Learning to Love My Body – The Beginning

I’ve decided to discuss something on here that I have honestly never spoken publicly about – body image. Growing up, I never had a good relationship with my body. Everyone else was skinner than I was, everyone else was more beautiful than I was, everyone else was more “insert a word here” than I was. I relied on my brain to help me make it through school. I was smart and I knew it. I wasn’t “top of the class” smart, but I was close. 

I remember the year I wanted to go out for volleyball. And I remember my mother’s words to me “you’ll never make the team; only the rich kids will make it.” To my mother, it had nothing to do with talent (and I’m not saying I was good, but I did love the sport) and was only about money. So many things in my house were about money and how we never had enough. I quit trying sports altogether after those words were spoken to me. 

College proved to be difficult for me. In addition to the body image issues I had in high school, I was no longer near the top of the class. In college, I couldn’t even rely on my brain to help me. In retrospect, I think most of the problem was that I lacked good study habits. I was always working and trying to do too many things. Unfortunately, my studies suffered, and that in turn caused me to suffer more. 

Add all that to being an extremely picky eater and I was certain that I would never become the person I wanted to be. How could I get healthy when I was such a picky eater? When I didn’t have time for myself? When I was struggling to figure out who I was?

I was at a crossroads. I had to make a choice. Was I going to let everything in the world weigh me down or would I work at becoming the person I wanted to be?

to be continued…

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My Front Tooth

My dad taught me a lot of lessons before his death. In addition to teaching me about God, life, and reassuring me that he was always okay with my decisions, he also found time to teach me about beauty. He continuously reminded me that I was beautiful, even on the days when I didn’t feel it. 

He took a special interest in building my confidence. First there was the scar on my forehead – this didn’t bother me much. I hated my bangs, I wanted to grow my hair out, and I could only vaguely remember not having that scar. However, when it came to my teeth, I was a thousands times more conscious.

You see, when I was a child, I lost my baby tooth and the adult tooth refused to come in. We went to the dentist where it was discovered that I had 1.5 adult teeth in that socket and that was the reason the adult tooth hadn’t come in yet. I had surgery and the extra half tooth was removed. The full adult tooth would come in at a slight angle. I would spend the next decade refusing to smile with my teeth showing.

At one point, I was supposed to get braces to fix the problem and my overbite. However, financial struggles prevented this was happening. I remembering being so upset with my dad as a teenager because I was so unhappy with my teeth and knew there was a solution but also knew it wasn’t going to be a reality. 

My dad never got upset back. Instead, he took a different approach – he would build my self confidence up and help me overcome my hatred of my teeth. He encouraged me to smile with my teeth, telling me how happy it made him when he saw me truly happy. When taking senior pictures, he started to crack jokes to make me laugh, getting the picture he truly loved – his daughter having a great time. I remember when those pictures came back, he pointed out his favorite picture – the one where you could see my teeth. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite and I choose a different picture for my yearbook. His favorite picture was kept in my scrapbook, the wall, and in his wallet. 

Over the years, I’ve grown to love that picture almost as much as my dad. I understand what he saw in it that I was unable to see as a stubborn teenager – there was happiness in my eyes. I let down my guard and laughed, forgetting for a moment about my teeth. 

I’ve gained more confidence as the years have passed. I’m no longer self-conscious about my teeth or the tooth that is at a slight angle. Now, I’m extremely grateful for the time and energy my dad spent all those years to help turn me into the woman I am – and to help me gain the confidence to take on the world. 

Flashback – Interviews and Jobs (2014)

Recently, I’ve been trying to practice patience. It’s an ongoing struggle for me. I’ve never been a patient person – I want to know where life it taking me – mostly so that I know it’ll all be okay. There’s been a lot of changes going on in my life lately and a lot of uncertainty that I’ll discuss when the time is right.

In the meantime, I find myself reading two previous pieces I’ve written. Since they were parts one and two, I’ve decided to share them together in my first “flashback” piece. 

Disclaimer: writings have been edited for misspellings/grammar/etc and some parts have been deleted for privacy. Names have been changed for privacy. 

