Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

There’s a mountain in Vegas called Lone Mountain. From far away it has a more hill-like appearance in contrast to the massive bright red mountains attached to Red Rock National Park. But this little mountain definitely still meets mountain-qualifications. 

Mike and I joked once that in comparison to our Red Rock hikes, this hike still leaves us breathless, in every way. But it doesn’t look that tall, that steep or that strenuous.

There are 3 tiers. To get to the first tier with the bench you have to break in your hiking shoes right away. The lose gravel and steep slope send any preconceived thoughts of it looking like a little hill to the wayside. The second tier is an other steady uphill climb and you actually are climbing high enough now that you think you’re about to reach the top. You give it all you’ve got because you think “well it’s all down hill after this.” No so. The peak of this tier slowly gives way to the small path that leads to the next and final tier. The last leg isn’t as long, as steep, nor the gravel as loose so even though you’ve given it all you’ve got already, you think “Oh, I’ve come all this way, that’ll be nothing.”

Today I stopped at the second tier. 

I wasn’t too tired. I had enough water. I wasn’t too sun-stung. Nothing hurt. I just decided to turn around. 

An other blog for an other day might read a little differently. I might shed light on how we are more capable and stronger than we realize and can push through just about anything if we put our minds to it. It’s true. And I definitely could’ve made it the whole way. I’ve done this hike many times. I know the tiers and the energy needed but something had me turn around and I think I figured out what.

On September 5th, 2016, I hiked this exact hike. Just like today, it was the Saturday after the first full week back at school. This was my post.

I felt strong and proud. I made it to the top after a summer full of hard nights and trying days. Again, not knowing if I would be able to go back to work but there I was hiking to the top. All three tiers. Me and God. I was proud of myself then for going that far but I’m just as proud if not prouder today of my journey, even if I turn back at tier two, God’s still right there.

We hold expectations on ourselves and so do others. But mostly us. There is a time to finish what we start and a time to remain unfinished. And really, we can never truly be finished until…well, we’re finished. My Grandma would say, “You’re not done turning out until you’re done.” While I wanted that same feeling of accomplishment I’d gotten last year, this year felt different. I felt this hike turning into a lesson, a different milestone than last year. I knew I could finish but I recognized the feeling that it’s okay not to do what you thought you were going to do. Because when you realized where you’d rather be spending time, there’s no time to waste. It’s time to turn around. (Side note: I usually would almost always rather be hiking!)

I needed this hike to know it’s okay to just stop. To do what I want. I started the hike. I enjoyed the hike. But then I wanted to be back in Ronaldo cruisin’ to my 90’s mix CD in the ice cold AC; conserving my energy for other things to fill my first Saturday of the school year.

So I turned around.

Sometimes one thing will have to remain unfinished so others can be finished.
“There was so much work left to do…”

“But so much you’ve already done…”

I think what really inspired me to write was the conversation with fellow hikers I had along the way. I mean, I totally get it. If I was going to turn around I should’ve done it at the first tier, not the second. It’s like I just waved to the finish line but veered off to get a head start on the complimentary refreshments.

“Did you make it to the top and back that quickly?” He was with an other gentleman and they each had their hands wrapped around a leash that was attached to a dog. One was a Saint Bernard mix and the other some sort of cattle dog. I had greeted the dogs on my way up as they were coming down not too long ago. I recognized the dogs better than their humans.

“Oh. No. I just turned around.” I said already trying to justify why in my head. Why DID I? “I don’t think I’m wearing the right shoes.” I blurted. Semi true.

“Oh I did it in Chuck’s!” He bragged. “You should be fine.” His hiker friend agreed.

I looked at the dogs panting loudly and scrounging for the little shade that existed under a small ridge. (It was approaching 100 degrees out.) I looked at the hikers. 

“Its been a while since I’ve hiked this trail. I’m just proud I made it out here.” As I said the word proud I gave myself a little triumphant-hoorah-fist-pump towards the sky.

They both smiled. “Maybe next time.” I agreed. And as their dogs kept panting with no choice but to go where their masters went and no say in when, I continued my slow and cautious climb down. (My body has become so much more precious to me as I’ve gotten older. Maybe it comes with age or experience but there’s too many out of control things that could happen naturally, I don’t want to add a fall to my current recovery stage.)

