Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: New Year's Edition

Left side: July 2013. Right side: December 2013.

This is an exciting post for me. Because 2014 isn't a year of resolutions. I don't need to feel guilty for neglecting to do things in 2013. I started them. 2014 is going to be about finishing them.

My weight loss was, hands down, the greatest thing about 2013. It changed my life. When I first started, I had a few friends who worried about me. They worried I was putting too much pressure on myself, and that I should be happy with who I am, not so focused on changing myself. But the thing is, I had to change myself. My health was in danger and my mood was disturbing. My emotions were all over the place and my depression was seeping through.

Not anymore. 

I can walk up the steps without getting out of breath. I can do a whole 45 minutes on the treadmill. I can fit into clothes 2-3 sizes smaller. I can look in the mirror and like what I see. I can wake up in the mornings with energy and excitement. My entire life has changed.

I never, ever thought I could do this. I've tried it all before, without any success, or with short term success. Then I gave up. This time, I didn't give up. I kept pushing, and I will keep pushing. There is no giving up this time and no turning back. There will be obstacles, and set backs, but I am on my way, and I will keep pushing, no matter what it takes.

Throughout this weight loss journey, most people have been totally supportive. But some have been- not so supportive. I've had people roll their eyes when I order broccoli instead of fries. I've had someone tell me I post too much about my weight loss journey, I've had people totally dismiss me when I talk about the gym. It used to hurt my feelings. But in those instances, I have to remember I am not doing this for anyone else but my damn self. Their words don't mean a thing to me, the only thing that matters is how I feel.

I know I have said this before, but I still have a very long way to go. 32 lbs is great, and you already know how great I feel, but in order to be in my best health and my best shape, I have about 100 more lbs to lose. I know that's a big number. I know that sounds like a lot. I know I may not even make that 100 lbs by this time next year (but I hope I do!). But I am not going to give up. 

At first I thought I didn't have the strength to do this without other people helping me. I thought I would give up unless I had people constantly encouraging me. Now, I know I can do this, whether or not someone tells me "Hey, good job". I'm not saying I don't appreciate the encouragement, because I surely do, more than I can ever express. It gives me a little push, and it certainly makes me happy. But I don't solely depend on it. I depend on my own two legs and my brain. 

But friends, even though I know I can do this, don't give up on me. I still love having cheerleaders. I will still be looking to celebrate my victories with you, just as I want to celebrate your victories with you. 

In the comments, either on the blog or on facebook, or via a private message, I want you to tell me a goal you're working on. Maybe it's weight loss or writing or learning an instrument. Maybe it's finding a church or learning to cook or heck, maybe it's even beating a new level in candy crush. But I am going to keep a list of your goals, and pray for you every night. I can promise you that. So share it with me. I look forward to hearing them.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear Ryan: 1 year, 2 Months

Dear Ryan,
GUESS WHAT? You're WALKING now! Can you believe it? This is so exciting! You're getting to be such a big boy. You can say things like "that" and "dada" AND you can walk!

We just celebrated Christmas and the best part was being able to see you open your presents. You were timid at first, but once you realized that there were toys and presents under the wrapping paper, you loved opening your gifts! Grandma Carolin got you some really cool stuff, like a red car that you can sit in and a big tub of giant Lego's.

You made Christmas fun and magical for me again, just seeing the look on your face as you discovered your new toys, and as you ate all the yummy food. Your belly kept getting rounder and rounder throughout the day, with all the treats we kept giving you.

You and I have a new thing that we do. We make this adorable scrunchy face at each other. I know that you're still little and learning who I am, and that sometimes you may even forget who I am, but I hope that we keep doing the scrunchy face. It's one of my new favorite things.

When we were playing games on Christmas you kept walking around, throwing blank pieces of paper in the bowl, grabbing onto one of us when you wanted to stand up. at one point you were just leaning against me, so you could play with your lego's but wouldn't fall down. I loved it. I always want to be there for you to lean on.

Ryan, you just have no idea how much we all love you. When I am having a bad day or feeling sad I just think of you, or look at a picture of you, and I feel so much better. You are the most important person in my life. And even though I don't see you every week, that feeling never goes away. I promise to not be a distant aunt. I promise you will see more of me, and see me more than on just holiday's.

2013 is about to be over, and we will start a new year full of adventures. I can't wait to see what happens next. Love you, Ryan!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

my wish for you

To my dear, sweet friends,
As 2013 comes to a close, I have been thinking about each of you and the tremendous impact you have each made on my life.  I wish that I could give each and every one of you a hug. A really, really tight hug.

I have hopes and wishes for you as you prepare to welcome the new year.

Friends, try your best to just be present in each moment. Listen carefully. Open your heart. Take life one hour at a time.

Don't be lazy, though, either. You won't get anywhere without hard work.stay focused, but do not beat yourself up for things which you cannot control. And accept the fact that you will make mistakes, but that's OKAY.

Love yourself and know that you deserve to be happy. Do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who will shower you with encouragement, love, and support. Pray not only for those you love and care about but also for the people who hurt you.

Let go of your past. Your past mistakes and heartbreaks do not define you. Forgive yourself and move on.

Immerse yourself in the things you love to do. Find the time to do them. Share your talents with others.

Express your gratitude. Tell others when they have done something positive  for you.

Be a good person. Share your heart with others. Treat everyone, including strangers, with love.

Be brave. Take chances. Push fear aside. Try something new.

But most of all, just be. Be your beautiful self.  Let your light shine.

Tonight, December 29th,  I challenge you to contact the people who have positively impacted your year and tell them thank you. When finished, give yourself a pat on the back for all you have accomplished in 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

End of the Year Book Survey

1.  Best book read in 2013.

I have to give it to Diary of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. It was a fantastic read. I can't say enough good things about it. It was creative, witty, and interesting.

2.  Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more, but didn’t:

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz MurrayI was so excited about this book, I love a good memoir and inspirational story, but this was mostly a let down. It was too depressing, and although there was a happy ending, I had to force myself to read it.

3.  Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013.

I Want it Now! A Memoir of Life on the Set of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory by Julia Cole, who played Veruca Salt. I really wanted to read it, but wasn't sure what to expect. I loved it! If you are a fan of Willy Wonka, you need to read this book. It gives a wonderful sneak peek into the behind the scenes world of the movie!

4.  Book you read in 2013 that you recommended the most?

I recommended almost every book I read!

5.  Best series you discovered in 2013.

I don't really read series. Not since Hunger Games, anyway. However, I did read If I Stay and Where She Went (If I Stay #2),  by Gayle Forman. Loved these a whole bunch, and am excited to see how the movie will be!

6.  Favorite new author discovered in 2013.

Rainbow Rowell. She is an incredible young adult author. I look forward to reading more of her work!

7.  Best book that was out of your comfort zone.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin SloanI don't usually read mystery/adventure books. This one was different for me, but I enjoyed it!

8.  Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreightI read this so fast because I wanted to know what happened. People say it's a copy of Gone Girl, and while there are similarities, I was still intrigued.

9.  Book read in 2013 that you are most likely to reread.

I rarely reread books, but I would probably reread Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, or Diary of an Imaginary Friend.

10.  Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013.

11.  Most memorable character of 2013.


12.  Most beautifully written book of 2013.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This is another one of my very favorites of the year. It is a beautiful story of two unlikely people becoming close.

13.  Book that had the greatest impact on you.

Oh, a lot of them! Maybe The Repeat year.

