No Matter the Bruises

Warning: This post is a bit different, a bit darker than the norm. But after having saved this draft for over a year, I think it’s time to share.

I do not know and will never claim to know everything about eating disorders. All I know are my own set of experiences and feelings.

I know what it feels like to stare in disbelief across the kitchen counter. To see so many open jars, empty wrappers, used utensils. Crumbs everywhere. What just happened? It feels like waking up from a dream, only it’s real and it’s actually a nightmare. The sharp, intense, familiar pain in my stomach emerges through my food haze. I don’t know how much I’ve eaten. I don’t want to know. I double over. I feel sick. I feel guilt. So much guilt. So much anger.

I know what it feels like to kneel, hugging the toilet seat, and cry. Cry for what I’ve just done. Silently hoping and praying that flushing will simultaneously erase this incident, and the last incident, and the time before that. It doesn’t. I should feel better for reversing what I just ate, right? I don’t. I cry harder. But I must stop, I must be quiet, the bathroom exhaust only drowns out so much sound. I must rejoin my family celebrating my birthday, or my friends back at the restaurant table before they start to wonder where I am. They cannot know. I dry my eyes, blow my nose, look in the mirror. I hate what I see.

I know what it feels like to be a girl obsessed. No, not with a man or a job, but with food. To count, and count, and count. To see every food item as a number. The number of calories it has, the number in which it ranks on the scale between good and bad foods, the number my total calories consumed would increase to if I would consume said item. When I don’t know, I open my phone calculator and do some quick math. After every meal. I smile, I actually feel joy, when the total at the end of the day is a 3 digit number. I pretend not to notice my physical exhaustion, dizziness, spaced-out mind at work.

I know what it feels like to promise myself tomorrow. To promise myself the future. I know what it feels like to finally open up to family and a few close friends about the truth. To see their disbelief, their tears, and most importantly, their shared feelings, if any. So many of us suffer from an unhealthy relationship with food. And beyond that, we are all struggling with something, someTHINGS really. I am not alone. I’ve always known that. What I didn’t know is that I would suffer from this. I also didn’t ever think I’d be where I am today. Not cured, not completely healthy, but better. There are slip-ups, but they are fewer. I smile just typing that.

I smile when I think of how thankful I am for self-confidence boosts, encouraging words, and big hugs at just the right time (whether they knew or not) from people I am so so so lucky to live life with. I smile when I think of songs that have saved me, and difficult prayers that I’ve finally had the courage to speak. I smile when I reflect on the times my thoughts were not consumed with food, but instead with the moment at hand. I smile when I think of the times I’ve been driving to a restaurant, or family party, and I’m not scared of my diet. I smile when I know now that this does not define me, but it is merely a part of my story. My hope is that if you’re reading this that you can smile today thinking about small victories on your own journey – whether it’s been similar to mine or not at all.

Publish. Don’t publish. Publish. Listen to MercyMe. Close eyes. Breathe. Smile.

Publish.

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Four O’clock in the Morning

Wait, isn’t that a song? Lilly Allen and someone else…T-Pain? Woah where did that come from. I think I used to have that song back when iTunes had free singles per week and I always downloaded them because the risk was worth the reward. Also since when does/did T-Pain sing sentimental songs? Love that. I love when artists take us by surprise with something that’s out of the ordinary. I love when people every day venture from their comfort zone.

That’s how I aim to live life. #2017 #2017goals #kidding I don’t really believe in setting goals just because of a change in calendar year. If it’s successful for you – more power to you! I am not putting you down by any means. I just happen to change, evaluate, reconsider, add, delete, forget, remember, forget again, and redefine my goals and ambitions probably weekly. I don’t think I could keep one definition of a goal for 365 days. I love thinking about the future. I daydream all the time. Maybe that’s why I re-evaluate my goals so much while continually working towards them.

I love being awake at 4am. It’s eerily magical. Quiet. Only a few cars roll by outside. I want to hop in my car and drive aimlessly. I want to go lie down on the pavement and soak in the sky. I should take advantage of this additional time. Time I could spend planning more of my most recent business idea. Time I could spend taking an online class. Time I could spend mapping out all the cities I want to visit. Time I could spend researching a nearby place to watch the sunrise. And then go and sit in absolute peace.

