Tag Archives: Stress

Becoming a Butterfly

31 Mar

Spring is a time of change. The snow melts. The days start to get longer. The trees bloom and the flowers awaken. And in no time at all, there will be butterflies.

I’ve always been fascinated with butterflies, not because of their colors or their grace, but because of the amount of change they endure in such a short lifetime. Within the span of a-couple-months, a Monarch butterfly will hatch from an egg, spend its days consuming leaves as a larvae (caterpillar), attach itself to the stem of a plant or branch as the pupa (while it undergoes 10 days of change in the chrysalis), until it finally emerges as an adult butterfly with mere weeks left to lay an egg to ensure the survival of the species before passing away.

Change does not come easy to me – it never has, and it doesn’t matter how big or small a change may be, it causes me to over think, over analyze and over worry. I would be a terrible butterfly. I’ve hatched from an egg all alone in the world. Is this plant I’m on safe to eat? What if my chrysalis detaches during a storm? Will I be strong enough to break out of this thing when it’s time? How will my wings know how to fly without being taught? What if I fall? Now I have to produce the next generation – that’s a lot of pressure!

It’s a really good thing I’m not a butterfly – I may have never made it out of the egg!

Just like the butterfly, I find myself in a season of change. I am taking steps to return to school to further my education, a goal I set for myself when I watched my mom graduate with her Master’s degree, the first in her family and the best role model I could have ever asked for.

Scott and I are also apartment hunting. Together we’ve looked at two apartment layouts at one complex, he looked at a different complex today before work, and I’ll look it over on Saturday. I’m ready to have our own place, but I find myself on a rollercoaster of emotions from excitement  to totally terrified.

More often than not these days, I wake with knots in my stomach and a pounding headache after nights of stressful dreams. I know I’m worried about finances and finding an apartment that is clean and in a safe neighborhood. But I’m also worried about me. Living in Florida for a year while on the Disney College Program was one thing, I knew when it ended I would be returning home, to my room, to my safe haven. Now, that’s not an option.

I don’t know who I am outside of these blue bedroom walls – they have been my sanctuary since I was 10 years old (but I should mention that when we built this house I was all about the pink frilly life, so the walls were baby doll pink). This room has seen me change from pre-teen to an adult woman. I have slammed the door after arguments with my parents, shared my deepest, darkest secrets with friends, and cried my heart out in here when a boy carelessly broke my heart. This room has seen many late nights finishing homework or finishing a book that I just couldn’t put down. I do my best thinking and writing from this spot on my bed, staring out the window at the post office and the great void beyond.

My room has changed with me, always adapting to my needs. From pink to blue, from Barbie dolls to mountains of mystery and romance books, and my embarrassing love of Billy Gilman to my new love of running races.

But as I look around, I notice how the room doesn’t feel as big as it once did. Maybe that’s because I share it now. Most of Scott’s belongings aren’t even in here, they are sitting in our front room downstairs waiting for a place to call home. Or maybe it’s because, like the butterfly who knows when 10 days have past and it’s time to emerge, I know the time has come to move on.

I doubt the butterfly ever thinks about what happens to the chrysalis it left behind. I, on the other hand, think about a time when this room will no longer be “my room.” One of my sisters will move in here. They have always shared a room and have been chomping at the bit for me to pick up and leave already. I can’t blame them, it is nice having a space all your own in the house. Whomever moves in will change the walls, redecorate and add her own personal touch to the space. I will be erased. Just a memory of yesterday. My safe haven claimed by someone new.

It may be silly to feel so attached to a room, but we are each unique and have our own quirks. Maybe you are attached to a specific coffee mug, car or jacket. Called it an adult version of a security blanket, it’s that one thing you can count on being there to pick you up and warm your heart. And soon, I will be walking away from mine. I think I will feel lost for a while, unsure of my footing in my new room. But I hope with time I will feel comfortable there.

Change is never easy, but in order to progress through life it is a necessary evil. And so it is at these late hours of the night I find myself praying that my wings will know how to fly because whether I want to or not, I’m changing into a butterfly.

Do you live for change or does every cell in your body fight for things to remain as they always have like me? Tell me your best tips and advice for surviving a season of change! I don’t know how many more rough nights and anxiety starting mornings I can take.

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The package that almost wasn’t delivered…

8 Jun

Amazon is a dangerous place for someone like me. I love to bargain hunt and find fun things. So when a coworker came in a few weeks ago sporting an adorable Thirty-One purse, I knew I was in trouble.

