Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shining the Light in Dark Places

Today is a day I never want to experience again. I realized something today that has completely upset me.  I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. The last few months have been terrible and I keep on packing on the pounds.  The crappy thing is that those pounds are sneaky little buggers and I didn't realize how many had began to invade this body of mine.

Yesterday I got back from a twelve day road trip with my sister and her family.  It was a great trip and we visited so many amazing places.  I was on vacation. I ate like I was on vacation. I sat a lot in the car. I didn't work out as much as I could of.  We did do a lot of walking through New York City and Washington D.C., but that was about the extent of my exercise.

This afternoon I went out for a run.  My back and my neck have really been bothering me lately and I finally figured it out.  I'm out of shape, I'm carrying a lot of extra weight and my body is starting to pay the price.  My run today was AWFUL! I warmed up by walking a mile and then I told myself that I had to run one full mile before I could walk again.  It should be easy for me, but it wasn't.  Its never been so hard and I wanted to quit.  My whole body was in pain and my left leg was killing me.  I forced myself to finish that mile and then I started walking again.  My legs continued to throb and all I wanted to do was cry.

A few hours later my nephew asked me to go outside and play some basketball.  At first I wanted to say no and to continue working on a few things on my computer.  But then I realized two things: First, this was a great opportunity to do some bonding with my twelve year old nephew and two, its extra exercise that I know I could use.  We started playing and once again I wanted to cry.  My back hurt, I was huffing and puffing, and I was so weak.  Basketball is a game that I love with all my heart and I haven't played in months and as I played tonight I realized how much I miss it. I also realized that if I were to go out and play in a real game of basketball right now I honestly wouldn't last more than two minutes.  So frustrating!

If you read my previous posts you see that I've been fighting demons lately.  At the back of my mind I know what I want to do and what I need to do.  But I keep letting it fester at the back of my mind rather than letting it come forward, rather than letting the demons out and replacing their dark caves with light.

I had no idea the effect that food can have on a person, especially on me.  Bad food totally affects my mood and zaps away all of my energy.  I love to workout and I love to run and when I combine those with healthy eating I feel like I'm at the top of my game and that nothing can stop me.  But even if I'm working out and I'm eating the bad stuff (sugar, processed foods, fast food) I start to lose the energy and my desire to work out goes away.

My body hurts. My heart hurts. And I'm tired of feeling like crap. My belly is getting huge. My clothes are getting tighter and tighter. I'm getting very uncomfortable in my own skin and I HATE IT!

Because I do tend to be an optimistic person, I will point out the positive in my day.  I started using My Fitness Pal again and I stayed within my calorie limit.  I did run one mile today (and walked three)! I played basketball with my nephew and even beat him in a game of one on one (I do have a one foot height advantage).  I found my will power again (I hadn't realized it was lost until today). I've decided that I am in control. My body is a gift from God and it is the house of my spirit. I want to give my spirit a better home.

I was reminded of something incredibly important when it comes to fighting off our demons: LIGHT will ALWAYS get rid of the dark.  Our demons hide out in the dark places of our minds and our hearts and when we find those places and shine the LIGHT on them, the demons will vanish away.  They do not have a choice.  LIGHT will ALWAYS win. I have the LIGHT within me and now is the time to SHINE THE LIGHT.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions...here we go

I really did put a lot of thought into what I want to focus on this year.  I must say that 2013 was a good year, but it was also really tough.  I'm kind of glad to see it go.  I'll take what I've learned, cherish the memories I've made with people I love and move forward into 2014.  I feel like 2014 is going to be my year! Good things are coming and I'm ready.  I'll be writing a bit about these resolutions I've listed above. I've missed writing and I'm glad to be back. 

Happy 2014 Everyone!

