Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I know over the years I have asked for many things such as, a Pony, Teddy Ruxpin, violin lessons, a television, even just plain old cash.  Over the years you have gotten me some items I put on my list, and some were just dreams of a young girl with no understanding of what the holiday's are truly about.  I know it's been years since I've written you a letter, or provided you with a list, but even a woman in her thirties sometimes needs to hold on to a holiday wish.

I have a special request this year, and it's not something that will be easily wrapped up with a bow, and placed in your sleigh.  It's a wish I've discovered many people have this time of year, but only this year I truly feel like I really understand why they are wishing for it.  You see, I don't want things this year under my tree, I want my family.  Although I know this is an impossible request because of work schedules, airline prices, and various other reasons it's still my only request this year.

Last year I spent the holiday's alone as well, and although difficult, what got me though was the belief that I would be able to be with them this year.  This year I found myself in another situation of being unable to be there again, and this time the pain is more raw, and almost unbearable.  I can't travel this year because I am again having to work, to make not even enough money to survive on.  My family can't come spend the holiday's with me, because with a mother who is a minister she is working Christmas Eve, and no one can afford the insanely high airline prices this time of year.

Sure my family has visited me for a week here and there, and I have been able to go and visit them for a short time as well.  The thing is that as a man who travels the world in one night I'm sure you understand Kentucky and Colorado are not close together.  I can't take a weekend to go back home, the flights alone would take up most of my time away.  And although technology helps span that distance, virtual hugs can't compare to the real thing.

I know I am not the first person who can't be with their family for the holiday's, and I know I will not be the last.  Military personnel, emergency workers, medical professionals, and various other professions have to work too.  And maybe I can't be with my family this year because I'm supposed to have a better understanding of what these individuals go through every year.  I don't know the reasons, but what I do know is that everyone deserves a little time with their family this time of year, and when you don't have that choice the holiday's are far from enjoyable.

My family under my tree I know you can't really provide Santa.  I mean elves can't make them in your workshop.  But maybe you could help me find my hope and faith this Christmas, because I've begun to lose those over the past two years.  Maybe you could help me find my belief again that I won't have to spend every holiday alone.  Because to be honest, crying every time I see a commercial on TV about a family reunited for the holiday's really puts a damper on your night.

I know New Year's isn't really your department, but it sure would be nice to have a job next year that would allow me to live comfortably and lets me have some time off to be able to see my family more than one time a year, and on the holiday's.  Maybe you could help with that.

I still believe in holiday miracles, and I still believe in the holiday spirit.  I mean it was 14 years ago today my mom was diagnosed with a life threatening blood disorder that turned that Christmas upside down too.  She's still here though, by some miracle she beat it, and she's seen and done thing none of us were sure she'd ever be able to that year.  So I know nothing is impossible as long as I keep fighting.

So Santa, as you get ready to pack your sleigh, and venture out on your one night worldwide trip, please don't forget to drop a little hope down the chimneys of those of us without our families to share the holiday with.  Some of us need it more than you know this year.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mental Walls

Several months ago a high school friend posted on her Facebook page that she was watching an Ironman happening in our hometown online and cheering the competitors on.  I commented that it was people like her that were going to push me to finish a triathlon one day.

It's true, one day I would like to complete a triathlon. My family thinks I'm insane for wanting to do such a thing, but like completing a marathon, for me it's about pushing myself to the limit of what I think I am capable of doing, and then pushing just a bit more.  This idea of pushing myself is what got me running in the first place.  This idea is what got me changing my diet, and the way I live my life now.  If I never pushed just a bit further, I would never know that I was able to do the things I now know I am capable of.  I have no idea if I will ever be able to complete a triathlon, but I do know that I want to try someday.

That same high school friend sent me a message after she read my post.  She too hopes to complete a triathlon and she invited me to attempt one with her in 2015.  Now I know this seems like a really long time away to plan for, but you can't just wake up one day and decide you're going to compete in an Ironman.  There is a lot of training you need to do before you can even think about it.  I thought for a bit and then responded to her that although I would like to, honestly I'm really not sure physically I'd ever be able to complete one.  We had a lengthy discussion about the fact that I still don't see myself as a runner, and I don't think I will ever see myself as an athlete.  In the course of the conversation she said something that has remained with me.  She said, "A runner is someone who runs no matter what distance or pace... and that's it."  I put a lot thought into titles sometimes, and sometimes titles don't mean squat.

For me there's always a mental hurtle I have to get over before I can do something.  When I ran my first 5K, there was a turn midway and your ran the same distance back the way you had come.  I reached that midway point and seriously considered stopping.  The run was cross country, I was performing less than how I had wanted to, and frankly I was tired.  At the midway point though I saw my mom cheering me on.  Now she had always been my biggest supporter at choir concerts, and violin recitals.  She always had, and still does, support my crazy ideas and the choices I make.  But seeing her face as I pushed myself to jog to the turn around, hearing her cheer me on, pushed me to finish and not give up.  There was no physical reason I couldn't finish that race, I had just mentally hit my wall at the time that was telling me that I couldn't go any further.  My mom reminded me that I was there to break that wall down.

