Fighting the good

I don’t mean to boast, but I have been making progress in most areas of my life over the past few months. My physical, mental, social/relationship, career, spiritual lives have grown through the obstacles and trials the past few years brought – think eating disorder recovery, calling off my wedding two weeks before the big day, moving back in with my parents, and being laid off…  I am excited to begin sharing more about the obstacles I have encountered and the steps I’ve taken to overcome them in upcoming posts – so stay tuned!

Though I’m not “perky” and jumping for joy everyday there has been a large shift in my overall mood. I feel like things are finally starting to fall into place and when I look back to how I used to be – very lethargic, anti-social, hopeless – I find it hard to recognize the “old me.” I take this as a good sign, that I am growing into a more mature and knowledgeable person.

However, as I am making progress and sharing my story with others (particularly how God has renewed my spirit), I’ve begun experiencing what some would call “spiritual warfare.” Spiritual warfar” isn’t a phrase I grew up hearing. Red-faced devils, flames, and tortured souls immediately come to mind and I think to myself, “well, I’m not experiencing THAT!”

Battledfocused.org describes spiritual warfare as “is the cosmic war of good versus evil: its battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world system ruled by our spiritual enemy.”

“The enemy could be the temptation to sin or could manifest itself in the person who tells you to reject Christ.” – Fr. Robert J. Carr

Before I began going through a “spiritual renewal” process I assumed that since I was surrounded in a solid Christian community that everything would be “light and fluffy.” I expected less “bad” things would happen and life would get easier because I my end goal was to be doing the “good”. However, I have found that this is when things become harder. When I wake up tired I am tempted to skip church, when I try to find time to pray I am presented with more invitations and activities to fill my time.

That’s what the devil does… He tricks us, coming into our lives in the sneakiest way possible, especially when we pull away from sin. Feelings of jealously/greed/envy over others become stronger. As I gain healthy weight I experience negative self-criticism wanting me to restrict and/or purge. Issues that I thought were resolved with my ex-boyfriend have escalated to the point where others have needed to step in.

I don’t think that these incidences are ironic by any means. Some days I feel like I am being lured back into my “old self/life.” A positive is that I feel like I have been able to recognize almost instantly this shift, where in the past I probably wouldn’t have noticed it for months at a time. Giving a name (“spiritual warfare”/the Devil) , though it may seem harsh at times, to my feelings of inadequacy and temptations to sin has really helped me stop and pray them away before the situation I am in escalates.

Sometimes repeating the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is all I can do to comfort myself. The Devil is strong, but prayer is stronger.

Prayer

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Day eleven: regrets

If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

Wow, these questions just keep getting deeper and deeper! In short, I regret not being more assertive. I regret not saying “no.” For not standing up for myself in potentially harmful situations because I was worried what others would think of me. My self-esteem has always been pretty low and at times has inhibited me from reaching my full potential (professionally, socially, spiritually, etc.).

I do believe that self-esteem and assertiveness go hand-in-hand. As I become more aware of instances where I did NOT have the confidence, leading me to make poor choices, I feel like I have to “fight” harder not to slip into my old ways. As much work as it is, look forward to becoming more assertive and hopefully having less regrets.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I regret not going to grad school right after I received my undergraduate degree.

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regret1

What do you regret NOT doing? 

Onwards & Upwards…

Day ten: afraid

What are you most afraid of?

I think it’s funny how Dictionary.com defines “fear” as a noun – person, place, or thing. When I think about fear, I tend to think about fear in more “abstract” terms. A lot of “what ifs” versus being afraid of heights, spiders, and other phobias. I fear missing out, making the wrong decision, making mistakes, rejection, what could go wrong, the unknown… 

I’ve always been a chronic over-thinker which heightens my anxiety and create problems that don’t even exist (and most likely won’t occur). Lately I have realized just how much my thoughts have been counter-productive. I have actually ended up missing out on certain opportunities because I was afraid on the what could happen and trying to “predict the future.” Now I work on challenging the legitimacy of my anxious thoughts (a lot of rationalizing self-talk), being proactive, and having faith that everything will work out. I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes about fear:

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fear 3

fear 4

What threatens your mental and/or physical well-being? 

Onwards & Upwards…

Day nine: proud

What are you most proud of?

