DreamI’m in love with this quote above. It perfectly sums up the past few weeks of my life.

I’m still eating right, which has surprisingly stopped being so difficult. I haven’t used a cheat meal in two weeks, I think. It truly, truly gets easier the longer you do this. The temptation is still there, that’s for sure. Yesterday I went to see a movie with my sister and I was so tempted to just be like, “Eh, a cheat meal night! Why not!” But I realized it so wasn’t worth it, so I ate my Lean Cuisine pizza at home before we left. My sister ate popcorn next to me and I didn’t cheat a single kernel. Or a sip of soda.

I’m almost two weeks without soda now. While I can’t say that I technically feel any different, I know it’s good for me. I did manage to drop 2 lbs. over the past week, up from my normal 1 lb. So that’s an accomplishment. The cravings still hit me from time to time, especially when I eat foods that I normally would have a Coke with (i.e., tacos and pizza). I’ll feel my hand want to reach for a can, but I resist. I’ve been having pretty much just water for the past two weeks. I tried flavoring my water, but bleh. I’d rather just have plain water.

Exercise is still up and down. It’s the hardest thing to commit to, though I always feel better when I do go to the gym. Now that I purchased a stability ball, yoga mat, and hand weights, it does make it much easier to at least do SOMETHING every day. My friend recommended this stability ball home exercise, which kicks your freakin’ butt. So even on my bad days, I’m doing something, which is more than I would have EVER done before.

My stamina is up. I’ve noticed that I’m not breathing hard after doing seemingly little physical movement. What a relief. I used to be slightly winded after walking into work every morning. Embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. Now I feel fine, and I purposefully walk as fast as possible to and from my car. It feels good that I can go up a flight of stairs with a basket of laundry and not be winded. That was my reality before.

Green Smoothie

I’ve been drinking green smoothies every morning at work for the past week. It’s amazing how changing that one little thing changes everything. Before, I generally would just eat a breakfast bar (which technically isn’t bad for you, but it’s not AS good), but now I just drink a smoothie. It keeps me full until lunch most days, but the biggest difference is how much more alert and clear-headed I feel after I drink it. I feel so much more focused now in the mornings. It’s a great feeling.

When I’m having a low day now, I watch “The Biggest Loser” to re-energize myself. I’ve always enjoyed watching that show, but now I don’t watch it while eating a bowl of ice cream.

I also created a Facebook support group for ladies of any age, physical set, etc. to share their stories, get inspiration from others, and swap recipes and helpful links. It’s been so wonderful. If you want to join, just let me know!

The wedding I’m standing up in is almost four weeks away, and I’m going to feel good no matter what. I’ve already achieved more than I ever thought I could. But I’m not stopping after the wedding. I’ve already signed up for two 5Ks this summer to keep myself motivated and going. It’s going to be awesome.

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Healthy

Dreams into Plans

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Soul-bearing

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but haven’t. Fought in my soul. Fought my fingers from writing it. Because it hurt too much to put down, I thought. To admit it out loud. To share these things that well up within me but I fight away, as if it makes them less of thoughts.

But then I read this wonderful, amazing, beautiful, etc. blog post  and I realized I could, even though she basically already said so many things so perfectly that I may just end up repeating things in a less graceful way.

See, there’s this thing that happens all the time, but seem to intensify leaps and bounds during this magical time of year. And by that, I mean: CHRISTMAS.

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving through New Year’s = my favorite stretch of the year. I would live it 365 if possible. I love the music, the spirit, the shopping (mostly), the parties, the food…you get the idea. But there’s an underbelly to the holidays that I hate that I get sucked up into.

It’s the desire for someone special to share the holidays with.

When it became a thing feel like poo at Christmas because you have no one to kiss under the mistletoe, I don’t know. I blame those “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” commercials. But I get sucked up into it every stinkin’ year. I resist for awhile and tell myself, “This year, I’ll be juuusssttt fine.” And then the first holiday party happens (you know, the one where everyone else has a significant other except you) and I find myself not just fine and eating a bowl of peppermint ice cream (for the holidays, ya know?).

