Tag Archives: widow

Leaving The Dichotomy: Finding a Genuine Me

wine With only 26 days until my BIG 360 abdominoplasty–anxiety, emotions and to-do lists are through the roof. Everyone asks ‘are you ready?’ ‘ Are you nervous?’ Well…the answer is as follows: FUCK YEA! (And if you were close to Paul–you read that as ‘fooooooook yaaaaaa’)

I have been preparing for this all year. I’m not really nervous about the surgery. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a nurse or because I have the utmost confidence in my surgeon or if it’s because I’ve gone through it before but I’m just not really worried about that. I know they will take great care of me. What I am nervous about: the psychological. When I had my brachioplasty and mastoplasty done earlier this year, I really underestimated the psychological toll that it would have on me. After having some wicked panic attacks, bouts of depression and anxiety—I pushed my 360 from May 2016 to November 2016.

In preparation, I saw my psychologist that I saw prior to my bariatric surgery. We had an amazing session and he really helped me get a better grasp on what has been going on in my mind and how to better deal with it this go around. So let’s dive into it.

What’s my problem?

I have thought this entire time that I had a bit of body dysmorphic disorder but after speaking to him, it isn’t so much that as it is that I’m experiencing a dichotomy.

a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

Basically, the more I change the less I’m me–in my mind. He assured me that this is very common in bariatrics but that my circumstance intensified this phenomenon for me. As most bariatric patients when they look in the mirror and have a freak out moment “OMG what have I done? I’m not me anymore! I don’t look like Jessica!!” they would have a spouse or significant other or best friend that would be their anchor that would assure them that they are the same person.  If Paul were here, he would be able to stop me in these moments and say “Yes you are! Your smile is the same. Your eyes. I love you.” etc… Each day they would come home and do the same routine.You might still gab with your best gal pal. You’d still be doing all the things that make you–YOU. These people are your anchors and they tether you to WHO you are. I was cheated out of this. I lost Paul. Then 6 weeks later my best friend of 20+ years cut off all contact with me. Because of the grief experienced by all of my family, I was disconnected, in a sense, from them. Essentially, I’ve just been free floating–not connected to myself.

There are interactions that add to me feeling disconnected with myself. I’ve talked about this before–in my mind I’m the fat girl. It is who I have always been and in my mind I’m still that girl. There have been countless instances where people have made comments or looked at me like I’m skinny. BUT in my mind (and I probably wear it on my face), I’m like ‘what the fuck did you just say to me? Don’t you know I’m a fat girl, too?’ And these instances make me feel like I’m even more not me.

To add insult to injury, I have a large amount of guilt. I feel that Paul was jilted. And although I know rationally that I haven’t taken anything from him, I feel almost that the more I change, experience life and go on with out him that I am jipping him. He was there through nursing school and he supported me in my decision to get healthy but he doesn’t get to reap the rewards of these things. And it fucking sucks!

So the panic that I felt after surgery was pretty much all of this–wrapped up in an anxiety ridden ball of mess. And I exploded. Because plastic surgery is instant. With the weight loss, it has been gradual. And the blows to my ‘identity’ are like little pricks. But when you go under the knife then you wake and ‘BOOM’ you look like someone else…it’s overwhelming!

What’s the solution?

I’ve gotta change my mindset. I’ve got to realize a few things here. The first is that of change. VERY few people actually like change. We are all creatures of habit. I have to recognize and accept that I DO NOT have control over change. Change was ultimately going to occur whether Paul died or not. Would my path have been different than this? Yes. But it was going to be different nonetheless. I could look at it this way: what if I didn’t have the surgery? I could be 400 lbs with DM, HTN, CAD and working my way to a heart attack. Change is hard. But what makes THIS change hardest is that I had a hand in the change. I DECIDED that I didn’t want to be obese anymore so I CHANGED it. I DECIDED that I didn’t want saggy boobs and bat wings so I CHANGED it. I DECIDED that I didn’t want to have a flap of skin sitting on top my vagina so I’m CHANGING it! All of these things, I’ve perpetuated the change. And referring back to the beginning…the dichotomy…here lies the problem.

My psychologist asked me a really insightful question: “Jessica, do you think that you were living a genuine life before?”

I really had to think about it. I thought I was but, now, I look back and know that I wasn’t. I think about alllll the reasons that I had that motivated me to change: I wanted to travel, I wanted to be active, I wanted to be social, I wanted to sky dive, I wanted to ride rollercoasters, I wanted to dance, etc. I didn’t do ANY of these things as I reached my heaviest weight and THAT was disingenuous. So in actuality, it is NOT that I’m leaving Paul or that the more I change that I’m not me–it is that the more I change, the MORE genuine of a life I am living. I am being true to who I am, how I think and what I want. And I probably am living a more genuine life than ever before and I am coming into my own. Living my life and having all these experiences and accomplishing things that Paul and I dreamed of is not leaving him or jilting him: it is honoring him. I’m wearing my Paul Badge of Honor every day of my life now.

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Checking it off my bucket list. Sailing October 2016

I have felt significantly better being able to put all of this together. It is a working progress just as I am. I’m extra emotional as we are now at the end of the year. October-December used to be my all time favorites but now they are riddled with bitter sweet memories, heart wrenching moments and even more intense thoughts of my dear Paul. October 25 he would have been 32. November 12 marks the second anniversary of his death, my surgery and the end/beginning of my life. Then we have alllll the holidays—all his favorites. It’s a rough time of year for me and the family. We miss him dearly. And it is hard. It helps to talk about him. I’ve been seeing him in my dreams more often lately. And for a moment in my slumber all is well and then I wake up.

Pushing forward. That’s what I do. That’s what you should do too. Paul doesn’t get to be here but I am and you are. I refuse to waste it even though I’m still working on my identity.

Much Love!

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Batgirl getting ready for Lisa’s 40th Birthday!
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A genuine me. Silly. Oct 2016

How I Cope with Being Dumped

Betrayal. Hurt. Loss. Relationships. Sisters. These are all terms that come to mind when I think of two significant people in my life. I’ve been silent about it thinking that I didn’t want to put into forever ink what I couldn’t take back and what might hurt the possible future I might have with these two wonderful women. Although, now I think that this is a blog I need to write as it weighs heavily on my mind and my heart. I am certain that there are other widows out there who have experienced these same things, unfortunately.

I wrote recently about a renewed hope that I had in a lost friendship. I was vague about the details as I don’t know who, if anyone, in her circle reads my blogs. I didn’t want to add pressure to a very new beginning and weak foundation. I feel now though that I want to disclose what has transpired, how I’ve been impacted and how I’m coping. I think the loss of a friendship of our calibur is significant. I have had to grieve a long side grieving for my husband. It has been unimaginably difficult and there is not a clear cut way of how to handle it.

Those who are closest to me know that my best friend of more than 20 years broke up with me less than 2 months after my Paul took his last breath. To add insult to injury, she did not give me any reason other than she didn’t want to speak to me. To say I was devastated is a gross understatement. I do not have the vocabulary to accurately describe the amount of pain this brought me. I can not begin to tell you what it does to a person to lose two of the most solid pillars of their life in the matter of 2 months. The only way I can begin to explain is to first tell you how important she was to me and how close she was to my husband. Paullium is what she called him; Ab-zilla is what he called her. He considered her his sister and his mother was thankful that her only child got to experience the love of a sibling as he had found it in her. When her parents turned their back on her and she was leaving her toxic marriage, Paul did not question me for a second when I asked if she could move in with us. Her and her two young girls lived with us for months in our mediocre 1100 square foot home. There were many evenings that we shared as a ‘family’. Those girls were like our children. They loved their Paulie. And when they got their own apartment, we enjoyed times together there as well. We liked to Jingle Jammie shop at Old Navy and have pj evenings. The girls loved to have ice cream just like Paulie. The marshmallow gun fight we had just that one evening is a memory I won’t ever forget. That last year Paul was here, we had a lot going on in our lives as did she. She wasn’t around as much. She worked a lot. Paul constantly invited her over and asked me if I thought he did anything wrong. He missed our times together. So did I. He still loved her dearly.

