Fearless Friday

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

Life goes by fast, doesn’t it? I was looking through old pictures the other day and each photo brought me back to that exact moment when it was taken. Some of the people in the pictures are now distant acquaintances that maybe occasionally “like” a Facebook status or a picture of your dog. There is no connection anymore and no one in particular is to blame. Time passes before our eyes and all the sudden you’re no longer the invincible 18 year old who moves to another state alone with plans on dominating the music scene with her church-praised voice all while rubbing shoulders with the likes of Britney and Beyonce. Next thing you know, you’re 27 with no record deal in sight, penning your regrets in a blog about the twenty things you wish you knew in your early 20’s on your twin sized mattress that a friend so graciously gifted you with. Beyonce doesn’t know you exist, Britney never personally invited you to any of her weddings, and the closest you’ve ever come to “fame” was from writing a letter to Miley Cyrus and that was for like two seconds. Life never goes as expected and moments quickly become memories, friends become strangers, and dreams turn into feelings of sadness as we look back with regret at the missed opportunities.

So, what do you do from there? I’ve personally wasted more time than I’d like to admit depressed that I’m just another hair brush singer and hosting a long pity party that no one ever came to. No, I can’t snap my fingers and make all my wishes and dreams come true, but I can start conquering the one thing that has always held me back: fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of people. Fear of being mocked that I still dream of filling stadiums.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me introduce to you, Fearless Fridays. Here, you are personally invited to spectate my own little form of therapy sessions each week. I posted on my Facebook page asking if there were people who had dreams or goals that they were too afraid to conquer. It turns out, I am not the only one with crazy dreams out there! So, I made my own personal list of things I’ve always wanted to do but either fear or just laziness has stopped me. Some are not so scary but more just things I’ve always wanted to do, while others are terrifying. Week by week, I am going to check off one of the things on my list and then, of course, blog about it here for you to read. This was also partly inspired by a dear friend who challenged herself to do a summer of risks.

Here is my list:

1. Go to dinner by myself. I have always had this strange sense of jealousy when I see someone eating alone at a restaurant. I can’t really explain it except that I think it takes a confident person to do that and that’s what I want.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. I am a ministry school student so asking a guy to coffee is so scandalous because coffee=marriage. Basically.

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook. I know, I know. I’m totally pulling a “Julie and Julia” but did you see how good those meals looked?

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. Financially, I may or may not be able to do this because again, I’m a student. However, I’ve always wanted to go away by myself to a random hotel with just my Bible and a journal.

5. Go a week without a phone.
You guys, this is like asking a Kardashian to go a week without posting a selfie. Let’s just leave it at that.

6. Sing at an open mic night.
I used to be the girl that would call venues or event planners asking if I could sing at their event. It’s been a while since I’ve sang in public, but since it’s like literally the only love I have, I might as well start back again.

7. Go to a spin class by myself. I hate going to any workout or fitness class alone. I think the scariest part of this is that the class is at 5:30am.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day. If you’ve ever done hot yoga, you get it.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week. My school is all about managing your time and keeping a schedule. I am resistant to do it because I know I have way too much free time and I’m not ready to part with it yet.

10. Finish a song. Self explanatory.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs. It just sounds like fun!

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie. Every fall, I say that I am going to do this but time slips away and I never get to it.

13. Host a dinner party. Real Housewives style minus the expensive champagne and plastic surgeon recommendations.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. If you know me, you know that I hate do-it-yourself projects and think that they are a complete waste of time. So this is more to stretch me and force myself to do something that I’d rather not.

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. Because I want to be the change.

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week. Contrary to past posts, I actually have a lot of nice thoughts about other people but I feel stupid when I go to compliment them or share my thoughts!

So there it is. Obviously there are some other things like going skydiving or back packing in Europe, but again I’m a student and these are more realistic for now. What are some things that you’ve always wanted to do but either you’re too afraid to try or you just get too busy? Share your ideas and let’s make memories and become the people we want to be together.

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10 Things to Never, Ever, Ever Say to a Single Person

I’ve been single most of my life. I have never really dated a lot compared to most of my peers. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my heart ripped out of my chest and found myself in a daze of “heart break warfare” complete with sleep binges and nights filled with ice cream topped with my own tears. Sadly, Taylor Swift wasn’t around then to really make me feel understood. But, that was one time and I’m lucky I only had to experience that once. But through my life, family, friends, nail technicians, and even strangers often always find a way to bring up my awesome single life.

