Starting Over

No beating around the bush, no long intro explaining myself, no poetic words of enlightenment; I am going to cut right to the point.

Over the past few months, I have been reinventing myself. One morning while driving into work, I realized that I was unhappy with my own mindset and view of the world. As I drove over a bridge overlooking the ocean, driving my new car, listening to my favorite song on the radio, I still wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t okay with that. So on that Thursday morning while everyone else was looking forward to Friday, I decided I was going to change.

So that is where I have been, and what I have been up to, and it has been beautiful.

I decided not to tell anyone about this breakthrough. Not my boyfriend, not my parents or my sisters, my friends or my coworkers. I decided this was going to be for me, until I felt as if I had made some progress. So here we are. I feel like now I’m ready to share where my mind has been and who I have become.

I am taking more time for me. I find time every day to exercise, whether that means going for a walk for twenty minutes or going to the gym for an hour. Sometimes it just means squatting and doing planks in my living room. Whatever fits and whatever feels right.

I have been more aware of the foods I am putting into my body, and this has made me feel amazing. I love greasy foods and fast foods as much as anyone, and some days when I’m running low on time before work, I still swing through the drive through and stuff my face with chicken nuggets and french fries. And I love those days. But most days I am eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water and enjoying flavors instead of just choking them down.

I have been more aware as well of my impact on the environment. I no longer use plastic bags or plastic straws, as much as I possibly can. I was always that person who asked, ‘how is one person going to make any impact?’ because my actions seemed so small compared to the actions of the whole world. But that’s just it. They are my actions, and at the end of the day, the only actions I can control. So I might as well start there.

I look in the mirror differently now. I don’t always love who I see there, but I now try to find at least one thing I do love about her. Whether that be her eyes or her nose, some days it’s just the way her finger nails are the perfect length. Some days the only thing I can find is the birth mark on her stomach to fall in love with, and that’s okay. At least it is something.

I am learning to accept the things I have done wrong, and forgive other people for the apologies I never got. I am moving forward and trying to be done with the past. This one is the hardest, but I am making progress. I am trying to reach out to people I feel like I have harmed in some way, and make amends to the best of my ability. Once the words are out, all I can do is move forward, because there is no going back and changing what has already been done. I am finding this one of the most important and helpful things I have ever done for my body and mind.

Overall, I have just been growing. I have been living in my own being instead of in the being I thought I was supposed to be. I am continuing to find new things every day to try and to experience, and I am loving every minute of this journey.

I will leave you with that. I hope you find time today to adopt one of these ideas into your own life. I hope you find a way to enjoy this moment.

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Perspective Makes Me A Stranger

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Two questions for you today – have you ever looked at someone and wished you could be like them? And – who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Stay with me here.

We have all been the person a stranger wanted to be.

Read that again. And again. Now let it sink in. Believe me.

I am willing to bet you have looked in the mirror and saw a person you never thought you’d see staring back at you. Maybe you thought you’d be stronger, skinnier, healthier, smarter – maybe all of these things. I am willing to bet you have looked at that reflection and hated every single thing you saw. To say this is normal is sad, but it’s a reality. We can never be perfect. You will always see more flaws in yourself than anyone else will ever see in you.

Now, the tougher one. We all know the girl in the coffee shop who’s wearing the black pants void of cat hairs and perfectly pressed. Her top is tucked into her pants, it isn’t causing any lumps or bumps on her hips. Her bottoms aren’t rising up causing the dreaded camel toe. Her top is showing just the right amount of cleavage. She’s staring at the menu above the barista’s head, probably reading, considering what she’ll order today, and in the moment, you would give anything to be her. You glance down at yourself and see your jeans that should have been washed two wears ago and you’re shirt wrinkled from being in the hamper half an hour before – the sniff test deemed it okay to wear one more time. You look at yourself and you are disgusted. Why can’t you be more like the girl in the black pants with the perfectly clean hair, gorgeous face contemplating the menu like it’s a work of art?

What you didn’t see though, as you looked down at the body you have labeled as ‘gross’ and ‘unworthy’, was the Goddess before you running her eyes over your body, wishing with every ounce of her soul that she could be more like you. She woke up two hours early to wash her favorite pair of pants. She tried on five different shirts before deciding on this one, all of the others showing too many rolls. She stood in front of the mirror for an hour applying and reapplying her makeup until it was perfect. She cried for ten minutes over her eyeliner wing not being just right. And now she’s standing here staring at the menu with an anxiety bubble forming in her chest, hoping she doesn’t start crying while telling the barista she would like a small latte. She looks over at you as you glance down at your own body, and she wishes she didn’t care what people thought. She wishes she could look as effortless as you, as beautiful as you do.

