Friday, May 30, 2014

5 years

Today is my 5 year Blogversary! I can hardly believe it. For 5 years I have been sharing stories of my life, and you all have kept reading! 

Five years ago, I was 21 years old. I was a fresh college graduate. I started a blog because I was waiting on an answer regarding my acceptance into Mercy Volunteer Corps. In betwee nannying and waiting for that answer, I was bored. MySpace was starting to die out, and blogging was becoming more popular. So I decided to give it a shot.

The first year of my blog was focused on my experience with Mercy Volunteer Corps. I wrote about community living and my faith, but mostly wrote about my students at Cristo Rey. Once that year ended, I didn't know what else to write about. I considered deleting my blog.

Apparently I found things to write about, because here we are. I have written music, book, and movie reviews. I have told you about people I admire. I've shared stories of my childhood. I've been open about my struggles with anxiety. I have attempted to inspire with words of wisdom. Most recently, I have told you all the details of my weight loss journey. You guys know me, you know my passions and you know what holds importance in my heart.  Even though I don't always know who is reading these, I take comfort in knowing that there are people out there who do.

Believe it or not, there are things that have happened in the last five years that I HAVEN'T blogged about. As open as I've been, there are things I just have been able to share. There were times that I have been hurting very deeply. In those times, I turned to this blog. I started to write, and I began to heal. You, my readers, have helped me in those darkest moments. And you didn't even know it. So thank you.

I'm not a famous blogger. I don't have hundreds of comments on each blog. My blogs aren't shared by thousands of people. All I do is write what I know, and hope that someone is touched by it or can relate to it. The biggest compliment I recieve is someone simply telling me they read my blog. I remember once in youth group a girl told me that my cousin, a teacher at her high school, will always read my blogs outloud when they have to do with self esteem or another similar issue. That meant the world to me, because I didn't even know my cousin read my blog.

I want to thank you all for letting me share things with you, and for reading. Whether you have read one entry or every entry, your support means a lot to me. These five years have been a fun ride, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I get stumped on writing topics sometimes, and I know in repeat topics occasionally, but writing is my medicine. Connecting with you all is my favorite thing to do. So I keep going.

In the comments, I would love if you would tell me what your favorite topic/theme of my blogs is. This will help me when thinking about what to write about next!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou

I don't remember the first time I read Maya Angelou. I wish I could tell you that it was this groundbreaking moment in 5th grade or that I spent hours in the library reading her poetry, but those are false. I just remember her words always being there. I remember feeling inspired each time I have read a poem or a quote by Maya. I remember that she is one of my biggest influences, both as a writer and as a human being.

I can tell you that in high school, I was listening to the Rent soundtrack before I went and saw the play for the first time. In one of the songs, they reference Maya. I remember hearing her name and then going back to read some of her work. Although it wasn't a huge moment, I do know that high school is where I began to develop my absolute love for writing. Maya is partly to thank for that passion.

Her words are absolutely gorgeous. She crafts them ever so carefully to create beautiful, inspiring, bold pieces. She was not just a writer, or a poet- she was an artist. And my, did I admire her work.

I love that Maya put her absolute heart and soul into her writing. She wanted us to listen. She wanted us to believe the words that she was writing. She wanted us to take her words and live them. That is the kind of writer I hope to be. To whom, I'm not sure. I just hope to always write with passion, no matter who is reading.

But it's not just Maya's writing I admire.She was an incredible woman, full of fight, compassion, and honesty. I have always felt an extremely strong connection to Dr. Maya Angelou. I feel we have similiar philosophies on life, love, and friendship. One of my favorite quotes from her reads

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -- Maya Angelou

This is something I firmly believe. When I work with teens or kids, this is the biggest lesson I hope to teach them: treat people right, because they will remember you for how you treated them.

Maya was a fighter. She was a warrior in the Civil Rights Movement, using her words as her strongest weapon. She desired a peaceful world, a world of equality, compassion, and forgiveness. We've come a long way from when Miss Maya was in her prime, but we still have a long way to go. It's up to us now, to continue to fight. It's up to us to be warriors.

