Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Personal Opinion

I want to take a minute to talk about mental health, and the stigmas associated with it.  Friday morning in Connecticut here in the US a twenty year old man walked into an elementary school and began to fire a gun.  He killed 27 people...including students as young as 6 years old.  All of the United States is grieving, and many are asking how and why this happened.  Although I don't understand it myself, what I do understand is that the man who did this was very ill.

Often when tragedies like this happen the news media creates a circus around the suspect.  They gather all the information that they can about them, plaster their picture on the television, talk to neighbors and family friends, and try and find out as much as they can about the individual.  Living in Colorado where several mass shootings have happened I have seen this circus first hand.

As I have mentioned before, I studied Psychology in school.  The Psychologist in me analyzes when something like this happens.  I look at mass shooters such as James Holmes (Aurora, CO theater shooter), Michael Carneal (Paducah, KY high school shooter), Adam Lanza (Newtown, CT elementary school shooter), and many others in a different way I believe because of my education.  I look at these individuals as extremely ill individuals, and although many would say that, I believe that they weren't just "crazy".

Often we view mental illness as being someone who is "crazy", who we want to stay away from because we are scared of them, and who we can do nothing to help.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  I honestly believe that many of the individuals who commit acts such as this have serious undiagnosed mental illnesses.  After the Aurora theater shooting it was reported that officials called James Holmes' mother, who when informed of what happened responded "you have the right person".  It was also reported that neighbors of Adam Lanza stated that he "wasn't well".  People knew that these individuals had problems, but they were either too afraid, or didn't know how, to do anything about it.

I'm not saying that every person that we see who seems a bit off in our minds is going to go out and go on a shooting rampage.  What I am saying is that if we saw someone on the street with blood on their leg, walking with a limp, and cringing in pain most of us wouldn't just walk by them like we didn't see them.  Mental illness is a legitimate medical condition, it truly isn't just "in someones head".  Chemicals in the brain aren't absorbed, or being produced, or being over produced.  Messages from the brain get mixed up, or don't get sent to the right place.  There is honestly something wrong, and if our fingers got cut off we'd ask a doctor to reattach them we wouldn't just say "oh they'll get better in time it'll be fine."

If you look at mass shootings from an analytical perspective I believe that you can see a trend beginning in the 2000's.  Young shooters, teenagers and individuals in their 20's, and who have suffered a major life trauma recently.  Things such as being dismissed from school, recent family trauma such as a parental divorce, and significant bullying to name a few.  These are high stress situations, things most of us would have a difficult time dealing with.  I don't believe these individuals who "snap" and go on a rampage though do know how to deal with these situations at all.  I believe that an entire generation hasn't been given the tools to cope with disappointment, struggle and difficulty.  I'm not saying the situations that triggered these individuals weren't stressful, I'm just saying I don't think they had the emotional tools to deal with the stress they were under.  We have to fix this!

Gun control has become a big topic in the US due to the mass shootings that have happened.  To be honest I don't believe that's the biggest issue to be addressed out of this.  Honestly I believe that we need to address our mental health stigmas more than gun control.  Don't misunderstand me, I still believe that we need to look at how easy it is to obtain weapons in the US, but if we get people the help that they need I believe they will be less likely to commit the acts that have become commonplace here.  School Psychologists, and social and emotional programs are being cut from schools.  Parents are doing less parenting and expecting schools and caretakers to give their children the emotional support they should be receiving from them.  And we are telling more and more people to just "buck up" and "pull themselves up by their boot straps".

The emotional and psychological stress individuals are under today are more than there ever have been before.  Teenagers and young adults realize in this economy finding employment is, and will be difficult.  Supporting themselves has become one of the most difficult things to do.  Fear of getting sick because they can't afford health insurance and can no longer be on their parents.  Having to chose between paying rent and eating.  Not being able to afford to continue education.  Fear of having a family of their own they will have to find a way to support.  There are all common fears now that weren't there twenty years ago.  The world is changing, but we haven't changed the way we support future generations.

