Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

Here I am wearing the same outfit. You'll notice the sweater si too big now, where before it was a bit snug. Also, I've lost a bit in my chest area.
You guys. I managed to go on vacation, drink a couple glasses of wine, eat fries, and still did not gain weight! I actually LOST weight! I am down 57 lbs total. I am so proud of myself! I worked out almost every day of the trip and made fairly good choices throughout the week. I only had one "cheat meal", which was a fried shrimp sandwich on buttered bread and fries. I did have fries a couple times during other meals, but always ordered my fish grilled and usually swapped the fries for a veggie or baked potato. I'd say the hardest part was snacking. It is so easy to chow down on snacks on the beach. I was careful, grabbing a handful of cashews here and there. Luckily I packed healthy snacks, so I usually went for those. Another thing? I craved sweets MUCH more than I do at home. I wanted ice cream, candy, chocolate- anything! But I only ate ice cream twice, and once was one of this mini Ben and Jerry's. I am quite proud of how I did on this trip.

But I do have to share something with you guys. At one point during the trip, I had a pretty rough night. It all started because I saw a picture of myself from the beach in my bathing suit. And I hated the way I looked. I was embarrassed and felt disgusting. I began to cry, and wondered if I would EVER like the way I look, if I will ever feel confident and appreciate my body. Luckily, My parents were there for the breakdown. And they assured me that I looked fine, that I need to remember how far I have come, and that I should be proud of myself. My mom joked that NO woman looks good in a bathing suit. And the very next day? There was an article on Thought Catalog about how bathing suits are the worst article of clothing ever. I began to feel a little bit better.

I know I will have those moments again. But I also know I can push past them. I can look at before and after pictures like the one above and see how far I have come.

Speaking of........

The other day I was cleaning out an old purse and found this receipt:

That is a real receipt from almost exactly a year ago. I purchased a hot dog and a peanut butter bash sundae from DQ. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just a one time, indulgent snack. But that trip through the dairy queen drive through was a weekly, sometimes twice weekly, ordeal. If it wasn't Dairy Queen, it was McDonald's or Wendy's or a snack from the work vending machine. And then I'd come home and have a full dinner, usually paired with a couple glasses of wine. And then I'd snack for the rest of the evening.

That is so not me anymore. I am human and have temptations, but I can't tell you the last time I swung through a drive thru just because I wanted a snack. My portion sizes are much smaller and my choices are healthier. Instead of constantly thinking about food and where I will get my next treat from, I am thinking about work or Tom or the gym. When it comes to food I think about the dinner I have waiting at home or which veggies I need to pick up from the store for my newest recipe.

Finding that receipt was an eye opener, and a deep realization of how far I have come with my relationship with food.

It has been almost a full year since I began this journey. I don't have the exact date, but it was sometime in late May/early June. A lot changes in a year!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dear Ryan

Dear Ryan,
There's a lot to say in this letter, little guy. I just spent a lot of time with you- 9 whole days in Florida. I learned a lot about you. And, I already miss you. It was amazing to spend so much time with you, to watch you play. It's only been two days since I last saw you, and I already miss my buddy.

Your first trip to Florida was a huge success. You LOVED the beach. You ran up and down the sand, splashed the water, played with bigger kids, and giggled as we each took turns building sandcastles with you and dipping your toes in the water. You also went in the pool with your mom and dad. It was thrilling to watch you with them. You trusted them as they dunked you under. The look on your face was priceless. You were in true bliss. We also watched you run around on the grass, playing baseball, blowing bubbles, etc. You were just SO happy, Ryan. So happy to be free and running around. You were so excited about everything, and watching you discover new things and places was just so much fun. I had a smile on my face every time we were together.

Every morning I would hear you wake up, and you would instantly call out "mama?" "dada?" You were ready to start your day.

The days were pretty much the same. We would play with you on the beach for a while, and then we would take you up for your lunch. We took turns sitting with you while you napped. When you woke up, we'd either go back outside, or play in the condo until dinner.

After dinner, we would head back to the condo until your bedtime. We would watch Elmo at your request (you soon learned that Elmo would play on everyone's phones), play hockey, read books, play with the bubbles until you were ready for night night. and then, you would give everyone a hug and a kiss goodnight.

