Monday, October 20, 2014

Face the Fears

It's the time of year for spooky stories, haunted houses and scary movies. We pretend to hate it, but that creepy feeling that comes when you are truly scared is one that we continue to seek out- just because. We like to jump out at our friends, put fake spiders in our sister's beds, and prank call our parents. We PAY to be scared.

But what about our real, deeper fears? I certainly don't pay someone to throw me in the middle of a large crowd and to not be able to get out. I wouldn't stand in line to stand in front of a crowd of people and allow them to judge me.

Our fear goes way beyond zombies and ghosts. It even goes beyond clowns, one of my top fears. It is so much deeper. But we don't address those fears. We don't purposely put ourselves in situations where those deeper fears will be right in front of us.

But maybe we should.

Because maybe then we would see that, just like the haunted houses, they aren't that bad. That we can get through it- even if we close our eyes a little along the way. We would see that eventually, there is a way out.

Most of us don't openly share our deepest fears. Maybe we find them silly or we're afraid someone else will find them silly. But the reality is, most of us fear many of the same things. We're all just humans, trying to survive.

A haunted house that truly depicted my deepest fears would include people from my past that I am afraid to confront, small spaces with large amounts of people, phone calls that I know I have to make, and being the center of attention...amongst other things. Would I want to go through that haunted house? Hell no. But maybe I should. Just to say that I did. Just to give me the confidence to do it again. Just to know- there is nothing to be afraid of.

Let's try it. Let's try to go face to face with our real fears. I think something magical might happen if we do. I'll be cheering you on along the way, because I know that you can do this. And I know you'll do it again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.

I am very active on social media, and almost every where I turn I am reading body positivity and movements to make women feel better about their bodies. I follow women like Meghan Tonjes, Madison Lawrence and Tobie Stevens- all social media starlets who are not shy about their passion for body positivity and acceptance. I guess in my world, naive as it may be, women were finally starting to see themselves as beautiful, and to spread that message to others. So I was a little shocked and saddened when I read the title on a HelloGiggles article "Glamours Newest Study Says Women Feel Worse About Their Bodies Now More Than Ever""

What? NO! NO NO NO! Stop!

It shouldn't be like this! We should be feeling BETTER about ourselves more than ever. Why is it going backwards? What are we doing wrong? And HOW CAN WE FIX IT?

I am yelling because I have to yell. I am so passionate about this I could explode. Nothing upsets me more than people who don't think they are good enough. That's just not true.

Part of the problem is that we compare ourselves far too much to others. Let me remind you: It. Doesn't Matter. It doesn't matter how the girl in front of you at Starbucks looks. It doesn't matter what your colleagues look like. It doesn't matter how fit the other girls at the gym are. All that matters is you, your attitude, and how YOU feel. Certainly if you feel like you will feel healthier if you drop some lbs or gain muscle then GO FOR IT. But do NOT let the way someone else looks be your motivation. YOU are your motivation.

You were uniquely made. You are special. Your body will never be like anyone else's no matter how hard you try. So do not spend your time and energy comparing yourself to another or feeling bad that you do not look the way you think you are supposed to look.

I know this isn't easy and I know I cannot force everyone to feel better about their bodies. I know I can't give you a magical formula to fix your attitude on your body. All I can do is my best to remind each and every woman in my life that they ARE beautiful.

So now we have to put this into action. Each morning, before you rush out the door, stop for a moment. Sit in silence, and tell yourself "I am good enough. I am beautiful". And then, as you go about the day, spread love. Not just to others- but to yourself. Before you fall asleep each night, list off the things that you ROCKED that day and the things you loved about yourself. Even if the list is short, focus on the positive. If a negative thought pops in, will it to go away and replace it with a positive one.

One day you will believe me. One day you will see your beauty loud and clear. One day we will read an article that tells us women are feeling better about themselves now than ever before. One day this will change. One footstep at a time.

And if you need a little motivation to get you started, I have the perfect song for you

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

I have needed new workout shoes for over a year. I've known this. I knew where to go to get them. But I never actually walked into a store until this past weekend.


I didn't want the employees at the pro running shops to judge me for my weight. I didn't want them to roll their eyes at me or talk about me after I left. I didn't want them to doubt that I really was working on my fitness goals.

I know what some of you are thinking- that I am too sensitive, and that no one would judge me.

If you're thinking that, I am going to take a guess that you've never been overweight. Trust me, I know that I am overly sensitive, and in most cases I agree that we could blame sensitivity. But not this time. The cold, hard truth is that I HAVE been judged because of my weight. I've gotten stares or smirks or even comments- from total strangers. So to avoid this I try to avoid any situation where this could happen. Like buying workout shoes.

I finally decided to get over my fear and go to a local running shop. I knew I needed GOOD shoes- Famous Footwear wouldn't cut it! I walked out with a new pair of Asics- and no judgement.

I tell this story because I know so many others struggle with the fear of being judged. Not just for weight issues, either. I think all of us have insecurities that cause us to be afraid of what others will think. It's heartbreaking. We shouldn't live in a world where we are scared to live our lives because we fear what others will say or do. We should accept and embrace each other, no matter our looks or abilities. We are humans- and we should treat each other as such.

