loving the ages of my boys right now because they are independent, but still need me, sort of. Ha! But all in all, they can occupy themselves, or we can all just hang in the living room. We can play games (successfully, if you know what I mean. We actually can complete a game to the finish). We have sung karaoke, the boys have played on their new toy, the Xbox. I have tried to read ( I have so many books, I'm overwhelmed with where to begin), we have watched movies, laughed, cried, ate and slept. Its been good.

As much as I am looking forward getting back into our routine, I am not looking forward to the 6-6;30 AM wake up call on Monday. Nope. That's going to be brutal.

But at least I have caught up on some rest, spent some time with my hubby and kids, reflected on the past year, looking forward to all the positive changes coming in 2015 for myself, and my family. This weekend we are getting together with close friends and it will be nice to entertain. I didn't get everything done I had imagined I would these past two weeks. I did continue to work out (yay me!). I haven't gained any weight over the holidays (yay me!) And even though making permanent life changes can be challenging, sometimes you just have to count your small successes and focus on the positive instead of looking at the big picture.

When I try and look at the big picture instead of living day by day, I get overwhelmed, sad and depressed. And a few days ago I was there, for about 24 hours. I am thankful for forgiveness, for small steps forward, for do-overs and grace.

Here is to 2015! May it be everything you want it to be and more.

What are some of your goals for 2015? I don't do resolutions, but I have goals and as a family we have goals. I'll share some of mine if you share yours!!!

Happy New Year and God bless!!!!