14.  Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to read.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  By Mindy Kaling was released in 2011. I don't really watch her show, but I decided to read the book because I do think she's pretty funny. I cracked up reading it and am kicking myself for not reading it sooner, AND for not watching her show. I'm actually hoping to watch it on Netflix this weekend.

15.  Favorite passage/quote.
"I needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow, or fail, but that life did go on. That we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only God's purpose to understand"- Me Before You

"And as for this knowing what the future holds- well, it sucks, and I'd be one to know, right? It can make you feel trapped at first, like you don't have the power to change anything. But you have to get past that. You have to get to a place where you realize you're the only one who has been standing in your way all along"- The Repeat Year

"All I do when we're apart is think about you, and all I do when we're together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I'm so out of control, I can't help myself. I'm not even mine anymore, I'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me?"- Eleanor and Park

"Write your own part. It is the only way I've gotten anywhere. It is much harder work, but sometimes you have to take destiny into your own hands. It forces you to think about what your strengths really are, and once you find them, you can showcase them, and no one can stop you"- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?"

"No one, no one truly knows what is possible until they go and do it".- Breaking Night

"Because throughout it all, you are still, always, you: beautiful and bruised, known and unknowable. And isn't that-just you-enough?"- This Song Will Save Your Life

16.  Shortest and longest books read in 2013.

Shortest: If I Stay (201 pages)
Longest: Me Before You (488 pages)

17.  Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to someone about it.

Honestly, probably The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult, which I am just finishing. It has a whole heap of information about the Holocaust and concentration camps, and it's been a while since I have immeresed myself in that. It's so interesting....depressing, but interesting.

18.  Favorite relationship in a book read in 2013 (romance, friendship, etc.)


19.  Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you read previously.

The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult.  I went through a phase where all I read was Jodi Picoult, but then I got sick of it because I began to easily predict what would happen. The Storyteller is a real winner, though. I highly recommend it!

20.  Best book you read in 2013 based solely on a recommendation.

Ten Girls To Watch. Shari recommended it, it was the first book I ever read on my kindle. It was fabulous!

21.  Genre you read the most in 2013.
Young Adult, probably. I love them

22.  Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013.

I don't typically get crushes on book characters. None from the books this year really ring a bell.

23.  Best 2013 debut.

Not Sure!

24.  Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013.

Diary of an Imaginary Friend.

25.  Book that was the most fun to read.
Probably The Repeat Year or This Song Will Save Your Life.

26.  Book that made you cry.

Homefront, Kristen Hannah. Oh golly.

27.  Best book you read that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out.
Not sure if any of them were overlooked!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post Christmas Reflection

My dad has declared this Christmas as "the best Christmas ever".

I would have to agree. You know, people say that as you get older you lose the Christmas spirit, but I am finding I am gaining more Christmas spirit each year. Sure, it's not as fun to run down the steps and see what Santa brought you. But Christmas is different now, more special. There is less focus on gifts and more focus on being with family and loved ones.

It is an absolute joy for me to watch my nephew take out every single Lego out of the box and put every single one back in. I cracked up when we were playing a version of charades and he walked around, throwing blank pieces of paper in the bowl so that he could be included. I giggled watching him eat the whipped cream and ask for more. And I absolutely love when he leans against me, uses me to help pull himself back up, gives me kisses, or scrunches his face at me. There is no love like the love I have for that little boy.

My family is amazing. My sister in law made me laugh so hard I actually spit out wine all over my brother. My dad gave a beautiful speech at dinner. We are all connected in a way that is indescribable, but visible. It's very easy to see the love and respect we all have for one another. (Most of the time, anyway).

And then there's Tom. You know, for so long I was convinced I would never find someone who would understand my anxiety, who would love my family as much as I do, who would be there for me every step of the way. But I have found that guy in Tom. And I am so lucky. I am always excited to see him. It was very special for me to have him around yesterday.

We spent yesterday opening gifts, playing games, cooking, and eating. It was a beautiful day. And in an instant, the day is over. I drove into work this morning a little sad, wishing I could have taken the day off to spend it with my family, who are all off of work and hanging out all day. Unfortunately, though, if I want to go to Florida, I need to work as many days as possible.

What if every day was like Christmas? I mean, I know we can't buy each other a ton of gifts every day and all that jazz, but what if the spirit of Christmas existed every day?  I suppose it would take a way some of the magic and wonder. But maybe if we took just a sprinkle of all the love shared on Christmas and carried it with us every day, we'd be happier people.

I am looking forward to getting through the next few days. After I run to my house to check on things and shovel the driveways tonight, I am leaving again and having yet another sleepover at my parents house, soaking up as much family time as I can. Saturday and Sunday, I am giving myself "vacation days" and spending both days on the couch, watching Netflix.

As far as weight loss Wednesday goes, as of Tuesday I had lost 32 lbs total. However, I am pretty convinced I probably gained 1 lb back yesterday. I let myself eat what I wanted yesterday, and afterwards felt so lethargic and full that I will probably never do that again.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas with your families/loved ones!

Sidenote: My three favorite gifts were: Memory blanket Sara made me (fleece blanket full of pictures of me and my family and friends!), Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary book from Tom, and the John Mayer vinyl record from Tom's aunt. What were your favorite gifts?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Questions

1. What do you love the most about Christmas time?Without a doubt, it is buying/making gifts. I work really hard to find something perfect for my family and close friends. I want it to be sentimental, and something that they will love.

2. Do you celebrate the holiday in style or is Bah-Humbug for you?It used to be bah-humbug. I have cried on Christmas for the past several years, just disliking how happy and joyous everyone was while I was sad and lonely. But at 26 years old, with the most amazing nephew in the world, a wonderful family, and sweet boyfriend, I am celebrating in style!

3. Are you leaving anything out for Santa Claus this year so he remembers to leave your presents?When I was a kid, we'd leave the cookies and milk. Not anymore!

4. What is the one gift you are most looking forward to GIVING? {It can be to your kids, another family member, etc – remember to be discreet if they read your blog}All of them! I was excited to give my roommates their presents last night. I gave Sam this:

And Lauren this:
and this:
I'm REALLY excited about one of the gifts I got Tom. And I pulled my sister's name in the gift exchange for my family and I'm excited for hers too. Maybe I'll post them later in the week.

5. What is your all-time favorite Christmas movie?Elf.

6. What is your all-time favorite Christmas song?
Carol of the Bells and Silent Night.

 7. If given the opportunity, would you participate in an “Ugly Sweater” party and what sweater would you wear? Peruse one on the Internet or even if your own closet and show us!
 Check! Went to my first Ugly Sweater party last year, and had another one this past weekend. My "ugly sweater" was just a Grandma sweater I got from Walmart, but I am seriously considering purchasing something like this for future use:

 8. Have you started any Christmas traditions this year that you plan on carrying forward?My roommates and I did stockings for each other this year which I really liked. We put a limit of $10 total for each other, but I think we all went a little over. It was fun to find cute little things to put in their stockings! When we opened them last night I had forgotten some of the gifts I purchased so it was fun to see their reactions.

Tonight Tom and I are making a "breakfast for dinner" and exchanging our gifts. I'm really excited about that and hoping it will become our tradition if things continue to work out. I'm making us a breakfast casserole and fruit, he's buying all the ingredients. We're going to listen to the Kelly Clarkson Christmas album (what a guy he is!) on the record player and watch a Christmas movie. I'm so excited!

