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A Whirlwind Sort of Season

October 15, 2014

I cannot believe it’s been so long since my last post. So much life has happened from August until now, I couldn’t stop to catch my breath until tonight. Discerning what I want to reflect on is going to take some time, so right now, it’s going to be a major brain dump.

Sorry.

I could sum up my life in the last couple of months into three sentences:

I am healed. I got engaged. I moved.

SO many things going on.

I found the love of my life. My last human crush. My first pure love. I chose Jesus over him. I know it’s right, but it HURTS.

I started the 6 month discernment period of my Vocation as a Consecrated. It’s a challenge I could not fathom preparing for.

I moved from my home of 7 and 3/4 years, purging through material goods I managed to collect in those years.

My new life calls for three promises to live out: chastity, obedience and simplicity. Two of them are relatively easy to live by. The third is a major pain in the heart. Simplicity means that I intentionally keep certain material goods and let go of the rest. No one ever tells you that there are emotional ties to said material goods and it can be heart-wrenching to process them before letting them go. The freedom, though. It’s astounding.

However, in spite of the difficulty of physically purging material goods, I have found letting go of emotional, mental, psychological things more cumbersome. When you move physical things, there is actual space to be discovered. The other aspects of moving and letting go, I know there’s room, but it’s hard to discern when there is so much to sift through.

Yes, my life is pretty short, but it is AMAZING to see how much I have accumulated over the years. Emotions, thoughts and patterns of life that have built over time that no longer have a purpose and actually hinder any further growth. It’s time to prune this garden way back to make room for the new growth to take place. I think I would rather jump off a burning building or go for a root canal without anesthesia or go on a blind date.

My life is truly a blessing. I know that without even blinking. I have SO many reasons to be grateful and praise the Lord. My humanity has definitely wrestled with my spirit and I am afraid my humanity is winning this battle. I have cursed more, had more cigarettes, eaten things I probably shouldn’t have in these past months than I have in a LONG time. Ironically, I dropped my HA1c from 6.7 down to 5.7 going from being diabetic to being within the normal range, lost 10 pounds and took off 3 inches off my waist, 4 off the widest part of my body and 2 off my rib cage. I asked the Lord, “why now?” He told me that it’s a physical manifestation of the interior healing I have experienced. I’m taking that and running with it.

The both/and of my world is stretching beyond the boundaries of my human thoughts and I cannot believe how tied my body is to my mind is to my heart is to my soul. This combination of being is almost too much to process and YET, He sees this entire person as beautiful and whole. It’s about time I do the same.

I am so sorry for the trouble I have caused folk over the years. Worrying about whether or not I’ll survive to come home or obsessing in inappropriate ways and doing everything within my power to gain attention and flirt with dangerous situations. I am such a FREAKING MESS. YET: HE LOVES ME! I am His wayward little bride and He loves me anyway. WHY?!

The answer? Not sure.

Will I ever know? Probably not.

Is that okay? Like I have a choice.

Truth: I have a choice. I can choose to accept this reality or I can choose to be in denial and pretend that my life is total crap and whine the entire time. I can choose to love this body, this heart, this mind, this soul and embrace it for all it is: heartaches, disappointments, successes and all. There is beauty in pain. There is true love buried in here somewhere. Or perhaps, it’s the over-arching theme of my life.

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.”–Westley, The Princess Bride.

What a beautiful mess I am! O happy fault! God, you deserve so much more and I am so less than what You created me to be! Why do you choose to love me?

He whispers in my heart: You are mine.

But, Lord…

You are mine. I love you.

Lord, I…

You are mine. Now and always.

*sigh*

You are mine.

My Latest Little Gem

August 16, 2014

This is my latest little song. I was finally able to articulate what I’ve experienced as of late. Yes, it’s a bit on the somber side (sorry, Mama….), but there is a sense of hope in it, too. I hope all y’all enjoy it. It’s called “Over You”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtL_e60V0lc&feature=gp-n-y&google_comment_id=z134cn1qaprkhrgpl04cfrtg3zm0ut1zdv40k

A Moment to Breathe and Take a Step Back

August 14, 2014

*breathe*

I have one blessed life. The weekend of family reunions, our parents’ blessed wedding and catching up extended a bit into the week as members spent a little extra time with us here in our end of the world.

