I’ll Be There For You…

I confess that I’ve been writing this post for months. I’ve stopped and started several times. I was afraid of sounding like a pathetic loser and maybe I do sound like one. However, I know that there are other people who feel or have felt the same way I do

Out of all the areas in my life where I haven’t felt completely fulfilled, my social life is in the top 3. I have never had what I wanted when it came to my friendships. I’ve always skirted the edges of social circles but was never really in them.
I’ve wondered over the years if maybe I had unrealistic expectations of others because of my ability to make and keep close friendships is lacking. I know my social anxiety and shyness have played a part, but I think I’ve overcome that mostly. I have a good amount of acquaintances and casual friendships but those truly meaningful ones elude me. Even in the few close friendships I do have it feels I am the one whose more invested. I’m the one making plans and wanting to hang out. It seems if I stopped texting them they wouldn’t text me either.

All I want to do is spend time with the people I care about and share new experiences with them but I find myself spending a lot of time alone. When will I be a priority in any of these relationships? A side of me just wants to quit, quit trying and just accept my lone wolf status as a part of life. But another side of me won’t quit. It keeps searching for Meetups with people who share my interests. I want to find someone who enjoys indie pop rock as much as I do and wants to go to concerts. I want to find a book club who shares my reading interests. I want to find people who share my love of spending their nights in. I want to find people who value my companionship.

The older people in my life want to see me “living it up” while I’m still young. Still, it’s hard to live it up on your own and it’s even harder (at least for me) to find people to live it up with. It’s not that I am unable to enjoy being alone. I am a tried and true introvert, I love being alone. But when you’re alone too much it weighs on you.

I confess that I’ve been writing this post for months. I’ve stopped and started several times. I was afraid of sounding like a pathetic loser and maybe I do sound like one. However, I know that there are other people who feel or have felt the same way I do and that’s who I want to hear from. Anyone else feel they’ve missed the boat on social connection? And if so what did you about it?

An Unexpected Gap Year

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time.

In spring of this year I experienced one of the worst bouts of depression and anxiety in my life. I was struggling to balance a full-time school schedule, increasing responsibilities at work, responsibilities at church, and just life in general. As summer began I decided to end my work with the church and with no school I felt like I could finally breathe. I caught up on all my tv shows, read a lot of books, and rested when I wasn’t at work. But there were still things to be done, as much as I didn’t want there to be.

There were 3 exams I needed to take in order to be fully admitted into the Teacher education program at my university. I wanted to study for them, I did. I bought the practice tests and the study guides, I scheduled time in my week when I would sit down and study. But when those times came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thing was I dreaded returning to school. I was not ready to jump back into the hectic life of a working student. So I put off my exams as long as possible. My choice had consequences. I would have to wait all the way until next fall, a full year, before I could be fully admitted. At first I was upset, what a mistake I’d made! I was afraid that this dream I had of being a teacher would never come true.

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time. It feels like I’m an artist sitting in front of a blank canvas, I can do anything with this time. I can focus on things I haven’t had time to before. So what will those things be? Maybe I will focus on my writing, finish that short story, or join a writing group. Maybe I’ll buy that camera I’ve been wanting forever. Maybe I’ll resume learning to play the Ukulele. There’s literally a ton of creative endeavors on my to-do list and I finally have the time to do them. It’s exciting and overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do first.

All choices have consequences but not all consequences are bad. Sometimes they open doors you never had before.

Love: Myth or Legend?

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met.

Lately love, romantic love, has been on my mind a lot. Specifically how it has changed from being something that was a certainty in my mind to more of an abstract idea. If you’re familiar with my blog then you know that “singledom” has been a mainstay in my life, so I don’t have much experience with love. Despite that, I am a die hard romantic. I’m the type of girl that will leave love notes in your shoes, only give you handwritten birthday cards professing my undying devotion, and will regularly send you songs that explain how I feel about you. I have watched Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) a hundred times and rewinded the part where Darcy confesses his love to Lizzy probably 1000. I LOVE love.

I owe my obsession with romance to Disney, Twilight, and all those sappy YA romances that sell an unrealistic idea of love and relationships. They’re all pretty much the same story. Boy meets Girl but there’s an issue. Boy is from the wrong side of the tracks, or Boy loves the taste of human blood. Girl has some deep dark secret that could ruin them, or Girl has someone else fighting for her attention. But 90 minutes later or a few books later their love conquers all of that.

