13 Life Lessons I Learned in 2013

2013 is coming to a close and I’m sitting in amazement (as I do every year) at how quickly this year seemed to slip by.  I remember being a little girl and overhearing adults talk about how fast a year goes and thinking to myself that they were crazy.  It felt like decades between each passing Christmas, and have they ever had an entire week in the third grade? I did and it did not go by fast! Now, here I am dumbfounded over the fact that my ten year high school reunion (that I won’t be going to) is next year when I literally just graduated high school, and the children I used to babysit are either getting engaged, married, or posting embarrassing pictures of themselves at bars. It’s a strange feeling when you realize that you are closer to 30 than you are 20.  In one way, it’s a little sad because the attention and glamour society gives youth is alluring (don’t get me wrong, I KNOW I am still so young) and in another way, you hang out with 20 year olds and think “thank God I’m not 20 anymore.”  Every year life deals you a different set of cards, and whether you walk away feeling like you won or you lost, the fact that you survived means that you won. Here are 13 life lessons that I learned in 2013.

1. There is life beyond depression. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with severe depression, and I mean, who could blame me? Life kinda sucked for reasons I won’t go into now (but you can read about it here).  Doctors gave me a cocktail of medications that would supposedly make me as that fake happy girl you see on TV whose boyfriend did something so adorable that it sent her into a fit of laughter and as she opened her eyes, she sees him down on one knee with a ring bought from Jared most likely on clearance. Sometimes I was that happy, but it was mostly just a side effect from $1 shot specials and 99 cent tacos at 2 am.  As you can imagine, that happiness was short lived and only experienced Thursday through Sunday. When I entered 2013, I had been off anti-depressants for about a year and for the first time, I didn’t need them.  I finally began actually enjoying life.  If you are on anti-depressants, please do not feel any shame for taking them. They helped me a lot through my life and I am grateful for modern medicine’s ability to provide such things. But just know, it won’t last forever and there is hope that you won’t have to take them forever.

2. Here is something that, if you’re like me, will blow your mind: Egypt is in AFRICA! You are judging me right now, I can feel it. But I don’t care because this was life changing news to me.  I don’t remember why or what I was researching to figure this out, but when I did, I was dumbfounded (second time using that word in one blog. I must be dumbfounded a lot). I immediately sent a group text because I needed to inform the masses of my discovery.  I imagined that everyone would be just as amazed and in shock as I was, and I wanted to save them the lifeline they would clearly need if they ever found themselves on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and Regis asks them to locate the continent in which Egypt is located .  Instead of the praiseworthy and grateful texts I expected to receive, most of them consisted of “Ummm…”, “Did you fall asleep during Geography?”, and the ever-condescending “Wow.” Fine. Whatever.  Don’t call me if Regis ever says that you can phone a friend.

3. Quality is more important that quantity.  Over the summer, I logged into my old MySpace account to look at pictures and read messages and comments.  When I was 20-23, I was a social butterfly befriending anyone who smiled at me. There was never a lack of things to do or places to go.  As I was reading messages, I was like, “Who is this person? Why did I fall asleep under their table after eating macaroni and cheese?” I had a large quantity of friends but a low quality of relationships. This year, I’ve found myself at home more than I ever expected and I even recently found myself whining to my sister “I’M TOO YOUNG TO BE THIS BORING.”  The truth is, maybe I am a little boring now, but I have quality friends that accept me in my boringness and that’s all anyone really wants.

A handful of my quality friends who endured my quantity-over-quality years with me.

A handful of my quality friends who endured my quantity-over-quality years with me.

4. Be willing to let go of people.  People can pretend to be someone they aren’t for a long time, and when their facade finally becomes exposed, you have two options: Either dwell on your offense and live in bitterness, or process your hurt and let them be.  I don’t believe that you should continue to pursue a relationship and chase after a person who hurt you.  You can love from a distance.  The prodigal son’s father never went chasing after him. He loved from where he was and knew that the son knew where to find him if he needed him.

5. Riding a horse along the beach may seem like an ideal summer day, but not if you’re in Tijuana. Don’t do it unless you want to spend the rest of your day wondering if you’ve lost the ability to reproduce.