To me gun control isn't the issue, and won't stop this epidemic we have here.  Although I would one day love to see a mental health evaluation become part of the application process to obtain a gun, I don't believe it will happen.  The biggest issue American's need to take from these events in my eyes is the fact that we need to change mental health stigmas.  Get people the help that they need, and the tools that they need.  We need to stop being afraid of people who "scare" us because they may have a mental disorder, and rather pick them up and help them.

The mental health field needs to change too.  There are major differences between Counselors, Therapists, Psychologists, and Psychiatrist's.  Each one is equipped to help people in different ways, based on different needs.  Someone who needs to be medicated due to Multiple Personality Disorder a counselor isn't equipped to treat.  Recognize, maybe, but not treat.  The American Psychological Association enabling providers to have any diagnosis on a sliding scale in their new diagnostic manual only creates more fear about mental health.  They are allowing providers to say everyone can have a little bit of every condition.  The mental health field needs to be overhauled in order to help people get rid of the stigma associated with it.

These are my own personal opinions, and some may agree with me, and some may not.  I'm all right with that.  The fact is that I believe everyone knows something has to change here in the US to stop these events from happening.  Although we may not agree with what has to change, we can agree that change has to happen.  Please help and support change that does happen.  America needs to come together more than ever, and not have issues and changes happening pull us further apart.

My heart goes out to all those affected by any massacre that has happened.  No one should ever have to go through the pain of losing a loved one in a violent act. <3

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I bet you thought that I had forgotten you. Nope, just been super busy between personal life events/drama, my new job, and keeping up with my crafting business through the holiday's I've just been a bit overwhelmed lately.  I can't tell you how many times I've begun a post, only to have to walk away fifteen minutes later.  Somehow if I don't sit down and get the post done and posted in one sitting, it just doesn't get done.  Sorry about that, but hopefully I can make it through this one and posted.

There are changes happening in my life (some good, some I wish weren't happening) and because of these changes this blog is going to change a bit too.  Yes this blog is still about discovering how to love myself for me, that will never change.  What makes us happy does change over time though.  For instance when I was six I'd say ice cream made me the happiest girl in the world.  Well ice cream still makes me happy at almost 30 years old, but other things make me happier than ice cream now like a day with no commitments so I can sleep past 6am, lol.  So naturally in the almost two years I've been doing this blog, with all the life changes that have happened, the blog needs to change too.

Although physical health and fitness are still a part of my life, they will no longer be the focus of the blog.  Yes there will be posts about them still, but right now I've made a move in my life to be more emotionally and spiritually fit as well.  This means that this blog, which is about me personally, is going to change as well.  Not big changes since I began to move in this direction last year about this time, but I guess I'll feel more comfortable posting about other things happening in my life on here now that I've said this change is happening.

So what's happening in my life now that is of note?  Well I did finally get a job in Denver!!!!  Although not full-time, and not totally in my field, it's at least something that helps me keep my head above water.  I'm hoping that this will open new doors for me in the long run though, and in the process I've been meeting some pretty cool people.  So yay for making more Denver connections!

I also have been working hard with my small business, Handmade Heart.  Although it's still not at a place I would love to see it at, I also know that right now as long as I can break even with it I'm doing well.  My big thing this year was making handmade gifts for my family and friends for the holiday's.  I will never be making that mistake again!!!!  All my free time recently has been taken up by making a mad dash to finish a quilt I began back in September for my sister's boyfriend!  Don't get me wrong, it's SUPER cute, fun, and I know he'll love it when it's done, but good grief!  I'm still not going to have it totally finished before I have to mail it for Christmas, but hopefully he'll get the idea.  Other than personal projects though the business seems to be getting out there some and I love that people enjoy the things I make.

