Book Excerpt, General, Life Talk

Remember the Good-Book Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from Love Letters to a Warr;or: A Journey of Self-Love. Publishing date TBA.

Dear You

Remember the friends who were there when it seemed like no one else would be, the ones who picked you up and made sure that you didn’t fall, even though falling was the only thing that you felt like doing.

Remember the joy of late nights spent laughing, being silly and making no sense to those on the outside, throwing absurdities around like confetti, making memories that glow warm even in the cold and dark.

Remember the nighttime trips to nowhere, filled with stories and junk food, just driving to drive and enjoying the view as young hopefuls who have the whole world ahead of you, starting with that night.

Remember the times spent rooming together at summer camp, staying up late, pulling pranks, making jokes and growing closer than ever before, cementing a bond that will become lifelong.  Even if the camp was hard, at least you had each other.

Remember the love of choosing a sister, a fellow warrior who will ride into battle with you, who will stick by your side through everything and will always be there to love and support you as fiercely as family.

Remember how to have and be a cheerleader, cheering each other on through all the crazies of life, no matter what you conquer, big or small, celebrating each other’s accomplishments or attempts, no matter what size.

Remember when a simple cup of coffee could be a religious experience, sitting together and laughing, talking about the complexities of life and all the things that you love making forever memories over something so humble.

Remember the phone calls or visits that happen when the rest of the world was long asleep, the ones who were there to welcome you with open arms when you felt like you would succumb to the darkness, ready to give in to the demons.

Remember the strength you get from being a friend, the intimacy and the closeness that it creates.  There are very few people you will have in this life who love you like friends, and the love, the relationship, is special.

Remember to thank those friends every now and again, for all the things they do for you.  You will never again find people like them in your life, and those are the relationships you’ll cherish in even the darkest times.
Remember the gift of friendship in the times of great stress and struggle, and all the people for whom you hold on to this world, even when you are in the deepest darkest hole.

Remember all the journals that you could fill with the love and strength and empowerment and laughter that you have collected from your friends over the years, and all the smiles that you get from the memories.

Remember to, every once in a while, reach out your hand and be a friend to someone else, someone new.  You never know, you might end up with a whole new set of laughs.

Love,

Me

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Faith, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Don’t Believe in the One That Got Away

Two of my exes recently got engaged. I mean, it’s to be expected, I’m at that age where friends and Facebook acquaintances are getting engaged and having babies and buying houses and all that stuff, so my Facebook news feed is a constant minefield of people who look like they have their lives more together than me, making me feel inadequate about where I am in life. It tends to happen that way after college, or so I’m told.

Both of these exes are great guys, nice men and I hope that they have every happiness in the world with their fianceés, since they deserve it. I never regretted being in a relationship with either of them, and I am glad to know that they have found true happiness.

One of these men, until recently, was the one that got away.

He was my first love, my first serious relationship, and the first man that I considered losing my virginity to (don’t worry Mom, I held onto it for a little bit longer after him). He was a lot of firsts for me, my best friend for many years, even after we broke up, and someone who I always felt truly understood me.

Never again did I think that I was going to meet a man like him, and, honestly, I never really have. But throughout the last few years, that we were just friends, the bloom fell off the rose, and I began to see things more clearly, specifically, why he wasn’t meant for me:

  1. We have different political opinions
  2. I have to sometimes explain what words mean
  3. We have different ideas of what’s a fun way to pass the time
  4. He smokes or vapes or dips or does something with smoke or tobacco and that’s a deal breaker for me
  5. He doesn’t always think before he speaks, which results in some really hurtful things coming out of his mouth
  6. He didn’t stand up for me as much as he should have
  7. We couldn’t have the important conversations
  8. We rushed our feelings and slowed our building a relationship

All the bad things, the disenchantments and the falling outs, eventually grew to outweigh the good, and now, I am happy for him and his fiancée, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness together. I hope that their relationship grows and changes the way that they wish it will, and they stay in love for the rest of their lives. I’m moving on.

I no longer believe in the one that got away.

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Yes, I believe in romantic comedies, and one of my favorite rom-coms will always be Sweet Home Alabama and Reese Witherspoon’s beautiful line “The truth is I gave my heart away a long time ago, my whole heart, and I never really got it back,” and I always thought how romantic that concept was. I wanted to be the girl that gave her heart away to “the one” and then he got away but then they reunited and she finally got to feel whole again. But the truth is, I don’t need that anymore.