I had the distinct honor of riding home with you. A full two days in the car. I have to admit, at first, I was not looking forward to it. As much as I love spending time with you, I was worried you wouldn't be a happy boy, and that the ride home wouldn't be so fun for any of us. But you were GREAT, Ryan. Sure, you got a little cranky now and then, but all of us did. You just sat and watched your Elmo. When you weren't watching Elmo, I tried to make you laugh by letting you play with my fingers, tossing a ball back and forth, or other silly little games. At one point, you were reading a Sesame Street book. You kept asking me "what's that" and pointing at Big Bird. You couldn't quite say Big Bird, so you started saying "baba". But then you started calling ME baba! I was in the bathroom at one of our stops and you pounded on the door, yelling baba. Another time, at dinner, I walked away from the table and your mom and dad told me that you started asking for baba. I'm not sure if this will last, but since you can't say my name yet, I will take it!

I helped you fall asleep in the car by rubbing your foot. It worked- fast. You were instantly asleep. Once you even slightly woke up, and stuck your foot in my hand so that I would begin rubbing it again. I guess we know what to do to make you sleep!

Ryan, this trip was amazing. I loved every moment we had with each other. I loved watching you giggle at Uncle Jonathon and Aunt Sara when they were acting silly with you. I loved how much you trusted your mom and dad, and how you frequently gave your mommy kisses. I loved how you called out for Papa whenever you saw Grandpa Carolin or Grandpa Gumbel. I love how you want to "cheers" when we have cups in front of us. I love how you posed for pictures, how you let each of us love on you. I love how happy you were, and how happy you made each of us. It was truly a gift for each of us to be able to spend time with one another and with you.

This was the first trip of many, Ryan. Now that you have had a piece of Ft. Walton, we cannot take it away from you.

I can't wait to see you again soon. Love you, Ryan. Thank you for making my trip so special.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Life Savers

I, like most of us labeled "millennial", love social media. I find it fascinating.

Very often on social media, I see young teens, specifically girls, claiming that celebs and stars "saved their life". I cringe a little when I read that. But, I do admit, I used to be one of those girls. I am 100% confident that I have said those exact words on numerous occasions about songs, lyrics, singers, books. In fact, I probably said this somewhat recently. You won't hear me say it anymore, though. I have realized the truth.

I saved my own life.

And girls, only you are capable of saving your own life. Give yourself some credit. You are much stronger than you ever realize.

I am not saying it's impossible that these celebs/singers/youtubers/whoever have inspired you. Maybe they said or sang something that hit home or made you feel less lonely. But they did not save your life. You did that. Perhaps they gave you the push or the drive that you needed, but the saving was all on your own.

We should not rely on anyone, famous or not famous, to fix us or to save us. When we do that, we put them on a pedestal, we begin to idolize them and think they can do no wrong. We think everything they do is an act of God, and that they are perfect. And then maybe they do something that lets us down, and our whole world crashes.

YOU are the reason that you are still here. You are the reason you stopped self harming. You made the smart, and conscious decision, to begin to live your life in peace and to stop listening to those stupid voices in your head that try to tell you you're not good enough. Kiddo, you are more than good enough. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of SELF love.

If you have overcome depression, self harm, or suicidal thoughts, I give you a huge standing ovation. That is a major accomplishment. You should be proud, you have been so brave and fought hard. But please, don't give a celebrity all of the credit. Recognize the strength in yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back. You did it. You are a life saver of your very precious life. Take care of it from now on. Be gentle.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

If you are stopping by from the A-Z challenge, please note that I have decided to quit the challenge. I know, I didn't make it very far! But with a vacation coming up in two days, I was strapped for time. I will be back next year!

So, good news: I have lost 54 lbs! I had a little scare this weekend because I ate a few things I normally don't: beer, bread, and fries. And, when I stepped on the scale Monday, it was higher than I'd like. But it was obviously water weight/sodium, because after a day of drinking a ton of water and eating normally, I am back where I was.

So, as most of you are aware, I leave Thursday for my big vacation. It's my first big trip in two years and the first time my whole family has been together on a trip in 12 years. There's a lot to celebrate. And there will be a lot of food.