The night he died. She was my first call. The night was a blur but I remember her arriving promptly at our newly built home (we’d only owned it for 4 months). I remember her face as she looked at me, as  she stayed strong for me and she comforted me. And when the funeral home people arrived, she took me in her car and drove around while they took his lifeless body. She slept with me that night and for I don’t know how many nights after that. She went to the funeral home the next day to make arrangements and sat in that room with me with my mom, his mom and his grandmother as we made arrangements that I wasn’t prepared to make. She was there as I made the decision to cremate him against his family’s wishes. And as I cried copious amounts of tears that night, she stroked my hair. She wrote his obituary. She stood by my side. She was everything I didn’t even know that I needed. Paul and I were supposed to go on this family trip around New Year’s that year. The tickets were already bought. And she took his place and we went to Florida to meet up with his family. I’ll never forget that trip. She was deathly afraid of rollercoasters but she got on them with me. We met up with a friend at Cocoa Beach, we all drank wine and spread some of his ashes. We were planning to get tattoos in his honor on her birthday (NYE) but in a terrible turn of events I wasn’t able to go–my car blew up, Mollie ate a bag of Dove chocolate which landed her in the puppy ICU. I spent that first NYE without my Paul, by myself, in our house and I cried all night. She got that tattoo. I was so upset with her. But I had already started to develop this new life’s motto to live as if it’s your last…and I texted her the next day to tell her I was upset about that night but I wanted to let it go.

My life, again, was never the same. I’ll never forget being at I-240 & S Sante Fe at a red stop light. It was January 3, 2015. I had called her twice. She never answered. I told her I wanted to see her, to bring the girls their Christmas gifts, to bring her birthday gifts and to show her my brand new car. She told me she was busy. I told her I’d come to wherever she was. She told me that she didn’t want to talk to me. I asked her for how long. She told me that she didn’t know. In true dramatic girl fashion, I asked ‘ever?’ and she responded ‘maybe’. That was the longest red light ever. And I could have sworn I felt my heart literally break all over again. I would go months before she gave me any inkling as to why she never spoke to me again.

After 20 years of friendship, we have seen our fair share of fights, ups/downs, good times, better times and everything that lies between so I just KNEW that this would blow over. No way my best friend was no longer my bff. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent analyzing what went wrong, what I did and trying to figure how to fix it. I was going to counseling twice a week at this time and I’m thankful for that. Had I not already been in grief counseling, I swear that my mom would have had to commit me. My therapist assured me that it would pass and to focus on what I could control–and those were my actions and reactions. I tried really hard not to hound her. I tried not to be my typical self. I’m the person who will work at something, rearrange it over and over until it’s unrecognizable. You know the type. So I just sent her periodic messages. Funny memes. Sweet texts. No response.

It wasn’t until months later when she would text me to ask about a blow up mattress that I would get a response as to what happened. In short, she didn’t feel that she could be the friend I needed, that she couldn’t be a friend to me. She told me that she would never be able to talk about a break up with a boyfriend or such…because any ‘bad’ thing that would happen to her would never compare to my loss. She told me that she was resentful of me…that she thought I lied about my dog being in the hospital and that something I said upset her. I said something to the extent of ‘this is the worst day ever’ and that that wasn’t true because Paul died. I tried to reason with her. To tell her that I loved her. To tell her that I would never compare losses. That I don’t think that way. That I was better now and that she didn’t have to hold me up like she did within that first month that he died. That I was in therapy and I was doing better. She ultimately told me that we grieve in different ways…that basically I bathe in his memory and she wants to push it out and forget it.

I have reached out to her since periodically. I’ve tried many different ways of ‘getting over’ this. I’ve tried letting her go, cold turkey. Tried to just not think of her. That just didn’t work for me. I tried to ‘get it right’ in my mind. To try to accept ‘it is what it is’. I tried to be calm and let it just be. Never to text her. Okay…maybe just a couple texts. Share just a picture.Nothing has really ‘worked’ for me. Well intentioned friends and family have given me their wisdom “you’re better off without her” “just focus on your positive relationships” “she’ll come around” “it’ll blow over”. I try to put her out of my mind but I just feel like there’s this missing piece. Like it’s incomplete. I’ve gotten better though. I’d say for about the first 9+ months, I literally had to tell myself ‘no, Jessica. She doesn’t care’ every time something happened that I wanted to tell her. It was like unlearning a habit. It’s gotten better. I still feel compelled to reach out to her but most often stop myself. Such wasn’t the case of the 4th of July this year when I reached out to her with a memory. That day was amazing. I had hope for the first time within a year and a half. And she told me she wanted to talk. And we did, text, for the next few days and it was so great. We planned to meet but that day came and she cancelled at the last minute. The messages stopped. I felt like a girl that belonged in that movie ‘He’s Just Not that in to You”. I tried to resist but after several days, I texted her. She just told me that she hadn’t intended to ignore me and life was busy.

I was crushed. Again. Lisa and I had a long talk that evening. She told me I had to stop. I had to stop reaching out to her. That I needed to see what she was saying…and all her actions are saying that she just doesn’t care..at least not right now. And she said those words “she just doesn’t want or can’t be your friend”. And I was overwhelmed with emotion…I was heart-broken. I was embarrassed. I was sad. And the next day I downloaded self-help books trying to reach at something to help me find myself some peace.

That was almost 3 weeks ago. And still, I didn’t get it. Not until last week. When I had a terrible accident. I don’t even know why I did it; maybe I was trying to tug at some type of heart string…look for some glimmer of love…but I texted her a photo of my wreck. She texted back and did ask if I was okay. And the next day, I got it. Exactly what Lisa said “she just doesn’t want to be your friend”. She isn’t a bad person. I hope I haven’t painted her in a negative light. She’s just a person. And I can only speculate as to what exactly happened. I don’t know. I probably never will and I’m learning to be okay with that. My dearest friend Kati, my calm sense of reason, gave me the best analogy about wounds and experiences. I wouldn’t do it justice by trying to reiterate her words but the jist of it is that she was a huge part of my life and who I am. We had some AMAZING memories and times together that have forever changed my life. And I’m going to get to that point when I think of her or of a memory and I feel that pull at my heart that I will think ‘yep, it hurts because it was that good’. I’m trying to think of her kinda like when I think of Paul…like when I cry and my heart quite literally aches; I KNOW that it is because our love was something special, something truly great and that it made my heart bigger. It’s amazing to me but I am not bitter. Not even a little bit. My therapist asked me earlier last year to think about how I would feel if she came back a year later and if I’d be bitter. And I’m not. I’m happy I experienced a love like ours; a friendship like ours. I’m a better person for having had her in my life. And I think to myself, I’ll always keep my same cell number. Ya know, just in case she ever wants to reach out to me. I’ll still be here. And I want to get to that point. Like those friends you don’t see or talk to ever but then you do and you catch up a little and it makes you smile. That’s what I’d love to have one day.

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I had a rear tire blow out on the highway going 78mph. I lost complete control and crash HEAD ON into the center cement barrier. Luckily, I was okay and no one else was involved.