I passed a resting couple as well and since I wasn’t sure if they noticed my apparently bizarre decision about not going to the top I decided to be the first to direct the conversation. “There’s just no clear path is there?” I said dodging where I would’ve liked to step inorder to avoid the loose gravel while not wanting to intrude too much in their fresh air space.

“Nope! You just have to blaze your own trail on this hike.”

I liked that response. High five to that hiker guy. 

It wasn’t that the Chuck’s guy was rude or insensitive. He was actually very friendly and just making light conversation. Possibly thinking he was being encouraging. We need that some times. But when we encounter something we don’t want, even encouragement, it’s up to us to receive it well enough and show people how we actually need to be encouraged. I didn’t have to go into my life saga of how my cronic illness had taken over my life these past couple years and if he’d known maybe he’d be amazed I was just able to make the 30 minute drive out here instead of focusing on me not going to the top. 

It’s how we internalize what others say that will either placate our preexisting anxieties or nullify them. 

I took the conversation into my own hands. I didn’t let them feed the already festering guilt I carry for not finishing something or the jealousy of not being able to do what others around me are doing. This time I chose this path, it didn’t choose me. I turned around. And climbed down with a smile.

I decided I had enough. So I turned around. 

Same with being tired of feeling and seeing my hair fall out. Tomorrow I’m going to get a new haircut. I’m deciding this. Not the fact that I have no idea why it is; when or if it will stop, but I need it to stop. I need a change in scenary. I can’t keep looking at clogged drains and full combs. I want to fill up my day with joy, not bins of brittle hair-reminding what I’ve gone through and still recovering from. It could be from all the meds, old and new working in my body simultaneously. The ones allowing me to keep up with the life I want to live right now. Or it could be the scary low potassium levels I had months ago (hair sometimes reacts delayed from such experiences apparently). I can’t even begin to know what my friend went through with chemo but it sure is hard to see locks of full, healthy, flowing hair on other’s heads while I’m self consciously tying the hair tie looping it double what I usually do, being ever so gentle to try to lessen the loss.

It sounds petty but I’ve always loved my long brown hair. Others have told me they loved it too. I like wearing it straight, down, up, curled, braided (I just learned a fishtail). But I’ve always wanted to know if I would like shorter hair too. Never had much of a desire to actually go through with it though. Its always been just a trim. But while I’ve got some left on my head, I might as well see for myself. It’s in the hairdresser’s hands come tomorrow.

Taking the steps. Turning around. Changing the view. Starting anew. Leaving some time and some room for growth. 

I’m not done turning out til I’m done.

Luke 12:7, John 19:28-30

Key Change or Refrain

“Sing the theme song to Friends” he said with an eager ear. 

Mike and I were in the middle of an episode, soaking up the last few days of our teacher summer. I knew I was walking into a trap by the look on his face but I sang it anyway. When I got to the “I’ll be there for you” verse his animated face glowed with satisfaction. 

“That’s not the melody.” He declared. 

I love Friends. I may not be the best at singing but I know the theme song to one of my favorite shows. Don’t I? “Hey! Don’t make fun, I sang it the best I could.” I said with pride yet still quizzical. 

“Not that. I meant that’s not the melody I hear.” He proceeded to sing his version. “I’ll be there for you.” Mike is an amazing singer and can always turn a song inside out to make it his own. I usually like his song covers better than the original but you just can’t mess with a classic like Friends. 

“No no. It goes ‘I’ll be there for you’…” I sang with confidence.

“Listen again.” He reset the episode ( ah Netflix) and we listened from the beginning. I was so sure of what I was about to hear. I’ve heard it hundreds of times. But there it was. I couldn’t believe it. “I’ll be there for you” buzzed through just as clearly now for me as “I’ll be there for you” and suddenly I was questioning everything. It was the same feeling when you see those ambiguous images. You start off seeing the two faces looking at each other but are told there’s a vase and then you can’t unsee either one. (Or vice versa.)

