feet back on the ground

picture found here.

Yesterday morning, I climbed into the backseat with my husband. My mother-in-law drove, and my father-in-law sat in the front seat. I had planned on taking the new car, but it is less roomy, so we settled on them driving and us riding.

Having just finished Something Blue the night before, I had a pile of four books with me (selected from this larger pile). After reading back covers and flipping through pages, I chose The First Husband. And during the two hour drive I finished over 60 pages.

We spent the better half of the afternoon with extended family. The time included all the good things that come from traveling to see family. Laughter. And stories. Conversation. Food lovingly prepared by hands that are just glad to have us there. And more laughter.

I knew the day wouldn't be the best for eating. I knew that. But still, when I finally sat down last night and calculated (to the best of my ability) what all I consumed both at lunch with family and then at dinner with friends, I felt like a failure.

I had almost doubled the amount of calories meant for the day. Without any resemblance of exercise - unless you count sitting in the backseat and reading a book while your husband naps exercise.

It was the day after my announcement, my pledge to lose one-hundred pounds. My decision to share with the world that I was going to do this, that I was ready.

I felt like such a failure. The thoughts of not eating at all today crept into my mind. So did thoughts of taking a long walk. Something. Anything.

But when I woke this morning, I felt like I needed to stay home. Spend time in bed. Sleep in for just a little. Finish my book. So I did.

And when I read the last page of the book I had just started the day before, I remembered that this journey is not about a quick arrival. It is not about how well I can do it. It is not about leaning on my own devices or trusting the things I think should work.

The journey is about continuing to move forward. It is standing back up when I fall down. It is about not giving up. It is about admitting my mistakes and then learning from those mistakes (instead of admitting them and then making them again and again). It is about letting go of all of the control and praying for direction.

This journey is about so much more than one hundred pounds.

Finishing the book today sparked a lot in me. More love for writing. A desire to tell my story and to always have a story to tell. The realization that whenever I stumble, God will provide something or someone to remind me that I am still moving forward and that not all hope is lost.

It happened last night in the form of a text message. I was just leaving a friends house and climbing back into my car. I checked my phone and saw the text message. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. A reminder from a friend that I could do this. That now was the time. And that there were people who would be there to help.

Because I don't know what I am doing. At all. Not with my writing and not with losing weight. All of this is new to me. I've done it all before, yes, but this time is so different. So God is providing me with people who do know what they are doing, people who will guide me and cheer me on.

This story is a part of something bigger. It is something God is bringing me to because of His story and how this part of my life with affect His bigger story. As scary as it is, it is also exciting.

So I start anew today. I won't hide from the amount I ate yesterday. I won't beat myself up for the choices I made. I won't keep myself too busy today. Instead, I will breathe and I will start over again. I will remember that this is the time, and I will continue on (and probably start book number three of the weekend).

(title from "breakin' at the cracks" by colbie caillat)


wake up and see

picture compliments of diana.
Just shy of a year ago, I made a bold statement and said I wanted to lose 100 pounds. Weight is something I have struggled and fought and lived with for most of my life. And I decided I was sick of struggling and fighting and living with weight. So I started to exercise and slowly started to eat better.

But I never came close to losing 100 pounds. There were excuses like being busy at work, hurting my ankle, being tired, being sick. I could go on and on.

Something happened recently. A few health scares. And no answer other than lifestyle. All those days of being sick and nauseous and tired were caused by the choices I had made. The same choices that brought me to a point in life where I wanted (and needed) to lose close to 100 pounds.

I've tried to pinpoint why this time is different, and I can't really provide any clear reason. I just know that it is.

Still, I am terrified. Terrified to share this journey with the world. Terrified to even take this journey.

I've done it before. Lost the weight. And then I have always gained it back.

I lost it in high school. I didn't use the best methods. And my reasons weren't necessarily related to health. It was about how I looked. And about how others looked at me. To get there, I stopped eating. And I purged. Thankfully I got help before it all got to be too much and I was past the point of a little nudge in the right direction instead of a full blown intervention.

Those days stick with me. Every day. I battle those demons every single day. And for quite some time, I have battled them by going in the complete opposite direction. Instead of not eating, I will eat and eat a lot. It's just as bad as not eating or as purging.

I don't want to go back down that road. I don't want to come anywhere close to it, and so counting calories and exercising is something I have to tread lightly on.

