Learning to Love My Body – I’ll Figure it Out

I’ve let a lot of things slide lately – my health, my friends and family, my blog. When I’m  working 70+ hours a week – multiple weeks in a row – sometimes it feels like I can never be caught up with everything else. I work so hard because I know that it’ll help me get where I’m going financially faster. Sometimes I find myself questioning at what cost? Am I scarificing myself in the short term to get where I want to be long term? Is there a way to balance everything?

Here’s the thing though – I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure out how to keep my health on track even when I know I can’t make it to the gym. I’ll figure out a way to stay in better contact with my friends and family, even if it’s just a quick message to let them know I’m thinking of them. I’m continue to write in this blog because it’s one of the things in life that has always helped me clear my head. When you love something, you hang onto it. You hang onto your friends and family because of that love. You have to hang onto your health too – hang onto where you want to go and what you want to be and who you want to become. It’s able figuring out how to be the best you there is. 

Sometimes learning to love my body is about figuring out how to accomplish everything in a day and not feeling guilty over making sacrifices in order to get to where I want to be. It’s about not having guilt about going to the gym or missing a day at the gym. It’s about understanding that taking care of my body is one of the single most important things I can do. It’s about figuring it out – how to balance jobs and gym and dogs and family and friends. It’s about the choices I make when I’m not at the gym and realizing they’re just as important as the choices I make when I’m at the gym. Learning to love my body is about figuring it out – no matter how many times I stumble and fall. It’s about getting back up every single time. It’s about taking care of myself every single day. 

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Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

There’s an entire playlist in iTunes devoted to ‘love’ on her phone, yet she’s never been in love. 

Pinterest is filled with love quotes and engagement rings and wedding inspiration and ideas for the children she longs to have, yet she keeps this a secret. 

Her favorite shows rarely have to do with the actual show and instead involve the love story that is often secondary. 

A list of kids names in hidden in her phone and she wonders if she’ll ever get to use even one of them, if the children she longs to have will be named from the list she’s kept for years. 

She puts up a happy face for all the world to see, claiming she’s too busy to find time to settle down. 

Still, she wonders if the problem is her – perhaps she’s so uncomfortable in her own skin, that it makes everything else impossible. 

Her only goal is to live a happy life – learning to be comfortable with herself, however, she still longs for more. 

Laugh at Funerals

My dad gave me a lot of advice when I was growing up, advice I still find myself clinging to some days. The earliest piece of advice I remember was to “always laugh at funerals.” Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions like I did when he spoke those words to me, let me explain the reasoning. My dad told me that funerals are supposed to be a happy time because your loved one has met Jesus and that’s pretty cool. Funerals are sad for those of us left on Earth, but they’re a joyful time for your loved one because they have finally met God. He made me promise to not cry when he died, but instead, to laugh and be happy for him. 

I remember when my dad died – a memory forever ingrained in my brain. I remember thinking of my promise to him – to laugh instead of cry. I must have cried a million tears since that fateful day my world turned upside down. However, I didn’t cry during his memorial service – partly because I was too exhausted to cry anymore tears and partly because I wanted to uphold my promise to him. 

Fast forward a few years and I was recently faced with one of the hardest funerals imaginable – a baby funeral. I went to support the friends who are family. Like so many times before, my dad’s words played in my head. 

I didn’t laugh this time. Not that I’ve ever actually laughed at a funeral, but usually my dad’s words help me keep my emotions in check. However, as I sat there looking at that tiny coffin, thinking to myself that I didn’t even know coffins were made so small, tears started to well in my eyes. And when I watched the baby’s father lean over to kiss the coffin, I couldn’t hold back anymore. My heart was absolutely breaking for the pain of this wonderful family who lost their baby way too soon. 

I don’t think my dad ever meant that you should actually laugh at funerals – that’s rude – it was his way of trying to help me deal with the numerous funerals we attended when I was a child. He often told me how when he died he wanted to be sitting up in his coffin with a camera so that as people walked up, he could tell them what he thought of them – and I would laugh every time. My dad had a sense of humor about everything – even life altering things like death. He was so firm in his belief in God, that death didn’t scare him – and if it did, he never let it show. Even so, as an adult, his words still ring in my head, and although I know it’s okay to show my emotions, remembering that my dad told me to laugh helps me to stay strong and support those around me when they need it most. 