9. It’s Christmas morning… what does it look like outside where you live?It's Michigan so you never know! Usually there is snow, sometimes ice, sometimes rain! I'm hoping for sunshine with a little snow this year.

10. You just found yourself standing under the mistletoe… who comes up to give you a kiss first?I certainly hope it's Tom!

2013: A reflection

A few things you will never forget in 2013

  • Christine and Paul's wedding journey: From the engagement to the shower to the bachelorette party to the big day itself, it was an honor to be part of it.
  • Ryan's baptism
  • Living with Sam and Lauren
  • The Boston Marathon Bombing
  • Taylor Swift Concert
  • Beginning my weight loss journey
  • Kelly Clarkson concert in the monsoon
  • Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars concert
  • Becoming friends with Tom again, and then realizing we were so much more than that.
  • Up north weekend with my friends
  • Fall Out Boy concert in a suite
  • My dad being diagnosed with cancer
  • Prayer service for my dad
  • Ryan's 1st Birthday Party
  • Family Photo Shoot
  • Pink concert
  • Friendsgiving
Relationship (s)

  • In the beginning of 2013, I was in a relationship with someone who is not Tom. In my eyes, at the time, that relationship was perfect. In reality, it was toxic. I meant nothing to him, but I thought I did. He ended up shattering my heart. It didn't take long for me to start talking to Tom. We became friends first and I loved hanging out with him. We did a lot of stuff together- Tigers game, dinners, walks. We pretty much knew where it was going, but we both wanted to take things slowly. One day, Tom did yard work for my dad and then took me to see The Wizard of Oz in 3d. That was the day I knew I wanted our relationship to be more. That was the day everything changed. Since then, it's only gotten better. We pick on each other sometimes, but I adore that kid. I always have fun with him, even if we're just sitting there, barely talking because we're tired from a long work day. With him, it just keeps getting better. He is the sweetest, and I can tell him anything. He knows more about me than anyone has ever known. I am truly lucky to have him as my guy and I know we're only going to get stronger and have more adventures. I think it's also important to note that Tom and I literally became "official" two days before my dad was diagnosed. Two days. We had pretty much been dating for several weeks before that, but September 22nd is the day we made it official. He stuck by me through that crazy, intense two weeks where I was barely sleeping and functioning like a normal human being. If he can handle me like that, I think he can handle me any time.

The Best Day

  • Our girls weekend up north were some of the best days I had all year. I laughed so hard. I smiled so much it hurt. Lauren and I built a fire. We had this amazing bike ride around Mackinac Island where I just felt so carefree, so happy. It was honesty perfect. 
  • A close second is the day my family did our photoshoot. I can't tell you how nervous I was for that day. I don't do well with attention or pictures. But it was such a fun, light hearted kind of day. I won't forget it.
 The worst day

  • September 24th. I will never forget this day. I was in the locker room drying my hair. It was 7 am. My phone rang, it was dad. I answered, and he said "My doctor called. It's not good. There are four lesions in my brain. I am going to Beaumont now.".
I began shaking. I felt sick. I ran out of the gym with wet hair, stopped at my office to give my coworkers my matierals for an event, and drove to Beaumont. Hours later, we found out my dad had lung cancer, with mets to the brain. It was the worst day I can ever remember having. I was so scared. I hated seeing him so scared, and my mom so upset. I hated seeing my sister cry. I hated everything about it.

The most memorable moment.

  • Well obviously I will never forget the day my dad was diagnosed. I will always have September 24th on my mind. I have more, but that's for sure the most memorable. 
  • Christine's wedding is also pretty memorable. It was an honor to be in the wedding and to be part of her special day. She was a beautiful bride and the wedding was so perfect.
Your best friend(s).
 Sam, Lauren, Tom are the ones I spend most of my time with. Christine will forever be one of my besties and I am still so glad that I got to be a part of her special day. 

My family are also my best friends. I cannot ever express how much I love them. They are such beautiful people and I love being with them. 

My coworkers are my best friends. I got really close with Amy this year and I honestly don't know what id do without her every day. Then there's my sweet Maggie who keeps me sane. And carol, Lynn, sue, Christina, Marcy, and judy. And of course, Peggy. Peggy is one of the greatest people I've ever met. I will never have another supervisor like her ever again.

And of course there's the people who I do not see as often, but they are still some of my best friends and will always have a special place in my heart. Alex, Alicia, Jena, Gem, Dean, Shari, Elizabeth, desi.

Your birthday.

  • My actual birthday was simple but great. I had dinner with friends and was surrounded by some of the people I love most in the world. I also got the greatest Birthday present I've ever gotten: a record player, from Tom. I'm obsessed with it and so grateful for it! 
 The best getaway.
  • The only real getaway I had was my trip up north which I already talked about. But id also say my silent retreat in November. It brought me a lot of clarity.
New Year resolutions.
  • Worry less about silly things and focus more on making memories. Learned that from my dad. I have more, but that will come later.
Drumroll, please....

Favorite Tweets of The Year :)

 @mojodean If you'd walked by my classroom five minutes ago you would've seen me eating a bell pepper whole and rocking out to @ladygaga.

@Kristen8108  Okay iPhone, please stop autocorrecting toys to tits. This convo with @izJul is going so wrong!

 @Lover_of_Sushi Butter my ass and call me a biscuit

 @Zammie255  I just had a dream of a whole mall being liquidated.Everything was 2.00 but it was 8:50pm and closed at 9:00pm. So it became a nightmare...

 @MCastroMusic What type of coffee does Jesus make?! HOLY GROUNDS. Good morning!

@DatKaren So many dirty jokes you can make when you own a cat!

 @dutchstrong  The only friends that I have in my apartment complex are the ducks. MY ducks.

 @Lover_of_Sushi  Ugh shaving sucks. Like, running a razor blade over my facial skin is just scary when you really think about it. BLADES ON YO FACE

 @gracehelbig What do you call someone who's a complete asshole but also loves Rosie O'Donnell? A kooshbag
 @Kristen8108 @Zammie255 /wrokay. Just come the stairs with the car

@lizZmilK tis better to have twerked and lost than to never have twerked at all.

 @mdoolittle Settle something for me, please. Is Psy saying gonorrhea in that song? Do I even want to know what he's saying? LOL!
 @mandisaofficial  These bumblebees keep running into my window full force! I feel like I should tell them there’s a better way! Jesus has a plan for them!🐝

 @altgeldshrugged Who uses UNSALTED tortilla chips for nachos? I'm sorry, did we lose a war or something?

 @Kristen8108 So I *might* have just yelled at a goose, "Can't we just co-habitat nicely?" He started it by honking at me first.

 @ElizabethThe  Sometimes when I get too overwhelmed by cute cats, I start meowing
 @SaraBareilles I was almost going to meet Betty White. It got cancelled. now i don't feel like doing anything ever again.

  @AnnaKendrick47 "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" is her wedding march? The nuns are throwing so much shade. #JealousyWillGetYouNowhere #SoundofMusic

She looks like Tumblr threw up on her.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Can we just love for a minute?

People are all up in arms about the Duck Dynasty situation. Nasty words are being exchanged via Twitter and other social media outlets. Plus, lots of stories about "keeping Christ in Christmas" controversies.

These, and other stories, are full of hate. Full of it! Hateful words spit back and forth, so easily, so carelessly.


Your veins are not injected with hate, my friend. Your mind is not clouded with evil. Your heart is not full of anger.

