Letting Go and Taking a Leap of Faith

I have issues.

See this?

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This is the backpack we carried around Disney World two weeks ago.

I haven’t unpacked it yet.

I have a bad habit of doing this. My nanny bag that I used to carry to work that I last used the day before I was admitted into the hospital to have Quinn over a year ago still has stuff from then in it. Handbags hold receipts and lipstick, business cards and sticks of gum. My bags serve as little museums of my life. I love finding little trinkets of the past to remind me of fun things we did. Or maybe I think if I unpack the bag the trip is really over? That’s probably more like it.

We had an amazing time in Florida.

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We stayed with our awesome friends. I was so happy to have Quinn meet my people she had never met before.

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We came back from our first vacation as a family floating on a cloud. We left late at night to drive home and hit horrible storms. We slept in a rest area parking lot for a few hours. The rain was so bad but it was very cozy curled up with my little family. It took us 11 hours total to go 450 miles with all of the stopping to sleep/wait out the storms.

We got home and Matt left for work like normal. He came back through the door an hour later with bad news.

His job is changing. This change includes a massive pay cut. If you weren’t already reading along, we aren’t rolling in the dough. We took this vacation with part of our tax return. Coming home to this news of course made me second guess the decision to splurge on a vacation, but we couldn’t have known this would happen. Anyway. After the amazing trip we had we weren’t prepared for that news. We did a lot of agonizing talking about what to do next. Quinn learned a new 2 syllable word (Asshole, probably because we’ve called Matt’s boss that for 2 weeks straight).

I hate change. I like feeling settled and I like knowing what’s next. I realize how ridiculous that sounds because who ever really knows. We had just signed another lease. We had just bought new furniture and got Quinn’s Toy Corner all organized and set up.

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It’s our home, the home that we started our life together in. The one we brought our baby home to. The one we have celebrated holidays in. Everything has happened here.

But after much discussion we have decided that metro Atlanta probably isn’t the best place to raise a child. I love it here, but we’ve outgrown it. And we’re tired. It’s expensive and we’re tired of just making it when somewhere else could be easier on us financially. It’s obscene how much we pay for rent here. Really, all of Atlanta is very, very expensive.
This change in Matt’s job allows us the opportunity to move on. This gives me horrible anxiety, but it has to happen. So June, the month I turn 33, we are loading up and moving states. Not exactly sure where yet because nothing is set in stone except the fact that our lease is up here at that time, but it’s happening.

I have had several nights of waking up in a full panic about our uncertain future. When I panic about it, I just remember that I’m married to a strong, wonderful man who left his entire life behind an ocean away to spend his days with me. If he can take a leap of faith like that for me, surely I can leave behind my favorite apartment and see what adventures the future holds for us.

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I’m overwhelmed with emotion when I think about leaving here, especially so soon and so not on “my” time. But nothing amazing has ever happened on “my” time. It’s all happened when I least expected it. Here’s to leaps of faith with the ones who matter the most!

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Trucker – Nanny – Mommy ~ My Messy Beautiful

Once upon a time I was a trucker.

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Yes, really. Not what you expected?

Yeah, me either.

I was the most fabulous trucker in all the land. I sparkled down the freeway, y’all!

I kind of just fell into driving a truck the same way I fell into the relationship with the man that convinced me to drive in the first place. I was motivated by money.

Security. Things. Stuff. Travel.

Money. Green Happiness.

Over the following 9 years we made a lot of it. I bought what I wanted when I wanted it. We vacationed. We cruised. We ate $200 steak dinners on a random Thursday night just because. We moved to the most prestigious neighborhood in Atlanta positioned right between my favorite malls so I could spend more of that green happiness.

I appeared happy. Funny thing about appearances…

In April 2011 on an interstate in Mississippi, my whole life changed with the snap of a tree.

There was a storm. A fallen tree. An accident.

His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he shook all over. I thought he was dying. I felt helpless and numb.

He wasn’t dying, but the road was rough from there. Surgeries. Insurance companies. Everything we knew about our life, our job, our relationship- it was gone.

The pendulum swung and got stuck. It used to tick perfectly, but everything shifted to my shoulders. The weight was too much. I shut down.

Through the transition, I had to find work independent of “our” job. So what’s an out of work trucker to do?

Take a nanny job, of course.

I met B on a breezy spring afternoon. I first set eyes on her through the screen door of their McMansion. She was wearing a clown wig and staring at me curiously. My time with her was challenging (mainly because I had no clue what I was doing) but the most fun I’ve ever had at work.