“Play it again!” We listened to it half a dozen more times testing ourselves to hear it both ways and finally just decided to appreciate the duet since we couldn’t agree which was the harmony and which was the melody. ( I still think it’s “I’ll be there for you.”)

Right now I think my life’s theme song would be “I’m still a work in progress, trying to figure it out one step at a time.” There are many parts to my song I wish to discover.

________________

When I was really sick I had decided to explore an Option B which was teaching online. It seemed like it’d be less physical stress on the body and when you can’t get out of bed, teaching in pajamas seems like a life changer. I thought it was what I had to or should do. It just seemed rational given my history. Plus, the thought of having my coworkers cover for me again if my symptoms return is unsettling and unfair. I thought I owed it to everyone to at least look at some alternatives. 

One inquiry lead to another and I was honored to be offered an online teaching job at a virtual high school. I was faced with one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a while. To leave a school where I am completely supported; teaching students and subjects I love or accepting a new opportunity that could really allow me to focus on this path I’m on to full recovery. A wonderful delema. Blessed to have options. Yet I completely broke down emotionally. I felt compelled towards and confident in both decisions for the couple days I had to mull it over. It wasn’t healthy. I just didn’t know the right step to take and I got worked up over it. I looked for signs and found one for each side. Why can’t my life operate like Jim Carrey’s did in Bruce Almighty having Morgan Freeman pop his head in (I’d even just take a call from him to hear his voice) spilling out the exact words of wisdom I need at any moment?

I felt like I was swinging for a piñata blindfolded. But even that has more acuity because after you’ve been spun around you typically get directed towards the object of interest before swinging away aimlessly. For your safety and others. I needed that direction now too. Fear of defeat leeched onto the energy it took to recover from a miss and dragging anyone else down with me.

After discussions, deliberation, and discernment I decided to decline the virtual school and remain at my current school.

I’m staying!

I bounced around like a kid on Christmas feeling like I just got my dream job all over again. I get to do what I WANT. I thought this opportunity fell in my lap and at this time for a reason and was a sign but I just am not ready to go, and maybe that was what it was supposed to show me. Who really knows. All I know is I get to back to work with people I love, in a classroom I’ve made mine and subjects I enjoy. I get to do this because I got better and am continuing to heal. I feel so blessed. I knew I had it good but being on the verge of losing this part of my life made me really resent my disease for possibly taking it away from me. Robbing me of singing my song the way I wanted. But even if I chose to or had to leave, no experience can rob you unless you let it. I know I would’ve found a new melody because even though I’m staying in the same place I am seeing it brand new. I can hear the harmony.

__________________

Today I held the keys to MY classroom and I am full of Hope and Happiness. I was greeted by the familiar smell of the school that had been deep cleaned over the summer and some smiling faces from coworkers (a few that saved my butt at the end of last year when I had to take so much time off) who were trying to get a head start on getting their classrooms ready, too. The jingle and jangle my keys made was music to my ears. The way it smoothly glided into the doorknob that unlocked a room deprived of and ready for attention makes me feel a little overwhelmed but still overjoyed this is something I am up for doing. This key chain didn’t change but other things have. While I couldn’t say goodbye to now former students before I welcome and meet my new ones, I am holding the keys again. They are mine. This song is mine. I have the ability to make the changes I want to make.

 __________________

On the days I was pretty much bedridden and using any energy I had to make it to the restroom I would scroll through social media to pass some time. DON’T EVER DO THIS. (Or if you do, limit it to 2 minutes tops and only look at your real friends’ feed. You know, the ones who you actually talk to outside of a screen.) I lived vicariously through vacations I saw other people going on or throwing celebrations. Living their lives so freely with no hesitation to eat foods that would probably kill me. I wanted that. I got really depressed. I know no one’s life is as glamorous as it looks, but even the glimpse into other lives made me feel I was going no where and not physically able to do anything about it.

So I made some goals. You can’t just start wacking away at the big piñatas before you know how to swing a bat. I slowly learned to swing again. I found other parts of my song. I wanted to somehow make it to the beach. A beach day means you are physically able to walk on a surface that makes you use different muscles. A beach day means you get to spend time away from routines and business. A beach day means freedom.