March 21, 2014
Interviews and Jobs

I was late for a job interview a week ago. I had agreed to work third shift the night before and accidentally fallen asleep. I woke up at 8:04 and my interview was at 8:15. Luckily, I was able to call and tell the lady that I was going to be late, but I felt the damage had been done. I arrived at the interview around 8:35 and was extremely grateful she was still willing to interview me. The interview when smoothly after that and no one seemed upset, but first impressions are very important and I couldn’t shake the feeling that being late had ruined all my chances.

The day before I had sat down and told my boss I had an interview the following day. Many people had warned me against this, but I had such a good relationship with my boss, that I knew the right thing to do was to tell her. Much to my surprise she was completely cool with the whole thing and wished me luck. I felt so much better for deciding to tell her. And it actually became my saving grace. I told the interviewer that my boss knew about the interview, even though the interviewer had told me she hadn’t told her yet.

Monday came and my boss asked how the interview went. I told her fine after taking a deep breath. She then told me she had heard about me being late. I crumbled! How did she know? It turns out the interviewer had told her and asked about my attendance and my boss was totally in my corner! Telling her how I’m never late and very reliable. She even told her I had worked third shift the night before as a favor for her and that it had probably contributed to me over-sleeping. When the interviewer told her I was visibly upset, my boss said she would be too if she were me; being late for something you desperately want, especially when I’m never late.

I’m still not sure about the job. I was supposed to hear by today at the earliest if I have a second interview. I’ve literally been waiting for this job to pop up the entire time I’ve been working at the hospital. Maybe no news is good news.

But my point to you is this: follow your gut when it comes to telling people things. If you have a good relationship with your boss, tell her when you’ve got an interview somewhere else. There’s a good chance she will be in your corner and help in any way possible. If I hadn’t told my boss about my interview, the interviewer might have never known I had worked third shift the night before and am never late for work. Go with your gut. Even when you’re nervous. And whenever I’m really nervous, I just remember that my dad is watching over me. He’s there with me every step of the way.

And He’s watching over you too.

———

November 29, 2014

God Works in Mysterious Ways (Interviews and Jobs – Take 2)

The long overdue letter about interviews and jobs. The letter I’ve been meaning to sit down and write for ages. The letter I want to write before I forget, and forgetting would be such a terrible thing.

When I last wrote, I was not-so-patiently waiting to hear if I got a second interview or not. A few days later I heard great news — I got a second interview! I was so excited, but mostly, I was scared. Having already been late once before, I knew I couldn’t mess this interview up. It had to be perfect or everything I had been working for would be lost. I would be back at square one, and very possibly, changing careers.

I walked into my second interview confident, armed with all the questions I had meant to ask the first time, but hadn’t. I was then given a list of 4 scenarios and told I had 15 minutes to read through them and answer them. Oh, wait! Time-out! This is not was I was expecting! But it was also a welcomed challenged. It had been months since anyone had actually challenged my brain in any way whatsoever and I was excited to finally put some of that brainpower to go use.

As I read through the different scenarios, I answered them the best I could, with one goal always in mind — what is the most cost effective way to answer this question. I wrote down a couple alternatives for each question, I wanted to have a back-up answer already prepared. With each given scenarios, it’s good to have a couple ideas of how to solve it, so that is one fails, you have another plan ready.

They came back in the room several minutes later, I was finishing up the last question as they entered. I sat there so nervous, but confident in the answers I had written. They took turns reading the questions, and after each one, I discussed what I would do to solve each one. I was freaking out on the inside, but one of the people, Jess, kept winking, almost as if to say “yes, good answer, you’re doing fine.” I left the room that day confident, yet scared…the whole being late for your first interview thing.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited. If God was trying to teach me patience through the whole interview process, I feel I grew a ton, though I will also be working on my patience for life. Finally, the call I was waiting for — I missed it. I was in the middle of my shift and when I saw the missed call, I called back and left a message. Luckily, there was hardly anyone at work that night, making it easier to check my phone. I saw the call again, and quickly ran to answer the phone. I was too late. I called back and no answer. I listened to the message again. She left her cell phone number. I tried it. I remember standing there, in the hall, hiding just out of view, listening to the phone ring, praying she would answer. I stood behind the wall for several minutes, hoping she would call back. There was no way I could wait another day.