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Super nanny, at your service.

When life really sucked at home I could forget it all by making bunny rabbits out of sandwiches, splashing in puddles, and singing Raffi songs with her.

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Her smile and laugh was infectious. One particularly hard day I broke down while reading her a book. It was the first time she ever saw me cry. She looked up at me confused, then quickly ran to her toy box and started digging. Out came a little bear. She kissed it and handed it to me, lovingly.

She got it. She got what most adults don’t get. We really do belong to each other, no matter how old or young. If someone is down, you lift them up. If they can’t walk, you carry them. The joyful spirit of this child carried me through the darkest days I’ve ever seen.

My marriage crumbled. Instead of begging my husband to stay when he told me he was leaving, I swallowed hard and showed him the door. I was terrified. I had nothing of any value left because he took it all.

But I was free.

Gone were the nights of walking on eggshells. Gone were the nights of drinking beer in the bathtub until I almost drowned just to make myself numb to my feelings. Gone were the deep breaths I’d have to take before opening the door when I came in from a long day of happy nanny life, the deep breaths I took because I had no idea what kind of mood I was walking into that day.

I was happy. For the first time in a very long time, I was truly happy.

But wait.

I was broke. I had car payments I couldn’t pay, rent I could barely make, bills piling up. The only shopping I did was at Goodwill.

But I was still happy. It took eating cheese grits for dinner and scraping together rent to make me realize that money didn’t make me happy. I made me happy.

And an internet friend from England had turned into something much more. We Facetime’d constantly. He made me laugh and I fell very quickly in love with everything about him.

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And he was coming to visit.

Matt’s visit to America was magical.

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So magical that he decided to stay permanently. We did all of the American things we could think of, including a trip to NYC for my 31st birthday. Thirty was a hard year, so when he whisked me to the top of the Empire State Building just before midnight I looked out at all of the sparkly lights and realized something very important about myself:

I made it.

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I spent most of 30 curled in a ball on the bathroom floor or drunk to numb the reality of the life I wasn’t enjoying.

But 31 was my year. 31 was the year I found out we were going to have a baby. 31 was the year I married the love of my life, the one who had my heart from 4,000 miles away. 31 was the year I realized that life goes on, no matter the hardships, no matter the struggles. You just jump right in and roll with it.

My trucking job taught me all about what not to place value in. Money never was the answer to any of the problems in my previous relationship. It was the downfall.

My nanny job taught me to slow down and splash in life’s mud puddles. It taught me patience and how to just BE with myself, instead of constantly looking for distraction. It taught me how to care for a little human. It taught me that a little human can change your view of the world. It is a wonderful place through the eyes of a child.

My mommy job..

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Well, it teaches me every day that I made the right decisions even when I wasn’t sure of myself at the time.

I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve experienced in my life. Everything taught me little lessons about myself, the most important being this-

You only have one life. You laugh, cry, fight, scream, love, and live as hard as you can. And you tell anyone who’ll listen all about it, so that they might get something out of your story.

10-4, warriors.

10-4.

I’m part of the Messy Beautiful Project on Momastery. To learn more, click here. And Carry On, Warrior is now available in paperback! Click here for more information.

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Checking Out

We have a busy week coming up. Matt’s 30th birthday, a trip to Alabama, and family vacation! I won’t be around much but will check in from our destination. I’ve been so busy this week and have walked my legs off. I’ve tracked most of the time, but some days I’ve slipped.
Checking out until after vacation. Can’t wait to relax with my little family!

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Dear Fitbit

Dear Fitbit,

I wanted you for Christmas. I thought you were the one thing that would help me move more. My husband surprised me early with you. I strapped you to my wrist and wore you faithfully.

I obsessed over you. I checked you constantly. I rejoiced when I hit 10,000 steps and you congratulated me with vibrations and flashy lights. I walked around my apartment at night when I was thisclose to 10,000 steps just to have you congratulate me when I should have been sleeping while my baby was sleeping.

I sought validation in you.

I lost sleep so you would pat me on the back.

I felt like crap about myself when I failed to reach my daily goal that you set for me.

I let a leaderboard make me feel inadequate about my workouts when I shouldn’t have. My walking will never compare to my friends running marathons, and that’s ok.

When you stopped working, I got upset. Upset. I furiously emailed with your tech support because I felt lost without you. I was relieved when you were working again. I needed you.

Then you were recalled.

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I was irate. How would I live without you telling me how active I was? When would your replacement be available? I didn’t have a rash from you, should I just keep you because I loved you so much?