My heart sunk a little when I heard of Maya's passing yesterday. Perhaps a little selfishly- we need people like her. We need her. We need her words. But the beautiful thing about writing? Her words will live forever. Let us never forget them and continue to share them with others.

“I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.” -- Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

This week, I want to share some of my OTHER successes besides pounds lost. As many of you know I have been frustrated in recent weeks that the scale is not reflecting much of anything. Several people have told me to quit worrying about it. My Zumba teacher told me when she was losing weight, she lost 10 inches but the scale only said 6 lbs. So, I am listening to those around me and not worrying. I just keep on working out and eating healthy!

  • I can keep up with my Zumba instructor. In fact, sometimes I am a step ahead of her. Zumba is a tough workout, and you need quick feet. I feel GREAT after. For the first few months of taking Zumba, I would take a very long water break 1/2 way through the class to stall going back in.
  • I can dead lift 50 lbs
  • I can do sit ups. Never been able to do them before. I did 25 of them today.
  • I can plank for 15 seconds. This doesn't seem like much, I realize, but a few months ago I was only at 3 seconds.
  • I am much, much faster. Still not as fast as I want to be, but faster.
  • I just had to shrink a bunch of my shirts because they are so big on me that I am swimming in them.
  • I burn up to 400 calories on the elliptical in 35-40 minutes because I go at a very high resistance.
  • I kind of love my biceps.
And, ladies and gents, something I am most proud of:

I fit into a size large shirt from The Limited. I kid you not, I had tears in my eyes when I put the shirt on. It was given to me by a friend who was cleaning out her closet. I looked at the size and pushed the shirt aside, thinking it will never fit me. I loved the style though, and really wanted to wear it. So I gave it a shot- and it fit well! I tried another one on today, just as a test, and it fit perfectly. Why is this such a big deal for me? Because I haven't been able to shop in a "regular" store in about ten years. Sure, I can shop at Kohls or Old Navy, but only in the Plus section. Stores like The Limited, Gap, American Eagle? No way, sister. Even their "xl" or "xxl" were way too small for me. Whenever I went shopping with my friends, I just sat there while they tried stuff on because I knew it wouldn't fit me. Now I can enter a regular store and find  clothes that fit my body. I don't have to be restricted to Avenue or Lane Bryant or Torrid. This was huge for me. This was one of those moments that I will never forget. 

I am becoming so confident, so comfortable with my body. I haven't been able to say that in a very long time- maybe ever. That in itself is a celebration, my friends.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meghan Tonjes

If you read HelloGiggles or The Huffington Post or Perez Hilton, you've probably read the story about Meghan Tonjes, Youtube star, and her bum on Instagram.

If you haven't, let me sum it up. Meghan, who, like me, is on a weight loss journey, posted a picture of herself in her underwear. The picture was to show her progress, but also a statement from Meghan of how comfortable she is with her body and how much she loves her curves. The picture didn't bother me one bit. But it bothered someone, because it was reported and Instagram removed the picture for "nudity".

Meghan then made a video, basically questioning Instagram's actions. Because here's the deal- there are butts on Instagram ALL. THE. TIME. Why was Meghan's taken down? Because she's plus sized. At least, that is what we can assume. I see no other reason why Meghan's picture would be reported, while there are THOUSANDS of pictures on Instagram that are much more inappropriate than the one she posted.

Now, Meghan has been all over the blogs and news sites for her courageous, brave video. It has started several discussions. Instagram has since apologized, stating it was a "mistake". The picture is back up- but they only apologized after Meghan was featured on CBS, Perez, Huffington Post, etc. Hmm. Curious, eh?

This leads me to ask you all. Why are we so damn judgmental of people who are considered overweight? Why is it a problem for us curvy folks to be proud of our bodies? Why can't we post pictures of ourselves, too? Why should we have to be ashamed?

We shouldn't. Meghan has said again and again in previous videos and pictures how proud she is of her body and her curves. Yet, the rest of society deems her "inappropriate". Give me a freaking break.

