Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ugly Dog

My beloved Ugly Dog gave up his life last night. We think his big old heart just finally gave out. It was a good heart. Here is his story. 

July 14, 2015 I got a call from my friend who told me there was an old abandoned dog out on a county road near me that was in need of rescue. I'll never forget her description of him including the phrase "he is so beautiful!" I didn't hesitate to go help the poor dude out but, when I got to him I was quite certain that my friend wasn't sure about what beautiful really meant. He was scrawny, old, flea-infested, bug-eyed, dirty, and scared. Despite his fear, he seemed to know I was there to help and allowed me to lift him into the backseat of my truck and we headed home.

My plan was to re-home him. I bathed him. I bathed him a lot. Then I bathed him some more. We gave him something to rid him of fleas and ticks, fed him lots of food and gave him a place to crash until we decided what to do with him. 

He made himself comfortable and, despite our efforts to find him a new home, he became a permanent resident. We didn't initially have a name for him and, since we weren't really planning on keeping him, I started referring to him as Ugly Dog...and, it stuck. 

It wasn't long until he had worked his way into my heart. There was something so peaceful about him. He just seemed so happy to be here, happy to be alive, fed, loved. 

He really liked when I brought quilts outside to sit on. 

Always a joiner when it came to early morning sunrise watching.

And sunset watching...and selfies.

And smooches

He was down for campfires. 

He frequently practiced meditation

and was a boss at naps. 

Then, he gave us puppies!! 

and more puppies! 

He totally took responsibility, too. More than a lot of humans, he was a dad. He was a good dad. 

He was quite proud of his accomplishments. 

 He even helped raised pups that weren't his own. 

or even his species...

He pretty much loved every creature. 

I bet he walked a hundred thousand miles around this farm. Considering that he could barely climb the stairs the first day I brought him home, I was always impressed with his cinderella story. 

He peed on everything. Every. Thing. Even a few people.

 He made us laugh with his old-man antics and how he knew how to enjoy life's little pleasures. Like the warm sun on your belly (and balls) after a cold night. How he scampered and played with us, even in his old age. He would emerge from his dog house (that I put an old quilt in because I knew how much he loved them) on cold, rainy mornings, smell the air, stretch and then immediately send a big "nope" to the universe as he climbed back into his warm, quilted abode. 

I don't know what his life was like before he came to be with me. He was afraid when I would pick up rakes and shovels and the like which always made my heart wrench to think of how he must have been treated, especially since he was abandoned by his previous owners. Maybe they just didn't see the value in keeping an old, raggedy dog around that peed on every blessed thing. Maybe they didn't really see him for the super fly, zen, poetic, big-hearted dude he was. 

I have no way of knowing how old he was. I wasn't there when he was a puppy, I didn't get to watch him grow into that big frame, I simply picked up what was left after he was considered useless to someone else. And, what was left was one of the most beautiful souls I've ever known. I'm sure that he even loved his previous owner. He was just that kinda guy. 

He proved to me that age doesn't really have much to do with vitality. Love, however...that makes a life. 

C.S. Lewis says that to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. I knew I was in for it when I decided to love him. I knew our time together would probably be short but I also knew that time really doesn't play that big of a roll in value. I knew that I wouldn't get the bulk of his life, but that I could give him the best of his life. And, that is what I did. I loved all his weird ridiculousness. He could have died 20 months ago, alone and abandoned but he didn't. He died in my backyard very well loved with a big full heart. He could have been just another old dog that was forgotten but, instead, he left a legacy. 

 You're free now you big, beautiful boy. 

Mark me a spot. ❤️

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Life Loves Me

I've been hesitant to publish this blog for a while. Not because I don't believe every word of it but, because I don't want to come off as superior or that I'm looking down on ANYBODY. Sometimes, when we rejoice in our freedom and happiness, it comes off that way to those who haven't found it yet. Please keep in mind that this is about the joy I've found and not about shaming anybody for doing life different than me. With that, here goes: 

One of Louise Hay's best loved affirmations is "life loves you". I only heard it recently for the first time and I literally gasped and had hot tears fill my eyes. It's only been in the past few years that I've started to understand this concept and, that was as succinct as anything I've ever heard. Life loves you. Profound.

I spent the first 40 years of my life believing that life, well... hated me. It was out to get me. It was something to get through until I got cancer or hit by a bus and then I could evacuate this cruel, broken earth. But, I better hope I hadn't said too many cuss words or worn my shorts to tight or not prayed enough or read my bible enough because, then, that bus would just send me to burn in hell forever. Life most certainly did NOT love me. 

I believed that my best years were probably before I hit 30 and it was all just a giant countdown to awful after that. People would even tell me when I would pipe up with some optimism about health (or something equally ridiculous), "just wait till you get my age". Right? Anybody else but me have that tape on repeat? Whatever awaited me, it wasn't that life was going to get BETTER. Yeah, you get to have grandkids and, I'd heard that was a pretty cool gig. Maybe you'll retire and, if you're lucky, take a trip to the Bahamas or to see the Grand Canyon. But, ultimately, you're going to end up in the hospital at some point while doctors and surgeons whittle away at your poor body and then you're going to whither away and die. It's just how it is. 