A week ago it happened. After months of hoping for it I got myself to the beach! I was able to make the 6 hour drive each way just to spend a total of 24 hours in San Diego but… I did it. I stayed at my friend’s house which was an other reason to go in itself. I got to stick my feet in the sand. The crusty surface giving way to the soft, warm, and welcoming ground.  My eyes strained to make sense of the endless waves and horizon in front of me but my mind and body relaxed absorbing the fresh air and atmosphere. I got my long walk on the beach with a dear friend. I got my mini vacation. I did it! I made this goal happen. 

Now I need an other goal. Continue healing in every way and achieve remission. After a couple people suggested it and planted the seed, it was my friend Heather, who encouraged me to finally water it. I know exactly where I was when I decided to pursue seeing a counselor. My first appointment is tomorrow. 

I want to find the best and be the best version of myself I can be and my journey to health doesn’t end even if the physical symptoms do. I can’t let my emotions negatively influence me either. I can’t live in fear every day of going backwards or having a relapse. Of swinging that bat at nothing or hitting something I don’t want. I physically can’t afford to stress out over anything- especially a good delema. I want all my melodies to be heard clearly and confidently. 

Asking for help in any way does not make you weak. Having the courage to ask already makes you stronger.

Facing yourself can be frightening. But I don’t want to swing blindfolded hitting the wall thinking it’s the piñata when I can ask for someone to help redirect those powerful blows. It might just bear fruit (or candy). We’ll see.

_____________

There are many parts to our song and some come in clearer while others discretely exist until we chose to listen or search for them. They can give our cadence company or linger for a solo. Each bring out a new perspective with so many parts to explore and create. We use a little guidance and direction sometimes to hit our marks and be showered by the sweetness in life. There’s no right or wrong version. With a key change or two we can unlock the doors or bridges that swing our way into a new phase or take us to the refrain. Just keep singing and swinging.

We have the greatest Guide and Composer who works around the clock filling us with beautiful melodies that are meant to be repeated, accompanied, or changed. He leaves the keys (or bat) in our hands while we’re held by His.

Psalm 59:16-17

Good Ol’ Days

Everyone has a “good ol’ days” story or moment. Those memories that we can’t help but smile while we reflect over and the times we wish we could relive and rediscover all over again. The oldie but goodie song that can take you back to a simpler time or rapturous state. (The Backstreet Boys don’t play with my heart when it comes to feel-good nostalgia.) We seem to recall these precious moments or time period for either of two reasons. 

One reason might be that our current moment seems grim or uncomfortable. We use these memories as a beacon of hope to aspire to attain again soon, or maybe just in the least to allow our minds an escape from the present long enough to combat any foreboding thoughts. It’s been better. It will get better. And you already feel better.

The other plausible reason we recall the good times could be because we are living one right now. And since we recognize the euphoric feeling of what this imperfect but beautiful world has to offer, we know where it belongs- in our Good Times memory bank; stored away for a rainy day or to reminisce with our next life high. 

We need Depth to recognize Height.  Sorrow to know Joy. And Pain to see Healing. 

I had a moment the other day. I had the best to-do list ever. It was a list of “regular” household tasks and grocery shopping to complete so that I could see friends and movies and shows and eat good food (I still have a huge appetite) and live! Not that I wasn’t living before, but now my body isn’t getting in my way like I felt it had. I can make plans with people and not have to cancel.  I can do my own grocery shopping after going to the gym (which I mostly just walk on the treadmill, but still) and also have energy left for meal prepping. All of these activities on their own, not so long ago, would have required major mental preparation and self-motivational speeches but still would deplete my energy and need multiple naps and more motivational speeches in order to recover. I can’t believe they have moved from the “Most I’m able to do” list to my “To-do” list. 

Those times of struggling in that way weren’t necessarily moments I look fondly back on and I definitely never want to return to or relive them. It still hits close to home and the fear of them resurfacing is real and daunting. Yet, every day I wake up and have an other good day it becomes effortless to find Gratitude and Grace and more moments for Good Times. They swarm around and embrace me with such clarity. I know these are moments I will look fondly back on because I look fondly at them now.