Finally my personal life...well I unfortunately can't talk about a lot happening in that department.  There are some good things, and some bad things happening that are all stressful, exciting, and saddening.  Those close to me know what these things are, and are being super supportive.  As I said though, for various reasons I can't talk about them.  What I can talk about though is the fact that I will be having my first non-familial visitor come in two weeks!!!!!  My good friend Jennifer is coming to see me at the end of the year.  We will ring in the new year together in Denver (or wherever in Colorado we end up going)!  It's been almost a year since I've seen Jennifer so I'm beyond excited to see her.  She's not only my best friend, but my sorority sister (adopted little sister as a matter of fact), former roommate, and former co-worker.  Basically she's as close to family to me as you can get without being actually related!!!  While Jennifer's here I'm going to try and talk her into moving here...Or if all else fails I'll just not take her to the airport to go back home, lol.  Since I can't travel home this month, and I couldn't for Thanksgiving either, seeing a face from back there in person will be really nice!

Jennifer and I summer 2011
I will attempt to keep this blog more updated than I have been, especially now that there is a new focus.  =)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eggplant Manicotti Recipe

*** If you've found this site via Pinterest, Welcome! I encourage you to take a look at the rest of this blog to find more posts about clean eating, healthy choices, exercise, and most I've been learning to find love and happiness for myself. Enjoy the recipe! =) ***

I love food...this should be a well known fact by now if you've been reading this blog at all.  I love cooking, I love eating, I love trying new things, most of all I love how food has a tendency to bring people together.  For good or bad, food is a comfort for many of us.

When my grandmother passed away people brought food to the funeral home for my family to eat.  When my grandfather passed away people brought food to my grandmothers home.  When my mother had surgery people brought food to my parents house.  When I've been sick friends have brought food to my apartment for me so I didn't have to cook when not feeling well.  Finally when a good friend of mine had her first child her fridge was so full of food she literally didn't have to go shopping or out to eat for over a month!  Let's face it, when something happens to someone we have a tendency to bring them food to help.  I see nothing wrong with this, as a matter of fact I think that it can be a huge help sometimes.

I also know that I can only eat so many casseroles before they go bad though.  This is why I have been trying to work on a meal that would freeze well for situations like this so that the individual can just freeze it and pull it out when they have eaten all the other dishes.  I wanted it to be healthy too, so no cream of ick soup in it at all!!!  Also I wanted to make something so on those lazy days when I just don't feel like cooking I can just toss it in the oven and have dinner!  (Yes I can be super lazy when I want to be! lol)

So I decided to tweak a recipe I found in Rocco DiSpirito's cookbook, "Now Eat This!".  I made the dish larger (to feed more people), and added a bit more too it since I felt like it needed some protein.  So I'm sharing with you my adapted recipe for Eggplant Manicotti which I think it pretty amazing!  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!  =)

Eggplant Manicotti
 8 Servings

2 Large Eggplants
2 Cups Ricotta (You can also use cream cheese, or cottage cheese if you can't get ricotta or don't like it.)
1 Cup Parmesan
1 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
1 Jar Pasta Sauce (I jazz up jar sauce with a tablespoon of Italian seasoning, 2 minced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of dried onion.  This is totally optional though!)
1 lbs. Ground Beef (You could also use ground turkey for a leaner option)
1.5 Cups Mozzarella
Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  • Cut off the ends of each eggplant and then slice lengthwise into 8 slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.
  • Lay the eggplant slices in one layer onto the prepared baking sheets.
  • Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and either spray with non-stick spray or sprinkle with a light coating of oil.
  • Roast the eggplant in the oven until tender, approximately 20 minutes.  ***Note that if your slices are not equally thick some may roast faster than others so pull thin slices out before they burn!***
  • Once the eggplant is roasted allow it to cool, outside the oven, slightly while you prepare the filling and sauce.  (Leave the oven on if you are not planning to freeze this meal for later!)
  • Brown ground beef in a skillet, and drain fat once cooked.
  • Add pasta sauce to beef and allow to heat together.
  • Combine the ricotta, 1/2 Cup of the Parmesan, and the basil in a bowl.  Season this mixture with salt and pepper to taste.  (You could also add the meat to this mixture rather than the sauce if you want, but it does thin out your cheese mixture.)
  • Place one third of the sauce on the bottom of a 8"x11" baking dish and spread it out.
  • Lay a roasted eggplant slice on a work surface and spoon some of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of it.  Roll up the slice encasing the filling in the eggplant.
  •  Place the completed roll seam side down into the baking dish on top of the sauce.
  • Repeat for all pieces of eggplant and then cover with the remaining sauce.
  • Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese.
Yes, this is more cheese on top than the recipe states...I have a thing for cheese.

