Category Archives: Healthy Mind

The Juxtaposition of Jesus’ Love

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Do you have a favorite wall in your house, apartment, room, or whatever?  A wall that displays pictures, paintings, or trinkets of some kind which hold value to you?  I have a favorite wall in my house.  It’s in my kitchen and I catch myself stopping to look at it every once in a while.  Adorning the wall are pictures of me with my parents, my kids, my husband, and his extended family.  It also has a framed collage of wine labels I have drunk with my dad in years past.  And to round it out is one of my favorite bible verses, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I love this wall because I feel it describes me, the things I cherish in this world, and the memories I have to hold onto for the rest of my life.  As we are knee-deep in Holy Week, I have given thought to a lot of messages on the love of Jesus and how it is THE most important thing in this world.  And I completely agree with this-I know it to be true. Sometimes it is so hard for our human minds to even fathom that kind of love, but I am learning to trust in it and to follow it whole-heartedly.  I sometimes feel like my children, who learn religion in school every day.  I am taking faith one day at the time, learning to not overwhelm myself.  Not growing up in a house that attended church regularly, sometimes the concepts I hear coming from scripture boggle my gray matter.  So I do this; I journal and flesh things out on my laptop.

I have heard some preach before how things in this world are just that, things.  They are objects we can’t take with us to Heaven.  Spending too much time focusing on them separates us from Jesus because we open ourselves up to harboring love and adoration for simple objects.  And apparently the same can be said of the relationships we hold close with people.  They do not come before our relationship with Jesus Christ.  So as I look upon my favorite wall and gaze on those things I do hold dear in this world, I find myself wondering how am I supposed to separate those loves?  How do I distinguish between the love I have for Jesus and the love I have for my family?  Are they one in the same?  Am I loving one more than the other?  Do I feel Jesus gets angered when we extol love for those blessings He gives us?

No, I don’t think He gets upset, but I do find myself constantly thinking about how I am supposed to reflect upon this notion.  It becomes a cycle, much like the convection cycle my daughter is learning about in science class right now.

This process stirred last night in my head as I again passed by my favorite wall after cleaning up dinner.  And then I realized I am not being forced to choose here.  I am not being forced to love one over the other.  Instead, I am to know that my blessings bestowed on me are given BY Jesus.  It is my responsibility to acknowledge thanks and praise for the “objects,” it is my duty as a parent to raise my children in a Christ-centered home, and it is by grace that I have so many wonderful memories to smile fondly upon, especially when some of those people are no longer with me on earth.  The love of Jesus endures for me because of what He did this particular week.

As I tend to do, I get encompassed in thought and over-analyze myself.  It’s what made me so good at figuring out the meaning behind speeches, books, etc., in college.  But just when I get too close to the edge, something in me stirs and says to “Be still and know that I am God,” so don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  You see now why that’s my favorite verse because it keeps me grounded, makes me stop and listen instead of barreling ahead with ideas and notions.

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If you are celebrating Holy Week this month, perhaps you can relate to this constant internal struggle when it comes to growing in faith and growing in knowing ourselves.  If not, this can certainly be applicable to other areas of spirituality.  Because, you see, we all have moments in life that make us stop and ponder, no matter what spiritual place we call home.  If we are really looking through the right lens of life, we should see our kismet, or destiny, a little bit clearer.

Until next time,
Cheers

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Ruminate This!

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Do you ever have those nights when you wake up around 3 in the morning, your mind starts spinning, and suddenly you are mentally jotting down all the things you have to get accomplished for the next day?  This was me yesterday morning, and there was no going back to sleep.

I woke up and looked at my alarm clock, which read 3:30 AM. “Ugh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go.”  I knew what was going to happen in the next few moments because I had gone to bed thinking about something that was weighing on my heart. So the moment my eyeballs popped open, my mind went straight to that situation and the horses started sprinting for the finish line.  I tossed and turned until about 5 AM, then finally gave up and went downstairs to make coffee.

As I wrote in my journal that morning, I realized there is a repeat pattern here and I feel I am not the only one doing this sort of thing.  Psychology Today has a name for this sort of thing, called “rumination.”  Ruminating is basically when we have something on our mind, a problem or worry, and we continue to think about it until it winds up causing our minds to go into a tailspin of anxiety and depression.  Of course some situations are worse than others, but if you find yourself waking up constantly over a specific worry or concern, you could be setting yourself up for something worse than just a trip to the bathroom or a drink of water.

When I am out do dinner with my lady friends the topic of not sleeping seems to always come up among us.  I have consciously made a note of how many individuals do this sort of thing, and pretty much most of us are getting up at some point in the night.  This also means none of us are giving our bodies the rest they need.  I am not saying we all are suffering from anxiety or depression, but when you think about the typical stress levels we place upon ourselves on a daily basis, ruminating is likely to happen.  I recently listened to an audio lecture about dealing with stress and worry. The constant theme that came up in this series was how our stressed-out society never takes a break from what we place on ourselves, resulting in all sorts of health issues.  One of those issues is, of course, lack of sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies and minds healthy, so when you don’t get enough, your entire system can get out of whack. Sounds awesome, right?  So do you find yourself constantly waking up at night stressed or worried about the next day or about a list of problems?  What can you do?

Well, there are several things you can try to help get your mind out of the “rumin-rut.”

One way you can break the cycle of worry and stress is to just try and laugh more during your day.  Stop taking yourself so seriously all the time and get some good guffaws in.  Think about a funny time, or look at pictures of fun memories.  It’s much better to have laughing wrinkles than frowning wrinkles!

Find someone you can talk to in confidence.  Getting things off your chest and out in the open is a great way to work through a problem or situation.  Keeping things bottled up inside will only cause the issue to fester and eat at your mind.