You, no matter your religious beliefs, are a human being.  A human being who craves love and kindness, no matter how naïve that may sound. So what makes you think it's okay to spew out hate to other humans? They are the same as you. They have challenges, celebrations. They are grieving, they are struggling. Give them a freaking break, already.

You don't have to believe in God or believe that Christmas is about Jesus' birth. Personally, I do, but I get that not everyone believe that. But, friends, believe in this: Christmas is most certainly NOT about hate. We are just days away from Christmas, and yet we are surrounded by negativity.

I know I sound like that chick in Mean Girls who talks about rainbows and butterflies and everyone rolls their eyes. But that girl had a point. Is it too much to ask to just be KIND to one another?

C'mon guys. We're better than this. Spread love.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Boy Behind The Blog

I have been wanting to participate in The Boy Behind The Blog bloghop for a while, but to be honest I kind of kept forgetting about it each month. Finally remembered for December, so now you get to learn a little bit about Tom! I will try to mix it up and incorporate my dad, brother, and brother in law in these posts as well.

1. What is your favorite cereal?
I know people say it's bad, but my favorite cereal is still Corn Pops.

2. Pancakes or waffles?
Pancakes all the way.

3. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Right now, it would be seeing my cousin Ian opening his Christmas gifts & seeing his reaction.

4. Finish the sentence: All I want for Christmas is...
For my family & friends to all be happy & have a wonderful Christmas day. And socks.

5. What was your best moment of 2013
2013 has been really good for me but if I had to pick one best moment, it would have to be when I got a new job working at Tri-City ACE Hardware. That was the turning point in the year where everything started going well for me. I started working out at a gym to be healthier, have been able to go out and do more stuff since I have the income, and started dating my best friend & most loving person in the world. Overall I have just been happier since getting that job. Here's hoping that Twenty-Fourteen will be just as great or better.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good news

Most of you know this already, but we received great news about my dad today. All of the brain tumors are significantly smaller and there are no new ones. This is the best news we could have asked for, and the perfect Christmas gift for my family. We can now spend the holiday with more peace in our hearts, holding each other close and celebrating that for now, were all okay.

I was freaking terrified for this appointment. I kept my fear quiet. Tom is really the only person who knew and that's because he witnessed a breakdown. But I barely slept this week. I cried at the drop of a hat, and I was super cranky. I was so scared that we were going to get bad news.

We didn't get bad news. We got great news. I think I had a right to be nervous, though. Because he's my dad and I love him to pieces and I don't want anything to happen to him. And also because I work in an enviornment where we see things like this every day, only what I see with our patients is usually bad news. So I'm not angry at myself for worrying. I think it's pretty normal.

I will worry again January 9th when he goes in for the lung check up and again March 19th when we do the brain again and for every appointment after this. I just will. 

But for now, I can set my worrying aside and just be. Be happy that he's healthy and fighting, happy that my mom can feel some relief for while, happy that my brother and sister in law can come home for Christmas calmly, not urgently, and happy that my sister, brother in law and Ryan can create new memories with Grandpa this Christmas.

My dad posted on Facebook that he wants to meet all the prayer warriors and I know he means it and I know how he feels. There are so many strangers that have reached out to us, along with old friends who we have reunited with, and close friends and family.  I just want to have a big party with everyone and celebrate this victory. Take it from me, my family has the greatest cheerleaders there ever were.

And so, my dear friends, I want you to know how much I love, adore and admire each of you. I hope that you have soemting to celebrate this Christmas as well. Cheers.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Milestones

It happened. I have lost 30 whopping pounds. All through exercise 4-5 days a week and watching what I eat, making better choices. Sometimes my choices still suck. But for the most part, I have learned self control, and opt for something healthy instead of something full of calories, fat, or sodium.
I know I keep repeating this, but I have a long way to go. I will need to continue to eat healthy and work hard. I will still need to change up my routines and shock my body. I'll still need to try different machines, classes, weights. This is nowhere near over.
And sometimes the though of that makes me want to stop. Sometimes I want to say "okay. I've done enough". But I haven't, yet. I need to keep going. Now that I know I can lose 30 lbs, I know I can lose 50. It will not be easy. There will be moments of defeat, moments of fear, moments of frustration. But as long as I know that, I can keep pushing through.
No one prepared me for how hard winter is on my weight loss journey. Besides the fact that there are cookies and breads every where I turn, it's also dark and cold, and no one wants to jump out of bed when it's 6 degrees outside and pitch black. I will be so happy when we return to warm weather and lighter meals.
I am down two pants sizes. Almost three, actually. I am wearing a size that I have not worn in years. it feels so good to slide these pants on. It is almost hilarious to wear my big pants, considering they fall off of me.
All my life I've been the "big girl" amongst my group of friends. Which is kinda unfair considering I really wasn't overweight until the end of high school- but I have always been tall with super broad shoulders, big feet and hands. I've never been the same size as my friends. Always bigger. In everything- clothes, shoes, even softball helmets. And that size just continued to go up. It's so exciting for me to start to see it go back down. Maybe I will finally be able to shop with my friends and not have to be embarrassed about the size I wear. There are maybe two people in this world I try clothes on in front of in stores, and even that is rare. I usually just hang my head down low and buy the item without trying it in, praying that it will fit. But now, maybe I will actually feel comfortable trying clothes on and getting my friends opinion. I've never been able to do that before.
Between now and Christmas (exactly one week away), I have a lot going on. Ugly sweater party, gift exchange and dinner with my roommates, gift exchange and dinner with Tom, Christmas eve with Tom's family, Christmas Day with my family. It's about to get real Christmas-y up in here. I am doing my very, very best at controlling my cravings for cookies and hot chocolate and candy. I drink water and tea like crazy and snack on veggies during the day. But if I see one more sugar cookie I may chuck it out the window.
For now, I am celebrating my two milestones. Celebrate yours.

Sidenote: I wrote this blog a few days ago. My dad has a big appointment with the neurologist today to see if the cancer has grown back in the brain. Please keep us in your prayers today!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another Single on Christmas Post.

"Single On Christmas" seems to be a hot blog topic. I know, I know. I'm not single. But I can still talk about it.

Because for most of my life, I have been single on Christmas. In fact, this is the first year I have had a special guy. I didn't even have a high school boyfriend who stole his mom's money to buy me a necklace. I never got to come home from college with a boyfriend to show off to my friends and family. And my early twenties have not been spent on wondering if my boyfriend would get down on one knee and hand me a little box. I've never had any of that.

So I get it. I get how hard Christmas can be when you are single. Everyone is asking you about it, throwing out match.com suggestions and analyzing your every move to figure out why you're single.

Here's the thing: you being single is not a problem that needs to be solved. It is not a disease that needs to be cured. There is nothing wrong with it, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel otherwise. (Easier said then done, I realize). Yes, it can make you feel a little sad and lonely, but it is simply where you are in life right now.

You can have a little self pity. But don't stretch it all season long. Take a few moments, hours, heck even a day, to just let yourself feel sorry for yourself. If that includes watching Netflix all day in your sweatpants while eating chocolate, go ahead. If it means stalking your friends facebook accounts and laughing at their cheesy holiday photos, go for it. But don't get stuck in the self pity cycle. Get up, wipe your hands clean, and put yourself out there.

Being single on Christmas is not the absolute worst thing to happen. I promise. It stings a little, but you can make it through. Focus instead on the things you DO have. A job. Family. Friends. God. People that love you and want absolutely nothing but the best for you.