So, how am I going to keep on track?

  • I packed workout clothes, which I never do on a vacation. I mean, it's vacation. But the condo complex has a workout room, PLUS we will be right on the beach so I can go for long walks. I plan on working out/walking throughout the trip. Sidenote, found out there is a YMCA not too far form our condo, and I can use it for free with my Michigan membership, so I MAY even be able to sneak Zumba in on the trip!
  • Limit my snacking. Everyone loves to snack on vacation. Chips and drinks on the beach? Yes please! I will just have to be careful. We usually go to the grocery store once we arrive to buy some items for breakfast and lunch, so I will pick up healthy snacks for me that I know I can eat. Skinny pop popcorn is number one on that list. 
  • Limit my drinking. I rarely drink alcohol anymore anyways, but it's always fun to have a margarita or a beer on vacation. I will limit it. Who wants to drink their calories away?
  • Order grilled fish instead of fried. When one is in Florida, one must eat seafood. It's just a general rule of thumb. I checked the menus of some of our favorite places, and while a grilled fish dinner is delicious, it's also expensive. My workaround? Order a grilled fish sandwich, no bun. Boom.
Since I also want to watch my spending, I think it will be relatively easy to be good on the diet. I don't want to blow all my money, nor do I want to blow all my calories. I think I can figure out a good balance for me. On the long drive there and back, I pretty much know what I can eat at which fast food places, so I am not too worried about that.

There is only one cheat meal I will allow myself to have, and that is a fried shrimp sandwich. Because it is THE BOMB and I cannot go to Florida without having one. I just have to figure out which restaurant has the best one so that I can choose wisely.

Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Under His Wings

Have you ever had someone take you under their wing? I'm sure you have. I'm sure you all have. Maybe you were the "new kid" at school or work and someone went out of their way to help you get on your way. Or maybe you did something scary, like try out a new church or a new class and someone assisted you while you got settled. They introduced you to people, demonstrated how certain things work, invited you to lunch so that you wouldn't feel alone. They gave you tips and advice and did everything they could to help you feel comfortable.

Isn't it a great feeling to have someone guiding you, leading you, and protecting you?

Guess what?

God has us under His wings, too.

Every single step of the way, God is guiding us, leading us, and protecting us. He is sending us the people we need, He is laying down the foundation for us to live the best life we can live. There is a certain trust that comes with this. Just as it does with those who mentor us in our daily lives, we must trust that God will continue to carry us, that He will not drop us, and if we start to fall we just need to hold on closer.

Isn't it beautiful to know that God love us so much that He carries us under his wings, right next to His heart? I know it brings me an immense amount of comfort and peace.

I think that when we begin to trust God's strength and guidance, and truly live under His wings, we begin to make new discoveries. That life is beautiful, that we are precious, that each moment we live is important.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Okay, so I've never actually been to Ireland, but it still makes me pretty happy. Maybe it's part of my imagination or maybe it is as wonderful as I assume it is. Hopefully one day I will find out. It is my dream vacation spot. Everyone says to travel young, before it gets "too late", but those people haven't seen my student loan statements. I can't travel now. I hope that one day I can. Ireland will be the first place that I will go.

I am about 90% Irish, which is obviously a large part of the appeal to Ireland. I want to see my heritage, I want to LIVE and breathe my heritage. Another reason is the connection to the Sisters of Mercy, who founded my high school. I am still involved with the Sisters as an Associate. The Sisters began in Ireland when their founder, and one of my biggest role models, Catherine McAuley, opened a house on Baggot Street.

I want to visit that house. I want to hug the Sisters over there and thank them. I want to share my story with them and hear their stories.

When I think about one day stepping foot in Ireland, I feel a sense of peace. I want to see the gorgeous green and the historic churches. I want to hear the thick accents and the chit chat of the Irish people. I want to hold a Celtic cross in one hand and a shamrock in the other. I want to taste a Guinness and Fish and Chips in a local Irish pub.