Sure, it would be nice to find the one that I can settle down with and keep around and maybe not hate to wake up to in the morning, someone who fills my heart with little butterflies whenever I see him or makes me smile and laugh, but the truth is, he’s in the future not the past. All the ones that have come and gone have gone for a reason, and that reason isn’t because I needed to make myself a better me to be worthy of them. I am perfect just the way that I am, and I am deserving of someone who can see me for who I am, rather than who they want me to be.

I have my whole heart now, and it’s mine all mine. My whole heart is filled by me, my thoughts, my feelings, my passions, and it’s open to experiencing life with someone else, but it’s not empty. There is only one magic person that can decide to make it full, and that’s me. I can find things to fill my heart, make it swell with pride and passion, but I can’t look to someone else to do it for me. Giving my heart away to someone else only tells my that I don’t care about it enough to treat it nicely, but I’m just going to willy nilly let someone else take over the job. Caring about and respecting my heart means caring for it myself, loving it myself, and making sure that it gets the fulfillment it needs. That’s how I get a full/whole heart.

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These words are true. They will always be true and they are never untrue. God has a plan for who He wants in your life, in my life, the people that He wants around to shape who you become. His reasons might not always be apparent at first, but He is making room for someone better to come along. You won’t know who it is until they get there, but if you trust His timing and His planning you will be just fine.

That’s why I no longer believe in the one that got away. God wants to make room in my life for the person that He has picked out for me, and that person isn’t one of the boys who have walked out before. That person is someone new, someone whose story I don’t know yet, who can add to the remaining chapters of mine and make them worthwhile. God is telling me that I need to be patient, and that He’s working it out for me. It’s not always going to happen right when I want it to happen, because, as Lauren Graham says, “then it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.”

“But life doesn_t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn_t be called life, it would be called vending machine.” -L

God’s got it all under control. If someone walks out, let them go. You have much greater things waiting for you on the other side, and you have more room in your heart for them now.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Affirmations, Faith, General, Life Talk, Real Talk

You’re Right Where You’re Meant to Be

My most recent therapy session was the first one in a while where I felt that I had only positive things to say and it was going really well. I was in a good place, and feeling pretty solid about where I’m at in life; I was at one of those ups in depression where you feel really awesome about the world and where your life is, and all parts of my life were falling into place. Finally, the subject of my love life came up, since there’s a new guy in the picture and I wanted to get her opinion of him before I stressed too much about whether he was going to be worth my time or not (by the way, he is).

Anyway, I was sitting and talking to her about how I was finally casting off the social media goggles that I am always wearing, the ones where I look at the people that I graduated from high school or college with who are in different, seemingly more advanced, places in their lives and think that I’m somehow behind because I’m not engaged yet or in a long term relationship or running a company at almost 24 years old. I was talking about all the people in my life who constantly remind me that I’m “only 23 years old,” and shouldn’t be in such a rush, and that I was finally coming to terms with that and accepting it as a truth in my life. And that’s when she said something that I’d heard before, but at this time in my life really struck me: “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

Those words have stuck with me this time, all the way to today when I am (finally) writing this post. They are so simple, yet so powerful, and cannot be any more true than they are right now. Here are some of my reasons that it’s true:

  1. I’m working only one job and finding my niche in the industry
  2. I’ve been writing more and developing my craft, while also looking to build a portfolio and look for freelancing positions
  3. Despite my young age, I have been able to hold down a job for almost 2 years, the first years out of college
  4. At just 23 years old, I am (almost, with a couple married roommates) living out on my own
  5. God has my plan in place, and He’s constantly sending me signs that I am on the path that He wants me to be on in this life

Despite all the feelings that I don’t belong, that I don’t know what I’m doing in this world, because of my age, my degree, and sometimes I even feel like my depression throws up walls that I can’t climb, I am exactly where I’m meant to be. The only timeline that I need to be following is my own, the only standards I need to live up to are the ones that I set for myself and the only expectations that I need to satisfy are mine, designed by me alone. No one else can dictate what I should live up to, and no one else should. The only person who can make my life rules is me, and I am in charge of how I feel. If I don’t like it, I can change it.