I had asked her what it cost – and I was saddened to discover that it was part of a special Mother’s Day $20.00 sale which I had missed. In a matter of a few hours, I had convinced myself that since I would be traveling in July and needed a slightly bigger bag to comfortably store my iPad while on the plane, it was going to be a worthwhile purchase.

After seeing how adorable this purse was and all the features it toted, I searched for it on Thirty One’s website and imagine my shock when I noticed the $65.00 price tag! Enter Amazon – my retail hero!

15 minutes of searching, I finally found it – the beautiful purse my coworker showed me! Only this one was a beautiful gray with turquoise trim (her’s is fuchsia).

My fingers tingled with excitement when I clicked the purchase button, and all of that excitement crumbled away when the arrival date said Thursday, June 11th. That was a week and a half away! Why do you hate me so, Amazon?!

The next day while at lunch, my email notification went off  – I’ve got mail. From Amazon! (Anyone else hear the girl from You’ve Got Mail read that line, or is it just me? Dad, that one was for you!!) My fingers trembled slightly when I opened the message – your package has been shipped!

Oh happy day, my package is on its way! Close down the town, start the parade, cue the marching band! Okay, okay, I exaggerate, but in all honesty, I was pretty excited. Before I went back to work I started tracking that package, stocking it from move to more. I’m that person FedEx and the USPS hate, I am CONSTANTLY checking my tracking number to know where it is on its journey from shipping facility to my PO Box.

Here’s where my story takes a dark turn… for three days I watched my package bounce from Central Ohio to Northwest Pennsylvania and then back again. The worst part, when it was in NW PA, it was only 1 hour from my home, all they had to do was drive it over the state line!

Then comes Saturday and Sunday and my package goes MIA for 48 hours. Send out the USPS search squad! And finally, lo and behold, late Monday morning a glorious text message came to my phone – my package had been scanned at the post office a mile and a half from my home, but believe it or not, that’s not MY post office (there’s ANOTHER post office right across the street from my house).

It was decided right then and there, I would be going straight to the post office after work – no stops at home, no detours to Walmart, no delays at grandma’s house. I was a girl on a mission. I had laser focus – I was getting my package today, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Now, please remember that this post office is a mile and a half from my home, but I have never been inside – compared to MY post office, it just felt weird. But the post office lady was nice enough – she sometimes works a shift or two at my post office.

I start off by explaining that my post office was down the road, but I had received the text that my package had been received here and rather than wait for it to be delivered to my post office tomorrow, I wondered if I could pick it up. I even had my license ready for proof of identification. I don’t know how strict they are about handing over Amazon packages to random people!

She jots down my PO Box number and goes to check the boxes in the back. When she says there’s  nothing there, I once again remind her that it was checked in at 11:36 AM by showing her my text and that it would probably be with the other boxes going to my post office. Then she remembers, that post lady picked up boxes during her lunch break. So she makes a phone call down the road.

When she hung up, my heart sank. “She has nothing with that number at her post office. Are you sure it was received today?”

Yes! Yes it was – here’s the tracking!!! – I wanted to shout at the poor lady, but somehow kept my cool. 

Once again she went to check the bins in the back – “did it come via FedEx?” Yes, yes it did! Now we’re getting somewhere!

She pauses searching and thinks for a moment. “What was the last name again?” So I told her and away she hurries over to a bin on the other side of the room and the Heavens parted and the angels began singing as her hand came up holding my box! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halllllllleluuuuuujah! 

And that’s when she told me the news – “it’s a good thing you came today. This box was marked refused and we were going to send it back to the shipper in the morning.”


YOU WERE GOING TO DO WHAT?! — I once again wanted to shout at this poor lady, but I kept my cool, hugged my box a little tighter and told her how I’d watched it bounce back and forth from Ohio to Pennsylvania for three days.   And then I left, my box safely tucked under my arm.

So much drama for a purse. But it’s a cute purse, so in the end, kind of worth it! Ladies, I know you understand!!

The best part of this purse is you can wear it three ways – as a cross body purse, a side purse or as a backpack depending on where you hook the strap! So versatile! 

Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon and the health nightmare that followed…

5 Dec

It is no secret that for months now I have been preparing for my very first half marathon – the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon to be exact. I have logged the miles, improved my time and pace, practiced hydration and fueling along the course and read every advice blog and article I could get my hands on about what to do get ready for your first half. I felt ready. I had a game plan and as long as I stuck to it, I would be golden…however, best laid plans have a way of changing as I would ultimately find out. This post is the comprehensive account of my experience, from the best of times to the worst of times….