Except that it's not just how it is. 

Not even a little. 

It's only that way if you BELIEVE it's that way. 

And, guess what? You can change your beliefs. 

Incidentally (and this is one of my favorite things to tell people about my newfound belief system), it used to be a scientific fact that the earth was flat. It wasn't just an opinion. It was a "fact". 

Here is the brass tacks and the facts of a brand new set of beliefs about life, and health. I'm not here to blow sunshine up your patootie, I have hard core evidence. First of all, when I stopped looking at life like it was out to get me, I started to get really happy. I thought happiness was bad (one of the reasons I was hesitant to publish this blog). I mean, you can be happy but, in an orderly fashion and, not too much, and not around those people. Keep a lid on it and don't be outwardly emotional, either "too" sad or "too" happy. Changing my beliefs about what that abundant life is really all about freed me up to actually live a life that includes actually feeling alllll my glorious emotions, including joy. 

Exhibit a) authentic joy! 

Then, I started to take care of myself. I began to really give a shit about what I was eating and how I took care of my body. I wanted to educate myself on what would energize me and give me the best life. It wasn't even about deprivation or counting freaking calories. Food became a magical, life-giving, offering of nourishment into my really happy body. And, I'm pretty sure that is what food is for. I started to love and appreciate things like kale and cucumbers and mushrooms and avocados and cashews! And, it's delicious and my body naturally found a healthy weight. 

Exhibit b) Sustained healthy weight for 3 years. 

I was also taking medication for arthritis pain and hypertension. I took a Benadryl EVERY NIGHT for about 10 years so I could sleep. I took a myriad of supplements and other pills to try and aid in my constant gastric upset. I also had been on several different drugs for attention deficit, depression and had dabbled in diet pills to curb my appetite. I was definitely in the mindset of "a pill for every ill". When you have symptoms, you go to the doctor and get a prescription or rummage through the over-the-counter drugs for annoying symptoms (like allergies, headache, pain, diarrhea, constipation, stuffy nose, itchy eyes etc...) That's just how it works. Wrong again. When I cleaned up my diet and started nourishing my cells, yep...all that chemical garbage took a hike. Now that I really understand how a human body works, it is completely asinine to me to think that I could have continually fed myself processed products and taken all of those chemicals and thought that my body would love me in return. Dude, I was ready to get hit by that bus. 

I just wanted to throw in a very significant "side note" here. Rodney was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 5 years ago and was told that he would die if he didn't take very specific, very expensive drugs for the rest of his life. He changed his diet and lifestyle right along with me and hasn't even had a symptom in 2 years and zero expensive, stupid drugs. I mean, do I really need to say anything more? 

Exhibit c) No more prescription or otc drugs. None. Nada. Zilch 

This is where I may lose you but this is important to me and, it's my blog. Almost 3 years ago, I started seeing a chiropractor. This was really the pivoting point for everything I wrote above. The first visit to see this chiropractor, I basically had everything I had ever believed about my health challenged. I went in armed with all my baggage of limiting beliefs and was going to tell that doctor what was wrong with me so he could, maybe, try and "fix" me. I simply said to him, "we have really bad joints and arthritis in my family." He simply smiled and said, "it's probably not a genetic thing but a lifestyle problem." My first reaction was "NUH UH!!" But, I had gone in with a semi-opened mind and decided to sit with that for a while. And, I did. I considered his crazy notion that maybe my pain and problems weren't something I inherited. Because, as uncomfortable as it was to think I was wrong, it was even more liberating to think that I could actually be free from something I thought was an inevitable decline into decrepitude. Oh, yes. Please keep challenging my thinking, good sir. 

I started going to his workshops and finding out all kinds of new things. Things that were really hard to hear. Things that kept making me terribly uncomfortable. I got gut-checked over and over and, for some crazy reason, I kept going back. I kept letting him make me squirm in my seat. Because, with every unbearable new piece of information, I also let one more limiting belief go. It was like I had been carrying a load of heavy bricks on my shoulders and, while I had grown to accept them, leaving them behind and letting go of all that weight became one of my favorite things. 

He explained over and over about how vital the health of my spine is. Something I'd never even thought about. I was born into a gene pool of people who have an propensity for degenerative disks and figured, at some point, I'd be right there with them. I didn't think you could improve the health of your spine. I thought you were at the mercy of gravity and your DNA. He described the spine in such a way that I began to see just how important it is. Your spinal cord in encased in all that beautiful bone because it is so crucial to the rest of your body. God designed us pretty incredibly. The nervous system reigns supreme and, if it gets kinked, misaligned or wonky, your whole body will suffer. Its THE power that has authority over every organ, muscle, tissue and cell in your bod.