Most proud of? Another tough question… I think an all encompassing answer would be my strength – both mental and physical. After battling eating disorders for over 10 years, I have kept my maintained my weight the highest it has been in seven years. Keeping the wight on has led to many other gains. The ability to run a 5K and develop muscle mass by weight training are a few physical feats that concurrently increase my mental strength.

proud

What are you most proud of?

Onwards & Upwards…

Another week, a new week

Another week has passed being home, without a job. Although I had laid out specific, but what I felt “doable” goals and routine for last week, I still felt unsuccessful. I kept beating myself up for slip ups or not accomplishing what I wanted to. “Why oh why, despite my best efforts, can I not get myself together?!”

Self-Care

I become frustrated as I spend time and energy applying for jobs and then 1) never hearing back 2) getting a rejection email. It makes me feel like I’m not qualified to do anything. Although I keep telling myself that the right job will come, I am still discouraged. I have had a few interviews over the past week (both in-person and over the phone) that, if nothing else, are good for “practice.”But which each interview and job search I feel more overwhelmed and made me question what I really wanted to do.

But then I thought of what my previous counselor had told me before and what she’s tell me if I were sitting in front of her again:

Show yourself some self-compassion.

This is always a very hard concept for me to grasp. I always felt like I never do enough – exercise, avoiding trigger foods, organizing my home/life. Last week was also busy with social and family engagements so my eating/sleep schedule has been off. I end up eat more (unhealthily and later) and go to bed long after midnight. I can definitely tell the difference in how I feel both physically and mentally after getting rest. So, my lack of sleep is probably contributes to lackluster feelings. It’s crazy how it can throw the next day off before it even begins, making me less motivated to get off the couch and have a productive day.

Self

I think instead of focusing on rigid goals, what will be more therapeutic and helpful for me right now will be to do a 25-day personal growth exercise that I found on Pinterest. I’ll be able to know myself more and practice the “self-compassion” that my therapist is always preaching. I will start posting regularly on this journey tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some ways that I have already been practicing self-care/compassion:

  • Stopped watching a TV show/movie and or reading something if it doesn’t bring me joy and/or stresses me out
  • Set out time to read before bed
  • Sorted through my old clothes and purse to donate
  • Stopped running when my ankle/knee hurts
  • Dumped out a Diet Coke that didn’t taste good (that’s what happens when you go without drinking one for awhile – you just taste the yucky chemicals!)
  • Started crocheting again

What are ways in which you practice self-care/compassion?

Onwards & Upwards…

Re-focus

I’ve been having an incredible difficult time staying focused. My mind had calmed a bit after the retreat I went on a few weekends ago, but now it’s right back to going 100 miles a minute. Throughout the day my emotions range from: positive, annoyed, tired, lonely, anxious, depressed – then a brief bout of “okayness”- then back to being unhappy.

To cope with all of these feelings I just want to eat all of the things, which in turns just makes me feel worse – no self-control, low willpower, weak. I’ve tried to establish routines to give my day order/stay on track, but my motivation to adhere to my list is low.

Thinking about something I have to do (even if it’s “fun”) leaves me feeling exhausted even though I know I usually feel better once I’ve completed something. I don’t want to start something because I know I won’t want to finish it (laundry). Charts can be a good guide, but I tend to beat myself up if I don’t meet my goals.

It’s been a series of mini victories/little things that have kept me going.

  • Going to the store (even if it’s one out of several errands on my list)
  • Laying out and reading a book in the sun in the afternoons
  • Being the one to initiate a conversation versus waiting on people to make a move (call/text)
  • Learning to say “no” to people and activities

Things I’ve learned lately:

  • I rely more on my boyfriend for social support than I’d like to be. I love him to death, but want to be able to make myself happy without depending on him to do so.
  • really don’t like being told what to do/receive unsolicited advice/being micromanaged. If I want advice/need help I’m more open to it if I ask for it myself.
  • I do not want to be a teacher like I had been (re)considering. The health care field is, however, looking more appealing.
  • I get jealous a lot easier than I care to admit

Goals for the Week:

  • More yoga, walks, and strength training versus cardio
  • More reading versus social media
  • Less sugar and alcohol (two drinks and desserts)
  • Sort through my clothes/belongings to donate

Onwards & Upwards…

 

Triple Digits

The past month marks the first time in SEVEN YEARS that I’ve hit (and kept on) triple digits. I can’t believe that I’m typing those words. I’m 27 and just now weigh over 100 pounds?! The past year and a half has been particularly difficult. Sometimes I coped well and got stronger, but there were MANY times in which I felt like I was failing…

Initially when I posted this accomplishment on Facebook I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback, “likes” and “loves” left by friends and people I haven’t communicated with in years (or ever, really). The encouraging comments left me in tears – I actually was proud of myself for once.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for my own criticism enter my brain. Despite re-reading comments and encouragement from my beyond-wonderful boyfriend, I have been struggling to shake the feelings of disgust I have with myself. How can I go from feeling so “free” and proud of myself for all I’ve overcome to literally loathing myself?!