Beginning a journey, facing a demon

I'm going to share a journal entry I wrote back in May.  I wrote it with the intention to face one of my demons, but have done nothing about it.  I decided that NOW is the time to face it and to CONQUER it. What you are about to read is raw and straight from the heart. It may reveal a lot about me, but I also think that perhaps there are many out there that struggle with a similar demon and do not know what to do about it. I'll just say it right now, I'm ADDICTED to food. I'm OBSESSED with eating.  If you do too, maybe we can fight this demon TOGETHER. Here's my journal entry:

May 18, 2013

"It's Saturday night.

I ate dinner.  ALONE.

In my car.

At 9:00pm.

Just me, two tacos, sweet potato fries and an extra bag of tortilla chips that were thrown in for free.

As I sat there stuffing my face the thought passed through my mind, "What if I choke on my food and there is no one around to help me and I die? I'll be found alone, in my car, dead, with a mouth full of food."  This wasn't the first time I'd sat in my car binging on food, eating it as quickly as I could, hoping that somehow it would make me feel good and perhaps a little less lonely. 

Neither  was it the first time that thought came to my mind. I'm afraid of choking and of dying, but even more horrifying is the idea of getting caught, of people knowing that I fill my face full of food - of junk - while I sit in my car. ALONE.

Tonight was bad.  It was the end of a rough day.  My eating has been out of control and my body, and spirit, are taking its toll.  Just three weeks ago I was eating healthy, and feeling great.  I had been avoiding sugar, processed foods and dairy.  I'd lost 12 pounds and was looking good.  Then something triggered - I don't know what it is - and I spiraled downward once again.  The negative voices returned, the need to eat ANYTHING unhealthy returned full force and I become, once again, a walking garbage disposal.

I wish I could tell you how many times I've reached the exact same point.  I begin eating healthy, working out and dropping weight and then BAM! I lose control.  I can't quench my hunger.  I eat and eat and eat, hoping to find whatever it is that consumes my every thought, that makes me think only in terms of food. 

When will I eat next? What will I eat? Should I go walking on my lunch break or go eat a burger? If I go to
this meeting will there be refreshments? What will I snack on after lunch? What will I eat when I get home from work? Will the party I'm going to have good food?

This afternoon, before my 9:00pm dinner date with my car, I made a new plan.  A plan to eat healthy and start feeling good about myself again. I thought about what it would feel like to be free of my obsession with food, but its something I cannot picture. My food obsession has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember.

So instead of picturing myself - minus the chains and addictions to food - I thought about WHY. Why do I want to get rid of this obsession? Why do I want to change? I closed my eyes, give this some serious throught and wrote down my WHY - my reasons for wanting to change.

WHY?  Because I want to be FREE!  I do not want to be a slave to my appetite and I do not want to turn to food for comfort or to get rid of the loneliness birds.  For 31 years I've turned to food for comfort, for companionship, for satisfaction and contentment, and for 31 years food has failed at giving me what I want.

But what do I do? I keep crawling back, begging for the abuse, for the physical and emotional pain, for the emptiness I feel each time I binge and deal with the beating my stomach must go through as it tries to process what I've just sent down there.  Emptiness is a good word to describe how I felt tonight after I ate in my car, drove home, got a bowl of two big scoops of ice cream and went up to my room and turned on a movie.  A full stomach (I wasn't even hungry when I ordered those tacos) and an empty heart.

As I sat in my car tonight I asked myself, "How did I become so pathetic?"  With each bite I took I thought, "I'm such a loser."  There I sat, eating every last crumb, while in my back seat were bags of groceries: healthy food I'd be eating starting on Monday (the most popular day for starting a diet).  I had to get one final meal, one "last supper" before starting over once again.  I'm embarrassed to think about how many "last meals" I've had on a Saturday, to begin a diet on Monday and fail by Monday afternoon. Once again, I'm a loser.