I have made more time for my passions which have enriched and helped restore my being. Participating in concert band again, taking a painting class and trying new DIY projects are just a few ways I’ve been exploring what makes me who I am. I enjoy my own presence and seeing myself revisit old hobbies with new life experiences while picking up new ones along the way. When I’m doing what I love it’s like the rest of the world fades away and a whole new world opens. A world that always existed; waiting latent, more than ready to be unearthed. 

We all have so many buried treasures but if we don’t dig into at least a few of them we miss out on the ways our lives can be enriched.

I am learning you can never stop searching, never stop trying to be the best version of yourself. How cliche. But if we truly lived by some of these cheesy expressions, maybe life really is what we make it, and we have the power to make it amazing. By putting the things we love the most first into our jar before adding the superfluous. Because you can’t take it with you when you go but you can leave a legacy. Keeping in mind that our gifts are our own to give the way we want to give them. And knowing that self care is not selfish. The best day to begin is today.

I hope I never get too swept up in the race to get to those good moments that I forget to appreciate and be grateful for the process and ability to get to them. To not ignore my own needs spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically. To continue to uproot my passions and plant them deeper in my core where they can better blossom. I hope I can greet the hardships respectfully so I can fully enjoy the good in Good Times. 

Some good days are easier to recognize than others. Any day we use to make ourselves better, enrich our lives, or of course find joy is a good day.

The good ol’ days are today. 

Psalm 118:24

Live on, hats off

We have the opportunity to wear many hats throughout our lives. When we put those hats on we become an other version of ourselves. Still completely us, but in various forms. 

I have a Teacher and Student hat. A Sister, Daughter, Girlfriend, and Friend hat. An Artist, Hiker, Musician, Teammate and Traveler hat. I’m still exploring and still collecting. All these hats and more have logos and different colors, shapes, and sizes. All beautiful. They each bring out something unique while allowing me to love and be loved; to explore and to create. 

I also have an Ulcerative Colitis Patient hat. 

My UCP hat ( or sombrero at times) hasn’t always felt like it’s been a great accessory to what I’d prefer to wear. Actually, I’ve never felt it’s gone with any outfit. From my elementary school overalls to my professional educator attire, it just does not go. (IT doesn’t go but it makes ME go!) It’s never a good time to put on the hat that makes you lose control of normal body functions. That restricts you from doing what you want. With this hat on the others will have to wait for their next wear. It hasn’t been fair. While my other hats offer sun protection, wardrobe inhancement and confidence boosting qualities, this eye sore, over-sized, and headache inducing hat can leave me feeling suffocated and lost. The size can make it hard to see where I’m going and the weight can leave me stationary. When I’ve worn it I’ve felt like I can’t go anywhere or even see what’s going on around me.

Lately, I’ve been able to hang this hat up. It took a team and my own will power to lift it off. Once a hat is worn though it becomes a part of you and once you’ve seen yourself in a certain hat you can’t unsee it. It scares me to think I could wear it again  at anytime but then again no one really knows what hats we will have to cap ourselves with. I see parts of this hat even in my other hats. I think about it even when I’m wearing others. But this hat is not a burden to own. I now see my other ones more beautifully and more fully enjoy when I get to wear them. I have a better understanding of what relief and gratitude feel like. It hasn’t always brought out the best side of me, but no one hat can really do that anyway.

Maybe all of our hats put together are who we are as a person. Or maybe our true selves are what’s left without any of our hats. Either way, we are loved by someOne who loves us no matter what. Plus, He goes with everything even when we’ve got nothing on. 

Romans 8:38-39

Maintenance Required

Flash light? Check. Jumper cables? Check. Pepper spray? Double checked. I was ready.

The first car I bought was a 1998 Grand Marquis (I called him Hernando) and he was what I had when I decided to take my first road trip all by myself. The plastered look on my parents’ face screamed concern but mine was illuminated by the anticipated adventure the open road always seems to uphold. I have a friend who lives in San Diego and it was summer in Vegas. If you’ve been to either of those two places I don’t need to explain my rationale for wanting to go visit her. Plus she’s awesome and I would visit her any where anyway.