It already happened to me this year before I went to a party. I was thinking about an annual get-together my family has with dear friends and remembered that every year I think to myself, “This time next year, I’ll be bringing a boyfriend.” I tell myself that to get me through the current year. It makes it seem OK for the moment.

But it’s not. It’s not OK that I tell myself that just to make it through. Because that is not what my life is all about.

What will I miss along the year if I am just constantly telling myself soothing things that’ll change eventually? Because what if it doesn’t and I’ve wasted time saying “Eventually” instead of “I’ll devote myself to other things instead and be myself and happy and full of life all the time.”

Because I have Someone who understands. And there’s a divine, beautiful reason I am where I am in life. It’s not that He’s forgotten about me while He was busy setting all my dear friends up with their other half. I tell myself that that’s the case sometimes, but that’s a lie. A straight-up lie.

He gave me a purpose just as much as He’s given them. My opportunities are basically limitless at this point–I could do so many things, make such a difference in the world. But I hold myself back because I keep repeating the “well, next year things will be different” argument. And maybe it will be different next year and I’ll have a boyfriend, but I cannot put my life on hold because of the “next year” thought.

I need to follow Him. See what He has for me NOW in this season of my life, not the next or the one after that. I’ve been delaying following for so long. Too scared to give up and feel like it’d be abandoning something. But all the time the only thing I was abandoning was His purpose for me in the here-and-now.

So here I go. I’ll keep you all posted. Because there’s more out there for me, and I’m about to find out what it could be. I’ll leave with this beautiful thought from CS Lewis (AKA my favorite writer, no questions asked). Oh, and Merry Christmas. 🙂

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Thoughts from this single lady (& confessions & resolutions)

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Dedication

My second chance at life (and why you should be an organ donor)

Tomorrow, October 16th, marks an anniversary for me. Tomorrow is my 22nd anniversary of a second chance at life, though my life had barely started.

Long story short, I was diagnosed with a genetic liver disease when I was two years old. The doctors said I had until my fourth birthday, max, to get a new liver. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait as long as many others do and got my liver when I was a few months shy of my third birthday. When the doctors took my old liver out during the transplant, they realized I was actually in much worse shape than they had originally thought, so it was a gift from God that I got my liver when I did.

Just before my surgery in 1990

This was about 6 months post-transplant. Steroids, while important, are not kind to children.

I’ve never met the donor’s family, but hope that somehow, some way, I can find them at some point. Just to say “thank you.” As far as I understand, the liver I received belonged to a young boy who was unfortunately killed in a freak accident. I’m not even a parent, but I can’t imagine how excruciating the decision must’ve been for parents grieving the loss of their child.

But they made a choice that saved my life. Though being a transplant recipient has never defined my life, I still remember at least once a day that I was given a gift. I love my life and just have so many things I want to do and accomplish, so I don’t intend to squander this opportunity.

I know the concept of organ donation is weird to some people. I have friends who have told me, that while they’re very happy for me, it creeps them out thinking about it and they’re not comfortable at this point with signing up. I don’t get mad—it’s understandable. Grey’s Anatomy and other things in culture have planted this seed in minds that doctors are overly zealous to do organ transplants and will pull the plug early on someone if they want. Not true.

I recommend checking out the Donate Life America website. They have FAQs, a breakdown of what types of donation you can sign up for, and stories of people like me who are now enjoying life because of their second chance. If nothing else, please take a few moments just to familiarize yourself with the facts. That’s all, on my behalf, I ask.

If any of you sign up to be an organ donor after reading my post, please let me know. You have no idea how much it would mean to me if my story helped make a difference.

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Dedication

The end of the Brownsville chapter of my life (and a new page in the Wisconsin one)

I should start off by saying this post will be filled with all sorts of emotion. And it’s also a post I never thought I’d end up posting, but I can’t help but be overjoyed that I am.

I have officially accepted a job as associate editor at Taste of Home, which is located in Greendale, Wis. I will be working in their Special Interest Publications department. They handle the “Best of,” seasonal, recipe card publications and more. I’m sure I’ll be able to do a much better job explaining once I start!

