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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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What If?

Sometimes I just see things and they spark something that reminds of pieces of the journey I've been on for a little over 2 years.  Today, it was a quote someone shared on Facebook.  It goes like this -

Have you ever just stopped and realized that 
if you hadn't met a certain person in your life, 
your life would be completely different?

This probably happens more than any of us realize.  Think about it.  How many people have you met, mostly by chance or random circumstances, that have profoundly impacted your life in one way or another?  If I really think about it, this has probably happened to me in more ways than even I realize.  But, there are a couple of people that truly stand out and who I feel this quote really describes in my life.  

The first one would be my friend (and current co-worker) Kira.  Without her, I honestly don't think I would have found my way to my job at Fairfield, met so many amazing people who have truly become some of my best friends and found a job that I really enjoy going to each and every day.  How many people are lucky enough to be able to say that?  I'm not sure but, thankfully, I am one of them.  It's hard to imagine where I would be if I hadn't been lucky enough to meet her, establish a friendship and explore the curiosity I had when she mentioned there was an opening at Fairfield.  

I'm not sure I can count my family in this category since I didn't really meet them by chance.  But, I will say, I am one lucky girl to have the amazing people I do in my life who love me unconditionally.  Because, let's be honest, I have had more than my fair share of times when I haven't been all that lovable....  And, my relationship with my brother and the fact that I know he would do anything for me leads me to the next person - 

I've mentioned her a few times - my friend Renee'.  If you ask her, she will tell you that everything I've accomplished in the last 2 years is all me.  However, I really believe that if I hadn't met her when I did and immediately felt what happens when someone from the outside truly cares and takes an interest in you from the start, I don't believe I would have found the success I have been lucky enough to experience.  Yes, her knowledge about everything related to fitness and nutrition were the greatest blessings I could have ever asked for in my life when I was trying to figure out how to live a healthy lifestyle.  However, I think the main factor was that I felt like someone actually believed I was capable of achieving great things in life. She took so much time to break down my walls.  Truthfully I do not know where I would be in life had I not had the privilege of meeting, getting to know and becoming friends with this person who really just the sees great things in every person she meets.  How many people do you know that are actually like that?  I don't know that many.  Very few, in fact.  Laughing at myself became something we had in common, even over text message.  Still is.  I can't think of many other people who can/would take the time to teach a person about food, tolerate (and laugh at) the many pictures from the grocery store as I try to find certain foods (still happens), deal with the insecurities I feel about what I am capable of on many levels, and so much more.  More than I could ever list.  I'm the person I am today because of our friendship.  And I'm thankful every day for that blessing.

Because, truthfully, if nothing else, I've definitely discovered that I inherited more of the Mulvey genes than I ever thought and I have many entertaining thoughts at various times.  As more of this piece of my personality comes out, I see more of my mom and my hilarious aunts in me.  And I can't think of anyone else I would want to take after in this life,  

Life is all about time, events, and the people who make all of the time we have here worthwhile.  Although it took me awhile to find the people I want/need in my life, I do believe it all happens for a reason and when it's supposed to.  Somewhere, there is a plan.  For everyone.  Keep the faith.  Honestly, I'd lost mine.  And I'm so thankful to have found it again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Working Through the Bumps in the Road

This blog is all about my journey to find a new me.  To find the better pieces of myself that have been buried inside of me for so long.  And, overall, I have been, and continue to be, enormously successful.  

You may have to fight a battle 
more than once to win it.