But you both look up and go on with your day without ever knowing that you were that stranger. Without knowing that you are perfect just the way you are.

Let’s revisit my second question, but let’s revise it a bit this time. Who are you going to see tomorrow when you look in the mirror? You see, who we are is all about perspective. You can choose to see the bags under your eyes and see the hours of sleep you didn’t get showing on your face, or you can see the nights you stayed up laying with your boyfriend or cuddling your baby. You can see the way your clothes fit too tight and beat yourself up about the weight you’ve gained, or you can think about how much better your a** looks, about how full your tummy feels, about how good the food tasted.

It’s not easy. Change never is. But next time you look in the mirror, try seeing yourself as a stranger. If you saw you on the streets, what would you think. Because I promise, some girl has wished she was you while you would have given anything to be her.

 

 

This post was inspired by a real interaction I had with a former co-worker. The story was too long to share in this post, and storytelling isn’t my normal content, so I decided not to include it. But if you’d like to hear the story, please let me know in the comments! 

I Am So Sorry

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I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry this cruel world lied to you. I am sorry you have been kept in the dark, force fed fairy tales and romance since the day you started dreaming. I am sorry you were convinced your dreams were too big – they handed you heartbreak and fear and told you that was life – live with it. I am sorry you believed them.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to reach you sooner. You fought their words for so long, pushing back with a sharpened tongue and soft heart – I can see your battle scars. But eventually they wore you down. The lies snaked into your ears and began to take root in your mind and grow – you began to shrink to fit the world’s picture of yourself. You wanted castles and an empire built on blood and sweat and they told you a girl like you would never make it on your own. Each time you took a step forward, they pushed you two steps back, until you decided you had had enough.

So here we are. You’re giving up. Who could blame you really? You were told you could do anything, you could be anything, but when your anything became too big, you were shut down. You were stomped on and spit at – you were told to sit down, shut up, go back to the kitchen. You were told little girls don’t achieve big things. I wouldn’t blame you if you threw in the towel right here and now. I would hold your hand as you walked about, and yes, you would have a beautiful life. I am sure of that. And you would be happy for a while. Until that little girl inched her way back to you, crawling on hands and knees and looked up into your eyes and asked – ‘why did you give up on me’?

Hear me out.

I am so, so sorry.

I am sorry you think giving up is your only option. I am sorry quitter has become synonymous with successful. 

I am sorry I did not find you sooner – I am sorry you now believe it’s too late – it’s not. The cliche truth is, it’s never too late. Not now, not tomorrow, not until your heart stops beating is it too late to start over and start reaching again. It’s really not that complicated. So they told you that you weren’t enough – now’s your chance to show them that you are. They told you little girls with big dreams don’t make it that far – now is your chance to show that them little girls grow up to be woman with fire in their stomachs and ideas larger than sky scrapers and not even the strongest army can hold back a woman with motive.

I am so, so sorry for everyone who ever doubted you – because now is your time to prove every single one of them wrong. I can only imagine how they are going to feel when you reach for your dream one last time and end up going farther than the top – I can only imagine how sad they will be, how angry, that they didn’t back you. They will all say ‘I always knew she could do it.’

Smile. Shake their hands. Turn around. Look back and say –

I am so, so sorry. But the only one who knew I could do it was myself, and even that was iffy.

Dear Uncle, Aunt, Grandparent, Brother-in- law, Second mother, ect. – Thank You

As humans all living our own lives with our own jobs, bills, dreams, and desires, it is easy to slip into a routine that is comfortable. This routine probably includes a hand full of people you maybe contact a couple times a week – for me, I call my mom almost every night after work. I message my sisters one or two times a week. I answer my father’s good morning and goodnight texts each day. A few times a month I’ll message a friend or an aunt or an uncle – that is the extent of my social comfort zone.

We’re human, we’re adults, we have lives that require commitment and focus – but what if we took a few minutes out of every day to reach out to someone we haven’t talked to in a while? What if we focused a bit more on the people who have helped us get here, the people we care about, the people we maybe take a little for granted?

I know I have a handful of Uncle’s that would do anything for me. They stand behind me as men as big as my father with fists balled ready to throw a punch at my first sign of distress. I know they would be the second ones – after my father – to have my back if ever I needed them. With them I know I can count on my brother in law and even a few family friends. None of these people need me to remind them how much I appreciate them, how much I love them – they would still be there if I called them after five years of silence and told them I was in trouble. I know this because I would do the same for them.