And then she called. I answered immediately and just stood there, taking in everything she was saying. And then the magic words I had waited so long to hear: “I would like to offer you the job.” I was so excited and I just kept repeating “yes” over and over and over again. She told me she would call me tomorrow with more details and asked if I would like to tell my boss. I said yes, just to give me a couple of days – the whole bouncing between day shift and third shift made it a bit difficult to track her down at points, and this was something I had to tell her in person.

I told Susan two days later and then I kept it very quiet. I told very few people, but until I had an official date to switch jobs, I didn’t want to tell many people. Then I found out – four weeks – the maximum amount of time the hospital would allow before transitioning jobs. Slowly, word started to get out. A few people caught me off guard by mentioning it to me, therefore forcing me to tell people before everyone found out – I knew it was best for most people to hear it from me. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.

I spent a whole lot of time waiting. But God was proving to me that the waiting was just beginning. I then starting training. Two weeks of training turned into three weeks of training. Three weeks of training turned into multiple half days of training. Assignments were switched around and I needed to learn Jess’s job as I would be covering for her when she was away, and she would be covering for me when I was away. Half days of training would be devoted to learning her job inside and out until I could do it on my own.

While all of this was going on, Tina, my new boss, was still trying to finish my office. Since my job was a newly created position because the hospital kept growing and thus, they needed more help, there was so official home for me to move in to. I ended up down the hall for several weeks on end. God continued to work on my patience. And then everything happened all at once – I was given the okay to finally move into my office around the same time that Jan was going on vacation and I was to cover for her. I’m a little unsure of how I made it through those days – trying to move into my office, continually discovering problems with my computer that needed to be addressed, and working two jobs at once. Jess was amazing, giving me her cell phone number in case I had an emergency, and also giving everyone a heads up that I was going to cover for her for the first time. It was nice and they all eased me into it. Until the moment I just wanted to cry. I don’t recall exactly what happened, but I remember calling her on the phone and she asked what she could do to help. Tears started to come down my face and I told her to hang ont just a moment as I caught my breathe, not wanting to let her know I was holding back tears, yet knowing that my voice was giving it away.

I survived. I lived another day. And the great thing was – it got easier. The more I covered for Jess, the easier it got and the better I felt about how I was doing. I used to leave her a whole pile of things I was unable to get done, and slowly overtime, the pile has shrunk. Slowly overtime I have settled in and become more comfortable with my job and how I’m handling every situation. I am more confident when dealing with situations and have learned from the past few months.

But, the crazy thing is through all this, God was still working on something else. Slowly but surely Jess and I became more than co-workers, we became friends. Since my relationship with my mother has never been the best, I’ve always tended to lean more towards mother-like-figures. Allison, at points Carol, and then Jess. I knew through general conversations that Jess went to church, somewhere I’d always talked about going back to, but never made it. We talked about it one day. A month later I still hadn’t made it. It was casually brought up again and she gave me the address. I promised I would go the following week.

Then Sunday rolled around. I didn’t go. Jess asked the next day if I went and I told her I hadn’t – that it was complicated. She said it wasn’t complicated, it was God talking to the you through the Pastor. Then it happened. All those emotions I was trying to keep buried came up. I was upset. I thought I was over it, but I wasn’t. No matter what – no matter how many times God had proven to me that He was taking care of me, no matter how many times He had helped me when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, no matter how many amazing people He brought into my life – I was upset. He took my dad. He took my dad away from me. And no matter how thankful I was for everything that had happened in my life, I missed my dad and I wanted him back. But there was also the flip side of that – I was thankful, so very thankful for everything that had happened in my life and I was happy – and that made me feel very guilty because as much as I miss my dad, I am oh so happy with where my life is. I believe with every fiber in my being that I am on this path for a reason. But how was I supposed to make it back to church when I feel so conflicted inside?

With a little help from Jess. As I sat there and poured my heart out to her, she responded with love. The same love that both Allison and Carol had shown me time and time again. And then, she promised she would meet me outside church, she would wait for me and she would walk in with me, holding my hand for the short trip to our seats. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. The thought of walking into church with someone else wasn’t nearly as scary as the thought of walking into church alone. And as I sat there in church that day, tears rolling down face, I felt a hand on my back, reassuring me I wasn’t alone. Then it started to get easier and easier to walk into church, until the day I was able to walk into church by myself.