I held out with my nutritarian habits until after the reception and found myself having more room to expand my lungs once I changed out of THAT dress. I can’t complain, though, the Lord saw me through and I was able to sing in it as well as the 4″ heels I sported for the Mass.

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Me on the left, my beautiful mom in the middle and my stunning sister on the right.

It was so good being with my family for about 5 days of madness preparing for the ceremony and hosting meals at the ‘Rents followed by more reunions centered around food, but it was so worth it. The one regret I had was not taking a nap on Saturday afternoon, because I ended up falling asleep intermittently during my 2nd round of “Guardians of the Galaxy” with my cousins. 😦 Whoops. At least the ones that were awake enjoyed it! 😉

I was able to take my cousins out for a run on the beach on Monday morning. I had not run like that since my high school days, so I took it easy, but found myself happy to be able to move. I’m still nursing a sore right calf from the previous weekend’s beach sprint, but it didn’t stop me from trying on that Monday morning.

 Beach Run with CousinsPre-Run/Walk

I remember feeling pretty good as I hit my stride and caught up with my youngest cousin, who was a BEAST as he ran in both directions. I think they did about 4 miles and I stuck with my lowly 1.5. I was still proud of myself for attempting it and I think I’ll do that again real soon.

It was hard sticking to the nutritarian lifestyle among the plethora of non-green food, so I did my best with what I had and added a little too much of the extra stuff. *sigh* I knew it was bound to happen, but something amazing did occur to me. I didn’t crave the carbohydrates or the dessert offered to me and I could turn them down without batting an eyelash. That’s saying something, isn’t it? The scale told me I gained a few pounds from the weekend, but it’s a minor setback in comparison to the long term goal of reaching a non-diabetic state. So, this week, I cannot report that I lost weight, but I can report that the setback has not broken my stride.

As the weeks continue on, I’m sure I’ll keep blogging on my progress with my health, but I know I’ll be sharing more about the interior end of my life as I get moved to do so. The physical changes I am making are only the reflection of what’s been going on interiorly and so far, this has been one mad ride. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother and a special day for me. If I come to mind, please say a little prayer for me: particularly to stay very close to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May you be blessed for your kindness.

Be well, my friends and enjoy today!

GOAL!!!

August 7, 2014

WOW.

I can’t believe it. The wedding is upon us and as I type this up, family members are pouring in from different parts of the world to join us for this amazing celebration. Mom & Pops, I am so happy for you both!

I can’t believe that two weeks ago, I publicly announced my terrorizing moment of trying to fit into the dress for this wedding and last week, I could zip it up. As my weight keeps falling, I find myself in awe at the speed at which all of this is taking place. 

So, as with any changes, here are a couple of funny problems that popped up.

Nutritarian Problem #1: Jeans That Don’t Fit.

I bought a pair of jeans at Kohls for a great price about a month ago and charged it to my Kohls card. No big deal. I wore those jeans this past weekend up at Camp & realized that they were way too loose on me. I hadn’t even paid for them yet and they’re too big! That’s never happened before, but I guess that means I will wait a while before purchasing more clothes. My wardrobe is going to be whittled down quite a bit, but I really don’t mind. I did find a pair of slacks my sister gave to me because they were too big for her. I couldn’t wear them when she gave them to me, but I held onto them because they became my goal slacks. I can zip them up now, but it’ll take a week or two before they are actually comfortable. 

I think I can handle this.

Nutritarian Problem #2: The Constant Need for Motion

Since I made that promise to dance and sing every day, I CANNOT STOP. Seriously. In the car, in my office, as I walk from one place to another….it seems as if a flash mob should materialize at any point in time. Who says life isn’t like a musical? Going for walks? It’s a craving of mine now. I actually took off sprinting down the beach on Sunday afternoon and managed to hypo-extend my right calf. In spite of that crazy moment, I STILL went for a walk yesterday on the same said beach. It’s much better now and I felt great after trudging through the sand because somehow, it managed to help me stretch out my calf muscles. Singing everyday? Nailed it. Between Music Boot Camp last week, Camp Emmaus this week and the wedding coming up, I’m singing up a storm and it feels REALLY good. Even with the sinus infection, I was able to get over it quicker than I thought. 

Did I mention, I actually like working on my core muscles now? You better believe it. 

So far, the total amount of weight I have lost is 13.8 pounds. My waist size dropped from 38″ down to 35″. 

WHO AM I?!