Now, if you scroll through the comments on Meghan's video, you will see a lot of people thanking her. But you will also see disturbing comments from others, like this one:

Why would you want to post your disgusting body over the Internet? go lose some weight it's unhealthy and stop trying to encourage it.

Or this one:

Sorry, but I'm with Instagram on this one. I don't want to see your fat ass anymore than a lot of other people do.

Or this one:

If you abused the treadmill as much as your camera, you wouldn't have this problem in the first place.

Or this one:

Just lose are really fat..why cant you understand it??

The people who left these comments probably don't know that Meghan IS on a weight loss journey. Which is what makes their comments so obnoxious. She's lost about 70 lbs and has posted about her journey online. She WANTS to be healthy and has done a hell of a job. So who are these people to tell her that she needs to lose weight? Why do they think they can tell her she's "disgusting" ? 

This is a real problem. We need to stop telling people what they should look like. I am a fan of good health. I believe that all of us should be healthy. But to tell someone, who is already working hard to get there, that they are disgusting, is just wrong. We need to start accepting people as who they are. We need to stop being uncomfortable with bodies that are not "normal" in our eyes. We need to stop thinking that OUR view of beautiful and healthy is the ONLY view of beautiful and healthy.

Meghan sums it up best at the end of her video when she says "I'm sorry that I make you uncomfortable, but my body is not an apology". 

Meghan Tonjes is a singer songwriter originally from Michigan. She now lives in LA where she writes and plays music and makes weekly Youtube videos. Meghan has been featured on Ellen to speak up against bullying. She has a gorgeous voice. I have been following her Youtube videos since 2011 and support her on Patreon, which means I get new music from her each month. She is a fantastic singer, an intelligent and beautiful woman. Check out her Youtube channel for covers, original songs, Q & A's, and more. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't be Afraid To Be Happy.

So often we are lectured to be brave, to push away fear, and to accept that sometimes we will fail.

But what about those us who are afraid to be happy?

This is a real thing. I have seen it before my very own eyes. Some people are terrified to wind up happy or successful, so they purposely dodge it or sleep through life in order to stay comfortable and stay where they are. But you deserve so much more. You deserve to be happy. 

Maybe we are afraid because it isn't the norm. People are always saying they WANT to be happy, rarely do people express that they ARE happy. I think this is especially true for teens and young adults. We are portrayed as miserable in movies and songs, and everyone around us appears miserable, so we are too. But be different. Be happy. Happiness spreads like wildfire. Start a wildfire. Start a happiness revolution.

I think I used to be like this. I spent most of my life afraid and sad, and I didn't know HOW to be happy. So I just stayed sad. I ate to aide my hurt, and I didn't take care of myself because I simply didn't care. If I had known that happiness was comforting, and freeing, I wouldn't have wasted so many years of my life locked in my bedroom, afraid to face the outside world.

It is not selfish to be happy. You do not need to hide it. Others will envy you- some may try to break you, because they themselves cannot be happy. Ignore them. This is your life, and happiness has waited so long for you to accept it.

Do not be afraid to love yourself. Do not be afraid to love others. Love, my friends, is what brings each of us to life.

Embrace happiness- do not turn on it. Let it happen. You won't want to turn back once you realize how much brighter life is on this side of the grass.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

I can't believe it's already Wednesday again. I feel like I was just typing up last week's post.

So, remember that little "increase on the scale" I talked about last week? It has decreased again, back to the weight I was when I got back from Florida (which puts my weight loss at 58 lbs). I was hoping for a decrease plus some, but I didn't quite get that.

From March 1st-April 30th I dropped about 10 lbs, but from mid April-now I have only lost 4. I am not being too hard on myself, there is a lot that contributed to this: vacation, muscle soreness, etc. I am still very happy with my progress and with the changes happening in my body.

This may seem really silly to some of you, but the fact that I can wear an XL shirt (and it's even a little big) from events like Girls on The Run makes me very, very happy. At 5k's and volunteer events I typically have to order a XXL or bigger, and they were tight. The day I can comfortably wear a L will be the happiest day of my life. I don't think I will ever be a medium or small. I've got my dad's shoulders.