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met. It won’t make him deal with his issues, or undo the unhealthy relationships I’ve witnessed in the past. Real people have problems, real relationships are difficult, and risky. “They lived happily ever after” is a big fat myth. What they should say at the end of the story is, “They worked at their relationship and hoped it would last forever.”

So how do I undo the ideal I dreamed up while drifting through the halls of high school? How do I stop finding real life men so damned disappointing compared to the ones in my books? How do I stop longing for someone who doesn’t exist?

 

Picture by Jacob Culp

Maybe You Should Go and Love Yourself

I’m finally starting to feel at home in my own body. Gone is this mythical future me who has my ideal body. She has been replaced with me the way I look right now.  

Every woman has an ideal body type. Mine from childhood was always a hourglass with a flat stomach and toned limbs. I didn’t care for my apple shape, it came with broad shoulders, an annoyingly large chest, a flabby tummy, and flat behind. I would look in the mirror, sigh with disappointment and envision my adult self with a perfect curvaceous figure. I’d say to myself “Right now I may be struggling with my style and I may be a little dumpy, but one day I’m going to get all that together.” Years past and I found myself firmly planted in adulthood  still not “together.”  I came to the realization that while I am going through the ups and downs of trying to live a healthier lifestyle I could be this size for the rest of my life. I need to be able to be okay with that and love myself anyway.

Mission Love my Body started by following a lot of plus size models on Instagram. These were women with a similar body type as me loving their bodies with all its rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks. They were fashionable, beautiful, their size was not a hindrance it just simply was. I then scoured the internet for tips on best dressing my body. Next I pushed through self deprecating thoughts and posted full body pictures of myself on social media. And I finally started to feel at home in my own body. Gone was this mythical future me who had my ideal body. She was replaced with me the way I look right now.

Some people may call me plus size, others thick, others curvy, some may call me overweight, or unhealthy, and some may call me fat. Some of these terms I like, others I don’t, but the fact of the matter is that how society sees my body is not as important as how I see my body. I’m the one whose living in it, looking at it every single day. There might always be a little jiggle in certain areas, I may never have that flat stomach and my cellulite is probably here to stay. But I walk out the door feeling just as beautiful, just as worthy as any other woman.

 

In the River of Life

The last time I posted to this blog was February 1, 2017, and though that was only 3 months ago I find myself a different woman today than I was then. In the past 3 months anxiety and depression have bit into me like never before, my faith was thrown onto its axis, I was questioning whether I wanted to continue in my friendships and I was beginning to hate everything I was once wanted.

What could happen in 3 months that could change my life so much?

Honestly, things had been changing in me for awhile, it’s just that in the last 3 months it all kind of came to a head. I’d always had highs and lows mood wise but my lows were getting scary low. The thoughts that went through my head were things I never thought I would even consider. I was struggling with feelings of being trapped by my Christianity. I felt disconnected from my friends, I didn’t trust them with what I was experiencing. I just didn’t want to do anything, I hated everything, I wondered if I really wanted everything I had been working towards.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it all fell apart but I think it was a combination of the stress of my studies, the stress of my job, and what I learned in my Intro to Religion class. I had to admit to myself that things were not alright, I was not alright.

I started seeing a therapist which altogether was a positive experience, it helped a lot. I wish I could tell you that it solved everything but it hasn’t and it wasn’t supposed to. I wish I could say that everything is alright now, but it’s not. I am better, but I am still working through some things.
I am learning that life isn’t a race to the top of a mountain where when you get to the top everything is perfect and you can finally be happy. No, it’s more like a great river. Rivers don’t stay the same as they flow down a mountain or through a canyon. There are big drops, sharp rocks, raging waters, but there are also parts of the river that are calm and serene. That’s how life is, sometimes it will be constant rough waters and you will think there is no end in sight but then there are parts where it’s smooth sailing. The river won’t ever end at this imagined place called “happiness” because happiness isn’t a destination it’s a fleeting emotion.