I've always struggled with my weight.  These last two years have been full of so many amazing feelings, achievements, etc for me.  However, it isn't always sunshine and rainbows.  I go through difficult times, have rough days, etc.  And even I've gone through a slump or two with eating, exercising and living an overall healthy lifestyle.  It's not easy.  I think that's why so many struggle to do it.  It takes a commitment to live a healthy life.  One that you have to be in the right frame of mind to make.  Along the way, I've learned that I can't do this to get ready for a big event and then revert back to my old ways.  It will bite me in my ass and, at times, it has.  I have definitely been going through a bit of a slump since the beginning of the year with regards to living a healthy lifestyle.  Maybe it's the cold (which I hate), maybe it's emotional stuff, it could be a multitude of things.  But, I recognize it.  For me, that's step one.   I get comfortable with the way I live, what I've been doing to achieve this healthy lifestyle.  And that always (at least for me) makes me think I'm good to go.  But, I'm not.  I'm human.  And I have always had a somewhat unhealthy addiction to food.  It's comforting to me (although I wish it weren't).  It's a decision I make every day to not go grab a candy bar when I get stressed out.  Every day I figure out a little bit more that I CAN do this.  That a healthy lifestyle is my decision to make every day.  I love the way I feel when I eat the way I know I should.  Do I have cheat days?  Absolutely.  But the difference, I think, is that I can go right back to eating the way that I should on a regular basis.  That's definitely been the difference in maintaining a majority of the weight loss I've achieved.  Over the last few weeks, I've made a conscious effort to getting back to truly being mindful of my health and what I am putting in my body.  I never completely lost sight of it, I just had a few more cheat days than I should have.  And, deep down, I knew it.  But, I've always been someone who has to figure things out in time.  

Throughout my adventures in the last 2 years, I've developed a love for exercising I didn't know I had inside of me.  I love challenging myself and I actually like when I am sore because I know I am doing things I haven't done before (and working muscles that I haven't used in a long time).  It's a huge stress relief.  There are days I don't feel like going.  But, once I force myself, I always end up enjoying it.  And feeling like I achieved something when I leave.  Unless it involves burpees.  Those are cruel. I have figured out that I struggle to challenge myself.  So, I've ventured out to find a way to (maybe) meet some new people and get my butt kicked a little.  So far, it's working.  As I type this my quads are quite sore!  I've found enjoyment with indoor cycling and I really look forward to going.  Also, I hate the treadmill.  I guess the point is, find what works for you.  Some people do really well working out alone and still challenging themselves.  I'm not one of them.  Sure, I work out  on my own but it's nowhere near as difficult as it could (and probably should) be.  Once you find something you like, you're much more likely to stick with it.  Imagine if I kept pushing myself to get on the treadmill every day.... I would say there's a pretty good chance I would have given up on it by now.

Why write about this now?  Because I think it's important for anyone on a journey to change his/her life or for someone about to embark on one to understand that there will be bumps in the road and that's okay.  It's not about how many bumps you go through.  It's about how you work your way through them and find yourself on the other side.  Each time I work my way through a bump in the road, I become just a little bit stronger.  And strength feels amazing.

Good habits are as addictive 
as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.

Friday, March 6, 2015

You'll Just Know...

You will know you made the right decision; you feel the stress leaving your body, your life.

I pinned this quote about a month ago and immediately people started pinning it from me.  It's funny how something as small as a quote can relate people who never have (and never will) meet.   It completely spoke to me the first time I read it.  So, I thought I would write about how it speaks to me.

In the last two years I have had to make more difficult decisions than I ever thought I would have to make in my lifetime.  In one way or another, every single one of them has made me a better person.  Maybe better isn't the right word.  I think stronger is more accurate.  And confident.  Two years ago, making decisions was one of the most difficult things for me to do.  Many times, it was because I didn't have the confidence to believe that anyone really cared what I thought.  I would just blend in, go along with the majority and never speak my mind.  Even though I had opinions, I never had the confidence to voice those opinions.  

Making the decision to start working on bettering myself was one of the most difficult choices I've ever made.  I had to really look inside myself and decide if I was willing to put myself out there and open up in ways I never had before.  As I've said before, it was the best choice I've ever made.  It has allowed me to find my health, real and true happiness, friendships, happiness in my career again and so much more.  It didn't all happen at once.  But, as soon as I made the decision and took some steps to start to make some of my hopes and dreams into reality, I truly did feel the stress leave my body.  And it got better each and every day.  I was less short with people.  I smiled so much more than I ever thought possible (and I have a pretty natural smile).  And there was actual happiness behind that smile.  It wasn't fake the way it had been for so long.  

I guess that's one thing that has stuck with me the most.  Happiness doesn't come from looking good on the outside.  It helps a little.  But, I still am extremely hard on myself and see a very distorted image when I look in the mirror.  I have figured out that true happiness comes from a multitude of places.  It comes from being confident with who you are.  With where you are in your life.  And with where you are going.  Goals are so important.  They give you something to focus on and shoot for.  And, something to celebrate.  I've learned to celebrate and be happy about little and big things.  And I laugh at myself.  A lot.  I used to be so uptight about everything in life.  And, although I still like my routines, I am much more laid back than I used to be.  I consider it such a blessing that I was able to discover that part of myself.  Better late than never, right?