I packed up another big bag of clothes to give away, and I am dangerously low on spring clothes that fit me. I will be making a trip to my favorite store this weekend to see what I can find. Even my jeans that I bought for Florida, a size smaller than my normal size, are too big now. So even if I am not dropping "pounds", I am certainly losing inches and toning up more.

Just a tip I wanted to share to anyone who wants to start their weight loss journey or is having problems: PLANNING IS KEY. Every Friday night or Saturday morning, I look through healthy recipes and plan out each dinner for the next week. I typically bring the leftovers to lunch, but I grab a few healthy lunch items just in case (tuna, salad, greek yogurt, etc). If I do go out to lunch, I plan for it. Breakfasts are pretty much the same every morning- egg whites and spinach. Sounds boring, I know, but it works for me. I do NOT buy anything else at the grocery store unless it is on my list.

I have also started planning my workouts. I will write down what I plan to do every day (and plan a rest day or two). For my weight days, I go to and create a weight training workout depending on what I want to do. Last night I worked my arms and did abs.

Some examples:

Here is a typical example of my plan. Usually, Tom and I will order in or go out to eat on Friday's, but since he works late this Friday, I will make myself a meal...and have some leftovers for lunch! We have a bbq Saturday night.

Leg Workout Example

Part 2 Leg Workout Example


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Relay/Girls On The Run

I had a very inspiring, yet exhausting, weekend.

Saturday was Relay For Life. I am sure most of you have heard of that, but if you haven't, it's an amazing 12 hour event that raises money for The American Cancer Society (my employer!). I have been part of Relay for several years, before I started working for ACS. My old workplace has a team at one of the events, so I went to support them, to support ACS and my coworker Emily, and to support my dad, a cancer survivor.

If you've never been to one, I HIGHLY recommend that you do. The event is to celebrate cancer survivors and caregivers, and to honor loved ones. It is held on a track, and attendees are encouraged to walk laps throughout the 12 hours, dedicating laps to those affected by cancer. Also, each team has a table set up and sells different goodies, all to go toward their team fundraising goal. It's a really amazing event.

One of the best parts of Relay For Life is the survivor's lap, right at the start. There is an opening ceremony with speakers. Yesterday, the speakers were the mayor of the town and the Chief of Police. They were both great-and inspiring! Then, they asked the caregivers to start walking, and had the survivors start on the other side of the track. We met half way and walked together the rest of the way. This was vitally important to me this year because my dad was there as a survivor, and I was there to represent my family as his caregiver. It was so awesome to watch him walk the lap in his survivor t shirt, and to see the smile on his face when we met halfway. He, and the other survivors, are what this event is all about. To say I was proud is an understatement. I was proud, moved, inspired, and encouraged.

I don't ever forget that my dad has cancer. It crosses my mind several times a day, especially because of my line of work. But sometimes, because he's doing so well, I push it back a little. But every three months, when he has his checkups, I go through the anxiety all over again. I worry what they will find. We've been lucky, and he's been fighting hard, but that doesn't take away the fear. So events like Relay are important- they show that we are fighting back, that we won't give up until there is a cure.

I spent the rest of the day walking around with Tom, hanging out with my former coworkers, and helping the ACS staff partner and her volunteers with general day of duties.  I probably walked about 2 miles with all the laps I did, and was on my feet for most of the day. Needless to say, I was pretty tired afterwards. But so, so glad that I went.

My Dad and I walking together.

To find a Relay for Life event near you, go here:

Today I got to be part of something great. I volunteered for the Girls on the Run 5k in Ypsilanti. (I later found out that there was another 5k much closer to me, but I somehow signed up for this one- oh well). I actually originally wanted to be a coach- which requires you to meet once a week with a group of 5-10 girls in 3rd-5th grades and coach them on running, positivity, self esteem, etc. But I decided to hold off, because I do not consider myself a runner. I thought it would be a little contradictory to be coaching girls on running when I myself can't run very long or well.

So, I chose the next best option: volunteering at the event. These girls and their coaches have worked hard for about two months on preparing for this 5k. For many of them, it was their first 5k ever. Some had parents or siblings running with them, some ran side by side with their coaches, others with teammates...and some girls got lost in the pack and were running solo.