Just recently I experienced another unexpected blow. My baby sister unfriended me on Facebook. No blow up; no reasoning. She merely responded to my voicemail “I do not wish to speak to you. I need space from this family.” Enraged. Crushed. Perplexed. All of the above. I still am pretty clueless as to what is and has happened. She has been one of those that haven’t had the best outcome from Paul’s death. Not that there’s a great one but I’d say she hasn’t probably coped in the most healthy and effective manners. She, too, was by my side when Paul passed. She was stern and tight lipped. I knew what he meant to her. Our Papa was her everything. He was her idol and her beacon as to what a good man is. We lost him in 2009 and Jamie was understandably crushed. When Paul entered our lives in 2010, they were instant buddies. Paul had that way about him and he accepted her completely. She was his family. She looked up to him and they had a wonderful, quirky banter between them. It delighted my soul to see my sister happy and to love this man that I loved so dearly. I’d say my sister comes by many of her mannerisms quite honestly from our grandmother. She keeps it in and holds her head tall. She is unbelievably stubborn but has a heart of gold. I didn’t see her shed many tears for Paul; although, I knew that on the inside that she was shattered. In the midst of my grief, I was not able to be a big sister to her and to try to console her and encourage her to seek help and that the stuff you build inside eats at you until it finds its way out. She has said a couple times over the last year or so that I didn’t understand what she lost and while I did offer my ear to her, she never took me up on that. I have felt her pull away and I have given her her space thinking that she would find her way in time. And I was crushed on a recent sister date that I thought was going swimmingly, when she told me I was a shitty sister. Basically that I wasn’t there. I tried to explain to her that I was always there even if I wasn’t up her butt. My words didn’t hold much meaning with her and I sat there and listened as she expressed her discontent with our family. I tried to tell her what family meant to me and that her family loved her dearly but it fell on deaf ears. After I received the response from her that she didn’t want to speak to me, I reached out to her fiance. I pleaded with him to help my sister…to guide her…to help her find happiness. I was not accusatory. I felt like I was really at his mercy but I was not greeted with kindness in return as his reply was as follows:

 

You still don't get it after all this time. When Paul died he left very big shoes to be filled in everyone's lives. He didn't text once a week asking how are you, he texted saying come over or im coming to get you twice a week at least. When he said im here for you, he listened, he didn't put in his opinion or judge or say how it should have been done. When he said his door was open he made sure it was physically open when we got there. He never said maybe we should see a therapist. he never said she's not the same girl, he just learned how to love the new one. He never said she wasnt ok, he just showed up to lend a ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. And he DEFINITELY never said this is not my sister. Im not saying your a terrible sister, but you have not even come close to what she lost when she lost Paul.Sorry to be so blunt but if you deny any of this just know, that's why you two aren't close anymore

I didn’t say anything; although, my first reaction was ‘SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH’. I held my tongue. I love her. I want the best for her. Even if it’s sitting on the sidelines until she tags me in. Saving my patience for when she comes back. I hope she comes back. I’ll still be here. And when that time comes, we will sit down and have a conversation about Paul. About what he meant to both of us. That his death is not some type of competition. His death is a reason to pull closer and not a reason to cause any type of rift between anyone; especially, not between us. It is never acceptable to use Paul’s death as a reason to shun me. His life is not one to put against mine. His integrity, actions, heart are not ones to place head to head and toe to toe next to my own. He was my partner. He was my husband. He was her brother. He was her friend. They are not to be compared. I have not made that abundantly clear to her in past times because I’ve walked on eggshells trying not to upset her. I have done her a disservice by allowing these actions/thoughts/behaviors to continue. This is a situation where I should have stood strong and voiced my thoughts even if it meant she got angry with me and cut me out of her life. Because now I see that she has done that regardless. Nevertheless, family is family. Our family is amazing. I have seen them pull through some difficult times together. I’ve seen us support each other. Cry with one another. Laugh with one another. I have faith in my family. I’m proud of my family. I’m confident that she will pull through whatever it is that she is going through and find her way back. We will be here when she does because THAT is the kind of family that we are.

What has been amazing to me since the loss of Paul is the reaction of others. You never really realize the impact that one life has on so very many until you lose them. I knew the very night that I lost him that many would be saddened by this, devastated even. What I didn’t realize was that history would be rewritten in the minds of some loved ones left behind, relationships would be destroyed and lives would be changed for the seemingly worse. It was naive of me to think that everyone would walk away with this realization that life is fucking short–that you should seize this day–that you should never let a loved one know anything contrary to how you  truly feel about them–to love more and hate less. Sure I know about grief–as a nurse, as a grandparent-less grandchild, as a widow–that it is personal and that it is different for each of us. I know that rationally. And this is the main reason that I have given slack and understanding to those who have given me less than love and empathy throughout my loss–when others looking in have said “what the fuck is wrong with them? How can they treat you this way?” I’ve tried my best to respond with kindness and understanding. I’ve tried to remain peaceful and of the right mind. To hope that they will move past this and find peace of their own. I have kept hope that time heals all wounds and surely when that occurs they will come back to me, we will embrace and all will be forgiven. That is what has been transpiring in my mind, the rational side. In my heart though, on the inside where all is raw–I’m a bundle of nerves. Constantly on high alert.  I constantly think 3-5 steps ahead. I’m conscientious of what I may say and how that may impact others. Just as with this blog. I started it on the premise that I would be honest and truthful. And I have been. But I’ve also filtered. Not because what I think and feel is wrong but because of how others might feel. Because of how it may impact them. Because maybe 5 years from now my former bff will change her mind and decide she loves me and wants to be in my life so I must guard what I say as to not hurt the chance of the slim possibility. I was describing how it feels to be on guard of a ‘what could be’ relationship to Lisa’s 16 year old. And as the words just fumbled out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. She was not confused by what I was trying to say though. She got it because she, too, unfortunately, battles with extreme anxiety. She very calmly and plainly said ‘that is hard. But sometimes, even though it’s hard, you have to just put yourself first. To do what’s best for you. And you know what? We will be there for you. Because we love you”. Wow, right? Wow. I love that kid. She is 100% right. And that is exactly what I am working on doing. Practicing what I preach

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On the left: my FIRST day as an RN 2013 On the right: 2016

 

As always, guys: live for today. Love everyday. Hug those you love. And be sure to tell them exactly what they mean to you.

 

The First ‘I love you’. The Fourth. Rekindling an Old Friendship.

Six years ago, Paul told me that he loved me. It was after dating just a few weeks. It was the sweetest moment I had ever experienced in my life. It happened while lying in his bed. He was so nervous. And he told me in the form of a question “What if I told you that I loved you?”He had stolen my heart many times and long before this moment.

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This has been an amazing weekend. I got my guest bedroom put together. I had started this in preparation of my sister and niece coming down but they weren’t able to make it. It was a trying experience as I had never installed a ceiling fan nor put together large furniture before. I had a moment of a pity party as I wanted to get my ceiling fan installed but was having a trying time getting someone/anyone to help me. My thoughts…”Paul should be here to do this” “My girlfriend’s back is out” “My husband is dead and I have no one to help”. But then…in the moment that these thoughts flooded my mind, I paused Netflix and retrieved the ceiling fan box. I told myself…”You can do this” and about an hour and a half later I had installed it. I felt so accomplished in so many ways. I finished the room the next day and my brother told me he was coming into town! I was elated! So this fourth of July weekend has been amazing. Filled with family and good times.

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Put together this room myself. Working on my independence!