I've learned how to enjoy the simple things in life.  One of my favorite things in life is being an aunt.  Being around my four favorite people on a regular basis gives me so much joy.  They remind me of simpler times in life.  And I love running around and playing all kinds of games with them.  Cooper remembers me 2 years ago.  And he makes comments every once in awhile that let me know he's noticed the changes I've made.  Although my nieces will never know the old me, I know all my experiences will be things I can share with them as they grow up.  

It's amazing what it feels like when all that stress does leave your life.  I still have my days when I struggle with emotions, food, wanting to exercise, etc.  But, I've learned that's just part of life and it's okay.  I just pick myself up and move on to the next minute, hour, day, etc.  I can't put into words how much of a blessing that is for someone like me.  

Whatever you're trying to accomplish in your life, just know that anything is possible once you take the time to believe in yourself.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rock Bottom

"Rock bottom became the solid foundation 
on which I rebuilt my life." - J.K. Rowling

It might sound silly to compare my life to this quote but I've seen it before and, each time, it has really resonated with me.  Rock Bottom is usually considered to be a bad place.  But, upon some reflection, I actually think it is the best thing that could have happened to me on several occasions. 

The way I look at it goes like this:

1.  If I hadn't hit rock bottom with regards to my struggles with weight and the depression issues it took me a long time to admit I have (although under control now), I never would have experienced the numerous blessings I've had in my life over the past 2 years.  Albeit slowly, I've learned how to trust people.  And, although it isn't something I do easily, I am a little more willing to take a chance and try to get to know people.  I'm still super guarded around people I don't know and still have trust issues.  I try to not dwell on things that have happened to me in the past but it's not always that simple.  The smallest things can bring me right back to the past.  The difference now?  I am strong enough to push through those memories and I find a little more strength each time I do.   It's helped me rebuild and redefine my life in ways I never thought would happen for me.

2.  My job - Although I worked with a lot of great people at my previous job, I just wasn't happy any more.  There were a lot of reasons that I don't feel the need to dwell on now.  I never imagined how much a change in where I go on a daily basis could make such an enormous difference in my life.  I had just hit a point where I needed a change more than even I realized.  I actually think I was at rock bottom when it came to work.  I didn't enjoy going anymore and, although I still loved my students, my overall happiness in life was really suffering.  I don't think even I knew how much this change would impact my life.  I love my job!  I smile every day now.  The people I work with are amazing.  They've become some of my best friends.  We laugh more than I ever thought could happen at work.  The best phrase I've got is, "it just felt right" (and it still does).  I may have hit the bottom but I have definitely climbed back up to where I want to be.  

3.  Other issues.  Needless to say, there were other things that led to my depression.  I do think some of it is genetic.  I have had issues with money and using shopping (along with food) as a coping mechanism for all the sadness I felt.  I can honestly say that I finally feel like I have put those issues behind me in the best ways.  There are times I still grab a cookie when I get stressed.  But, more often than not, I can walk away and not eat half a box like I did 2 years ago.  I don't feel the need to go shopping every weekend just to be social.  It used to be my way of interacting with other people.  I never would have admitted that 3 years ago.  

Rock bottom is different for everyone.  For me, it has a lot of different layers.  Who knows, maybe I haven't hit them all yet.  I hope I have but I guess you never know.  Life is full of twists and turns.  I think my point is, don't be afraid of recognizing when you've hit the bottom.  Because, there's no other way to go but up.  And, when you find your way back up, it's one of the greatest feelings in the world.  I speak from experience.

"The best feeling in the world is finally knowing you took a 
step in the right direction.  A step towards the future where everything that you never thought was possible, is possible."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Two Years .... and Counting

Two years ago today I took one of the most difficult steps I've ever taken in my life.

Honestly, I can't believe it's been two years since the day that I started a journey to change my life.  I feel like it has completely flown by.  But, there have been several difficult times within these two years of amazing achievements, accomplishments, goals met and just great things in general.  Know what?  I think that is what makes marking this 2 year anniversary that much sweeter.  To know that I can (and have) achieved so much and, for the most part, found new and healthier ways to deal with every day life speaks volumes about the transformation I've gone through.