This is what I really want to share. That curved green line is where a normal healthy neck should be. When I started chiro care, mine was quickly moving in the opposite direction...a typical synopsis of a lethargic person with poor posture and a crappy diet. I have gone from a reverse curve to a fairly straight line which means that I am REVERSING damage and headed back to a perfect curve. There is MORE space between my vertebrae. THERE IS MORE SPACE BETWEEN MY VERTEBRAE!!! I didn't achieve that deteriorating, degenerative spine in just a year or two so, I don't expect it to jump back into it's healthy state in just a few years either. What I do know is that, if I had stayed on the path I was on, that degeneration would have very quickly become out of control and led to problems I don't even want to think about. 

I'd also like to point out that I have been just terrible about doing my at-home rehab. That correction is with once-a-week visits to the chiropractor and minimum rehab. After seeing these results, I have amped up my homework and hope to improve by leaps and bounds by this time next year. 

exhibit D) there you have it folks, in black and white...improved spine and nervous system function. 

I'm just now realizing that I haven't even touched on the fitness aspect of my newfound belief but, in brief; I used to think that having a really fit body meant spending hours at the gym and living some completely indulgent lifestyle where you have a personal trainer and a chef and only think about your abs 24 hours a day. Man, my head was seriously messed up. Most of my workouts are no longer than 30 minutes a day, I do them at home, I occasionally check my abs in the mirror aanndd yeah, that's about it. I'm not downplaying the importance of that 30 minutes at all. If I don't get my workout done, I seriously start to fall apart. Like, imma cut you if you mess with me. It isn't about biceps and quads and abs and shoulders, I have to do it for my sanity. It is more about mental agility and balancing my emotions and strengthening my spirit than anything physical that may come from it. Although, not having to squish a bunch of flab into my jeans is a really nice bonus. 

exhibit E) strong spirit, less flab #winning 

Look, life loves you right now, right where you are. I wish I could lift the veil from every set of eyes that sees their life as unimportant. I wish that I could gift the world with vitality and enthusiasm and joy. The beautiful and cruel truth of it is that we have to free ourselves. I can show you what has happened to my life. I can tell you how happy I am now. I can be excited about my own journey and share it and I can tell you how I managed to break my own chains (and, incidentally, I still have A LOT of freeing up to do) but, it is ultimately up to you to do it. You can believe that you are stuck in your circumstances and, that will become your truth. Or, you can believe that you have the power to live any life you want and...just watch what starts to happen. Your beliefs about life will ultimately become your reality. Get some good ones. Start saying some nice things about yourself and others. Start believing in a God that loves you. Start believing that you are capable of more than you know. Start believing that you are loved, infinitely, wholly, unconditionally loved. Try some of those beliefs on for a little while and watch what starts to happen. You'll start to see tangible evidence of just how much life loves you and we all need a little more of that. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Twenty Six Years

I asked him this morning if it was all worth it and he assured me that it was. As we stood there in our kitchen, waiting for coffee to brew, planning the day and listening to our grandson jabber in the background...we both agreed that arriving at this place was worth the struggle to get here. 

We celebrate this day every year, almost more than our wedding anniversary. It is the anniversary of the day we met and, today marks 26 years. The wedding was simply a formality. The real magic happened 7 months earlier on that cold December night when the stars aligned and we saw each other for the first time. As I stood there hugging him this morning, all of it came flooding back into my mind. 26 years. It's never been boring, that's for sure and the hard times have only made us love each other more. 

This past year has been the hardest. The. Hardest. But, it has also been filled with the most growth, the most hope, and the most love. Forgiveness opens up so many avenues to the real stuff, the good stuff. Love on a whole other level. We've had to get to know each other all over again and are finding out that we really really like each other. Like total bff's. The legit kind that don't leave each other when things get tough. The kind that stay through all the ugly things. The kind that know on the other side of all that struggle and pain is something worth fighting for. 

Before we even said our marriage vows, we promised each other that we were in it for the long haul. We sat in an old beat-up Chevy truck out on a back country road and pledged our eternal devotion. I mean, things don't get much more devout and serious than that. There's hardly a more sacred space than the cab of an old truck. Believe me, I know. 

I have learned so much this year about life. I've lost and grieved and wept more than I thought was humanly possible and, I'm a crier.  I've let go of things that I thought I couldn't live without and, here I am...still living. It occurs to me over and over what Dorothy said, "“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." 

We may have gotten lost along the way but we found our way back. We found our way back to the most beautiful place. I don't think either of us would choose to go through the suffering part again but, we are aware of the growth that happened because of it. We both acknowledge that the pain is what made us stronger (I could insert a fitness metaphor here but, I'll spare you). 

I don't know what the future holds for us but, I know that we can handle whatever comes our way...together. 

Today won't be filled with wine and roses. It's more of a farm-work, puppy-play, grand baby, book-reading, maybe-we'll-take-a-nap kind of thing going on around here and, I can't think of anything more sweet. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Fast Epiphany

My intention in writing this blog entry is simply to reveal an epiphany I had last night that was too long to microblog about on Facebook. We'll see how brief I keep it.

