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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Three Years...

It's beyond difficult and crazy for me to believe that 3 years ago today I took what would be one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life.  I FINALLY had the courage to make the decision that I needed to do some work to make my life better and find my purpose.

I have learned more in the last 3 years than I could ever write in a blog post.  But, I'm going to do my best to describe it all because I believe it is such a vital piece to the happiness I've found in this journey I like to call life.

My life isn't always perfect.  I would never pretend that it is.  I have my ups and downs.  Doesn't everyone?  What I have discovered is that you find happiness within yourself.  For so many years, I was looking to other people, situations, environments, etc for my happiness.  I never looked at myself.  I mean, hey, I have to live with myself every day so if I'm not happy on the inside, what made me think that something on the outside would fill the broken pieces inside of me?  Well, I'm not sure but I can almost guarantee that I am not the only one guilty of this thought process.  It's no secret I've struggled with depression.  Thankfully, I've found what works for me to fight my way through what can be a horribly debilitating illness.  I've looked deep inside myself to find the holes and fix them.  It's taken a lot of work and I'm still not done.  I firmly believe this is a lifelong process.  But, I can say that I am leaps and bounds happier than I ever thought was possible three years ago.

My thoughts about faith lean towards believing there is a reason for everything that happens in life.  Many people look at my life and think I've always had it easy.  Well, I am beyond blessed with incredible parents, the unwavering support of my family and friends and so much more.  That doesn't mean that life doesn't suck sometimes.  I would venture to say the good times far outweigh the bad.  However, just like anyone, I tend to focus in on the not so good times.  In many ways, it's just human nature.  Why?  If I knew that answer I wouldn't have to play the powerball!

Life deals us hard stuff at times.  But that doesn't mean that there isn't a reason or a purpose for it.  I believe that every situation has a lesson that can be learned.  I may not have had the greatest experience in college but it gave me the ability to work with people who are difficult at times.  I've had difficult times at various jobs but it has led me to a job that I love and co-workers that I wouldn't trade for the world.  In addition to just simply 'maturing',  I've grown in my ability to listen and become better at my job simply because of the situations I've been through.  It's all part of living.  Three years ago, if you would have talked to me about this, I probably would have just looked at you and nodded and then gone on my way believing that someone was out to get me.  By digging down deep inside myself, I've discovered that way of thinking does me way more harm than good.  What can I learn from this?  How can I handle this better in the future?  So many ways to take a bad situation or circumstance and find the positive.  Something else that I work on on a daily basis.  I have faith in the future and what's in store for me.

I am someone who has a small group of friends.  I've never had this huge group of people that I socialize with on a regular basis.  I am definitely more of an introvert.  I don't mind being alone (at times).  Finding true friends is quite difficult.  Especially as you enter your mid-thirties!  I have a couple of friends I've had with me for years.  But, most of my good friends, I've found in just the last few years.  Why?  Who knows!  I believe it's because I wasn't ready to understand myself or what I needed in friendships.  I'm getting there.  And I am beyond blessed with some amazing friends these days.  They listen, they include me (big part of my depression was feeling left out often), they support me, they make me laugh, they cry with me and so much more.  I can't imagine my life without any of them.  There's a reason for each person in your life.  It might take awhile to figure it out but, when you do, you'll be so grateful they're just a phone call (or text message) away!

They've always been there.  If you know me at all, you probably know my family.  If not personally, at least through many stories, pictures, etc.  I can't imagine my life without any one of them.  They are there when I feel like my world is crumbling down around me.  They are there to help me celebrate all the amazing parts of life and for everything in between.  I know I can always count on each and every one of them at any time, day or night.  It's a built in support system.  Three years ago, they were the driving force behind my decision to make some very scary changes in my life.  I couldn't have done it without them.  Blessed is not a strong enough word but it's what I've got right now.  I won't bore anyone with mountains of details.  Just know that I am one lucky girl!

I started this whole journey with weight loss.  My weight may not be where I'd like it to be but it's better than it was.  And I'm healthier and more confident than I ever thought was possible three years ago.  We all need something to focus on. To work on.  I think my weight and living a healthy lifestyle will be something I work on throughout my life.  I know what to do.  I just have to focus in and do what makes me happy.