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Look at me all cute and innocent and unaware of what lied ahead.

6. Don’t focus on the mean people. I used to read celebrity interviews and they would often talk about how mean people on the internet would get them down.  I would always think, “Why do you care what people say?? I would never let that bother me if I had that much success!” Then in August I wrote a blog post that ended up going viral.  It was fun for the first few hours, but as it gained more and more popularity, the comments became more and more mean.  People were taking personal stabs at me, and someone from my school even posted a long, drawn out status basically about how terrible and judgmental I am (to their credit, they may not have known that I was a fellow student). I remember reading comments on my lunch break and having to walk outside to cry because I was allowing these strangers to get to me.  Then I realized, that’s exactly what they are. Strangers.  They have no idea who I am and that I never intended for anyone outside my circle of friends to read that blog post.  That experience was short lived and yet it taught me an extremely valuable lesson about weeding out the negative and focusing on the positive.

7. If you feel that you’re too small or inexperienced to make a difference, just remember that a baby in the room will always get more attention than the doctor in the room. Don’t be afraid of humble beginnings and don’t feel embarrassed for growing.

My adorable niece and nephew.

My adorable niece and nephew.

8. Pursuing your dreams will cost you. This year has been extremely hard for me for this reason. I have always worked and been able to provide for myself, and by providing for myself, I mean providing new Coach bags and the fashion “must-haves.”  I have never felt so unfashionable as I have in 2013.  Going to school means being unable to work and being unable to work means that I have to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be buying the latest Michael Kors bag or a new pair of boots anytime soon.  Sometimes I do feel sad because cute clothes, makeup, and fashion have always been a big part of my life. Maybe it will be again someday, but for now I am learning that you can’t always have it all.

9. Some days you’re 2001 Britney and other days you’re 2007 Britney.  It’s just a fact of life.  It’s important that you have friends that love you where you are and let you have your 2007 Britney days and don’t get uncomfortable and insecure when you have your 2001 Britney days.

You are 2001 Britney! You can conquer the world!

You are 2001 Britney! You can conquer the world!

10. Love yourself.  I have had the greatest year of personal breakthrough that I have ever had, and the key was learning to love myself where I was. I spent years thinking that I would love myself if I lost however-many pounds or if I had a new car or a more praise-worthy job or if I looked like Beyonce.  Then I realized, true love isn’t based on conditions. Accept yourself! Fall in love with yourself! Post selfies! Because the truth is, the one person you will never be able to escape from is yourself.

11. Debating on Facebook makes you look ridiculous. I’m amazed almost on a daily basis at the lengths people will go to avoid being wrong. With hot topics like President Obama’s re-inauguration, healthcare, and gluten, the Facebook debates have been in full force.  If you are a Facebook debater, please stop. You are making the rest of us uncomfortable.

12. It’s OK to like what you like and to not like what you don’t like.  Seems simple enough, right? I think part of being in your early 20s is all about figuring out who you are and what you like.  A lot of times you take on other people’s hobbies and interests as a way to fit in because when you’re 21, fitting in is important.  The problem is, years down the road, you’re 27 and wondering why you have scrap-booking kits and  Cardinals football memorabilia when you don’t even know how to watch football and the only photo album you use is on Facebook!  This year was the first time I really came to terms with what I like and don’t like. Sure, it may be every guy’s dream to find a girl that likes to look pretty, drink beer, play video games and watch football, but I’m not that girl. I like two of those four things and whoever ends up with me will just have to deal.

13. God cares more about the process than the outcome. A lot of the times, we can get stuck on the fact that we aren’t where we want to be and end up throwing ourselves a pity party and crying out in between bites of left over lasagna and stale Chips Ahoy cookies, “Whyyyyy God, Why??” I’ve learned that instead of asking God “why,” it’s better to ask God “What?” What is God doing that I am missing because I’m too focused on the outcome and not the now? I’m not where I want to be in a lot of areas in my life, but God, in his kindness, is taking his time with me so that the outcome doesn’t destroy me.  Embrace the process. God knows what he’s doing.

2013, you were one of a kind.  For the first time, I felt what it was like to really be alive and in love with life.  I will treasure your memories for a lifetime.

