On October Seventh…

…at 4:30 in the morning I jumped out of bed, put two long french braids in my hair, and applied two coats of waterproof mascara.

…at 5:30 in the morning my husband dropped me off somewhere in the middle of downtown Chicago and I nonchalantly followed a group of strangers in running shoes who looked like they knew where they were going. As I walked the sidewalks of Chicago I felt so small between the seemingly never-ending streets of skyscrapers. Butterflies filled my stomach, not because of what I was about to do, but because I was here in this big city for the first time in my life.

…at 7:10 in the morning I nervously waited in line with hundreds of other runners waiting to use the oh-so-delightful porta-potties.

…at 7:20 in the morning I made my way to my corral and held my head way up high for having the privilege to be in corral C. Everyone around me looked like pretty serious runners…and there I was…right there with them. And then I started to tear up (cue praises for waterproof mascara). I looked all around me at the people, the runners, the buildings, the skyscrapers. How lucky was I to get to be right there in the middle of Chicago about to run one of the biggest marathons in the world.

I quickly blinked those tears away. I needed to look serious. Focused. Hard-core. (Because hot pink nails, shorts, headband, and shoelaces emit hard-core, right?)

…at 7:30 in the morning I was off! I was running my third marathon in a beautiful city that I had never seen with my own two eyes before.

And this is where my minute-by-minute memory seems to fail me. It’s hard to put this race recap into coherent words in a time-wise sequence. The entire twenty-six point two miles were quite a blur of events, emotions, thoughts, and googly-eyed smiles.

What I do remember is the hundreds and hundreds of spectators screaming, ringing bells, snapping photos, and cheering us all on…from the very second the race started. At the one mile mark I saw one spectator holding a sign that read Only Twenty-Five More Miles To Go! I remember thinking that he must be a real mean guy. I also remember at one mile my Garmin ticking at eight minutes and five seconds. That’s when any strategy of going out slow, conserving energy, or running smart flew right out the window.

That morning when I was getting ready I had plastered the pace tattoo on my right forearm for a lofty finishing goal time of 3:45. I remember as each of those beginning miles passed coming in thirty seconds…one minute…two minutes under pace for that goal.

I remember crossing over each timing mat, thinking about my friends and family who were keeping track of me. I could picture my dad’s proud smile and my mom’s worried face. I wanted to push on to make them proud. And then I remember PRing my 10K time.

I remember running past Elvis singing on stage.

I remember the spectators that had a table set up with cups, orange juice, and champagne. They had a sign that said Stop For Mimosas. I remember really wanting a mimosa.

I remember beaming when I PRed my half marathon time.

I remember one spectator yelling, “Go braided hair girl!” I remember high fiving a row of little kids. I remember all the signs that read Run (insert name here) Run! and thinking that they were all intended for me. I remember running way too fast, but before I could convince myself to slow down I told myself that this could be my last marathon for awhile so I’d better not run with any regrets.

I remember passing the 3:45 pacing crew. Then, somewhere around mile twenty, I remember them passing me back up. Before I let any negative thoughts enter my mind, I reminded myself that I truly was giving it my all.

I remember my pace faltering, ever-so-slightly during those last five miles. But I also remember the energizing salsa music, the smell of deep-dish pizza, the band blaring Lady Gaga, and all the wonderful volunteers eagerly waiting to give me water. And I remember willing myself to continue on.

I remember thinking of my girlfriend who was also running the race. I remembered her telling me that she sings Little Nemo songs in her head as she runs. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Just keep running, just keep running

I remember counting down the last mile. Eight hundred meters. Four hundred meters. I remember that hill, the only hill as I rounded the corner with barely a quarter of a mile left. I remember thinking that it was pure evil. But then I remembered the crowd…the bleachers full of spectators…the fact the my husband was waiting somewhere in the runner meet up area for me.

And I pushed on.

I remember crossing that finish line. My third marathon finish line…on October 7th at 11:23 in the morning. A feeling indescribable. Unworthy of complete sentences.

…and at 11:35 in the morning a nice lady poured my a beer. She said, “Honey, you just ran a marathon and your mascara isn’t even messed up!”