Last night I had a meal at Jason's Deli. We eat there almost every Monday night with friends. We make the 90 minute drive to Texarkana to our chiropractor, get our adjustments, then we eat at Jason's Deli and then shop for food. It has become the norm on Mondays and I really really like it. However, this Monday's meal was a bit different. It was the first meal any of us had eaten since Friday evening.

You can google "3 day fast" and learn a lot about the benefit of doing one and how to safely go about doing it. It's an amazing way to boost your immune system and reset your metabolism by promoting stem cell growth and a myriad of other proven biological miracles. They are also, very very, very, very difficult to get through. Which is why we all did it as a group. I've done many 24 hour fasts but I was nowhere near prepared for what was ahead of me.

The places your brain will go when you haven't eaten any food for 24, 36, 48, 49, 50....hours! I thought about food in ways I didn't think possible. Eating clean has been so life changing for me and I really believed that I had killed all my sugar addiction demons but did they every come screaming back with flaming vengeance. Gnashing teeth and whatnot. At one point, my caffeine headache was so bad and my craving for chewy sweet tarts was so intense that all I could do was sit on the couch and hold myself together. Full-on, complete, unadulterated withdrawal. I haven't eaten chewy sweet tarts or anything of the nature in over a year and haven't even thought about wanting them. I accepted the craving as a lesson. That lesson is too complex to write about in what is supposed to be a brief blog, but in a nutshell, no matter how tough you think you are...you are always susceptible to fall back into addiction at any given point.

I was relieved that I also had the most intense craving I've ever had for an apple. I kept imagining biting down into the flesh. Cold, crisp, sweet, juiciness flooding my parched mouth. Oh I wanted it so bad. So so so bad. I wanted cashews, roasted cauliflower, cabbage, butternut squash soup, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, olive oil drizzled on all the things, and every single thing I saw posted on Instagram and Facebook that was food-related. I became alarmed several times about my state of mind. The most alarming thing was thinking that as soon as the fast ended, I was going to eat and never stop. I was going to gain all my weight back in a DAY. I couldn't imagine that I would ever be satiated again. It was a trip. Uncharted territory. And it was very very good for me to go there.

Wow, this is turning out longer than I expected, so...onto my epiphany.

This was my first meal after the fast. I was a mad woman at the salad bar. I dipped into just about every single container. I usually don't put cheese on my salad but was totally justified in doing it after what I had just come through. Dried cranberries?? Oh YES! TWO croutons?? You betcha! Would you like bacon and cheese on your cup of potato soup? Dang straight! And please gimme a cup of guacamole. 

I drizzled the whole thing with balsamic vinegar and was very generous with the olive oil. I watched it hit the veggies with lust. It was food porn if ever I had seen it and I wasn't even a little sorry for the deep aching desire that was burning in my soul. 

We prayed really fast and dove right in. The bliss. The satisfaction. The quenching of desire. I wanted to taste every little molecule. I wanted to put my hands in it and rub it in my hair. Chewing had never felt quite so satisfying. My taste buds were exploding. I could actually feel my body rejoicing. Every little cell in my person was having a party. There was dancing and laughter and music. 

And then, slowly, it started to happen. I was full. I couldn't eat anymore. My plate was still half full and I couldn't bear to go on. I nibbled on chunks of melon, forced a couple of strawberries and pineapple bits but, I was done. It had come to an end. I was, in fact, completely and totally satisfied. 

It didn't take long, maybe a half hour and my energy was back. Like completely. I thought I was going to crash but the opposite happened. I was ready to take on the world so I went shopping for jeans...and bought 2 pair. That's a big deal for this girl. 

The epiphany came on the ride home. I was talking to Rodney about how odd it was that I became full so quickly. I told him about the fears that I had been having during the fast that I wouldn't ever want to stop eating again in my life. I told him about my fears that my addictions to sugar were sure to come back to nab me. Then I thought about my meal. It was loaded with nutrients. Spinach, dark green leafy lettuces, a myriad of colorful veggies, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats. And, of course, that bowl of Irish potato soup WITH bacon and cheese, thank you very much. It just makes sense that feeding your body at the cellular level is going to fill you...even if you haven't eaten in days. It only takes what it needs. Then I started in on one of my rants about fast food and processed junk and how we had bought into that whole lie for so many years and I thought about McDonalds french fries and I asked this question. Have you EVER eaten enough McDonalds french fries? Even if you order a large? Aren't you always looking for loose ones in the bag and seeing if your buddies are done with theirs? Can I have the rest of your fries? 

The reason you can never eat enough french fries or ever be completely satisfied is that you simply aren't nourishing your body. You are actually starving it. It is a form of psychosis or something. We just put in this conglomeration of chemicals, preservatives and fried, salted goo and are literally starving our poor bodies. We just pack it on in fat and toxins and are never happy or satiated. Just give me more and more and it's never enough. 