Working out feels good.  It's stress relief.  It gives me things to celebrate when I'm able to do new things I never thought would be possible.  It's provided me with friendships in the last years that I can't imagine my life without.

Eating right also feels good.  I still eat "crap".  Pretty sure 99% of the population does.  That's life.  But, I've made a commitment to eat foods that make me feel good.  Most of the time ;)  It's worth it.  I promise.

Belief In Others.... And Yourself
When someone believes in you, especially when you don't believe in yourself in any way, shape or form, you find success.  Support.  Confidence.  Happiness.  You begin to believe anything is possible.  Three years ago those words would have never come out of my mouth.  The support, faith, friendship, and so much more that Renee' gave me right from the start is the reason I found success.  Don't get me wrong... I had to want it for myself.... I had to do it for no one but myself... but, without her belief in me, I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today.  Thank you, while not enough, is all I've got!

Thanks for taking an interest in my journey.  And, don't worry, I'm not done! 

Hugs - 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Just Keep Moving

While talking to someone at the gym yesterday, I started remembering many pieces of my own journey.  She is just starting on an adventure to lose weight and be healthy.  For me, it's a never ending journey but that I am finally comfortable living in my daily life.  Everyone's journey in life is different and unique.  But, as I was sharing some of my story with her, something she said stuck with me.

We started our workout together.  I moved a little faster but I wasn't paying attention to that.  We did the warm up and another set of exercises together before we chatted for a few minutes.  After we started talking and she heard some of my history with this whole exercise thing, she said this:  "At first I was trying to keep up with you.  But I realized I couldn't and had to tell myself that was okay.  That I just had to keep going".   So unbelievably true.

See, when I first started working out, I often got mad or frustrated with how little I could do.  Or how out of breath I got without doing much.  Slowly I started to improve.  I remember when I started doing boot camp with my brother, sister and their coaching friends. I couldn't keep up with anyone.  Talk about feeling out of place and like you had to compete.  And always finishing last.  But, know what?  It actually helped me improve my confidence.  Because every time I completed an exercise, I felt pride.  Even if it was modified.  Or slower than molasses.  Although it took a little convincing, I realized that every time I got just a little better, I was making improvements with myself.  And, as I slowly made improvements, I realized that if I just kept going, I would keep getting better and feeling better about myself.  See, I figured out that no one but me could make me feel happy inside.  Because, once I found happiness on the inside, it definitely started to show on the outside.  I just had to keep moving.  In lots of ways.

This can apply to all situations in life.  The only person you should compete with in any way is yourself.  Who cares who makes more money, drives a fancier car or almost anything.  Your life is your own.  The only way you'll find true happiness is to be content with who you are, where you are and what's ahead.  It took me a long time to figure this out for myself.  I have my days where I question it but then I look around at all the blessings in my life.  I can't even count them all.  And, let me tell you, whenever I question myself, there's always a little voice (or 4) around the corner telling me how much Mimi is loved.  Nothing could, or ever will, make my heart happier or fuller.

And so, I just keep moving.  Some days are better than others.  And it's okay. That's what life is all about.  Enjoy every second.  Because time flies.  I don't want to miss out on a second.   

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I'm Worth It!

Life these days isn't so much about the incredible changes I've experienced or chances I've taken over the last two and a half years.  It's simply about living my life.  For many, that may sound very easy and simplistic.  For someone like me, it's a daily adventure.  I've come to the realization that it will probably be a lifelong process.  

See, I've finally realized I'm worth it.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, honestly, I guess I'm still figuring it out.  

I'm worth taking time for myself.  I used to feel guilty about saying no.  Would the person be mad at me?  Would someone at work think less of me because I need a little time to myself?  Would that friend ever ask me to do anything again?  And so many other questions that used to roll around inside my head.  