My volunteer role was course marshal. Which, I have to say, was pretty awesome. It meant I got to wear a neon green vest, I got a backpack full of sidewalk chalk to write encouraging messages, and I had supplies on me like band aids and wipes in case any girls fell. My station was pretty close to the finish line. After the girls passed me they literally had one more turn, and then they were at the finish line. The road where I was stationed was pretty beat up with potholes, and I was terrified that a girl was going to twist her ankle or fall. Thankfully, no one did.

They began running at 9am, and lo and behold at 9:18 the first girl came running by me. I couldn't believe it. She was probably 10 or 11 and finished three full miles in 18 minutes. It takes me about 15 minutes to do one mile, to put that into perspective. For the next 20/30 minutes, girls came running in at a pretty steady pace. It was so cute- they each were decked out in different outfits. Tutus, wings, princess crowns, etc. Most of them had red faces as they ran by. I had the awesome job of telling them that they were almost there- and they'd look at me, smile, and start to run faster. It was so cool to see that and to be their final push.

I have a special place in my heart for the last wave of girls. Most of them were walking, trying so hard to keep it up and start jogging. They were more spread apart, some all by themselves. One girl in particular came turning the corner with a bright red face, breathing heavily. I told her she was almost done and she yelled "I"M GOING TO DIE!". I assured her she wasn't, and she ran to the finish line. I waited and waited, not wanting any girl to be alone on the course. Finally, I saw the last girl. She had pigtails, glasses, and a half hearted smile on her face. I gave her my water bottle that I hadn't opened, put my arm around her and walked her into the finish line.

It was seriously so cool. I've cheered on runners before at 5k's and half marathons, but this was different. These girls were so young, and to see them run with smiles on their faces (okay, there were a few with tears) was awesome. I was inspired. It made me want to start running. I kept thinking that if they can do it, so can I.

Next year, I really am thinking I'll be a coach. I can only imagine the pride the coaches felt to watch each of their girls cross the finish line. The relationships they build are strong.

To learn more about Girls On The Run, visit their site here:


FIRST BIRTHDAY.  I obviously don't remember it, but thankfully there is video and pictures that captured the moments of my 1st birthday party. I shared the party with my Grandma and my cousin Chris, who have a birthday near mine. We had a backyard bbq, kids played on the play structure. At cake time, I stuck my hands in the cake and then in my hair- which made everyone laugh. I got so messy from the cake that my mom gave me a bath before I opened my presents.

FIRST MEMORY: It's hard to determine if my memories are my own or through pictures. I do remember Kindergarten quite well. I have clear memories of my mom picking me up from school, taking me to do errands, and then coming home and watching Wizard of Oz while sitting at my little table in the family room.

FIRST EMOTIONAL TEARS.  The ones that I can remember are when I was 6, and terrified of going to school. I had some social anxiety issues and was so scared that my teacher would call on me and I wouldn't know the answer. I cried a lot in the mornings, just out of fear.


Pay it Forward. I was older, probably 12 or 13....but I don't remember crying while watching a movie until I saw that one. 

The Babysitters Club and The American Girl books were my JAM. I would read through them so quickly. I loved to read, and read every book in both of these series. 

FIRST MUSIC TAPE I EVER BOUGHT. I think the first CD I ever got as a GIFT was The Spice Girls. I think I BOUGHT Hanson.

FIRST CELEBRITY POSTER I EVER HAD IN MY ROOM. I don't know if I even had any...but if I did, it was probably an Nsync poster. 

FIRST FAVORITE TV SHOW.  Well, probably Barney. But the first show I remember LOVING? Full House- DUH. Anyone who answers otherwise is wrong. Other favorites included Rugrats, Doug, Family Matters, Clarissa Explains It All. 

FIRST KISS. My first "real" kiss happened when I was a freshmen in high school. 

FIRST JOB. Babysitting! I started babysitting when I was about 12 and kept on babysitting almost every day until I was about 24. I was a nanny for several summers as a teen and a college student, and from there did random babysitting when needed. It was good money AND I loved kids, so it was a great job for me. 

