Hope

It will never end. No matter how many days pass, no matter how many hours separate us- the hole in my heart will never be healed. I know this now.

I thought I was stronger, I thought I was ready. I thought I was able to hold myself together. I know I am not.

I can only hope to make it through each day with my head held high, no one knowing the struggle simmering just below the surface. I can only hope to be strong on the days I feel weak. I can only hope for people in my life who understand when things are difficult are days I need them the most. Hope that tomorrow will be a better day, that someday I will have the strength to believe. Believe that I will make it through, that I am deserving, in hope.

Hope.
It is all I have. It is all I am not.

Made to thrive

In the last year, I have spent a great deal of time getting to know myself.  I mean really know myself.  I have come to see my strengths and my faults; I have learned what it means to have a solid support system around you; I have learned what it means to let go and have faith; I have learned what it feels like to be in a room full of people and feel loved instead of alone.  I am no where near finished with my journey, but I have certainly come a long way.  I have found my own voice in difficult situations.  I have been open and honest about my feelings and concerns.  I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and afraid, and I have allowed myself to ask for help.

While I stumble along my journey of self-discovery, I have realized I spend far too much time and energy worrying about things that do not really matter, and not enough time and energy on the people and things in life that do.  I am embarrassed to admit, I have let other voices sway my opinions and alter my actions.  I have not stayed true to my own thoughts and feelings, and as such – I have not stayed true to myself.  It is time I forgive myself and move forward.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I have come to realize that we all have that friend who is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.  With a sorrow in our voice, we tell ourselves it is time to move on.  It is time to let go of the false prophet and the illusion which has been created.  It is time to take the energy once spent on this wolf and spread it amongst your fellow sheep.  It is time for a new beginning.

As I look around I see so many people who I am thankful to have as part of my life.  I do not remember the last time I felt so blessed to have such a great network of family and friends surround me.  A year ago I dreaded turning 30, although as I now approach my 31st birthday I realize that I am exactly where I always wanted be in life.  I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and a new sense of faith that allows me to love myself, faults and all.

 

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Casting Crowns – “Thrive”

 

 

101 in 1001

What feels like a completely different lifetime, I had started the 101 in 1001 Challenge while I was in college.  As time went on, I completed about half of the items on my list, although some unexpected bumps and turns caused me to stray away from the project.  Many years went by and somewhere along the way my journal, which held my only copy of my goals and my progress, had gotten lost.  (One of the downfalls of being so very “old-tech”!)   Over the last several months I have been toying with the idea of starting a new 101 in 1001 challenge.  I am not sure what took me so long to begin, but it finally felt like the right time to sit down and create my list.  Maybe it was an inspiration found in the book I am currently reading, or maybe it was my desire to put a little more focus on the fun and happy side of life.  Maybe it was my continued attempt to not be afraid of failing.  Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to be sharing my personal journey of the next 1001 days with you! For those of you who have not heard of the 101 in 1001 challenge, it is a list of 101 goals you wish to accomplish in 1001 days (which equals about 2.75 years).   Similar to a bucket list, but with an end-point (that doesn’t involve death, as my husband jokingly pointed out).  How many times have we all said: “One day, I’m going to _________”?  Days turn to months, which turn to years, and we never did check that some-day goal off our list.  This challenge helps turn all of those some-day goals into reality.  I had so much fun the first time I did the 101 in 1001 challenge, I can’t wait to see where the next 2.75 years leads me.  Here is an official explanation of the project, copied from Day Zero Project’s website:

The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge

Day Zero started out with the catchy challenge of completing 101 things in 1001 days. This has been enormously popular with tens of thousands of people getting involved and sharing their lists. We now offer many more types of challenges, but here are the original guidelines for the challenge:
 
 
The Challenge:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).
 
Why 1001 Days?Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities. (source: Dayzeroproject.com)
 
So without any further delay, and in completely random order, here is my list!
 
101 in 1001
 
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
2.  Host a family dinner party.
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
8.  Order our wedding album.
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (0/10)
10.  Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
12.  Go to the optometrist.
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
14. Have a picnic.
15.  Start a new tradition.
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
20.  Attend my graduation.
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis.
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
25.  Find out my blood type and donate.
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
32.  Create a fairy garden.
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
35.  Organize the coat closet.
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
38.  See a drive-in movie.
39.  Attend a cooking class.
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
45.  Make 5 new friends. (0/5)
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
60.  Do 25 situps every day for a month.
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com (0/100)
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (0/5)
66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
67.  Be part of a flash mob.
68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.
69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.
70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.
71.  Complete the couch25K program.
72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.
73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.
74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.
75.  Start a family.
76.  See a dermatologist.
77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.
78.  Print & frame travel photos.
79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.
80.  Visit a country I have never been to.
81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.
82.  Go ice skating in NYC.
83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.
84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)
85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.
86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.
87.  Write a yelp review whenever I use the app to help me decide where to go.
88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.
89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.
90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep
       people happy.
91.  Take a cake decorating class.
92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.
93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)
94.  Go to a professional football game.
95.  Try Reiki.
96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.
97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.
98.  Finish the afghan.
99.  Go kayaking.
100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.
101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!
 