I'm worth the love I get from my nephew and nieces.  When I was really struggling with many aspects of my life, those little faces were the only thing that made me smile.  But, I often didn't feel like I deserved to be loved by them.  Thankfully, I've changed my thinking about that.  My four little friends are literally my heart and soul.  They make me laugh when I don't think I can laugh any harder, they make me smile just by running up to me and yelling, "MIMI", they make me see the beauty in the world around me in ways I probably wouldn't see if weren't for the way they see the world.  They make me feel like THE most special person in the world and I can't believe I am lucky enough to call myself their aunt :) 

I'm worth the respect I get from my co-workers.  (After all, I have saved them hours of work because a nifty little scheduling tool :))  Yes, at times, I used to struggle with this for many different reasons.  I am so thankful to work in a place where I feel valued and I truly enjoy going to work every day.  There's so much to be said for having fun yet still getting things done at work.  Of course, there are difficult days every now and then, but, that's part of life and I've finally come to realize that these days too will pass.  AND, the good days far outweigh the bad days.

I'm worth it to talk to.  I used to retreat inside myself so much because I never thought there was value to what I had to say or offer the world.  I love having conversations with people. I'm still not the best at talking to people I don't know.  It's part of that whole confidence thing I work on daily.  But, to see the amount of growth I've experienced in the last two and a half years, well, it makes me love myself just a little bit more each day.  

And, I do believe, that's the trick.  Learn how to love yourself.  If you don't love yourself, who will?  As humans, we often put ourselves down as a way of joking around.  I do it.  But, deep down, there's always a little bit of truth behind everything we say. Usually it has something to do with the way you feel about yourself.  I have made a conscious effort to think about what I'm saying about myself (and others).  The next generation learns from how the adults around them act on a daily basis.  If I didn't believe that a few years ago, I certainly do now.  By showing my nieces (and nephew) that I love myself, they are (hopefully) learning positive ways to deal with struggles they may face in life.  

Growing up, we always think we are headed towards the "next best thing".  Sometimes, I think we forget to stop and live in the moment.  I can be guilty of that.  But then I take a look around.....  At the fun days I have with my co-workers, ..... At all the precious, irreplaceable time I spend with my four favorite people and how much they grow and change every day.... At the days that pass me by while I sit and think about all the things I've accomplished and all that I hope to do in the future.  For so long I questioned everything about my life.  Whether or not I deserved all that life has given me.  My amazingly wonderful and supportive family, a job/career that I love in so many ways, and so much more that I could never put it all into words.  

Well, here's the conclusion I've come to - 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Finally Being Able to Explain "Why"

We all hear so much about mental illness, depression, etc on a regular basis.  And most of us don't understand it even a little bit.  Which brings me to why I felt like writing tonight.  I saw this recently and it made me start thinking about, and remembering, my own journey over the last 2.5 years (yes, that milestone happens tomorrow!!)

Thankfully, I no longer feel this way.  But, I vividly remember when I did.  And it was the worst thing ever.  I knew I wasn't happy but I had no idea why.  I would talk to people and I couldn't come up with one good thing to say about my life.  But, still I couldn't explain to myself, let alone anyone else, why I was sad all the time.  I had no idea how mixed up things were for me inside my head until I started to confront my feelings.

How do you explain to someone who's never felt this type of sadness what it feels like??  Well, I've been through it and I still have no idea.  In fact, I don't think I've ever been able to put into words what it feels like.  Because words don't adequately describe what true and utter despair and sadness truly feels like to the person dealing with it.

One thing I can say is that, no matter how many people you have around who you know love and appreciate you, this kind of sadness will make you feel extremely alone.  Like no one cares, understands or really wants you around.  I experienced all 3 of these.  Even though none of them were true.  And, when the people who love me would try to reassure me, I just nodded and was like, "yeah, okay".  I didn't believe it.  I mean, what else would they say to me?  That's what was running through my mind.

Turns out, I needed to figure myself out.  First, was admitting I had some issues I needed to face.  Once I did that, and admitted I needed some help, everything seemed to kind of fall into place for me.  I found some amazing people who genuinely wanted to help me figure things out for me.  Not for any other reason.  I didn't know there were people like that out there in the world.  They opened my eyes to all the possibilities that are out there if you simply learn to like (and love) yourself.  And, when you figure out that you are here on this earth for a reason, you start to realize that the sadness, despair and what others think about you often exists only in your mind.

Figuring yourself out is quite a gift.  But it is also a very long journey.  One that is worth it in the long run.  There are ups and downs.  I still have those at times.  But, I work my way through them.