Let’s start at the beginning shall we….I left for vacation at Walt Disney World on Thursday, November 6th. The plan was simple, enjoy catching up with my Disney sister/runDisney addict, Monique, that evening at Downtown Disney until Scott got off work and would meet me at the resort, while also waiting to hear that another Disney sister, Catherine, had safely landed in Orlando and was in route to Disney. For the most part, this night was perfect, although the bus did seem to take forever, but maybe I was just anxious to be back at the most magical place on earth and see the people I had been missing terribly!

Friday, November 7th, consisted of getting to the race expo early to pick up my packet and scope out the merchandise! I’d had my heart set on buying the runDisney New Balance Cinderella shoes, however, I decided that I’d probably never wear them for fear they would get dirty, so when a maroon warm-up jacket in my size happened to catch my eye, it was fate – we sure did belong together. At least that’s what I told myself the entire time I was waiting in the super long check-out line (you would have thought I was waiting to ride Toy Story Mania or something by the wait time!) I also purchased one of those Mickey head car magnets that says 13.1 – but let’s face it, that thing will never see my car, it’s currently living on my dry erase board. As for the expo itself, I wasn’t overly impressed, although I was mighty glad they had printers because I discovered moments after getting to ESPN that I had left my race waver in my resort room. The entire time I’m at the expo, Catherine and I are playing phone tag, we never did meet up. 😦

 

After the expo, I went to visit Scott at work at Animal Kingdom, stayed there for a few hours and then went to Hollywood Studios where we enjoyed the first night of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights after he got off work.

Saturday, November 8th – Race Day. Game plan was to take it nice and easy – so we slept in, hung out at the hotel until late morning and finally made our way to Hollywood Studios. Disclaimer – there is no such thing as an “easy” Disney Day for me, while we mostly only watched the shows and rode the Great Movie Ride, by the time we made it back to the resort at 4:30 PM, we had already walked 6.5 miles. Don’t ask me how, I’m still trying to figure that one out. I knew I needed to start getting ready for the race around 6 – 6:30 PM and that Monique would be coming over around that time as well, so I took advantage of the downtime and took a nap! What I have failed to tell you about yet is the massive rainstorm scheduled to hit at the start of the race…. Bless Monique’s heart for running to the store to buy us ponchos in a pouch – we could carry them until we needed them at least. I was also extremely thankful to the kind stranger on the bus to the starting line who shared his box of zip-lock plastic bags with us. According to him “the fastest way to make friends with runners is to have a box of plastic bags for cell phones and the fastest way to make friends with strangers in the airport is to have an extension cord.” He had a great attitude, I think we would have been good friends!

weather map rain

 

Our costumes this time around were a mash-up of Disney Princess meets The Hunger Games. Check out our pictures!

While Monique and I were getting ready, Scott was creating this! I love him so much!

race spectator poster

And here’s Catherine and runner Peter Pan! Monique and I were FINALLY able to meet up with her, and her sister Alison at the starting line “party”. We were so cool we danced sitting down! (It’s a joke, seemed funnier late at night – just don’t ask!)

 

And the rain came down before the race ever started… standing in corral I, I pulled out my poncho. We were about 40 minutes to the start and I was FREAKING OUT! Luckily, there were some very great people around me who offered advice and suggestions and all around encouragement. I love the runDisney family, doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or Olympic Gold medalist, we support and cheer everyone equally. My group took off around 10:20 PM and then it was 3.5 hours of running in the pouring rain.

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 course map

I ended up doing the majority of the race blind because by the time I had reached the 3 mile marker I had wiped my glasses off no less than 200 times – in that moment I took off my glasses and fully relied on my other senses to carry me through. Well and the other runners. Luckily at this point I had found a group of people who were just my speed and I was bound and determined to stick with them. I trusted them – if the group veered left or right and then back to the center on a straightaway, that began to mean large puddle on the opposite side of the road. By miles 6 and 7 I was hurting bad. I had blisters, large ones and as luck would have it a few had broken open. But I was only to the half way point – I had to keep going. I was thankful for the rain – no one could actually tell I was crying.

Mile 8 and we were getting ready to enter Hollywood Studios and I was running low on belief in myself and the will to press forward. And that’s when I picked my “running buddy” for the remainder of the course – the blob (remember I can’t see anything clear farther than the length of my own arm!) in the bright green shirt with the long dark hair. You didn’t know you were chosen obviously, because I was always behind you, but when you ran, so did I, and when you walked I thanked the Heavens above. We were playing a game, you and I, and it was called “Catch me if you can, but don’t you dare fall even farther behind”.