Put on your best Christmas outfit and go have a happy holiday. While you may feel like love is missing in your life, realize that love is not always about having a significant other. Love surrounds you. Look for it, and it may surprise you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lois and Millie

Back in August, we were introduced to our neighbor across the street, Lois. She is an older woman, now a widow. We met her because she accidentally hit my car and came over to apologize. She cried and cried, saying over and over how badly she felt about the incident. Since then, she and I will chat when we see each other outside. Once, when my dad was in the hospital, she saw me outside and came to ask if something was going on, because she was seeing me come and go so much more. She hugged me when I told her the news and offered words of encouragement. She's a great lady.

This past Saturday, we got hit with a ton of snow. I shoveled our driveway and had plans to do Lois' driveway later, after Sam and I got a little shopping done. I was telling Sam this as we began to drive away, and at that exact moment we saw Lois coming out of her house, bundled up, with a shovel. Sam hopped out of the car and said "we're just gonna grab lunch and then we will do your driveway!"

Sweet little Lois says "Okay, then I will do Millie's!" We both laughed and told her no, that we would do both.

And we did. When we got back home, Sam and I each took a driveway and got it finished.

But it kept snowing. The driveways needed to be cleared again. So when Tom came to pick me up we once again did mine, plus Lois and Millie's driveways for a second time.

Tom and I ended up having to sleep at his friends house because of the snow. When we came back the next morning, driveways all covered again. Together, we did all three again.

Later, when I was at my parents house, Sam ventured out to do one last clean up. She did ours, noticed someone had plowed Lois', and did Millie's. And that's where a little seed was planted.

Millie, who neither of us had ever seen before, invited Sam inside. She is 94 years old. She doesn't drive, Lois drives her where she needs to go. we don't think she has any family around, as the only family member she mentioned to Sam was a daughter in law in Florida. She's sick- we don't know what's wrong, but she told Sam she is not well. But then she said this "in all the years I've lived here, no one has ever helped me. I can't believe two young girls are helping me". 

Oh my God. First of all, I feel incredibly guilty. This woman lives two doors down and I didn't even know she existed until now. I could have done this for her last year but I didn't know. Secondly, how has no one else helped her? Are we all that consumed with our own lives? Yes. We are.

Sam handled it beautifully, of course, as Sam always does. She immediately wrote down our house number, names, and phone numbers for Millie and encouraged her to call us if she ever needed anything. The poor sweet thing.

Millie forced Sam to take $20. When Sam told me this she immediately followed it up with "we have to give it back to her". I already have it placed back in a Christmas card, and it is now sitting in her mailbox, with the following message

Millie- no need to pay us. We are happy to help. Let's have a cup of tea sometime. Call if you need anything. Merry Christmas! Love, the gals at 1285.

I am extremely sore right now from all the shoveling. I can feel myself getting sick. But I will continue to find ways to help these little ladies. I don't have a grandma to help or care for, but now I have two. 

I am not telling you this so you can tell me how awesome Sam and I are or to say look at all the good things we did for these ladies. I'm telling you this because it was a giant eye opener for me to realize that people need other people. We can't just ignore our neighbors. An act as small as shoveling is a life saver for someone else. It never occurred to me how much it would mean to them. I simply cannot have two old women worrying about slipping or getting out of their driveway.

I have a feeling Lois and Millie are about to become a pretty signicifant part of our lives.
Or maybe not. Maybe the relationship won't get past doing simple task for one another. But ultimately, we are weaving a story, here. I am just lucky to be part of it.

Take a look around you and see if there is anyone who could use your help. It doesn't have to be a big deal- maybe they just need you to bring them a cup of tea or to give them a hug. Just notice people. For almost two years I did not notice Millie. And I would have never reached out to Lois had she not hit my car. It's sad to admit, but true. This whole experience with them as made me more aware of others around me. Obviously I can't, and you can't, help everyone. But we can do our part in helping others to make this world a better place, don't you think?

I will use the song I always use when I think of this topic. Have a blessed week.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis

I took a giant sigh of relief this morning when I saw that Time magazine named Pope Francis the Person of the Year.

Pope Francis is the kind of leader Catholics needed.  Heck, he's the kind of leader anyone needs. For the first time that I can remember, I'm EXCITED about our Pope. I'm excited about the things he is doing, the examples he sets, and the words he speaks. I have faith in him, and I trust him. I can't say I've ever felt that way about a Pope.

Pope Francis lives a life of simplicity, and a life of serving others. He's the change we needed as a faith. It's like- he gets it. He knows that there are issues in our church, and he's leading us down the right path of being socially aware, spiritual, humble human beings. He is the first Pope to ever say "Who I am to judge a gay person?" and when he said those words I just about ran around the block out of excitement. As a Catholic and supporter of gay rights I have always struggled with my church beliefs on homosexuality, and although I don't think Pope Francis will be performing any gay marriage ceremonies, I do believe- we're on the right track. A year ago? Do you know what I said? "this isn't good. We're going backwards".  Now? FORWARD MARCH.

Another thing he said? "And I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being."

YES. This is the exact statement I have been saying for years, that there is no "ONE" God, no "right God", there is just GOD.

Pope Francis is what we needed. My sigh of relief when finding out he is the Person of the Year is the same sigh of relief I take in every time I read a quote or story about him. It's always refreshing. So thank you, Time, for choosing Pope Francis over Miley Cyrus, or really anyone else in the running. He is truly our Person of the Year, and of a lifetime.

God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. - Pope Francis

PS: In order to assess my blog and make it better, I made a survey. Please take a few moments to respond! Thank you! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NTKQ868

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Ladies and Gents, I am down 29 lbs. And yes, I am calling it 29, not 30. I don't want to say 30 until it's actually 30. I'm kind of obsessive like that. I like to celebrate each pound gone.

And, for those of you who like visuals, here you go. Now, I will say, in the last picture I am wearing tights, so things are...held in...but, there's still a big difference.

Sunday night was the first time, in a very long time, that I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. I can see my body getting smaller, and stronger. My calf muscles are visible, I have biceps, my body is more curvy, I can see my collar bones. There are still things I don't like. But rather than pick them apart or get angry at myself, I focused on what I like.

I've been away from my home and my normal gym since last Thursday. I offered to dog sit for a coworkers neighbor, and it's an hour and a half away from my house, an hour away from my gym. My gym is a solo gym with no other branches, so I was worried about how I'd get good cardio in. Luckily, I got a guess pass for Anytime Fitness. But the annoying thing is, even though they are "24 hours", I can only go during staffed hours, which are limited (like, no Sunday's and only noon-7 on weekdays... Here's a thought- hire more people, and take shifts!). So, I have had to run "home", let the dog out and feed it, and then go to the gym, since I surely can't go in the morning. And I am NOT disciplined enough to do those at home workouts. I end up getting bored and stopping. I need to either be in a class or on a machine to keep going. But hey, today I go back home, and will be stopping by my gym on the way. I can't wait! (How sad is that?)

Also, being away from home made meals a little tricky. I had brought some groceries, but it's always harder to plan meals away from home. I did make this bomb stuffed pepper soup on Monday night, and that lasted me for lunch and dinner Tuesday! And at only 260 calories a serving, it was healthy, and delicious. You can cut even more calories if you don't add rice, by the way. But it wouldn't taste as good :)

I am so looking forward to being back home. Since I was so far away it's not like I could run home for a little bit. It would have been pointless. I'm ready to be back home, where I'll be more comfortable and back in my normal routine.