Find ways to relax, even if it’s just for five minutes.  Give your brain a chance to decompress and break up the monotony of your daily grind.  Meditate, go for a short walk, sit down and listen to calming music, take a coffee break and read a book. Whatever it is that gives you peace of mind, do it, and do it for at least five to ten minutes each day.

We are responsible for our own cognitive health, and that means taking the bull by the horns and finding ways to fix the stress we have in life.  Things may not go any slower for you, but you need to take care of your brain and get your rest.  Trust me, your mind and your body will thank you.

Until next time,

Cheers

Learning to “Fit Out”

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“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone will usually find himself in places no one has ever been.” —Albert Einstein

We live in a wold that is constantly pushing us to “fit in.” We are told through television, social media, our peers, and the entertainment industry to look a certain way or own specific products. But have you ever thought about the notion of “fitting out?” I know, it seems pretty foreign to our über-narcissistic way of living, but just imagine how free and liberating it could be to simply “fit out.”

When I was going through my certification program to become a health coach, I was introduced to this concept early on by the program’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal. He gave a three minute speech on the importance of fitting out in the world instead of always trying to fit in. He brought to the audience’s attention to expect some backlash of fitting out, but then again, we are interested in weird food and far out concepts. So we get those looks anyway. But health coaches love what we do, so who cares what the world sees through their own rose-colored glasses! As coaches who choose to “fit out” in our industry, our community, and our world, we know we are making a difference one person at a time.

By choosing to fit out instead of fit in with what the world around you is doing, you are allowing yourself to experience personal growth on all levels. It could be with your relationships, spirituality, how you dress, or even how you choose to eat. And the best part is, you are accountable to no one but yourself. You are setting the tone of how you want to live your life and the good things you want to spread to others around you. No longer are you tied down to cookie-cutter concepts and expectations. You become the person you were destined to be, and others will stop and take notice of the change. They will see how you are able to handle situations, or see a new-found confidence in you that was not there before. And who knows, you could inspire them to start their own journey of “fitting out” in this world.

In 2017 I experienced a fitting out theme because not only did I grow spiritually in my relationship with Jesus, but I also learned more about my core values and how I wanted to live my life moving forward. It brought about a level of confidence I didn’t even know existed inside my soul. I don’t know if my own experience with fitting out was noticed by others, and really, I don’t put too much thought in that notion. What I also loved about learning to fit out was how my effort level dropped tremendously. I didn’t feel the need to keep up or stay on top of everything. I was able to let things go and walk away, or I could take disappointment in life, learn from that experience, and find a way to rise above it.

We all know that each day will bring new challenges for us. It will bring in new heartaches, disappointments, realizations, and elations. But just imagine how much stronger you could be in dealing with all those things when you are in the season of “fitting out.” So what risks are you willing to take to live the life you want? What ways can you start the process of learning to fit out in your own life and discover what wonderful things can unfold within your heart? That is my challenge for you this week, so start digging and start making those positive changes in your life.

Until next time,

Cheers

Discovering a New and Healthy You

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Do you ever think about the day after a holiday?  Like after Christmas or July 4th, and the stores have all the decorations reduced down.  It takes the wind out of my sail a bit when I see those lonely decorations, unused and unwanted on their shelf.  The day after Valentine’s Day is like that for me, not because all the pink and red heart decorations are left un-purchased.  No, for me February 15 marks the anniversary of my dad’s death.  But this year is a little different for me.  I am turning a day that is usually filled with sadness into something positive.  Today, I am officially putting myself out there in the world as a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  And with that announcement comes my personal website that offers information on what I do and the various ways I can help people discover the healthiest, happiest version of themselves.

My journey to living a healthy lifestyle did not always start on an easy track. I have posted about my experience with battling an eating disorder in college, so I won’t go into excessive detail here. If you want to get that whole story, check out my post “The Shadow of Control.” It will be filed under February of 2017 on this blog, http://www.myglasstoshare.com. This piece basically lines out how I ended up where I am today in regards to healthy eating habits and beneficial lifestyle routines.

My passion for good nutrition and overall wellness practices started when I was in my twenties, continuing on and growing stronger as I entered my thirties. Now as I approach my forties, I feel so blessed and excited to have the knowledge I do under my belt so I can help others around me get on track with their own lives.

Health and nutrition, well, those can be tricky subjects. There is so much information out there about what the “correct” way to live should be, or who has the best diet to loose weight or detoxify your liver. But what I learned, and absolutely loved, about the certification program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was their belief that everyone is a bio-individual. What is considered one individual’s perfect diet plan may be completely toxic for another. Bio-individuality is the key when it comes to finding the perfect food plan to follow for your body.

Another important aspect to having a healthy lifestyle is finding balance in areas outside the kitchen. Relationships matter and have a huge impact on your overall well-being. A career that is stressful, or a lack of physical activity are other areas important to keep balanced when trying to be healthy and whole. My training program calls these things “Primary Foods.” We get so hung up on thinking diet is the way to a balanced life, we tend to forget the other things going on that can affect the “what” we eat and the “why” we eat.

It has taken myself a few years to figure out my own balance with my life, as well as with my diet regiment. And I feel my experiences, my knowledge, and my ability to just simply sit back and listen helps me put power back into YOUR hands. You will be the designer of this new pathway to balance and health. I will simply provide you the much needed support and tools to get you there. So stop trying the latest fad diet, or running yourself mentally into the ground with obligations and commitments. Let’s do this together because being healthy doesn’t have to be hard!

For more information and to contact me for a free consultation, visit http://www.lifestylelistener.com.