I had convinced myself it wasn’t far to the The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (oh you know, just another short 2 miles!!!!) and once I was there, I couldn’t even enjoy them, not really. I tried to take a few photos, made difficult because I was out of energy, shaking and it was STILL pouring. On the bright side, bright green blob must have been enjoying the lights because we walked this whole time.

 

By the time we left Hollywood Studios, we were saying hello and goodbye to mile marker 11 – we were heading to Epcot and the finish line energy was palpable. Bright green blob was feeling it too, we moved a bit quicker where we could, but the path narrowed and got pretty slippery. I think now is a great time to publicly thank all the volunteers and spectators along the route – you have no idea how much your cheers of encouragement meant to me. When I needed a pick me up, someone was always there with a “you’ve got this!”, “keep going you’re almost there!”, or a “yeah runners! we’re proud of you!”

When we made it to the bridge at The Boardwalk, there were two cyclists waiting off to the side – I thought for sure I was about to get swept (not be allowed to finish for all of you non-runners out there), but they let our little group pass on by. Still my heart had lodged itself in my throat and somehow my stomach had found a new home at my knees. And when I finally entered Epcot something inside me broke loose – all the fear, all the pain, all the excitement, and the knowledge it was almost over was so overwhelming I cried. I high-fived strangers. I smiled when I wanted to grimace. I put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward toward my goal. I have a quote by an unknown author that has been hanging in my room for the last few weeks of my training and I thought of it just then – “On the last mile when your legs are tired and your lungs are burning, GET ANGRY. GET ANGRY for being tired, then RUN FASTER.”  At that point I couldn’t feel my legs, my fingers, my nose – I didn’t know if the ground was still solid below me or not, but I knew I was half a dozen turns away from the finish line.

And then, like a beacon in a dark night, there it was – lit up and welcoming. I sprinted with every ounce of energy I had left in me, afraid that if I didn’t, in that moment I would collapse and never make it across. I know there were hundreds of people screaming, but I heard nothing but my beating heart, saw nothing but the finish line clock – I would finish under my time goal at 3 hours and 27 minutes and just before 2 AM.

And then that medal was around my neck and all I could think was “you did it and you are still standing!”

Wine and Dine 2014 finisher

Although it was still raining, I pulled out my cell phone and let everyone know I had made it – I had finished. Then I was focused on finding Monique and Catherine and leaving. I was so sore and cold and miserable I didn’t even want to stay for the party. Catherine finished before I did and had already left. Monique was waiting for me at the entrance to Epcot – sadly she had been swept at mile 8. Like so many others, Monique and I did the broken-runner shuffle to where the buses were waiting to take us all to our resorts for showers and warm beds. When Monique and I got back to the room, we discovered Scott had set out towels and bananas for us! He’s so thoughtful!

I don’t know how long I slept the next day – it was a very restless sleep. Everything on me ached – my feet from the blisters, my back from hunching over in the wind and rain, my head with a splitting migraine for not wearing my glasses for so long – I felt like I was falling apart, but I had earned that medal and I was going to show it off in the parks! I moved very slowly the remainder of my vacation, but I didn’t let that dampen my spirits or stop me from enjoying myself – all day Scott asked me if I wanted a wheelchair. I refused – there was no way I was going to ride around all day with my hard-earned medal. Monday night we did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Tuesday I had a meeting to go to and had to shove my injured feet into high heels, and Wednesday I flew home.

I was still in a lot of pain and by Friday afternoon at work (November 14th), my feet were red, swollen and extremely painful to walk/stand on. After a trip to the local urgent care center, I was diagnosed with Cellulitis in both feet from the broken blisters I got during the race. I was given a 10 day, take twice a day prescription for Bactrim, told to drink plenty of fluids and keep my feet elevated above my heart for the next few days – and if the swelling didn’t go down or the pain stop, head to the Emergency Room.

So for the next two days I could be found with my feet up, watching Hallmark movies, drinking lots of fluids and taking my medicine once in the morning and once at night. It seemed to work – the redness started to fade, the swelling went down, I rediscovered my ankles! By the time Monday rolled around I was feeling better and seemed to be on the mend. By Thursday, however, my energy levels had dropped. I wasn’t sleeping even though I had started going to bed by 6:45 PM – and when I did manage to catch a few hours, I had terrible nightmares. And on top of it all, I had a migraine like you wouldn’t believe – and nothing soothed it.

Monday, November  24th – After a night of being unable to get comfortable and having less than two hours of sleep, my alarm went off at 5:30 AM for work. When I turned on the light, I noticed I had the beginnings of a red, itchy rash running down both arms – and since I work at a hospital and knew they’d probably send me home for fear it was something contagious, I took two Benadryl, called out sick and tried to go back to bed.