Hey Grandpa, are you awake? I know you love starting your day early. Dad, are you? I remember hearing your alarm around this time when I lived at home. Let’s gather three fold-out chairs on Grandpa’s driveway and watch the sunrise together. I’ll make the coffee. I’ll sing some T-Pain. Oh, I just looked it up and his song is Five O’clock in the Morning, not four. Well perfect, because it’s just after 5 now 👍

I’ve Got A Feeling

“What is your very favorite sensory experience for each of the five human senses?” I remember my existentialist high school classmate asked me one cold December bus ride to our holiday choir performance. I took a sip of hot chocolate and grinned.

“I-I don’t know.” I remember the question really caught me off guard. I was not surprised as this boy – we’ll call him Adam – always liked to get under our skins with tough questions and snarky remarks. And yet again I didn’t know how to respond. I’m quirky and imaginative and talkative by nature, but when someone asks me something deep, I want to take my time in my response. And for the remainder of the bus ride, I never gave an answer. The conversation continued and Adam probably does not even recall asking this question. For some reason, though, it stuck with me. And just last week, this question creeped back into my mind.

“What is your very favorite sensory experience for each of the five human senses?”

…To tell you the truth I still do not have a concrete answer. There are FAR too many choices, in my opinion. But I did challenge myself to ponder this for an entire two days. And here’s what I came up with of the senses I endured during those 48 hours.

Feel: Wearing socks just out of the dryer before they’ve had a chance to cool.

Hear: Walking to the mesmerizing pitter-patter of rain drops hitting my umbrella.

See: Glancing upwards to find one golden ray of sunlight shining through, touching each layer of tree leaves in the same yet entirely different manner.

Smell: Inhaling freshly baked pumpkin crunch cake in the small confines of my car for 20 entire minutes en route to a friend’s house.

Taste: Sipping that first drink of dark roast coffee when just getting to the office.

And there were so many more. But these were the moments, senses, experiences that stuck just a bit more. The best part of these two days? I was even more in tune to the world. Even more focused on the minute pleasures in life. I found myself being grateful every moment that I not only have these five senses, but am able to enjoy each one of them every single day. I’ve got a feeling I’ll continue to do my best to be more sense-itive to my surroundings. (Get it hahaha) But in all seriousness, I urge you to try it. Also, Adam, wherever you may be in life at this moment – shout out to you.

Wrong Place at the Right Time

Funny story time (I mean I did name this blog smile, right?) Last month, a Michael Bublé Instagram post catches my eye mentioning something about a one-time-only, yet nationwide-in-select-theaters movie. About his tour. And his face. And voice. And a total of $15 per ticket at a nearby theater. And then somehow ten minutes later I have a new flagged email in my inbox with two purchased tickets for my sister and me.

The countdown ends last Tuesday evening. It’s 6:45pm and the two of us pull in the parking lot ready for some Bublé, and we notice this long line outside the theater.

“What? Wait is this movie that big of a deal?”

“I didn’t think so! Are they all Michael Bublé fans?” (paraphrased remarks)

In our confused state, we get in line. We get in line behind four women probably in their 50’s who casually mention Michael in their conversation. We must be in the right place. Three younger men get in line behind us. “They have great taste!” I think. Actually, I think I say that aloud. We take a selfie just to remember our disbelief of the long line (yep, it’s the cover photo of this post). My sister and I are busy catching up, laughing, sharing sarcasm, sharing our excitement for this random film, watching the sunset, laughing some more – when a security woman comes outside to tell us we cannot have our phones in the theater. We must put them in our car.

…Huh? The women in front of us yell “But the tickets are on my phone!!!” Okay one – settle down ma’ams. Two – same here. The security then say we can scan our tickets and then put our phones in the car. We must be in the right place. Finally the line begins to move. The four women in front of us have disappeared. My sister and I think they just bolted off in their angered phone-less haste. Everyone holds out their phones/tickets for scan (no not with a device, just a glance from the employees) and an usher is counting us as we walk by. “Theater to your right, please.”

“Oh my gosh, what if he’s HERE” we say in hopeful sarcasm. I run out to my car to stow away our phones. We must be in the right place. When I return, we go through another line of security to check our purses. Geesh, we took our phones into his actual tour two years ago! We walk into the packed theater. Wedged between a young couple who snuck in their phones and a family of at least four children. We must be in the right place. Wait, why is that Mark Wahlberg poster up on the screen? What is Deepwater Horizon? My sister and I laugh it off, poke fun at the theater, share more stories of our days and lives and boys and – security interrupts with one final message about “premieres” and “safety” and the screen goes dark. And it’s still dark. Where’s the jazz chords? Some whispered dialogue begins that is sentimental, somewhat unnerving, and DEFINITELY not Bublé.