FIRST TRAVEL OUTSIDE MY COUNTRY.  When you live in Detroit, it's pretty standard to go to Canada when you turn 19, where it's legal to drink.  I visited good ole Windsor a few times. I've never been anywhere super cool, though. (sorry, Windsor). 

FIRST BLOG POST. Does livejournal count? :) You can read my first blog post on this blog  HERE
 It was right after I graduated from Western, and I was bored while waiting to find out if I was accepted to MVC. So, I decided to start a blog! 

Now it's YOUR turn. Tell me about your firsts. Or better yet, write a blog and link up below or make a post on social media using the hashtag #firststotalsocial. :)

Venus Trapped in Mars

Friday, May 16, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday... a little late.

So, last Monday my gym announced that they were starting a Kickboxing class- that SAME day. I was ecstatic. I tried kickboxing once and nearly threw up from the intensity, and I've been wanting to go back ever since (that's pretty sick and twisted, eh?). I got to the gym just in time for the class to start and was greeted by this tiny, peppy girl named Sarah. There were only three of us there the first night, and Sarah (a professional kick boxer) taught us the basic mechanics of the various punches and kicks. It was tough, but not super intense. I walked out feeling energized.

This past Monday, I went again, expecting a similar class. A few others joined us, and Sarah kicked it up a notch. For the first 5 minutes, we did a "running warm up" where we went from jumping jacks to mountain climbers to crunches without taking a break, for the entire 5 minutes. The rest of the class was a bit more cardio based. I walked out feeling exhausted.

For the next few days, my upper legs were so sore that I had tears in my eyes every time I had to go down a set of steps. Getting on the toilet took about a full minute longer than normal, and each time I sat down at my desk, my coworkers would giggle as I audibly yelped "ouch". I couldn't help it- it HURT. I honestly have not felt this sore from a workout in probably about a year, when I first started working out. I am just now starting to feel a little better, but still hurting a little.

As a result of sore muscles, I saw an "increase on the scale" (not calling it a weight gain!). Apparently, the muscles are retaining water as they try to heal. Bodies are weird.

So I have been stretching and drinking water like crazy to try to get my body back to normal. I have taken it VERY easy on the workouts because I am in pain and I didn't want to get injured. I focused on arms on Wednesday and tonight I am just going to go for a slow walk, and tomorrow I may try swimming laps.

I wanted to share this just to share a different kind of story and to show that there are some bumps in the road along the way of weight loss! I'm not used to seeing an "increase on the scale" and it freaked me out a little. I calmed down after some research and reassurance from friends, plus I know I did not actually gain weight because my clothes are fitting the same.

I will continue to go to kickboxing. I love it, I love my instructor and I kinda love that it shook things up for me a little.

Starting now and going into next week, I will not focus on the scale. I will keep up with my workouts and my healthy eating and keep doing what I've been doing. I know that now I have gotten past the 50 lb mark, things may get even harder. But I am ready.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

As a child, Mother's Day is part of the routine. You make some kind of thumbprint gift in school, paired with an adorable, homemade card. You wake up early with daddy to make mom breakfast in bed. You hold your mom's hand proudly as you walk into Church. You giggle as you help her plant new flowers in the garden. You love your mom, she takes care of you and makes your lunches and buys your clothes. She picks you up from school and drives you to your soccer game and cheers you on. She takes you to the doctor when you are sick and plans awesome birthday parties for you. You love her, and she loves you, simple as that.

As a teenager, you roll your eyes on Mother's Day, give your mom a groggy hello, and follow along with the day's plans. You love your mom, you know she cares about you, but you also wish she'd stop nagging you. You try your best today to be nice to her, to let her have a day of peace, but you know that more than likely, a storm is brewing and an argument or two will break out. You are more curious what your friends are doing today. You hand your mom a cheap, store bought card and tell her that you love her. It's not so simple now. You do love her, and she loves you, but you fight more than ever before. You wish it could go back to the simpler days. So does she.