Tired of tossing and turning by 8:30 AM, I got up and made my way downstairs. At 9:00 AM I took my last dose of the Bactrim and fell asleep watching a movie. I woke at 11:00 AM in terrible pain – the Benadryl had worn off, thank goodness it was time for another. While I was sleeping, the rash had spread quickly to my chest, back and legs. It was harder to breathe (not like an asthma attack where you feel like you are trying to breathe air through a clogged straw, more like trying to expand your lungs while a sumo wrestler is standing on them – it took a lot of energy to inhale and exhale shallowly).

It was about this time my dad text me to see how I was feeling. I told him about the difficulty breathing and the red itchy rash spreading. And he responded with what I already knew was coming – “call Papa and see if he can bring you into the ER. Also tell me the name of that medicine you’ve been taking for your feet.”

I relayed the information and made the call. Then I sent my dad this photo:

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Disease

And then his instructions changed – “Call the ambulance. Tell them you are having a severe allergic reaction to a medication.” But I already knew this – I don’t remember much from my first go-round with Stevens Johnson Syndrome, but this was how it started and this I remember quite well.

Oddly enough, my sister Megan’s boyfriend, Austin, was the EMT who answered the call. When he walked in the door, I think I scared him – I wasn’t doing well at that point – red, swollen and breathing hard. I watched him take a deep breath and go to work. Papa was here as well helping to keep me calm. When two other EMTs arrived from the next township (need more than one person to transport) we all loaded into the ambulance, Papa following behind, and headed for the Emergency Room at the hospital where both I and my dad work. There was nothing they could really do for me in the ambulance other than give me pure oxygen to help ease my breathing (I wasn’t wheezing, so I didn’t need a breathing treatment) and give me ice packs to put on the rash to help ease the urge to itch. They monitored my blood pressure.

My dad met me in the ER and mom was there not long after. By now it’s 12:30 PM and I am in such intense pain, the rash is still spreading and becoming a deeper red. I am exhausted. In a word, I was miserable. I felt bad for the nurse who had to put in my IV, but luckily she found a spot on the inside of my arm where there weren’t a lot of blisters, and she had this cool black light type tool that helped her to find a good vein on the first try. And then I felt bad for yet another nurse who had to put the sticky EKG pads on my already irritated skin.

Emergency Room

Finally after an IV, blood draw, two bags of saline fluid, a shot of pain reliever and 6 long hours of trying to explain to the ER doctor that this is how my first reaction of Stevens Johnson Syndrome started and that I needed to be seen by a specialist at a burn center, I was discharged and feeling a tiny bit better. My parents and I were then on our way to hospital number two so I could be seen by a burn specialist. At one point during my stay in the ER they were discussing admitting me, but that was vetoed because they didn’t feel there was anything else they could do for me there, so then the discussion switched to which hospital I’d like to be transferred to – the hospital with the burn center was not one of the choices at that time. I’m glad we decided to just drive there ourselves – I was STARVING at this point (I hadn’t eaten since 8:30 AM and we were now pushing 7:00 PM!!), so thankfully we grabbed some food on our way!

It has been 10 years and 2.5 months since my first visit to this burn center. I wasn’t scared or nervous – I knew what the treatment would be if in fact this was Stevens Johnson Syndrome and if it progressed. I just wanted to know what this was and how I could relieve the pain long enough to get a few hours of sleep. There was a nurse waiting for me when we arrived. She led us over to one of the Outpatient Rooms, had me change into my second hospital gown of the day and asked me the same set of embarrassing questions I was asked earlier. I was informed the specialist wanted to see me himself to determine what I had, but he was in a surgery and his resident was attending to a trauma in the ER and she wasn’t sure when either of them would be up.

Outpatient burn center

About 15 minutes later, the resident walks in and while looking at my chart says “hello, my name is Dr. Burn, but you can call me Nick.” The irony of his last name was not lost on my mom or I, we exchanged a suppressed giggled glance. Oddly enough, he could have been EMT Austin’s twin. Then he looked up and I had the privilege of shocking him. Here’s why – this burn center is located within a CHILDREN’S hospital, and seated before him was me – a fully grown, 26-year-old female. THIS WONT BE AWKWARD AT ALL – HE’S MY AGE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! (sarcasm) Dr. Nick checks me over, asks questions, writes some stuff down and let’s us know he’s going to go talk to his supervisor and they’d be back.