Mentally the thought of an Ironman scares me.  Mentally I will never see myself as a runner, or an athlete.  I know that physically though, nothing is stopping me from trying.  I've spent almost three months thinking about it, and the thought still scares the crap out of me, but sometimes fear is what we need to push ourselves that much further out of our comfort zones...

I want to compete in an Ironman in 2015. :-)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To Write Love on MY Arms

Last year I wrote this blog entry.  I spoke about my own struggles with depression and suicide.  This past week was again National Suicide Prevention Week, September 8-14.  This year my outlook on this week was very different than it was last year.  This year I still though about my own struggles, but instead I chose to look at helping others with theirs.

There's an organization that I have been following since the 2000's called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).  This organization focuses on mental health education, not just depression and suicide, and the hope is that by educating people the mental health stigma can be removed.  Something I very strongly feel we need to do.  They also help people find help, invest in treatment and recovery programs, and inspire and encourage people to share their own stories in order to help others.  TWLOHA has a unique beginning, and story.  If you are interested in learning more about them I encourage you to visit the TWLOHA website and read about it.

This year for National Suicide Prevention Week, and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) I decided to take action.  Do more than just share my own story, but talk to people.  Although I woke up on the 10th with a headache because of the impending rains here in Colorado messing with my sinuses this was important to me, and nothing was going to stop me from participating.  My aunt had purchased a World Suicide Prevention Day pack for me, a t-shirt, bracelet, and various posters and postcards to pass out and share about depression and suicide.  I put on my shirt and bracelet and took the postcards and posters with me to a local coffee shop.  Caffeine is supposed to help headaches anyways. ;-)

I ordered my coffee, asked if I could hang a poster and some postcards on the local happenings board, and sat down with my kindle to read for a while.  The barista asked me what my shirt meant, "You Cannot Be Replaced".  I explained World Suicide Prevention Day, and that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people 15-24.  I told her that because I have struggled myself, I want to help other people who are struggling and let them know that it's okay to talk about how they are feeling, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help.  I gave her one of the postcards I had held back from putting on the bulletin board that talked about TWLOHA, and World Suicide Prevention Day and she went back to work.  Although no one else asked me about my shirt, or took a postcard off the board while I was there, I wasn't silent.  I spoke to one person and who knows if that did anything, but maybe she took the information and told her friends, or maybe that information was just want she needed to hear to break her own silence.  Who knows, but I talk about wanting to break the stigma of mental health a lot, and it's time for me to walk my own talk.

It's amazing the difference a year can make for someone. Last year I was reflecting on my past, not that it was a bad thing, but my focus was on what could have been.  This year my focus changed, I chose to look at how my experiences can help break down walls and inform and help others.  I think ultimately that is the goal of many organizations such as TWLOHA, how can we look at ourselves and use those experiences to help others.  I encourage you to look at yourself, even those scary parts we all have, and see how they can help others in any way.  I guarantee you, you are not the first to have struggled with and dealt with those things, and you won't be the last.

YOU cannot be replaced!!!! I cannot be replaced!!!!  We are all important, and we all have a purpose, even if we are having a difficult time seeing it or dealing with it.  If you need to talk to someone, please don't be afraid to do so.  I'd be glad to help if I can.  And you can always find help at TWLOHA, chat live online to someone at IMAlive, or call 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Month Later

I can't tell you how many times I began writing a post about how my juicing journey was going, only to be distracted by something that prevented me from finishing it. I guess that's life though, but the month of juicing is complete and here's how it went.

  • Energy levels increased
  • I slept better
  • I ran a total of 25.72 miles total, at an average pace of 16.5 min./mile
  • Monthly grocery cost decreased by $45!
  • I lost a total of 10 pounds!!!!
Would I do it again? I don't know if I would do something as severe as I did this past month again where I'm replacing several meals with juice, but juicing will become a part of my daily life.  I did have a few problems along the way. I had planned on doing juice for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and eating one solid meal of primarily vegetables. I discovered I was getting things like leg cramps while running, and at night whether I had worked out that day or not, my feet were swelling. I attributed this to either the lack of meat proteins, or the fact that I hadn't stopped eating them gradually and my body was going through withdraws.  I decided to add lean proteins such as poultry into my one solid meal, and the issues seemed to correct. Having not thought about it at the time though, I could have tried adding protein powder to my juices to see if that would have solved it, and may do so if I ever do this again.

Some good things to note that I discovered along the way. Consumption of many beets can turn your urine red, which is freaky at first, lol.  Juicing seemed to ease my period symptoms, as well as shorten my cycle.  Urine production increases A LOT!!! There were a few times I had to run to the 7-Eleven on my runs because I wasn't going to get home fast enough!  I have no idea if there's a coloration, but I did have an eczema rash on my leg before I began juicing I was having trouble clearing up that did disappear during the time I was juicing so it is possible it helped.  But also remember that you are isolating yourself if you chose to do this. There were a few times I was with friends throughout the month that I had to test my will power not to have the food that they were enjoying!  Also the juice doesn't replace water, you still have to hydrate with your 8-10 glasses of water a day. This can be really hard when you are already drinking everything.