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Family Time. Group Picture: Fourth of July breakfast Mom and I for her birthday celebration at a comedy club
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Lisa and I on the 4th: 2015 vs 2016

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This morning, I was checking my memories as I do each morning and there was a post from my long time former friend and, suddenly, I missed her terribly. I’ve written very briefly about her. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about what has transpired but I will say after a 20+ year friendship, the death of Paul and an accumulation of events, she decided she couldn’t be my friend any longer in January 2015. To say I was heart broken would be a grave understatement. My world was shattered and then shattered again. I had no idea how to cope. I’ve truly struggled with the loss of my friend for the last 18 months. I have messaged her periodically to let her know that I still think of her and love her. Although, I had resolved over the last few months to let her be; to let it rest. But the memory popped up and the emotions that I had were over powering. I just had to say something. So I did. I let screen-shotted the memory and sent it to her. I let her know that I wished her well and missed and loved her. To my pleasant surprise, she responded. I won’t go in detail regarding the correspondence but I will just say that I was thankful for the correspondence nonetheless. After 18 months, she told me that she would like to continue to talk. Omg. I had to reread that line about 5 times because I truly never thought I’d see that response. I can’t even describe to you what kind of emotion and joy this brought to me. I read these words while surrounded by my brother, Lauren, their dear friend and Lisa. And I couldn’t be any happier than I was in this very moment.

Last year, I talked about this moment several times with my therapist. About if there would be bitterness or resentment if there ever came a time when she would reenter my world. Although, I was convinced the time would never come, my therapist made me talk about it. I’m thankful to her right now. As I was able to speak about this months and months ago. So, I suppose somewhere in my mind it had laid dormant. I’m not bitter. I’m a little sad that so much time has passed; that I’ve missed her moments; that I’ve missed watching her girls grow over this time; and that she’s missed some pivotal moments in my life. But above all, I’m thankful.

I reflected aloud to my brother and family today…that although I would never have made the choice to not have her in my life, I recognize that in her absence I’ve also grown and probably in ways that I would not have had she been a constant in my world. My mom told me this week “Jessica, you have changed. You are not the same person you were.” And although it was not in the context of my relationship with friend, it still applies. I am different. I recognize this about myself and my life. I have grown in ways that are inconceivable. In ways that I never would have dreamed possible. In ways I never would have thought to desire. All this aside, I’m thankful for the growth. And much like with all the wonderful, unexpected surprises of my life, I welcome it.

When I speak to others about my weight loss journey, it is often that I’m asked if I was unhappy. My response is that I wasn’t aware that I was unhappy. I wasn’t aware that I was controlled so vastly by my obesity. Much like that, I wasn’t aware that there were aspects of my personality that had such a substantial impact upon my relationships, friendships and own self worth until they changed. The old me could very well have held resentment in my heart but this new me knows that there is no need. The old me would have felt the need to prove my point but the new me recognizes that it isn’t necessary. The old me would have been angry that so much time was wasted but the new me is excited and hopeful to cherish the time regained in our future…the what-could-have-been is now the what-will-be.

I’ll say it until my last days, this life is precious and it is incredibly short. I don’t want to get too excited about what could be but I’m surely joyful at the possibility that was once impossible.

Happy 4th, y’all!! Home of the free, because of the brave! Thank you to all the brave soldiers, past and present!

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Mollie says “Happy 4th! Stay safe! Oh and rub my belly!”

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Goal Pants: Size 6

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Bought new bras finally. Size 34 C. My aunt said…”looks like a training bra”. haha

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Working on flaunting my legs. Bought new shorts. Junior size 11. Very loose but comfy.

 

A Precious Life: Live it. Love it.

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Father’s Day 2016: Dad says to me ‘did they make a mistake and cut your boobs off?’ oh my.

How precious is this life? And how short is it? I’d venture to say that most of us would admit that life is undeniably precious and that the years pass by quickly. Yet how are we living it? Are we living it for the moment? Or are we wishing it away?

I’d say that for most all of my life, I have wished my life away. Not on purpose of course but, rather, by accident. I’ve hated my body, worried about finances, striven for stability and put off my life for the unforeseeable future that would, without a doubt, reflect my work—the perfect me in the perfect life. I’d be thin. I’d have no debt. I’d be in the perfect career. That’s when I’d live. Right? Wrong. Your life is what happens while you’re putting off for tomorrow. Paul changed my life in so many ways. And although I have few regrets, the one I do have is that I could have worried less and lived more. And in his death, I’ve found life and I have realized that this is my life and this is as good as it may ever be and damn it that’s pretty good. I’ve been listening to a lot of pod casts and reading up on self-love. I have done a lot of self-reflection. And what I’ve realized is that I haven’t always been good to myself. I haven’t loved myself. Over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve had quite a few life altering events take place that have led me to this new outlook on myself and my life. I can’t really pinpoint when or what actually did it; I think it’s just the collection of events.

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Moving my body! Mollie loves walks and I got this new leash that is hands free. It makes our walks much more enjoyable!

I want to worry less…less about what I think others think of me, less about what might happen, less about all those things and people I can’t control. I want to love myself and treat myself the right way…the way I’d treat others. What does this look like for me? As with anything in this life, you get what you give. Put good in; get good out. So I try to nourish my body with food that makes me feel good but not in the way it used to–not to feed my emotions but to literally nourish my body. I move—I have a non-negotiable with myself and that is that I move every day. I’m not an avid runner; I’m an avid couch potato. Ha ha. But I have realized that my body needs to move and when I move it, it responds by feeling good, losing/maintaining weight and increases my quality of life. I’m working on nourishing my mind and my soul. I’m doing this by ridding my life of negative people, negative attitudes and habits that perpetuate anxiety. I try to live out loud. I laugh frequently, help others on their journeys and try new things. I want to make sure that when my time comes that my life was lived and not just ‘survived’.

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It’s important to surround yourself with people that build you up and embody the life and spirit you want for your own. Lisa is one of those people to me. She makes this life fun, pushes me to be better and celebrates with me constantly.
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Loving myself. My legs have been a struggle for me but I’m embracing them by flaunting them and showing gratitude to them. For without these strong legs, I wouldn’t be able to be the active person that I’ve become.

Recently I ran into a former co-worker. A lady that amazes me. She has this amazing soul and an infectious smile. She’s a survivor. When she saw me, I recognized the stunned look. It’s the one I get from those who haven’t seen me in a while. I used to almost feel embarrassed not from shame but rather from the attention that my weight loss would draw. I don’t really feel that way anymore. I smile and I let them ‘ooo and ahh’. I frequently joke ‘I’ve lost a couple pounds huh?’. I take these interactions as a pat on the back and affirmation that I’ve made a positive improvement in my life. She shared with me something that truly made my heart smile. She told me that Paul’s death changed her life. That seeing the pictures that I post made her think about the lack of pictures that she has of herself. She went on to tell me about how she often takes pictures of her children but hides from the camera as she is not satisfied with her physical appearance. And she teared up as she told me that she thought about if she were to leave this Earth that her kids wouldn’t have photos of her. And so now she takes pictures frequently; when she sees me post one of Paul’s pictures that I share that she flips her phone and takes a picture with her kiddos. I was so very glad that she shared this with me. I’m even more thrilled that she seized the day and accepted where she is right now because this life is precious. It’s meant to be celebrated.

As some of you may remember in April, Waybetter.com published an article about me. Well, they reached out to me a few days ago stating “we are working on our weekly email and this week is our inspiration week. We wanted to use your story because it was so inspiring and touching. I was going through your blog and came across your amazing wedding photo’. Wow! I was shocked and in awe. Then the email went out and my friend tagged me on Facebook.  The headline reads ‘A story to renew your faith in human resilience’ and below my wedding photo ‘love, loss and strength fuel this powerful story of one woman’s 150-lb weight loss’. It’s amazing to be recognized for my weight loss and I love that my story has gotten to reach who knows how many people.