Also, twice this week I have gotten this comment "I thought you looked like you lost weight, but I didn't want to embarrass you by saying anything".

Um. Please. SAY SOMETHING. You have no idea how much it helps me to hear people say they notice I look smaller, or that I am really thinning out, etc. It gives me an extra, much needed boost! So say it!

We're only two weeks away from Christmas! I know these next few weeks will be tough with parties, alcohol, cookies, candy, etc. But I am just going to power through, keep on keeping on, taking my vitamin d, working out, and counting my calories. I can do this!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2013

It's the time of year for lists and countdowns. Up first for me, my favorite albums of 2013. Are any of these on your list?

Top 10 Albums of 2013...and my three favorite songs from each.
10. Lorde, Pure Heroine
  • We're so happy, even when we're smilin' out of fear- Tennis Courts
  • Delicate in every way but one (the swordplay)/God knows we like archaic kinds of fun (the old way/Chance is the only game I play with, baby/We let our battles choose us-Glory and Gore
  • All the double-edged people and schemes./They make a mess then go home and get clean./You're my best friend, and we're dancing in a world alone, a world alone, we're all alone- A World Alone
9. Hanson, Anthem
  • When you see your reflection/Do you recognize yourself/‘Cause every word that you say/I hear another another cry for help- Already Home
  • And say what you mean and mean what you say/And tonight/Chase down the dream and don’t give up without a fight- Tonight
  • I'm gonna take this moment and chase this fear right out of me/Come one day/I will have no regrets after today- Lost Without You
8. Lady Antebellum, Golden
  • Ghosts of you would come back to me whenever I was alone/now the candles have all burned out and the doors are locked and chained/Have no doubts this time I've figured out a way to end all your games- Better Off Now That You're Gone
  • I almost dialed your number/To remind you what you did/But I think it might be better/To just let this night end- It Ain't Pretty
  • Smallest parts of who you are/Are everything to me/From the way you laugh to the way you cry/To the way you love on me/Shadows run and darkness fades/When you come around
    My single star amongst the gray/Always shining down- Golden

    7. Mandisa, Overcomer
    •  They remind me of Your faithfulness//And all You brought me through/They teach me that my brokenness/Is something You can use/They show me where I’ve been and/That I’m not there any more- What Scars Are For
    • But I won’t let all of my fear, cripple me here/When I should be rejoicing/‘Cause I know the beauty that waits ahead- Face 2 Face 
    • Guide me with Your holy kindness /Into yet another day/Lead me on to glory, Jesus /In Your everlasting way- Cradle Me
6. The Civil Wars, self-titled
  • I miss the way you wanted me/When I was staying just out of your reach/Begging for the slightest touch- The One That Got Away
  • Let me in the wall/You've built around/We can light a match/And burn it down/Let me hold your hand/And dance 'round and 'round the flames/In front of us-Dust to dust
  • Don’t care if he’s guilty, don’t care if he’s not/He’s good and he’s bad and he’s all that I’ve got-Devil's Backbone
5. Demi Lovato, Demi
  • I can't believe I ever stayed up writing songs about you/You don't deserve to know the way I used to think about you- I Really Don't Care
  • In case/You're looking in that mirror one day/And miss my arms/How they wrapped around your waist/I say that you can love me again/Even if it isn't the case- In Case
  • Sorry I'm not sorry for the times/I don't reply, you know the reason why/Maybe you shouldn't come back- Maybe You Shouldn't Come Back
4. Ellie Goulding, Halycon Days
  • We, we don't have to worry 'bout nothing/'Cause we got the fire, and we're burning one hell of a something- Burn
  • Like a broken dream I was incomplete/But your love was never the missing piece- Under Control
  • I wish time was still/We'd stay right here/With time to kill/In our hearts without chains- Hearts Without Change
3.  Fall Out Boy, Save Rock and Roll
  • I don't know where you're going/But do you got room for one more troubled soul?-Alone Together
  • You know time crawls on when you're waiting for the song to start/So dance alone to the beat of your heart- The Phoenix
  • Sometimes before it gets better/The darkness gets bigger/The person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger- Miss Missing You
2. Melinda Doolittle, You're The Reason
  •  Even if the fall leaves me broken/even if you tell me it's hopeless/I'm never giving up- Never Giving Up
  • If you wanna get love give it/if you wanna feel forgiveness/let go and do some forgiving of your own.- Give
  • Even though sorrow took me down/and I wanted to give in/the faith I saw you had in me/gave me hope to love again- I believe In Love

1. Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/Show me how big your brave is. -Brave
  • You can have Manhattan/I’ll settle for the beach/And sunsets facing westward/With sand beneath my feet/I’ll wish this away/Just missing the days/When I was one half of two- Manhattan
  • We are not perfect/We'll learn from our mistakes/And as long as it takes/I will prove my love to you- I Choose You

Sunday, December 8, 2013


It's Sunday afternoon. It's snowing. I have a hot cup of coffee in my hand. All my Christmas gifts are purchased. I'm working on drafting up my blog posts for the week. When I finish I'm going to read while my stuffed pepper soup cooks on the stove. I'll probably pop in a Christmas movie later while I finish my Christmas cards.

That, my friends, is a perfect winter Sunday afternoon. Minus the whole snow thing. Here's to hoping it doesn't snow too much.

But speaking of snow, I want to talk about Frozen. You know...the new Disney movie. What could a 26 year old possibly have to say about a computer animated Disney movie? A lot, actually.

Warning: This contains spoilers. If you are planning on seeing Frozen, don't read this. Or do, if you feel like it. I'm not going to stop you. Just don't get mad at me for not warning you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Left Alone

I saw a blog prompt that said to talk about a time you were left totally alone in something, and how you dealt with it.

A few examples came to my mind, but I settled on a work example.

It was only my second week at my current job. I was still in the training process, and didn't know many people at all. We had this big meeting to reveal the new name of our company, since two were merging together. I was working with people who originally came from a small, local company, bought out by a huge, technology centered corporation. It was a stressful time for everyone, because they were learning how to do all documentation on their PDA's and tablets and starting to get rid of anything that used paper. People were getting laid off. This reveal meeting was not only giving us our new name, but also new uniforms, company colors, symbol, mission, etc. It was a big freaking deal.

After the meeting, we had to go back to our office to pass out new name badges. To eliminate confusion and lag time, everyone was asked to do this, so that we could all be united as a new company. I was the first one back to the office, and the only "office staff member" there for a while, and people were anxious to get back out to see their patients. It was mass chaos. People were coming in, talking about the meeting, confused about uniforms, and needing their badges. I found the envelope and had to sit and pass them out, but I still didn't know everyone's name. They would look at me and I had to ask "um sorry, what is your name again?". I felt so stupid. And some of the pictures on the badges were really old, so some people didn't even look the same. It was a terrifying experience for someone with an anxiety disorder. My hands shook as I handed out badges and crossed names off the list. One person thought I was from "the new company" and asked if I was the uniform police. Gulping, I nervously answered "no, um, I'm the volunteer coordinator". I felt a panic attack coming on, I really did. I wanted to cry.

I was finally at ease when one of the nurses, Carol, came in to get her badge. I had never met her before. She smiled, introduced herself, and said "Welcome! Hey, you passing out badges is smart! Now you can meet everyone!". She totally changed my perspective. Instead of shaking I began smiling, introducing myself, and starting up conversations. It really did end up working out well, because I began talking to people about my plans as the new volunteer coordinator, and I immediately connected with some of them.