As I said, this isn't something I think I will be doing again to this degree, at least for a while. I'm curious to see how long the weight stays off, or as I begin to eat solid meals again if it will gain back.  I do know for certain that I felt better while juicing, and I also know I did increase my fruit and vegetable intake last month. Because of these reasons I will be trying to have at least one juice a day from now on.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Questions Answered

August 1st I began a juice cleanse, and at the same time I began getting a million and one questions from people about it.  Everything from, "Is it safe?", to "Suggestions?"  Please know that I'm not an expert, I'm just a person that is giving something a try, but I'm going to try and answer some of the questions that I've gotten since beginning, and update you on my progress.

The Serious Questions:
"Is it safe?"
Well the simple answer is yes, the more complex answer is maybe.  Juicing is a safe route for me, I have no major health conditions. People with health conditions such as diabetes though juicing may not be a safe option for.  Juicing basically allows the nutrients from fruits and vegetables to be absorbed into your body at a faster rate, without your body needing to go through all the work of breaking down the produce first.  For some this rapid absorption actually may be a bad thing, diabetics for instance, since sugars are placed into the bloodstream much faster.  This is why I let you know at the end of my last post that after speaking with a medical professional they thought juicing was safe for me.  EVERYONE should speak with their doctor about any changes they plan to make to their diet or lifestyle before beginning them, yes even healthy people!!!! They are the experts on knowing what is best for you and your health, so talk to them if you plan on trying a juice cleanse.

"Aren't you hungry?"
Kinda, but not really.  This is actually a really difficult question to answer although it may not seem to be.  Yes, I am in essence just drinking my breakfast and lunch, but this isn't like drinking just water all day I'm drinking fruits and vegetables.  My stomach feels full, but my brain still has a hard time believing that the juice is enough to satisfy hunger.  So I do have a constant battle with my stomach and brain about hunger, but physically I'm not hungry.  I admit that the first few days were rough. I was hungry that first day, I also didn't prepare in any way for doing this like I should have.  Ideally you should prepare for a juice cleanse by cutting out fatty foods in the week before you begin, and controlling your portions better.  Learn from my mistake, and honestly it shouldn't be too bad.

"Why juice, why not just eat all the fruits and vegetables in the first place?"
Have you ever sat down and eaten a whole cucumber, two apples, half a lemon, 4 celery stalks, 8 kale leaves, and a tablespoon of ginger in one sitting?  Well I had all that for breakfast!  Juicing allows me to up my fruit and vegetable intake and absorb the health benefits of all those foods in a fast, convenient way.  So why not just drink juice I can buy in the store?  Well those juices have been so processed, and had so many additives added to them that most of the good we get from the fruits and vegetables are gone by the time I drink it.  Think of it this way. When I began cooking for myself one of the benefits was that I knew exactly what was going into my food, same here with my juice.  I am able to control what goes into my juice.  Juicing also hopefully will condition my body to crave more of those fruits and vegetables that I know I never get enough of so that when I do stop my cleanse I'll be craving more of those things than brownies.

"Why not just do smoothies?"
True, why not? I chose to just juice though because smoothies usually have other things added to them to help thicken them up and be more "meaty".  Dairy such as yogurt,milk, or ice cream are often what is used.  I wanted the benefits of the juice though, dairy takes longer for the body to break down, and also adds more calories and fat.  There's nothing wrong with smoothies, but for what I was looking for straight juice seemed more logical.

Juicing Specific Questions:
"What kind of juicer do you use?"
First of all I do use a juicer, not a blender.  You can use either but since I knew I was going to be making a lot of juice, I decided to invest in a specific kitchen gadget for the task.  I use a Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer which I like for right now, but there are many different kinds of juicers out there.  Rather than go into detail about them I'm just going to say this Juicer Buying Guide is a good starting point if you are looking at getting one yourself.

"What does a juicer do?"
A juicer basically separates the pulp part of food, from the liquid part.  When I make a juice recipe I get around 20 oz of juice, and about 1.5 cups of pulp.  This of course varies based on the water content of the produce you're juicing.  Citrus produces more juice than greens do for instance.  Yes there is some "waste" with using a juicer, but think about the fact that, that is what your body has to break down in order to get all those rich vitamins and nutrients that you just made into your juice.  You're giving your body a jump start on digestion.

"How do you prepare your fruits and vegetables to be juiced?"
First of all let me say that this is a point where the quality of your produce matters!!!!  Remember you are eating this stuff raw so you want it to be of high quality.  I use organic fruits and vegetables for a few reasons.  One, I've begun to only buy organic produce so it's what I have.  But two, think about what organic means, it means that no chemicals were used in the growing process.  When I eat an apple I want to just eat an apple, not a pesticide filled apple.  Can't you just wash it off?  True you can wash off the residual residue, but what's seeped into the food can't be washed away.  As far as preparing it for my juicer, well that depends on what type of juicer you have.  Different juicers require a different preparation.  For mine I don't have to do much, which I like.  Basically I just cut things to fit, peel citrus since the "zest" can be a bit bitter, and sometimes peel particularly thick skins of certain foods such as sweet potatoes.

"What fruits and vegetables can be juiced, and what can't?"
Check out this A-Z Produce Prep guide. Just about anything can be juiced, the question is more do you want to juice it?