I know I need to not buy ice cream. I have such a huge sweet tooth, especially for the frozen variety, and it is too much of a trigger to eat too much. I also know I need to stop comparing myself. It's fine to ask for advice and to read others stories, but I need to remember that their story will not be my story.

How this journey will end I am not sure. And when the journey will end? I am even less sure.

I say a year. 100 pounds in a year. And it might happen. But if it doesn't happen in a year? I am okay with that, too. I just know it needs to happen at some point. I know that it will happen.

I write this now because tonight I met two fellow Oklahoma bloggers and then a reader. We ate at a restaurant in the city and talked. I was nervous. And maybe a little bit awkward. The comparisons started in my mind almost immediately. And I had to quiet them. I had to remind myself not to give into comparisons and to remember that this journey I am on is just now starting.

picture compliments of lisa.
We took pictures together. And inwardly, I cringed. I've spent quite a bit of time escaping pictures. Of purposefully forgetting my camera. And of purposefully not asking someone to freeze a memory in time.  But I leaned in and smiled.

I won't say that I am perfectly happy with what I saw. Ten pounds lighter, my face is less round. And my smile seems less forced. But there are plenty of other things that need to change.

Still, I saw a girl who was ready. Ready to continue the journey. Ready to not give up. Ready to face the demons of the past and overcome them. Ready to step into the person I am meant to be - the person I want to be.

Have you ever had a moment where you realized you were ready? What did you do after the realization?

(title from "closer to me" by dar williams)

Sunday Snapshot


throughout my history

picture found here.
This morning I completed work-out number five of the week. I hurt everywhere, thanks to an especially difficult class of deep water aerobics on Thursday, and I was exhausted. But I made it. Not only did I make it to the gym, but I completed two sets of the machines for weights as well as lots of crunches and work on the stability ball.

I hurt everywhere, still, and even more than I did when I woke up this morning. My eyes are drooping. And I am more than ready to head home and spend the evening relaxing with my husband and preferably not moving many muscles.

But I finished. I finished today's work out. I completed a whole week of going to the gym. I did not give up, or take a break, or give into the exhaustion and voice in my head that says maybe it isn't worth the early morning wake up calls.

Because it is worth the early morning. It is worth the wet hair and make-up less face that I bring to worth. More than that, I am worth it.

For reasons I don't fully understand myself, I have always seen myself as less than. The comparisons to others runs deep; so deep that I eventually got to a place in which I decided, more or less, that it wasn't even worth attempting to keep up with others. Instead, I would go along in my life and live it the way I lived it.

God saw the path I was about to embark on, and He stepped in - just as He always does. It took me a long time to recognize His presence and then even longer to fully let Him into every aspect of my life. Truthfully, I am still learning what it means to open myself up to Him and allow Him to work in and through all things.

I'm not the best at reading my Bible especially recently. The prayers I once prayed daily continue to dwindle, and at times, it is all I can do to send a few quick words up to Him before my eyes slip shut and I disappear into a world of dreams. And yet, He continues to pursue me. He continues to take the broken pieces and place them back together in a way that only He knows will work.

It is overwhelming - His attention to detail and also the number of details there are. And when I get overwhelmed, I look for a way out - searching for the next thing to set my attention on. For some time, He let me do this, and it resulted in me spinning circles and kicking up dust and rocks and other items. I got to the point where I couldn't breathe, where I wanted to stop, but I was moving so quickly that it was impossible to stop.

Something happened. I am not quite sure what, but God did a little bit of unraveling and sent me down a path. I moved just as quickly and still couldn't breathe, but eventually I came to a stop. When He did the unraveling, He sent me forward instead of allowing me to spin in circles, and by moving forward, the dust cleared and the rocks stopped flying.

This clearing of the dust is recent. It's really only happened in the past couple of weeks. And it's still a bit hard to breathe, but I blame that on the fact that my lungs got so used to the dust that they don't quite remember how to work without dust.

But I am learning. I am learning to take little steps and to focus my mind on what is in front of me and not all the things going on around me. I think God is blessing me in this journey. I know He is. He is providing in different ways (like our mortgage payment being lowered $100 a month starting in July). He is actively walking with me and bringing other people alongside so that I always remember that I am not alone.

Because so often I think I am alone. That only I struggle with my weight. That there aren't any other success stories that I can relate to. That certain things won't ever happen to me and that I should just stop trying for them. Are those thoughts rational? No. But when you are caught up in a dust storm you created it is difficult to think or act rationally.