I will be updating this list as time ticks along, adding when the goal was accomplished and a link to any related posts.  Have you started and/or completed your own 101 in 1001 challenge?  Post your link in the comments, I would LOVE to see what goals you included and how you kept track of your progress!
 
 
source: pinterest.com

source: pinterest.com

 

Finding My Passion

One of the things I have always struggled with was coming up with an answer when someone would ask “What is you passion?” or “What are you passionate about”.  Had they not been referring to my dream career I would have had plenty of answers.  I have a passion for making people happy (although many see this as a weakness).  I have a passion for learning (I feel like one should never stop seeking answers, regardless of the question).  I have a passion to help animals (yes, I have a leash in my car and have stopped and used it a number of times.)  I have a passion for being immersed in nature (In the middle of the woods, on the warm sand of a beach, beside a peaceful lake in the mountains, regardless of the location, I feel such a sense of calmness and peace).

 

Unfortunately, if I were to give one of these answers I am looked at like I have three heads.  Can I be the only one whose passion did not involve a paycheck?   Am I alone in not knowing what I want to be when I grow up when the definition of be revolved around a profession?  I am learned an automatic response of I don’t know or  I don’t really have one to avoid the three-headed look.  The truth is, I have always known what I was passionate about, what my dream job was.  I want to be a mother.   For some reason there was always a subtle message that this answer was incorrect.  “I mean besides a mom, what do you really want to be?”  I couldn’t understand why there was ever a need for a follow-up question.  In life, some people dream of presenting in a boardroom, directing a large firm, even owning their own business.  Others dream of becoming teachers, law enforcement officials, marketing exec or lawyer to name a few. Were these people ever asked “I mean besides a [______], what do you really want to be?”  While others dream of directing a marketing team or becoming a firm partner, I dream of reading to my kids before they fall asleep at night.  I dream of coaching their mini-kickers team, helping with their homework, teaching them to bake cookies on a rainy day.


As I sit here now at the age 30, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I still hope for the same dream job I had wanted when I was in high school and college.   I cannot wait for the day I get to choke back tears as I share with my husband that we are pregnant (we are not, for those who may be wondering).


Speaking earlier of my love for learning, a few months ago I began an Aesthetics program at a local school and I love it.  I am finding that the course is coming naturally to me and I am really enjoying the connection we make with our clients.  I look forward to going to class each day (even if the course is not exactly what I was hoping for, although more on that another time).  During my free time I find myself reading ahead in the textbook and searching for more in-depth answers instead of turning on the tv or reading something for leisure (I promise I will have the book finished for bookclub ladies!).  I often have to remind myself that not everyone wants to hear about all the details of what I am learning while out with friends, even though I am enjoying this so much I love to talk about it.  I am also excited to eventually join a team of wonderful woman whom I will continue to learn from, as well as attend several postgrad classes I have already looked into.  Even with all this being said, and as exciting as this part of my life is, I still feel a slight internal pinch when someone exclaims, “I am so glad you have found your passion.”


I did not need to find my passion. It was never lost.  I am simply enjoying the journey of life one step at a time, knowing that when the time is right, I will welcome the gift.

 

 

passion calling

If only I had words

Wow.  I cannot believe how long it has been since I last sat down and wrote; I feel as though I have neglected a friendship.  There have been so many changes in my life since then.   Like an old friend who has lost touch, I’m hoping I can jump right in and it will feel like no time has passed at all.   I look forward to sitting down over a welcoming cup of coffee and sharing the details that have played out over the last few months.  There will be laughs as I reminisce about the good times, there will be tears as I work my way through the bad.  There are friends who have grown closer and I am thankful for every day, and there are friends who have drifted away.  I have met new challenges and welcomed the opportunity to learn something new.  I have grown as I accepted that some challenges I am not ready to yet take on.  I have struggled when reaching out for help, and I have accepted when to say goodbye.  I have lived.  I have learned. 

I am learning to live.

Image

My resolution

At the end of each year, people begin their scramble to find the perfect resolution to work on in the new year.  Many spend this time thinking about past resolutions that were forgotten almost as quickly as they were decided upon.  I have often been one of these people.

This year, I vow to be different.