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Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you like this post, you might also like: Be Where You Are or 20 Things I Wish I Knew in my Early 20’s

Fearless Friday! Wine and Dining

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.

Thirteen weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do. One thing on my list was inspired by a movie that became an instant favorite among stay at home moms and home schoolers alike, Julie and Julia. If you have never seen the movie, the plot follows both Julia Childs journey in cooking and another young lady, Julie,  who is on the search for significance after working most of her life in a cubical. The two stories parallel and Julie sets out on a mission to cook a recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” everyday for a year.  She creates a blog and chronicles her failures and victories along the way. Through her journey, she gathers a following and eventually begins making national news and even catching the attention from Mrs. Julia Childs herself.  As you watch the movie, you begin to feel inspired and try to think of all the ways you can recreate the same experience. You go through all the ideas you have in your head and quickly realize that the only real talent you have is the ability to watch four seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in two days and that’s not exactly something you want national attention for.

I decided to try to recreate just one of her recipes. I mean, one can’t be that hard, right? I decided to go with the Beef Bourguignon because it was mentioned a few times in the movie and any recipe that calls for a full bottle of wine is a recipe I want in my life.  My mom had requested in an “anonymous” blog comment that I wait until I am home for Christmas to attempt this one.  So, like any good daughter would do, I waited until I was home so that I could grant my mother’s request and also use her credit card to buy all the ingredients. I looked over the recipe one last time to make sure I had everything I needed and I realized that I overlooked one very important detail: prep and cook time is a total of 6.5 hours.  SIX AND A HALF HOURS! Now, I know that as a female my primary role in life is to live in a kitchen but we all already know that I will  NEVER be a Proverbs 31 woman.  No wonder Julia Child’s was known for her drinking as well as her cooking.  If I had to stay in a kitchen for six hours everyday, I’d drink too. I then recruited my darling sister who just loves me and loves cooking to help.  Look how cute we are.

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We chopped the vegetables, chopped the meat, poured the wine, added the butter, poured more wine, sautéed the meat, added more butter, and then finally poured wine for the meal and not for ourselves. Everything was coming together nicely and I felt like my presentation could be featured in a Home and Garden magazine.

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I put the prepared stew in the oven and let it simmer for six hours. In the meantime, I thought about how maybe this was my chance to actually be a Proverbs 31 woman. I mean, I just successfully prepared one of Julia Child’s most complicated meals. Maybe I jumped the gun a little too soon when I asked for a cat for Christmas.  Maybe I should start shaving my legs again. Maybe I won’t be the designated person who is asked to take all the family photos on Christmas morning. All these thoughts floated through my head for six hours and I began thinking about creative ways I would announce my engagement on Facebook.  Finally, the timer went off and I did the wedding march to the kitchen.  I opened the oven, took out my husband bait, and…and…WHAT. THE. ELF.

Apparently when you use fresh spices like, bay leaves and sprigs of thyme, you’re supposed to tie them together or place them in a milk sack (what is a milk sack??).  All the spices were burnt into tiny pieces and floating around my stew.  Also, the sauce was supposed to be more like a gravy by this point, but I had forgotten to add flour at the beginning.  Darn you, Julia Childs and your contagious drinking habits! I only shed a few tears and decided to not be a victim of my own stupidity.  I managed to retrieve almost every floating spice piece and use the stew juices to make a gravy. Here is the final project:

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My family applauded  and I had a celebratory glass of wine (hey, I DESERVED it). I found this Julia Childs’ quote and found it to be quite appropriate: Julia Child quote

1Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

And So This is Christmas

20131223-101340.jpgIt’s that time of year again. Mall parking lots are filled with hurried people, and red Starbucks cups are in the hands of shoppers as they try to find the perfect, discounted gift for the ones they love. Mothers are teaching their young ones the art of making snowmen and snowflakes out of sugar cookies, while fathers are working overtime so they can provide the best gifts for their children. Some call it Christmas, others celebrate Hanukkah, and those who are stuck in the 90′s call it Festivus. Whatever you call it, there is no denying that the most wonderful time of the year is here.