I work through this process every day.  I will always have insecurities that plague me when I question various aspects of myself and my life.  But, the difference now, is that I have the strength to work my way through whatever hard time I may be encountering.  And, best of all, I have happiness and an amazing support system on my side.  It doesn't get much better than that!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Making Choices... Being Happy

Happy - feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

What does it feel like to be happy?  Well, honestly, I don't think this is something that you can put into words.  It's just a feeling.  For me, I think it's been a very freeing feeling.  Freedom from all that has weighed me down for so many years.  

When I made the decision to embark on the life changing journey I started almost 2.5 years ago, I didn't realize how much it would affect my relationships with my family members and friends in so many positive ways.  

Just being happier on a daily basis is a gift I never realized I needed to find.  I mean, we probably all think we are fairly happy, right?  Well, I couldn't believe how it felt to actually be 100% happy.  I just enjoy life.  I smile all the time.  I have the energy to run around and play with my favorite little friends.  I want to be around people.  I make an effort to be a part of social outings.  And, slowly but surely, I continue to step out of my comfort zone.  

Taking time for myself is also a lesson I've learned.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with it.  It's healthy to take a little time for yourself.  I've just figured out that isolating myself doesn't work.  I like being around people.  Again, it's freeing to have found people I enjoy being around on a regular basis.

There's something to be said for living a healthy lifestyle. It gives me energy that I didn't know I have.  I don't feel sluggish after I get done eating a meal.  I admit, I struggle with this one on a daily basis.  I love food.  And, unfortunately, I love sweets.  They are definitely a weakness of mine.  But, I now have the tools to make smart choices.  And, when I don't (which happens, sometimes more than I'd like to admit), I have figured out that I can't beat myself up.  I just have to move on and make a better choice for the next meal/snack.  It's okay to slip up, I just know that it can't be a daily occurrence for me.  

It's no secret that I spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephew.  They are, quite literally, my world.  There are some people who might find it strange that I spend so much time with them.  Me, I'll never think it's weird.  And I will ALWAYS feel blessed to have the opportunity and the ability to be such a big part of all of their lives.  They make my life better.  I can honestly say that I never feel happier or more loved than when I see one (or more) of them and they come running at me, screaming my name with nothing but pure joy and excitement to see me.  How many people are lucky enough to experience that on a regular basis?  I'm here to tell you, there is NOTHING in this world that makes me smile more than that initial greeting.  And it really does happen every time I see them.  How lucky am I?  That is one way I can describe my happiness.  To have every care in the world lifted away by seeing the smiles on their sweet faces.  That's the freedom of being happy.

Finding the freedom to be me, and realizing that there are people who love me just the way I am is how I would describe happiness.  It's taken me awhile to figure this out.  And I couldn't have done it without the help and guidance of some amazing people.  They know who they are.    

Take time and do things for yourself.  Whatever that looks like to you.  Set a goal.  Celebrate it when you achieve it.  And realize that each time you take even the smallest step, you are making life better for you and all those who love you.  Thankfully, I've been lucky enough to experience this firsthand.  And I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Right Place In This Life

When you finally figure out where you're supposed to be in life, it's quite a gift.  And a feeling that's difficult to describe.

I often hear people say that high school or college is the best time of your life.  Well, for some that may be true.  I guess it depends on the experience you have at those times of your life.  My guess is that often describes the friendships you make, the carefree feeling most of us have during that time and just the general excitement and anticipation of going from a teenager to a young adult.  But hopefully, these aren't the best times of your life.

For me, that's definitely not true.  I struggled through high school and college.  And beyond.  We're all a little different.  And it takes everyone a different amount of time to figure things out.  I guess you could say it took me a little longer than the average person.   However, I'm good with it.  Because I know I've finally ended up where I'm supposed to be to find myself, continue growing and changing for the better and meet some incredible people who have already had quite a profound impact on my life in the short time I've known them.