The next week, Carol came in for our team meeting. It was the first meeting where everyone was using a computer instead of paper to do documentation. Because I was one of the only ones fully trained on "the system", since I was trained during my orientation, they had me teaching a lot of the staff on how to use it. (To this day, I am still the go to tech person!). Carol had never used a computer for nursing, and she was pretty nervous. I sat next to her for her entire meeting and helped her type. She kept looking over and saying "thank you for doing this!" and at one point yelled out "gosh this is like 'Driving Miss Daisy!". That is when Carol and I became pals. She didn't know that I was helping her because of how much she had helped me. I mean, I would have helped anyways, but I definitely felt like I was giving back what she had given me- compassion.

So, even though I was left on my own, and even though I was terrified to be handing out those badges to strangers, it worked out. Carol still works here, we are still good friends. She is the sweetest person I've ever known in my entire life. I cannot say enough good things about her. I don't think she'll ever really know how much she helped me on that "reveal day", and continues to help me.

The other example is the time I did a 1/2 Marathon. I wouldn't say I was "left alone", totally. My friends Babz and Holly were doing it with me, but both much faster than I. Holly and I actually did walk together for about 3 miles, but at one point she stopped to pet a dog, I stopped to take off my sweatshirt, and we got separated in the crowd. I didn't see her again until the finish line. It wasn't her fault, it just kind of happened. I knew I'd never be able to find her and catch up, I had to do this thing with me, myself, and I. I also knew if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to keep going.  So I just kept walking. Several times, I thought about stopping. I thought about sitting down right there, waiting for the paramedics to pick me up and drive me to the finish line. It was hot, and although I had trained for months, I was not prepared for the affect the course change between sand and concrete would have on my feet. I could tell my feet were bleeding. On about mile 10, the course is totally uphill, for the next 2-2.5 miles. I really didn't think I could make it. By this time it was really hot, the sun in my face, my feet throbbing. I stopped at one point to get water and ice, and a little girl wearing a Taylor Swift t-shirt handed me my bag of ice. I told her I liked her shirt, and she smiled and said "thanks- keep going!". She gave me the motivation to push. And then I noticed a walker next to me, who had been keeping a similar pace. I decided to walk with her. I introduced myself, and both of us, sweating, huffing and puffing, made it up that hill. I honestly am not sure I would have made it without her. She was my motivation for the last few miles- we were going to finish it! I told her I wanted to jog in, but she was too tired to join me. I rounded the corner and began running, and heard her cheering and screaming my name behind me. That made me run faster. And when I crossed the finish line, my cousin Bonny, who I had not seen in years, was standing there, waiting for me. I had no idea if she was actually going to come, or if we'd be able to find each other if she did. But she was there and gave me a big hug. And that's when I realized I wasn't alone at all. I had my friends, that little girl, my walker buddy, and my cousin, all there for me/with me.

I guess my point in sharing these stories is that sometimes being on your own in something can be scary, overwhelming, and exhausting. But there's a silver lining. You'll learn a lesson, gain strength and confidence, and surprise yourself at what you can accomplish. Maybe someone unexpected will pop in to help, or maybe you really will do it all on your own. But take it all in. It's happening for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence. And, there is a finish line. More than likely, you have people cheering you on, even if you can't see them at the current moment. Just keep going.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weight loss Wednesday: meet desi

This blog is long overdue for an inspiration post!

Meet Desi. Desi is...well...alright I'll just say this. I know Desi because of American Idol. We really don't need to go into that whole story again but basically, Desi and I met, didn't really get along, went through the same experience with a guy, reunited over our angst, and became friends. She's one of my "idol friends" that I actually met in person before becoming pals via Internet, so yes I am sure she's not a psycho killer ( none of my idol friends are). We once spent an entire afternoon in Cleveland watching True Life. We have very similar emotions, life changes and overall personalities. 

Desi used to live in Michigan, too, so we would see each other at shows a lot. She lives in Virginia now, so I haven't seen her in over a year but we still talk via twitter and Facebook. 

So friends, meet Desi! Here is her set of before and after pictures.

 Can you tell us a little about yourself? I'm 27 and now I'm a runner but for most of my life, I hated working out. Through high school and college, most of my exercise consisted only of marching band rehearsal. I wouldn't say I was ever totally unhappy with how I looked after I graduated from college. I've always been bigger and I thought it was just genetics. Other than running and working out, I love music, travelling, and Michigan beer.

What moment or event started your weight loss journey. I went through a really horrible break up two weeks after moving thirteen hours from home, and the only thing that would make my mind stop was being in the gym, because instead of thinking about him, I'd think about how much I hated whatever I was doing. I'd swim for a few hours and then put myself on ellipticals or treadmills (and watch Dog the Bounty Hunter) for hours a day.

What was your starting weight?What weight are you at now? If you don't want to giv your weight, just tell us how much you've lost Started. around 230, currently hovering between 190-195. I've started gaining back when I started focusing on more weight training. I don't pay very much attention to my actual weight, though (mostly for that reason)

What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss? Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? Something else?Exercise because I don't really eat any differently then I ever had before. I know I'd drop weight faster if I focused in it more, but my work/life schedule is so crazy that if I eat two full meals in one sitting per day, no matter how "bad" they are, I consider it a success.

 Are there any obstacles you had to overcome to begin exercising / keep exercising? I work in college basketball, and during the season (November-March) it's definitely a challenge to balance work, sleep, and running. My arena also hosts concerts throughout the whole year, and sometimes when we have two games and three shows in a seven-day period, the gym is the last thing on my mind. It's give and take. I know I will get sick if I don't rest enough, but I also know that it's easy for me to get out of the habit of working out if I'm not doing it every day. This is the same reason that rest days are hard for me to incorporate. I've also had a couple injuries along the way, and coming back from them have been slow and sure.

What’s your favorite exercise? Other than running, I love Les Mills BodySTEP and BodyPUMP classes. I'm also a fan of Pure Barre and kettlebells.

How do you deal with boredom in your exercise program? Mix it up. Try new classes, new exercises, or read new blogs. The Les Mills series has totally changed how I felt and thought about lifting weights, something I thought I'd never like, but I like my BodyPUMP classes even more than running now.

What are 3 of your best eating or dieting tips you would like to share? Change your mindset. If you continually tell yourself working out isn't fun, of course it won't be. If you tell yourself you don't have time to make healthy foods, you won't. / Premake meals. When I can, I try to do a meal prep day to divide up lunches for the week and try to throw something healthy in the crock pot for dinners. / Not really food focused, but still important: reward yourself. I tried to hold off on buying new clothes for as long as I could (until I was at my mysterious goal weight I guess?) but it's not worth it. Dress your new body along the way, whether it's a splurge on cute workout gear or new work pants. 

 Any final words of advice? If you're low on inspiration or not sure where to start, start googling. There are so many great health-focused blogs out there that there's no reason someone can't start training in their own home for almost no money out front. It's also really helpful when you're in a plateau or not feeling the forward movement - everyone goes through that. And always remember you can do more than you think you can! I never thought I'd finish one half marathon, let alone two with three more currently on the schedule and be planning for a full marathon next fall.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Spirit

Last year I wrote a post about how I was having a terrible time getting in the Christmas spirit.