“My pants are all too tight, nothing fits right anymore”

“Your thighs look HUGE in those picture from this weekend – I need to increase my time in the gym”

“You’re weak. Why can’t you stop eating and say just say ‘no'”

“You used to be so self-disciplined and in control. What happened?!”

This goes to show how scary and debilitating this disease is. No, it’s not just “about food.” For me, it’s always been about control. When I feel out of control in certain areas of my life (typically my career) the eating disorder behaviors and thoughts are stronger.

It’s good that I can recognize this pattern, though it does not necessarily make it any easier to treat myself with kindness. My therapists reiterates the need for me to practice self-compassion. It’s hard to engage in those kinds of exercises – I don’t even know where to begin. The thought seems so foreign; I’ve been my biggest enemy my whole life.

Maybe that’s what scares me. My eating disorder has been my “identity” for so long that It’s hard to picture who I am without it – who I want to be. I know I need to be more open-minded and put myself out there. It’s overwhelming to know where to start, but the important thing is to actually start AND give myself credit for putting in the effort.

I few things that I have tried to shift my focus to lately:

  • Cooking healthier meals from scratch
  • Blogging
  • Reading
  • Running
  • Weight lifting

I know that I still have a long way to go. Right now it’s important that I don’t backtrack and keep moving forward by focusing on what I want my life to look like in the future:

  • A runner ( half-marathon)
  • An artist
  • A healthy lifestyle blogger/figure
  • A mother

One day at a time – onwards and upwards, my friends!

The Journey of Jobbing

I feel like this post has been a long time coming. I’ve gone back and forth on how I want to “craft it,” fit everything I want to say, trying to make sure it’s “perfect.” I realized that this post will never be “perfect” or “complete” because my story is always evolving. So bear with me and here we go!

I’ve been struggling to find a new job for over a year now. I had never been completely satisfied (is anyone ever completely satisfied) with my most recent job. When I came across it on Craigslist almost three years ago I was hesitant to apply. Why? I had recently been laid off from a catering admin position that I really didn’t enjoy. One of the reasons being its emphasis on food made it challenging in the process of recovering from an eating disorder. However, reading the job description, I saw that I could meet the experience required (unlike many other jobs I had applied to) and it was at a cool location. Plus, after applying to 50+ jobs and not hearing anything back from 90% of them I honestly didn’t think I would receive a response. So at 11 pm I submitted my resume, closed my laptop, and went the bed.

Of course the job I didn’t necessarily want was the one who called me the next afternoon. I was getting desperate, unemployed for almost four months with no clear path, so I went ahead and took the job. The first few months were new and exciting. I loved being more involved in the overall event process and my colleagues. It wasn’t too long until I became “bored.” Some days were busier than others and I felt productive, but it did not take me long to realize that this was not the industry (hospitality) that I wanted to be in forever. I told myself that I would stick with it for a few years, build my resume and then find something else.

attract

Unfortunately the feelings of being stuck and unhappy came long before the two-year mark I had given myself. I could complete most of my tasks within an hour or two and be left staring at the clock wishing time would speed up. Then I would be so mentally drained that doing anything seemingly productive felt impossible. I am going to stop right here and say that yes, these are very “first world problems.” When I would feel this way I would often tell myself that I should be lucky to have a job when most people don’t – and I was thankful, I knew it could be much worse. But is it really so wrong to want a job where you feel fulfilled and can contribute to society. I would try incorporating little things into my day to make it more meaningful – listening to podcasts helped my commute, offering assistance to colleagues when I completed my work, treating those around me and client with respect and patience. Still I felt like something was missing.