I love to hear others tell me their tales of traveling to Ireland. My sister studied abroad there for a semester in college. I wish I had done that. I got all the information, was ready to get the ball rolling, and then just...didn't. It was at a weird time in my life, and I really regret not going. My parents went a few years ago and had the best time. Their dream came true, they got to watch Notre Dame play a football game in Ireland. I am so happy for them that they took the opportunity to go on that trip.

One day I will be there I don't care if I have to pay  my way with pennies, I will be there. I will take it all in, and I know I will be smiling the whole time. Until then, I will keep dreaming.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: How To's

If you are stumbling on my blog from the A-Z Challenge, Welcome! Today I am sharing some weight loss "How To's". I have lost 53 lbs since July and still have a ways to go. I have learned a lot along the way and hope to help someone who is struggling or stuck.

Left: May 2013. Right: April 2014

How To: Get Started
When I talk about my weight loss journey. A lot of people say to me "I really need to get going, but I don't know where to start". Here is what I suggest:

  • I strongly suggest meeting with a personal trainer, even for just one session. I know cost is an issue for most of us, but I think just one session is worth it. You will tell the trainer what you are looking to do and they will show you some exercises to do. 
  • Get on My Fitness Pal or Lose It or another app where you can track your calories and your workouts. This will help you to stay on track and also help you figure out how many calories you should be consuming each day.
  • Begin to meal plan. Think about your week, and write down all the meals you will be eating, including snacks. Use that list and take it to the grocery store. Don't buy anything else except the things on your list.
  • Know and understand that "getting started" is one of the biggest steps you can take, and also should be one of the proudest moments of your life. Getting started to making a healthy lifestyle will be the best decision you've made! 
How To:  Learn to eat healthy
In all honesty, most of us know what's healthy and what's not. We know we probably shouldn't grab McDonald's breakfast or eat chips instead of fruits and veggies. But it's HARD to stay healthy when there's so much yummy food out there! The thing is, though, once you start and commit to healthy eating, it gets easier. Eventually you won't really crave the "bad things" anymore, and if you do it's rare. 

However, there are things hidden in foods that we don't really think about. Like sodium. Sodium is a nasty little booger. You don't want to overdo it on sodium, it's not good for your heart and causes bloating. So watch your sodium intake as much as possible. Example? Most people think a healthy option at Subway is the oven roasted chicken sub. And yes, it's delicious, and somewhat low in calories, but has over 1,000 mg in sodium! 

Try, as much as possible, to avoid processed foods in general. Always go for fresh. Try to cook your dinners as much as possible and eat the leftovers for lunch. If that's not easy, pack a healthy lunch. Tuna, grilled chicken and veggies, quinoia are all good options. I used to just buy lunch on the days I didn't have leftovers, but recently have forced myself to try to pack a lunch as much as possible. Today? I've got tuna with just a tiny mayo, with chopped cucumbers, onions, and spinach leaves. I'll probably throw in some skinny pop popcorn and an apple. 

When that 2-3 pm snack time craving hits, be prepared. This has been one of my biggest downfalls. I always forget about snacks! Some good options are celery with peanut butter, carrots, low salt pretzels, a protein bar, or a banana. 

My biggest piece of advice? Don't buy it. If you know you will eat an entire package of Oreos if they are in your house, DON'T BUY THEM. If you will regret that burrito later, don't eat it. I don't believe in full on restriction. Let yourself have treats once in a while, but also don't sabotage yourself by filling your home with foods that will tempt you. Have lots of healthy options on hand.

How to: Drink Water
Water should be your best friend. There are so many positive health benefits of drinking water- and you need to be drinking enough! Do the whole "8 glasses" thing, but try to do even more than that. I aim for 10-12 glasses a day. Don't like water? Add lemon or cucumber and mint to it. Keep track of how much you are drinking during the day. 

How to: Lift Weights
A lot of us, especially females, seem to be scared of weight lifting. Be not afraid, ladies! Lifting weights is key in your weight loss journey. I do it twice a week. I'm no expert so I am not sure if that is 100% correct, but it seems to work for me. 

Lifting weights can seem intimidating, especially if you've never done it. You should consult a trainer or a friend who knows what they are doing to teach you the moves. You don't want to hurt yourself by doing it wrong. 