As a college student, you've started to realize how much you miss your mom. You got sick, and she wasn't right there to take care of you. You struggled with a class, and she wasn't there to help you with your assignments. You had your heart broken, and she wasn't there to hold you while you cried. On Mother's Day, you give her a big hug, take her to breakfast and try to savor the moment. You love her, she loves you, and she is so very proud of you, for you are starting to become your own person.

Suddenly you are in your mid 20's and your mom has become your best friend. You call her when you are sick to find out which medicine to take. You call her when you have good news, because you know she'll be happy for you, and you call her when you have bad news, because she will walk you through. You feel badly about how you treated her as a teenager, but neither of you really talk about it because it doesn't matter. It's so good now. Mother's Day is a time to reflect on all the gifts that she has given you, all the lessons she has taught you. And you are so, so grateful. You start to pray that you will one day be the mother she was to you to your own child. You watch her in awe, and are amazed by her compassion and her grace. You realize how lucky you are to have her as a mother, and as a best friend. You love her, and she loves you.

And then you both get older. Maybe you have children of your own, and she is now a grandmother. Each Mother's Day you want to honor her. Each year you watch as she gets older, and you are more and more grateful for the love that she has given you. It won't be long before you are taking care of her, giving her the same love and care that she gave to you. You will treat her like the precious gift that she is, just as she did for you. You love her, and she loves you, even on the days you are both tired and frustrated. She is your mother, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

I am one of the lucky ones. My mom is one of my very dearest friends.  I love you, Mama!

NOTE: I realize the picture that I just painted with those words is very optimistic. We are not all this lucky. Many of my friends have lost their mothers. Some of those mothers have passed away, others have walked away. To those, I think of you today, and hug you tightly in my mind.  I know others who were raised with abusive mothers, which is incredibly heartbreaking and I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be surrounded by "happy mother's day" greetings when it is such a painful memory for you. For you, know that you are beautiful, you are loved, and we all lift you up in an embrace. I also know mother's whose children have turned their back on them, for one reason or another, and I imagine that is just as painful. A mother should never have to be heartbroken by their own child. If you are one of those mother's, please know that you did your very best. I pray that your children will return to you. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Lately I've been having this vision. Now before you worry that I've done all hippie on you, it's nothing crazy. The craziest part is that it is nonstop.

Whenever my mind comes to a still- whether it's a quiet moment at the office, just before bed time, in between macjhines at the gym, etc, I envision myself running. My mind goes to a crystal clear picture of me, running quite fast.

This may not be so strange if I was a runner. But I'm not. I am far from a runner. Even though I've lost almost 60lbs, I'm still pretty slow and despise running. At softball I have to push myself off the base with as much force as possible to get a start. I don't run, ever. My gym workouts never consist of sprints. I barely get to a jog, honestly.

So why do I keep seeing myself running? Maybe it's the possibility of running, and the fact that it's becoming more and more doable. But, like I said, I hate running, so I don't know why my mind would suddenly be super excited about it.

Perhaps it represents the things I am running from- fear, sadness- and the things I am chasing-health, happiness. 

Maybe it has something to do with the homily the priest gave on Easter Sunday. He talked about running to Jesus, about being so excited about new life and new beginnings and forgiveness that we break into a run and take life's challenges on full speed.

Or maybe I'm reading far too into this and the vision is simply similar to having a song stuck in your head. But each time that vision appears, I feel as though I am being challenged, like someone is pushing me, wanting me to keep going. I like that feeling.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Everything has changed.

For the first time since the beginning of my weight loss journey, I actually cried when I compared these two pictures side by side.

On the left you have me, almost exactly a year ago, at the Taylor Swift concert. It was a blast and I had the time of my life, but I was at the unhealthiest of my life. I distinctly remember walking around downtown detroit, feeling very uncomfortable and very heavy. I also remember feeling like I was going to die walking up the stadium steps and feeling too big for my seat. Taylor and Ed let me escape for the evening, forgetting my weight and my overall unhappiness. I was still feeling bitter over my ex, and wondered if I would ever have the kind of love Taylor and ed sang about that night. 