So, to hopefully prevent some of my peers from having to answer the same monotonous questions, here is a list of 10 things one should never, ever, ever say and/or ask a single person.

1. “Why aren’t you dating anyone?” Ok, seems simple enough. But this isn’t 1950 anymore and girls don’t just go to the local soda fountain alone in the hopes of finding a Prince Charming to buy her a diet coke and then ask her to wed. Today, people will spend their whole day together then spend all night texting each other and just label that as being “friends.” Dating has been so complicated that who really know what dating is anymore?

2. “But, don’t you want to have children?” I don’t know, does Lady Gaga live for the applause applause applause? Duh.

3. “You just must not be ready yet.” 1. Rude. 2. I know a handful of people who surely weren’t ready and they still found “the one.”

4. “Babies look good on you!” Yes, I agree. Especially since I didn’t have any baby weight to lose.

5. Ask a question hinting towards your questioning of my sexuality. Yes, this has happened to me before. No, I am not gay and at this rate all my gay friends will be married before me thanks to the US government.

6. “God must be saving you for someone really special.” Your intentions are good in saying this, but gosh dangit, if I had a dollar for every time I heard this, I could actually afford to set up a Gold eHarmony account and end this whole predicament.

7. “Ask God to show you why you haven’t found the one.” God, why haven’t I found the one?… Ok I got nothing. Next question.

8. “I know the perfect guy. He’s amazing but his terrible wife just left him for another woman and he’s been going to AA for a year and has amazing kids and makes great money but he lives across the country and no one has heard from him in a while. Let me give him your number.” No.

9. “I can’t wait for you to get married and have children and really start living your life.” Wait, what am I doing now exactly? Is this pretend? Make believe? I’m so confused!

10. “You’re almost 30! You need to get married.” Thank you. I was completely unaware of my age and my relationship status. Now that you have brought it up, I will surely take this more seriously. (Side note: I’m only 27 and technically I’m closer to being 25 than 30. Just give me this one).

*Bonus*
11. What exactly do you want to do with your life? (Notice how very few married couples get asked his question). Well, I’m going to change the world, become a therapist, go to a university, travel to Africa, become a famous singer, finish ministry school, buy some cats, volunteer to help prevent disease in third world countries, become an entrepreneur, adopt children from China and what I’m trying to say is that I HAVE NO IDEA.

So there you have it. What other comments or questions have you singles out there heard? I’ll use some of your answers in a part 2 post! Plus, I’d love to hear them and cringe along with you!

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How to Fight the Blues Away

Eight years ago, I sat in a little, cold doctors office just days after arriving at an eating disorder treatment center called Remuda Ranch. I didn’t want to be there. I was furious that I was there. I didn’t have a problem. Just because I was angry with the entire universe and was binging and purging multiple times a day did NOT mean I had a problem other than just being “too fat” (Amazing logic, I know.)

“Rihanna, we are going to start you on some anti-depressants to see if they help.”
“Why?”
“Because…you’re depressed.”

Those words cut like knives into my hardened little heart. I wasn’t depressed. Depression made me think of the psychotic girls in “Girls Interrupted” who dressed like homeless emos and cut themselves for attention only to end up living their lives in and out of mental wards. Aside from the fact that I not only had better fashion sense than them, I also identified as a Christian and, you know, good Christians don’t have depression.

But alas, I was forced to begin taking anti-depressants and each week was like a science experiment as the dr’s kept tweaking my medication types and dosage in order to construct the perfect happy cocktail that would help keep me sane.

After a few months, I was noticeably different as far as my behavior, but I still felt hallow inside. It was like everything I once wanted and dreamed for myself sparked nothing inside of me. I lived the next few years in acceptance that I was just chronically depressed.

Then one day, something dawned on me. Was that really it? Was I really just suppose to live a slave to depression, bulimia, and insecurity? Maybe what Jesus said was true. Maybe I could perform even greater miracles than He did, starting on myself. So here are a few of the things I did in order to fight for my life back and to start waking in freedom.