I requested return packaging. It sat on my counter for over a week. This weekend, I dropped you in the envelope, strapped my baby in her stroller, and set out for the post office. I wasn’t even sure I was going to send you back when I left home, but I quickly realized that breaking up with you was the right thing to do.

I noticed the trees on our walk. I was more aware of my surroundings. I heard my daughter’s every giggle and we had quite the conversation on our way to the post office, all without pushing your button for validation.

I had all the validation I needed in the enjoyment of my surroundings. I didn’t need you anymore.

I got to the post office, insured the crap out of you so I don’t lose money on this deal, and that’s where our relationship ended. The postal worker threw you into a bin and off you went to the land of tainted Fitbits.

On our way home, I felt free. No longer was I focused on a number or how fast I could reach a certain number.

We stopped and goofed off.

>

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We had lunch on a breezy patio.

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This trend has continued for days. Long walks with my family without caring at all how many steps I got in.

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So breaking up with you was the smartest thing I could’ve done and the fact that you’re giving people rashes was a blessing in disguise because it made me realize that I didn’t need you. I took a shower and put on sandals and a sundress, no longer feeling the pressure to be dressed for a workout so I could get that number to go higher higher higher.

I just need to move more, choose healthy food, and enjoy my surroundings without obsessing.

I’ll be patiently awaiting my refund.

Xoxo,

Your former lover

PS- I’m down this week without you. It’s slight, but it’s movement in the right direction.

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Getting myself mentally right and not obsessing over things like steps taken in a day feels good. Really good.
;

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Me- Before and After

I’m really loving the Weight Watchers Success Handbook so far. I had fun with this exercise. Ignore my stellar artistic abilities. I haven’t had to draw people since my nanny days.

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I feel great about my vision for the future, but especially about my vision of now. I’m happy, and my for the first time in my life my happiness isn’t determined by a number on a scale or on the tag of my pants. In fact, I haven’t been this happy for this long in like..
ever.

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Used to, I’d say “I’ll finally be happy when I reach my goal weight”, when in reality everything else in my life was an absolute mess.

You can’t diet away a bad relationship. You can’t diet away being unhappy in your job.
You can’t diet away not feeling fulfilled in life.
You can’t diet away looking in the mirror and hating yourself.
You can’t diet away feeling like there is something missing.

It bothers me when I see other people who have found weight loss success post before and after pictures of themselves and speak of their former body with such hate and distaste. It bothers me because I did that. For years.

I want to comment and say “But that’s still you!”

Losing weight didn’t change me when I lost 50+ pounds before. It changed my physical appearance, but I had to change from within. It gave me the confidence to realize that I deserved more out of this life, but I was still and am still the same person I always was.

The most important lesson I have learned is that happiness comes from within and that you have to be happy with yourself and love yourself at 300 pounds if you’re ever going to love yourself at 150.

When I look at those two distinctly different pictures I drew, I still see me. And the most important thing is that

I’m smiling in both of them.

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Weigh in and the Success Handbook

I gained. Not surprising. I’ve been tracking, but overeating at night.

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Looking at my progress since restarting my meetings, I’ve been all over the place. Most weeks I feel like I’m just phoning it in around here. I don’t mean to, but finding balance between motherhood and me time is challenging.

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My Weight Watchers leader recommended that I try out the Success Handbook. I’m only one chapter in and I can totally see how it’s going to help me along the way.

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I plan on blogging my way through the book, even though it may be hard to do emotionally. But I need to stop pretending that there isn’t an emotional reason that I overeat. I am happy in every other aspect of my life EXCEPT with my weight. There is no reason for me not to succeed. No excuses.

On to other news-
I’m dogsitting this week

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That gets me out for more activity than normal because I speed walk little Bailey 4 times a day and take the stairs up and down to her floor. She’s on her period so I have to diaper her.

This kind of crap only happens to me.

There was an unfortunate incident earlier that required rubber gloves and an ass bath in the sink for her when I went up to walk her. I came back home and walked through the door completely grossed out. Matt looked at me funny and I just told him that I left my dignity and my lunch on the 5th floor. My little adventure in petsitting ends Friday, but I’m so nice I committed to do it again for 3 more days in a couple of weeks. As I was brushing her and redoing her ponytails today (because bitch is seriously high maintenance) I sympathized with her a bit. Putting that diaper on her must feel a lot like wearing those jumbo pads with the net underpants felt to me after having a baby. Awkward as all get out.

We are getting rid of a lot of our mismatched furniture and Ikea’ing our apartment out. I have mixed feelings. More on that soon.