How amazing is that? When I started this blog, I thought to myself if Paul’s death could just change one life…

And he has impacted so very many. It makes my heart and soul happy.

You can read the article at…

http://www.waybetter.com/WayBetterToday/waybettertoday/inspiration/how-i-overcame-worst-tragedy-imaginable-and-lost-150-pounds

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The wedding photo that the writer from WayBetter.com stumbled upon. Truly one of my favorite pictures from that amazing day. The really sums up our relationship…he always kept me laughing :)

That’s all for now. Show yourself some love. Give your body gratitude. Hug your loved ones. And live this day to the fullest. You deserve it and so do your loved ones.

Live the life you want today; “You don’t need to lose anymore weight”

I know I just posted a few days ago but I have had a very exciting couple of days and I just wanted to share them.

I visited my bariatric clinic today for a check up. It was uplifting and reassuring. I love going. I used to dread going to any type of doctor for fear of the scale, the vitals and what ‘lecture’ they might have in store for me. But all that has changed. I’m excited to go. It’s a personal challenge and I always feel so accomplished. I didn’t hesitate when the LPN told me to hop on the scale…157 appeared! Clothed! This is my lowest weight. Wow! This is exciting for me for a multitude of reasons but the one that stands out is that I know that I have a minimum of 8 lbs of skin (as per my doctors and plastic surgeon) sooooo that puts my ‘true weight’ at 149 and for my height …that make me ‘average weight’ on the BMI scale and I’ve lost over 88% of my excess body weight (they don’t count the 5 lbs I gained in the first 2 weeks of the program but I do). WTF?! ahhhh. To top this off, 110/71 blood pressure!

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I remember when I first went to this clinic and I saw this toilet seat. I was shocked but excited. ‘These people get it’ is what I thought. Then—this toilet seat was much more comfortable than the normal size ones. Now—I kinda sunk in which I literally laughed aloud.


I, recently, joined this challenge called Live More Challenge. The founder’s thought process is that if we live more now, we will weigh less later (in simplistic terms). The hope is to teach us to live more and to enjoy ourselves and our lives. Each day you’re given a challenge. I was skeptical but the first day was to buy fresh cut flowers for yourself and display them. I can’t tell you how great that felt. Mollie was supportive (well..kinda..with a little bribery) 20160606_184359

I’ve recently been reading and listening to pod casts about emotional eating and weight loss. The consensus is the same…we (emotional eaters, over eaters, binge eaters) eat for a reason; to fill a void. We have replaced emotions with food and, although maybe it made us feel better in a moment, it left us with bodies that we no longer are proud of and, subsequently, have put our lives on hold for. I know that I’ve been guilty of playing this perfect life scenario in my head; one in which when I’m thin, I’ll do this and I’ll do that. I like how this creator says ‘have fun now’. This plays into everything I’ve been trying to evolve into and this new mentality that was forced upon me with the sudden death of Paul: life is short; live it. Tomorrow is not promised. It’s important to live the life you have right now; not the life you hope to have in the future. “If only I was thinner” “When the kids are older” “when I’m out of debt” “When I have X amount of dollars” Forget all of those excuses and just do it. Figure out what brings you joy, get out of your comfort zone and do it.

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A co-worker gave me a little basil sprout-ling. I went to Home Depot at like 9pm to pick out a pretty pot and soil instead of eating. I planted it the following day.
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Lisa and I love to just do things together. We love to walk at the lake. This past weekend, we got a cheap-o kite and flew it at the lake. We also ran around and we played Frisbee.

Another philosophy that I’m working on integrating into my life is mindful eating and listening to my body. I have heard this so many times before. I’ve read lots of books that have stated the same thing. And in the beginning of my weight loss journey I heard it again. I guess it just didn’t resonate with me until now. I’m trying to get to where I want to be–fit, healthy, active, happy and satisfied. Nearing goal weight has made me really think about the big picture. What after this? I think I have got to let some really bad habits go. I’m waaaay better than I used to be but I can improve. I want to improve so that I don’t slip. Hunger is a physical thing–I’m trying to focus on that. Seems simple, right? But how many times have you eaten when you literally aren’t hungry? you know you have. Now, with my surgery—I can’t be extremely rigid with this as my hormones are different than the normal person as I don’t produce grehlin hormone as the normal person. But I can be mindful as to if it truly is hunger that I’m eating for or if it’s emotion. Another tip I heard was to be distraction free at meal time. This is a biiig one for me. I live alone and I eat almost all of my meals on the couch or in bed or standing in the kitchen. So my new goal is to stop this. I plan to sit and eat; not be on the phone either. I, also, bought some cloth napkins and napkin holders.

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Today I enjoyed my breakfast and lunch, distraction free, on my patio. It was lovely. And I was aware of what and how much I was eating. I listened to my body and knew EXACTLY when I was full.


So…what does your face look like when your plastic surgeon tells you “Jessica, don’t lose any more weight”?

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I had my last follow up appointment with my surgeon regarding my January surgery. Everything is perfect except a small dog ear on my right armpit. But it’s minor and fixable. We discussed my BIG surgery: 360 abdominoplasty! I’m beyond ecstatic! We are planning for November 10 of this year. He gave me the choice of fixing the dog ear in the office with local or I can wait til November and he will fix it while I’m under. Well, it isn’t painful and barely noticeable so I opted to be knocked out. Ha ha.

I am beyond excited about this. This will be the week of the 2nd anniversary of my surgery and Paul’s death. It will be an epic finale and the finishing touch to what I started 2 years ago. He would be so proud. This will, also, allow me time off of work during the anniversary. I know myself and I wouldn’t be fit to work. It’s much too hard. So…two birds, one stone.

But, seriously, he told me not to lose anymore weight! I laughed, truly. I thought he was joking buuut he wasn’t. I told him…’maybe just 5 more pounds’. He asked me why and I quoted the BMI chart and he laughed at me. Never in my life have I been told that I didn’t need to lose anymore weight. It’s odd but satisfying.

And for your viewing pleasure…a picture of the pup with the roughest life ever…Mollie…

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What’s Your ‘Why’ look like; Living Outloud

 

First time riding a bike in forever and I did it in DC!!!!!!

 

At support group recently, they spoke about the scale and how it can fluctuate. The psychologist asks ‘where is the cut off’? Is it 3lbs and you’re freaking out or are you like ‘we’re cool. we still look good”? I thought it was any interesting point. I’ve never had an actual number in mind that I must stay at. I can get so very focused on the scale though. It’s actually quite ridiculous. Now, I know there will be lots of you who say it’s just a number, to not be a slave to it and to put it up. But to me it’s much more. It’s accountability. And I need it. Do I need to get on it every day? No. Weekly? I think so. It helps me keep myself in check. Although, my constant goal has been to reduce my weight and not regain. So it’s hard for me to say if there’s a number that would freak me out. To this, I have to refer to my why (which I’ll talk about momentarily). My hope is that I get to a point where I’m living and loving my life and the skinny me and that that will be most important. But I hope to always use the scale as a tool to keep myself in check as I never want to be obese ever again.