You see, God is always working in our lives. Sometimes we are not able to see it right away, but He is always there and He is always working on something. I think back on all those months and how everything fell into place so nicely and ultimately I ended up back in the one place I had such a hard time getting back to – church. Imagine – I was so impatient for months waiting to hear about my job, and yet, God has showed me nothing but patience for years as He worked to get me back into church. He really does have a lot of patience for all of us. He continues to help us learn and grow and become better people. He is always working in your lives to. And I promise you, He will always lead you to where you are supposed to be.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

He glanced in her direction. There was something different about her, although he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. She glided across the room in the same way she always had, but something was definitely different. 

He caught himself staring at her. 

“Hi,” was the only word he could speak. 

“Hi,” she replied back, glancing in his direction. 

She looked different. Not in a bad way, but he couldn’t remember the last time he saw her look this way. Almost as if she were completely lost in thought, away in a world unlike the physical one. 

Then it struck him. He knew what had changed. 

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” he stated, still looking at her. 

“You see me everyday,” she replied matter-of-factely. 

He stood, walking over to where she was standing. 

“No, I mean really see you – look at you. You haven’t smiled in a while. I’ve missed it and I fear I might be the cause of it.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m just content. Neither here nor there.”

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.

Soon, her arms were wrapped about him too, she needed to feel safe. 

“Talk to me. Honey, we’ll work it out, no matter what it is, I promise.”

She looked up into his eyes, willing the tears not to fall from her eyes. 

“I’ve never been good at relationships. You’re the first man I’ve ever let into my life this much. That’s scary.”

“I scare you?” he asked confused. 

“No, you don’t scare me. This scares me. Having a relationship where someone knows me as well as you know me. Having someone always around. Having a partner.”

“You’re scared of us?”

“I’m scared of what will happen if it doesn’t work out.”

“We’re not to break up. Ever.”

“How can you be so sure?” she questioned him. 

He pulled her close once more, guiding her hand to his heart. 

“You feel that?” he asked as he laid her hand over his heart, “you have my heart. I’m not going anywhere, no matter how scared of ‘us’ you are.”

“Do you promise?”

“I promise.”

And for the first time, he believed him. 

Dear Gym Person…

The person I look at every once and a while while I’m running. I promise I’m not judging you. You see, I hate running. A lot. But I know that running is good for me, so I’m trying to form a habit. My eyes have always wandered. Not in a bad way, I just like to observe the world around me. I refuse to look at the time on the treadmill – it does nothing good for me. So today, I’ve decided to look over at you from time to time. It’s okay, I’ll look at someone else tomorrow. I look at a variety of people. All of you have one thing in common – you’re on the treadmill too. 

Some of you are running. Some of you are walking. Some of you are doing intervals just like me. But you’re all moving. I’m not judging you in any way, shape, or form. I’m looking for inspiration. I’m looking for something to take my mind off of running, until the day comes that I don’t hate running as much. 

You’re inspiring me and you don’t even realize it. I may be competing with myself at the gym, but seeing you run is inspiring me to not quit when my mind is yelling at me to stop. Seeing you walk is encouraging when I can’t run another minute, reminding me that it’s okay to walk a bit. Watching you do intervals reminds me that I’m not alone on my journey. 

I will likely never introduce myself to you. I won’t introduce myself to the person I watch tomorrow either. I didn’t introduce myself to the person I watched yesterday. And I only watch when I feel like I might quit. It’s not like I spend thirty minutes staring at you – that would be weird. But sometimes, when I’m on the fourth of six intervals, when I need a little more inspiration, I glance in your direction. I don’t feel so lonely in those moments. 

I’ve always prided myself on being a strong person. However, I have started and quit running multiple times in the past. This time, I am determined not to quit. I have given up the habits that drag me down – soda was the first to exit, followed by the introduction of healthy snacks; I refuse to step on the scale most days and instead look to how my clothes fit that day. When I glance over at you during those last thirty seconds of my interval, I think about how strong you are and how you keep moving. You haven’t quit your workout. You’re inspiring me from a distance. Thank you.