And I couldn't do any of this if I were alone. If it weren't for the people who are coming alongside me on this journey. The friends who ask how exercising is going. The co-workers who comment on weight lost. The husband who rubs my feet. The parents who act as cheerleaders.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey. I am so excited to see what happens as I lose the next ten pounds as I complete more weeks of sore muscles. And I am even more excited to see where all God shows up in the process and just how much He teaches me about Him, about love, and about life as I work towards the person He created me to be.

Please join me on Imperfect People today as I share my testimony on how God is also moving in my life through writing.

(title from "quitter" by carrie underwood)


life makes love look hard

celebrating my birthday at Blu.
I have started at least four separate blog posts this week. I make it halfway through the post, sometimes even three-quarters of the way through the post, and then I stop. Something about the words just did not sit right with me.

I want to tell you about my birthday. And about the car we purchased. Also about how I have worked out at least three times (usually four or five and sometimes even six times) every week for the past month. And about writing and the critiques I received at a meeting that reminded me I can do better. Or about the little, quiet moments in life that stick with me and bounce around my head for weeks.

But the words simply won't come.

I could blame it on my computer having been in the shop for several days. Or on my sore muscles that demand nothing but rest when I return home. I could even blame it on work and how busy it has been. But those are nothing but excuses.

And when it comes to writing, to blogging and sharing my life, it is a choice. As quoted here, "Success follows trying. Failure also follows trying. Nothing, however, follows nothing. So try!" Obviously, I have done nothing. Because the words have been stopped and packed up and placed into the back of a drawer while I come up with excuses for why I have not sat down and taken the time to gather and share my thoughts. Also, as quoted here, "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."

I have a post to write for Imperfect People that is due by tonight. A piece of my testimony. When I signed up for the guest post, I had plenty of ideas of what to write about. And now I feel less than adequate. But I know the words will come. Because it is something I want to do, so I will find a way.

I look forward to writing again soon. To sharing my triumphs (like losing almost a whole 10 pounds so far) and to sharing my stumbles (like eating an Egg McMuffin for breakfast). To talking about writing.  To writing about meeting up with a fellow Okie and blogger this weekend. To discussing a trip west to see my husband's family and sharing how my heart sometimes longs for a simpler life in the country. And to sharing other things too - like how I am continuing to count my blessings.

(title from "ours" by taylor swift)


counting my blessings (#71-80)

picture found here.
71. Planning birthday parties.
72. Sweet cards in the mail.
73. A husband who is willing to fight when needed.
74. Creating a healthy living group at work.
75. "You look like you have lost weight."
76. Justin Timberlake on SNL for my birthday (though somehow he never mailed me tickets to attend the taping).
77. Seeing a "$0" balance on all our credit cards.
78. Spending less than $50 at the gas pump.
79. Watching certain television shows with my husband.
80. Laughter.


answered in silent reverie

picture found here.
A week ago Thursday, I attended a writer's critigue. These were a regular occurence during my years as an undergraduate student, and as painful as they could sometimes be, as it always hurts to have your writing picked to pieces and then put back together with glue, I walked away with better ideas and also an appreciation for other writers.

Writing is a solitary thing. But it helps to have others who will edit your work and tell you when you need to let go of an idea and move on. In a lot of ways, it is similar to exercising and losing weight. While it is up to me to make the decision to be healthy and it is up to me to complete the exercises, having a partnermakes it that much easier.

I'm searching for the people in my life who will be those partners. I'm doing my best to surround myself with positive influences and to dig down deep to find the strength I often need to truly follow through.

It's a time of introspection. A time of change. And I often go silent during those times, retreating from writing on the blog until I can better sort out the thoughts in my head.

I'm still not there yet to be honest. But I guess I will never be all the way there. Life will continue on, and different things will occur making it harder (or easier) to complete the tasks that I am learning are integral to who I am as a person.

Through all of this, my husband and I are working on our life together. Taking a hard look at our finances. Coming up with and following through on solutions (like a debt consolodation loan). Searching for part-time jobs and committing to spending less money even though it can be difficult.