The physical changes are reflecting the interior changes I have made, starting with my heart’s desire from November 2013 to now. It seems like it’s happening at lightning speed, but the truth is, it’s been in the works for YEARS. I can handle the successes now and I have a better handle on my relationship with food. My head has been ready for this change as much as my heart has. The biggest temptation is allowing myself a little slack because the family’s in town and there’s going to be crazy food galore to consume. I will allow myself a little room AFTER the wedding, but I have bigger goal to reach.

The end of September is when I see my doctor again for my quarterly check-up. I want to see those numbers drop. Everything from my physical weight to my bad cholesterol and my HA1C numbers. I want to know what this lifestyle change has done to my blood, because I can what has happened to my exterior. I sleep better, my mind is clearer and I bounce back from illness a bit quicker. I only eat when I am hungry and that only happens when I work up an appetite by being physically active. What does this have to do with my spiritual life? EVERYTHING.

Eating as a Nutritarian is a bit of a simpler approach. Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds (G-BOMBS). These are foods I can eat in abundance. Heads of lettuce are CHEAP. The most expensive thing I purchase are the chia seeds. Even then, I tend to purchase enough food to last me a couple of days, so none of it goes bad. While I was at Whispering Winds this past week, I had a good chat with the chef. I told him what I was doing because he had noticed the difference two weeks made since the last camp I visited. So, for dinner, he hooked me up with some roasted artichokes with Rosie’s famous salsa, fresh beans from their garden combined with mushrooms and brussel sprouts, a kale salad that was incredible and a crown of steamed broccoli. It took the chef and the kitchen manager to bring all that food out and the looks on the faces of those around me was wide-eyed and slack-jawed amazement. They didn’t tease me about my “rabbit food” but rather, they declared they want to have a “special diet” the next time they come up for Camp. 🙂

My spiritual life is calling me to live a simpler life: from reducing my material goods to simplifying what I eat. My financial habits have been curtailed because of these decisions and I am working within my budget and not using my credit cards. I get entertained by being physically active and listening to music as well as playing an instrument and/or singing. The tie between my body and spirit is more in sync and I can’t begin to express the joy I am experiencing at this time. It’s deep. It’s real. No one can take this away from me, but me. I have moments where I’m challenged, but considering the evidence surfacing before my eyes, the challenges get met and I move beyond them. My prayer life is crazy good right now and I’m feeling more than alright. I’m really grateful. 

So to those of you who have been following my crazy journey this past month, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and prayers. Know that I offer up prayers of thanksgiving for each of you. I never believed that I was capable of making these sorts of changes until I started doing the tiny ones to prepare me for the bigger ones. The sacrifices are worth it. I promise. You CAN do this. If you want to make the challenges a bit easier, think about a person you can offer up your challenging moment for. There are plenty of folk to pray for through the suffering of making changes. Your challenges could actually be helping someone else who needs a spiritual boost. It’s called “offering it up.” The Saints have been known to do that sort of thing. I’m just following their example: 

ONE

                 STEP

                                   AT

                                                A 

                                                              TIME

 

The 3rd Week: Miracles Happen

July 30, 2014

WOW. The responses I received from the last post were so heartfelt and sincere in the offering of help from finding a seamstress to alter the dress to the prayers offered up for my sanity. Trust me, I felt them! Thank you, my dear friends, for your support!

I managed to stick to my nutritarian lifestyle during the Steubenville San Diego Conference. Instead of having frozen yogurt with the crew on Friday night, I had a spinach salad I picked up at the store. I got 3 of them, and they each came in handy the rest of the weekend when there wasn’t food for me to eat at a particular meal. So it seemed a bit odd consuming salad for breakfast, but I did it and I’m not sorry. 🙂 I did cheat with the turkey sandwich at lunch on Saturday, but I skipped the chips and cookie and soda. I didn’t feel guilty for that detour since I made up for it by consuming an enormous salad that evening for dinner. After Saturday night’s events, the crew had pizza, which was SO tempting to break down and eat, but I ate the apple I brought with me from lunch instead.

*phew*

Way to go, self-control! Did you know that self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit? It really is!

I’d been able to keep up with my promise to the Lord to sing every day and dance everyday (thank you, Steubenville!) so my activity levels have gone up significantly. I also noticed that my heart is a lot lighter these days. I find myself bopping in my seat when I work at my computer if the song is good. If it’s really good, I get up and dance.