I'm only saying this because I was there. I believed cheerios were good for me. I believed McDonalds was a grand American institution that was serving us inexpensive, convenient food that kept us from having to cook and, that was just so wonderful! A salad was something to have on the side but don't forget to pour on the ranch dressing. And don't bother to read the list of ingredients on that either...you couldn't pronounce half of the 25+ in it anyway. 

Rodney refers to our new lifestyle as an "awakening". I love that. Being awake is the most amazing way to live life. It can also be highly unsettling when you are surrounded by people who seem to be sleeping. You have to find other people who are awake to talk to about all of this stuff. You can share it but it generally just annoys people. I remember being annoyed myself. It was because I didn't want some chipper awake person to disturb my slumber. But boy when your eyes do fly open...the world becomes this magical, amazing, astonishing, breathtaking, wondrous place. It is also full of glorious, nourishing FOOD. I'm so excited about every little thing I eat now. 

I read once about a prisoner of war who, when released, was asked what she wanted to do now that she was free. One of the first things she wanted was to taste and eat and lavish in every kind of food there was. She said she had never eaten a mango before she went into captivity and, after years of starvation and being fed only beans and mush she couldn't wait, in her liberation, to taste all the things that God had made. I'm not comparing myself to someone who spent years being abused and starved by radical guerrillas but I do think that I have had the same kind of fire kindled in me. Food has taken on this whole new dimension. It serves to give me energy to think and work and love and live. It brings me joy when I shop for it, prepare it, grow it, wash it, chop it up and cook it. And, it is pure delight to eat it. To partake with so much gratitude that every bite is precious. 

I'm not suggesting everyone do a 3 day fast, and if you do...make sure you know as much as you can first about how to do it safely. I'm just sharing what happened to me and, if that makes one person consider choosing even one meal with a little more intention and gratitude...then my mission is accomplished. 

You are welcome. 

Peace out.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Embracing the crazy

Does anybody remember when this happened?

If you're my mom, my brother or any of my friends that attended this movie with me the first time I saw it, you remember. I think I was maybe 5 or 6 when we went to see it at the theater. I became inconsolable. I fell apart. Wept!... I. Couldn't. Even. Oh, they all tried to help me pull it together, even when things turned around and the bear wasn't actually dead...but there was no coming back from the pain and anguish in my broken heart. Some of the other kids laughed at me. And sometimes, when I reunite with that group of people, they regale the story of when Jenni lost it during the Jungle Book.

I can laugh about it now but even looking at that image makes my heart catch in my throat just a bit. This is serious stuff. How can a little girl be expected to handle such a thing? Cue the sad music to go along with it and I just don't know how anybody could keep it together.

I was a very dramatic child, teenager, adult... middle-aged woman. Even my kids will, at times, tell me, "Jeeze Mom. Don't you think you're overreacting just a bit?" And, I have to pause and consider the fact that, maybe I am. Just a tad.

Because of a lot of self-doubt and fear, I usually questioned every emotion I had. Like I thought something was really wrong with me for feeling sooooo much. "Do I need meds? Do I need a psychologist? Should I probably be committed? Maybe I should grow up already."

Ah! There was the answer. I needed to grow up. The funny thing is, I had to totally change my idea about what being "grown up" meant. I always thought that maturity meant that you had a clean house, paid your bills on time, maybe had a hobby like needle point, and went to bed at a decent hour. Booorrring!! No wonder it took me so long to want to grow up. I've discovered in the last couple years that maturity really comes when you embrace who you really are. The good and the not so good. Maybe it isn't maturity at all. Maybe it is this other thing. This thing called FREEDOM! It's not growing up at all, it's growing into exactly who you were meant to be. Whether that is a person that needs to keep a lot of rules or an enlightened free spirit, BE IT! Embrace it!

Something miraculous happens when you stop fighting your natural self. God made you the way you are for a reason. If He just so happened to give you a great big, mushy, bleeding heart, you might need to just go ahead and feel that stuff and let it lead you. I read a quote recently that nailed this on the head...

"Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love." -Zooey Deschanel

Gratitude for being vulnerable? Really? YES!! What else on earth are you here for? You're not a mindless drone meant to serve a meaningless purpose. Think about the times you've felt most alive, your best memories, your greatest moments. It probably involved some vulnerability and fear. Our greatest joys, our highest heights just come with a big dose of butterflies. I've learned to welcome it. If I get an overwhelming feeling, I don't ignore it anymore or try to rationalize it. Being rational is way overrated. Recently, someone I love very much sent me a text that made my heart so happy, before I even knew what was happening, I found myself curled up in a ball holding on to my heart to try and keep it inside my chest. I also found myself within the last couple weeks digging under my bed for a T-shirt I couldn't find. Because I'm a grown up. I'm the grown up I was meant to be. I no longer listen to the outside voices that tell me what I should be. I take advice. I am always learning and growing but the core of who I am doesn't change. It never has, I just accept it now.