1. Act out the complete opposite of what your feeling. I woke up one day and felt dead. Literally. Everything in the natural screamed at me to stay in bed and just accept my fate, but my spirit was screaming, “save me” that much louder. So I kid you not, I got out of bed and started jumping up and down. Alone. In my bedroom. I jumped and shouted, “Jesus you love me! I’m amazing! Look at me jump!” I felt ridiculous and nothing noticeably changed that moment, but something began breaking off of me. Joy in the believer is the enemy’s greatest fear. Joy is our greatest weapon. In that moment, I chose joy not because I felt it in that moment, but I knew it was rightfully mine to have.

2. Be silent. The greatest power we can give to a negative thought is actually speaking it out. I was SO tired of feeling ugly, stupid, and fat and it’s no wonder I did, because I was constantly speaking that over myself as a self-fulfilling prophecy. I got angry. In no way, shape, or form would I ever even give those thoughts the honor of even being acknowledged. As Bill Johnson says, “I cannot afford to have a thought in my head about me that is not in His.” Words have power. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” Words are not something to be taken lightly. The best part is, once I stopped speaking death over myself, other people started to mention how good I was looking. Funny how that works.

3. Dance. Ok, I admit, I am as white as they come. I am a worse dancer than Taylor Swift and if you’ve seen any clips from her shows, that says A LOT. But when a little girl dances, it brings joy to those watching and I wanted to bring joy to Jesus. So late one night I was feeling particularly bad about myself and God told me to dance. I put on “Dance” by Jesus Culture and just began dancing. At first I was reserved and felt stupid, but as I let go, I got more free. I started doing the best ballerina moves that I knew how and twirling (Come on ladies, when’s the last time you twirled?) God’s presence fell so strongly that before I knew it, I was on the floor in deep worship. I danced for Jesus and He danced back.

4. Speak life. Easier said than done, but it’s crucial. If you can’t bring yourself to speak life to yourself, start by doing it for someone else. Send an encouraging text, write a letter, or tell them in person. Life is meant to be multiplied and will grow when spread. When you’re ready, begin with yourself. You don’t necessarily need to believe it. Just do it. Remember, no one is born believing they are worthless. It’s the message being repeated multiple times that began manifesting that lie inside of you. If you need help finding affirmations to say aloud, there are plenty of books out there than can help. I personally recommend “Hungry” by Jessica Skinner or “God Loves Ugly” by Christa Black.

I was sharing with a friend today how amazed I am because my life began changing so quickly once I started these simple steps. Love is the greatest weapon. Love makes depression look like a weeping lion with no teeth. Love conquers all. You were made for love.

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Am I Pretty?

 

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way. Songs of Solomon 4:7

I used to dream of living secluded from society as I know it. A life away from mirrors, fashion models, diets, and even my friends and family. Any place far enough away that everybody forgets about me and nobody will know what I look like or weigh. To me, living in a mental ward sounded like freedom. A place where I would have no access to food and would only be fed during my scheduled meals times. A life absent of clothes sizes, but with a plethora of loose-fitting hospital gowns. Never having to fear running into an old friend or having a photo of myself tagged on Facebook. Ahhh bliss.

During my journey, a close friend of mine was visiting from Arizona. She listened as I explained how badly I was struggling and then she asked me,”What does recovery look like to you?”

Recovery doesn’t often look the way we want it to. I was never ready to face the reality of recovery because I wanted it on my own terms.
Once I’m fit…then I’ll be recovered.

Everyone will look at my body in awe and THAT’S how they’ll know I’m recovered.

I can’t recover now because I’m fat, and that means I failed at my eating disorder.

And so the cycle carried on and I only strayed farther away from my “dream body” as I continued hurting my metabolism, my spirit, and a chance at a real life of freedom.

The truth is, my family doesn’t need me to be skinny. They need me alive and healthy. My friends don’t need me to look like a Kardashian. They need me to be there when when a boyfriend breaks up with them. They need to me laugh. They need me to listen. They need me to be.

Some days I still awake with fear that people will judge me by the way I look. I look in the mirror and ask myself, “Am I pretty?” I’m afraid people will see how uncomfortable I am in my own skin. I’m afraid that they will not want to be my friend because I am not “pretty enough.” The reality is, maybe it’s true. Maybe people won’t like the way I look. Maybe people will criticize my body and judge me. Maybe. But my identity doesn’t rest in their opinions. My identity rests in my maker.