Another point that was made in support group was if we felt we would be successful or if we were doomed to fail. In Overeaters’ Anonymous, they follow steps much like that of Alcoholics’ Anonymous. I think the first step says something about admitting that you are powerless over your addiction. So are we powerless over obesity and food addiction? It seems like a simple “hell no” answer because I believe I can do anything I set my mind to…I’m independent, smart and stubborn–the opposite of powerless. Yet, I’ve been obese All.Of.My.Life. I hit a pivotal point, where I decided to change my life, change my circumstance–that’s when I found my bariatric program. I took control of my life and my future. And I truly believe that if I use my tools, the lessons taught and I eat/exercise the way I am suppose to, I’m 100% confident I can keep this weight off. That’s an interesting thought though. Something like 50% of bariatric patients regain weight. It’s a real thing. It’s a legitimate concern. I think this is cause even more so to find our why and be committed to it. I think that’s the difference.

I am trying my best to transition my life and my thoughts to the ‘after’. What does that mean? If you’re overweight or obese, I know you’ve had the same thoughts: “when I’m skinny” “If only I were thin”…

So I’m working on what that actually is. In hindsight, I sure wish I’d spent a little more time on figuring out what that is and what that would look like. I know that I heard it many times, in many different forms: define your why. What’s a ‘why’? Essentially, your why is the reason behind your desire to become thin or to achieve your goals. Without it, I think, you are more prone to slip back into bad habits and lose focus. Or rather, focus on the wrong things.

I’ve been in a lot of therapy. I’ve gone to a lot of support groups. I’ve heard a lot of weight loss and weight gain stories. I love reading self help books and I’m now, thanks to my beautiful friend Kati, addicted to podcasts. At the tip of my fingers, countless hours and words of inspiration. And what I’ve found or, rather, what has been reaffirmed is that we need our why. We all do.

So I sit here and I reflect on that and what it looks like for me. I know that in the beginning, my desire was to lose weight so that I would look better and feel better. That’s not a bad motivation but it is only skin deep. With the loss of my Paul, I feel I’ve really been forced to look deep inside myself and better define what I want this life of mine to look like.

I would like to turn my focus on what my ‘after’ looks like….what does it look like when the weight comes off? “Thin Jessica”. That’s what she is in my head. I lead an active lifestyle. One where I try new things and I don’t let my anxiety hold me back. I give back to others by sharing my experiences and encouraging them to do better, to be better. I look at myself with love and I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished. I no longer eat my emotions; I eat to fuel my body. Although, I will forever be the girl who will always pick cuddles on the couch over hikes in the mountains; I will move this body. I will get my exercise in because it’s what my body needs and deserves; exercise is a way to release frustration and empowers us. I will celebrate my successes and forgive my errors. I will continue to move forward. I will delight in the life I lead. I will collect experiences instead of excuses. I will live. I will live for myself and for my Paul. His life ended where my new life began and I feel forever humbly obligated to honor his life by living mine. It would be a great tragedy to live any less than that. So I choose to live out loud.

That feels good to put ink to paper, so to say. Now have I accomplished all of these things? No way, dude. Am I continuously working towards it? Absofuckinlutely.

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2016: Washington Monument. It was massive. I love this picture. I look like a giant!

So just a little update on some accomplishments and successes in my life:

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Memorial Day Weekend 2016 in DC. Kati and I rented bikes and rode around DC. Yes, that’s the White House!

This ‘gotta have a plan for everything’ girl decided to go on a trip. I booked a flight and visited my brother in Dallas and my friends in DC for a quick 4 day vacation. I will continuously feel so excited to fit in the airplane seats with ease. It’s just so freaking exciting! My wonderful friend Kati took me all around DC where I got to see some amazing history and monuments. The highlight of the trip? We rented bikes and accidentally stumbled upon the White House (as she said it was rather ‘anti-climatic”). I was so nervous to ride that bike. My tippy toes barely reached the ground and I feared I would fall. Just hours prior to this I was preaching to Kati about experiences, she turned to me and said “collect experiences”. Bam!!! And it was wonderful and freeing. I felt like a kid. She said ‘is this your first skinny ride?” Bahahaha. Well, yes yes it was as I’m the thinnest I’ve ever been. I remember even as a kid that the weight of my ever growing booty would hurt on the seat but not this time. It was amazing!!!!! In that short weekend trip, we hit 5 states that I hadn’t been to (MD, VA, NJ, PA,DE).DC2016collage

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At work, I had started this Office Biggest Loser that was from January to April. Well, I’m excited that several girls wanted to continue and so we started a monthly challenge. We just finished up May and the winner lost 4.23% of her body weight. She was so elated. It was truly amazing. I felt like I was the winner. It gave me so much joy to see her succeed, to make healthy choices and her legitimate excitement to do what she didn’t think she could do!

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The Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It is enormous. To think of the rallies that go on here and how many people it can accommodate is awe inspiring!

I hope you all find your why! Love ya’ll!

Two Year Journey/Social Media Love & Hate

Two years ago today I took the first step on my weight loss journey. I had my first appointments at my bariatric clinic. I met with the surgeon, dietician, patient advocate and exercise physiologist. Dr. B was blunt stating “I’m not saying that I’ll do surgery on you”. I’ll never forget the stern look on his face as we discussed the obstacles that were laid in front of me to overcome prior to surgery. He told me that I had to lose 10% of my weight (34 lbs) on my own before I could have gastric bypass, attend monthly support group and meet with diet/exercise monthly. He told me “if on the day of surgery, you’re even 1 pound shy of the weight loss goal, your surgery will be canceled”. I had this knot in my stomach and I looked him in the eyes and said “I WILL do this. I know I can.” And so it began…

This program and the support within it has saved my life, quite literally. I was pre-hypertensive and morbidly obese. My future health was at stake with a family history of obesity, diabetes and heart disease; not to mention that I was missing out on my life.

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Recently, a former ‘friend’ (I use this term loosely as she was not a friend afterall) that I had blocked of Facebook created a fake account and messaged me. To say that she was cruel would be a gross understatement. Her comments cut deeply and really upset me. She said:

“You are disgusting inside and out.

I loved him, but he was stuck up your ass. and then you let him die alone while you were being selfish. and then moved on without a care. did he even matter to you? he died alone because you didnt like how you looked! how pathetic is that? i pray you never feel the pain the rest of us have knowing how much he cared for you and you just turned away and rub it in everyones face.

And I know for a fact that he died alone while you were recovering from your selfish surgery because you didnt want to be fat and didnt want to work hard enough to lose it. Wah, wah poor Jessica”

And while I know that she is wrong and a cruel, wicked and pathetic person; it still struck a nerve. I really have reflected on these very thoughts.

Is bariatric surgery vain? When your BMI (body mass index) is 56.7 putting you in the morbidly obese category?  I’m not so sure. Did I like the way I looked? Was I comfortable in my skin? No, I wasn’t. But does that make me vain? Maybe it does. And if it does, is that wrong?

How many women wear make-up? How many women suck in their tummies in front of people? How many fad diets have you been on to get ready for bikini season? Do you prefer your clothes to look nice? Put jewelry on? Feel good when you win an award? Glow a little when someone compliments you? I’m willing to say all of us are guilty.

Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.

Is there something wrong with this? I don’t think so. Was it selfish of me to take such a drastic measure to get control over my health and my weight? Maybe it was. Was it the right choice for me and my husband? Absofuckinlutely!! Paul 100% supported my decision to get healthy. He didn’t view it as selfish. He loved me the way I was and he supported me in wanting to change for the better. And if he were here today, I think he would be damn proud of how far that I have come.