I'm not done.  I'll never be done.  Life is an ever changing journey.  I learn things every day about myself and others.  As each day passes, I see more and more things I am capable of.  Two years ago, I never, in a million years, would have been thinking that way.  In fact, two years ago, I would have just been thinking, okay, just gotta get through another day.  Then I can go home, lay on my couch, eat whatever makes me feel better and pretend the outside world doesn't exist.  I couldn't see what a sad way that was to be "living" life.

Enter the person I now know as my good friend, Renee'.  I met her through my big brother.  She is one of, if not the most, genuine people I have ever met.  And, she is an expert in fitness and nutrition.  After talking to my brother about me (to this day I have no idea what transpired in that conversation), she agreed to meet with me to see if I wanted her help in figuring out my weight issues.  As scary as it was for me (because it involved the unknown), I contacted her via email and we arranged a time to meet.  That meeting took place two years ago today.  Trust me when I say, when I walked in there, I was at probably one of the lowest points I had ever been.  I was tired of being sad.  Sick of crying ALL THE TIME.  Done with isolating myself from the world.  But, I had no confidence in myself.  And no idea where to start.  I think that was very evident to Renee' the first time she met me.  Did I mention she's really good at reading people?  Yeah, I didn't realize how well she could read me right away.  Just sitting and talking to her, I immediately felt a sense of hope in a way I hadn't experienced in years.  I didn't really know what to do with that feeling.  She made me think about positive things about myself and actually talk about what I could think of.  Not an easy task for me.  I'm not good at talking about myself or finding anything good about who I am.  As we spoke, I became more and more comfortable, which is a rare occurrence for me in that short of a time frame.

That day was just the first step in an incredibly long, sometimes difficult and often rewarding process that I am still working my way through every day.  I still struggle at times.  But, so many weights (literally and figuratively) have been lifted off my shoulders in so many ways.  I'm happier than I ever thought I could be.  And I know that feeling is just going to continue to get bigger and better as the days, weeks and months go on.

So, with that, I thought I would add to the list that I started last year about things I've learned in the last year.  Some will probably be funny.  And random.  But, that's part of my charm.  Or, so I've been told.

1. I still can't cook.  I mean, why do recipes have to be so confusing?  But, I try.  Which generally resutls in a lot of laughing.  Especially at myself :)
2. Items people use to cook with often have weird names that make it hard to decipher where exactly they would be located in the grocery store.  Especially for someone like me.
3. Titles of recipes should really be written in English instead of this made up language recipe writers currently use...
4. Salmon (and most fish) smells weird.  And tastes funny.  At least to me.
5. Pinterest has great workouts.
6. Free workout classes are like gold.  Love that they are included in my Y membership!
7. Bears are mean - especially because the way they crawl is an usually cruel exercise in my opinion.
8. Living a healthy life isn't about a number on the scale.  It's about how I feel about myself and the people around me.
9.  I still love pizza.  It's just yummy.  Except now I eat one or two pieces instead of 6.  And, yes, I used to eat at least 6 pieces of pizza in a single sitting.  Sad, I know.
10. Running is a great workout.  And quicker than walking.  But, hills suck. 
11. Sharing achievements is so fun.  I haven't always had many of those in my life so the ones I accomplish now are just that much more special to me.
12.  Friends are the greatest gifts in the world.
13. I love riding bikes.  But bicycle crunches are a cruel creation.
14. My feet still get cold.  If only I weren't too lazy to get up & get a pair of socks.
15.  Pay attention to the details when ordering food on Amazon.  Otherwise you will end up with 4 family size bags of organic, gluten free candy.... at least I got a good deal!
16.  I still haven't figured out what to do with a garlic clove....
17. I enjoy working out in a way I never thought I would. 
18. Having a job and co-workers you truly enjoy being around is a gift that can't be put into words.
19. Naps are one of the greatest inventions.  EVER. :)
20. Life is a journey.  And the only way to experience that journey is to figure out what makes you happy.  It may take awhile.  I'm still figuring it out.  But, the process is so incredibly rewarding as you go through it.  I never knew what true happiness felt like until the last 2 years.  I'm finally okay with myself.  It's been a long time coming.  I'm so unbelievably thankful.  I can't even put my thankfulness into words.