Seasons of Change

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I recently listened to someone talk on how life is very much like the seasons we experience during the year.  They change, and with those changes come good moments and hard moments.  As I sat there listening to this person speaking, I couldn’t help but think about the seasons of my own life and what I learned from each change.  I am about to honor a very tough season of my life, the season where I lost my father six years ago.  February 15 will never be the same for me because my life was altered so drastically.  I can’t honestly say I learned very much during the first few years of that “season.”  I was grieving for the loss of someone I loved dearly and relied heavily on for advice and guidance.  But now that season has passed, the pain has dimmed a bit, and now I can survive the day and smile when I think of all the awesome memories my father and I shared together.

I also thought about the season of entering a new decade.  As I approach 40, I get a little nostalgic about my thirties.  It has been an amazing decade, full of highs and lows that make up the river of life.  But I can honestly say, as I come upon the crest of  a new season, I lived life well in my thirties and I hope to continue to do the same during my forties.  I know the road will have potholes, but there will also be periods of smooth sailing.  It’s life, and not every season is going to be full of promises.

As I sat in my seat and continued to reminisce on days gone by, I felt challenged by my faith to ask myself how God has worked through me and in me during these various seasons.  Was there anything I learned to help others through their own seasons?  Did I find out a little more about myself?  Do I fully comprehend who I continue to evolve into as time marches on?  I may be none-the-wiser based on the triumphs and tribulations which have made up my life, but I do know my own seasons have molded me into the wife, the mother, the daughter, and the friend I am today.

I think we all need to stop and surmise about our life, how we are living it, and what we can do to change things we see wrong.  Let’s celebrate with others when they have successful seasons or shore up those whose seasons leave them crumpled on the floor.  It’s amazing what you can discover about yourself when you engage in a little self-reflection.  Sometimes the biggest epiphanies can happen when you stop and take in the season.

I remember what my father used to tell me growing up; he would say to me, “Sweetpea, life is full of choices.  So make sure before you make a choice you think about how you will feel when you look at yourself in the mirror.  If you can look your own self in the eye and be okay with what you see, then you must be doing something right.”  So, that is how I live each day, keeping myself in check with who I want to see staring back at me as I maneuver through life’s seasons.  What season are you experiencing right now and what are you learning from it?

Until next time,

Cheers

Worth the Risk?

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“I think there should be a God-honoring, obedient risk in our lives every single day…I’m saying that Jesus lives on the other side of our comfort.  And that when we get comfortable for too long, we start to miss our need for God.”  –Jennie Allen

I always find it interesting how I choose my next topic to write upon.  Sometimes there is a pressing notion on my mind, and other times it just slaps me across the face and I can’t get the thought out of my head until I have it down on paper.  That is what happened today as I read from Jennie Allen’s book “Nothing to Prove.”  This particular chapter talked about Jesus’ risk for us, and how we tend to avoid risk in life.  We like the comfortable spot in the chair, or in our church pew, just so long as not too much gets shaken up.  I started to contemplate all the “risks” I have found myself taking lately in life.  Things I would probably have never had the courage or tact to do even five years ago.  And I could see the point Jennie was trying to make.  We, as human beings, have a tendency to make our decisions based on fears (or the fear of risk) instead of relying on our faith to guide us.

Faith can have different meanings for various spiritualities, but for me, it means I am a follower of Jesus and I strive to live my life out in my faith through Him.  Jesus risked so much to give me life, and it makes my own fears seem obsolete.  So as I kept reading Allen’s book, I was thinking about my own battles with fear, how have I worked to overcome those fears, and what am I still lacking when I am supposed to obediently live the “what would Jesus do” lifestyle.  It also had me thinking about risk.

As a child, I would not have considered myself a risk-taker.  For those of you who knew me then, and even read this blog, you would probably agree.  I was always a rule-follower and didn’t stray far from the safe path in life.  I didn’t take huge risks when it came to school, relationships, or physical activities.  I chose not to “put myself out there,” whether it be fear of failure or rejection.  I came out of adolescence with only a few bruises, but what opportunities did I miss because I failed to take a risk? Because my fear of failing overruled my desire to see what the grass looked like on the other side of the fence?

Moving away to school was the first big “risk” I took, and it began a slow, yet steady tick of finding myself in life.  It has taken years, and a lot of life experiences, but I am letting that fear of risk slowly go.  Rome was not built in a day, so this does take time.  Yet, it is so liberating when you can finally be comfortable in your own skin and own your identity.  The space I take up in this world, I worked hard to own and this is just the beginning.  I have built some pretty amazing relationships in life, am putting myself out there more to become involved in big ideas, and realizing that fear and risk are not necessarily bad things.  Just so long as I can keep my faith in perspective and Jesus in my heart.  I am not expecting to move mountains or set the world on fire with my new-found, risk-taking attitude.  But what I hope to achieve is a more solid foundation to stand on as I get older and live my life.  To show my children that taking a God-filled risk can result in some awesome discoveries, no matter how scary the idea.

“Every time we risk, we place our lives in the hands of our God and test His enoughness.  It is for freedom and joy that we stand out past the limits and confines of our comfort.”  –Jennie Allen

Risk-taking means the chance of bumps and bruises.  It’s like me cringing when I see my kids race on their bikes or try to ski behind a boat.  I know there lies the chance for broken bones or bruised egos, but the flip side is the joy and elation they feel whenever they succeed.  The knowing and trusting that God has them in His arms and protects them more than I ever could as a mother.  It’s the million dollar question shored up by eternal salvation, grace, and love.  I just have to remember to let the fear go, to let the risk happen, and to trust more.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to let my kids run in traffic, or that I am going to hit the blackjack tables in Vegas.  Instead, I know I am not always going to be there to offer protection and help to my children.  And I know that Jesus watches over them as they take their own risks through life, just as I know He watches over me as I am taking more of mine.  It’s not an easy thing to do, to let go and let God.  But then again, who said life was going to be easy?