It hits us at once. We are not at all in the right place. We stumble out of the theater, past the family of six, down the stairs, and out to the security team (seriously, how much security is necessary?!)

“Where’s Michael Bublé?”

“We have no idea what you’re talking about.”

We’re in a bit of a daze and trying not to get upset, pacing towards the front desk.

“Where’s Michael Bublé?”

“Uhh…umm…uhh…theater to your left. All the way left. Down the hall.” We’re literally sprinting down the hall now. What time is it? How much have we missed? Michael we’re coming for you!! – now that I definitely say aloud. Too loud for the movie theater hallway probably.

We stumble in, giggling, out of breath, hearts racing, and easily find a seat with only 15 or so taken. Now this makes much more sense. There’s his beautiful face. And voice. Who knows how much we’ve missed, but the last hour is FANTASTIC. And it is extra special because of our adventure leading up to it. Isn’t it so funny how the unplanned moments make for the best memories? That whole wrong place at the right time thing. We’ll be laughing and treasuring this moment for probably years.

Challenge Accepted.

Who here loves the smell of a new car? You know, that rich, leathery, soothing-yet-overpowering scent that oozes when you stick your head inside a brand new car for the first time? …It just might be the best. So it’s no surprise it’s one of the reasons I absolutely love driving my first ever, month-old new car around town. One of many, but it’s definitely up there.

I know I’m not alone in this because when I shared with friends and coworkers about my new wheels, many paused for a second to ask with a smile, “Does it smell like a new car?!” But I’d barely get an answer in before they’d respond, “You’ll get used to it.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

Okay technically they are correct. We are habitual creatures and our senses quickly adapt to our surroundings. We live in routine and we like routine. Some time ago, I heard it only takes two weeks for something to become a habit. (Who knows if that was a trusted source but it sounds right!) But what if we – what if I – do not wish to “get used to” the smell of my new car? Each time I heard this response, the stubborn part of my personality switched in gear. I won’t get used to it! I’ll show them! Challenge accepted.

And sure enough, I am making more of a conscious effort to really breathe in each time I sit behind the wheel, and take a moment to enjoy, well, the moment. I can’t say it happens every time, but even on short trips to Kroger or driving the extra block to park in German Village during Sunday brunch hours, I’ve forced my thoughts to come back to the smell, the car, the engine, that minute. Someday, it won’t be the same as it is right now.

And this doesn’t stop with the divine smell of automobile materials. Let’s not get used to the feeling of coming home after a long day, wherever that may be. Let’s not get used to the smiles we share with coworkers each morning on our way for more coffee. Let’s not get used to summer nights, sunsets from patios, good morning texts, laughter at the family dinner table, kisses from grandma, hugs from our very best friends. Someday, it won’t be the same as it is right now.

Is it possible to break our human habits? Think outside of daily routine? Breathe in the moment for just one second? I’m up to the challenge.

Go Ahead

I’m not sure if this has ever happened before.

This morning, I’m standing on the corner waiting to cross the street to work and humming along to the song I’m listening to. And then the lyrics that happen to include “go” play in my ears at the exact moment the walk sign changes to the ever-familiar man, arms and legs outstretched. I mean, seriously, the timing could NOT have been more in sync.

“Go.”

And as I stepped onto the pavement, I stopped for two thirds of a second, I grinned right then and there, looked up in the middle of the street, bangs tangled in the humid morning air, trying not to drop my lunch/coffee/purse for the day. I felt like spinning around. I looked up to see 10 seconds on the timer, so I went with my better judgement.

But that tiny fraction of a moment stuck with me all day. I tried to think of what this ‘symbol’ could mean, just for fun. Go for it? On the go? Let go? I experienced feelings relating to each of those phrases today, and each time I again remembered that small but powerful and inspiring coincidence this morning.

What is inspiration? One definition I like is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” It does not have to be drastic, but just a thought that you want to do something with, to act upon, to wrestle within your mind. Sometimes we search for inspiration, sometimes we just come across it, and sometimes we get to go ahead and create our own.

ˈtwen-tē : ˈthrē

Just today I’ve experienced so many small, happy, incredible, fleeting moments, let alone this week so far. This month? Too many to count. This past year? It’s been one heck of an amazing ride, that’s for sure. I am incredibly blessed by so many friendships, experiences, and new beginnings. My heart is full.

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote this blog listing a few goals I wanted to accomplish while 22. And reading these now, it’s most definitely been a year of growth…let’s see what we checked off, shall we?