I was cruising and singing to a 90’s flashback down interstate 15 when I passed a phone station. They have emergency phones every so often down these long stretches of road apparently. I had never noticed it before. Or I had never given it much thought until this particular trip. The music faded as my thoughts invaded. What if?

I glanced at my cellphone, not the best signal but useable…I hope! I looked at the temperature. Yikes. I thought about my dad thoroughly inspecting my car before and after I’d taken it to the mechanic (which was pretty much Hernando’s second home). I had done everything I could to make this a successful trip but it still didn’t exempt me from any mishaps. 

I didn’t need any phone booth (thank you, Lord!), although the way Hernando handled some hills I thought I’d have to get aquatinted with an old-school dial pad again. Pulling back into my driveway, the cool California air still trapped in the car, waiting to quickly evaporate into the Vegas heat, I took a moment to appreciate all the precautions I (and mostly my dad) had taken that safely got me to my destinations. Even with newer cars that will warn you when maintenance is required, giving you ample time to address it, things can still pop up without the little courtesy red light on your dashboard. Being prepared and proactive probably saved me some headaches that time.

A journey to healing takes a little more than the physical, albeit. It’s not like you can plug the address 123 Optimal Health Drive in the City of Find Me in the State of NC (New Colon) into a GPS and get there. You can do all the right things, listen to all the best advice and still have to use that phone station. A lot. 

And, the best call to make is to the one who made you. 

Like the flashlight, jumper cables and pepper spray- God is ready to light the way, restart our engines, and protect us from harm. All we have to do is let Him. 

[This post is dedicated to my two dear friends who recently traveled from Colorado and Virginia just to sit on my couch and watch movies with me. Both are in the midst of their own journies. One is still battling the aftermath of chemo for ovarian cancer while traveling with her baby to see me. The other just had to watch and assist her spouse after intensive back surgery. While they are always there for me, they some how found the time and means to be with me in person during a part of my journey. I am grateful to their families for sharing their time with me. I’m honored by the execution let alone just thinking to come see me. I am constantly blessed and amazed by our friendship. They have helped lift my spirits more than they’ll ever know. GOoD call. Maintaining overall health probably requires starting with just that.]

Costco

“Would you like help out with your groceries?” Is a line I would say without actually listening to the implication behind it about 50 times on any given shift.  I used to work at Vons (Safeway) and had other costumer service jobs throughout high school and college. Most of which had required inquiries we would ask our always-right-customers to make sure their experience from beginning to end was enjoyable and as easy as possible. 

I didn’t realize then that one day I would really appreciate the people who try to make such an everyday venture as seemless as can be.

Lately the steroids and other pharmaceutical drugs have started to kick in and every day I’m seeing improvement. I’m gaining weight and my muscles are  relearning certain operations I will never take for granted again, like bending over to pick up a bedroom that had been neglected for weeks. I’ve also been able to drive myself to band practice, doctors, a watercolor class… And Costco. 

Every endeavor I was able to complete on my own this week was exciting. I can’t thank my mom enough for wheeling me around and the sweet quality time together but it sure feels liberating to get into a car and sit in the driver’s seat. Every time I did I was reminded of that freedom feeling you get at 16 when you first pass your driving test and are considered safe to society to legally be alone operating a vehicle. It doesn’t matter where you go at first, just going is thrilling enough. “I’m on the ROAD! I’m turning here because I can… I’m on the freeway! I can pass that car if I want. No one can hear my amazing voice harmonizing with the radio!” 

I got my driver’s license in high school while I was also on a soccer team. I was never the fastest. I actually was probably the lowest. The first time I drove though I remember thinking how cool it was that a simple matter of pressing your foot a little further on a gas pedal can turn you into the faster car while it takes giving it all your lung and leg capacity to beat your neighbor on the soccer field.

No. I have never street raced.  I don’t even speed…more than 10mph. I just think it’s cool that everyone on the road has basically the same ability to keep up with the flow of cars around them as the next car does.

