Moments

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”

I have that quote framed in my bedroom – a gift from my mother-in-law for the husband and my first married Christmas. I have been a fan of that sappy-love-story quote for quite some time, and as I wake up and see it every morning, I continue to try to make it a part of my daily existence.

I haven’t written very often this summer, even though, ironically enough, my last post was entitled I’m Back. However, in my literary absence, Mr. Six Eight and I did take a two week jaunt through five states…enjoying every moment along the way.

Joplin, Missouri…talk about taking your breath away.

Somewhere between Missouri and Alabama…the midwest makes for the longest alphabet game ever. But, I love it.

New Orleans, Louisianna…where we celebrated four years of marriage and ten years together.

Gulf Shores, Alabama…where each morning when I woke up I was reminded of what God’s beauty truly is. Somehow sunshine, sand, ocean waves, and my husband constantly reminding me to apply sunscreen have the ability to bring peace to my heart.

In just a couple weeks my life will be bombarded again with school, coaching, and work. And as grateful as I am for all my opportunities coming up in the future, I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to spend such precious moments with my happiness.

ang

 

 

Real Images of Beauty

Yesterday was day two of the Keep It Real Challenge in which bloggers were asked to post on why it is important to see real images of beauty in magazines. In true Angela fashion, I didn’t find the time to blog in the midst of working out, helping my husband make a hillbilly air conditioner (don’t ask!), and soaking up some sun in a lazy river. However, like I said before, I think that this challenge is amazing, and I think it’s vital that we start seeing real images of beauty in magazines!

During high school I had a subscription to Fitness Magazine. I remember my mom always asking me why I had these magazines when almost each one of them highlighted how to lose ten pounds fast or how to tone up your problem areas. She always, always told me that I was beautiful just the way I was and that I didn’t need to change anything about myself, but for some crazy reason I believed the magazines over her.

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However, whenever she’d ask me those questions I would respond, “These magazines are meant to make you healthier! See, right here, it says what foods are good for you to eat…and right here, it tells you how to maintain a positive attitude!” Looking back, I do feel confident that these magazines had some good messages and good literature, however, next to a relevant column stating how to feel your best there is a photo of a gorgeous woman…fit, slender, tall, and tan. Then I would become more entwined in how I could make myself more like her, and I didn’t pay attention to the information the article.

That model was very beautiful, I’m sure, but she was not real…as are the models in all the photos today. They are photoshopped, what they portray is unattainable, and I wanted to be like them.

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Key word…wanted (past tense).

Now, after years of turmoil turned to growth, I do believe that real is beautiful. But I don’t want another person to put themselves down after having looked at a magazine that is supposed to promote mind, body, and spirit. I don’t want another person to see a photoshopped model and want to look like that. I don’t want another girl to leaf through a magazine and feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.

If magazines would start putting photos of real models, real people, real girls in their magazines, then what message would that put out? That it’s okay to be yourself. That you don’t need to change yourself, you just need to be your best self.

And most importantly, that real is beautiful. (And YOU are beautiful! –had to slip in a little Friday Affirmation!)

When that day comes…that’s when I’ll renew my subscription!

ang

P.S. On this last day of the Keep It Real Challenge, we are asked to share photos of real beauty through instagram. DO IT! (And use hashtag #KeepItRealChallenge)

Fact: I Heart the Keep It Real Challenge

As I was browsing through Facebook status after Facebook status this morning, I stumbled across an interesting looking article posted by the National Eating Disorders Association. The status said, “Stand up to magazines that publish digitally altered photos!” Now, I could go on and on about how I feel disappointed every time I see a magazine promoting how to lose ten pounds in one week, or how sad I feel when some already slender celebrity lost five more pounds for her wedding, or how it disheartening it is to realize most faces and bodies printed in these magazines are, indeed, not real. So, out of curiosity and hopefulness I clicked on the article to see what this was all about.

What I found was nothing short of shocking…

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I read fact after fact, and each time my heart sank just a little bit more. Girls are so affected by the standards that the media sets regarding the way we should look…so much so, that, it seems as if hating and bashing your own body is the norm.