Every person, place and thing that I have encountered on this journey has led me to this moment, to typing these words, to my finger hitting each key as I sit in front of my MacBook Pro on a Monday night. I am exactly where I am meant to be, writing these words for you all to read. The people that I have come across that have hurt me, broken me, pushed me down, those are the people that I have the most to thank. They are the ones that showed me where I was going wasn’t where I was meant to be, and sent me off in another direction. God puts those reminders in your life and in your heart, as His way of talking to you and telling you that He has a plan for you that’s bigger than what you’re going through, and right where you are, is where He wants you to be.

Remember this: If it feels right in your heart, it’s what you’re meant to be doing. If it makes you feel strong and powerful, right and belonging, then you’re right where you’re supposed to be. If you can wake up in the morning and breathe deeply because you are ready for the day ahead, then you’re doing okay in the world. Society might have set some timelines for how people are supposed to act and when things are supposed to be done, but it really doesn’t matter. Your heart is the timeline, your soul is the clock and your path is your path. The people who are there along the way are all meant to be there, for some reason or another, and the challenges that you face will make you a stronger person. Every time you veer off the path you think you’re heading down, you’ll stumble into a place where you’re truly meant to be, and before you panic, take some time to enjoy the ride.

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The only person who can decide your life and your timeline is you. Even if you feel like you’re moving slower or faster than other people in your life, if it feels right and comfortable for you, then it’s exactly right, no matter what society says. To paraphrase William Ernest Henley “[you are] the master of [your] fate, [you are] the captain of [your] soul.” It’s all right for you, and it’s all right in the grand scheme of things.

Daily mantra: I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

General, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Learned a Life Lesson at the Beach

This past weekend, I spent some time on Tybee Island down here in GA, with some friends. It was a typical summer day down south, which means that it felt like 110º in the shade, and the sun was blazing from the time we got there at 8:30am to the time we left at 2:30pm. Now, the beach is not my favorite thing in the world, but I love spending time in the water, and I was hoping to read an entire book, so I went along for the ride.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a proud BBW, or fluffy, woman. Extra stomach rolling over my waistband, a couple of chins in most pictures, 1.5 chins on a good day, some arms jiggles and thighs that spread like water in a pie tin when I sit down. I have since come to terms with the fact that I will never be a size 2, and have even come to realize that it’s not an obstacle in my dating life, which I long feared that it would be. I am always upfront about my body type, and if men don’t like it, they don’t have to talk to me. It’s really that simple. Still, as much as I have accepted my appearance and who I am, and am still working on body positivity, I sometimes worry how I will be perceived in the world because of my weight.

Hence why this weekend was such a major win for me.

How to Have a Beach Body-

Going to the beach, I was wearing a sports bra, athletic shorts and a long t-shirt that I sometimes use as a sleeping shirt. When we got there, I was determined not to take my shirt off, even though I knew it was going to be hot and everything that I was wearing was designed to dry quickly. As far as I’ve come with comfort with my body, and can even take my clothes off and have sex with a man, I didn’t want to expose my naked stomach to a bunch of strangers and beachgoers. I had images of men, women and children, even the lifeguards pointing at my large stomach and yelling “ewww!” and “gross!” and all over varieties of things that would make me feel self-conscious and not welcome on the beach because of my weight and would send me running back to the tent we set up in shame and disgust.

I got hot, wanted to go in the water, and still wanted to have something to wear for the car ride home, so I decided to take my shirt off and go in the water. As I walked to the water, I just had all the words of hatred and disgust in my head, people screaming and yelling “ewww! why don’t you cover yourself up? there are children here!!” and other kinds of nasty things at me. There were moments when I wanted to turn around and run back to my shirt, just to silence the voices in my head. (And by the way, this was not a long walk to the water.) While I loathe saltwater, I wanted to hurry up and get covered so that everyone would stop staring at me (all in my head, remember). Every step I took, the farther away I was from the water or my shirt, was another opportunity for someone to notice me and be disgusted.

But no one said a word.

I walked to the water undisturbed, unharmed, and possibly unnoticed, just another beachgoer who wanted to beat the heat and hang out in the ocean. No lifeguards screamed at me for people at risk, no mothers attempted to shield their children’s eyes, and no men came up and spat in my face and told me they were never going to date me. Just a young woman, who wanted to hang out and swim, and enjoy her Saturday at the beach, and not bother anyone. I wasn’t told to leave the beach and get my disgustingness away from everyone, and I had a relaxing time in the ocean and on the beach with my friends. And, I’ll tell you a little secret, I actually enjoyed how my body and fluffiness felt in the ocean waves: all free and easy, flowing with the movement of the ocean, and just doing whatever it pleased, taking a day off for itself too, just like me.