This year, I'm like an elf on crack. I can't stop talking about Christmas or looking at Christmas stuff. I bought all my gifts and have started on the homemade ones. I already want to wrap my presents and put them under the tree. I can't wait to hand them out. My office has adopted a family and I've created flyers about it to post in the office. I'm planning on writing out my Christmas cards this evening while Sam and I watch a Christmas movie. And ladies and gents, as we speak, I am watching a holiday cooking show and TAKING NOTES. I don't even watch the cooking channel! Like ever! Next thing you know I'll be rolling around in Christmas lights singing Mariah Carey. 

I can't be tamed, and I don't know what has gotten into me. I usually refer to myself as Scrooge. Not this year, Charles Dickens! I'm a regular Tiny Tim! 

I have been sitting here trying to figure out exactly what the difference is. I think it's pretty simple: I'm happy. And no, it not all because of Tom/being in a relationship. I'm sure that has a lot to do with it, but I was dating someone during the holidays last year as well. Tom is 100000 times better, but I still don't think he gets all the credit ;) (no offense, dear).

This year - heck- these last few months have taught me how truly special our relationships with others are and that we should cherish them. With that in mind, I want to truly bring out the holiday spirit in everyone around me, and try to make people smile. I really can't afford many gifts, and am only buying for a few people, but I am going to spread as much holiday cheer as possible, and make a conscious effort to make the people around me feel loved. 

The priest at Mass today talked about preparing for Jesus, focusing on advent and letting ourselves fully emerge in the true spirit of the holiday. I found myself smiling. I want that. The presents and cards I mentioned above are exciting, but even more exciting is celebrating Jesus! I am taking the priests suggestion and reading the daily readings from now until Christmas. Perhaps I'll learn some things along the way.

Happy Christmas/Advent Spirit, every one! 

13 months

Dear Ryan, 
November seemed to take forever to fly by! I kept thinking to myself... Isn't it time to write Ryan a letter? But I had to wait until today. You just turned 1 a month ago but it feels like a very long time ago that we watched you stick your hands in your cake! 

So let's see. Now you're OVER a year old. You are babbling and giggling to standing up on your own. You're not quite Walking yet, and when you try you kind of look like Forrest Gump. (When you are 13 I will have you watch that movie with me. It's amazing. I will be 38 by then! Holy smokes!) you are growing and doing new things every time I see you.

We just celebrated thanksgiving. It was your first thanksgiving with the big family celebration. Everyone adored you and said you look like your mama. You ate lots of sweet potatoes and made a mess on the tablecloth. Your mom told everyone you were thankful for your puppy And milk, which is pretty accurate but I would add your parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles to that list too! After dinner everyone went outside to play football and you were all dressed in warm clotheS, so much that you couldn't move!

Last month, right after your birthday, we took family photos. A really nice lady named Anne took them and they turned out beautifully. I am sure you will see them through the years. And I'm sure there will be more photos to come! The day we took those pictures was one of my favorite days of the year so far.

It is the Christmas season and I have just finished buying all my gifts. I got a few things for you, little guy. But more importantly I want to tell you about a family that I am helping this year. They haven't had very good luck and they need some extra help to make their Christmas special. They won't be able to have a nice Cheistmas meal or give eac other presents. My coworkers and I are all coming together to help. We want them to have a good Chrismtas, too. Ryan, sweetheart, this is the true meaning of Christmas, to give to others. Especially the people who need a lot of help. When you get a little older I want to take you with me to serve meals to people who can't buy food or who don't have a home. You will see how good it feels to help someone else. 

I love you so much Ryan! See you soon.

Aunt Megan

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Howdy, kids. Are your tummies full of delicious food and your hearts full of love? I certainly hope so. That is my Thanksgiving wish for each of you.

I have a lot, and I mean a lot, to be thankful for this year. 

First and foremost I am thankful to the medical team at Beaumont. They successfully removed the tumors from my daddy's brain and continue to research and fight the lung tumor. Every single doctor,  nurse, and staff member we've come in contact with have been gracious and kind and totally dedicated to helping my dad beat this thing. 

I am also thankful for my family. I fully believe that I have the greatest family in the world, and I dare you to try to tell me otherwise. I do not know how I got so lucky but the bond we all have is one that will never be broken. They are incredible people and each do fantastic things in their own lives, and touch mine in a way I can't ever properly express.

I am thankful for my friends and coworkers who help distract me from life's craziness by making me laugh, going on dinner dates and letting me vent. I am thankful for Melinda's backups, who , six years later, continue to support and love me, encourage me and pray for me. 

I am thankful for the incredible St Hugo community who have totally overwhelmed me with their constant flow of love and support. Those are some very special people, people with hearts of gold and determined minds to help others, and my family is on the receiving end of those gifts right now. Every message, email, hug, prayer means the absolute world to me and keeps me going when I'm not sure I can. So many of the Hugo moms are inspirations to me, role models. Especially Martha.

I am thankful for Paula and my parents for pushing me to do something about my health and for encouraging me every step of the way. I am thankful for Sola Life and Fitness for the support, tools and resources they have provided for me to lose the weight so far and to continue to push on.

I am thankful for Tom, my wonderful boyfriend who has been there for me every step of the way through everything with my dad and my weight loss journey. He's the sweetest guy I've ever known and I am so lucky that he puts up with me and cares about me. He is a gift and I cannot wait to see where else our relationship with go from here.

I am thankful for God and for my relationship with Him. For the unconditional love that He gives me and the blessings He puts in my life. Without Him, none of this would be possible.

There is more, but I will stop there. I am going to enjoy what's rest of Thanksgiving on the couch at my parents house, sipping tea and nursing my sore muscles from our flag football game.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Love is all around

I had a beautiful weekend. I use that word a lot. But I have no other way to describe it. All around me I saw beauty. 

Saturday was my typical workout, errands, and nap kind of morning. Then Sam, Tom, and I went to see Catching Fire. No spoilers, but damn. What a good movie. I meant to re read the book (my favorite in the series) but I never got time. Now I'm kinda glad I didn't. I had forgotten some things and found myself getting incredibly invested and emotional. It was glorious. 

On Sunday morning Tom accompanied me to 8am mass. As someone who wasn't raised with any sort of religion, I am both touched and proud that he is willing to go to church with me. It's actually helping me, too, because I am finding myself paying more attention so I can help him understand. After Mass we grabbed breakfast and then headed downtown to the Lions game. We got there early enough to score a good Parking spot and walk around the stadium, even participating in all those cheesy games they have set up like "guess how many footballs are in the net" and the 50/50 raffle. We found our seats, right in the end zone. Took an obligatory "selfie", which was later displayed up on the big screen! We had a ton of fun cheering on the lions and taking in the atmosphere, it's just a shame the lions had to lose.

We headed back to my house where Sam and Lauren were cooking. Tom and I joined in, preparing for our first annual Friendsgiving. A while ago I invited some of our friends over for a potluck dinner to celebrate thanksgiving. I love this holiday, and love that it's all about family, but I like to celebrate my friends too. So, some of our friends gathered in our house for food and fun. Everything was freaking delicious, and we laughed hard playing our favorite game. It was so nice to be surrounded by my friends for an evening. I am hoping to make this an annual thing. To me it doesn't matter who comes, it's just important to celebrate friendships and be grateful for our blessings.

Now it's the week of Thanksgiving and it's a roller coaster of emotions this week for me. I'm excited for a day of family time, but sad because a friend of ours passed away over the weekend and I'll be attending her funeral Wednesday. Plus I have to work Friday and be in a meeting all day, when i would much rather be in sweat pants on the couch watching tv with my mom and dad. 

I do wish you all a beautiful week, hope it's nothing but happy for you. Cheers!