I think most of my trouble with my yearly resolution is that it is either too broad (for example, I want to lose weight) or too specific (for example, I want to lose 10 lbs by Valentine’s day).  When the years that things are too broad, I never find to motivation to start as I have all year to accomplish it.  For the years that it is too specific, I get frustrated if my plan is not perfect or exactly on track and I give up.  This year, I am trying to find the balance between too broad and too specific. I have printed out my list and will keep it hanging  in two places, where I can see them daily.

Here are my goals for 2014:

1.  Be serious about my healthy eating (aka, stop talking about it and start doing it!) by making at least one healthy choice a day.

2.  Find a church community to belong to.

3.  Reserve one night a week to be with my husband where we focus on each other, instead of the outside world.

4.  Create a fitness goal with a friend (for example, running a 5k), and stick to the plan to accomplish it.

 

This is on my fridge, the other is on my bureau mirror.

This is on my fridge, the other is on my bureau mirror.

When one door closes,

Isn’t another suppose to open?

Sitting here I cannot help but think about one of the biggest decisions I have ever made.  I chose to sacrifice a dream for the family I do not have yet.

Yes, there have been other monumental decisions in my life, like what to name my first pet, what college to attend, saying ‘yes’ to my then boyfriend, and picking out the perfect house to buy.   Looking back, none of these have been as difficult as the decision I have wrestled with the last 48 hours.

I have been searching for meaning in my life for quite some time.  Who am I, what do I offer to the people in my life, what do I offer that makes my husband proud to be married to me.  Maybe this stems from my recent birthday, but I think it runs deeper than that.  I have felt that my life has been on pause and I just don’t know how to kick-start it again.  First we had the wedding to plan, and I went head first putting 100% of my energy into that, then almost immediately after returning from our honeymoon we closed on our first house.  The energy and time I had spent on the wedding smoothly transferred into the house and renovations.  As many construction projects go, things went a bit astray and after several months we are finally moved in.  Besides cooking and cleaning, I no longer have a project to throw myself into.

I did not graduate college.  I do not have a career.  I do not even know what I want to do when I ‘grow up’, and I’m already 30.   My husband often asks me what I am passionate about, a question that often leads me to tearfully reply “I don’t know”.

Recently an opportunity presented itself that has me buzzing with excitement.  I could not even put into words the joy I felt as I sat at my computer researching, list making, and brainstorming.  The possibilities were endless.  I even started looking a schools which would support my dream, driving for tours at various schools in my state and neighboring ones.  I was filled with a new sense of purpose, I felt alive for the first time in months.  I also felt burdened with a sense of guilt,  the hours each day I spent planning I was only thinking about my future, only my future is no longer my own.  In May, I vowed to share my future with my husband, and with that vow I had to listen his opinion and consider how this would affect both of us.

I have never met a more supportive man.  Yes, there were occasional blips over the last week or so that I accused him of being overly negative and unsupportive, but over-all I genuinely know that my husband is an amazing man who was willing to put his own fears and reservations aside for my happiness.  Even so, his words rang loudly as he finally opened up about his feelings.

We want a family.  We do not know when, but we know that it is in our future.  We also know that the plan has always been that when kids came along I would stay at home to raise them.  This opportunity would take me down a different path, a path of long days, dinners away from my family, weekends divided between work and home.  It was a path I believed I could travel without either work or home suffering.  I was being selfish.

I made a decision this morning with a heavy heart, and I am still hoping it was the right one for me, even if it was the right one for my family.  As a woman, I know that many sacrifices will be made for my children and my husband, I just wasn’t ready to already be making sacrifices for such an intangible plan of “someday”.

This morning I shut the door on the dream of being a business owner.  They say when one door closes another one opens, so I wait.

truth

I sit here, trying to write a poetic entry about all the things I have done in the last 30 years.  I am grasping for the words of the many accomplishments in an attempt to convince myself that I am ok with turning thirty, which happens to be in two days.   I had high hopes of creating a list of things I have done, instead of dwelling on the things on most people’s “30 things to do before you’re thirty” list.  Instead, I have written and deleted more paragraphs that I can keep count of.

Quite simply, I have not been honest with myself, and therefore have no hope at trying to write a post I am not committed to.  Sure, I have done some things that many people dream of:  I have gotten married; I have traveled internationally; I have taken risks in life; I have learned when to play it safe; I have been challenged many times (some I have won, some I have lost); I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  Somehow I am still left with a feeling that I have forgotten something.

Can it be that I have spent so much time trying to accomplish the things I was suppose to that I have forgotten to do the things I wanted to?  Have I been so busy living my life for other people that I forgot to live my life for me?

I guess the best way of answering the question that everyone seems to ask is this:

I am indifferent about turning 30, but I am not ok to continue being such an extreme people pleaser.  I need to start making decisions that are true for me, and to start speaking up with I feel the need.

Maybe I’ll start working on that once I’m thirty.  That, and I need to re-introduce myself to the gym.