This experience was an eye-opening one for me, in a different way than normal. Everyday, I walk around with this body type, in clothes and dresses that make me feel beautiful, and people usually notice the confidence that I have, if they notice me at all. However, walking on the beach, with nothing on but a sports bra and some shorts, I felt exposed and open in a whole new way. But still, no one said anything. I realized that people have their own lives, their own families, and their own things to focus on other than one person walking down the beach leading with her stomach. While looking at the internet, you see people shaming large people all the time, most people in their daily lives don’t really care all that much whether or not the person walking past them is overweight or not. The voices inside my head are the things that hold me back the most, not the people on the street who make comments about my weight because, honestly, most people don’t care. I spent so much time worrying about whether or not people were taking time out their lives to look at me, when I should have been concerned more with myself and how I was feeling. I was taking a huge risk by exposing my naked stomach to the world, and I should have been proud of myself for that, and only thinking of the positive things. And, after realizing that no one else really cared but me, I was proud of myself. I took myself out of my shell a little bit, and I was ready to show the world how confident I was.

Size doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. Weight is a personal choice, and a personal thing. People have a lot of other things to worry about than what I look like. I am proud of myself, and proud of who I am. God gave me a big personality and He gave me a big body to hold it all in. And I thank him for it every day.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

General, Life Talk, Self-Care Sunday

Self-Care Sunday: Being in the Moment

For my first self-care Sunday, I want to talk about the golf-cart ride my family and I took last night to see the sunset on the island.  We live on a beautiful island in southeast GA, full of palm trees and flowers, marshes and ponds.  Even though I may have moved out of my parents’ house, I still come back home every once in a while for dinner and the occasional golf cart ride around the island, or even a place to sleep every once in a while when I need to get away from the stresses in my life or babysit the dog (who doesn’t let anyone in the house but her immediate family).  While my relationship with my parents has improved exponentially since I moved out (though we still have our moments, believe me), I never realized how it can important for my self-care as well.

Riding around the golf cart tonight hunting for the best views of the sunset, I was struck by how beautiful God’s work really can be.  The amber light bathing the world was breathtaking, and all the wilderness in between the golf courses is always amazing; I just don’t always give it enough credit.  I don’t spend enough time enjoying the moment when I’m out in nature; I spend more time checking my phone for likes on my latest Instagram post or whether or not that guy I like texted me back rather than focus on what I’m seeing and how God is working in my life right then.  And it’s time to look up.

So today, I want to talk about being in the moment, enjoying the world around me and how spending time being present can be the best thing sometimes.  Despite all the pictures I took last night, I felt like, for the first time in a while, I was being present in the moment, and enjoying the way the sunset light bathed the world, and how being with my family made me feel legitimately happy and filled with love.  I spent time simply appreciating what I was seeing and what God had given me, and admiring the beauty around me.  Just 45 minutes in a Saturday, and I feel refilled and refreshed.

Check out a few sunset pictures:

After looking at such a beautiful thing, I started thinking of some new rules for me to live by, which I thought I’d share with you all.

A few new rules for me to live by:

  1. Look up from those screens.  Take the time to take in what’s around and realize that God is out there, every day, just begging for me to come back to His love and realize that He is sending me signals every minute of the day.
  2. Breathe.  Too often, I am moving around at a breakneck pace, always trying to find where I go next.  Never stopping to breathe, never stopping to realize that I’m moving too fast or that I might be putting too much pressure on myself.
  3. Remember that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Even if everything seems to be going wrong, life is stressing me out and all the odds seem to be stacked against me, I need to remember that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  There is no harm in stopping to enjoy a moment, breathing and feeling like, at that moment, God wants me to stop and enjoy what’s in front of me.
  4. Take a picture to remember the feelings.  Don’t be afraid to take one picture to remember the things that I’ve seen and to hold on to the feelings from those moments.  Take a look at those pictures when I’m feeling sad and lonely, and remember how full I felt full and complete.  I want to remember those feelings and know what caused them, so when I am pursuing the wrong path to happiness, I’ll remember.

There are a lot of things that I could focus on in my daily life.  But, it is also important to take time and enjoy the little moments, the ones that pop out every once in a while, the ones that beg for a full immersion in them to truly enjoy them.

Don’t pass up those moments, dears.  God is talking.

Stay fearless, friends (3)