I used to, and I sometimes catch myself still, daydreaming about the one day when everything will finally come together and I will be happy. I’ll have the perfect job, partner, family and I will not have a worry on the planet. I’ll just sit at the top of my mountain and wait to die. But it doesn’t work like that. Life will still be life with all its twist and turns.
Now I strive to be better, better than I was yesterday. Make better choices, handle situations better. I remind myself that perfection is impossible, and to not be so damn hard on myself.
I don’t want to go back to who I was 3 months ago, that girl was a repressed ticking time bomb. But it is a strange feeling knowing that you’ve changed but to everyone else you look and for the most part act pretty much the same. I think it’s the changes that are not apparent to the outside world that are the most profound.

 

image by Joao Branco

Twelve Days Of Trump America

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

via Daily Prompt: Resist

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

I know, I’m a Christian and I’m not supposed to talk that way, but I’m mad, pissed, frustrated, and sad.

Seven days into his administration Mr. Trump followed through on one of his promises made during the election. He signed an immigration order that suspends immigrants from coming into the country from seven majority Muslim countries, those are Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The suspension will last 90 days for 6 of the countries, but for Syria it is indefinite. This is exactly what our Muslim neighbors feared would happen.
The order is supposed to protect are country from potential terrorist until vetting procedures can be strengthened. Mr. Trump would have us believe that this isn’t about religion or discrimination, but that’s a crock. It’s written in the order that after the ban is lifted some religions will be prioritized over others in refugee resettlement process, that sounds like discrimination to me.

I get it, I can understand it. In this post 9/11 world we’ve watched our neighbors in Europe and around the world get pounded by unspeakable violence at the hands of Muslim terrorist. We don’t want that to ever happen here again. But we’re punishing the majority for the sins of the minority. Syrians are suffering right now, families have been forced out of their homes, their whole lives have been turned upside down. They need refuge and America is closing the door. Not only is that un-American, it’s not Christ-like. Aren’t you a Christian Mr. Trump?
“Christian,” the word gets slimier every time it’s used it as a reason to mistreat others.

I hope you don’t forget Mr. Trump about the terror right here at home. Where any self-righteous maniac can get a gun and kill innocent people. Don’t forget that Omar Mateen was radicalized right in the homeland before he gunned down 49 people. ISIS doesn’t need to come through our borders, all they need is an internet connection.
Can we strengthen the vetting of carry licenses? Can we suspend the sale of automatic weapons for 90 days? Oh no that would be unconstitutional or daresay un-American!
We love our guns too much for that. We love them so much we go into churches, malls, movie theaters, and elementary schools and show them off.
I could almost laugh at the ludicrousness of it all if I wasn’t so damn depressed.

I’m sorry Mr. Trump but if this is what it means to “make America great again” I want none of it. You can take your white nationalist politics and shove it.
I bet the Republican party is wishing they would have resisted you now. They made a deal with the devil and we’ve got four years to go.

Four years, God help us. The real God, the loving one. Not whatever god Mr. Trump is praying to.

 

It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.

David Brooks

Photo by Mikey

New Year, Better Me: Pursuing Peace in 2017

It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense.

 

 

 “For the one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not]. Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit) He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.

He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”

1 Peter 3:10-11  AMP

 

I am on the pursuit for peace. Peace with God, peace with myself, but mostly peace with others.
Since I’ve been at my current job I have struggled with some difficult personalities, that’s nothing new in itself but when coworkers offended me I would hold on to that offense. I’d let it fester, replaying what they said in my mind over and over. Eventually it would turn into resentment, negative thoughts towards that person, and ultimately unforgiveness. I’d eventually move on but it would take some time, a lot of prayer, and a lot of scripture.

But what if I didn’t have to do all that?  What if I could save myself the time and stress and not let it bother me at all?

Easier said than done I know. It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense. I can choose to not to let it take up valuable real estate in my mind. So instead of reacting negatively and harboring resentment and unforgiveness, which is sin, instead I can rise above the anger not letting it disturb my peace.

“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. “

Proverbs 19:11 AMP

I love that verse. It’s my honor and glory to overlook an offense. Nothing is gained from harboring resentment, but by letting it go God can be glorified. How you ask? Well we live in a world that LOVES confrontation. Just watch any reality TV show or scroll through your Facebook feed. There is plenty of videos of fights and vague venting. The world feeds on strife and discord. So when an employee comes for me, they are expecting clapback but I’m not going to give it to them. Instead of reacting with attitude I can peaceably communicate my concerns, rejecting worldly behavior and embracing Godly behavior.
If the conversation does not go as planned, or I don’t think a consensus was reached. I must not take that anger home with me because it will lead to sin.