Other Questions:
"Aren't you tired all the time now?"
Nope, quite the opposite actually.  Day one was rough, and I admit I slept a big part of that day.  As time has gone on though I've noticed my energy level has increased. I've begun running again just because I felt like I needed to burn off some of the excess energy!  I'm waking up easier too.  Many of you know that I have struggled with insomnia my whole life.  Mornings are not my favorite time of day because of this.  Waking up usually means hitting the snooze button a few times, or even turning the alarm off and rolling over to go back to sleep.  This morning on the other hand I woke up feeling well rested, and ready to go before the alarm even went off the first time.  This was even after having a difficult time falling asleep last night.

"Why are you doing this to yourself?"
I couldn't decide if this question should go in the Serious Question section, or here.  The fact is that I want to be healthy, period!  I know I'm not, but I also know that I'm never going to be if I don't make changes in my lifestyle.  I know that this seems like a drastic move to a lot of people, and I know a lot of people are worried because they don't feel like this is healthy.  Let me say this though, there are millions of people who live in this world, and lead healthy lives who are vegetarians, vegans, and even raw.  That's in essence what I'm doing, consuming only foods those individuals would eat for two meals a day...I just liquify them.  I would never do something for myself that I felt was unhealthy and then turn around and tell you all that I thought it was great. I'm honest here, so I'm telling you honestly how I feel as I'm doing it.  If something bad happens I'll tell you that as well, but for now it's been good.

"Have you seen any results?"
Other than increased energy, I weighed myself this morning and discovered I've lost 3 pounds!  I also noticed that my grocery bill is lower believe it or not.  Since I'm not buying a lot of other stuff, and basically just buying produce I don't have a lot of impulse buys keeping my bill lower.

"What's your favorite juice recipe/combination?"
 I discovered a Peach Pie Juice recipe the other day that I LOVE!!!! Just remember that it's two servings, not one.  Today though I made a Watermelon (2 Cups), Carrot (2 Carrots), and Peach (1 Peach) juice that was really good and refreshing after my run.  That's what I'm loving about this, trying out all kinds of combinations and discovering if I like them or not.

I hope that this answers some questions that people had about this. Please know that I do want to know what people think, and I am curious about anymore questions people may have so please don't stop asking.  I'll continue to keep everyone updated! =)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Would it be weird to say I'm considering only eating one solid meal a day? Would it be weird to say that I wouldn't change my caloric intake in a day by only eating one solid meal? And how strange would it be to say that I have the support of the medical field in only eating one solid meal a day?

You think I'm crazy don't you?  Well I'm not, and I'm not going to do some drastic fad diet and starve myself, then binge eat my one meal a day.  I'm going to begin juicing.  Again, I swear I haven't gone off the deep end.

I've been doing a lot of research about food. If you haven't picked up by now that I like to be informed about things, then I don't know what blog you've been reading! lol.  We tend to look at food as just a necessity to life, and I admit that is how I've looked at it for a long time too.  The fact is that yes, food is necessary, but what food we consume is a choice.  We can choose to consume a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger, or we can choose to consume a Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette.  We have options, we just don't always take advantage of.  For me taking advantage of my options has been a big part in my healthier life style, but I think there was room to improve.

I've been watching a lot of documentaries about food, and what we eat.  Some have been a bit than I would choose to be, but I've learned things from all of them.  For instance I would say that about 90% of the fresh fruit and produce that I eat now is USDA Organic.  I'd also say that of everything else that I purchase, meat, processed food, etc. about 45% is also USDA Organic. I also have begun purchasing more "All-Natural" items, not even just for me, but I've even got my cat using natural litter now, and eating "Natural" cat food! I've even become an independent sales represenative for Wildtree, a company that makes simple, healthy, and natural, blends, spices, and culinary blends. (Visit my Wildtree Website to learn more!) Why the change?  Well several of the documentaries I watched pointed out that we are using pesticides, and growth hormones in our foods.  Things that are intended to kill other living creatures, and make our food larger and better looking.  These chemicals contain ingredients that we wouldn't eat normally, but we are putting them in our foods and then eating them anyways.  To me it began to make sense, why do I want to eat chemicals that we don't know the effects they will have on us in the long run.

One documentary I saw called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead really stands out to me though.  You can now watch this documentary for free on Netflix, and YouTube.  In this documentary Joe Cross decides to go on a 60 day juice cleanse because he is overweight, fighting medical conditions, and unhealthy.  Not only did he have amazing results, but an individual he met on his journey also began a 60 day juice cleanse and had similar results.  Health problems were solved, weight was lost, energy was gained, and live was given back to these individuals.  It really is rather amazing to see.  So this got me thinking, why juicing?  Could you have just eaten the vegetables that you juiced and had the same result?  Yes, it is true, but how many of us really are able to sit down and eat 2 apples, 1 whole cucumber, 4 celery stalks, 6-8 leaves of kale, half a lemon, and some ginger.  Juicing gives you the best of both worlds, you get the nutrients and vitamins from fruits and vegetables, but not all the filling fiber.  No one eats as many fruits and vegetables as we should be during the day, and this is a great way to help us get what we need.  I found a video of Joe Cross speaking about the health benefits of juicing in case you want to hear more about it, but don't want to spend all the time watching the documentary.