Maintaining weight loss is something I've never been able to do.  And, although I have my ups and downs (on the scale and in other aspects of life) and am currently trying to find some balance with everything, making it through an entire year without reverting to my old ways is one of the greatest achievements in my lifetime.  It's hard for me to completely process that I've actually been able to maintain the weight loss.  But, I can say, I am prouder of myself than I ever thought I could or would be.

Renee' - I know you say this is all me and won't take credit for all the help, encouragement, advice, etc.  But, nothing could be further from the truth.  You gave me my life back.  Just by being an amazing friend. By pushing and encouraging me to do things I never thought were mentally, emotionally or physically possible.  And describing food to me.  And helping me figure out what various pans and dishes look like.  I still smile and laugh when I think about the first time we talked about food and you realized how incredibly clueless I was.  And I dripped green tea all over the recipes you'd written for me.... I could still read them... And I still have them :)  Who knew you are such a talented artist?? ;)  I wouldn't be the person I am today without you. Of course, I still get lost at the grocery store.  But, I think that's going to happen for a long time. 

Thank you.  In more ways than I could ever say or put into words.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living in the Past, Future and..... the Present

This is true in so many ways.  And I've experienced 2 of the 3.

Depression is no joke.  It is a serious mental illness that has such a stigma attached to it.  In fact, I was probably guilty, at times, of not fully understanding how people feel who have depression.  But, given that I have now experienced it, I can honestly say it is one of the worst feelings in the world.  I can't even begin to describe what that hole feels like.  There really are no words that do it justice.  You just feel like you are constantly falling and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.  It's so true that you live in the past when you are depressed.  I know I did.  All I could focus on was what had gone wrong in my past.  How people had wronged me in so many ways (at least in my head) and how the past just "wasn't fair".  I couldn't see beyond what had happened to me and I couldn't find a way to work through it.  It was easy to just blame everything in life on the past.  Especially the bad stuff.  That's no way to live.

I've never experienced a clinical diagnosis of anxiety.  Never had anxiety or panic attacks.  But, I can see how those with anxiety live in the future.  Much the same as those with depression issues live in the past.  If you're constantly thinking about what is going to happen next, all you'll be able to think about is the future.  You'll never be able to live in the moment.  In some respects, I've seen pieces of this in myself.  With my depression, I also had to plan everything out.  I needed to know what was going to happen, how, when, etc.  Some of that is just my personality.  But, a majority of it was just my need to find control in some way, shape or form.

Often, that's the crux of anxiety and depression.  Clearly, I am not an expert.  But, speaking from personal experience, it's about finding control in your life.  Without control you often feel that spiraling feeling I described earlier.  And, it can be pretty scary at times.

So, now that I feel "at peace", is the last part of this quote true?  100%.   I enjoy every day life.  I live in the moment while being thankful for my past and planning for my future.  Every day is an adventure.  And I look forward to it.  I'm so blessed that I get to wake up every day with a smile on my face (despite not being a morning person).  My blessings are so plentiful I can't even begin to list them all.  I think about where I was 2 years ago and I don't even recognize that person.  Words can't describe the change that has happened in my life over the last two years.  Lucky and Blessed hardly do justice to what I've experienced.  And life just keeps going and gets better all the time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Regrets

A year ago I posted this on FB.  It didn't even need a caption.  The words spoke for themselves.  And, if it's possible, I love it even more than I did when I read it a year ago.  It speaks to me in a way that quotes and sayings often do.  

I have learned that life is short.  I've lost people close to me, watched people fight illness and all those other things that happen when you get older and realize life isn't fair.   It's funny, one thing I remember saying to Renee' about a month or so into this life changing journey is that I couldn't remember the last time I had woken up happy and gone to bed happy.  I find that to be more true with every day that passes.  I really try to not have regrets anymore.  I've learned they don't serve a constructive purpose.  It isn't worth it to dwell on things that can't be changed.  The past can't be altered.  All I can do is change how I approach similar situations in the future and learn from mistakes I make. 