We purchased a new car over the weekend. One that will save us money in both gas and car payments. I'm anxious something will happen and that it will fall through and then what? The car is not yet in our physical grasp, as it had to be ordered from another dealer, so we wait. And wait. And my anxiety grows because that's just how I am. My husband laughs and shakes his head. He reminds me that we prayed about this. That we felt like this was the right decision to do. That we have a pre-approval check from our bank. The list can go on really.

But what do I do? I google. I scour the Internet. I go every possible happening in my head and worry about it all. I pray and I ask God to stop my worrying, but I don't really let go of the thoughts. Because I am a control freak. And I just can't seem to stop being a control freak.

Maybe when I turn 26? It's four days away. My birthday. The first birthday when I am no longer in my mid-twenties. Or my early twenties. The first birthday of my late twenties. And I feel like I should have it all figured out. That I should know how to be healthy. That I should have a firm grasp on my writing. That I should know where I want to go in life and how I want to get there.

But there is a small voice. Sometimes it is a whisper. Other times it is louder. It comes from my husband. From my mother. From myself at times. And it reminds me that no one really has it all together.

This weekend, after buying the new car and spending quality time with my husband as well as some much needed alone time watching television and movies, we attended a meeting at our church. It was a gathering of the creative people. Those of us who are artists. Whether it be music, art, writing, photography, or blogging. This gathering is to happen more and to create a community of artists within the church that will hopefully grow and grow.

One thing they mentioned was to not compare ourselves to each other. It was meant for only art, but I took it to mean so much more. Because I do that all of the time.

This came after Sunday's lesson brought me to tears (in a good way). After I heard God telling me that He knows where He wants me and right now it is here (in every sense of the word). After so much had happened over the week and then the weekend.

He's good. God. He is. But sometimes when He speaks truth, it is hard.

I am still dealing with Sunday's lesson. With the creative meeting. With exercising and eating healthy. With bettering my life.

And as tired as I am. As much as I want to retreat. I am so glad I have people who will not let me retreat. Who will stop me from comparing myself to others. Who will remind me of how good God is. Who tell me that it will work out. Who hug me and laugh at (and with) me. Who will be honest with me even when it hurts and especially when I do not want to hear. People who just love me.

I hope you also have those people.

(title from "dream" by priscilla anh)


there's a spark in you

picture found here.

Monday through Friday, my husband is scheduled to be at work by 5am. This means that we are both up around 4am. I make his lunch (or at least toss a Hot Pocket into a lunch sack) and his coffee. On days when I feel energized, I put away dishes or fold laundry. He is out the door by 4:30am, and I head back to bed with the dogs.

Getting up at 4am is immensely easier than waking up at 6:30am to start my day. Part of it is mental, part of it is how cuddly both dogs are when it is just the three of us, and part of it is that waking up the first time is always easier.

This morning, he fended for himself, and I stayed in bed. My alarm was set to go off at 5:20am, and I was to make it to the gym no later than 6:30am.

And I made it. In fact, I walked into the gym before 6:30am. All because I knew I would be meeting someone there.

It's one thing to wake up, hit the snooze button two (or five) times, and miss going to the gym by yourself. It's another thing entirely to wake up, hit the snooze button, and stand someone up.

I've heard that healthy living is easier when done with a partner. More than once, people suggested I find someone to go to the gym with. Or someone to hold me accountable at least. And I have tried. But finding someone to meet you at the gym is often easier said than done. Schedules differ. Gym memberships differ. Work out styles differ. The list goes on (and on and on).

Luckily, I am in a state of no more excuses. Will things happen? Yes. Will there be some weeks I don't make it to the gym four days a week? Probably. But I won't make any more excuses.

I think God is holding me to that statement. He's given me a new outlook on life. He is also quieting the voice that tells me I will never see this through, that this goal I have in mind is much too big and unrealistic. And He is bringing people into my life who are willing to help me and to meet me where I am.

Case in point a work out partner for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Case in point water aerobics classes five times a week during the lunch hour starting in May. Case in point co-workers who are interested in starting a healthy living group. Case in point people who share in my successes.

I felt invigorated today after the morning workout. Sore and tired, yes, but invigorated. It stayed with me for the entire day, and I then left work to go to an hour-long deep water aerobics class. Some might say I am doing too much too quickly. And maybe I am. But I am so tired of not doing enough. And every time I exert the energy to work out, I feel like I accomplished something.

Who knew exercise could result in so much goodness.