So I've decided to not do a full juice cleanse, but a partial one. Breakfast, lunch, and two snacks are going to be juice, dinner will be a regular meal. The reason I'm choosing to still have one solid meal is because I don't want to seclude myself from friends, and social events. I fear that if I did juicing all the time, I would be secluding myself from chances to go out with friends and spending time with them.  I'm going to begin this cleanse tomorrow, August 1, and go to the end of the month...or as long as I can stand it.  I've gotten the ok from medical professionals to do this so no worries there!

Why am I doing this? Well simply put, although I'm healthier than I have been, I still think I can be doing more. I eat a lot of fresh produce, but I know I'm still not eating enough.  I know I'm healthier, but I'm still not ideally healthy, and I know that I still need to lose quite a bit of weight too. So I figured why not, this isn't a fad diet, this isn't taking a pill or anything, this is changing the way you eat and it's what I've done since the beginning of this whole thing.

So tomorrow I say goodbye to many solid food, and embrace juicing my food for a while.  I'll keep you posted on progress, and life in general as always. =)

Friday, July 19, 2013


We all have secrets. Some secrets are small, like you took the last cookie from the package and put the empty package back so no one would notice that you ate it. While other secrets are large, and often consume you. I have one of those types of secrets right now.  Sorry, I'm not going to spill this secret. To be honest it's not totally my secret, I share the burden. This secret though has begun to be all consuming of my thoughts recently and it is getting harder to bare.

In Harry Potter there is a term used for people designated to keep the location of a place secret, they're called "Secret Keepers".  The secret is kept in their soul, and they are the only ones capable of revealing the protected information to anyone else. When I read the Harry Potter series and came across this term it didn't mean much to me. To me this seamed normal, this is how someone keeps a secret anyways, so why need a special term for them. The fact is I understand this a bit more right now. A "Secret Keeper" doesn't keep just plain old secrets, they keep the secrets that have the greatest importance.  We're all our own Secret Keepers, but some of us become Secret Keepers for others as well.  I have only a hand full of people I trust to be my Secret Keepers, and of that handful there are only two I'm not related to.

Trust is something I struggle with. A very long time ago someone broke my trust, and I've had a difficult time recovering from that ever since. Granted, the person who broke my trust did a bang up job of doing it and made me a mess because of it, but I still I have done a poor job recovering from that breach of trust.  I've not only punished myself for having trusted that person, but I've noticed that I punish others as well for something they never did.  For many people you trust someone, until they give you a reason not to trust them. While I tend to not trust people at all until they give me a reason to trust them. This has the adverse effect of being closed off to people, or seeming that way to them. I hate the fact that I do this, but I don't know any other way because I've been this way for so long.

The people that know the secret that is weighing on me are being very supportive, but there is only so much that they themselves can bare. I fear that the individual I share this secret with is going through this right now. I haven't spoken to them for a while, and what I am able to follow of their life through things such as social media show that they are going through their own struggles. We allow secrets to consume our lives, and take over other parts. Personally my secret is not only consuming my thoughts, but taking over my sleep, causing me nightmares, and as I discovered the other night, threatening my relationships.

So how do we control something that we can't deal with publicly? Well I don't have an answer to that, I'm still trying to figure it out for myself. What I can do is trust the people in my life to not only keep this secret, but to help me deal with it. This may even mean sharing it with more people, and trusting them with this information. As I said, this isn't easy for me to do, but at the same time we have to do things that scare us from time to time. All I know is that once a secret begins to consume your thoughts, day in and day out, you have to do something about it. It's time for me to get a good nights sleep again, so I'm refusing to allow this secret to consume me anymore than it already has.

By the way, before friends and family begin to panic...I'M OKAY!!!!! My secret is something that happened a while ago, nothing to worry about, just been weighing on me. =)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When you love yourself first, everything else makes sense

An average large bag of dog food weighs about 40 pounds...I've lost that amount of weight plus a bit more in two years.  No, book publishers are not going to contact me for my massive weight loss, I'm not going to get free subs for life from a chain restaurant, and I probably won't inspire a movement of people to lose weight. To me, none of that matters though.

Two years ago I was unhappy, for many different reasons. Two years ago, I was scared.  Two years ago, I was a different person.  The fact is like I have said many times before, this journey was never about weight loss. This journey has always been about finding that voice inside of me that says, "You're amazing, you're doing what you should be doing, and you're perfect just the way you are."  I don't mean to sound like a One Direction song, but if I don't believe those things why is anyone else going to?

A favorite quote of mine is a Mister Rogers quote. I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and learned many life lessons from watching his puppets and his neighbors interact in the Land of Make Believe.  Several years ago I received a daily calendar with a new quote of his every day.  Some were insightful, some silly, and some spoke volumes to me. Even though Mister Rogers taught children, his life lessons can translate to just about any age. So one day, when I tore off the previous day on the calendar and read his daily insight I knew I had to remind myself of it every day.  I tore the day off of the calendar immediately, cut out the quote, and taped it to my laptop so I could read it everyday.  There it remained, until 2010 when that computer died and the quote was throw out with the computer.  The fact is I don't need to look at it everyday to remember what it said.  But having it there, and seeing it daily when I would check email, write papers, update Facebook, and surf the internet helped me to live it.  I'm sure by now you're wondering what these amazing, life altering words were...