I remember one time my brother told me a story about listening to the music that all his friends were listening to. He said he was alone and had a lightbulb come on like, "I don't even like this music! Why the heck am I listening to it?" Then he turned on what HE liked. That always kind of stuck with me. Why do we feel like we need to do what everybody else is doing when you have a blazing fire inside you telling you something else? I hope that my friends that read this already know all this and are just shaking your heads going "duh". But, I hope that if you do find yourself a little lost or afraid, that you will have the courage to just step into the life that you know you are meant to lead.

I don't wail during Disney movies anymore...just kidding. Yes I do. Just not to the point where everybody stares and I make an incredible scene that people will talk about for decades. You can be socially cool and still have a big old heart. I think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inside out

15 months ago, this was the body I was living in. I've been told by more than one person that "the angle is just bad on that picture" and other such things but...it was me. It was also a big, fat (pun intended) wake-up call. My mom took that picture, posted it on Facebook, tagged me in it and I was stricken. I wanted her to remove it. I had worn that sleeveless shirt because I thought I was darling in it. Boy that notion got blown out of the water, at least in my head. That night, I laid in bed thinking, praying, worrying anxiously, picking up my phone, looking at that person, obsessing over it and contemplating how in the world that could be me. 

Far from just the outward appearance, I was concerned with how tired I looked. 

"That is a forced smile. Those eyes look whipped. I look like I could use a serious nap." Then, I heard a voice come from within that whispered, "are you gonna lay here and feel sorry for yourself or are you gonna DO something about it?"

6:00 am the next morning, I laced up my tennis shoes and hit the road. 

I made it around my little 3 mile loop, got some oxygen in my blood and started a whole new path. Morning walks just became a must. It was imperative to my mental health as much as it was to my physical health. I started eliminating some of the bad stuff from my diet. It was, by no means, cold turkey but...little changes started happening. I quit buying candy. Incidentally,  the night that picture was taken, I remember distinctly eating Smarties like a crack addict. Opening the wrappers and shoving the whole roll in my mouth. Pure sugar. Complete and total addiction. 

We started keeping more veggies and fruit in the house and left out the candy. I knew if it wasn't there, I wouldn't eat it. Slowly, I started feeling better. The fog began to lift with each walk, with each healthy meal. Weight started to come off. However, the most amazing thing was...I started to love myself. The lightbulb came on when I realized that, if I take care of this body, it is more than happy to return the favor. It became less and less about the way I looked in a picture and became about vitality, health, JOY, peace, LOVE. It all started to fill me up. Life started happening to me. 

15 months later...

One of my favorite photo comments to date is from a girl I hardly know that was a foreign exchange student in Wickes a few years ago. She is from Switzerland and, in her broken but exacting English she said..."So great!! Need to know what u did to become this." 

It hit me like a bullet to the chest. Oh my gosh...I BECAME something else! 

I just wanted to share a few things that I've learned over the last year that have helped me and have made this "becoming" a reality. 

1. If you're doing it for vanity, you may as well just forget about it. 

I don't know how many times I hated the way I looked in the mirror, jumped on the treadmill or elliptical and, with self-loathing, tried to get that jiggly blubber off my butt. None of that effort had anything to do with loving myself or my body or even trying to be healthy. I just wanted to LOOK good. 


Unless you truly find self-love, you will just be spinning your wheels. The same God placed the stars in the sky and named them all, created you. The majesty that you see in the world around you is nothing compared to the glory of sweet little you. Please know that. We are created in His image. He gave us one body to live in. One body for your heart and your soul to dwell in. Why must we think we are ugly? Why would we torture that precious gift or listen to that voice that tells us we are no good? Shut that voice up. I found a trick in naming the voice (I named the bitch Helga) and telling her to shut her pie hole when she starts in on me. LOVE YOURSELF!!! God does not delight in you bashing yourself. He gave you the beautiful gift of a beautiful body. Love that thing! 

2. Weight lifting isn't just for guys! 

Hear me now and believe me later, I am hear to PUMP...clap...YOU UP! I'm serious though. The game changed when I started building lean muscle. I always thought that if I picked up a weight, especially a heavy one, I was gonna look like those freaky ass women that look like a man. But, when I started doing deep, weighted squats, and bicep curls and tricep extensions (among a million other resistance moves) OMG people!! I seriously would wake up every morning (still do) like a kid on Christmas morning, look in the mirror, flex my arms, look at my abs and just smile and smile and SMILE!! There is nothing more motivating that seeing results. 

One of my personal triumphs was gaining the ability to do a pull-up. Not a chin-up, a full out hanging from the bar with hands turned front and lifting my body up with my arms until my chin was over the bar pull up. When I started out, I just dangled from the bar and squirmed. With some help and coaching from my son, I started getting stronger and, eventually did it. I didn't stop there though. I keep upping the number and gaining more and more strength. It's fun! It really is fun and amazing to see what your body will do. Pick up some weights, use mother earth, gravity and be a badass! 