I mix up my weight training, too. I use dumbbells, resistance bands, and the weight machines. I also add in my squats/lunges and my ab work on my weight days. 

How to: Mix up your workouts
I can't think of anyone I know that actually enjoys walking on the treadmill. That's why you need to change it up! Do intervals, then do longer intervals. Shock your body! One of my favorite things to do is 10-15 minutes on each cardio machine (treadmill, stair climber, row, elliptical) at very high, intense intervals. It is hard, but so worth it. AND keeps things exciting!

Also, try different classes. Zumba is my favorite, and it's a good workout when you REALLY push yourself to keep up with the instructor. My endurance has built, so I don't get as tired anymore. Each week I try harder to push myself and go faster. There are lots of other classes to try. Yoga and Pilates are low impact, but great for overall body toning. Kickboxing is high impact and burns a ton of calories. I like classes like Bootcamp and Cardio Sculpt because they work everything. Just try some- you may be surprised what you like!

How to: Stay motivated
In the moments you feel most proud, most energized and most motivated, pause. Capture that moment. Put it in your back pocket. And when you are feeling down and discouraged, take it out and remember. Remember how great it felt, and try to emulate that feeling. Make a list of all the things you have accomplished so far, and then a list of all the things you WANT to accomplish. Know that you can do this and that your life is a precious gift in which you need to take care of.  Remember WHY you are doing this. Then get up and keep going.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Glee is one of the very few shows in which I have seen every single episode.  I don't really get into TV shows. I don't watch Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. I never watched Friends. I don't HAVE to be home to watch a show, unless it's Glee or Idol.

Glee captured my heart from the Pilot episode. I adored the music, the characters, and the story. It is one of the most frustrating shows on television, with its plot inconsistencies and random introduction and disappearance of characters. But it's still SO GOOD. Well, okay, this season has sucked, but I think all of us can agree that is largely in part due to our loss of Cory Montieth. The show is simply not the same without him.

Here are my 10 Favorite things about Glee. Some are performances, others story lines, others characters.

10. Sue and her sister/Sue and Becky. I love Sue's sarcastic moments, too, but her sweet, lovely moments with her sister and with Becky tug at the heartstrings.

I couldn't find any videos for these two relationships, which is a bit surprising!

9. Mash ups. I LOVE whenever Glee does a good mash up! They have done plenty, but this one is probably my favorite

8. Finn and Rachel. They aren't my favorite couple, but even I have to admit there was something special there. Rachel's ridiculous crush on Finn turned into a relationship, that had plenty of ups and downs along the way. The two were together in real life, making Cory's death all that more difficult for the Glee cast.

7. Brittany/Santana. The relationship between these two ladies was confusing and a little heart wrenching. You had Santana, the crazy mean girl, and Brittany, the not-so-smart dancer. They had a deep friendship that developed into something more. When they first got together, neither one really knew what they wanted. But as their relationship developed, their love deepened. One of my favorite Glee moments is when they sing "Songbird". Santana's face says it all.

6. The school shooting episode. This episode aired with the "new kids", along with a few of the regulars. It was at a point where I was ready to give up on Glee. I wasn't feeling the new cast members and I was bored with the story lines. But then they go and do this, one of the most brilliant episodes of TV I have seen. The actors did a fantastic job. Kudos to them for making my heart beat faster than it ever has before.

5. Kurt and his dad. The relationship between Kurt and Burt Hummel was one of the deepest and most intriguing relationships on the show. Burt was challenged with accepting his son's homosexuality, and Kurt was dealing with coming out, bullying, boyfriends, etc. The two of them always share the best scenes together.

4. Samcedes. I love Finchel and Klaine as much as the next person, but Samcedes is, hands down, my favorite couple. Sam was linked with lots of gals on Glee, but his relationship with Mercedes was truly special. It was a unique pairing, but it worked. Mercedes' confidence matched with Sam's humor and heart made me love them together. It looks like Glee is hinting they may get back together in these next few episodes, and that make me my heart pretty darn happy.

3. Idina Menzel/Rachel's Mom. How perfect was Idina on Glee? So, so perfect. First of all, the resemblance between Lea Michelle and Idina is almost scary. Secondly, Idina's Broadway voice and booming personality made her a perfect fit on the show. Her character disappeared after a while, but it was fun while it lasted.