This part I am overwhelmingly happy about. Not only am I extremely excited about my new job and all the wonderful people I’ll have the opportunity to work with, but this also obviously means I get to move back home. Though I have never regretted moving to Brownsville for a single moment, it’s been no secret that I have always loved and missed Wisconsin and my family and friends there. Heck, I have a blog post that is dedicated solely to just that.

It’s been particularly difficult the past few months to be away from home between several big events happening in the lives of those dearest to me (upcoming weddings, weddings I’ve missed, babies born that I didn’t get to meet until they were one, upcoming babies, people getting new jobs, lots of missed birthdays, etc.) I have been praying this whole time that God would allow me to remain content and happy until it was time to move, and to show me specifically what His will was every step of the way. This is the new chapter for me.

Of course, there is also quite a bit of sadness that comes with this announcement. I have been so blessed since moving to Brownsville. I have wonderful current coworkers and fantastic friends here. Leaving them will be no easy task, and it honestly breaks my heart a bit to do so.

When I moved to Brownsville nearly two years ago, I barely had a college degree under my belt. I was quite literally the doe-eyed girl who had no idea what she had gotten herself into. Driving the 1,500 miles from home to Brownsville ALONE was the scariest thing I had ever done. (Don’t worry, one of my family members WILL be flying down to join my journey back.)

I had never stepped foot into my new apartment or work before I arrived. I met my roommate in-person the night I showed up at her door. I knew NO ONE. But I was so incredibly welcomed by everyone in Brownsville. The generosity and hospitality extended to me was beyond what I could have expected. I wasn’t able to go home my first Thanksgiving away, but my boss and his family invited me to their family’s gathering. I had coworkers invite me to meals out, parties and more. The church Bible study group I joined became my family away from family. There was always someone I could turn to here.

The past (almost) two years have been nothing short of amazing, and I will always cherish the times I spent with the people here. From work: The time we drove past the border fence for a story (and Marci tried to scare me by talking about snakes). The many times I camped out in courtrooms with various coworkers while waiting for verdicts to come back. The time Jackie, Yvette and I ended up on the longest, hottest three-mile march for Stations of the Cross, followed by standing on pavement for three hours with Laura and Brad for a car accident. The time Yvette and I quite literally melted as we waited all day outside the federal courthouse. The time we all took a field trip out to the beach (for a story). All the times Favi and Diana fought over “custody” of me. The time I got to stand on a bridge halfway between Mexico and the U.S. for an event (and getting back into the U.S. proved iffy). I could go on and on.

With friends: The time we all went camping (where a mouse ended up in the toilet, I jumped out of a tree into a swimming hole, and we went to look at the stars and instead just got freaked out by zombie Jovan). The corn maze and IHOP night (where Claudia told the girl who tried to cut in front of us exactly what she thought, and Pedro and I freaked out because we thought Sam’s water had broke). The time we had chicken at 10 p.m. All the Dance Central parties. The girls’ nights. The Truth or Dare night. The crazy birthday song singing. Lunch every Sunday (except I won’t miss the mall food court). The movie nights where it took us an hour to pick out a movie (and it was an awful one with talking Golden Retrievers). The Super Bowl parties. The beach days. Heartfelt talks with almost everyone at one point or another. The Schlitterbahn days (and accidentally ending up as David and Mel’s official third wheel). Fourth of July sitting on Jimmy’s truck (with Jimmy in the kayak mounted on top). The ugly Christmas sweater parties. David and Mel’s wedding (and literally dancing ourselves silly). Again, I could go on.

All this to say: I have loved Brownsville. I have loved the people I’ve met here. I have loved the tan I’ve gotten since being here ;). Leaving will be so very difficult, but I will never forget it. I know it’s time for the next chapter of my life though and I can’t help but be excited for that.

I will miss these people.
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I love these ladies.
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I will miss working with these lovely people (and others not pictured!)
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I will miss being their unintentional third wheel.
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I will miss camping excursions and insane, boiling hot tubs with these people.
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I will miss forcing the newsroom into the Christmas spirit with this lady.
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I will miss these random outings.
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I will miss our Christmas good tidings.
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I will miss these people. Period.
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