3. You can't out work a bad diet! 

This one is pretty straight forward. If you are still feeding your body junk, it does NOT MATTER how many reps you do or how far you run or how long you sweat. Your body is screaming for nutrition. The lightbulb came on for me when I learned that nutrition happens on a cellular level. If you aren't giving your cells what they need, you are starving. STARVING. You could eat 12 big macs a day and wash it down with diet coke and have a whole pack of Oreo's for desert and you would be one malnourished, starved and sick person. Health happens when your body is getting everything it needs and, it is up to you to do that. You are the only one that controls what goes in your mouth. Feed your body well. 

4. Become Tony Horton's bitch. 

I'm not here to promote any exercise program...wait! Yes I am. I am riddled with ADHD. It is an acute, rampant, malicious case of it. When I bought my first Beachbody DVD workout program, P90x3, life just became sweeter. I had a calendar, a schedule, instructions and a big dose of gumption. Sporadic weight lifting and a little interval training here and there was just not cutting it for me. I needed guidance. Lord have mercy do I need guidance. What could be easier than putting a DVD in and pushing play? Yes, you have to actually do the workout too but, it just made working out simpler. Plus, those particular workouts are 30 minutes and, who doesn't have that time to invest? There was always that box waiting for a X in it every day...and, one day at a time, I got stronger, leaner, more flexible, gained balance and basically fell into a big puddle of awesomeness.

This was after my first 90 days. I am still going and don't really see an end in sight. I mix it up with different workouts but, P90x3 is still my go-to. 

I love Tony's philosophy of making fitness fun. Every single workout is one that I either love or love to hate. Either way, it gets me in there, challenges me and, therefore, changes me. 

5. Surround yourself with positive people. 

We really do become like the people who's company we keep so, choose wisely. You can't avoid negative people all the time. In fact, you can have a lot of fun being a little ray of sunshine in people's gray existence but, you don't have to join them. There are people who, for whatever reason, sit on the sidelines of life. I used to be there. I repeat...you DO NOT have to join them. Don't feel bad for running your race or for being joyful and happy while others just sit there. Smile and wave, love them to pieces but keep your little feet running. The people you hang with, you know the ones I'm talking about... the ones you do a lot of life with The ones you want to tell about your day. The ones who you immediately think to text or call when something exciting or even mundane happens. Those are your people. I'm not saying to ditch all your negative friends or divorce your buttheaded husband but, you do have a lot of say in who you do life with. You do get to choose. I will also say that, you draw those people to you with your own positive energy. So, be sunshiny and spread the love and those beautiful, radiant people will find you. 

6. Turn off that stupid television! 

This sort-of happened on accident at my house. I got so busy living my own life, I hardly have time to watch other people living their life on that box the size of Montana in my living room. We watch sports, occasionally the weather, documentaries, Breaking Bad because, well...it is necessary for life, and movies. We only turn it on in the evening and, depending on the sport of season, decide what to watch. There is a big wide world out there that you're missing by sitting in front of that thing. Believe me, I know. Turn it off. Listen to the silence, or the dog snoring...whatever. I just know that most of the things that were coming into my home through that contraption was a lot of noise, lies, confusion, and it made my head even more chaotic. Life is much more peaceful and joyful when the noise is minimized and, you do have the power to push that little button on the remote. It is usually the red one that says "power"...except the power will be your own when you turn that blasted thing off. 

7. Visualization really works. 

When I started really getting my mind right and focusing more and more attention on fitness, I started following a lot more fitness peeps on Instagram and Facebook. My newsfeed became filled with fit and happy people. So, my brain, my subconscious was absorbing all those images and, therefore, my thought process started changing. Just like choosing positive people, choosing positive visualization is serious therapy for your head. I don't know all the cognitive science behind the reasons why it works, it just does. If you're following a bunch of political pages that bash people or ideas or you have a news feed full of bad negative images and just a bunch of crap...get rid of it! Find some happy people to follow. Look at pictures of kittens and sunsets. Follow me...you'll get sick of fitness and adorable boxers. :)

8. Sugar is a bad bad bad drug. 

It is an addiction, people. If you're eating sugar and/or are experiencing lethargy and sugar highs and lows...you  are   an   addict! I could go on and on with this one. If you want to be sick, feed disease, become debilitated, and have chronic pain, keep eating it. And, I don't just mean the white granulated stuff in the canister on your kitchen counter. I mean bread, pasta, grains, or basically anything with a label on it because, it is in every stinking thing! I was suffering with a great deal of osteoarthritis pain, was on NSAID's and not thriving at all. When I eliminated processed foods and sugar... pain went away and I'm off my meds. The food industry today is the equivalent to the tobacco companies who just want to make you buy more by hooking you with an addiction. It isn't an easy addiction to break. For one, it is socially acceptable. If you were shooting up heroine, people might worry. But, suck up a box of doughnuts and nobody thinks a thing about it. However, it is the same thing. They just don't have cute little cocaine dives with mascots luring you in. When I started looking at it in the light of reality, that it is a DRUG, I was appalled that I had been duped all those years. No wonder I could never lose any weight! My body was crying out for nutrition and I just kept feeding it crap. I thought cheerios were good for you. I thought bread was life-sustaining. Well, I'm here to tell you that it isn't. You need ZERO carbs to live. There are so many beautiful and amazing foods that God gave us. Eat them. Eat butter. Eat avocados. Eat KALE!! If it came from a garden...eat that stuff. If it came from a factory and has a shelf-life longer than you, for the love of GOD don't eat it! 