And my heart took a dive deeper into my stomach as I read the line in the article that said, “Eating disorders are the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-24 (National Eating Disorder Organization 2012).” Leading. Cause. Of. Death. These are children, young girls, that are so affected by the unrealistic definition of beautiful, that they will do anything to try to attain it.

As important as it is to teach the world the real impact the media has on poor body image and eating disorders, it’s just as important now to do something to make a change. And that’s exactly what the Keep It Real Challenge is all about.

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One of my favorite quotes from the article is, “Instead of young girls pushing themselves to fit into a swimsuit, this social media campaign will inspire them to challenge the media creators who propagate unrealistic images of young girls and women, and encourage them to enjoy their summer in other more positive ways.”

Inspire.

Challenge.

Encourage.

What if the media set a new standard. Not one that only idolizes women who are touched up with an airbrush, but one that says beautiful is you just the way you are. Dark circles, laugh lines, wrinkles, freckles, curves and all…beauty is what is real.

What’s stopping you? Let’s do this. Check out the Keep It Real Challenge for yourself, share it with your friends and families, share it on Facebook, twitter, and instagram, and participate! Today, right now, 78% of 17 year olds are unhappy with their body, and I’d almost bet that number increases with age. We can totally turn that number around if we all try to make a change. Real is beautiful. Believe it and represent it!

Let’s keep it real!

ang

A Friday Affirmation: Your Arms

I’ve always thought that limbs were kind of weird.

I mean, if you think about it, a human is a body with four limbs. Four gangly, weird limbs.

But boy oh boy, I sure do love my arms.

They let me give hugs as often as I want. They allow me to pick up my princess Tia. They give me momentum to run faster. They give me the ability to lift heavy things. They’re there to let you know that I love you this much.

Have you told your arms that they are beautiful lately? Ever?

Spread them out as wide as you can.

Remember to love your arms that much.

ang

A Friday Affirmation: Your heart

You have a beautiful heart.

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It gives you the drive to follow your dreams.

It sustains your life in this world.

It keeps going, even when it is hurt and broken.

It gives life to the rest of your body.

It continues to beat, after three miles, after six miles, and after twenty-six miles.

It allows you to give love and to have love.

Yes, your heart is beautiful.

ang

Change Your Thoughts…Change the World

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I haven’t been posting my Friday Affirmations very regularly, and I am missing that. Sometimes it is a challenge to come up with an affirmation every week, but it is a good way to dig down deep and figure out the things I love about myself. The things that we all love about ourselves.

But I’ve been thinking about how these affirmations, or any affirmation, compliment, or kind words can impact a person. Does it really make a difference? If a person looks in the mirror and tells themselves they are beautiful, does that mean they will believe it? Do I believe it?

One thing I do know is that the more a person tells themselves that they are ugly or fat or unworthy, the more they will believe it. So shouldn’t it work the other way around?

I have a challenge for you (and myself). Let’s change our thoughts to positive thoughts, and let’s send a message to the world. It’s okay to love ourselves. It’s okay to think we are beautiful just the way we are.

1. Change your thoughts. Look in the mirror each day and tell yourself one things that you absolutely love about yourself. It doesn’t have to be something big. It could be that you love that little freckle on your nose. It doesn’t have to be something physical. It could be that you love that you have a caring heart. No matter what it is, tell yourself something new you love everyday.

2. Change the world. Tell someone else that you think they are beautiful…and tell them why. Let someone know how important they are to you. Give a complete stranger a compliment. However you want to do it, make an impact on someone else…everyday.

The more we are able to share the beauty of this world…the beauty that is you and me…the more the world will start believing it.

ang

The Day My Dress Pants Didn’t Fit Very Well…

…happened to be yesterday.

Don’t you despise those mornings when you pull out the pair of pants that have been sitting in your closet for forever, put them on, and then cringe as you button them. I know, me too.