So I ask you to think about your own risk-taking, fear-loathing attitude in life, and maybe kick it up a notch or two.  See what you can do to put yourself out there more.  Will you build a new relationship, or perhaps mend an old and damaged one.  Will you jump towards a new career, or maybe move thousands of miles away.  It’s hard to say how the cards will play when you take a risk or two, but I pray you find it and settle in for the ride.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

Siri, You Don’t Get Me

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I have to post this small little blurb today because I feel like all you iPhone users out there can relate to what I have to say about good ol’ Siri.  Now, I don’t know if you feel as I do when it comes to hands-free driving, but I like the idea of letting my voice do the work while my eyes stay focused on the road and my hands do their job of driving the car.  So when Apple developed Siri a few years ago, I thought it was going to be the next best thing to sliced bread.  Unfortunately, my Siri experience has been terrible.

Can I just take a moment to poke fun at myself?  How do you know your relationship with Siri is on the outs?  It is probably pretty clear she is just not that into you when you hit the magical button to ask a question and she repeatedly tells you “I’m sorry Samantha, I don’t understand that.” Ever had that happen?  Yeah, I thought so.

As I was driving this morning, dropping off my children at their various schools, I was needing to know when our local Barnes and Noble would open.  “Ah,” I thought to myself, “I will ask Siri.  She knows everything, right?”  Push the button and speak into the virtual microphone.  “Siri, can you tell me when the Barnes and Noble in Cape Girardeau will open today?”  Siri replies, “Samantha, I don’t understand what Noble is.”  Wait, what?  Okay, deep breath, and let me turn down my music to eliminate all background noise.  Try again. “Siri, can you please (because maybe if I am overly polite, she will give me my answer) tell me when BARNES AND NOBLE IN CAPE GIRARDEAU WILL OPEN TODAY?”  Here she goes, it’s going to happen this time!  “Samantha, here is the location for Cape Girardeau.  Can I help with anything else?”  Sure, I can tell you what direction I would like you to go…any guesses oh wise, fake language, computer voice?

Now, you have to get a visual here, because I am driving in traffic, yelling to wherever my microphone is in the car, trying to focus on the road.  If you passed me this morning, now you understand why I looked like a giraffe driving a vehicle, craning my neck towards the ceiling in search of the mysterious Bluetooth microphone.  Okay, let’s try this again.  The car is quiet and I hit the magic button.  “Siri, pretty please tell me when Barnes and Noble will open in Cape Girardeau.”  Awkward silence as I watch the colorful neon light pulse on my phone’s screen.  “Samantha,  here are the searches I found for Hungarian paprika.”  ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It takes sheer strength to NOT throw my phone across the vehicle and suddenly I find myself pushing the button to tell Siri what a big loser she was, how she couldn’t understand me, and I thought she was a complete idiot! There, now see how you do, SIRI! Microphone drop, BOOM, I told her. Her response?  “I’m sorry you feel that way, Samantha.”  Whatever.

Needless to say, I had to wait until I reached a red light to search Safari for opening times of Barnes and Noble, which had absolutely zero to do with Hungarian paprika.  Still trying to figure that one out, Siri.  So, for those of you out there using iPhones and having amazing “Phomances” with Siri, good for you.  For the rest of the Siri rejects out there, I feel your pain.  And if you use another brand of phone, you may have no clue what this entire situation feels like, but then again, my iPhone has not exploded on me yet.

I was just a girl, driving a car, waiting for a simple answer.  All I got was Hungarian paprika.

Until next time,

Cheers!

The Shadow of Control

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I read an amazing book by a woman named Susan Jaramillo titled “How God Rewrote My Heart.” Jaramillo is a strong woman to have endured the trials and tribulations she experienced throughout life. The book focuses on how God helped her heal from all these experiences. Short, sweet and to the point, I could relate to how she felt in certain life situations, even if our experiences were completely opposite.  Susan hit upon how control ruled her life and how her spirit was broken because of the lack of self-worth she felt.

I guess it brings me to finally put onto paper my own story of struggle and of defeat. It is nothing earth shattering, especially if you think about the struggles others in the world can deal with each day. But none-the-less my story is about a point in my life when I hit my own rock bottom and how control and lack of self-worth engulfed every aspect of my world.

I have written previously about women and our self-worth in a post a few years ago, but my own personal vendetta did not get included in the article. Now I feel like it is time to get the demons out on paper. It is time to come to grip with my own personal failures and mishaps.

It is hard, when you are young and naïve, to really see how one’s own decisions impact the people around you. I never gave much thought to this notion, mainly because I never really believed enough people cared what I did in this world. It was my own Demon in my head telling me how worthless I was to everyone. If I had to really think when this all began I would pin it around young adolescence. Growing up is so hard for any kid, and throw in insecurity, the mix becomes a toxic concoction of self-hatred and self-doubt. I always felt extremely inadequate when it came to friendships or finding my own niche in school. The only place I felt safe and secure was my academic life and knowing my teachers respected my efforts in the classroom. I was a shy kid, kind of a loaner in school with just a few close friends. I would never have labeled myself as popular. I avoided trying out for the cheerleading squad or dance squad. I stuck to more “academic” pursuits because I felt comfortable there. So as I hit high school, I stayed out of parties for the most part and skimmed the parameter of all the “in crowds.” I just didn’t ever feel “good enough” to be a part of those groups, and I was afraid of rejection. I never saw myself as pretty or savvy enough to be included in things they did. I didn’t really date anyone either because I knew I was not the one guys wanted in our high school. I was awkward, felt a tad overweight and had crazy curly hair. But I was smart, and for some reason that was a comfort to me. I knew I could do anything that required the use of my brain. My close friends included me in social things and tried to help me come out of my shell. I loved them, and still do, for their loyalty to me as a friend and “personal cheerleader” in high school.