(title from "firework" by katy perry)


to make it through this crazy thing called life

To my Mother: I love that you and Dad waited 10 years to start a family. When I was younger, I asked for an older brother, but now that I am 25 (almost 26), I understand your reasons for waiting. I love telling people how long you all waited and why because I believe your waiting to start a family until you were ready is one of the biggest reminders to me that it is okay to wait until the time is right for me. Both to start a family and to do other things. You have always been one of my biggest supporters, and I do not know what I would do without your advice, your ability to make me laugh, your hugs, or the way you can calm me down from hundreds of miles away when I am a crying mess.

I have so many wonderful memories with you. Swimming in the lake in Michigan. Making applesauce from scratch. Walking to get ice cream. Learning how to drive while you held tightly to the door handle. Towering over you in heels just because I could. There have been other memories that weren't wonderful. But I honestly don't remember why I was sad or hurt or upset. I just remember you always being there for me and always reminding me of how much you loved me.

A lot of people say they have the best mother. And it could be true. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that you are the best mother I could have. There's no one else who could have loved me or raised me the way you did.

To my Nana: When I talk about you, I call you my kindred spirit. Because you are. You are one of the biggest encouragers in my life. You lift me up and always, always believe in me. I love sharing stories about you and bragging about the amazing woman you are.

After my freshman year of college, we went to Europe for three weeks. At the time, you were not flying, but my dad told me that you would get onto to an airplane for me. And you did. Not only did you get onto the airplane, you spent every moment with me for the next three weeks. You were determined to not miss a moment of any of it, and I couldn't have imagined sharing that time with anyone else. I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone else.

One of my favorite things as a child was going to your house. We would eat Popeye's Fried Chicken and watch movies in your den. We would shop for clothes and sometimes for prom dresses even though I had no reason to buy a prom dress. And at night, you would tuck me in with a story. My love of reading and of writing comes from you; thank you for reminding me that I am a writer and for reminding me that I have always been a writer.

To my Grandmother: You bought me my first bikini, and I think I had my first taste of ice cream with you. We used to walk from your cottage to the creek and wear hulu skirts, and you would play along with my imagination of us being in Hawaii rather than being in Suttons Bay, MI. There were always games to play and books to read at your house, and every morning you would greet me with a hug and a smile.

I can always count on you to send me cards and notes when you are thinking of me. I love the conversations we have on the phone and knowing that you are praying for me and for Justin. It is such a blessing to be able to share my life with you - the ups and the downs.

When I think of home, the place I feel the most at rest, I think of the cottage on the beach and shucking corn on the porch. Thank you for giving me some of the best memories and one of the most picturesque places to call home.

(title from "mama's song" by carrie underwood)

Sunday Snapshot


your dreams are the same as mine

picture found here.

Two months ago, I saw a preview for the movie "Something Borrowed." I had heard of the book in the past and was familiar with the author's name but never took the time to search the shelves and select "Something Borrowed" as the book to purchase.

After seeing the preview, my interest peaked, and I purchased the book the same afternoon.

I am not a fan of watching a movie first and then purchasing the book. I like to have recently read the book so that the characters are fresh in my mind. I enjoy the comparisons of what a character thought in a certain moment versus how the actor portrayed the character.

While my husband went to see "Thor" with friends, I watched "Something Borrowed."

I always prefer the book the movie, and this was no different. Except something happened in the middle of the theatre. I felt a familiar spark. The spark that reminds me I am called to one certain thing and that it is time to stop making excuses and to stop turning away from the one certain thing.

I have been a reader and a writer for as long as I can remember. While my mom was pregnant, my nana, a teacher and reading specialist, requested that my dad read to me. Even though he thought it strange, he did as requested. Books were a part of my upbringing. There was story time every day, and at the age of five, I announced that I knew how to read. And I proceeded to read "The Berenstain Bears Go To School."

I know now that I didn't really read the book. Instead I had memorized the words and recited them, corresponding with the illustrations.

I remember writing stories in my head as a child. I imagined myself as a mermaid and would play high school in the pool with friends. I wrote in my diary and fell asleep by dreaming about different events. I even wrote (and illustrated) my first book while in elementary school; it was about a skunk who was trapped in the local high school and then detailed the skunk's adventures.

I'm not sure why I turn away from writing. I know it is a part of my very being. Words are connected to my heart and my soul. When I hear sermons about the gifts and talents God gives people, I know my gift and talent is writing.