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

On a less spiritual note, letting someone disturb my peace gives that person power over me and that is just unacceptable. I won’t let trivial work stuff control my mood or my day anymore.

One thing I have done to help with my pursuit of peace is write down Proverbs 19:11 on a sticky note and tape it to my desk. Whenever I start to feel irritated or frustrated I read it. I’ve also added asking for peace to my daily prayers.

I’m interested if others have struggled with offense and peace. What helps you get through it?

28 Days To Healthier Me: Becoming a Fit Girl

I lost a total of 8 lbs during the challenge and I feel awesome. It taught me some very good habits, I wanted to share what I learned.

fitgirl-1

For the last four weeks, I have been participating in the Fit Girl 28 Day Jumpstart challenge. This challenge came at the perfect time for me, I was struggling to eat healthily and felt lost in this whole “getting fit” idea. Fit Girl provided a meal plan for all 28 days of the challenge, a workout guide, a fitness journal and a plethora of tips and tricks to make it work for me. I think that was what I loved most about it all, the meal plans came with options to substitute foods that I didn’t like or even replace the whole meal. Even the workout guide was optional, if you chose not to follow it they recommended working out 30 minutes every day doing whatever you want. I lost a total of 8 lbs during the challenge and I feel awesome. It taught me some very good habits, I wanted to share what I learned.

  • Meal prep is your friend.
    Though it’s kind of a pain in the behind, prepping your meals on Sunday night for the work week is so worth it. I am a full-time student and have a full-time job so I am quite busy during the week. Fit Girl gave instructions for meal prep for all 3 meals. I often didn’t cook my dinner completely but I would at least slice up the veggies I’d be using so they’d be ready to go. I usually spent a couple hours in the kitchen on Sunday which was tough but, not having to put a lot of thought into what I was going to eat during the week was one less thing on my plate.

 

  • Cooking at home is best.
    I enjoy cooking, but I usually don’t feel like it. I am a fan of quick meals like Lean Cuisine or Stouffers but those things are high in sodium. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked as much as I did for this challenge. I now have a favorite knife and don’t sulk whenever a recipe calls for a food to be finely diced. Cooking at home gives you control over what exactly goes into your food. Also cooking your own food gives you a sense of pride. You put a little extra love in plating it and savor it a bit more when you’re eating it.

 

  • Treats are sweeter.
    When you’re not eating junk on a regular basis when you do eat it it’s so much better. I’m not a huge sweets eater my Achilles heel is salty stuff especially french fries. Two weeks into the challenge I treated myself to some french fries and it was so good. Not just because of the taste tasted but also because I had been working hard and deserved it. If you’re a sweets person Fitgirl recommended eating a little bit of dark chocolate that was at least 85% cocoa.

 

  • Cheat meals, not cheat days.
    Like I mentioned before I allowed myself weekly treats, these treats were usually a part of a cheat meal. Fit Girl recommended cheat meals over cheat days which makes sense if you think about it. So let’s say you decide to eat a big buttery and fatty food for each meal. You could easily go over 2000 calories in a day and be in danger of putting on a pound. That’s literally the opposite of the goal. If you instead have a cheat meal, for example, you have a big breakfast, you have the rest of the day to burn some if not all of it off.

 

There’s a still long a road ahead for me, motivation to exercise was a constant throughout the challenge. I was always glad I did it but the actual getting up and doing it was tough. I didn’t workout every day like recommended but I averaged 3-5 times a week which for me is a feat. Going forward I plan to diversify my workouts, so I don’t get bored and want to stop. I want to try cycling, kickboxing, and add some type of dance centered workout to the mix.
I wish I could say all my bad habits are gone but my serial snacking is still an issue. Laziness and lack of self-control are also still lingering. Fitgirl has given me a good basis on which to rebuild my eating and exercising habits. So when the New Year rolls around and everyone is making their fitness resolutions I will already be a step ahead.
As I go forth into this life change I will remember this one thing:

“Fit” looks different on everyone. So there’s no point in wishing and wanting to look like someone else or coveting another woman’s body because we’re all different. We all have different body types and carry our weight in different places.

I recommend the Fit Girl 28 Jumpstart Challenge for everyone who is new to fitness and needs a place to begin. They’re starting a new challenge January 2nd here’s the link!