At this point you can cover and freeze the dish for you to finish cooking later, or to give for someone to finish.

To finish cooking bake at 450 degrees till the cheese and filling are bubbly and warm.  About 30-45 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Never Stop Feeling

Life is hard...

Why does no one tell you this when you are 10 and think that the fact that the kid that sits behind you in class and tugs on your hair is the most difficult thing you will ever have to deal with.  Or when you're 15 and think that when your parents tell you, you can't go out with your friends till you finish your homework it's them being "so unfair".  Or when you're 18 and you ask a guy to go to Prom with you and he turns you down leaving you to go alone.  Or when you're in your 20's and your first real relationship ends and you think the world is ending.  Why does no one tell you that there are things in this world that will be more difficult to deal with than those.  Or if they do tell you, why don't you believe them?

Along the same lines, why does no one tell you how wonderful things can get too?  And again, if they do, why do we insist on not believing them?

Right now as most of you know from reading previous posts, and from talking to me personally, things are really hard for me.  Everything from being sick, to stressing over money, to family and social life issues are challenging my resilience.  Honestly there are days I just cry...and I'm not talking about little woe is me tears.  I'm talking big crocodile, I can't breathe, my nose is a faucet, ugly tears.  As much as I hate that, I know that the alternative is not feeling anything and shutting down, and that scares me more than the tears.  I know that as long as I am crying, I'm still feeling, and even if I don't like to feel that way if I'm still feeling I'm alive.

This week, September 10-14, is National Suicide Prevention week here in the United States.  This week I am being reminded of how things could have been so different for me...and my friends and family.

Some people are going to find this post particularly difficult to read, because it's not something that I openly share or talk about.  It's also not something that I hide or am ashamed of either.  It's something I need to say though.

I have attempted suicide.

I obviously failed in my attempts or I wouldn't be telling this story now.  The fact is that there is such a stigma associated with mental health that I don't share this information openly.  I sometimes feel that people would judge me, and look down on me if they knew that I have demons that I battle with.  I've learned though that by remaining silent I am not being myself...I'm also not helping others who are struggling know that they are not alone.

I won't go into great detail about the how and why of my attempts (and yes there has been more than one), because to be honest that isn't the import part of why I am sharing this.  I decided that I wanted to study Psychology I think because I wanted to understand myself.  I wanted to know why I go through times where I just feel like I can't handle one more thing in my life.  I wanted to understand if there was some magic link that would appear telling me that I felt this way, because of some mysterious part of the brain we have yet to understand.  I wanted an answer.  The fact is that in studying Psychology I ended up with more questions about myself than answers.  The brain still is very much a mystery, and even though we may understand some of it, we will never fully understand it since everyone's is different.

For me when I attempted suicide the main thing I wanted was to stop the pain and overwhelming feelings I was having.  I didn't want to feel anymore.  I've learned though that without those overwhelming feelings, without that horrible pain and sadness, I wouldn't understand the good emotions I have too.  All the happiness, pride, and love I have had and will continue to have in my life.

Life is hard, but life is amazing too.

Anyone in education is familiar with a bell curve.  That's the old belief that the distribution of grades should resemble a bell shape with a few A's and F's, a few more B's and D's, and the most students receiving a C.  In academics I've never liked this, but for an emotional life cycle I do.  I think that there are highs and lows and you have to get through the lows before you can get to the highs, and there are always going to be both in life.  Sometimes the lows are really low, and sometimes the highs are really high, but they balance each other out eventually and then you end up in the middle section of contentment.