After the conference, I found a “back up” on Sunday afternoon, which was the Maid of Honor dress I wore for my childhood best friend’s wedding. It’s snug, but it zipped up and it’s the same color. I tried the original dress and just couldn’t zip up. That’s okay, I have a back up! I was so thankful for that moment of discovering I wouldn’t be totally out of luck for the wedding. Praise the Lord!

Three days later, I decided to try on another dress that I was not able to zip up. The last time I wore it was in November for a friend’s wedding. It’s lovely, but unfortunately, at the time I wore the dress, it was more than a little snug and difficult to sing in at the wedding. I survived but never wore the dress again, until today. I was able to zip it up without a hitch.

 

No way.

 

At my roomie’s prompting, I tried the dress for the wedding.

 

It zipped up.

 

For real.

 

Definitely snug, but the zipper went up and I could breathe in it. Just need a little more room to be able to sing at the wedding, but it zipped up!

 

Three days and He answered my prayer along with the prayers of everyone interceding for me. The Lord is so FAITHFUL.

 

Here is the REAL miracle:

I believe in my own physical abilities.

This is not the person I grew up believing I could be. I was never the active sort of child, more prone to sitting and reading than to going outside and playing. The fact that I set a physical goal for myself and am following through is a fruit of this miracle and it is quite a gift. What’s even more amazing is realizing that by doing what I’m created to do, I am achieving these goals! Thank you, Holy Spirit!

Beyond this dress, I will continue to strive to achieve good health. My next doctor’s visit is at the end of September and I can’t WAIT for the results of the blood test. I hope that my HA1C levels will drop along with my bad cholesterol. The big goal is to completely reverse Type 2 Diabetes and prevent any and every medical complication associated with it. When the doctor asks me what I did, I’ll tell him how my faith was tested and tried and that I followed Dr. Fuhrman’s plan from the book, “The End of Diabetes”.

I am in awe of His Goodness, through the prayers and support I’ve received from loved ones and even mere strangers. I feel like I can truly do anything I can set my mind to, in spite of the odds. Mom always said God helps those who help themselves. I like to go with this particular mindset instead:

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”–Saint Augustine

Thanks, St. Augustine. Pray for us.

 

 

The 2nd Week: Praying, Playing and Dancing

July 24, 2014

WOW. It’s been two weeks since I’ve changed my eating habits. The weight is coming off slowly, but I think that I may be actually losing some inches around my belly. I can’t recall my last measurements to save my life, but something tells me that there are some changes going on in my body since I’ve started eating as a nutritarian. I don’t eat as often as I did before, but I’m definitely not starving. Retraining my body to crave good whole food is going better than I expected, but I know I am weak when it comes to eating with other people, if I have not prepared my own food. This weekend is going to be HUGE challenge with me being gone for 48 hours on a youth conference in town. Holy Spirit, come.

I have a bit of a challenge ahead of me the next two weeks and I am a bit apprehensive at this point in time. It seems I have painted myself into a corner of the room and I need to kick in some Spider-Man like qualities to crawl out of this in an “almost impossible” way. There’s no getting around this one and it may cause more harm than good if I try to take an alternative route.

*deep breath*

I have this dress I need to get into. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but here it is. It has been YEARS since I’ve worn it and it was the basis for the rest of the bridal party to choose dresses in this color. With the wedding in two weeks from Saturday, the dress cannot be zipped up. For those who have been in wedding parties, you also understand that acquiring a bridesmaid dress takes at least 6 months. I can’t recall if I could zip it up months ago, but something tells me I did and managed to gain enough weight in that time to make it impossible to zip up today.

Ouch. Ah, Humility….we meet again.

I have to work extra hard the next two weeks to drop the inches in order to zip up this dress. I just need to be able to survive in it for 6-8 hours at the most. Even if it means me not eating at the reception. But this is complete silliness. I chose to eat well because the BIG PICTURE is me getting healthy  so I never have to go on medications as a Type 2 Diabetic. In an ironic twist of fate, seems now that I have a major reason for working out. I HATE WORKING OUT.

I have an alternate diet to help me strip off the 5-10 pounds that aren’t moving off my body. It can be effective, because it has helped me before in the past, however, I thought about it and I came to the realization that I really need to see this new lifestyle through. No excuses. So I picked up my “The End of Diabetes” book again and read through chapter nine “The Six Steps to Achieving our Health Goals”. One of those goals is to make a public commitment to changing my eating habits. I think I started that two weeks ago when I posted “It Starts Today.” Today’s post is taking it one step further.