I have family and friends who support my writing. Who believe in me so much more than I believe in myself. And I so easily turn my head from their words. My cheeks flush. I find myself without words. And while I believe what they say in that moment, I struggle days later with remembering how valid their comments are.

But watching "Something Borrowed" caused a spark. There was a picture that flashed through my mind. A sense of peace rested on me. A soft voice whispered.

One day. One day soon. My novel - the one I have written and rewritten, the one I think about constantly, the one I both love and hate. It will be published. And maybe I will even see it on the movie screen.

(title from "poison and wine" by the civil wars)


let the sunlight in

In April, I committed to blogging for all thirty-one days of the month of May. I thought it would be easy, but it isn't. That seems to be the theme of my life currently. I'm out of words at this time, but when words are lacking, pictures speak volumes.


pictures found here.

(title from "not in love" by olin and the moon)


even if it rains or snows

picture found here.
Yesterday, I felt heavy. I struggled through zumba and felt defeated. I made bad choices for lunch (IE: eating too much ). I saw myself in the mirror and felt hopeless. It seemed like nothing would ever be good enough.

Dramatic? Yes, very much so.

This morning, I forced myself out of bed and made a sandwich. Even though I wanted to give up just twelve hours before, I found a new determination and decided that I was going to start over again.

I spent my hour lunch break in the pool. Thirteen feet of water and with a water jogger attached to me. It was the first time I had really participated in water aerobics. I had considered it in the past but always decided against it for fear of what other people would think.

This fear of what other people might think plagues me often. Or at least it used to.

Something has changed. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's God quieting the negative voices in my head. Maybe it's a combination of the two. Or maybe it is something else entirely. But all of a sudden I am worried less about what others think and more about what is right for me.

A month ago, I would have been too scared and too ashamed to walk into a zumba class. I would have been too nervous about putting on a bathing suit and participating in water aerobics. A month ago, I hid behind not feeling well and decided that because I didn't know what was causing my pain/nausea I needed to take it easy and not take the steps towards exercising on a regular basis.

I wish I could go back one month (maybe even three) and tell myself then what I now know. I wish I could remind myself not to be ashamed. I wish I could tell myself to focus on what I need and what I want instead of focusing on what others might think of me.

I can't tell you why I was scared or ashamed. I also can't tell you why it impacted me the way it did. All I know is that it did but it no longer does.

It's an amazing feeling to walk into a work out class or jump into a pool and not worry about what other might think. It's freeing to push aside the negativity and focus on this goal of getting healthy.

Is it a slow process? Yes, painstakingly slow. I remind myself of this every single day. I hope I do not lose sight of this truth. I am committed to not giving up but to seeing this thing through.

Right now I am thankful for sore muscles. So very thankful. The soreness reminds me that I am moving towards my goal. It reminds me that things are changing, even though it happens slowly.

And as I travel this path, stepping away from my previous experiences and away from my previous ways of handling things, I am constantly amazed by the kindness of people. Those who are more than willing to go out of their way to help you. Those who celebrate in your successes and listen to your failures. Those who remind you that things will continue to improve. Those who push you towards your better self. Those who promise that it will be worth it. I couldn't do this without any of them; I wouldn't want to do it without them.

(title from "the man who can't be moved" by the script)


counting my blessings (#61-70)

picture found here.
61. Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
62. Juicy oranges (on sale at Wal-Mart).
63. Making dinners than remind me of home.
64. Coupons.
65. Quieting the negative voices.
66. Attending four zumba classes in a week.
67. Being reminded of God's love.
68. Petty (but funny) arguments with my husband.
69. Making up with my husband.
70. Feeling supported.


learning to be brave

picture found here.
I slept until seven this morning and then took my time getting ready. Instead of rushing out the door and then making a thirty minute commute to work, I enjoyed the house, took out the recycling, and then made my way from the house to McDonald's for an iced coffee and proceeded to drive five minutes to a day long conference.

Over the past week, I've attended two workplace conferences. Last week it was a two hour lunch conference, and this week, it was a day long event. Both spoke on balancing life with work and home. They also talked about communication and about contentment.

I enjoy these kind of events. There's something about bettering yourself that excites me. Even when I am familiar with the information. Maybe it's the break from my normal job duties. Or maybe sometimes I just need a reminder of how to navigate this thing called life.