1. Pursue the next step in my career path. Whatever that may be.

If I told myself a year ago where I’d be now – within an amazing company surrounded by many wonderful leaders and friends – well, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

2. Keep planning for my own business. Don’t be afraid for an idea to change and grow.

Still working on this one, but I’m much closer than before to an idea I love enough to put in every extra bit of time and effort I have.

3. Make my biggest adult purchase yet. I’m thinking a new car is what I’ll most likely need this year. (No, Dad not a sports car…)

The car is on my radar for fall. But so far my largest purchase has been furnishings for my new apartment. Wait – my plane trip to Vegas last fall may have been more.

4. Try out a new hobby. This past year was blogging.

Hmm…hobby. Still don’t totally get what all falls under the word hobby. I started playing softball through work, does that count? Also finally found an awesome Columbus volunteering group that I absolutely love.

5. Stick to a new workout plan for a week, change it up and stay with that for a while, mix it up again, repeat.

I could amp up my morning workouts for sure. We’ll get there.

6. Eat very healthy for one week (I’m talking no “bad” foods) and see if I can really tell a difference in my physical/mental/emotional health.

Honestly I could probably never eat everything “good” for an entire week. But thanks to new friends and no more college and living on a budget, my diet has improved (at least M-Th) and I am honestly happier for it. I like being healthy and I also still really like cake and wine.

7. Eat only junk food for a day. Or only cake. And wine. It can be more than one day. The possibilities are endless.

Check. Check check check check. See point above^

8. Join a community choir. I miss singing!

I have my eye on a few! Maybe this year I’ll push past the waitlist(s).

9. Visit my grandparents. Help them out when I can.

I absolutely love you three and this goal will never be checked off.

10. Go on as many adventures as possible with my best friends and roommates. Who knows where we’ll be in a year.

Times change and friendships change with it. They either strengthen and grow or fade to make room for new ones! I could not feel luckier for the downright awesome people I’ve grown to love over the past few months or many years – and the adventures we’ve shared.

11. Track above adventures somehow. Journal? Scrapbook? Collection of snapchat stories? Whatever works.

…Does my mind count?

12. Be a little more religious. Maybe go to church more, maybe sing Christian songs in my free time, maybe learn a new religion.

I walked into a new church I’ve never been to just two months ago and it already feels like home. I have a feeling this is going to stick.

13. Channel that sorority girl I attempted to be the last 3 years and paint something for my apartment. Something cute and cliché. And if it doesn’t look good, stick a print-out of Johnny Depp’s face on it. Problem solved.

Now that I have my very own place, I can see this happening soon 🙂 (I did paint an owl that looks a little devilish and named him Lou but I’m not sure if that counts).

14. Travel. To see all 40 states I haven’t yet by the time I’m 30 means 40/8 years = 5 per year. So look out, 5 new states!

I believe 2 new states are checked off so far. Stay tuned for more to come!

15. Build my collection of items from each new place I visit. I’m thinking coffee mugs.

Check on the coffee mug collecting. Probably cliche on one hand, but on the other, they never go out of style.

16. Take classes (possibly online?) about things I didn’t learn in college like app development.

Finished one web development class a week ago!! I mean beginner of all beginner levels. Actually, I should probably retake it…

17. Keep on keepin’ in touch with all my professional contacts and friends from places I’ve worked.

Um, DUH. You guys rock and are some of my greatest role models and friends.

18. Read at least one book. Even if it’s written by Jim Gaffigan. (Yep, I’m not the world’s best reader)

Reading is not on the top of my list yet. Is there a “How to get back into reading?” class? If not, this goal may just keep continuing. Wait! I did read a memoir written by my grandma this year!

19. Force myself out of the house 5 nights a week…even when Netflix is calling my name.

Haha, try 7. I’m the farthest thing from a homebody.

20. Grow closer with my sisters. Set lunch dates with mom at least once a month. Have dinner with dad more often or at least call him just because instead of when I have a problem.

Check (but maybe ask them too). Check, but lunch with mom is more often wine with mom. And check – Dad and I have a place in mind already for our next dinner! Family means a heck of a lot to me.

21. Leave time for me. To go on random solo trips or start projects or lay around and do nothing.

Always! Aimless walks with headphones just a bit louder than necessary is my go-to.

22. …I can’t think of a 22nd goal at the moment but it’ll come to me! Maybe later today, maybe later this week, maybe later this year ~

Goal for this year: end blog posts better than the above^

That, and to follow each day Georgia Byrd’s unfailing advice (from the classic movie Last Holiday ©2006): “We will laugh more, we’ll love more; we just won’t be so afraid.” AMEN QUEEN LATIFAH.