My hope is that each of us can learn to accept each other so that no one has to be afraid. My hope is that each of us can learn to accept OURSELVES and to have the courage to push past the fear. Imagine what an exciting, beautiful world it could be if we did not let fear get in our way.

I know that I will still get scared in certain situations. But I also know that I love the life that I am living, and I have an incredible passion for life- the passion should outweigh the fear.

I have neither gained nor lost any weight while my dad has been in the hospital. I see that as a major plus, all things considered. With my events coming up fast I am not sure that I can get back to my normal routine of working out and cooking for a few more weeks, but I am doing my best to squeeze in exercise and to make healthy choices. I am determined to get back into it the second I can.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

10 Things I've Learned After Having A Parent In The Hospital For A Month

Just a few days after Labor Day, we took my dad to the hospital after noting some confusion. This happened back in July as well, and when an MRI was completed we discovered that there was swelling in his brain as a side effect from radiation. We all- family and doctors- assumed that was the problem this time. So the doctors loaded him on steroids to reduce the swelling, just as he we had done in July.

But there was one problem: We were wrong.

Whatever was causing his initial confusion was not radiation necrosis- nor was it cancer related. But it was too late. The extremely high dose of steroids put him into a steroid psychosis. We ran all kinds of tests those first few weeks. We were ecstatic that the cancer in both the brain and the lungs were shrinking, and even more relieved to find that there was no cancer in the spinal fluid. My dad went through two spinal tap tests, a 24 hour EEG, an MRI, and multiple blood tests. And during all of this, he went from periods of unresponsiveness to seizures to hallucinations. He wasn't eating or drinking. He was wearing a diaper.

In the last week or so he has started to slowly come out of the psychosis and come back to us. He could eat if he fed him. He was following simple commands. He stopped repeating what we said and the hallucinations seemed to settle.

He has now been moved to a rehabilitation facility to get physical and occupational therapy. Sitting in a hospital bed for a month has caused him to lose his strength. There are still moments of confusion, but he is making tremendous progress.

The month has been hell. I cannot begin to express how terrifying it is to watch your dad become unresponsive. But I certainly have learned a lot.

10. There are secret angels in the hospital- and they aren't always the medical team. I loved my dad's nurses. but I also felt so much comfort from the Starbucks barista's. Which may seem silly, but they learned my name and always asked for an update on my dad. I change my order up all the time so they would try to guess what I was getting that day.

9. Your routine will HAVE to change- and that's okay. Just let it go. Realize that instead of heading home after work to cook dinner or to have book club or workout may not happen. Visiting at the hospital will take priority. Running an errand for the other parent will take priority. It's okay. I did my fair share of complaining, but have come to accept that routines sometimes just have to change.

8. Not to send conflicting advice, but you will also need to find time to do something for yourself. This morning I got up and went for a run- because I had to do something for me where I wasn't thinking about my dad.

7. You will run into some really cranky people at the hospital- but remember that you have no idea what they are dealing with. Don't take it personally.

6. Sometimes you need to be an advocate for your parent/loved one who is in the hospital. If you think they are uncomfortable or aren't getting what they need, SPEAK UP. It's an odd role reversal- we are so used to our parents taking care of us and helping us to address our needs- but now, it's up to us to care for them. So speak up.

5. Music really can heal. In the days when my dad was totally unresponsive. I played music for him and he would flutter his eyes or tap his fingers...once he even cried. I honestly felt like I was witnessing a miracle. Another time he was particularly anxious, so I played music again and he calmed down in seconds, singing along and requesting songs. His favorite? Susan Boyle's 1st X Factor audition.

4. Some people i your life will disappear when you need them the most. Often it's because they "don't know what to say". Call me selfish, but I think that's a silly excuse. You don't have to KNOW what to say, or just say SOMETHING. To ignore your friend when they are going through this hell is only adding to their stress/grief. I really struggled with this and felt like on top of everything else, I was losing friends. But what I learned is that we can't control what other's do or don't do or say or don't say. It hurts, and it sucks, but if they can't set aside a few minutes of their precious time to be there for you, they really aren't the kind of person you want as a friend.

3. Although some people disappear, there are so many others who are willing to help. For my family, that was primarily our close friends and our church community. They brought meals, sent cards and flowers, Some sat with my dad when we couldn't or ran errands for us. They WANTED to help and wanted a concrete way of helping. Let them help. Give them a task. It's not selfish.

2. You faith will be shaken and you will want to break down. THAT'S OKAY. Have a breakdown- shoot, have five. Cry, yell, scream, shout. Do whatever you need to do. You are free to feel however you want to feel.

1. There is absolutely nothing more important than family. I work for a large nonprofit and we have several events coming up- this is our crunch time. I should be spending every moment working and getting ready. But I'm not, and everyone gets it. No matter how important or crucial your job is, your family is so much more important. And things like this will bring you even closer together.