Everything in my life is not perfect, it never will be.  I will always look back at that kid in school who tugged on my hair and think, "why did I think that was the most difficult thing I would ever have to deal with?  I'd go back there in a minute!"  I will always think that as I get older things get more difficult.  I know though that they don't, they are just different, and sometimes different is good, and sometimes it isn't.

One thing I do know for certain though.  Although I may feel like I want the pain to end again, and want the overwhelming feelings to go away.  I will NEVER go back to the place where I feel like ending my life is the solution.  I know I have friends and family that love me, and will help me in any way that they can.  The thought that I almost left them before my time was up, because of temporary problems pains me.  I couldn't bare leaving them with that kind of pain.  It's been years since I last attempted, and I know now that everyday I wake up is a gift I almost took away from myself.

Everyday you wake up you're one step closer to things getting better, just hang on.  <3

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finding Me...Again

I know, I've been absent for a while.  I really am sorry about that, but there have been several factors that have taken me away from this blog.  It's time for me to step up though and began making "me" a priority again though.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Share it Maybe

Ever had one of those days where you have a craving so bad it's all you think about.  Yeah, cookies are one of my weaknesses, and today I feel like this guy!

Monday, July 23, 2012


A few weeks ago I noticed a tweet on Twitter with #YOLO in it.  I thought, "great another acronym that I have to learn that is pointless."  I looked it up online though to find out it's meaning, YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.  At the time I thought it was rather silly, and frankly the friend that used it initially used it about their first time eating sushi.  (Just a reminder, I rather enjoy sushi and think it's great. Although I am picky about it, lol.)  YOLO came back to my mind this weekend with the theater shooting in Colorado.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moving On

There are beginnings and endings in life, and many say that to begin something you must end another first.  I don't know how true this is, but I do know that often the moving on from an ending can be incredibly difficult.  No I'm not ending the blog, or my journey, or giving up on Denver yet.  Although I know that at some point all of these things will end, and when their respective times come I hope that I am able to make a graceful transition into a new beginning from them.  There are other endings in life though, and often we have a hard time moving on from them to find the new beginning.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Me In A Bottle

Emotions are a strange thing.  I've talked about this before on the blog.  For instance, I'm an emotional eater, when I get upset I turn to food, when I'm happy and want to celebrate, more food.  Basically if there's an emotion happening, I want to eat.  This doesn't make getting healthy easy.  And when your emotions are messing up your mental health, emotional eating adds to the problems.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Doing Life In Denver

Sea level is for sissy's!  ;-)

Yup that's right people who don't live a mile closer to the atmosphere, I'm calling you out!  Tonight I did another 5K, this officially makes 2 completed!  Although I'm still slow, mainly because I walk mostly...or fully, I know many people who wouldn't even attempt a 5K.  So I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now, something I couldn't say this morning.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Woke Up This Morning

Today I weighed in. In part because it's been far too long since I've held myself accountable and done that, and in part because tomorrow night I'll be participating in the "Do Life" tour stop in Denver.  I had hopped that by some miracle weight had just dropped off me even though I haven't been working too hard to make that happen.  The fact is that even though I haven't gained any weight, I haven't lost any either.  For the past year since moving away from Indiana I have fluctuated around the same weight give or take a pound or two.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prince Charming

Back in 2005 I was living in Louisville, Kentucky with my parents, still in undergrad, still had no idea what I was doing with my life, and was working part time for Radio Disney.  There are a few reasons I bring this up.  First I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when you get a job interview and the only reason you did was because the interviewer was only interested in knowing about your Disney experience.  "Are there really tunnels under the park?", "You must have wonderful customer service skills, Disney is the best at that.", and my all time personal favorite "I want to be a snowbird and work for Disney when I'm down there, do you know how I can do that?"  Disney has always been a bit of a blessing and a curse.