Resolutions and Such…

Five years ago I had just survived the worse year ever (no, 2017, that is not a challenge). In addition to losing my dad, I had broken my promise to God, failed classes, moved, and tried to figure out how to make it in my new world. I had started therapy. I felt lost. 

There was this website I used to be involved in – moreloveletters.com – the normal objective was to write letters to strangers and send those letters to them. However, at the end of 2011, the creator of the site issued a new letter writing mission for January 2012 – write a letter to yourself, mail it to them, and they would mail it back in January 2013. Craft the perfect love letter to yourself. It was exactly what I needed to do at that time. 

I spent a good part of January working on my letter. For me, it wasn’t just a letter, it was everything that I wanted for 2012. I mailed it off at the end of the month and wouldn’t see it again for a year. 

I don’t remember the exact contents of the letter, and I know I have it somewhere. It wasn’t really a letter – more like an art project – I made a book, filled with hope for the new year. One part that I held onto, even after I mailed it, and I still hold onto to til this day. “This year – I didn’t wish to get a boyfriend or to save money or to lose weight – I just want to be happy.” Although the order I listed those three things in might be off, those were the ideas I most often associated with happiness when I was younger. However, as 2011 became 2012, I found myself not wanting any of those things, I only wanted to be happy. 

Happiness seems like such a simple idea from the outside. Of course anyone can be happy, but when you feel like you’ve lost all your happiness, when you can’t even figure out how to be happy anymore, that’s when you find yourself starting from square one. That’s where I was – I spent the year focusing on taking care of myself and doing things that would make me happy. I began to learn to love myself and the new life I was thrown into. And when things started to drag me down, I reflected on my only goal for the year – be happy. 

I made some big decisions in 2012. I prayed about them a lot. I talked to my friends about them a lot. I thought about what was best for everyone else. Then I asked myself what was best for me (and my dogs). I chose the things I thought would get me to where I wanted to go, while refusing to let my dogs go – somehow, someway, all three of us were going to make it through 2012 and I would determined to always give them, and myself, the best life possible. 

I stopped making resolutions after that year. Instead, every New Years, I think about the resolution I made so many years ago – be happy. When something in my life has me down, I reflect and decide if it’s truly making me happy, and if the answer is no, I make a change. When my only resolution is to be happy, all the other changes take place when they need to, not just on New Years. This year, while I stopped making resolutions years ago, I continue to reflect on the last one I made – be happy. 

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

And perhaps that’s what she was most scared of – admitting that she really did want it all. She wanted to fall in love and she wanted to get married and she wanted to have children with the man she loved. It’s that stuff that filled her dreams at night. But she knew that once she admitted she wanted it, she was taking a chance with her heart – a risk of admitting her dreams and fear they may never come true. And that, that is what scared her more than anything. 

A Letter to My Brother

You’re pushing me away. I know you are and I can’t figure out why. You’re picking fights with me simply to fight. You don’t want to talk about anything – if something is bothering you, you want to argue about it, even though arguing has proved to get us no where. Then you finally pushed me over the edge and I snapped. 

I have done too much work on myself in the last five years to sit and listen to anyone talk to me the way you feel the need to talk to me. I don’t have to listen to the lies that come out of your mouth. I won’t let you disrespect me. I am not a bad person – just because I don’t ageee with you doesn’t make me horrible. And just because I don’t agree with you, doesn’t make either of us wrong. We have a difference in opinion. It’s as easy as that. 

I don’t know how to talk to you. I’ve told you before that your communication skills aren’t good and I still believe that to be true. You would rather fight and argue than have a conversation to work out a difference in opinion. You pick fights over stupid things – cars and coats and cities – things that don’t warrant an argument from anyone, much less siblings. 

Why do you continue to pick fights with me? Are these things really worth fighting about to you? They aren’t to me. Are you bored and need something to do? Is something wrong and I’m the easiest person to take it out on? Let me in. I want to help, but I refuse to fight. 