Three hours, forty-eight minutes and thirty-four seconds of heart-filled, gosh darn hard work.

On October 7th, 2012, all the early morning wake-up calls, all the long runs, all the hot pink nail polish and waterproof mascara sure became worth the feeling of 3:48.54.

ang

Scatterbrained

I am pretty scatterbrained as of lately. I go through my day, come across something that sparks an interest, make a mental note to blog about it (or update my status, or tweet, or instagram about it), then I go on to the next thing and forget. I thought I’d have more time come summer, but so far it is proving the opposite.

So, since I don’t set aside enough time in the day to write a thoughtful, inspiring blog post, here goes a post of random things that have sparked my interest over the past few days.

First of all, did I say summertime? It’s summer! Summer is totally, without a doubt, my absolute favorite season…time for some sunshine and smiles. I love summer so much that I feel like I should have had a grand countdown to its arrival.

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I said that I didn’t set aside enough time to write thoughtful posts, but that wasn’t completely true. You see, I’ve reignited my addiction to pinterest, which means that my blog-writing time has turned into searching for pretty (or yummy) things that I want to make, but actually don’t have time to make.

I love pinterest and I love the creativity it opens up in me again, but like I said before, there is still a love/hate aspect to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop repinning cute outfits, yummy looking treats, or ideas for my dream home someday. However, you will never see me repin a “workout for your love handles” or a picture of a skinny girl as inspiration. A place where people with common interests to share their ideas and what inspires them is a great invention! However, some of these pins are degrading and aimed at making you feel bad about yourself.

But, I did repin this little gem…

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Word.

Did you know that I love Demi Lovato? Even if you didn’t know that, you probably could assume I loved her based on my background in eating disorder recovery and what she stands for. What an amazing (and real, might I add) role model to have out their in celebrity-land. Her song Skyscraper…pretty sure I could listen to it over and over forever and not get sick of it.

So, that’s what I’m doing right now. 🙂

Did you see she was on the cover of Cosmo? Love that. You know what I didn’t love, though? As I waited in line to pay for my groceries, I picked up this magazine (because this is pretty much the only place where I get any reading done) to try to flip through to see her article. I had to flip quickly because it was almost my turn in line, and I opened the magazine right to the article How to Get a Bangin’ Body For Summer (or something along those lines).

You know I’m all about fitness. I love being active, I love running, and I love anything that will give me a good workout. I love endorphins. However, I don’t love all these things because I think it will give me a “bangin’ body.” I love these things because they make me feel empowered. Confident.

Come on world. Come on magazine peeps. Let’s write an article How to Love Your Already Bangin’ Body that God Gave You This Summer. If I saw that article advertised in the grocery checkout line…I think I’d actually buy the magazine. (Cosmo…if you need someone to freelance write that article for you…)

So speaking of fitness, after taking a week off I went for a run yesterday.

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But today, these shoes were made for walking instead. Yesterday I felt fine for about two miles…and that’s when I should have stopped. The ol’ knee started acting up during the last two miles. I think it’s getting better, but I need to stay off of it a little bit longer. Better be safe than sorry. I’ve been hitting the weights hard, though, and I’m absolutely loving how strong I feel. If I see you in person I will probably have to show your my new guns. 😉

Did you like that last photo? Yeah, I discovered instagram. Love it. Find me, follow me.

Hey guess what? Joplin called. The hubs and I are going to jumpstart our road trip vacation by volunteering with Rebuild Joplin in July! Totally stoked. I hope I get to make my daddy proud and wear a hard hat.

And on that note, I think I’ll go make another cup of delicious coconut mocha coffee.

ang

Happy Birthday Pretty Blog!

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Today marks the first birthday of this little blog! I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since I wrote my very first post, ironically titled Yay! My First Post! I have learned so much about myself, met so many creative and inspiring people, gained so many wonderful opportunities, and done things I never imagined would ever be possible…all because I started writing this little blog!