And even though these events are tailored more for the work place, I walk away with more knowledge on my personal life. I leave with a feeling of wanting to change things. Something settles into the pit of my stomach and remains in place until I give it the time it deserves.

Today there was much talk about communication. We discussed how to listen and how to respond. We talked about taking time outs from arguments. But the topic that stuck out to me the most was that life is a series of choices. Sometimes we decide on those choices and sometimes we slide.

At 25 (26 in under three weeks), I've made many decisions. For example, I decided to get married. But I also feel like I have slid into some choices.

Over the past few months, I've struggled and wrestled with what I want out of my life. I've been frustrated with where I am and where I am not. I have wondered when things would change. I've prayed for this or that to happen. I've cried quite a few tears as well. But for most of the past few months, I didn't truly made the decision to do anything about it.

And then last week happened.

It coincided with the first conference. The one that lasted for just two hours. Nothing specific was said. There was not one moment of extreme clarity for me. But it reminded me that I can (and should) do better than I had been in the past.

And making those decisions? It's hard. My knees pop and crack during zumba. I feel ridiculous walking into the gym. I wonder if this is even worth it. But those decisions? They also inspire me. I feel stronger than I have in months. Even though so much of the situation is the same, I feel I am better prepared to handle it.

So right now I am deciding. Deciding to write. Deciding to believe positive feedback. Deciding to disregard the negative comments in my head. Deciding to determine what I want out of life. Deciding to go after my dreams.

What decisions are you making?

(title from "crystal ball" by pink)


inside your mystery

picture found here.
Since I started blogging in 2010, I've found a few that I consider my favorites. They are the blogs I look at and hope for an update. One of those blogs happens to hold a short story contest every month.

I've made a pact to enter the contest every month - even when I struggle with the prompt because at least then my my mind is working and creativity is flowing. And I also have made a pact with myself to share the entires here, but I will only share the entry after the winner has been announced.

The winner was announced on Sunday which means I can now present my take on the prompt. The title of the short story is "Moving On."

Moving On
It started with a knock on the door. It was me and the baby at home. Mama was “asleep” on the couch. That’s what I called it then. Now I call it high and passed out.

I pulled the sheet to the side and peeked out. Flashing lights on the street and a lady standing at the door with a clipboard.

I tried to wake Mama. But she wouldn’t budge. Her eyes didn’t blink. She made no noise. The baby started crying, and then there was another knock on the door. This one was louder.

I squared my shoulders and walked to the door. “My mama’s not home.” I ran from the door to the window and pulled the sheet to the side.

The lady with the clipboard wrote something on a piece of paper and shuffled her feet. She squinted at the door and then looked to the side. “Is there anyone else home?” Her voice sounded like honey.

I could say there wasn’t, but when Jessie did that, the cops came into the house and took her out of the house. I could say someone else was, but then the lady would want to talk to them.


“We just wanted to make sure you were okay.” She looked at the clipboard and flipped through the

“I’m fine,” I said. “You can go home.”

The lady glanced at the street, and a car door opened. He was a big man. It took him a little while to walk up the yard because he had to step over empty boxes and a broken bike. “Please let us in.”

This is when it got tricky. I knew he could come in. I didn’t even have to open the door. That’s what happened to Jessie. She ran and hid in the closet, but they came in anyways. Cops have that kind of power.

So I opened the door.

I don’t really remember what happened then. Lots of questions. The cop tried to wake mama, but she still didn’t move. He got worried and pointed at me and then to the baby. The lady took us both out of the house and put us in the backseat. Her car was dirty. I drew on the windows and kicked at the bags of McDonald’s on the floor. The baby kept crying, but I didn’t have the pacifier so I couldn’t make the baby stop.

We went to McDonald’s. The lady bought me a milk shake and chicken nuggets and French Fries. The baby ate French Fries.

The lady asked more questions. How much time did my mama spend asleep? Who took me to school? Did anyone else live with me? How did I get the bruise on my leg? What did the baby eat? How often did the baby eat?

I asked to go to the bathroom, and she said I could. I looked for a window but there wasn’t one. Then she came and got me. She took me to a brown building. She said I was going to stay there and that she would take the baby somewhere else.

I told her I wanted to stay with the baby. I said I took care of the baby and that I put the baby to sleep. I told her that the baby needed me.

She looked sad when I said it. She bent down and pressed her knees to the ground. She looked up at me and her eyes met mine. I think she almost started to cry. She told me that I would see the baby again but that I needed to let someone take care of me.