My best friend’s family was like a second family to me growing up. Since High School, we haven’t talked much. I could count the conversations we’ve had on ten fingers in the past three years, but the same stands for them. If I found the time to thank them, if I told my best friend’s mom how much I appreciated the meals she made me and the hugs she gave me, would it make a difference? Probably not in the big picture. But would it make her smile? Probably.

I have been blessed with a few Aunts that are some of the strongest women I know. They know who they are. They have faced things I can’t even imagine and are still some of the kindest people you will ever meet. I know I am always welcome in their homes, I know they would accept me in as their own if I showed up on their door step at midnight with nothing but a broken heart and tears in my eyes.

My grandparents are some of the kindest people I know who would use their last dollars to buy me a hot meal. Who would open their doors to as many people as would fit in their house and when their house was full would open the car doors and crawl spaces until every inch of property they own is over flowing.

I am an adult, I am a human – we are all human, and we are all struggling. I have gotten where I am today with strength and dignity, and while I learned both of these things along the way, I also found them in the people that care about me. Without all of these people at my back, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today. I owe them much more than money can buy for all of the tears they have wiped and advice they have given. For jokes they have told and hugs they have held me in. For the warm meals and hot showers.

Life goes by so quickly. Tomorrow could be so different than today – people who have had your back could be gone, so thank them today. Life get’s hectic, we forget and that’s okay – they know we love them. But maybe reminding them will make them smile if only just for a second, and for me, that second makes carving a few minutes out of my day completely and totally worth it.

If you are human, please read

If you are a human and you are struggling with day to day life, keep reading.

If you are still reading and you are scared of the future, picture this: It is ten years from now. You are sitting on your sofa, a book in your lap, the person you love sitting beside you with their feet in your lap. They are smiling down at their phone about something they just saw, and you don’t feel the need to know what it was, because if it gives them that smile, it makes you happy too. It’s cold outside but it’s warm in your living room, and your space smells like chocolate chip cookies. You are whole and you are happy.

If that made your heart relax and you are still reading but you don’t know how to slow down enough to enjoy moments like this, picture this: It is next week. You have been working for two weeks straight already with no day off and your feet feel as if they are going to fall off. Your brain is running on empty, you keep forgetting the smallest of things, you are sure just a few hours of rest would restore you but you refuse to take them because you have goals. It’s early morning and you get a call. That promotion is yours. You are going to have to work another week before you get Saturday off, but it was all worth it. You finally feel enough.

If you’re still reading, and you’re not sure what you want in life, that’s okay. Picture yourself right now, in this moment. Are you happy? Good. Are you sad? That’s okay. Now picture yourself tomorrow. Are you happy? Good. Are you sad? Bake some cookies and remember that life won’t always be this way.

If you are human and you are struggling with day to day life and you are reading this, join the club. You are not alone. And that is a very good thing.

Loving The Girl in The Mirror

 

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Three years ago, looking in the mirror was the hardest part of my day. I would brush my teeth and get dressed with the lights off, only flicking them on to check that I didn’t get any tooth paste on my face, before flicking them off with a churning in my stomach. The mirror showed me a person I didn’t like to see. She wasn’t unattractive really, she just wasn’t the person I wanted to be. Feeling this way continued for over a year, and I’m honestly not sure why I let it go on for this long, but I know I’m not alone.

The girls you see on social media or in the hallways at school or walking down the street after work are not nearly as confident as they seem. The skinny girl who seems to have it all together goes home and cries, wishing stores actually sold her size, just as the girl with the curves you envy does the same. The girl with the bright blue hair that shines a smile so bright you think you’ll go blind is hiding a depression darker than even the blackest night, just as the girl wearing all black wishes she wasn’t breathing as she takes another swig from the bottle.

The mirror isn’t nice to any of us. There is no secret, no switch that will allow you to love yourself. There isn’t a single person who looks into the mirror and loves every single thing they see. I promise you that. If I can promise you anything, it is that you are not alone. It took me over a year to realize that I didn’t have to force myself to love the girl I saw every morning. I didn’t have to love her – but she had never stopped loving me. No matter how many times I turned the lights off on her, pinched her rolls between my fingers, pulled at her frizzy hair, bit her nails – she still loved me despite it all.

Today, looking in the mirror still isn’t fun some days. I dread turning on the light and seeing that one tooth that sits back too far. I know I am going to grimace at the little hairs that grow above my lips where they shouldn’t. My stomach turns at how my hair never lays flat, always sticks off in random directions. But I still do it. I still turn the lights on. I still give her a long look and a smile, and I tell her I love her.