I closed the door. Well, I tried to. You sent me straight to tears and told me that I deserved to be crying and that you didn’t believe me that I was. You treated me worse than anyone ever has and after so many times of letting you get away with it, I put my foot down. I told you to not contact me unless it was to apologize. You decided to continue to text me and be me until you realized I wasn’t going to let you off or back down, and then you blocked me. 

You really are mean. I don’t believe you’re mean in the center of your soul, but right now, you’re mean. You’re mean and you hurt people and you say you don’t care. 

What happened to you that made you that way? We both had the same rough childhood, we both left home too soon, we both lost dad and had hard relationships with mom. Maybe it became a matter of how we chose to deal with everything. 

I decided in January 2012 that I would do everything I could to be happy. That’s all I wanted that year and that was my only resolution. It was also my last resolution and has become my motto. I don’t claim to be perfect by any means, but I treat others like I want to be treated, even when they don’t treat me that way. 

You built walls. You built walls that I can’t figure out how to break. You built walls that made you mean. 

Perhaps it’s because I was also in therapy in 2012. I had somewhere to go to talk about everything. I had somewhere to go where I felt I could gain the tools I needed to become the person I wanted to be. You weren’t given that same chance and have denied opportunities to do so. 

Maybe it’s because I found a family. I learned a new defintion of family. I discovered that family isn’t always blood related, sometimes family is the people who said they will be there for you, and then prove it. Family is the people who hold you when you cry and want to take away all your troubles. Family loves you despite everything you’ve gone through, not because of it. 

I couldn’t listen to you degrade my character anymore. I couldn’t listen to you call me a liar and say I was making things up. I couldn’t listen to you pick fights with me anymore. 

Maybe that means I’m not strong. However, the true judgment of strength is knowing when to say enough is enough. I said enough is enough. I closed the door and you barricaded it. All you have to do is knock, and I will always be here. 

I’ve tried to set ground rules with you before. You promised to talk before fight and then went back on that promise. I guess I feel like it’s a one-sided relationship at points – I don’t fight or get upset until you push me there, while it seems like you want to fight most the time. 

Perhaps one day we’ll be on the same page at the same time. Maybe you’ll grow and understand how to communicate with people in a healthy way. Maybe you’ll stop picking fights with people. Maybe these things happen in order to help us grow into the people we need to be. Just know that even though the door is closed, I never lock anyone out – including you.

Learning to Love My Body – Falling Off the Wagon

A few weeks ago I started a post called “Learning to Love My Body – Skipping the Gym is Not an Option” – it came from one night when my brothers wanted to get together and I told them I had to go to the gym first. Usually I would have just skipped the gym, but I had made a commitment to myself to go to the gym and I wasn’t going to skip. That post has yet to be published, or even started beyond the title, because in the weeks since, life was about to teach me a lesson. Sometimes skipping the gym is an option and sometimes you fall off the wagon. 

A little background information on my life – I work two jobs. I commonly work anywhere from 52 hours a week to close to 70 hours a week. Yes, I could downsize and work only one job, but I also know that I could have the majority of my debt (student loans, credit card, etc) paid off in the next year if I continue to work both. As someone who watched my dad struggle with debt until his death, getting my debt paid off is very appealing to me – and therefore, I will keep both for the time being. In the previous months, I went to the gym on the nights when I didn’t have to work both jobs. I seemed like it was working. 

Then I got sick. I was sick for about two weeks and during that time I didn’t go to the gym. At first, all I wanted to do was go for a run. As the days went on, I didn’t want to anymore. I enjoyed the extra two hours a day that I use to spend at the gym. I stopped eating well and I started to feel horrible. 

I fell off the wagon. 

Learning to love my body is about understanding that sometimes you will fall off the wagon. It won’t always be easy – even when heathly snacks are in my fridge, some days it’s easier to grab for the more convenient option. It’s about trying again – making a new plan to get back on track. Learning to love my body is about trying again. It’s about never giving up, even when I stumble. It’s about focusing on my goal – be healthy and the weight will take care of itself. Learning to love my body is about never giving up, even when I fall.