So here’s the truth, you will never be good enough according to society’s standards. There will always be one more pound to lose, one more celebrity to compare yourself to, or one more girl at school who has better hair than you. But there will never be another you. Only you can make your friends laugh the way you do. Only you can make your parents as proud as they are of you. Only you can dream your crazy, wild dreams and actually be brave enough to believe they might come true.

You are pretty, but beyond that, you are brave.
You are strong.
You are loved.
You are priceless.
God awaited the day you were born and yes, you, you are worthy.

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Watch my testimony on youtube about how I recovered from bulimia, EDNOS, and self hate here:

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20 Things I Wish I Knew In My Early 20's

The Happy Heart

Today my sister is turning 20 and in honor of her entering into adulthood, I decided to put together a little list of things I wish someone had told me when I was in my early 20’s.

1. Learn how to forgive. Most of your friends are likely in their early 20’s as well so chances are they are quite immature and will hurt you. A lot. Use it as a way to learn to forgive and love them anyways.

2. Just because a guy sings “A Whole New World” with you and says he is in love with you doesn’t mean he is. Chances are he could be cheating on you with a go-go dancer while trying to cover up his womanizing tendencies. Don’t be too heartbroken. He gets fat and ugly in the end (I’m not bitter…I’m NOT). But really, his issues are not a reflection of you.

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Summer Highlights

Summer 2013 came and went faster than I could even blink my eyes. I lie here in my bed in Redding, California getting ready for another year of school and it seems like just yesterday I was in the same place daydreaming of all the excitement summer would hold. It far outweighed my expectations and my spirit feels rejuvenated and refreshed. It’s so hard to narrow down my favorite parts of this last summer, but here are a few that stand out.

1. Getting a car! Ok, if you don’t know this story, let me just tell you that it is Cuh-ray-zee! My Volkswagen Beetle was basically laid to rest in summer 2012 and I was left without a car for a year. Being at school in California was quite frustrating at times because I had to rely on walking or getting rides from people. When I got back to Arizona, I one day casually mentioned in my prayers that I wanted a Mustang. That was it. I never told anyone about this silly request because, well, it was silly. Two weeks later, I get a phone call from someone who said that they felt like God put it on their hearts to buy me a car so I could go back to school! Amazing as it is, right? Then they mentioned that they were buying me a MUSTANG that they found for sale in the papers. Um, what?! So my prayers came true and I now have a mustang.

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2. My best friend, Kainos. Kainos and I have been best friends since we were 8. We were both weird and didn’t really fit in so we kinda just were drawn to each other. We’ve been through a lot like driving into my parents house together, boyfriend breakups, road trips, and the list goes on. She will always be one of my top 5 favorite people ever. This summer I got to work right next to her every single day! When my blog Miley went viral, we both had just as much fun as the other reading the statistics and the ridiculous comments. Also, we had a Dutch Bros gift card so we got coffee almost everyday and turned it into a mini lunch photo shoot.
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3. The Fight for Beauty. If we are Facebook friends then you probably saw like a million posts about this. If not, here is the scoop. This night, I shared my testimony of how I recovered from 10+ years of bulimia and various eating disorders. I was amazed at how many people came to hear my story. I mean, it was no Joyce Meyers crowd, but it was still more than I expected and everyone was so supportive. Freedom City Church hosted the event. If you are in the Tempe, AZ area then you should definitely check them out. It’s an amazing church with even more amazing people. To watch the event, just click HERE.

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4. Emma. I fell so in love with my niece this summer and leaving her was heartbreaking. I love that little girl so much and I’m so excited to see where God takes her in life. I also loved spending time with my amazing sister, Shaina. She is an amazing mom and Emma is so blessed to have her.

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5. My parents! My family is kind of all over the place location wise and it’s now rare for us all to be together. One day, I got home from work and got home only to find that my parents drove down from Texas to surprise my sister and I! I was so shocked when I opened my door, that I slammed it in their faces and walked away in shock! Thankfully they forgave me and they bought me things like food and clothes.

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As I said, it was an amazing summer and narrowing it down to just five events doesn’t seem fair. Relationships were restored, new friends were made, laughs were had, and memories given to keep forever. Thank you to everyone that made this summer what it was. I am blessed beyond words!