Another 10 minutes or so and Dr. Nick and the specialist return. Again I am examined from heat to toe and everywhere in between. Thank goodness the sweet nurse I met at my arrival has been there the whole time – she makes it less awkward. The diagnoses – Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) Disease – another form of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, but on a lesser scale. Just as before – there is no treatment, no magical cure, it just has to run its course – however long that may be, no one could say for sure as everyone reacts differently. Because I did not have any blisters or open skin wounds, I was fortunate to go home and not be admitted to the burn unit this time around. I was given a medical release slip from work for 10 days as stress could cause my reaction to worsen. I was told to take Benadryl and Tylenol for the pain and if after a few days that didn’t help, I was given a script for another pain reliever. However, this was passed along with a caution – it is not known what introducing a new drug to my system during a reaction would do, it may help, it may cause things to get worse. I made up my mind right there I wasn’t going to be filling that script. My only job for the next two weeks was to drink lots of fluids to help flush the toxins from my body and to rest.

After a few days I was finally able to get some much-needed sleep. The redness faded and the spots began to go away as well. The migraine came and went. The itching and the aching pain in my muscles and joins held on longer. Slowly even the bruise from my IV began to heal.

IV bruise

Everyone thinks having two weeks at home on the couch sounds like a wonderful thing – however, once you begin to start feeling like yourself again, you start to go a little stir crazy wishing you could leave. I am looking forward to going back to work on Tuesday (December 9th) – I miss my normal routine, I miss feeling productive, I miss my work friends and I’m ready to put all of this behind me. And with two weeks off work I know there will be a mountain of projects each demanding my attention that will carry me through the end of December.

Needless to say, this was not the experience I had been dreaming about for my first half marathon. And I honestly feel like that moment was stolen from me due to the rain. At this moment in time I don’t know if I’d sign up to do another half marathon, certainly nothing longer, but then again, I’m dying to run through Magic Kingdom (it’s the only park I haven’t run through yet) and I really don’t want this to be the only half marathon experience I have to reflect back on. So with that being said, I’ve got some time to think about it, to weigh the pros and cons, and probably be convinced by my Disney sister that next time will be better – and IF I decide to run again, I’m looking at you, runDisney Princess Half Marathon 2016.

You will never lose your value

27 Feb

It happens to the best of us. That little nagging voice in the back of your head that whispers “you’ll never amount to anything,” “you’re such a failure,” “who would ever love you,” “just give up already, you weren’t meant to reach your dreams.”

That voice that sounds like my voice, but isn’t. That voice which remembers every failure and every mistake and every disappointment and lives to remind you of those times over and over and over again.

Most of the time I have no trouble tuning that awful voice out. I know what it’s telling me isn’t true. I know my life has a greater purpose that I haven’t discovered yet. I know I’m not worthless, but sometimes when my world starts shaking and it feels like my foundation is crumbling, I sometimes forget.

I find myself comparing my “lack of accomplishments” to the apparent abounding success of others, especial those with whom I am on less than friendly terms with. I find myself asking why it comes so easy to these individuals, why was it handed to them when I’ve been working long and hard with no results, what makes them better than me?

It was on one such occasion this afternoon when I stumbled upon the following story on the blog Catalyst Quotes.

“A speaker began a seminar, pulling a crisp, new bill from his pocket, and asked, ‘Who would like this $20 bill?’

Hands started going up.  He said, ‘I’m going to give this $20 bill to one of you, but first let me do this.’  He proceeded to crumple up the bill.  He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’  Still the hands were up in the air.

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘what if I do this?’  He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor, so now the bill was not only crumpled, but also dirty.  ‘Now who still wants it?’  Still the hands went into the air.

‘My friends, you have all learned a valuable lesson.  No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value.  It was still worth $20.  Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel as though we are worthless.  But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in the eyes of those who love you.  You are special – don’t ever forget it.’”  ( Anonymous)

And that led me on the hunt for other uplifting reminders.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Proverbs 3:5-6

Yes, I am not perfect. There are times I will make mistakes or fail or just not be within reach of my dream. I don’t know what God has planned for my tomorrows yet, but I’m working on trusting him and his timing. I am a unique, special and loved individual. There’s only one me in the entire world, and I’m striving everyday to be the best version of her I can. Sometimes it’s a struggle not to give in to the taunting of the voice who would have me believe otherwise, but in a way I’m glad it’s there pushing me to better myself and prove it wrong. Anyone who knows me knows I love a challenge and the chance to prove someone wrong, even if it is just that nasty self-doubting voice in my head.

Missing – One Promise Ring

19 Feb

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t envision myself digging through the work bathroom garbage, but there I was, not even 11:00 A.M., a feeling of unease in my stomach. My beautiful promise ring was missing from my left pinky finger.