What pre-teen or teenage girl doesn’t feel this way? Like the entire world is looking at her with a magnifying glass, just waiting for one wrong step. My own feelings of self-worth didn’t have a thing to do with the amount of love my parents showed me. I grew up in a good household where my parents lived lovingly under the same roof, my dad had a good job and my mom stayed at home to care for me. I did not have any brothers and sisters in my home to make me share things or deal with the daily annoyances I find my own kids struggling with today. It was a great childhood, but for some reason I became the left out play dough, unable to form into something flexible and easy to mold. I was always opinionated at home because that was where I felt safe and secure. Aside from that you would always find me amicable and easy-going because I didn’t want to cause disturbance or annoyance. I chose what situations I wanted to be in, and stayed far away from areas I felt unsafe or uncertain.

I lost myself in books and movies, anything to pull me out of my own head and my own thoughts. By the time I reached the end of my high school career I was deciding on how the hell to get out of my small town upbringing and try to create my own persona, my own identity. I wanted to be away from any stereotype and discover how the world really lived outside “Peyton Place.” Going off to college seemed to be the best thing, moving away from home and attending a good school that gave me the academic challenges I so craved.

My senior year was an exciting time because by December I knew where I was going to college and I saw this light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom to make my own way, meet people from other states and really find what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I think I worked a little harder on appearances that year too, and I even became interested in a boy. Perhaps by that point I could relax a bit and “sail” my way through the rest of the most awkward and uncertain time in my life: high school.

I only saw one side of leaving home, my side, and it was invigorating. I didn’t consider the other side my parents experienced. The fear of letting your only child go out on her own and praying everything you did while she/he was growing up would come to fruition. That is what my mom and dad experienced after dropping me off at school, looking back in the review mirror as I proudly waved good-bye to them. They were lost to the battles that lay ahead of me. They were lacking proper ammunition to deal with the struggles I would soon face in college.

The beginning of freshman year was an adjustment. Being a kid who loved routines, I had to take some time before figuring out my own. Once I did, it was also very hard for me to let go and have fun. I felt I had this immense responsibility to myself, to my parents and to the world when it came to my grades. I needed to show everyone that I could do this—move away from home, attend a prestigious university on a public school education and blow the world away. I realized then my days of breezy afternoons by the pool were over. It was go-time and I needed to pull up my bootstraps to get the grades. So I did, but in the meantime, my failures I received in the classroom knocked down the fragile self-confidence I had developed my senior year in high school. I was back to square one, surrounded by exceptionally smart people who went to private schools in large cities or boarding schools on the coasts. They were also beautiful, thin, well-groomed individuals, especially the girls. I had no idea where I fit in on this campus. What I held so dear in high school, which was my intelligence, became completely challenged and my lack of self-esteem did not help the situation.

My parents often talked about things they saw me doing after school. Would she be a doctor? Would she be a lawyer (maybe because I was so argumentative), or would she be something else? My parents were in the medical field, so that is all they knew. But they never shied away from the idea of me doing something different. I just could never gain the self-confidence I needed to get out from under their shadow of successes. I never felt independent enough to make mistakes and be okay with it. For us, mistakes were bad and for me mistakes were irreversible. I couldn’t live with irreversible. So when it came to earning good grades and succeeding in my college courses, I wanted to blow the damn world away. Yet, the pressure that is placed on someone’s shoulders can be excruciating. When that pressure is personally put there, the effects can be life changing and severely damaging.

Freshman year wasn’t a complete bust. Don’t get me wrong at all here because I did meet some girls I felt a strong connection to and enjoyed being around. We all became pretty close that year after living in the same hall, and we ended up staying together until the end of our college career. But as life ebbs and flows, mistakes are made and life-lessons are learned, the relationships began to change. In the beginning, we felt the same about the environment around us. We had come to the school because we knew the education would be outstanding but I don’t think we were expecting the rest of it. As I contemplate on this time in my life now, as a 37-year-old adult with a family and life experiences under my belt, I realize how much we had on the ball if we had just recognized it. But college is so hard for adolescent kids. Everyone is trying to fit into this perfect mold and also discover who he or she really is as individuals. Some people find it right off the bat, others it takes years to develop. But my college experience was not full of fraternity parties or sorority socials. I had chosen not to pledge after going through rush during my freshman year. I remember being so nervous around all the other girls; they were so perfect. I just didn’t see myself fitting into their perfect world. Perhaps it was good I did not join because I struggled enough with control as each semester passed and I placed more and more expectations on myself with my classes.

Those expectations grew into something bigger and more dangerous and suddenly I found myself in the rabbit hole of self-control and restrictions. I destroyed the relationships I had built around me during my college career because of my reckless obsession to become perfect. We, as a group of girls, did not know how to handle it, and I let it go too far. Who can ever be around someone who never smiles, who is stressed out all the time and feels such a lack of self-worth? It is depressing and sour, and relationships won’t last a single minute longer than necessary. I take all the blame on losing my friendships from college. I can’t blame those girls for not wanting to be around my crazy-mindedness and me. I was so intense and self-imploding; I didn’t even want to be around me.