Other than that, we’re itsy-bitsy-spidering around here, all day erryday.

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*clap along if you feel like a room without a roof*

Because I’m happy

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Shonda, Spills, and Putting Baby in the Corner

We drive a 1998 2 door car. Getting Quinn in the backseat took skill and arm strength when she was in her infant seat, but now that she’s graduated to her big girl seat it takes an act of congress and some acrobatic maneuvers. I told Matt the other day that one day we will laugh so hard at how we fit everything under the sun in that car- luggage, a baby, and a cranky chihuahua on road trips to Alabama. One day when Quinn is grown and shopping around for a huge gas guzzling SUV before her first baby is born, we’ll say “Well when you were a baby all we had was a 1998 honda that we had to lower you through the sunroof to put you in your seat and smack the dash to make the temperature gauge work. And we called it Shonda (for shitty honda) and me and your daddy replaced the radiator in it ourselves while you screamed in the stroller, only to realize later that it may not actually have been leaking. “

We’re pretty sure the cap was just loose. Oops. This will be our “walking uphill both ways in the snow” story, this car that we wedge ourselves into. It has so many dings in it that if someone dinged it, we wouldn’t know. But it’s ours, and it’s what we like to call in the Deep South Paid. Fo’.

And one day I will look back and remember the first time I stuck Quinn’s nose in the corner for playing in Dolce’s water bowl. I was cooking our lunch and she kept on going for it. She shot me this look

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Then high tailed it back towards the bowl causing a chain reaction of events because I’m clumsy that led to me spilling my lunch all over the floor.

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My lunch that I had just tracked on both Weight Watchers eTools and My Fitness Pal, all over the floor. I dropped a few hundred f-bombs while Quinn clapped. Matt woke up and I cried as I picked up every tiny piece I could and vacuumed up the rest. Later on I laughed thinking about her little face when she realized I was really mad, and she pulled out all of her cute things she does to make me smile. Matt fed her the bowl of lunch I didn’t drop and I retreated to the bathroom to calm myself down. I felt silly for crying. I must have looked crazy to my sweet family.

One day I’ll tell Quinn that story and remind her to laugh about the spills and messes.

That night we finished it up with a bang. As I was popping my birth control pill Quinn swung her chubby arm and gave me one last mess to clean up.

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Gotta laugh. She looked extra cute trying to pick them all up and put them back in the container.

One day I’ll look back and miss the nights she just doesn’t want to sleep in her crib. They’re happening more and more and I’m saying screw folding laundry in exchange for this sweetness.

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Then there’s the small moments of panic when she’s in the tub and she eats the tip of the blue bath crayon off and I frantically wash her teeth with a bath cloth because we have a birthday party to go to tomorrow and blue teeth would be hard to explain. Then I laugh out loud at the thought of smurf poop and she laughs with me not knowing what I’m even laughing at. This was her face when I asked her to show me what was in her mouth. Naturally, she had just swallowed.

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It has been an exhausting week. Our apartment looks like it has been ransacked. I need to fold clothes yet here I am, curled up in bed with our girl watching her sleep and writing this with my screen light as low as it will go not to disturb her.

So many special women in my life from my childhood were at Quinn’s birthday party. I loved seeing them with her and hearing their words of wisdom, most of them with grown children and grandchildren of their own. By far the best piece of advice I heard all day as we were celebrating Quinn’s first year was this:

“The days seem so slow, but the years go so fast”.

So true. Cherishing every day here. To hell with the laundry.

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The Before and Now

I love a good success story. Before and after pictures really motivate, especially when the person has found success the same way I’m trying to. At one time I was somewhat of a success.
I shared pictures of myself sitting down in tight clothes. I would’ve never done that before losing weight.

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I posed with my way-too-big jeans

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I showed what I believe to be the worst picture of me ever taken, one that shows how big I was at 300 pounds.

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I considered myself a success for being able to be photographed from any angle and not look like that anymore.

Since having Quinn, I have a newfound appreciation for my body. It’s stronger than I ever thought it was. The problem is, I haven’t been honoring my body. Though it was wonderful and delicious, I had more cupcakes than I can count this weekend. I’m still struggling with overeating, that’s no surprise to me. What is a surprise to me is how close I look to that before picture.

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And a side by side for comparison

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I know I look heavy in the pictures from Quinn’s party, and I’m ok with that. Years ago I would’ve cropped every picture or deleted every one that showed how big I was. Matt uploaded pictures to Facebook last night while I as sleeping. This morning I was scrolling through and smiling, despite the pictures that clearly show how much weight I’ve gained. All I saw was my gorgeous baby enjoying her day surrounded by friends and family that love her.