I revamped my resume and started scoping out jobs just to see what was out there. I have had numerous hits and misses during my search – mainly misses. I would become excited as prospective employers would bring me in for a second interview only to learn weeks later that they found “more qualified” for the position. And that is if I was lucky. I have lost count on the number of jobs I applied to and heard nothing back from. Trying to turn a negative into a positive, I told myself that they job(s) I didn’t get was probably a good thing – saving me from something that would end up like my old position or worse.

Budget concerns were brought up over the summer. I knew that my searches needed to become more serious as my position at the company was in jeopardy. I begin browsing job boards with more intensity. The pressure I put on myself caused me to feel discouraged when I found little to nothing that spiked my interest. If something was interesting, I wasn’t near or was qualified for the role. I began to felt like I there wasn’t anything out there that was a good fit for me. Needless to say, my overall life satisfaction/happiness rapidly decreased.

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I started drinking more, way more when I felt discouraged and lost. My train of thinking was that as I can get “prolific” after a few drinks, a light bulb would go off in my head and suddenly I would know what to do (yeah, like that would really happen). As most people know, drinking doesn’t solve much of anything; it has only lead me to more physical (upset stomach, headache, weight gain) and mental problems (memory loss, lack of critical thinking, feelings of self loathing) and drunk texts – whoops!

I officially got the words I had been waiting for “your position is being eliminated” before Christmas. Even though I had been expecting it and had a few interviews already set up it still stung. My co-workers were honestly the main reason why I held on for so long. As we were together more than we were with our actual families, they became my work-family. Hell, they were the first people (besides my parents) that I was calling off my wedding (more on that later) than my best friends and the groom! The last weeks were full of bittersweet moments – this is my last team meeting, this is the last time I’m going to have to make my long commute, etc. While I knew that I didn’t have much room for growth at that job, nor did I have the desire to stay in that field much longer it was still tough leaving. I am grateful that I held out and was able to leave on good terms. I think it will help in the long run (look better on my resume) and my colleagues tell me to put them down as references.

So long story short (P.S. bless you if you’ve made it this far) my layoff has been a “blessing in disguise.” It’s already the second week of my third layoff. I’m still struggling to find a routine or some form of structure for my days – a balance of productivity and rest. I knew that I didn’t want to jump straight into a new job, but take time to regroup and really focus on my next move. Ideally I wanted to take a whole week off from applying to jobs, but me being the type of person who can’t do “nothing” so that idea lasted all of 3 hours. I finally heard back from two interviews in which I didn’t get the job, which is disappointing, but better than waiting in limbo.

I think for the upcoming week I am really going to make an effort to take a few days off from the search and pray not that I will find a job/opportunity, but it will find me. Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but I feel like I’ve tried many different approaches only to end up more stressed and now it is time to let go, to be BRAVE. It is exciting to think that anything is possible and something could cross my path that I haven’t even thought of ! I will keep you updated on the process and my progress. *Deep breaths*

Onwards and upwards, my friends!

dreams

It wasn(‘t) only just a dream

It was just a dream

Except it wasn’t

Waking up

Jaw sore jaw from being clenched all night

Waiting for the relief

“Thank GOD that wasn’t real”

Except it was

Real

Now what?

When you can’t distinguish between dreams and reality

What can you trust

What can you do

Just don’t close your eyes

The images will reappear

Haunt you

You swore you could touch them

Smell them

You were there

Now what can you trust

You can’t ven trust yourself

How do you wake up when the nightmares never end

June Bugs

Wow, I’m actually posting my monthly review on time (before the 15th of the month…)! I’ve been getting better at managing my time. Making lists with realistic goals that won’t overwhelm me – breaking things up – has helped. I’m focusing on talking my ownership of my life. The past few months I’ve often felt sorry for myself and feel like I “waste time” moping. I don’t always feel 100% like being productive, but I know that once I cross tasks off my list I’ll feel 100% better. So here are some of the things I was up to in June:
Church officer (day) retreat
Attended a networking lunch & learn with my colleague
Visited family friends who came into town
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Shakespeare in the Park
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Father’s Day
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First Day of Summer
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I was asked to be a bridesmaid’s for my brother’s wedding
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My brother and fiance visited from Georgia
– Ranger’s game, lunch with friends, & their wedding shower
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The Happy Couple

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Dallas Farmers Market trip with my dad
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TV/Movies
Pretty Little Liars, season 6 & 7
Joy
Oklahoma!
Veronica Mars, season 1
Books
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
What have you been up to this summer?