I made it to Costco. Ronaldo, my new 2015 red RAV4, flowed with the traffic and was imbedded in the massive parking lot patiently awaiting my return. There is no great time to go to Costco, there are just better times. Even though I picked a better time, it was still a shopping frenzy even before I walked inside. People were looking out for ANY empty parking spots​ more than they were looking out for shoppers meandering into and out of the store. And the meanderers were no better. They weren’t watching where they were going as they walked in while trying to pull their Costco membership cards out of their wallets and those walking out were zigzagging their over-stuffed carts all over the place in search of their cars. It can be dangerous place. 

I made the trek to the entrance glancing around for any of said hindrances and a quick one back at Ronaldo. You got this. I got my cart and found the natural flow of cart shoppers making their way in as well. I immediately felt rushed though like I was in a school of fish swimming with a current that was taking me to the opposite end of the sea I needed to be. People have agendas, lists, time-frames and I had mine. I had my list of organic gluten-free pastas ( only Costco has AND in bulk of course)  and knew my body couldn’t stand for too long so that was my time line. I had calculated how much energy I’d need to walk into Costco, walk around Costco, wait on the inevitable line at checkout and to load the groceries into the car as my energy supply for the day. I was doing well! No one around me would’ve known just how much mental and physical energy I was exerting. Actually, no one really notices or makes eye contact with you unless you’re in their way or accidentally bump into each other. Those agendas, ya know? 

I got mine accomplished and decided to rest-walk my cart through the clothes section since there seemed to be less people to navigate around. My forearms running parallel down the sides of the cart and my back hunched over relying on the cart to hold all of my upper weight, I spotted a couple really cute tank tops. There are no dressing rooms so I pulled one on over my clothes and heard an “Oooh I like that” from an other shopper. They weren’t talking to me or even looking in my direction but I obviously liked it enough to have thought they were. I put it in my cart and grabbed an other in a different color. Mom would be proud.

Okay, I need to get out of here. I’ve used more energy from my supply then I had gaged (but the tanks were worth it)! Because of my customer service background, I usually like to load up my own grocery cart. Maybe it’s the nostalgia but I’m very meticulous and actually know the proper way of packing groceries. I’m really good at Tetris and can maximize bag space efficiently. Plus I enjoy the challenge. Which is why I used to rock-paper-scissor it with coworkers for the bagger position over cart corraling. But not today. Today I graciously let them reload my cart because I just realized I didn’t account for the engergy I’d need to unload it from my car to the house. I could use a hand and even though it may just be their job to ask, I appreciated the available help. 

When I was a bagger I used to ask everyone out of habit if they needed help out to their car and every now and then an elderly person or mom with kids would take me up on it. It would always catch me off guard, not that they needed help but because they accepted something I didn’t even realize I offered. The people who took me up on my required customer service offer usually made sense. I didn’t realize I judged based off of obvious impairments people had. I wonder what the Costco guy would’ve thought if I’d asked for help. 

I got back to Ronaldo and loaded him up with my findings and soon-to-be nourishments. Done! No wait. I had parked far away from a shopping cart corral and no way was I bringing it all the way to the front of the store. Ugh. I get why people just leave them on the nearest curb now- one of my biggest pet peeves. I decided to rest-walked that cart to the closest corral, dodging cars and meanderers again. The Vegas heat started to warm the metal on the cart, raise my heart rate and my desire to just be home resting. 

But I did it. Ronaldo and I made it. It took a nap, some food, lots of water, another nap/ good night’s rest and some more food later before I recovered from my trip to Costco but good thing I bought in bulk (the only option really) so I don’t have a reason to go back any time soon. Well, unless I want a different color tank top. 

It’s easy to take for granted the freedom feeling well affords. It’s easy to overlook offering someone help who doesn’t seem to need it. It’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of life’s natural flow. But I’ve been blessed this week to appreciate those things. Just takes a little pressure on the gas pedal and a whole lot of God to get back on track and in the game. The best part? He’s on my team and doesn’t care if I’m the slowest. He’ll get me there. AND He’ll offer me help every step of the way. 

Less of me, more of Him

“You’re​ a pretty girl and could even be a 10 if you lost a couple pounds.”