Finding the right people to have in my life is another piece of life that has started falling into place for me.  Over the last couple of years I have developed friendships with some wonderful people.  These are relationships I don't think I would have ever been open to a couple of years ago.  I now see that I bring a lot of positive things to people and the world around me.  And I am so grateful for all of the amazing things all of these people bring to my life.  I now know how it feels to have true friendships in my life.  And, although it's been tough at times, I wouldn't change a second of the past because I firmly believe it has led me to where I am today.  Everything really does happen for a reason.

Taking chances has always been difficult for me.  Still is.  But, as I grow more and more comfortable in my own skin, I am more willing to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  I am (slowly) learning and figuring out that is the only way you find the life you are meant to have.  It takes time.  For some of us, it takes longer than it does for others.  But, when you finally figure it all out and start taking chances, it will change your life.  I can't even remember the life I was living two years ago.  The only reason I let myself try, is so I can remind myself that I never want to go back there.  Being happy is so much better than being sad and lonely all the time.

It's crazy how learning to love myself has allowed me to discover all of these things about myself and life in general.  Life is worth it.  To all those who have always stood by me, good times and bad, thank you.  Life wouldn't be the same without all of you.  :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year... New Goals ... Blank Slate

Life changes can be scary.  But the results are, quite often, well worth it.  It truly amazes me everything in my life that has changed so much in the last two years.

I can still see myself two years ago and it makes me sad sometimes.  I mean, to think about all the time I wasted being sad.  And isolating myself from the world.  

However, I do know it all happened for a reason.  And, I can also look back and see how much love and support I found simply by opening myself up to the world around me.  

Last year, I tried to focus goals on fitness and not necessarily weight because I was growing more and more frustrated with my body's unwillingness to lose weight at this time last year.  Well, although my body still refuses to lose weight, I have learned to not dwell on it.  That just because the number on the scale doesn't say what I want it to say doesn't mean I am not getting healthier and more in shape.  A year ago I never imagined that in October of 2014 I would run an entire 4 mile race in under 45 minutes.  I still find it crazy that this actually happened.  Just a few weeks ago the doctor told me that I was gaining muscle.  That made me feel good because certainly, at this point, that's the goal with exercising!  

Throughout the last year, I have grown, changed and made decisions I never thought I'd have the courage to make and follow through with.  A big part of that is just finding confidence and believing in myself and all that the world has to offer me.  And all that I have to offer the world.  Feelings that didn't exist in me two years ago.  

Looking back to when 2013 started, I couldn't have imagined all the good fortune, blessings, love, friendships and so much more that would come into my life.  I guess everything does happen when it's supposed to happen.  So, when 2013 ended, I wasn't sure what 2014 would turn out to be like.  I mean, how could I possibly top the year that completely changed my life for the better?  Turns out, it's possible.  2014 was another year full of amazing blessings, friendships and just all around good things.  I had my ups and downs, just like everyone.  But, overall, I never thought this kind of happiness could exist in my life.  

And so, as I look at 2015 and all the possibility it holds, I am in awe of what I could do.  I am, however, having trouble coming up with  some goals for the new year.  I no longer make resolutions.  Just goals that I know I can work towards and (more than likely) accomplish by the end of the year.  I don't really enjoy running.  I just do it as a means to an end so I can safely say I have zero desire to try a  half marathon.  But, I am thinking about the Flying Pig relay.  I'm not sure I'd make it the whole part running but I would certainly try.  It's an option.  I definitely have a financial goal with regards to saving money.  In fact, with me and my planning skills, I already have it written out!  Other than that, I'm struggling to come up with other goals.  I'm going to keep working on a plan and see what I can come up with because I know I do much better when I have goals to focus on and something to work for and towards.  

The best part about a new year?  In my opinion, it's the blank slate that comes with it.  Anything can happen.  And anything is possible.  That used to scare me to death.  Now, I think it's fun.  Although I will always be a planner (I can't help it, it's genetic), I love how much easier it's become for me to go with the flow and just enjoy life.  

For the longest time, I never understood why I was here.  And, no, I don't say that to make people feel sorry for me.  If anything, I say it so you can see just how far I've come in the last two years.  And that change is possible at any point in your life.  It takes time.  

But, I speak from experience, it's worth it in more ways than I could ever put into words.