I went to Mass this morning and as I sat in silence after it was over, I heard the Lord speak clearly to my little heart. He encouraged me to keep going in this direction. His instructions to me are these:

1.) Play every day the next two weeks: piano, guitar and/or sing.

2.) Dance every day for the next two weeks. Put on the music and MOVE.

This may sound a little daft, but He speaks to me like this: through His Presence in the Holy Eucharist and through music. Not just through me making music, but in the music I listen to through my iPod or the radio. Do you know how trippy it is to hear the Lord speak through something as random as Smashing Pumpkins or Ne-Yo? I am not saying ALL music is wholesome and good for my heart, but it’s AMAZING when the right song comes on just when I need a boost. Seriously. He knows me so well and He can get through to me effectively in spite of any fog I may be in.

As for playing music every day, did anyone see my Tweet regarding the last Emmaus Blvd. concert I played on Tuesday night? I was sweating up a storm, jumping up and down and ended up coming home sore as if I went running a few miles. If I played like that every day, I’d be 10 pounds lighter in a month!

My biggest problem is that I don’t play music everyday. There are whole days when I don’t listen to music voluntarily. This seems absolutely ridiculous considering it’s my passion and how I seem to operate. It helps me to physically get up and move, think, pray and sometimes express what’s going on in my head. Why do I forget to do what I am built to do? Fish don’t forget to swim and birds don’t forget to fly. He made me a musician and that means I have a specific way that I operate. It doesn’t mean that I’m limited to one schedule or way of being productive. He made me creative so I don’t get bored with a routine or feel confined by a schedule. What He did do is train me with the tools to be able to improvise. Doing the little things every day help me to strengthen those skills that are needed when the time comes. Pray every day, eat well every day. Now I need to play every day and dance every day.

Two weeks.

1 goal.

Challenge accepted.

The 1st Week: One Moment at a Time

July 17, 2014

I can’t believe it’s been over one week already since I’ve posted “It Starts Today.” There was an amazing response from the blogging world and I’m so grateful to each of you for the support, well-wishes and prayers!

At first, I was a little worried that it would take some major adjustment to go back to eating as a nutritarian. I kept reminding myself that I had succeeded at this in 2010 and that I am a different person now than who I was then. This time, I have a darn good reason to live like this:

I finally believe in myself.

I am finally accepting the Lord’s call to “love others as you love yourself.” I can really love others with as much fervor and gusto as possible, but it’s SO hard to love myself. Why is this the case?!

For YEARS I have mixed up the truth about what humility is all about. Humility isn’t putting yourself down or downplaying your strengths and being a doormat so others can walk all over you. It’s knowing your strengths and weaknesses and when to use them. I know who I am, what I am capable of and what I am NOT…and I am okay with that. 🙂

So, I changed what I was eating. My body responded to the changes almost within 48 hours. When the temptation comes to eat something that is processed or not a part of phase 1, I repeat to myself, “Give your body a fighting chance.”  I also started getting active, a minimum of 30 minutes a day. The household just acquired a Wii, so I started using it. I started doing crunches and planking and stretching. At work, I’d started getting up and walking about every hour so I wouldn’t get stuck sitting the whole time.

This isn’t me. Not naturally. I feel like it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit to get out of my comfort zone and do something that isn’t naturally me, but I am finding that the results of being out of my comfort zone are yielding some amazing fruit. I feel good when I get up in the morning. Food is one of those things that really can affect my outlook in life. I am so grateful for the motivation that led me here, in spite of the fact that it’s been painful and humbling. I don’t want to feel that terrible again, so I’m striving to change one moment at a time, not to impress other people, but to prove to my “bad” self wrong. I’m finally listening to the right station.

The last thing I want to end this blog post with is the latest work by an amazing artist. I honestly think she wrote this song for me, but it’s amazing to see how many are touched by the message she’s sending. I’ve learned how to play the song myself, but the video is SO powerful on its own, I’m posting it here. This came at the end of the week when I was just 72 hours into my renewed lifestyle. I can’t seem to keep from being teary eyed at the last line. This is just one example of how the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I need help. He gets to me through music.

Thank you, Colbie, for putting into words what so many folk experience. To my dear sister, M, you are amazing. Thanks for reminding me to “like” myself. I like me, too. 🙂