I was a junior or senior in high school when one of my guy “friends” told me this. I was actually flattered. I wasn’t hurt or offended as I now know I should’ve been. He was older and the type of guy who dated girls based off of looks first and, let’s be honest, his unfiltered comment is a very typical mindset to have at that age. He truly was trying to give me a compliment and encouragement and I chose to hear the sentiment instead of the wording.

What buffoons. Both of us. Him for saying that and me for justifying it.

I was always the largest of all my friends. Ever since I can remember I would get hand-me-downs from girls three years older that would barely fit. I saw how clothes fit other girls and looked at my own body and knew I could never pull off the latest look but it didn’t stop me from trying. I went to the large or extra large rack while my friends shopped in the mediums and smalls. As much as I wanted a smaller figure my stomach wanted extra helpings of homemade cooking and treats. I love food! My heaviest ever official weigh-in at the doctor’s was 165 pounds. However, like most women I think, my driver’s license has always lied documenting me at 10 pounds lighter. Who’s going to know?

My driver’s license lies now but by 30 pounds. And not in the same way. My current weigh-in this week at the doctor’s office was 125 pounds. The lightest I’ve ever been.

What do you think of me now, highschool guy friend?

I’ve been in great shape. When I was in elementary school I participated every summer on a swim team, played tennis, played soccer on and off including on my high school team both freshmen and sophomore years. I played in the marching band for 4 years and yes, I consider that excercise because when you’re keeping up with a beat, physically marching and playing at the same time, you do raise your heart rate. And sweat. Although those uniforms alone would make you sweat. When I went away to college I spent free time at the gym and came home for break now the same size as my friends since they gained the freshman 15 where I lost it. But the best shape I’ve been in was when I trained with and jogged a half marathon for CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation) in the fall of 2012. I was only hungry for good food that could sustain me through a training. I had already gone gluten and dairy free which helped some symptoms I was having at the time so my body slowly started looking like a runner’s body and my clothes fit better. I was able to fit into an old prom dress from one of the girls who I used to get hand-me-downs from and… it looked good on me. My confidence soared and I was a part of something awesome. I was in great shape at about 145 pounds.

All these physically activities and diet changes kept me what I thought to be a healthy person. I did hurt my knee at mile 10 so after the half marathon I stuck to hiking and jogging at the gym. I was pretty active until this Great Flare of 2016 to present struck. Now walking up and down the stairs is my heart-racing training for the day. Yoga is my half marathon. Keeping food down and staying hydrated is my new nutritional meal plan.

I don’t recognize my body these days. Small or even extra small fits better now. It’s not the way I wanted to lose weight. It’s not the way anyone should lose weight. I’ve done it the right way. I know what healthy feels like. This time I have to train my body to go the other way.

My parents always instilled in me to finish what I start. Especially for a good cause and a good reason. That’s probably why I kept going after mile 10 with a hurt knee to get to that 13.1. Can’t run? Jog. Can’t jog? Walk. Can’t walk? Crawl.

But I couldn’t finsihed this school year. My third and favorite teaching year. I had the best kids. I loved what I taught. My room has more student work up than wall space can hold. I just physically couldn’t get my body to work for the last two weeks. This was the first time I felt I didn’t complete something I started. I feel like I failed. Myself, my students, my job. The only day I made it to work these past two weeks I sat and watched a couple classes take their final and admired their art work and projects that hung around them. Some of it already falling off the wall without me there to repin it. I watched them concentrate on the subjects I hope I taught well enough.

What I really hope they learn in high school is how to value themselves. How it doesn’t matter what rack you have to get your size from. How much more there is than wearing the latest trend well.

I left that day not realizing I wouldn’t be back this school year. Thanks to understanding administration and more than supportive coworkers, who will come to my house to get my check-out items so I don’t even have to drag my body to work to sign out, I get to begin my new journey to healing. A journey I intend to finish what I start. I will get better and start thriving, not just surviving. I will find a healthy weight again. My body will come around.

I didn’t fail. I was afforded a jump start to recovery. I am training harder for my health than I ever have before because God is my coach, my gym buddy, my healer. He did not give me this situation. This is not His perfect plan for me but with Him I was, I am and always will be a 10.