Button Beginnings Pt. 2

We all have a pair.  For some, they are an old faded pair of jeans washed so many times they have taken on a softness which is hard to part with (even though they are far too loose to wear in public).  Others, they are a pair of loved yoga pants, welcoming and forgiving like a nonjudgmental embrace.  For me, they are a pair of white shorts.  Not just any white shorts, these shorts were magic.  Even on my worst days, I can remember putting these shorts on, paired with any shirt and sandals, and I felt amazing.  As the years went by, and my figure changed, I refused to donate these magic shorts.  I was not ready to let go of the memories.  Always residing in the back of my drawer, they were the back-up plan I hoped I never had to use.

magic shorts

Since the wedding, and the beginning of my latest love affair with food, I had noticed that my everyday items were beginning to feel a bit snug.  I blamed it on the fact that my husband had done the wash that particular week.  I fully convinced myself of that, even though he had long since given up laundry duty.  I was in complete denial.

So there I sat, packing and repacking my suitcase.  In an attempt to both calm my nerves and limit my natural over-packing tendencies, I was trying on each outfit to figure out exactly what I would wear.  I noted my husband must have done the laundry again that week; my khaki shorts were not fitting the way I remembered them to and I felt I couldn’t bring them on Gal-cation.  Digging around my drawer, I pulled out my old magic shorts.  Hoping they had enough pixie dust left for one weekend, I pulled them on and went to look in the mirror.  That’s when it happened.  I experienced the longest two seconds of my life.   I heard the soft clinking of a white plastic button bounce off the tile floor.  The sound was deafening, and I quickly looked around to make sure I was alone.   I came up with several excuses.  My favorite was that the shorts were old and the button was weak.  That sounded realistic, right?

I sat on our bed, both button and magic white shorts tightly grasped in hand and I cried.

The worst part of this experience was not that I still needed a pair of shorts for vacation the following day.  I had to dry my tears, find my mother-in-law and ask if she had a spare button.  I had no other choice, I needed these shorts for my trip.  Before you read that wrong, I love my mother-in-law.  She and I have an amazing relationship which I hope continues on this great path we have established.  What made the experience awful was that I had to sit and sew on a new button.  Have you ever had to sew on a four-holed button?  I was surprised to learn that it required such concentration.  With each stitch and teardrop,  I relived the varying lunch locals, each shared appetizer, the dinners out and each delicious dessert.  It was time I regained control of my relationship with food.

As soon as I returned from my weekend away, I dusted off our trusty scale and stepped on.  I had expected a few pounds, but much to my surprise I was right back at my pre-wedding weight.  I had gained 15 pounds since my wedding.  This was unacceptable.

I welcome you to join me as I begin my post-wedding weight loss journey.

Beginning Date:  09/02/2013

Goal: -15 lbs

Plan: Healthier food choices and regular exercise

 

Button Beginnings Pt. 1

I am recently married, although that is not what this post is about.  Unlike most brides, I waited until about four months before my wedding to begin my diet and serious workout regiment.  By serious I mean twice weekly appointments with my trainer and a weekly Weight Watchers meeting.  Outside of those two hours per week at the gym, I did nothing to exercise.

Fortunately, my goal was not an unobtainable number. With the help of Weight Watchers (www.weightwatchers.com) and my trainer, come wedding day I had blown right past my goal.  In fact, I did so well I had several nerve-wracking dress fittings where my seamstress kept strongly suggesting that I stop losing weight.  There were so many built-up nerves surrounding my weight loss and my dress, my final appointment was spent mostly in tears.  Needless to say, my wedding dress fit, my wedding day was beautiful, and all was right in the world.  Then the reception beckoned us with its delicious hand-picked menu and all diets were forgotten.

While in Hawaii, my new husband reintroduced me to a long-lost friend: deliciously unhealthy food.   Our honeymoon was amazing and as soon as we returned we closed on our first home and began renovations.  Talk about stress.  Since the wedding, just over three months ago, I have not really thought about what I have been eating.  Well that is not true.  I have thought about it quite a bit.  Which new local restaurant would we try for lunch, where would we go for dinner, what appetizer could we split so I wouldn’t feel as guilty about getting dessert.  These were difficult daily decisions.  For quite a while, it felt like we were eating out far more that we were eating at home.  I was not one to complain, I enjoyed it.  There was something addictive about going out.  It was easy, there was no clean-up, and the food….oh the food.  For a girl who stress-eats, this was like Heaven.

Well, Heaven has a sneaky way of crashing down around you when you least expect it.  For me, it happened the day before I was supposed to go on my first “Gal-cation” with a group of wonderful new friends.   Wake-up calls are different for everyone.  We all respond differently to messages that are sent to us throughout the day.

For me, it was the tiny sound of a white plastic button bouncing on the cold tile floor.