2.  The love that Mr. Schu has for his students. Mr. Schu's love and concern for his students is truly admirable. He sees this kids as his own. They frustrate him and annoy him but at the end of the day, all he wants to do is make them happy and protect them.

1. The overall friendship, support, and love that comes from that Glee room. These kids really are a family. They love each other, they fight, they make up, they support, they compete. They are a special group of people who stand together and stand strong. All while spreading joy with their music :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fort Walton Beach

I wrote about Fort Walton Beach in 2011 for the A-Z Challenge, but seeing that I will be heading there again in just 10 days, 17 hours and 11 minutes, I thought it was only appropriate to write about it again.

Fort Walton is not just a vacation destination. It's not just some place in Florida. It is childhood. It is memories. It is family.

This year, my entire family will be heading down there, together. My siblings, their spouses, and I went two years ago together, but I have not been with my parents since I was 16. That's 10 years overdue for a trip. And all of us haven't been on a vacation together in over 10 years. This trip is needed, and it's going to be amazing.

Fort Walton is a place of love. It is where my parents first met. It is where my brother in law proposed to my sister. It is where my brother and sister in law took their honeymoon. It is where Laurence and I bonded, it is where friendships have been built. It is happiness.

It is beautiful. The sun shining, toes deep in the white sand, palm trees swaying in the wind, ocean waves coming in, a sunset so bright you can hardly believe it.

It is fun. Building sandcastles on the beach, playing in the pool, shopping on the strip, bingo with the locals, Goofy Gall tournaments.

It is delicious. Raw Oysters, shrimp sandwiches, grilled fish, Waffle Houses galore, gourmet chocolate chip pancakes.

It is my happy place. It is the place I love the most in this world. And soon, I will be there again.

To my family, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to spend a week with you in our most special place. I love you all so much and to be together here will mean so much. Let's all vow to let go of worries, to hold back from anger and fear and to just soak it up. Who knows when we will all be together again here. We should cherish it while we can. See you in 10 days, 17 hours, and 24 minutes.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Empathy is the ability to recognize emtions and feelings that are being shown by someone else. As humans, we are pretty aware of our own hurt and sufferings. We know when we are down, when we are sad, and generally, we know why. It's a bit tougher to be aware of how others are feeling. Empathy, my friends, is not that easy.

I think, naturally, a lot of us have the attitude that "if it didn't happen to me, why should I care?". You should care because one day, it could happen to you. You should care because you will need people to care about and for you, and to stand with you in your times of need. You should care because you were born with a working heart. It's beating, right now, and that should be enough of a reminder that you are capable of making a difference, of helping someone, of spreading awareness.

I have talked about this before, but I think we can all begin to possess empathy if we paid attention a little bit more. If we looked in the eyes of the people we interact with- whether it's a coworker or a cashier at the grocery store. If we begin to notice their pain, their distress, perhaps we can all become a bit more empathetic.

Why is empathy important? Because we're all out here just trying to survive. If we could show some empathy toward one another, we could make life a little happier and easier. We need to stand together, not against each other.

I truly believe that when we begin to have empathy, to open our hearts towards others suffering, we become kinder, more gentle people. That kindness will spread, and it will come right back our way.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscalgia

 “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” Meryl Streep

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I certainly believe in dreaming big. I love the idea of using our minds to imagine the best life possible for ourselves. I've always been a dreamer. I think most of us are. We are built with so much wonder. I see that as a plus.

I think we most often attest "dreams" to "jobs", or "growing up". These are great to have- when I was a little girl I dreamed of opening a bakery with my grandma, of becoming a zoologist with my best friend Maggie, and of becoming a Broadway star. In college and as a young adult, I dreamed of moving to Nashville and writing songs for famous musicians. 

But dreams aren't limited to our income or our title. We can dream of a more peaceful world, of new inventions, of cures and miracles. I dream that there will be an end to violence, and that we find how to beat cancer so that it stops taking lives away. 