While I was grocery shopping I found this journal, the one I am writing in right now, and the cover has the words, "Let Love Bloom."  The journal was on clearance, only $2.97, and those three words, "Let Love Bloom" struck something inside of me.  I realized that if I really wanted to make a change I had to start loving myself.  Not the selfish sort of self love, but more of the "I am a child of God and He loves me and He knows my incredible WORTH, its time for me to start seeing and believing it" sort of self love.

And then and there, I knew that I had to write - to write about my journey, but most importantly, to write about my demons, to write them out of my life - to force them from my thoughts and actions - and to write in my life my worth, the divinity that I've neglected, that I've shoved down so deep in my heart and soul that I've nearly forgotten that it was there. 

I've got to write and write and write until my voice is heard - my real voice - my voice that is free from addiction, appetite and negativity.  I want to find the voice of my heart - the part of me where my true self worth will be found.

And so it begins. A long and treacherous journey, but one that will change my life forever - if I remain brave, vulnerable and strong.  I have no idea what this journey entails, neither can I see the outcome.  All I know is that it is a journey I must make.  It is a journey I must FINISH.  I don't know what I'll be like at the end and I can only see a few steps ahead, but I do know there is something better.  There is a better me loving life, surrounded by people I love, rather than sitting, ALONE, in a car, hating myself, eating away the pain - only making it worse.  There is something better and I'm going to find it."

I'm finally ready for that journey to begin.  Anyone want to come along?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Ultimate Connector

I love to connect with people. In fact, I had an old boss that told me that I should be called "the Connector" because I was so good at connecting with people and helping them to connect with other people or with resources that they needed. It wasn't until she said that that I realized that this is perhaps a gift I've been given. I'm not sure where it comes from, or even how I developed it, but it's a huge part of who I am.

Whenever I first meet someone new I find myself trying to figure out, "Who is this person? How can I best help them with what they are wanting to accomplish? Who would be a good person to set them up with on a date? Who do I know that would be a great friend for this person? Who do I know that could help this person find a good job?" I pay attention to what people say, what they need, what they want and what they hope to do. My brain turns into overdrive and suddenly a networking of people from throughout my life filter through my mind.

This deep desire in my heart to connect with people has been a driving force in my life. When I'm on top of my game, and focused on what's most important in life, I find myself looking at the people around me and thinking, "This person is a child of God. He has been placed in my life for a reason, and because we are both children of God, that connects us together. What can I learn from this person? How can I help them? For what purpose has God placed them in my life?"

I feel like my "CONNECTING POWERS" have been turned off, or at least turned down, for the past few months. I've had terrible writer's block. I love to write and to blog and to connect with people through writing, but I have been unable to write. Each time I've sat down to write my mind, and my heart, go blank and there is nothing. Even when I sit down to write in my own personal journal, I have found myself unable to connect my thoughts to paper. In my own conversations with people, whether in person, through text, or even through Facebook, I have also felt the absence of connection. I have even found it difficult to connect with my heart, my spirit.

I'll be honest. This lack of connection has been driving me crazy! Seriously.

The past few days I've done some soul searching. I've been searching to know what it is that locks up or holds back my desire to connect or my ability to connect. An answer has come in several forms. One is this quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.” I've been so caught up in the business of life and the stresses the accompany it, that my focus has been lost on what matters most.

The question is, what does matter most? For me, the answer is simple. My relationship with God matters most to me. And as I sit and write this, a connection has been made in my mind. When I am connected to God, and I mean truly connected, then my ability to connect with others is greatly enhanced. God is the ultimate connector. The source of my ability to connect comes from the incredible amount of love and compassion I feel when my heart is truly connected with God. Being connected with the Ultimate Connector opens my eyes and my mind and my heart; and my desire, my gift, to connect with those around me is brought back at full force and I can move forward, being the person I am truly meant to be.

 A verse from one of my favorite hymns says: 

 "Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. " 

Now it's time to 'refocus on what matters most' and re-connect with the Ultimate Connector. I am prone to wander, but my heart belongs to God.