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On a more positive note, Dietbet.com featured me on their Hall of Fame and Waybetter.com wrote an article about me. I have been absolutely overwhelmed but the immense support and love that has resulted from this. So many people have called me an inspiration, congratulated me on how far I’ve come and what I’ve endured. It’s still so very baffling that people look up to me. It really is. And it warms my heart and it delights my soul. I attribute my success to my dedication to honor my husband and his life and all that he stood for; he truly lived his life loud and proud–and I’m trying to mimic that. But to know that I have actually helped others who are struggling with their weight and/or the loss of a spouse overjoys me. It gives me even more purpose.

You can read the article at

http://www.waybetter.com/WayBetterToday/waybettertoday/inspiration/how-i-overcame-worst-tragedy-imaginable-and-lost-150-pounds 

You can see me featured on Dietbet at

https://www.dietbet.com/testimonials/170

I encourage any one of you who are reading this and want to make a change, no matter where you are in your journey, to keep pushing. And if you need help, please feel free to reach out to me https://www.facebook.com/Jess0322 . I would absolutely love to be a resource to you. I’ve said it many times, in reference to my weight loss journey…I can’t say it’ll be easy, but I sure can say that it is fucking worth it!

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My mom and I on Mother’s Day 2016.

Love you all. Thank you so much for the continued support.

Netflix & Chill: I Struggle with Diet & Exercise Too

I have had a lot on my mind lately. March was a difficult month for me emotionally. There was mine and Lisa’s anniversary, the anniversary of losing my Papa, mine and Paul’s 4th wedding anniversary and my 30th birthday. Phew! All that aside, I thought I’d talk a little about my struggles with diet and exercise.

It’s totally new to me to the healthy inspiration to others. Seriously, never in my life would I have thought that I could be a role model for this. In becoming a role model, I now have people that ‘hide’ their less than desirable food choices from me or they’ll say “ooo don’t watch, Jessica. I’m being bad”. I find it funny most times because I’m far from perfect. We all make bad food choices from time to time.

I’ve said this so many times that it’s ironic how we feel good when we eat well and we exercise but yet we continue to eat bad and sit on the couch. I’m 100% guilty of this. I admit it. “My name is Jessica and I love chocolate and binging on Netflix”. If I have the opportunity to be lazy and spend a whole day on the couch watching my favorite show, I’ll almost always take it!!! Having said this, I also realize that these are also the times that play in to my bad eating and contribute to my blues. It’s amazing how the negative perpetuates the negative, right? Seems simple enough. Like commonsense…duh?! But is it really? Think…when your sad, what do you want to do? Do you want to go run a mile? Nope. Do you want to eat a bag of Dove chocolates and hide under the covers? Absolutely. But now you’re in the covers, haven’t showered in who knows how many days and you feel awful; physically and emotionally. I have done this. More times than I care to admit to. Also, I feel that the lazy perpetuates the lazy and vice versa. If I don’t exercise, I won’t exercise. If I’m hitting it hard, I keep doing it.

So what is the take away? How do I deal with these things? Above all, remember that you haven’t failed as long as you don’t quit. I know that sounds like so cliche but it’s absolute fact. You only fail when you quit. Next, recognize the bad choices you’ve made; own them; accept them; move on. The next meal is your next opportunity to be successful. Don’t fall into the trap of “I ate like a pig all day; I might as well call it a wrap and eat that pizza and top it off with a bowl of ice cream; I’ll get back on track tomorrow”. Don’t do it. Don’t wait til Monday. Accept it right now and make the choice to make a better choice at the next opportunity.

I’m trying to get back on track from vacation last month. I had resolved to get wicked fit and stay the course. Well…life has happened and I’ve gotten in that “Netflix and chill” mode. But yesterday, I was like “hey I don’t like how I’m feeling” so I got my butt up and Mollie and I went for a jog. We jogged a full mile non stop; not slowing then walked it back. That was amazing to me. I’ve been so lazy but I was able to still do it. Well that was a huge win for me. It motivated me. Like man if I can do that after being lazy, think what I could do if I was on track more often. Then today I got up early, got my walk in, made healthy food choices and got all my water in. Then at Walmart, I was way tempted to get chocolate but I compromised with myself and got bananas and these frozen dark chocolate covered strawberries (only 60 calories/serving).

Anywho…hope this post wasn’t too boring. Just wanted to share a little about diet and exercise struggles. We all have them. I think it’s just most important to keep going; keep at it. That’s what I plan to do. In past years, I would have used these last few weeks of inactivity as an excuse to fall of the wagon but now I’m motivated to keep going. I also think about how far I’ve come and what my life and health mean to me know. I recently did an interview with Dietbet.com and they asked me about my motivation. I think my motivation stays the same: I do it for Paul. Yes, I do it for myself too but he is such a big part of it all. He made me WANT a better life. He made me WANT to do more. And his life ended on the day that my new life began so I feel that’s even more reason that I have to keep doing my best and living the best I can because I know he’d want that. And I want to honor him. So I plan to keep going and refuse to revert back to the old me.

And remember: a moment on the lips; forever on the hips! Bam!

 

Thirty Years Old

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30th birthday

I’m thirty. Holy hell. When did that happen? It seems like moments ago I was 17 and 21 seemed so far away. Now I’m 30. Wow. Am I upset about it? Do I feel old? No and no. I haven’t been emotional about leaving my 20’s behind. I’ve kinda looked forward to my 30’s. I mean that is when you’re supposed to have your shit together, be wiser, more established and hit your sexual peak. So, hell ya. Bring on the 30’s. I made this list when I was 18 of ‘things I want to do by 25 and 30″. I pulled it out and reviewed it. Of the 45 things listed, I’ve completed 30 of 45. Several I’ll probably knock off this year and several that I don’t want to do anymore. I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Lisa and I spent my birthday in the Bahamas! We did a dolphin excursion on my birthday. How many of ya’ll can say that you kissed a dolphin on your 30th? Well, I can and Salvador was a complete gentleman even though he was a little demanding of belly rubs. Luckily, Mollie (my uber adorable and not too spoiled mini schnauzer) trained me well for belly rubs. I’m like an expert. We ended the day at a fancy Japanese restaurant with mediocre food. But, hey, we were in the Bahamas so all was wonderful. The whole week was wonderful. I love that I got to spend all that time with one of my favorite people in this world. We drank too much and ate too much. We laughed til we cried. We danced even when noone else was on the floor. We sported our bikinis and made fun of the seagulls. We spent a number of hours people watching from our balcony and listening to waves crash into the shore. I can say that my birthday celebration was more than I hoped for.

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My very first bikini and I rocked it out at the beach in the Bahamas!

There’s only been one sad reflection on turning 30 and I’m sure you can guess what: Paul. He died just a couple weeks after his 30th birthday. In just a couple weeks, I will have lived longer than he did and it’s just not fair. I think about his last birthday. It was so wonderful. It was perfect. I’m so very glad that it worked out as I planned and that so many of our friends and family were able to join. I’m glad that was how his last birthday took place–surrounded by lots of love and goofiness. He got to eat pizza. I got him an awesome ninja turtles cake and decked him out in ninja turtle gear. He got the Armani Black Code that he’d been fantasizing over for months! (I still have it…I won’t lie…sometimes I steal a sniff or two) We bowled. Drank. Danced. He got tied up and received a duck tape wax job. I got to lay on the bar and he did a body shot. We got kicked outta the club because he was just toooo friendly. Thank goodness for our buddy, Bryan. Ended the night with his favorite club sandwich at iHop and salsa danced with the waiter outside afterwards. Sigh. I’m glad his birthday was so epic-ally awesome.

Literally and figuratively, I take Paul everywhere I go. He is, of course, always in heart and on my mind. I always wear my necklace that holds a few of his ashes. I started the tradition of leaving a piece of him every new place I visit. I love to leave him at the beach. He loved to frolick in all types of water so it’s so fitting to leave him there.