"You can't really love someone else, unless you love yourself first."

Does the name of my blog make a bit more sense now?  It's a simple concept, if you like yourself it will show and others will be more comfortable with you and like you too.  A simple concept that is often difficult to follow.  Two years ago had you asked me I probably would have said I hated many things happening in my life, and I was unhappy with who I was.  This translated to my weight primarily, but it also crossed into other aspects of my life as well.  Two years ago, had you told me I'd only lost 42 pounds by now I would have been upset, disappointed, and maybe even angry with myself.  Two years ago though I didn't understand that happiness isn't a result of an outward appearance, or financial gain, or number of degrees on the wall.  Happiness, and love, are somethings you have to find within yourself before any of the other things matter.  This by no means, means that outward appearance, financial stability, education, and other things aren't important. You just have to know that those are not the things that make your happiness, they just add to the happiness.

The woman who began this blog two years ago would not have had the guts to move to Colorado without a plan. Not to mention that woman would have freaked out at the thought of things not going according to that plan.  The same woman now, knows that moving here made me the happiest I've been in a long time. And even though things keep changing so there is never much of a plan, things have a way of just getting better.  Part of loving yourself, is putting aside the fear to be yourself.

So when I began reflecting on the fact that I've lost over 40 pounds, I realized that the weight was the smallest accomplishment I've achieved in the past two years.  Learning to love my life, my choices, my past, my future, and letting go of the fears I've allowed to hold me back really are the the biggest things I could have ever gained.  For the first time in my 30 years, I'm truly learning what loving myself for who I am honestly means, and no number on a scale will ever diminish the importance of discovering that accomplishment first.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sanity Break

Yesterday I decided to take what I like to call a sanity break. Basically these breaks are going out and doing something I've wanted to do, but told myself I don't have the time, or it's too touristy to do those things. Most of the time they are things that end up being out in the middle of no where, or with limited cell coverage so I basically am cut off from the world for a day.  A sanity break is just a way to get away from the world and responsibilities for a period of time to clear your mind and have some fun.  Personally I think we all need to do these more often, but for me they also help remind me why I'm here in Colorado...because I really do love it here even if things are tough in other aspects of life.

In any case, yesterday I headed out to the Colorado Springs area to do some hiking, and sightseeing.  My first stop of the day was at Seven Falls, where I discovered that even though I am losing weight, and getting healthier, I'm still not in shape, lol.  Seven Falls is a beautiful waterfall (I kinda have a thing for waterfalls) that is literally seven different falls down one cliff side.  It really is gorgeous, but what they failed to tell you is that to get to the hiking trails, and the top of the waterfall, you have to climb 224 stairs...up the side of the cliff.

A direct look at the falls...and those two long metal structures off to the side are the stairs!

Like I said, it's beautiful there, and they have a really awesome programs there throughout the summer, but the stairs are a killer!!  I decided to take them on though, assuring myself that I was going to try for the top, but if I didn't make it I wouldn't feel bad about it.  Well I didn't make it, I tried but it was worse than a StairMaster!!  I made it up the first full flight and there was a platform you could rest on that I took advantage of.  After about fifteen minutes of resting, and picture taking, I decided to tackle the second flight.  I made it about half way before the combination of the altitude, and my lack of muscle tone teamed up on me.  I'd say I made it two thirds of the way to the top, but I just didn't have that last third in me.  I was proud of myself for trying, and it felt amazing that I made it further than many other people even tried, but I still wish I could have made it to the hiking trails at the top.  One in particular leads to another waterfall called Midnight Falls that I hear is beautiful as well, but it just wasn't meant to be yesterday.

Needless to say this is not a location that I will be bringing friends and family to when they visit.  Between the elevation, and the stairs I think I'll spare them. I also discovered there a new phenomenon...jello legs!  This is when your legs just decide that you climbed a lot of stairs and they don't want to work anymore now that you're trying to walk.  I don't recommend this because the result of jello legs the next day is, "Hello muscles I haven't worked in years" legs.

After one last (really good in my opinion) picture I had half a day still. This is time I had intended to use hiking, but seeing as jello legs wouldn't let me get to the top of the stairs to the hiking trails I needed a new plan.  So thanks to my trusty GPS reminding me I was right by Pikes Peak I headed over to Manitou Springs, Colorado to see if I could catch the Cog Railway to the peak!

Now for those of you not familiar with Pikes Peak allow me to educate you.  Pikes Peak is part of the Rocky Mountain Front Range.  It's one of Colorado's 54 Fourteeners, which means it's a mountain that's peak rises more than 14,000 feet above sea level (Pikes Peak is 14, 115ft to be exact).  What makes Pikes Peak so unique is unlike many of the mountains in the Rocky Mountain range, Pikes Peak is a freestanding peak, meaning you can't walk from Pikes Peaks summit to another mountains summit.  In my opinion though Pikes Peak is unique because of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb...but then again I'm a bit of an auto racing fan so of course the auto race interests me the most, lol. (I'll be taking another sanity break at the end of the month to go to the Fan Fest before the race to see the cars racing up the mountain...but I'll save that info for later.)