I want to thank you ALL for continuing to read my rambles, for inspiring me, and for always, always, always supporting me. I always say that to overcome an eating disorder, or any other struggle in life, you need to find your voice…your own voice free of negativities and self-doubt…even if your voice is small and stuffed way down deep in your pinky toes. Grab on to that voice; feed it, nurture it, and love it, and your voice will grow.

I love that voice.

ang

Freaking Gorgeous

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I couldn’t be more excited!  One year ago from now I remember I was walking to the university recreation center to get in my daily workout as I was training for my first half marathon. I remember feeling a little bit down, nothing drastic, but I was a little stressed with school and therefore I was having a, dare-I-say-it, fat day.

I walked into the bathroom at the rec center and there were post-its all over the mirror. They each had a different message that made the point that you are beautiful or your are worthy. These messages instantly put a smile to my face. Later that evening I was on my way to night class when I decided to use the restroom before class started. Again I saw post-it notes scattered all along the mirror and on each bathroom stall.

I instantly felt better about myself.

The post-its had a website written on the bottom of them: operationbeautiful.com. I knew I was meant to find this website and discover the world of blogging. This is when the wheels started turning about creating  My Pinky Toes.

In honor of NEDAwareness, I plan on leaving my own little operation beautiful notes in different places throughout the week. (I’m not going to lie…I put the post-it above in my own bathroom!) I challenge you to do the same to spread awareness about the importance of body image, eating disorder awareness, and loving yourself. Or just give yourself an affirmation each morning. Or just remind somebody you know that they are freaking gorgeous…because you know it’s true!

ang

NEDA posted a pretty sweet tweet this morning that I want to share: Most models are thinner than 98% of Americans. Instead of trying to change our bodies, how about we try to change our culture? #NEDAwareness

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

Toes

You know you are a runner when you are going to dedicate an entire post to your toes.

I know what you may be thinking…the name of your blog is My Pinky Toes…so, in a way, shouldn’t we expect to see toes in your posts? Well, the answer to that is no. The name of my blog actually doesn’t have anything to do with actual, real-life toes…they are more metaphorical toes.

Metaphorical pinky toes, of course.

If I am totally confusing you, which is quite likely, just catch up here.

The reason I am going to talk about my toes dates back to August. August twenty-seventh to be exact. My favorite day, aside from July nineteenth. It dates back to the day I ran my first marathon.

It still feels awesome to say that.

And I have to put the word “first” in there because there is definitely going to be a “second” coming next spring. But back to the toes…

One of my biggest fears about the marathon was not the fact that I was going to be running for over four hours across an entire city. No. I was terrified of losing my toenails. I heard it from runner after runner…don’t expect to have pretty little toenails after running your marathonexpect blacks onesexpect them to fall off…I’m not sure which is worse.

Obviously, my toenails were painted hot pink when I ran those beautiful twenty-six point two miles…and they remained that hot pink for a week after the big day. I was too afraid to look what was underneath that delightful color. But eventually I looked, and I was pleasantly surprised to not see anything black and to see that they were all intact.

Soon after, I repainted them a new shade…most likely a different shade of pink.

Then like clockwork, a couple weeks later I took the polish off…only to reveal…one toenail a light shade of gray. Tear. Quickly I covered them back up with a brand new color, and two weeks later I took it off again. This time the toenail was slightly lighter than the rest…like a brighter white. This became routine, and each time that particular toenail seemed a little bit different.

And yesterday I took my nail polish off again, three months and one day after my first marathon, and that poor little toenail came off. Part of me felt really sad. What an ugly little toenail. Poor me. Who’s going to love a girl with (or should I say without?) an ugly toenail. Overly-dramatic? I don’t think so.

But part of me also felt accomplished. I’m a real runner. I lost a toenail. I think it’s time to register for marathon number two.

All very rational thoughts, I know.

Luckily enough time had passed by that a new nail had grown beneath it…and I covered it up with a new color this morning. A holiday red with dazzling sparkles combo. I guess you can love me again now. 🙂

ang

I Am

I am a wife. I am loving. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a dog-lover. I am protective. I am loved.I am a student. I will be a nurse. I am caring. I am brunette. I am brown-eyed. I am a salsa-addict.I am an athlete. I am a runner. I am a half marathoner. I will be a full marathoner. I am determined. I am a SoleMate. I am a blogger. I am strong. I am an artist. I am a designer. I am creative.
I am a friend. I am dedicated. I am a recovery speaker. I am a perfectionist.But I am NOT a number.