The next time I find myself unable to connect, hopefully I'll realize a little bit quicker that all I have to do is re-focus, re-commit, and re-connect with my Father in Heaven. Then I can move on doing what I love most: CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE....including YOU!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Saw a Kindness Angel

Yesterday I witnessed something extraordinary.  It was one of those simple, unplanned moments that touched my heart.  Let me tell you what happened.  I was at work.  Currently I help manage a small distribution center at the Dallas LDS Temple.  It was an incredibly busy day and it seemed that we had an endless flow of customers coming in and there were only two of us working. So needless to say I was helping one customer after the next, doing my best to give good customer service, but also to do it quickly so that we could get everyone served in a timely fashion.

Anyway, I was helping one woman and I had just swiped her credit card and handed it back to her.  I couldn't really tell you much about this woman.  She was very kind and quiet and honestly, if I had to pick her out of a crowd I don't think I could.  She was just another person I was able to help that day.  As I handed her receipt to her she reached out and handed me $40 cash.

For a moment I was totally confused, until she leaned in close, and quietly, so no one else could hear, said to me "Please make sure this money pays for whatever that family purchases."  Before I knew what else to do I said, "Sure thing." And she said, "Thank you," and took her bags and quietly walked out of the store.

I looked over to see a family that was being helped at the other register.  It was a mom with a few of her kids and it was obvious that they didn't have a lot of money.  The woman working with me, Stacy, walked over to my side to grab something and I handed her the money and told her what the woman had told me.  She took the money and I went on serving the next customer.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched as Stacy told the mom that someone had left $40 for them to pay for their stuff.  The mom looked around, wondering who in the world would do something like that for her.  No one else in the store even knew what was going on and the woman that had left the money was long gone. That mom would never know who it was that left that money for her. I got a little choked up as I witnessed such an incredible act of kindness.

I'm pretty sure the woman that left the money had no idea who that family was.  All she knew was that they didn't have a lot and she could do something to help relieve some sort of burden.  The woman had handed me that money and did it so naturally that I really think that this isn't the first time she did something like that.  I began to wonder if she goes around doing kind things like that and not asking for any sort of pat on the back or recognition for what she does.  Perhaps she just finds simple joy in knowing that she did something kind for someone else.  She saw someone that was struggling and helped to at least ease their burden, if only for a moment.

Ever since that incident I've been thinking a lot about kindness.  I've been thinking about that woman and I wish I could find her and thank her for allowing me to witness something so special.  I'm thankful I got to see it because it softened my heart and got me thinking a lot about what sorts of things I could do to show kindness for my fellow human beings.

I think that all over the world there are many kind acts that are acted out every minute, even every second.  The world is full of angels, like the woman I met yesterday, that only seek to make the world a better place.  You won't witness their kind acts on the news and they won't be recognized and given awards for what they do.

In fact, many of them will live out their lives, having done something kind for hundreds, even thousands of people, and not one of those people will have had the chance to say thank you to the kind angel that walked into their lives and quietly did something so extraordinary for them. But that's not why the angel did it.  Not to be thanked. Only to be kind. Because this life is about love and about being kind.  I want to be a kindness angel.  Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 = I Will!

I know that New Year's was nearly three weeks ago and I'm a little late in posting my goals for this year.  I started writing down my goals right before the New Year, but then I got really busy with a few different things and sort of decided to put them on hold.  So I am not starting my goals right on January 1 and I am totally okay with that.  I feel like right now is the perfect time for me to write down my goals, make the commitment and start moving forward.

Last year I worked on my goals with the thought of "I CAN" to this.  This year, my focus is "I WILL" do this!  These are goals that are important to me (a few of them have been on my goal list for three years!) and this is the year that I will get them done!  I know I can do it and I am committing now by saying I WILL DO IT!

Here are my goals for 2013:
1. Walk/Run 2,013 miles in 2013.  As many of you know my sister and I started a program called MOON JOGGERS and at first I was committed to doing 1,000 miles in 2013, but was inspired by so many of the people that have joined our group and have decided to do 2,013 miles! It's completely out of my comfort zone, but I WILL do it!