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When I see these pictures, I see a happy baby exploring the joys of cake.

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I see a rare picture where I’m the shortest one! That never happens! I’m 5’9 and come from a really tall family.

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I see Quinn’s face light up as she’s being pushed on her new swing at my parent’s house.

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I see Quinn and my daddy, who suddenly looks older than he should.

What I don’t see is that success story I want to be. I’ll even admit, that above unflattering picture got me out of bed quick this morning to delete it off Facebook. Then I had a come to Jesus meeting with myself.

If I’m deleting pictures of myself again, am I on the right track?

Also, how can a 30+ pound difference look the same in pictures? In the old picture I was in the late 290s. In the one from this weekend I’m in the 260s.

The problem is me. I’m not consistent. I track sometimes. I know I need to track ALL times to get results.

I’m also tracking on my fitness pal as well as Weight Watchers to compare the two.

I’ve nursed Quinn successfully for a year. One of my fears was over exercising or dieting and experiencing a drop in milk production. If that happens now, I’m ok with it. She eats enough “real” food to wean if my supply drops. Hopefully it won’t, but I have to get healthy.

So here I am. Who’s ready to do this with me again?

Day 1. Operation No More Deleting Pictures.

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Just Ducky

We’re back from Alabama and I’m sorting through gifts, washing diapers, clothes, and trying to figure out where to put all the birthday swag. But I’m taking a break (and a nap, we didn’t get in until 4am) to share some pictures of our girl. We had a beautiful party surrounded by family and friends.

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Matt has a ton of pictures (including family ones of us together) on his camera. I’ll share those soon. For now, I’m napping when my one year old naps. Eeeek! Happy Tuesday!

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To that girl with her hair jacked to Jesus…

Today, my friend posted this picture of us for Flashback Friday on Facebook.

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Talk about a throwback. I was 16. And starving.

That used to be my “goal picture”. When I started Weight Watchers at almost 300 pounds, that body is what I had in mind. I wanted it back.

I’m in a different place mentally than I was even a few years ago. When I look at this picture now, I see sadness. I see a girl that didn’t eat for weeks. I smoked cigarettes and drank diet dr pepper, no food. Just to fit into a dress. When the pageant was over I binged on Taco Bell. I still remember exactly what I ordered:

3 Mexican pizzas and 5 crunchy tacos supremes. I ate it all, pulled over behind a boarded up building, and threw it all up. I sprayed Victoria Secret body spray to cover the smell of vomit.

My knuckles still have scars that serve as a daily reminder of how far I’ve come. I am not perfect. I still have my moments. I get frustrated and think that it would be easier to revert back to my old ways of binging and purging. But I look at the bigger picture, the one with her in it.

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I never want her to have these struggles. I want her to love herself so much that she never even considers harming her body to fit a mold that society has placed on her. I want her to celebrate every inch of her body and have the optimal goal of health.

Last year, I was writing this. Here on her Birthday Eve, I have more hopes for her as well as myself.

I hope that she will celebrate her body daily. Mine has kept her alive for a year! I’m still in awe of our success breastfeeding. I never knew my body was as capable as I now know it is.

I hope that she knows how truly beautiful she is. And not just physical beauty, but her beautiful spirit and heart.

I hope that she understands how much we love her and how amazing she has made every day over the last year. I’ve never been so happy to have so little sleep. When I see that face light up it’s all worth it.

I hope that she sees the love I have for her gorgeous daddy.

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He is my best friend, lover, constant support and the best father ever. Being his wife and her mother is the best. Our little family doesn’t need anything but each other. I hope he knows how much I appreciate him. He is the backbone of this family and he works so hard for very little recognition so I can stay home with our girl.

I hope that the next year is as blessed as this one has been. We are truly blessed with everything we need and a happy, healthy baby.

That girl up there had no idea she would make it this far. She didn’t have a clue that all the hurt she caused herself would fade away and be replaced with self love and acceptance.

To that girl up there with her hair jacked to Jesus, I say YOU MADE IT.

You love yourself and you’re surrounded by people that love you for who you are.

If I never lose another pound, I will not shed a tear.

That’s not what defines me as a person. I’m much more than a number on a scale.

We’re kicking off her birthday tomorrow with a birthday breakfast (Baby’s first pancakes, maybe?) and a trip home to Alabama for a special party for her surrounded by our friends and family.

Who could ask for anything more?

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