…and neither are you!

ang

My Pinky Toes…The Story Behind the Name

I received an e-mail last night from a reader asking why I named my blog My Pinky Toes, and I figured that it is time that I explain.  No, I didn’t name it that because my pinky toes are beginning to turn into calluses from running, although it seems like a valid reason right now.

My Pinky Toes grew from my recovery from an eating disorder. Let me begin with a little bit of personal history…

I went into inpatient treatment for bulimia on May 22, 2006.  That was one of the hardest days of my entire life.  After ten days inpatient I switched to the outpatient program for seven more days.  I was lucky because I wanted to recover…I wanted to be free from the disorder, the thoughts, the guilt, the obsession…

After leaving treatment, I did everything that I knew how to do to stay recovered.  I followed the same meal plans, I kept seeing a therapist, I journaled…and I was amazed at how happy I became.  The more I felt recovered and free from the eating disorder the more I flourished.  I had my set backs…I still had “fat days,” I still felt guilty somedays if I thought I was eating “bad” foods, and I relapsed one time.  The greatest thing that came out of that relapse was that I realized I never wanted to go back to the disorder again.  It wasn’t worth it.

Soon after, my aunt started a Bible study for the women in our family.  To be honest, I really can’t recall exactly what we studied during that time, but I remember the message was that everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan.  He sets up obstacles in your life to make you stronger.

Aunt Heather, Aunt Terrie, and Cousin Kelsie...some of the beautiful women who were in our Bible study

Even though I was beyond happy to be free from my eating disorder, I was beginning to feel like I wished it hadn’t happened.  I really have been blessed with a beautiful and perfect life and family, why did this have to happen to me…it messed up my perfect life. After going to this Bible study with my family, I realized that I had an eating disorder for a reason, and now it was my mission to use my experience to inspire and help other people.  After this realization, I knew that I needed to become an eating disorder recovery speaker.

I contacted the hospital where I was treated because I knew they had recovery speakers every Saturday for family day with the patients.  They told me that they would love to have me, but they required that I be recovered for one year.  So, after a years time since my treatment, I contacted the hospital again and set up the date to give my first recovery speech.

I was super nervous to give my first speech.  I am NOT good at speaking in front of people, and I knew that I would be super emotional.  I’m pretty sure I started crying as soon as I started talking.  I spoke about my eating disorder and how I got to my lowest low…and then I spoke about how I recovered.  One of the biggest “aha” moments to my recovery was when I realized that Ed’s voice (my eating disorder’s voice) was not the same as my own voice.  As strange as it may sound, having an eating disorder is somewhat like having another entity…a MEAN entity…try to invade your mind.  I realized that I didn’t think I was fat.  I didn’t think I needed to lose weight.  I didn’t want to feel ashamed of myself.  Ed did.

I feel like I was beyond lucky to have this realization, and that I was so lucky to still have the ability to find and hear my voice.  I feel like for so many other eating disorder victims, Ed’s voice becomes so much louder and they cannot find their voice.

In my speeches, I try my best to remind people that your voice is in there!  Even if it is too hard to find, even if it is small, and even if it is shoved way, way down into the tips of your pinky toes, your voice is still there! I tell them to feed that small part of you that is in your pinky toes…feed it with nourishment, feed it with affirmations, feed it with love…and your voice will grow and continue to grow until your voice becomes louder than Ed’s voice.

Yes, My Pinky Toes stemmed from my recovery story, but now I can relate it to so many other situations.  Anytime I am having a hard time understanding a situation, and look to my pinky toes to find the answer.  When I’m running a race and feel like I am losing steam, I dig deep into my pinky toes for energy.  If you don’t know where to find something…just look to your pinky toes.  When I feel Ed’s voice try to creep back, I remember my pinky toes and I know that I am beautiful.

My Pinky Toes gave me my voice.

ang