The ring, a Christmas gift from my boyfriend of nearly a year and a half, had been on my finger 24/7 since I opened it with the exception of exercising and showering.

Why on my pinky finger you ask – because it is just ever so slightly too small for my ring finger, which means it is also ever so slightly too big for my pinky. Over the last couple of months I’ve learned to keep my pinky and ring finger close together to hold my ring in place, and I check a hundred or so times a day to ensure it’s still there.

Today, however, I was distracted. I was putting together a giveaway bag of goodies for a third grader we were going to take a picture of that afternoon. Her class at school had designed their Valentine’s Day boxes after the major businesses in the town and there was an open house presentation. My boss thought it would be nice to take her something as a way to thanks for designing a great box! (And the box really was fantastic, looked very much like the hospital where we work.)

So there my boss and I were in our basement closet digging through boxes of giveaways, looking for anything that would remotely interest a third grade girl. We dug around, moving boxes of odds and ends out of our way until we found chapstick, a night light, pens, water bottle, first aid kid (don’t worry, I took out the antiseptic cream and only left the band-aids), note pads, and t-shirt. At one point, a box that was precariously balanced on top of three or four other boxes fell to the ground, scattering its contents everywhere. Thinking nothing of it, I stooped to clean up the mess, depositing the box, albeit a bit more securely, back on the stack. It was at this point we decided we had enough goodies to give the girl.

Feeling the dirt and grim on my hands from digging though countless boxes, I headed for the bathroom to clean my hands. There I was, scrubbing my hands, thinking of the conversation the boyfriend and I had had that morning, just smiling like a happy, in-love fool. It wasn’t until I threw away my paper towel that I noticed something was wrong.

My finger FELT lighter, more exposed. A sinking feeling wrapped itself around my heart. My ring was gone. My world stopped turning. My breathing came rapidly. Despair was sinking in. I was desperate to find my ring.

I’ve lost other things over the years, and yes those times were hard, but nothing compared to this pit in my stomach feeling. But losing my ring was different. He had given it to me. A symbol of how much he loved me and I had carelessly lost it. The  sentimental attachment I have with my ring can’t be replaced – it represents where and how we met, falling in love and overcoming the physical distance between us, hardship, obstacles and everything we’ve faced together and everything life has yet to throw at us.

I did the only thing I could think to do – normally a germaphobe, I reached into that bathroom trash bin with both hands. Praying my ring had slipped off while drying my hands, I opened every crinkled paper towel and laid it out on the floor. When at last the bin was empty, and my worst fear confirmed, no ring at the bottom, I scoped everything up and redeposited it in the bin. After washing my hands in double time, I check my pockets, maybe just maybe, as I took the stairs two at a time up to my office. Empty, as I expected them to be.

The giveaway bag. My ring HAS to be inside. I head for my boss’ office and with a heavy heart tell her my ring is missing. I search the bag, and it too comes up empty. I am near hysterics, it could be ANYWHERE, I’m not even sure when I last REMEMBER seeing it on my finger.

At my boss’ suggestion, we return to the basement closet to retrace our steps. Her optimism helps, it has to be here somewhere. We ended up taking every box I touched out to our conference table to thoroughly search. We decided it had to have fallen into a box because neither of us had heard it clank to the ground.

And she was right. At the bottom of the box where I had dug looking for pencils and chapsticks, I found my beautiful, silver ring hidden under some discarded papers. The rush of joy and thankfulness I felt at that precise moment can’t be expressed in words. For the remainder of the day, I looked at my left hand every five to ten minutes just to make sure my ring was in fact still on my finger, and that is where it currently still is, safe and sound.

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“What the frak does a number mean?”

11 Jan

For the last couple of days I’ve been having these low self esteem days. I look in the mirror and see this ginormous person staring back at me and I start to wonder how anyone would like her let alone love her. And to make matters worse, this morning I thought it would be a good idea to weigh myself. Needless to say, it wasn’t what I was expecting to see. It’s lower than my worst, but higher than I’d estimated. If I’m being honest with myself, I was devastated.

Today I tried doing things that I enjoy to take my mind of it – listening to Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, watching a few episodes of Boy Meets World, even doing an intense cardio workout (20 minute Biggest Loser workout from the ‘At Home Challenge’ DVD and a 3 mile at home walk with Leslie Sansone), but none of that really knocked me out of my funk.

Insert one of the best and most supportive friends I have! She helped me see things clearly again. Our conversation went something like this:

Her: “Do you eat healthy things, as in, you don’t gorge yourself and you eat fruits and veggies? And try not to go crazy on sugar?”