Here we go on the journey of an eating disorder. It is an ugly journey that completely engulfs every being of your mind. It is a disease about control; at least that is what mine became centered on in college. I loved my coursework, in spite of the occasional boring required class. My professors listened to my viewpoints during lectures and I never felt awkward when I visited office hours. My brain was there in front of my face and body. It was the first thing someone saw when I entered the room. But placing intelligence in one basket entirely can be dangerous for someone of my nature. I wanted perfection in my classrooms, especially when it came to grades and my budding passion for becoming a writer of some kind. It fed the Demon that told me to portion out servings and live on a fat-free regiment. I could tell you how many calories and fat constituted normal “pantry” foods. At meals, I would count in my head how many calories I ingested during one meal. I controlled how much I ate, what I put in my mouth and how long I stayed awake to study. It was an endless cycle of self-destruction. It blew away my body, and it engulfed my friendships in flames. It was an awful way to live, and I have only myself to blame for it all.

College was the time when I started running every day and when I really began working out. I was trying to make my body match my brain so when I walked into a social setting outside of classroom professors and students I could feel strong and empowered. Running allowed me to break out of the ironclad determination I slipped on every day I attended class. I could breath easier and loose myself in the natural high running can give a person. I competed with myself on how fast I could run at times or how long I could last if I didn’t count the miles. When you are living on a diet of low-fat carbohydrates and little protein, your body starts to shrink. For me, it was a visual affirmation to how well I was running my life. Yes, I could do this all on my own. I could earn the grades, be my own self away from my family and begin to fit into the beauty I saw all around me on campus.

It makes me sad when I sit and write about this because I see now what a waste it all was for me, and for my parents. I blew away four years of my life and missed out on fun times and everlasting friendships because of my self-destructive, obsessive behaviors. It can make a person become so humble to fully accept such a verdict. To know that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my actions. I am the one to blame.

This inner competition sticks with me today, although sometimes I have to squelch that Demon and make it behave. The self-competitive me became the anorexic me after freshman year. Finally, it is out and in the open. The ugly, nasty “A” word that every parent fears will label their child. My parents lived that fear when I came home for that first summer after finals. I had ended the relationship with the boy from my high school senior year and my heart was broken, my spirit demolished but my intellect was intact. I had earned high grades that year. I had also lost 15 pounds since Christmas break, and I really didn’t have 15 to lose.

I changed, and not for the better. My grades kept going higher as my weight went lower during each semester. I watched relationships become damaged and endangered during the rest of my college career. All because I was trying to fit into this mold I believed I needed to fill. I placed that expectation on myself, despite the pleadings of my parents and my closest friends. The latter part of my Junior year was when I hit my lowest weight, under 100 lbs. I had not had a menstrual cycle in months. My roommates and my parents had an intervention one night before midterms. It still makes me tear up after all this time when I remember those conversations. The anger and despair we all felt at one time, in one tiny dorm room, now floats across my mind. I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t know how to do it. I was tightly wound, rigid as steel and I wasn’t sure I would ever become the person I was before I came to college.

But I fought, and I fought hard, to find myself on my own. I knew I had to change and that I had to be the one to do it, but it would not be overnight. I lost a roommate after junior year because she could not live with it all anymore. I wouldn’t have blamed the others if they had moved out too. No one can survive around someone who is hard as stone and driven to a point of madness about academic responsibilities. I dug deep in my soul to find strength to let go of my inner demons. I needed to relinquish the control I was trying to have on every single aspect of my life. I needed to learn to breathe again like I did before I turned into this crazy monster that forgot how to have fun and relax.

I know now, with time and wisdom, my lack of self-worth brought me down the path of self-destruction. It got to the point when my parents wanted to bring me home to them. They threatened to pull me out of school and move me home if I didn’t start to eat more and put on some weight. My hair was beginning to fall out and bones began to protrude in places. So I agreed to eat, and my mom would drive down to school every so often hauling a load of my favorite treats and goodies. Doing anything she could to make me eat. But what is ironic is how that was the last thing I needed. I get that now as a parent because parents will do anything to protect their children. All my parents wanted to do was protect me and help me find myself again. My parents and roommates did the best they could in that situation. But my mom’s brownie truffle was not the answer to the problems at hand. It was a Band-Aid to a very large sore.  I remember my mom stopping in Nashville one weekend, bringing me yet another bucket of brownie truffle. As she placed the bucket on the counter she proceeded to tell me how proud she was that she didn’t even “lick the spoon” while making it. That statement was a slit to my anorexic wrist. You don’t tell someone suffering from an eating disorder how excited you are for restricting your own self from something. The anorexic (me in this case) will take that to the next level. It just goes to show how intricate this disease can be to someone not suffering from its claws. When she left that afternoon I threw the entire container in the trash completely untouched.

My parents tried to find a psychiatrist on campus for me to see. I met with some old-school psychology guru who had published a few books through the university’s press. It appeased my parents and kept me enrolled in school. I was now surviving on two fronts. As a student wanting to earn the grades and as an anorexic hiding her dirty secret from the world. He was a nice man, and we only met for about an hour. He told me how worried my parents were for me and talked to me about why I didn’t need to put so much stress on myself. The honest truth here is I could not remember one thing the man said to me during that visit. There was no personal connection. He was just a means to an end for my mom and dad. I appeased it all so I could pretend I was getting better and able to change. Again it is the intricate workings of a mind whittled with self-doubt. I just wanted to get out of there so I could hit the library again and continue preparing for exams. He gave me one of his books to read and told me to call if I needed more help. I left that office knowing I would never see his face again. I lied to my parents when they called to ask how it went. I said the man really helped me and I could already feel myself getting better. Again, another Band-Aid to a huge ulcerated sore. It made my parents feel better, especially with them feeling helpless and lost as to how to handle my situation. I did end up reading this guy’s book he signed and gave to me. It wasn’t bad, just not what I needed at the time.

This was how I lived the remainder of my years in college. Trying to put up a good front of being “healthy” and eating better, yet compensating for all the additives in my life. I ran longer, worked out harder trying to “adjust” for what I put in my mouth in front of friends and my parents. I was fighting a constant battle in my head that said I needed to get my shit together, but also not to cave to weakness. I was the one in control here, nobody else. I called the shots when it came to my lifestyle. It was a slow beginning to the process of retraining my brain for anything close to normalcy.