I cried. Shaking shoulders and snotty nose. The kind of crying that doesn’t stop and can’t be contained. All these people looked at me like I was crazy, but I kept crying. And then I started talking. All these words came out of my mouth, and I don’t even know what I said. But the lady’s eyes got really big. She handed the baby to someone else and then took me in her arms.

I didn’t want to be alone. I told her I needed someone. I said that the baby protected me from hands and that when the baby was in the room no one would hurt me.

“You’re safe now,” the lady said. She handed me a napkin and waited for me to blow my nose. She gave me a hug and then pushed me in the direction of another lady. I took a shower and changed into pajamas. And then I sat on a bed alone.

The lady promised I would see the baby again. She promised that I wouldn’t be alone and that I would be safe. The next day she brought me a trash bag. The bag had clothes in it and a pair of shoes and one stuffed animal. And then she had me take the trash bag to a new house. The baby wasn’t there, but the lady promised me these people would care for me.

Every month, sometimes every two months, I moved. From one house to another house. The people always asked for me to leave, and the lady with the clipboard always moved me.

I saw the baby once a month. A different lady with black hair held onto the baby and gave the baby kisses on the cheek. The lady with the black hair never let me kiss or hug the baby.

I was 16 when it started with the knock on the door, and when I turned 18, I grabbed my trash bag and I chose to leave the last house. The baby was two by then. The baby called the lady with the black hair mama.

The lady with the clipboard asked me to stay, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be taken care of. I didn’t need anyone. In the end, there would only be me, but I realize now, that’s actually quite a lot.

(title from "ghost" by eastmountainsouth)


the walk before the run

picture found here.
After months of not working out, I spent an hour at the gym on Thursday and another hour at the gym on Friday. I considered a routine of elliptical and rowing, the routine I stuck to months ago when I spent regular time at the gym. Instead, I chose to throw caution to the wind and attend my first work out class since high school.

My mother would tell you that I am overly hard on myself. That I expect my results to be as good as perfect the first time, that I do not do well with not doing well. And she would be right.

I know hard work is necessary. I understand that nothing is easy and that if it is easy, it probably is not worth as much as those things which require hard work.

Still, when I walked into the large classroom and waited for class to start, I hoped that I would easily catch on to the steps. That something would miraculously occur that would allow me to move with ease and without worry.

But that didn't happen.

I struggled through the class on Thursday. Sweat dripping down my face. Left ankle throbbing from the injury I had eight yeas ago. Knees cracking and popping and threatening to give out. But I didn't give up. Surrounded by people who seemed to know what they were doing, I didn't give up.

And when I walked out of the gym, I felt accomplished. I spent the thirty minute drive home feeling accomplished and thankful that I hadn't hurt myself. Once I got home, I went from feeling accomplished to hurting and spent the rest of the evening on the couch.

Then, I did it again on Friday. And again, I walked into the same large classroom hoping that I would easily catch on to the steps, expecting the class to be the same as Thursday.

But that didn't happen.

I struggled through the class on Friday. Sweat dripping down my face. Left ankle throbbing even more. Knees cracking and popping with every move. Eyes looking at the clock and mind counting down the minutes to the end of the class. I moved away from the mirror and focused on the steps. I struggled to synchronize my arms with my legs. I wondered again why I was here. I thought about how difficult it was and wondered if it was worth it. But again, I didn't give up.

It's a battle. A battle one minute at a time, a battle one hour at a time, and a battle one day at a time. But it is a battle I will win.

Setting myself on the right track is the first step to fighting the battle. Preparing my mind and my body for the things that I will face. Praying for strength and for guidance. Looking to others for support and accountability because even though this is my own personal battle, I need help.

I'm nervous for this battle. And already a little weary. I wonder if I can do it. And I worry that I won't do it well enough. But then I remember that sine this is my battle there is no one else I need to compare myself to. That instead I need to focus on myself and my steps, not on what someone else is doing.

This is what I struggle with. Both in the gym and in everyday life. Where is everyone else? Why are they there while I am here?

And it's because of choices. Some good and some bad.

So this battle it is another choice. A daily choice. Even an hourly choice.  Just like I have the choice to write every day or not write. And right now, I am making the choices that are right for me.

What choices do you have to make?

(title from "glitter in the air" by pink)


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