 A few years ago, when I was still living with my parents, I had a "dream board". On it were pictures of celebrities I wanted to meet, places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to accomplish. I no longer have it, but I wonder how different it would look now. I will tell that you my biggest dream is to write something that means something to people. Whether that is a song or a book, I just want to impact lives through my writing. 

The best part about our dreams is that they are just that- ours. Own your dream. Hold onto it. Cherish it, and nourish it. You can dream as big as you want to.Don't be afraid to dream big. Don't be afraid to act on your dreams. Even if you don't quite make it, I can assure you that along the way, you will learn so much about yourself and who you are.  

So go on and dream, darlings. 

"We can dream, but God can take those dreams and go beyond what we can ask, think or even dream big and let God do the rest"- Melinda Doolittle, American Idol Finalist Season 6

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I did not fully understand the concept of "community" until I served a year of volunteer service through the Mercy Volunteer Corps. The application process kept mentioning the word "community" and I just kind of shrugged. assuming they meant "roommates". But here's the thing: It is very different.

Community really means building strong relationships through caring, loving interactions and through sharing experiences together. It is intentionally carving out time for people who have similiar interests and values as you do.

Examples? Well, the most obvious for me goes back to that year of service. I was set to live with three total strangers and to live "in community". What did this mean? It meant we intentionally ate our meals together, had spirituality nights, went to Church together, and shared our experiences with one another. It didn't mean the four of us were together every second of every day, but it did mean we made a point to make our time together meaningful.

You don't have to just "build community" with the people that you live with, though. At my previous job, I truly felt like we were a community. We intentionally ate lunch together every day and supported one another. At my new job, I can sense that my volunteer committees are a community.

Having a community and truly taking part in it is important to learning about yourself and human interaction.

Weight Loss Wednesday

Good news! I managed to maintain the weight I lost when I had the stomach bug, so I am down 52 lbs.

People keep asking me over and over if I am going to have a "50 lbs" party. I was planning on it. I was going to invite family and close friends to have a dinner and celebrate. But when the 50 lbs finally hit, it just felt weird to send an e-mail out asking people to come celebrate me. So, to be honest, I really haven't done anything to celebrate. Which  I guess is kind of sad, considering how hard I worked, but I also don't necessarily need a celebration. I know what I've done.

I think throughout this journey I have been most proud of my bravery and my willingness to try new things. I am not generally a person who likes to jump into new opportunities. I worry and stress about who will be there, if I will stand out, etc. When I used to belong to the Y in Auburn Hills a few years ago, I would pace back and forth outside the group exercise room, trying to force myself to go inside. Sometimes I went in, sometimes I got too scared.

But this time has been different. I have tried Yoga, Zumba toning, Spinning, Kickboxing, Battle Ropes (not a class, but I was the first at Sola to try them and demonstrated them for others), Pilates, and Bootcamp. Of all of these, bootcamp has been my favorite- you know, in a sort of sick and twisted way. It's SO hard, and afterwards I wanted to curl up in my bed for hours, but it was such a feeling of accomplishment that it felt amazing. I was a little slower than everyone else and sweat more than I have in my entire life, but I did it.

This journey has been so different than my previous weight loss attempts- different in the best way, because it's working. I am pushing myself hard, I am keeping an open mind, and I am soaking up knowledge any way that I can.

Ever since I started cooking, I have only repeated a recipe once or twice. I have tried new things with food, too! And guess what? IT'S FUN!

The other day I stopped at JcPenney to get some T-shirts for Florida. And you guys- I bought a shirt outside of the plus size section- in the regular women's section. I can't tell you how happy that made me. It's been a long time since I could do that. I almost cried. The sales associate helping me almost cried. It was one of those moments. A very special moment.

I will not lie, though. I'm tired. You've heard me say this before in my WLW posts: this whole thing is exhausting. Today was actually a rest day from working out and I can feel my muscles aching a bit. It reminds me how hard this is, and how far I have come. But also, how far I have to go. And that makes me tired. But I will not give up!

I love you guys. Thanks for virtually celebrating with me. And maybe I'll treat myself this weekend and have a beer or two to officially celebrate.  Also, when I hit my goal weight, I really am going to throw a party, and I'm not going to feel bad about it.