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Places Paul is now: The Smoky Mountains Coranado Beach U.S.S. Midway (San Diego) Cocoa Beach (Florida) Mt. Rushmore Paradise Island (The Bahamas)

The Bahamas was no different. I took him with me. Lisa and I walked the beach and found a peaceful spot. I grabbed a handful of ash and I sprinkled him into the water and the waves took him away. I love the thought of sharing him with the world. 

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Leaving some of Paul in the Bahamas

This was the year that Paul and I were suppose to start a family. I’m a little sad about that. My clock isn’t ticking though. For all that know me, they know I never have wanted children. I was going to have one for him. And though I’d trade anything to have him here and to experience parenthood with him; I’m okay saying that I don’t plan to ever have children now.

In thirty years, I’ve managed to accomplish more than what I ever anticipated. I’ve graduated and started my nursing career. I have a wonderful and supportive family. I have my dream home. I met and married the love of my life.   I got my boob job (yep, it was on the list). I’ve gotten to start traveling. I sky dived. I’m financially stable and have a diversified portfolio. I’ve done things outside of my comfort zone. I’m at a healthy weight and, physically, am the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m satisfied with where these thirty years have taken me. I’m excited to see where the next will lead me.

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Face to Face. 2012 vs Now.

Love Over Toxicity

Oh we have all experienced them. I, admittedly, have been one of them: a toxic friend.  We have all heard the term but I wanted a better definition so I went to the tried and true: Google. I’m not one for WebMD but the article that I found had some very moving words and I couldn’t say it better myself:

“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, apsychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” (http://www.webmd.com/women/features/toxic-friends-less-friend-more-foe?page=2)

You may wonder why I’m posting about this on my transformation page. Well, recently there have been events that have transpired that have really ruffled my feathers. Lisa has a friend (I use this term very loosely) that is the epitome of a toxic friend. Lisa and I have now been dating for over a year. We have a had and continue to have a very healthy and balanced relationship and friendship. Sadly, I have seen her be abused by this friend over the course of our relationship. She is, in my opinion, a miserable person. And we all know what they say about misery…

She doesn’t like me. Okay. Whatever. It hurt my feelers in the beginning but I can absolutely say that I have tried to have common ground with her and she rejects me. She is the type of person who is the victim of their own circumstance. You know the kind: poor, poor pitiful me. We are all adults. We made our choices. We lead our own lives.

I know that I’ve experienced my own growing pains with friendships. I have had two friendships that lasted 15 and 20 years that haven’t panned out the way that they should have. When you’ve been friends that many years, isn’t it supposed to last forever? That’s kinda the mentality but it’s not the reality. I can say that in both of my friendships that I had my fair share of the ‘blame’ (for lack of a better word). I could go on and on about them. I could point fingers and give a running score card of who did what to whom but what would that accomplish? Not a whole lot. I have spent a whole hell of a lot of time analyzing why things didn’t work out. I’ve written letters and texts trying to mend fences; spent countless hours talking with other friends about the ‘betrayals’ of said friendships. In the moments of analyzing these friendships, it only made me miserable and they lost nothing. Although, I like to take a lesson from everything I experience. And these broken friendships have taught me many things.

Jealousy is an evil, evil thing. There is no room for it in…really anything but, especially, a friendship. It tears you down and, worse yet, it destroys your friendship. Be happy for your friend’s success. It’s not a competition.

Articulation and communication is a must. No one out there is a mind reader. I don’t care how long you’ve known each other; there’s no person in this world that knows EXACTLY what you’re thinking all of the time. Not possible. All too often, we lash out at those that we care about. We use the wrong emotions and get an undesired outcome. Such as with my failed friendship: I got angry and blamed her for forgetting about me and choosing her bf over me. I lashed out and acted like a child not getting her way. When in actuality, I was sad and I missed my friend. I wasn’t able to articulate that at the time. And while this wasn’t the sole reason for the destruction of our friendship, it was a main contributor.

Relationships of all kinds are work. You can’t expect someone to make YOUR friendship work. We get too caught up in: she did this and she didn’t do that and poor me poor me. We fail to realize that just like with anything in this life: you get what you give. You aren’t gonna get that promotion at work if you don’t do the work. You won’t get the date with the girl at the coffee shop if you don’t ask her out. Just the same, you can’t expect to have an intimate friendship if you don’t nurture it sometimes.

Be kind; be understanding. We all have our struggles. Each and every one of us are fighting battles not known by others. Be compassionate. Give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be so hasty to judge.

And if you’ve done all these things and still your friendship sucks, call a spade a spade. Really, all people have a purpose in your life and sometimes that purpose isn’t what you expected. You don’t have to be miserable about that. My dad once told me that I’d be LUCKY to have just a couple true friends. I thought he was full of it at the time because I had sooo many friends but now I realize that his assertion was spot on.

This life is just too precious and too short to waste it being miserable. If you’re miserable, you have the ability to change it. I truly believe that.  As for Lisa’s friend, the protective person in me wants to call her all kinds of names and tell her where to go; but the wiser person in me wishes her peace. I think she’s sad that her friendship with Lisa isn’t what it once was. I think she’s unfulfilled in her own life. I think that she’s jealous of the positive changes that Lisa has made. I think that she doesn’t say what she actually feels. And maybe none of these thoughts are true but I know this to be true: Lisa  is a good person. She is kind and generous. She is thoughtful. She is a great friend. She has had her share of grief; her share of let downs. She deserves to be happy. Maybe what we have will last forever; maybe it won’t. But I’ll tell you this, if your ‘friend’ can’t be happy for you when you are happiest, what kind of friend is that? And THAT has absolutely nothing to do with me.

 

Lisa posted this sweet quote on my Facebook wall today about falling in love

and I wrote the following response. I think it is rather on point. In spite of everything I have gone through and though I’d never wish it on anyone, I feel so very fortunate to have found two amazing loves; two amazing people who love(d) me in spite of all of my flaws and have made my life all the better.

Fall in love with someone who knows your favorite color is green and that you like just a little cream and sugar in your coffee…like the color of a caramel milk chocolate.
 
Fall in love with someone who delights in tickling your side and biting your nose just because it makes you giggle so hard; because you are the girl who asserts that you don’t girl but clearly that someone makes you. Fall in love with someone who makes memes to make you laugh or finds memes to make you smile on a long work day or just because.
 
Fall in love with someone who lays their head on your chest and can tell that you’re nervous or that you are calm. Fall in love with someone who has an abnormally strong abdominal aorta and makes you feel their ‘baby’
 
Fall in love with someone who licks your face in public and has classifications of public licking in terms of green frog/blue frog. Fall in love with someone that you can always be silly with and neither of you care how you to look to others.
 
Fall in love with someone who doesn’t have to show you off because your love shows itself off without even trying.
 
Fall in love with someone unexpected; someone who is your opposite but your equal. Fall in love with someone who makes your life better without even trying. Fall in love with someone that builds you up.
 
Fall in love with someone who puts your needs above their own; someone who thinks about what they will order for dinner and amends it to fit your tastes.
 
Fall in love with someone who sees who you are; who loves you for all that you are and sees all that you can be. Fall in love with someone who nurtures that in you.
 
Fall in love with someone that thinks your snores are adorable. Fall in love with someone that you would let your arm rot off from lack of circulation because you don’t want to let go of them.
 
Above all, fall in love with the person that you truly deserve because you deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you never dreamed possible. You deserve to experience a love beyond your dreams.