Me: “Yeah. I track everything I eat in the Myfitnessapp.”

Her: “Do you exercise, and enjoy it, in hopes of bringing your body to a better place?”

Me: “I really do.”

Her: “Do you have family, friends, and an amazing boyfriend who loves you?”

Me: “Yes.” 🙂

Her: “Then what the frak does a number mean?”

Me: “I don’t honestly know.”

Her: “Nothing, that’s what. It is more important that I feel good, and eat things I enjoy in moderation (unless they are healthy). So take a deep breath, remember that water fluctuations bump your weight +/- 2 pounds a day, and know that its more important that the shell is healthy than the actual size. Yeah, I know you know all this… but I think you could use a reminder.”

And it was at this point in the conversation when I mentioned how I felt when looking in the mirror. Her kind words overwhelmed me.

Her: “Nononononono. So, so wrong! “Ginormous” is not a word I would use to describe you. I would call it… “curvy, for better hugs”! So take it back a piece at a time — Look at that swooshy grown-up haircut! Check out the stylish, intelligent glasses! Be blinded by the million-watt smile! Have pride in giving the best hugs, because you love people just that much (and there aren’t any pointy elbows in the way, lol)! Basically…. how can anyone with a functioning brain NOT love a person who has so much love and so many smiles to give? So, just know that I think you’re awesome, and I think that other people think that too.”

Everyone needs someone like her in their corner for the hard days. And she’s right. Ginormous, defined as ‘extremely large’, is not me at all — not really, I’m more curvy like she said, always have been, but with a little more work, hopefully won’t always be.

I have a goal to run/walk the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon this November and I know I have a long way to go for my training. But I’m discovering that training and weight loss aren’t 100% physical effort, a good portion is mental — believing you can do it, picturing that place you are striving to get to, knowing without a doubt that nothing will stand in your way. This is where I believe I struggle the most and at times I wonder if this lack of self belief will be harder to change than my physical appearance.

We all go through our ups and downs along this journey and I truly believe that we can learn from others struggles, that’s why I’m sharing this with you tonight. While this may be my personal journey to self discovery and better health, but I will never survive without my support system — my family, my friends and you, my blog family. We are all in this together.

I’ll end this tonight on an up note by sharing a song that has seen me through previous hard days and continues to offer the support I need when things get hard. I love the chorus — it reminds me that these hard days don’t define me and they won’t stop me.

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

Blogtember – A Catch-up!

8 Sep

First off, I’d like to thank The Daily Post for writing a whole post about the different blog events going on and providing useful links to them! It was thanks to that post I found the Blogtember Challenge on the blog Story of My Life and thought, why not?! Unfortunately, I found this post a few days after it started and decided I’d just do one LARGE catch-up on everything I’ve missed!

So, away we go!

September 3, 2013 –  Describe where or what you come from.

I wrote this when I was in high school but I think it still applies:

Where I’m From

With gratitude to George Ella Lyon

COPY CHANGE BY THE UNDERCOVER PRINCESS

I am from a hairbrush,

The computer and a single rose,

Deep red and elegant, standing tall and proud.

I am from the Carousel Theater and sliding into third base, breaking my ankle.

I am from chocolate and my radio,

From Diamond and the beach.

I’m from once in a blue moon…

And everyone saying, SHUT UP! When they are excited.

I’m from Wonder Woman and Hermione.

I’m from pickles and olives.

I’m from my mom, my dad, and my grandparents.

I’m from stardom and a singing career. 

September 4, 2013 –  If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? (bonus points for fun photos.)

I would travel to all the places I’ve only been once and to all the places I’ve always dreamed of seeing – the latter list includes England, Scotland, Italy, Australia, South America, the list is endless!

September 5, 2013 – Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.

My mom always says this to my sisters and I: “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”

Basically, in order to succeed in life, we need to learn to become self-sufficient, independent individuals. Yes, it’s nice when other people are there to take care of you, but what happens when the day comes when someone isn’t there to do those things anymore? Will you know how to go on? I think I will, and it’s got a great deal to do with my mom…and dad. 🙂

September 6, 2013 – A story about a time you were very afraid.

I’m not really sure what story to share…. my Not So Sweet 16th Birthday comes to mind….

Then there was the time I was caught in a terrible thunderstorm at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

And when we found out my little sister had cancer. — yes, this one had me the most afraid because even though we fight from time to time, I’d be lost without her! And I’m happy to report that her scans are clean and we couldn’t be more excited! 🙂

Phew, now that I’m all caught up, fingers crossed I wont get behind again!