Just Another Lonely Girl: An Introvert’s Struggle

lonely-girl

 

I’m an introvert, which means I re-energize by spending time alone, and that I enjoy my own company a little bit more than the “average” person. I have known this about myself for a while and I’m okay with it. Despite my introversion I have managed to find a few close friends, and I’m okay with that too, well somewhat. For the past 2 years I have found myself feeling I have had too much alone time. In other words I’m lonely (cue the violins). I have a hard time expressing this because I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me but I felt it was important to put it out there. It’s been floating at the back of my mind for too long.

My lonely isn’t the lonely you’re probably thinking it is. I’m not in the house staring out the window watching life happen. I go places, concerts, festivals, etc. but when I go I am alone. I could be surrounded by people but it’s like I’m the only one there. My friends, though I love them dearly, share only about 40% of my interests. I have no one in which to share my some of my biggest passions with.

I thought that if I got out there and did the things I loved to do I’d eventually make connections with others who did the same, but it hasn’t happened. Like many introvert’s I struggle with making and maintaining friendships. Sometimes the interactions are awkward and forced, it’s stressful so I just avoid it.It’s rare that I even meet a person that is potential “friend material” and when I do it seems they aren’t really looking for any new friends.

So after another summer of mostly solo experiences I can feel myself starting to retreat from the world. I don’t look forward going out because I am going alone and I am tired of that. I do look forward to winter because there will be less things going on.

I’m curious to see if there is anyone else out there who has experienced this.
What do you do when no one loves what you love? Or likes what you like?
How do you find those genuine connections?

 

*Photo Credit

“A Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self”

Word of warning it’s not going to go the way you think it is, so whatever ideas you have about what your life will be like at 25 throw them out of the window. It’s not going to happen. Don’t panic though, it’s all good.

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Yours truly at 16

 

Dear Tawni,

Your 25th birthday is coming up very soon, wow, quarter-life. Well let’s just hope there’s no crisis, honestly I think you went through that at 23. Also what was our 16th birthday like? I honestly don’t remember. Anyways I bet I know what your thinking right now as you roll the memory around in your head. I have no life and no friends, I wish my life was like Lizzie McGuire or some other teenage heroine. I feel for you, but please know it’s going to get better. So don’t worry about what those douche bags at school think, trust me they don’t matter one blip to your life. You feel  you’re lacking in some ways in comparison to them, but your not. Most of them are making terrible choices right now that will effect their lives in the future. Pity them, don’t envy them. Your not the average teenager, your an onion, you have lots of layers and that’s great. It’s what’s going to make you the woman we are today.

Word of warning it’s not going to go the way you think it is, so whatever ideas you have about what your life will be like at 25 throw them out of the window. It’s not going to happen. Don’t panic though, it’s all good. It took you awhile to figure out what you were doing but you made it, thank God. Literally, thank Him. If not for him I don’t know who we’d be right now. A flipping hot mess I assume. I kind of wish I’d known him when I was your age, maybe things wouldn’t have been so hard. Oh well there is no turning back only going forward.

So let me tell you some hopeful things about our future. Firstly, we have friends and a social life! Finally, someone other than our parents knows how funny and clever we are. We have passions and hobbies! Yes, we write, we go to beacoup  concerts, we’e creative, and we like kids! Who knew?! Our taste in music is super eclectic and awesome. We’re still a bit of a loner and introvert, doesn’t look like we’re going to grow out of that. But it’s okay we love that now. We’re not as shy as we used to be, we’ve made 5 speeches and public speaking no longer makes us sick. Not to say that we’re completely cured of our social anxiety though. I felt a little anxiety just asking for the wi-fi password in this coffee shop. That’s another thing we go places on our own now, like coffee shops and restaurants. We no longer give a crap about the opinions of strangers in public places. If you haven’t guessed already, yes we’re still single. Quality guys are still a rarity sorry to tell you but you know it’s going to take a very special man to keep our attention. We’re still figuring out this whole being adult thing, but Dad, Mom and our friends are helping us out. It is not what it’s cracked to be, it’s tough. But you get to call your own shots and that has yet to be unsatisfying.

So how are you feeling about life now? Are you excited yet? Well get excited because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. From now on every time you look in the mirror remember that you are beautiful, talented, loved, and that there’s a great big world out there waiting for you to put your stamp on it.

Love always,

Me ❤