Stop Worrying

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Dear me (whenever you may find this),

You are going to want to give up. If there is one thing I know for certain right now, as I sit here in my chicken pj’s in a tiny one bedroom apartment, waiting for our boyfriend to come home with some Halloween candy is this – you are going to feel like running. Not from anything, not to anything, just leaving – because that’s easier than staying and fighting. Because running is the easiest thing in the world to do. Giving up takes no effort, you don’t have to face anything – giving up is the quitters way out, and there are going to be so many times that you desperately want to take this route.

Don’t.

You are going to want a do over. There are going to be times when you’re sitting on your bathroom floor, a towel draped over your body, your hair drenched and soaking your skin, and you are going to want a way to travel back in time. You will be sobbing, slamming your fists into the tub until your knuckles bleed, begging whatever higher power there might be to just rip you away from here, because this pain hurts too much.

They won’t.

You are going to make it. There are going to be moments, after the crying, after the spacing in front of a computer screen, after the missing and the waiting, after the pain – moments that will make every wrong turn, every seemingly horrible mistake – so incredibly worth it. Moments, when even the things you thought you regretted the most, you would do all over again if it meant you got this moment – this moment right here – to do over again.

Cherish this.

Cherish this life. It doesn’t matter where you are right now. It doesn’t matter what part of you is hurting. It doesn’t matter how badly you think you screwed up, how badly you want a chance to change something – cherish this life, each breath, each moment, each and every second means something.

Cherish it.

Love,

Me (twenty one years old about to eat a shit ton of candy with my boyfriend in our one bedroom apartment four hours away from home in a chicken costume – struggling – but happy)

To Every Man I Have Told NO

I have lost count of the numbers of guys who’ve asked if I were single

and when I tell them of my relationship

they search for a loophole

the back alley they are sure will let them tunnel their way in –

some argument leaving me weak

drowning me in compliments they hope I have been lacking

unable to take the facts as reality

sure they can shift my relationship status with

a smile and a few comments that

turn my stomach and bring my lunch into my throat because

I am not a prize to be won after a long battle

When I say no

I mean no –

I should not have to threaten to ‘bring my boyfriend over here’ –

I have lost count of the number of times

I have felt like a piece of meat in the eyes of

every man who has tried to wiggle their way inside me

never taking no for an answer.

 

-CM

Conversations with Me

‘Sometimes he just gets on my nerves’ she said through quiet sobs

‘sometimes he does something so tiny but it makes me question everything –

you know?’

And in that moment I did know and I wanted to hold her because I knew

exactly what it was like to love somebody with your whole being but still

question if you are doing the right thing so instead I sat back and asked her the only

question I knew how to ask –

‘do you love him?’

with a shudder and a gasp in between her sobs she nodded her head and her voice

rose like a light from the darkness

‘with everything that I have’.

‘so you fight for him’ I told her and if everything else was a lie in this thing called life

I knew that to be a fact.

‘If you truly love something you are going to question it’, I further reasoned

‘our minds have a way of convincing us that we don’t deserve what we have

so we try to find a way to believe that it isn’t meant to be.

But you love him, so you fight for him.’

She didn’t seem convinced but her voice was a bit more steady when she spoke next.

‘I can’t lose him.’

‘Then you won’t,’ I answered her

and now I knew three things to be certain.

If you love someone you fight for them until you’ve given it all you can

and then you let go and if you let go and they stay

you have found someone worth fighting for

and I have found someone worth fighting for.

I turned from the mirror and my sobbing figure straightened.

‘Are we going to be okay?’ she asked

‘We will be.’

 

-CM

Ramblings to Myself

What? Did you think it was going to be easy? Did you think you’d just wave your hand and get everything that you ever wanted? I’m sorry that this isn’t some fairy tale in which everyone gets their happy ending. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get a happy ending. It just means that you might have to fight for it. Here, happy endings aren’t just handed out to the first willing recipient. So if you’ve come to me looking for someone to tell you it’s going to be okay, I’m not your girl. If you’re looking for someone to say it’s not your fault, that you did all that you could, that’s not me either. I only have one thing to tell you, and that is that I still believe in you. I still believe in you, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in yourself. You can still do it. You can still get everything you ever wanted, you can still have your happy ending, but you have to let go of something first. You have to let go of the past, of this fear that you aren’t enough. You are enough. You can do this. You can have it all. But only if you let go.

-CM