Like most children, Christmas Eve was the most exciting part for me and my sisters. The anxious anticipation of what layed ahead made the whole day seem to drag on in the best way possible. My sisters and I would bake cookies for Santa and his reindeer and leave a note next to the plate thanking him for his good deeds and wishing him a safe trip. Our parents would have us in bed early, to make sure Santa wouldn’t skip over our house due to awakened children, and thus began the longest night of the year. I would sleep for a few hours, but by 2 am I would awaken from my own excitement. I would wake my sister up and we would sneak into the living room and stand in amazement at the gifts that lied beneath our tree. We’d run back to our bedroom, giggling and shrieking. We’d stay up the rest of the night playing games and entertaining ourselves until we felt the time was right to wake up our parents. Once they were up, we would all sit around the living room and my dad passed out gifts one by one.

The day would continue as family and friends came over. Our family has a variety of personalities. My uncle always had loud and slightly obnoxious stories to tell. His voice could be heard no matter where you were in the house. My aunt always arrived, rhubarb pie in hand, along with stories that would keep her and my mother laughing for hours. My poppa would always joke as he saw a new family member arrive, asking my Nana “Diane, who left the door open and let these people in?” My Aunt Tristan, our family jewel, had down syndrome and yet she always knew how to keep us entertained by her childlike innocence and love for everyone (Unless you ate her ice cream. If you ate her ice cream, expect to be immediately cut off from her life and to endure a day full of strangely endearing insults). The adults would eat and laugh as the children would brave the Arizona winters by playing outside with their new gifts.

Eventually, the day would come to a close, as it does so tragically fast. I remember sitting on the couch in my mother’s arms, hot chocolate in hand, as we watched Rudolph by the fire while listening to carolers in the distance. My mind would recount the details of the day and a certain sadness that it was nearly over would come over me.

Years have passed since those days. My sisters and I are grown and live states apart. Two of them have their own families now. My uncle and aunt have been divorced, and my Aunt Tristan, the family jewel with down syndrome, now resides in a home because she is slowly losing control of her body and is unable to communicate. I still remember the first time I realized that life was changing. I was 23 and my parents were unable to be with us for Christmas because it wasn’t financially possible. My mother sent packages filled with homemade gifts that were affordable. My Aunt Tristan was there and she kept asking what day it was; she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. I remember she cried halfway through the day because she thought that we had all forgotten to give her Christmas presents, when in fact, she had just forgotten that she already opened them.  My sister left early that Christmas day to spend time with her boyfriend’s family and I was left alone. I spent the rest of that Christmas day by myself, watching E! reruns by myself and wishing I could be 8 years old again, back in my mother’s arms.

Being a late twenty-something single during the holidays brings about a certain sadness that I hadn’t expected. The innocent, childhood excitement is gone. My sisters and I don’t bake cookies for Santa and sleep in the same room dreaming about the gifts we are about to open anymore. Now, I get to watch them relive those times with their own children. I receive the Christmas cards from friends with pictures of their families. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my family and friends raising their children and being married. But sometimes, during this time, I forces me to remember what I don’t have yet.

Life changes in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re a little girl dancing in your room to music being played by your brand new pink stereo that Santa gave you, and the next you’re an adult who can’t buy Christmas presents for everyone you love because you have a car payment coming up. You begin to realize that Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t about the holiday, the traditions, or the gifts. It’s about family. I will never get those moments as a little girl back, but I’ll forever have those memories. The memories are what keep us alive in the midst of pain.

As you celebrate this amazing time of year this season, don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all. If you’re a parent, hug your children a little longer than usual. Children, little ones and adults alike, tell your parents that you love them. Enjoy the moments when a family member talks too long, or when your child drops all the cookie dough you just slaved over on the floor, or when you have to walk into the Christmas Eve service late because, let’s face it, getting children ready for anything is an event in and of itself, because soon you’ll look back and realize that you’d trade anything to have those moments again.

Aususta E. Rundell said it best when she said, “Christmas…It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance…a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”

May you have a wonderful holiday season filled with beauty, love, joy, and family.

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Confession: I was never bulimic

I have a confession to make to everyone. I was never bulimic.