It was kind of a strange moment for me. The pants fit fine, they just did not very comfortably. Funny how a pair of pants can make a girl feel so many emotions at once. I was confused at first. I know I have been pretty much the same size for, let me think…the past eight or so years! The last time I wore these pants was probably a little more than one year ago. Same size. Huh. Conclusion? The pants shrunk in the wash the last time they were washed over a year ago. Sure. That seems reasonable.

Then I felt kind of sad. Why don’t my pants fit? Sad face. (Or more like pouty face.)

Then I felt ugly. Yes. Ugly. If my pants aren’t comfortable then my hair doesn’t need to look good either. And who cares what my shirt looks like, because I’m sure everyone will just be looking at my hips and gooloo squeezed in here. (Overdramatic, yes. And definitely not reasonable.)

It was definitely a reality check. It reminded me that I need to mindfully play an active role in maintaining a positive body image. Those negative voices can creep in at any time and try to make me falter. My voice is louder.

Then I remember who I was, and I remembered that clothes don’t make or break me. So what they weren’t the most comfortable things in the world, I still looked good so I should feel good. I’m still a confident person. I still love myself just the way I am.

And, of course, I still think I’m beautiful.

🙂

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me all my life and as of lately. I can’t tell you how much your encouraging comments on my blog about balancing school and everything else helps me to keep going. The e-mails I receive asking me how things are going in my life always cheer me up a little…and oddly enough, they always arrive when they are most needed. Every little text, word, smile, hug makes my heart all warm and fuzzy…I’m truly a blessed gal. Thank you.

ang

Worthy to Shine

Saturday was an amazing and scary day all at the same time.

I woke up early, read over my story, grabbed my old journals, and headed out the door. Each mile I got closer to my destination I could feel my heart beating a little harder. By the time I arrived I felt like my heart was pounding all the way in my throat.

On Saturday I told my recovery story at a girl’s church retreat called Worthy to Shine.

I’ve told my story several times before…at the hospital where I was treated…but never to this large of a group, this diverse of a group, and never with a microphone.

When I arrived I was greeted with smiles and a mind-blowing amount of encouragement from the leaders of the retreat. Their support and all their prayers immensely outweighed my fears so I knew I was going to be okay.

I was speaking on the second day of the retreat. The girls and the leaders had already been through an evening of activities on Friday, and one leader, Carrody, was in awe of the honesty and willingness that the girls had already shown. She immediately brought me over to a cross where the girls had pinned up their insecurities…let them go to God.

Carrody told me that when the girls shared their insecurities and struggles as a group…every one of them admitted that they struggled with body image.

Every. Single. Girl.

My eyes welled up when she told me this. This completely scares me…the fact that body image has such a big impact on young girls.

The retreat started up again and I stood in the back anxiously awaiting my turn to speak. Listening to the beautiful worship music and hearing another leader’s remarks of the morning had my tears flowing before I even set foot on the stage. I was finally introduced and I made my way up to the stage, thankful that I had snagged a napkin to carry with my journals to wipe away the tears.

I stood there as I started my story, fumbled with my papers, my napkin, my tears, my runny nose, and what to do with my hands. Finally I just sat down on the edge of the stage…I was going to do this right. I was going to be me and I was going to be honest.

Like I said earlier, I’ve told my story many times before and because I am so used to it, I rarely ever cry. I get immune, almost, to my story…like it’s just that…a story. But Saturday it felt true again. I continued talking, stuttering over my words, as usual, sniffling, sitting on the edge of the stage until I finished. I felt so relieved when I was done, but I felt honored to have been able to share my story and grateful that they all were willing to listen. I sat there staring at the girls all applauding when I looked out and saw one woman standing up. Then two.

I know that each of these girls struggle with body image. I’d guess that almost every girl in the world struggles with body image at some time in her life. I truly hope that each girl listening got a little bit of hope that they don’t have to worry about that anymore. That they should love themselves for who they are.

I felt so darn loved. And I know I am.

And so are you! And you are beautiful, too! I think so, and I know God thinks so!

ang