Seeing this picture reminds me of far I've come physically and emotionally. I no longer rely on a couple glasses of wine and some tears to help me sleep. I don't get tired walking around the block. I don't feel so heavy, so sad.

I was feeling so disgusted with myself back then. I hid it by trying to make other people laugh, by pretending it was okay, by avoiding the people I was closest with.  I stayed busy so I wouldn't have to be alone, because at the time i was my own worst enemy.

That is so not me. Not anymore. And I know I have written about this a thousand times and you are sick of hearing it by now, but my God, this is a miracle. I never thought I could be this happy. Weight doesn't equal happiness,  but health does.

And when it comes down to it, I'm just not so SAD anymore. I think that in itself is something to celebrate. As Taylor and ed once sang, "everything has changed".

Share Your World

I am just getting involved in a blog challenge, Share Your World. The idea is pretty simple- each week new questions are posted, as a way for bloggers and readers to get to know one each other better. Here are my answers this week's questions:

1. What object do you always have with you when traveling and why?
A notebook. I do some of my best brainstorming when I am away from home. I get inspired by new people and new views. I tend to journal more when traveling, or jot down ideas for work or personal writing.
2. What subject would you like to study in depth, if given the time to do so?
Child and adolescent psychology. I sometimes think that I should have gone straight to grad school to study these and become a psychologist. I am fascinated by the way young minds work, how they handle themselves and each other. I wish I had paid more attention to this passion/interest in college. I'm far form the world now, but I keep my interest going by reading young adult lit and volunteering for children's organizations.
3. Which would you prefer:  a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure–intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a contented bordering on happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?
Although the first one sounds more fun, I'm all about safe, happy and secure. I think we all need a little adventure, and maybe the 2nd choice is boring, but if it's happy, and everyone is truly and genuinely happy, isn't that all that matters?
4. What are your favorite spices?
Cilantro, cilantro, and cilantro. Plus garlic and basil. But mostly. cilantro.
Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to gather some of our closest friends and family to participate in a 5k for my dad. We raised $700 for lung cancer and although the day was cold and I couldn't walk due to work, it was fun and I know it made my dad happy. Also, Tom got me a Les Miserables comic on Free Comic Day, and Sam bought me unsalted tortilla chips for our Cinco De Mayo dinner, as she knows I am trying to cut out sodium. These were both little things, but they made me smile and I was super grateful :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Make Memories

It's May. Spring is here. And you guys, we have earned this sunshine.  This was the winter from hell, with record breaking cold and snowfall. Our days were dark and below freezing, our moods shifted, our patience ran thin. But we made it, and spring is here. Sunshine and bird chirps woke me up this morning, and I could not be happier about that.

Over the past 7 months, my dad has been encouraging us to "make memories". He also points out "simple miracles" in every day life. He gave me a talk down in Florida about putting my camera away and just enjoying the moments and making the memories in my mind. We joke that his brain surgery has given him this new wisdom, but surgery or not, he's right.

I vow to make this spring and summer a season of memories. This is the time- we were cooped up in our houses all winter, now we are free to roam.

I took a look at my May/June calendar this morning and was a little overwhelmed. Many of my weekends are booked with 5k's, Relay for Life, volunteering, softball games (I am playing on two leagues this year), parties, concerts, late night work meetings, weekend health fairs, etc.

But I should not feel overwhelmed. I should feel lucky. I am lucky to be able to have so many choices, to be participating in things that fuel my energy. Sure, I may be tired, but the memories, enthusiasm and gratitude I will gain will be more than worth the late nights.

So my challenge to you, if you are able, is to fill up your calendar. Take time for yourself, of course, and don't fill up your calendar with ONLY work things. Make time for fun, because you CAN. Some can't. Host a summer bbq, join a team, volunteer, go to art fairs and jazz festivals. Get out there and live, and make memories.

We can't waste the days that we have been given. We cannot let life pass us by without going on adventures.

There are people who would give anything to have the freedom that we do. There are people who are sick and can't leave their hospital room or home, there are people who don't have a penny to their name, there are people who are fighting overseas, FOR our freedom. Let's do it for them.

Let's make some memories.