This may be your first time reading my blog, but if it’s not I am sure you are a bit confused as I have openly talked about my past struggle with bulimia. Because of the victory I had over that area in my life, new doors have been opened up to me to be able to help other girls who are experiencing the same struggle.  As I talk with each girl, I’ve noticed that they each say very similar things that I used to say which is why I knew that I had to come clean with all of you and confess that I was never bulimic.

Did I struggle with bulimia? Yes.

Did it define me? No.

One of the greatest strongholds I had was self-created.  I spent years saying things like “my eating disorder” and “I’m bulimic” which ended up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.  I remember meeting with my pastor, Marlene, last year to talk about my struggle.  I was sharing with her my story and how I had had eating disorders since age 11 and she stopped me mid-sentence and said “Why do you keep saying my eating disorder? Every time you do that, you’re taking ownership of it and it’s not yours!”

I think that we often times allow our temptations to define us.  Once we do that and accept it as part of ourselves, we move into very dangerous territory.  I made the decision to stop taking ownership of the eating disorder and to stop calling myself bulimic.  That was not who I was. The bulimia was a direct violation of who I was created to be.

Your temptation or your struggles do not define you.  Jesus himself experienced temptation and yet he knew who he belonged to, so the temptation held no power over him.  You are not your struggle.

You are a child of the living God.

You were bought with a price.

You have a calling.

You are powerful.

You are the object of God’s deepest desire.

You were God’s idea from the start.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might also like Am I Pretty? or God Listens to Coldplay.

Fearless Friday! Breakthough is Simple

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.

Eleven weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do.  Now, there was one thing on my list that I said from the beginning I may not be able to do because of money and that was take an overnight trip by myself. I was exactly right.

This last week, I somewhat accidentally conquered a fear. At first, I wasn’t going to allow it to count for my blog since it wasn’t on my “official” fear list and I have to follow the rules! Then last night, I was inspired by Beyonce herself who broke every rule when it comes to the music industry and released a new album without any warning or promotion and I thought “If Beyonce can surprise the world, then I can add a new fear without any warning and the peoples will love it!” WWBD everyone!

Before I share with you this story, allow me to start by saying that leaders have always been a source of fear in my life. I don’t want to go into all the reasons why but I will say that as a child, I was given this picture of leaders as being people whom you do not want to make angry in any way, shape, or form.  The best way to stay safe of the wrath was to just avoid them altogether because they were like this:

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Or this:

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Here at my school, Bethel, we are surrounded by all these great leaders.  I spent the good first year and a half keeping my distance because I didn’t want to come across as needy or that I had ulterior motives in talking to them. There was one leader in particular who I felt a draw towards from the start of my second year here.  He shared something one day that stirred something inside of me and when He did, I knew I had to have him pray for me.  He even encouraged us to go to a leader we want prayer from and have them pray, but I was so paralyzed with fear that I came up with every reason why I shouldn’t do that.  I left school that day feeling frustrated with myself, but I tried to reason and convince myself that I’ll be fine. A few nights later, I had a dream that Pastor Bill’s wife, Beni Johnson, came up to me and told me that I had to have this particular leader pray for me if I wanted breakthrough.

Great. Now the Johnsons are appearing to me in a dream! I have no biblical basis for this, but I’m pretty sure that is almost equivalent to having an angel appear to you in a dream. I knew that it was confirmation of what God had already put on my heart.  So, I spent the next month making half-hearted attempts at speaking to him.  I’d walk over to where his table is and when he wouldn’t be there I’d sigh a sigh of relief think “Oh well, guess I’ll come back tomorrow.” Finally, on Tuesday I saw him and thought, “This is ridiculous! I can’t live my life in fear of other people and especially in fear of leaders if I want to someday be a leader! What would Beyonce do, Rihanna?” So, I got my game face on, did a few push ups, said a cheer and walked up to him fully prepared for him to either ignore me or be too busy to meet with me.  I introduced myself and asked if I could set up a meeting with him. He said absolutely, pulled out his iPad, and scheduled a meeting with me for right after school at 4:15. WHAT? It was that easy? You mean, he didn’t laugh in my face and call me a little peasant girl? I walked away almost embarrassed at how easy that was.