In all seriousness I hope to be a fourteener, someone who hikes to a summit more that 14,000ft above sea level.  Right now though I need to focus on getting stronger so that I can do that. Again, I need to get in shape first.  I decided to take the cheater method to becoming a fourteener though and ride the cog railway to the peak.

It was a beautiful ride, lots of great views, and amazing wildlife was seen. All of that was true till the last mile or so to the summit, when it began snowing...and lightening!!!  At that elevation weather can change in an instant, so it was to be expected that something like that may happen.  The unfortunate thing about it is that on the cog railway you have only about a half hour on the summit, and the EMT's on the summit asked that everyone wait out the storm in the summit house.  So I didn't get to see the views from the top for that long, about 5 minutes, but that just means I have to go back.

The view when we reached the top.

One of the best things about the summit of Pikes Peak...the doughnuts! No I'm not joking, they actually make doughnuts at 14,000 feet and sell them!  Apparently this is actually an extremely difficult process, but I can tell you it's worth it! They are super yummy, and I probably would eat 12 pounds of these a day if I worked there!And hey, making them at this altitude means they have fewer calories, right? lol.

 So one final note. I should be a bit more active than I have been in the past.  Some things have happened in my life that has not only freed up some time, but also allowed me to begin to share some things as well. Yay!! So keep an eye out for more updates soon.

Now I'm going to go take an Advil to take care of these "Hello unused muscles" legs! ;-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I recently was speaking with a friend who was a bit upset. She was distraught over the fact that on the camping trip she was on, she was the only one who didn't have a significant other to cuddle with around the fire. I totally know how she felt.

A few years ago when I began grad school, many of my friends were getting married.  I was happy for my friends, but I admit the green eyed jealousy monster would show his ugly head every once and a while. There I was not only single, but never having been in a real relationship in my life. I felt like I something was wrong with me, I mean if a large portion of my friends were marrying around then, shouldn't I be too?! This green eyed monster has shown his head again recently as many of my friends have announced that they are pregnant, or recently just had a child. Seriously, I must have a disease that has yet to be discovered. That's the only logical reason that I'm not reaching these life milestones at the same time they are, right?!

The fact is though, it all depends on the way that we look at things. When I was upset over the fact I wasn't even in a relationship and my friends were getting married my mother pointed out to me that they might be getting married, but how many of them were headed off to grad school to pursue their dream? As many of my friends are having children, I keep reminding myself, how many of them have just picked up and moved across the country to follow their heart? The simple fact is that you have to look at things a different way sometimes. The same path isn't right for everyone. Just because my friends feel like getting married and having children is the right things for them, doesn't automatically make them the right things for me...especially at this point in my life.

It was also pointed out to me recently that maybe some of the struggles I'm still having in Colorado are a result of me losing my perspective of why I came here in the first place.  I admit it, I became complacent. It became too hard to continue to pound the pavement for my perfect job. It would be too difficult to pack my things up and move to an apartment I like better. And it was too easy to go home and sit on my couch, than go out and socialize and make new friends. I had grand ideas of what life would be like when I moved here, and when they didn't happen immediately I gave up. They became too hard to see through.

Well I'm changing my perspective on Colorado. I'm going back to those visions I had, and I'm going to make them a reality. My one New Years resolution this year was to have a "Big Year", and I've let half the year pass without trying to make that happen. It's time I put words into actions, and make my big year happen! It's not going to be easy, and there may be some growing pains, but I'm going to make things happen for me! I'm tired of being an idle bystander in my own life, it's time to change the way I'm seeing things.

PS - I've been losing weight again. Not a ton of weight, but hey even a few pounds here and there is a good thing. Even though I don't really get out and exercise a whole bunch, I have massively changed my diet! A lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and little to no processed foods. It's not a Diet, it's changing my diet, and I love the changes I'm seeing!! I promise to post about these changes soon! =)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learning to Ask for Help

Last time I got on a scale was July 2012.  After being told I was looking healthier and thinner I decided it was time to get back on a scale again.  So earlier this month I weighed myself, only to find that I was ten pounds lighter than I was in July!  This should have made me excited, I mean I had lost weight, shouldn't I be happy about that?!?!  The thing was I wasn't really happy about it, because unlike the people I told I had lost weight too, I knew how the weight had really come off...

There are really two reasons why I lost those ten pounds.  The first reason I imagine is because I have been sick for around 3 months now.  Everything from colds, ear infections, sinus infections, stomach problems, and various other health issues.  Let's face it, when you're sick you just don't feel like eating.  So not really the healthiest way to lose weight, but I imagine it's been a contributing factor.