Moving on though, at Radio Disney I met some pretty amazing people!  Many I still remain in touch with to this day, and even though we don't see each other all that often, some of us know that if the other needed us, we would drop everything and be there for them in a heartbeat.  Just Julie, Lively Lizbeth, Jay Rock, Kit Thunder, Wandaful, Chaos, Jazzy Ali, Puddin' Cup, and many others will be names that I will forever remember.  Sometimes our Disney names are the only names I remember, lol.  Whether or not these people know it  all of them left a mark on me.  I worked with Radio Disney for five years, and even though a lot of other aspects of my life were a wreck at that time, Disney was a passion and helped me find my way.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What an Idea...a Crazy, Mad, and Wonderful Idea

Even the best laid plans run into problems, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that the plan I had to move to Colorado wouldn't have problems too.  Lets face it, I didn't have many plans coming here.  I had hoped that being here would help things fall into place, and maybe I'm looking at things wrong and they are, they're just not the things I intended or thought would be happening now.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


So I know in the past I have said that I will not talk about religion on this blog, well I'm going to break my own rule today.  At this point I understand if you don't want to read any further, I won't be offended, and I promise in future posts to try and keep the religion and spirituality to a minimum as I have been in previous posts.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Map Not Provided

There will be bumps in every road that you travel, you choose how far those bumps throw you off course though.  I allowed a lot of things to throw me off course over the years.  Thoughts of who I "should" be, people who I allowed to influence me too much, and fear have all been reasons I veered off course. The fact is that life would be so much easier if a map was provided.  There's an investment company commercial on television that shows how they lay a path for their customers by showing a line on the road when they leave their offices that leads them in the right direction.  If only everything in life was that simple!  We don't have a map though, and there is no path laid for us to follow. We have to make our own path, and often that path isn't easy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"You Sound/Look Happier"

So it's been a year since I began this journey on March 5, 2011.  All this began because I wanted to make a positive change in my life.  At first that meant losing weight, and although that is still a big focus of mine, it has morphed into so much more than that.  Somewhere along the way I figured out that losing weight wasn't what was going to make me happy, but the changes I was making were what was going to make me happy.  A year later I find myself thirty pounds lighter, living in my dream location, and in general so much happier than I ever could have imagined being for this stage in my life. =)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Have a Date!!!!!

No that kind of date!  I have a moving date!!!  I'll be heading out to Denver, CO on March 2!  My dad is going to come with me for a week as I look for a place to live, and let employers know that I'm going to be a local!!!!  No job yet, no confirmed place to live, just going to risk it all and go!!!!!

So Nervous!!!!
So Excited!!!!!!!
Ahhhhhh!!!!! Can't believe I'm actually going to do this!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I've gone 29 years without having a Valentine on Valentine's Day.  Now I know that's not really fair, for some of those I was far to young to think about romance, and I have always had my friends and family.  Let's face it though, when it comes down to it we all really only think about romantic relationships on Valentine's Day.  On the romantic relationship front, I've always been a little lacking.  For some reason though it feels like society tells us that there is something wrong with us on this day in particular if we don't have someone to share the day with.  We fear being single this one day a year, like it is the worst thing that could possibility happen to us.  The world goes crazy, we try desperately to find someone to spend our time with, and then we spend our money on, food, flowers, candy, stuffed animals, and so many other things.  Before you go thinking that this is just the bickering of a single girl on a day of love, hear me out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Starving Children in China

I think every person heard as a child their parent tell them, "Finish your dinner, there are starving children in China who would love to have that food!"  I know I heard that growing up.  Although parents are doing their best to get kids to eat a healthy balanced meal, telling children this has it's negative effects too.  When you are full, you should stop eating...period.  As a child though many times adult sized portions are placed in front of us and we are expected to eat it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things are Changing

Happy New Year!!!!  All right I know, it's halfway into the first month of the year and here I am just now blogging to you again.  I promise I have a good excuse.  First though I hope that everyone had an enjoyable, safe, and wonderful New Year's.  I spent mine with my parents, kitty, and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.  Although not how I had envisioned spending it, still enjoyable.  Kissing your parents at midnight though at my age isn't exactly who I want to smooch!  Anyways, on to the excuses, lol.