2. I WILL eliminate sugar and high fructose corn syrup from my diet.  This will be a process, but I've come to see how these two things effect both my physical and mental health and I want to eliminate them this year.

3. Complete 12 weeks of P90X!  I have started this program many times, but have never completed a full twelve weeks.  This year I WILL do it!

4. Write in my journal every day!  I always feel so more focused and at peace when I take the time to write in my journal and reflect on my day.  This is a commitment I really want to stick to and I WILL!

5. Study a different gospel topic each week and focus on that topic all during the week.  I started this at the beginning of the year.  The first week I studied about Faith in Jesus Christ, last week I studied about Charity, the Pure Love of Christ and this week I am studying about Virtue.  I definitely want to focus on being more spiritual this year and I know this will help.

6. Pay off my car and credit cards.  I am going to make this happen!  My car is almost paid off and then the focus will turn to the credit cards and I WILL pay them off!

7. Fit into my Gold Pleather Wrangler Jeans.  This has been on my list for a couple of years now and this year I WILL fit into them and wear them with pride!

8. Finish my t-shirt quilt.  This is another project that was started more than a year ago and I am going to finish this year and it's going to look so great!!

9. Ride in a hot air balloon.  This is the third year in a row I've listed this goal.  This year I am riding in a hot air balloon!!! It WILL happen!

10. Have a meaningful conversation on the phone with at least two family members each month.  I want to keep my relationships with my family members strong and always growing, no matter what the distance is between us.

So there you have it! Those are my goals and I look forward to what WILL be accomplished in 2013! It's going to be an AMAZING year!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Thoughts This Christmas Eve --- It's All About Family

This is my first time in eleven years not being home for Christmas.  I'm sad I am missing our annual pizza making contest, going out to the movies on Christmas Day and playing games until late every night.  I love our Christmas traditions and hopefully will be home next year.

I am grateful that I do get to spend Christmas with my family here in Texas and I love being around my niece and nephews.  There is always a little extra magic on Christmas when there are kids there.  Tonight we drank hot chocolate and ate cinnamon muffins with yummy icing. We watched a few shows on t.v.  The kids are off to bed and I am sitting here reflecting on what Christmas means to me.

This year I have felt such peace in my heart and my thoughts continually turning towards heaven.  I think about that little baby that was born thousands of years ago on a quiet night, in a little stable.  I would have loved to witness the young mother, Mary, holding her precious new baby in her arms and Joseph watching over them, knowing that he had the responsibility to love them and protect them and provide baby Jesus with a safe and loving home.  They had no idea that for thousands of years afterwards people throughout the world would look to them, that new little family, in the most humble of circumstances, yet in the presence of the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

The other day I was Skyping with my friend in India and she was showing me her brand new baby boy.  My heart melted as I saw that beautiful baby and I wanted so badly to reach through that computer screen and hold him close to me. He has been blessed with a mother and father that love him so much.  I thought about the baby Jesus and His sweet mother Mary and loving father Joseph and what an amazing family they were.

Their family began so long ago and because of that baby Jesus I get to be with my family forever.  As I replay memories in my mind of family traditions and Christmases of the past, one thing is for certain - Christmas is a time to celebrate family and to cherish the loved ones in our lives.  It is about hugging our children so close to us and focusing on the people in our lives rather than the things we have (or don't have).

I feel so incredibly blessed this Christmas Eve night. I have everything I need and there is nothing I really want, except perhaps to be surrounded by all of my family members.  That is not going to happen this year, but we did figure out how we could all come together over the holidays.  We put together a music video, our entire family is in it: my mom, my dad, my five brothers, my two sisters, my brother-in-law, my four sisters-in-law, my seven nephews and my four nieces.  They are all I want for Christmas...and for the rest of my life! Merry Christmas!