9. Chiropractors are not quacks

This one is huge and I could really expound more than I'm going to but here goes my elementary spin on it. You're spine protects your spinal chord and that beautiful amazing thing is what transfers all the energy and signals from your brain to the rest of your body. All your tissue and organs are affected by the signals from your spinal chord. If there is a kink or a subluxation (thank you, thank you very much), it turns that power down and therefore, depending on where that subluxation is, can lead to a decrease in function which can lead to all sorts of pain and illnesses. I started getting chiropractic care a little over 3 months ago and I can't see my life without it now. I no longer take any prescription meds because, hello, my power has been turned back on. My pain is gone. My health has increased. My badassery...through the roof.  If I want my body to be at it's optimum, I have to make sure my spine is correctly aligned and my awesome amazing chiropractor sees to that. I do at-home rehab as well that is key to making sure my posture and spine are strong and in alignment which keeps me amazingly healthy and brings vitality to my life. 

10. Enjoy the journey

Everybody starts somewhere. If you are sick and overweight and don't see how you can change...you are simply sitting at the starting line. Everybody has the power to get up and go. Everybody. The thing is to enjoy the journey. If it looks hopeless and it looks like too much work, you are looking at it all wrong. There is an adventure awaiting you. One without an end. My "after" picture is just a stop on a much grander expedition. There isn't a finish line. Well, there is but it is the one when my ashes get spread far a wide. That is when I will quit. Until then, I will spend my days in the sun. I will feel the wind on my face, the burning in my lungs and the earth beneath my feet. Life is way too grand a thing to watch pass by. 
Love without regret 
Play like a kid 
Laugh till your belly hurts 
Get some mud in your hair 
Step in horse crap 
Let your heart break 
Get scared
Do it anyway
Take a chance
Tongue kiss
Get angry
and then get happy
Lay in the grass
even if it's itchy
Braid your hair
or let someone else do it
Hug somebody like you mean it
Wear the crap out of some lipgloss
Wear sunglasses
even on cloudy days
Walk the dog(s)
Take a nap
Read a book
Do yoga
even if you suck at it
Try a new food
Learn something new
every. single. day. 
Go shopping
Wear jeans with butt bling
Make new friends
Curl up with warm laundry
Do the dishes
with lipgloss on (and/or sunglasses)
Learn how to operate heavy machinery. 
Draw a picture. 
Be unabashedly and unashamedly yourself. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

What I learned in 2013

It always amazes me to look back over a span of time and realize how much things have changed. And, since I seem to have a really bad case of writer's block, and life is extremely distracting these days (I've been distracted twice by people and dogs 3 times just writing these two sentences) I've decided I shall do my year-in-review in list form. 
Here's a few things I learned...

1. It's worth the extra money to buy Victoria Secret panties. 
2. My body is capable of change and stronger than I really ever knew. 
3. Contemplating where to hide a body is totally reasonable given the right circumstances. 
4. I can still feel like a giddy, gushing 12-year-old girl and blush when certain people are around...and like it. 
5. Just when you think you've got things figured out, you're wrong. 
6. Exercise doesn't have to be grueling and boring and is the best antidepressant I've ever taken. 
7. My friends don't have to be my age. 
8. Watching sunrises, stargazing, dancing, tongue-kissing, and laughter get me high. 
9. My age has nothing to do with my age. 
10. Dogs can learn sign-language. 
11. Eating grapes at 1:00 a.m. while letting the dog out to pee is addicting and.. louder than you'd think.
12. Fresh cow's milk is the bombdiggity. 
13. People can be cruel but I'm only responsible for my own attitude. 
14. Blu-Ray really is better
15. Mess doesn't bother me as much as it used to and, surprisingly, my house is staying cleaner. 
16. I don't have to feel guilty about needing a nap and can nap like a boss. 
17. There is no such thing as perfection. 
18. I am not responsible for living up to other people's expectations of me. 
19. The only thing I should expect of others is imperfection and love them anyway. 
20. There is a huge difference between someone being nice to you and someone not being mean. 
21. It feels really good to be paid a complement and, therefore, I want to compliment others more. 
22.  It makes people angry when you tell a secret that isn't yours to tell...even good ones. 
23. The anticipation of a new family member coming into the world is beyond exciting. 
24. Just when I think my heart has expanded as far as it can, it fills up with even more love. 
25. I can still get mad crushes. 
26. Waking up at 5:30 is kinda awesome. 
27. I'm more competitive than I realized. 
28. You can't always get what you want. 
29. Detox baths are amazing. 
30. Slathering myself in coconut oil after a shower feels so good, and makes my dogs lick me. 

I could probably go on...
Hope all my loved ones have a blessed year and learn how big your hearts can grow.