Finally, 4:15 rolled around and I walked into his office, not really knowing what to expect.  I shared with him what was on my heart and what I was needing breakthrough in.  I fully expected that I would need some long and drawn out counseling sessions to get where I wanted to be.  After putting it all on the table and explaining that I needed help forgiving someone, he looked at me and basically called out exactly what was going on in my heart. He prayed for me and literally within minutes I went from feeling completely hopeless in a certain area to being completely free! In a short thirty minute meeting, he was able to walk me into complete freedom from something I’ve been mentally battling for 6 years! I walked out of his office, again almost embarrassed at how simple the solution was.  Once he pointed out the lie that I was believing about myself, it exposed it and it no longer had any power over me. I left feeling literally ten pounds lighter and the thought of this certain person I needed to forgive didn’t trigger any negative feelings within me.

Isn’t it funny that just beyond our biggest fears lies some of our greatest breakthroughs?  I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that conquering this fear literally changed my life. Not only did I break off my irrational fear of leaders, but I also got set free in other areas of my life. So, although this was not on my official “Fearless Friday list,” this was definitely the most life changing.

Here is what I have left!

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. OR TALK TO A LEADER.

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

Fearless Friday! Some Like it HOT

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.

Ten weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do.  One of those things was to do two Bikram Yoga sessions in one day. If that doesn’t sound scary to you, then you have never done Bikram Yoga.

Bikram isn’t like any other type of yoga.  While most yogi girls do yoga in cute outfits with their hair and makeup fully done in case they meet their dream yogi spouse who will ask them out to a kale dinner after doing an impressive downward dog, you’d be a fool to do the same in Bikram yoga.  You see, Bikram is a set of 26 postures that you do for 90 minutes in a room set to a temperature of 100-105 degrees and 40% humidity. By the end you look like a drowning rat.  I first learned of Bikram Yoga from radio DJ, Johnjay VanEs, in 2008.  If you aren’t familiar with him, he basically finds something he is obsessed with and talks non-stop about it until his next obsession comes along.  He had just recently lost a bunch of weight and he praised Bikram for it’s weight loss benefits and being a female, I am constantly on the lookout for anything that will help me look like Beyonce.  I convinced my best friend, Kainos, to try it out with me and I’m pretty sure she has yet to forgive me for that. Here’s what happened:

Two innocent and unsuspecting girls arrive at Scottsdale’s newest Bikram Yoga studio.  The sign on the door seems welcoming and reads “Find your Namaste.” We didn’t know our namaste was missing and we wondered aloud what a namaste could be and if it was 6’2 with blue eyes. We walked through the doors and upon first sight we see a lobby filled with scantily clad old men holding BPA-free water bottles that read “Namaste.” Maybe we don’t want to find our namaste after all.

An instructor, who is munching on kale and granola, greets us in a nice and soothing tone and asks if it’s our first time. She hands us a waiver that we need to sign agreeing not to sue the studio if we happen to die of dehydration during a class. “It’s not that bad,” she says convincingly. “Your goal is just to stay in the room.”  Seems simple enough.

After signing our waivers, we step foot into the actual studio which is 105 degrees and thick with humidity.  Immediately we regret every decision that led us to this point. We find a place for their non-organic yoga mats and sit in silence and despair as we imagine what lies before us.  Other seasoned yogi’s are warming up by doing backwards bends and I am exposed to parts of old men that I am sure to someday talk to my therapist about. Kainos and I are already sweating and I look at her apologetically.  We have been friends for 15 years at this point and have endured a lot of hard times. However, I begin to fear that this may be what breaks us apart.

The instructor walks in and everyone jumps to their feet.  They stare intensely at themselves in the mirror with the same look I give a family member who asks why I’m not married yet. She begins walking us through the first few poses and my body begins shaking. I give up trying to keep up with the rest of the class and I lay on my mat with either tears or sweat in my eyes, I still don’t know. “I hate Johnjay VanEs!” I think to myself. “This is all his fault! You will rule the day JohnJay!”  The instructor approaches me a coconut water and a half-hearted compliment telling me how well I’m doing. “Just breathe” she says. “The nausea, dizziness, and thoughts of homicide will pass.”