I believe the bigger reason that I lost weight though was because I didn't have food to eat.  I haven't been shy about sharing that this past year has been difficult for me, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially.  It's difficult to share, but it's something more people need to understand which is why I'm sharing.  In August of last year I applied for, and was a part of, the Food Stamp Program.  I had gone for about a month eating one meal a day, and making the saltine crackers in my pantry stretch for as long as I could.  Realizing that I couldn't make things work anymore on my own was a difficult, and bitter pill to swallow.  I've said it before, and I will continue to say it, because it continues to be true.  If it wasn't for the continuing generosity of my parents I'd be living in a box on the streets of Denver.  Their generosity can only go so far though, times are tough for them too.  So when I still hadn't found work, my savings account was struggling, and my parents couldn't help more I decided it was time to ask for help.

Applying for any public assistance is a difficult process.  I know that for me I always had an image of someone who abused the system in my head, and I admit it even I have been guilty of judging people on public assistance.  Although there are people that abuse the system, they are the exception, not the rule.  Part of the application process is a personal interview, and when I went for mine there was a wide range of people sitting waiting for their interviews as well.  During my interview they informed me because I wasn't working at the time I would have to be a part of an employment program that would help me find work.  This program is a total other story (waste of time and resources in my opinion since they really don't help you find employment...but that rant is for another day).  After spending a day in an 8 hour employment course that I swear was 6.5 hours of, "How you need to put your criminal history on an application," and "These are employers that are felon friendly.  And one hour of, "This is a job application, and this is how you fill it out."  I was given my food stamps and told I would need to volunteer 30 hours a week at a location determined for me in order to remain active in the program.  Anyways this employment program is the reason I was only able to have food stamps for a short time.

I got a job.  You would think this was a good thing, and that everyone involved in the public assistance program would have been happy about that, but this wasn't the case.  My job doesn't guarantee a set amount of hours each week.  My hours vary from 10-30 hours a week, and I'm also paid slightly above federal minimum wage.  In Colorado you have to have a job with 30 hours or more a week, or that pays you a certain amount each week to be exempt from the employment program.  With my current job I wasn't meeting those criteria.  I was informed that I would need to continue volunteering 30 hours a week (30 minutes from my home) to continue receiving my benefits.  After finding that out I dropped out of the food stamp program.  Not because I disagreed with the volunteering aspect of the program, or because I didn't need the help in buying food, but because I couldn't see myself working 30 hours a week, volunteering 30 hours a week, and being able to afford the gas for everything!  I think their is a flaw in the system, and I now totally understand why we get the image of people on public assistance that we do.  I actually would have continued to receive my benefits had I not found a job, I feel like I was punished for trying to find a better situation for myself.  Again though, a story for another day.

I had to ask for help, because I was in a situation that was difficult, and still am.  Although I'm doing better now that I'm working, it's still not enough.  I've had to defer paying back my student loans from grad school because there was no way I could pay them.  I don't make enough with my job in a month to even cover my rent, yet alone my other costs of living.  I'm still having to ask for help...but I'm not going hungry anymore.  Since I weighed myself a few weeks ago, I have actually gained a pound.  In the past this would have upset me, I want to keep losing weight, but I also want to be healthy about it.  Even if Colorado never works out for me (which I hope really isn't the case!) I will not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help again.  Don't let your fears of being judged stop you from asking for help when you need it, whatever your situation.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taking Care of Myself

I've been sick a lot lately...and when I say a lot, I mean I don't think I've breathed out of my nose since December, a lot.  Among other things this has taken it's toll on me.  Today I woke up, coughed up a lung I think, and walked into my kitchen to make some breakfast.  That's when I noticed the stack of dirty dishes in the sink, the dirty pots and pans still on the stove, and the lack of clean utensils in the drawer to eat my yogurt with.  This morning it hit me like a freight train, I'm depressed again.  I keep babbling on about how I hate being sick, and I'm frustrated with being sick, but the fact is it's no wonder I'm sick...I've stopped taking care of myself...of anything really.

So it's time to change, again.  I've said before that I thought things would miraculously be perfect when I moved to Colorado, and the fact that they haven't been has slowed me down.  Saturday will be one year from when I moved out here, and I think for a year I've just waited for things to fall into my lap.  I need to change perspectives again, although I know this is where I'm supposed to be I need to stop questioning myself, I need to make this place my home, I need to fight to stay here!

I need to take care of myself...all of myself.  I'm going to begin working out again once I can breathe, and eating healthier.  Not to lose weight, or get in shape, but because I feel better when I do these things.  I'm going to push for not just a survival job, but a career I love.  I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy, and gives me a purpose.  I'm going to get better with socializing...yeah I admit it, I have a bit of social anxiety disorder.  I need to have people here that will support me, and that doesn't mean I forget about the people back home, I just have to have a different relationship with them.  I need to begin going back to religious services.  I need to gain my faith back, because I lost it a long time ago and have been afraid to really search for it ever since.  Finally, I have to let go.  I have to let go of people who are bringing me down, or who don't believe in me.  I have to let go of the belief that things will just happen for me.  I have to let go of my fears.

This blog has had many turning points, and this one is no different than some of the others.  This turning point may be one of the biggest ones though.  Emotionally, physically, and mentally I've been sinking and if I can't turn things around I'm scared that I may never be able to have another turning point again.  I may lose faith in myself, and I may never recover if that happens.  So it's time to go do the dishes, vacuum the living room, and send out some resumes.  Wish me luck. =)