Before my senior year of college, I took an internship in Washington, D.C. That was a great summer. I lived in a city full of energy and fun people who were like the “old” me. I found a bit of myself that summer, making new routines and reminding myself that what I did with my body was for health and happiness and nothing else. My brain led me through it all, keeping me focused and grounded. My heart began to heal from a long and exhausting point in my life. I turned 21 that summer in France with my parents, and I learned on that trip how to develop a healthy relationship with food. I also became in love with wine and it introduced a new level of connection with my mom and dad. I know this is why I have such a big heart for wine and all it encompasses. That summer was a time of healing for me and again I was finding myself opening up to a new point in my life. I had decided to move to Dallas, Texas with my dear friend from high school. She was graduating from Texas A & M the same time I was graduating from Vanderbilt. My life was finally coming together, and it was in a good way.

Changing was not easy, but slowly, with time and a lot of perseverance I prevailed. My friends helped me, as did my parents. But the biggest help to me was myself. My ability to see reality for what it was and take slow and steady steps away from the muck of anorexia. I never did see anyone professionally for my disease. I worked through it myself with books, strong friendships and a passion for learning how to eat the healthy way.

I had to completely re-wire my entire relationship with food after college and post-college. It took a good ten years to really discover living with a nutritious diet. I continued to read books, find videos and television shows on cooking and create my own perspective on how food should taste and what I wanted to eat every day. Gone were days of frozen vegetables for dinner or saltines and honey for lunch. I was now discovering an entirely new lifestyle, and I was beginning to fall in love with wholesome food. I knew what I cooked and ate was going to be good for my body. I lost the fear of putting something in my mouth. I lost the fear of relinquishing control over something because I was completely involved in my diet.

Unless you have walked the footsteps of an anorexic or bulimic, it is hard to understand what goes through the mind of someone suffering from these diseases. The issues are real and ugly and completely opaque to the rest of the world. One little word or a phrase can turn someone’s sphere upside down. And now that I am older and have worked through my own issues with my eating disorder, I have become so very sensitive to what the rest of the world discusses. I know that word or phrase which destroys a girl’s (or boy’s) self-esteem and self-worth.

My eating disorder led me down a new path with food. I am to the point now where I love knowing how beneficial healthy foods can be for the body, and I am not scared to sit down and eat full meals. I no longer count calories when making meals. I just simply assess what I feel hungry for and what I think my body may need. I let go and started letting healthy food rule my diet. I was finally becoming free of my Demon. And I also learned to enjoy wine with my meals, and discover the beauty and potential it has on one’s life.

I ended up graduating from Vanderbilt with honors, and they were earned with blood, sweat, and tears. I poured my heart and soul into my education and desire to become a writer of some kind. Thanks to my professors and my parents I had a new kind of boost and it was that I could write and do it well. My dad always told me writing is something that can never be taken away from me. A person doesn’t forget to write if it is a talent that comes naturally to them. Something completely inherent in my soul, this is what writing is for me. I had battled dragons of control and self-worth in college, but I had come out the victor. I had bruises and scars that would take many years to heal, but they are also reminders of what I know I can do to make myself better. I know I have the strength in me to put up a good fight, and my experience as an anorexic showed me how to put my dukes up.

Age is not a bad thing because it also gives you wisdom. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about finally getting comfortable in my own skin. It took time to figure that out, and it wasn’t an easy discovery. I am not saying life is always peaches and cream, just the opposite in fact. But I have read enough books about how negative society can be, how all kinds of media can prey on men and women and how such unrealistic expectations are completely worthless. Each page I turned made me realize how much easier my own battle would have been with these recitations and realizations about body image and health. I know my experience with an eating disorder led me to the path of learning to love food, to learn how it nourishes our bodies and what I can do to make myself stay vibrant from the inside out. It led me to develop a stable relationship with exercise and listen to my body. I know when to reach for goals and when it’s time to back off. God allowed the failures of my early twenties to open the door and discover happiness and confidence. How poetic His pathways can be for us when we are simply still, listening unfiltered to His words.

I have often wondered if my experience would ever help prevent someone from going down the path of destruction as I did in college. I was one of the lucky ones who made the turn before real damage was done to my body and my mind. Yes, it took some time to heal physically and mentally from my experiences, but it was peanuts compared to what some boys and girls go through with an eating disorder. And unfortunately, it all starts at such a young age, often before kids hit double digits. Coming back to the town I grew up in to raise my own family, I see small glimpses of destruction and I want to reach out and stop the train wreck I know will happen in a few years to these individuals. How sad is that? Our children are finding out at such an early age what self-worth is and isn’t in life. It makes my stomach flip and is why I am so protective of my own children, especially my daughter. I will fight for her and fight hard to keep her on the path I wished I had stayed on years ago. I have my ammunition ready for whatever battle I face. I just wish I could protect all the soldiers out there who will succumb to the unrealistic expectations lurking out in the real world.

Thank you, Susan Jaramillo, for being brave enough to share your story with the world. It gave me the strength to share my own story in hopes it might touch someone.   Perhaps it will permit someone feeling lost and forgotten to stop and smell the roses. Allow someone to realize they are shining stars amongst a sea of darkness called Reality.