A year ago (I know because it came up on timehop today), I posted an entry on taking a chance.  That referred to completing my first year in my job at Fairfield.  As I wind down my second year there, I continue to be even more grateful to so many for giving me the opportunity and encouragement to take the chance I did.  Every day when I go to work, I know I am in the right place.  I smile, have fun with my co-workers and really enjoy working with all the families and students I am lucky enough to get to know.  It feels like a little family more than anything else.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Finding my place in this world has also been amazing within my family.  As some of you may know, I didn't always feel like I "fit in".  However, I've finally figured out that I don't need to fit in.  I need to be me.  My nephew and nieces love me because of who I am.  And when they look up at me, run up and give me a huge hug while screaming MIMI, ask me if I can spend the night because they want to have breakfast together and so much more than I can mention, I know I'm doing something right.

Having the ability to continue to find the better pieces of yourself is a gift not everyone receives.  I definitely feel as though I am one of the lucky ones.  If there's one piece of advice I could offer to anyone it would be this:

Never settle for anything less than knowing you are where you are supposed to be.  It may take awhile (It's taken me 35 years and some change) but, I promise, it's worth every minute you put into it.  

As the title of my blog states, this is about more than weight loss.  It's about new experiences, positive changes and so much more.  It's about finding Amanda.  And that's a gift I will never be able to repay to any one of the many people who have had, and continue to have, a place in this journey of mine.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Being Different

Throughout most of my life, I've struggled with the idea that I need to fit in somewhere.  That I need to be just like everyone else I know and love.  I'm not sure when I developed that feeling.  Or why I've felt like it is important for so much of my life.  I wish I could figure out why I felt like fitting in would fix all my problems.  But, that would require me focusing on the past which I try to not do anymore.  

I was visiting with my Aunt last weekend and I just love the conversations we have.  They are honest.  In a good way.  It's more of that outside perspective that I need to figure things out about myself, my life and more.  Lots of things she says stick with me in lots of ways but one I've been thinking about a lot since I got home on Monday.  

"It's okay to be different.  You just have to be okay with being different."

I think that might define everything I have done over the last 2+ years and all that I continue to work towards every day.  

For reasons that I will probably never completely understand, finding my niche, what I am good at, why I am here, etc., has been something I have really struggled with throughout my life.  I was never okay with being different than the people I was closest to.  I didn't have the confidence to believe that was okay.  

I do now.  The driving force that started all of this is my mother.  My mom is the greatest person anyone could ever hope to meet.  Her support in and love for me has never wavered throughout my life.  (Although there were probably more than a few times I would have deserved that).  No matter what happens, what I do or what I am struggling with, I know she will always back me 100%.  I could never ask for any greater blessing in my life.  

Albeit slowly, I have started to figure out that being different is okay.  That's actually probably one of the first lessons I learned when I started this journey to a happier and healthier me.  I just didn't know if I was okay with it.  

But, hey, why shouldn't I be okay with it?  Differences are what makes this world what it is.  It's how we learn from each other.  Differences make friendships, relationships, etc everything they are to so many people.  To me as well.

Why wouldn't I want to be different???  Know what?  I do.  I want to have unique qualities.  I want to bring things to friendships and relationships that might not exist otherwise.  Ask anyone, I have a memory like you wouldn't believe.  And, it's kinda fun when no one else remembers something and my brother looks at me and says," just ask the walking encyclopedia".  That's a characteristic that's unique to me in our family.  And with most of my friends. Something that I've learned to cherish about myself.  I'm not an athlete.  But my brother and sister are.  And that's okay.  I can run around and have fun and laugh at myself when I make a klutzy move.  I don't have to be super coordinated to be accepted in my family.  It took me awhile to figure that out but it feels amazing.

I've discovered many people think I'm funny.  I never would have used that word to describe myself.  Probably because I didn't like myself very much.  Now, I like being described that way.

Deep down, I've always known I'm the "different" one in my family and it's always been difficult for me.  It took me so long to see that being "different" is the greatest blessing I could ever ask for in my life.  And, finally, I'm learning how to be okay with it.

Being different is a gift.  And one that I will not take for granted anymore.  I will be proud of who I am.  It's taken so long for me to get here.  And I know, especially for me, it will be a daily struggle.  But, just realizing that different isn't a bad thing .... well, I can't think of a greater gift in the world.

Being called different is like being called limited edition.  Meaning you're something people don't see that often.  Remember that.