After what feel likes six hundred and sixty-six hours, the class comes to a close. I look over at Kainos who refuses to make eye contact with me. Since this is 2008, I already know that by the end of the day I will be removed from her top 8 friends on Myspace. We had a good run. We both sit up from our mats disoriented and confused, kinda like this guy:

Yoga

We leave the class soaked to the core in sweat and misery. We didn’t find our namaste but we did lose $12.00 thanks to the coconut water that possibly prevented me from committing a felony.

As accurately torturous as that sounds, as soon as the bad thoughts and feelings passed, I soon became obsessed with Bikram yoga.  Ask anyone that knew me from 2008-2010 and all I talked about was Bikram! In fact, the reason I ever even started blogging was to  document a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge I was doing in which I did Bikram every day for 30 days straight.  However, as much as I loved it, I was always too terrified to attempt more than one class a day.  For years, I have wanted to accomplish such a victory and yet never have.

Here is where Fearless Friday comes into play in helping me accomplish my mundane dreams.  It was Wednesday afternoon and all week I had originally planned to do number 5 on my list which is go without a phone for an entire week.  However, after a runaway grandpa (don’t ask) and a small financial crisis, I was unable to successfully accomplish that one.  By Wednesday, I was in panic mode because I needed to find something to do for my blog! I had done my research and there are zero Bikram Yoga studios here in Redding.  For a while, I had planned on replacing this one with something different until it hit me…create my own Bikram yoga studio! So, I went home and turned our heater on full blast and put two space heaters in my bedroom.  After about an hour, it was just the right level of warmth and discomfort for me to begin.  I had already spent an hour at the gym doing legs, so I knew that this was going to be a whole different type of torture. I pulled the 26 postures up on a webpage and put my phone timer in front of me so that I could keep track of my timing and for the next 90 minutes, I lead myself through the entire Bikram yoga routine.

By the end, I wanted to die.

By this point, I had worked out a total of 2.5 hours and the thought of one more Bikram session stirred up more emotion than when Destiny’s Child announced their retirement. I had a moment when I entertained the thought of giving up but I thought to myself, “What would Beyonce do?”  Beyonce taught me that I am a survivor. I’m gonna make it. I will survive and keep on surviving.

So, I turned on my inner Sasha Fierce and I powered through another entire 90 minute session of Bikram yoga.  In some ways, the fact that I did this on my own made me that much more proud of myself because it would have been much easier to cheat and skip a few poses or just not do it at all, but I did it and it was GLORIOUS! I looked at myself in the mirror as I was dripping with sweat and gave myself an internal high-five. I didn’t praise myself for too long because after 4 hours of working out and 1428 burned calories, I had more important things on my mind like FOOD.

So, there you have it.  One more task crossed off my list and now begins a new week. Here’s what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

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If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

Never, Never, Never Give Up

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog sharing my victory in hitting the one year mark of being bulimia free.  It was a really emotional day for me as it hit me that I am actually free.

The disease that I battled with for most of my life was gone.

The amount of support I received was overwhelming in the best way possible.  But, there was a different response that I received that was heartbreaking.

Girls were sending me messages sharing their own battle with eating disorders. Some were girls that I knew and some I did not.  I could feel their desperation as I read their messages and I brought me back to the times when I was in the same place as them.  I wanted freedom, but how was that even possible? They all asked the same question: “How do I get free?”

After reading a few messages, I went to bed feeling helpless.  I wanted to respond to them and offer them a magic potion that would make it all disappear.  I wanted to tell them that all they needed to do was recite a simple prayer and it would all be easier by tomorrow. But I couldn’t.

You see, freedom doesn’t normally come without a price paid to get it.  We see that in our countries history, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and in most stories that end with victory.

You have to give your life to freedom.

You have to stare your enemy in the face and say, “I am not afraid of you.”

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

It’s waking up every morning and getting out of bed despite the fact that depression is screaming at you to stay there.

It’s speaking life over yourself and refusing to believe any voice that tells you can’t win.

It’s going to be hard.

You aren’t going to want to fight at times.

You will have moments when you mess up.

But it won’t last forever.

A time will come when you wake up and for the first time, you want to be alive.

You’ll begin to believe the things that God says about you.

You’ll begin to love yourself.

A time will come when you will be free.

Just remember, “Never, never, never give up.” “Winston Churchill

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Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!