If you know someone suffering or if you are suffering from an eating disorder, please have the strength to get help.   Find a friend or loved one to confide in. There is no shame in what you are experiencing. The shame comes from ignoring the problem and letting it fester like an open wound. Power comes with knowing how to heal oneself, and that power lies within you. Although I was able to work through my issues alone, there are some out there that may need the love and support of outside help. It can be hard for the friends and family of someone suffering from eating disorder to disassociate their feeling and emotions from the problem at hand. They are too connected to the person suffering from the disease. If this is where you find yourself, there are also countless third-party resources available, like the National Eating Disorder Awareness website (www.nedawarness.org), to provide direction. Counselors and therapists are specialized to help people heal from this disease and can hold an individual’s hand through the walk of recovery. Or simply talking to someone recovering from his or her own disorder, such as myself, could be a great place to begin the pathway to freedom. If you know someone suffering from an eating disorder, reach out to that person; give them the confidence they need to find a way out of those invisible chains of destruction. You never know what people really need unless you first open up your heart to them. Eating disorders are a silent disease that can be cured, treated and overcome.

For anyone who needs an anonymous ear to listen, I can be reached at sbrhodes@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

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The second day of January reminds me a little of Ash Wednesday after a gluttonous Fat Tuesday.  New Year’s Day usually involves trying to remember resolutions and finding the jar of aspirin to calm that raging Champagne headache.  But the second day of January usually entails gym memberships and healthy diet plans.  Today I was thinking as I start this new year how I need to get back in the saddle on things, especially my diet.  I don’t really worry too much about the holiday season, especially the two weeks my children are home from school because staying on track with a body-healthy diet takes up time and energy I don’t have to spare. Perhaps you are “Supermom” or “Superdad” and can do this, but this mom is realistic and knows where to pick her battles.  Kale smoothies and beet juices are not going to be one of them.  And thankfully the gym stays in my normal routine because it is the only place in town with a kid-friendly “parental reprieve” for stressed-out moms and dads.  So I know when the walls are crashing down at home I can always turn to my window of “free” time at my gym.

Now that the holidays are officially over I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to work my way back into cooking the foods I love because in a couple of days my kids will be back in a routine and life will calm down for a while.  One of my dear friends gave me a cookbook for my birthday.  Now I love a new cookbook, especially one that involves mind, body and soul.  It just makes me want to go home and start whipping up dish after dish.  This cookbook, entitled “Eat Yourself Calm,” by Gill Paul, teaches what foods are considered calming to the human body based on whatever ailment you may be suffering.  It explains what superfoods, minerals and vitamins are great to help with issues ranging anywhere from depression to headaches.  When I first got the book I flagged several recipes to try and tonight I cooked the lamb stew.  According to the cookbook (co-written with a nutritionist), the ingredients in this recipe are linked with easing depression, sleeplessness, headaches and low energy.  There are definitely a few of those I have experienced recently and on a rainy night, the stew sounded comforting.

The recipe called for lean lamb stew meat, lamb stock (which I used homemade beef broth), beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, shallots, bouquet garni, flour (which I swapped for brown rice flour), sea salt, black pepper and cherry tomatoes.  One thing you need to do when you cook stew meat, especially lamb, is to simmer it for a while on a low heat.  This is where the stock or broth came in because I used it to help tenderize the meat after browning it in the skillet for a few minutes. Although the recipe called for beans, I decided to omit them for the simple fact I did not have any at home.  I also swapped out the green beans for Brussels sprouts for the very same reason.  The lamb is supposed to aide in breathlessness, the sprouts handle concentration and forgetfulness and the tomatoes help relieve headaches.  I poured the finished product over some brown basmati rice and was really surprised how light the stew was, considering how thick and hearty it appeared to be in the end.  The brown rice I used is supposed to help with several factors, including low energy, mood swings, depression and even sleep problems.

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I am excited to try out a few more recipes in this cookbook and to maybe gain a few ideas for making up my own meals to get myself back on track with a calm and healthy lifestyle (or at least aim for that most days!).  Whatever your resolution may be this year, I highly recommend buying a cookbook to help jump start your goals or to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.  And remember you can always change up ingredients in a recipe to make it fit your lifestyle, so don’t be scared to experiment!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017!

 

Discovering the Essence of Time

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I have not had much time to post on my blog lately.  The holidays are starting and I find myself using up my spare moments getting ready for turkey dinners and holiday parties.  It’s a great time of year, but a very hectic one and the stress levels can often rise higher than a person desires.  Today I have been thinking about time, but not time in the sense of business meetings and various appointments.  No, the time I have contemplated on today has been God’s time.  I don’t usually write about my religion or my love for God on my blog  for the simple fact my thoughts are very personal.  But today I can’t seem to get Him out of my head, so it must mean I need to get Him onto paper and in this blog.

As a planner, having someone remind me that God’s timing in life is not going to coincide with what I want can be a little annoying.  Why can’t it all just work out and fit into a nice clean mold?  It won’t do that, and unfortunately, life takes an exuberant amount of patience (something I seriously lack!).  With events that have taken place recently in my life, I find myself amazed how God can put people directly into my path just when I need them.  I may not recognize it at the moment, but eventually, I get the “ah, well what do you know” kind of realization.  And He does this on His own timing after I have come to Him for help.  I feel like I had that recently, His timing on some things I didn’t even see coming.

The holidays are not always the happiest of times for people, including myself.  I miss those who are not longer with me, but I love to see the joy of the Season on my children’s faces.  If things in your life seem bumpy or uncertain, just remember we are not working on a typical schedule.  Life does not pan out according to our timing.  What we need and when we get it are not decided by us but are laid out in a delicate pattern by something greater than ourselves.  We are not supposed to understand the “whys” or “whats” of a situation.  It is easy to go through the motions and disassociate ourselves from what really matters.  I am just as guilty of doing this as the person next to me in line at the grocery store.  But every once in a while we get a smack upside the head and a gentle voice whispers to us, “I am here, and you are truly loved by Me.”

Until next “time,”

Cheers!