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

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Scary Days

Saturday I did something really scary, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Today was also a particularly scary day for me. It was my first day of nursing school!

It felt kind of strange. It’s something that I’ve hoped to do for so long and work so hard for. But for some reason it just felt like one of those days that I’d only dream about and never actually get to experience.

And today I experienced it. And it was scary.

However, I received the most awesome e-mail last night that made it not as scary. In my panic to prepare for the first day I was scouring the internet trying to figure out how to play a video on taking blood pressure. I took a breath for one second and decided to check my mail, only to be surprised with some words of encouragement from a reader and former nursing student all the way from Florida!

Heaven-sent.

At least through all the panicking, printing of syllabi, e-mail reading, and overall going nuts-ness, my eating habits have been yet again improved in accordance with my New Year’s resolution. Not only am I eating breakfast (even if this makes me have to wake up even earlier than I normally would before going to class), but I’m also eating at least three serving of fruit a day! Deliciousness.

A beautiful green apple makes the day a little less scary.

ang

A Bit of an Understatement

Remember yesterday how I said I was getting nervous to start nursing school?

Well…

…I went and bought my textbooks for the semester today…

…and this stack of books is not including the two other textbooks that I need, the books that I had last semester that I can’t seem to find now.

Nervous seems a bit of an understatement now.

I should also preface this story with my plan for the afternoon. I wanted to purchase my parking pass for the semester, buy my books, get in-get out, and hit up the recreation center for a quick speed workout and possibly some strength training. If I want to do a pull-up this year, I better start building up these little muscles!

I went to purchase my parking pass first, but once I was about to buy my pass I decided against it. Campus is not that big, and I’ve found several places near campus where I can park on the side of the road for free. I decided I’d give walking a whirl before giving up fifty precious dollars to park in the campus lots that aren’t all that close to my classes anyhow.

Next I went to the bookstore…which was approximately half a mile from where I decided to park alongside the road.

About half an hour later I walked out with all of these…

…and had to walk the half mile back to my car to drop them off.

Needless to say, I crossed strength training off my afternoon agenda.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been talking about getting into nursing school for long enough (um, the entire life of this blog), and I’m beyond stoked that I actually get to start on Monday! It’s just scary. Life as I know it is going to change a little bit. I’m not going to have the time to sit and talk to Tia all day long, or hang out on my computer, or watch marathons of addicting television shows (hello Friday Night Lights). My textbooks might be accompanying me to my next several dinner club get-togethers. My new favorite cell phone apps just might be regarding medical terminology. And pretty soon I might be bugging all my family and friends to practice taking their blood pressures.

I guess it’s beneficial to me that I love a good challenge.

ang

Running is Hard, but Breakfast is Good

I only have a few days left to sleep in because nursing school starts on Monday. Of course I am beyond thrilled about this, however, a sense of fear and nervousness has started to creep in. What if it’s too hard? What if I won’t be able to work and keep up with school? What if I’m not a morning person anymore? How will I find time to study and to run? What if patients hate me? What if the other students don’t like me? And worst of all…

…what if I’m not good at it?!

So, instead of letting all those crazy feelings consume my every thought, I decided to live it up one more day and sleep in. Is it sad that sleeping in is “living it up” to me? Or acceptable? I’m not sure. After I had enough coziness it was time to start my day…which in accordance with my week one New Year’s goal meant eating breakfast.

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I’ve now started my day with breakfast three days in a row, and it has been magnificent! Before I wasn’t anti-breakfast. In fact, most days in 2011 I did eat breakfast…that is until December hit. Sleeping in and having no particular running goals left me with no motivation to go toast a bagel…or pour a bowl of cereal…or blend up a smoothie. Cookie parties also had a hand in eliminating my desire to eat breakfast. Wake up at eleven, eat a chocolate covered cherry cookie (hey, it has fruit in it), and call it a day…until noon, that is, when it was time for lunch.

But three days in a row with a healthy, well-rounded breakfast has got me feeling energized! Throw in some vitamins and a cup of coffee, and there’s no telling how much I can accomplish!

Yes, breakfast is good.

Next on my agenda of “living it up” until nursing school hits…go for a run. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can say for a fact that when I sleep in I have a much, much harder time convincing myself to lace up my shoes and get out the door.

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But after some moseying around, I finally threw my hair up into a ponytail and set out for a sunny eight mile run…my longest run in quite awhile. And it was hard. The hills. The blisters on my heel from my new shoes. The distance. The hills.

Running is hard.

Once my watch clicked to eight miles I walked back inside and realized that yes, running is hard, but it is so rewarding. I just ran eight miles. Eight. That’s really quite a lot. And actually, I felt even more energized than before I left!

I find it so true that taking the first step is really the hardest…but with a good breakfast, I guess anything is possible.

ang

 

Scale Stories

I had a major realization yesterday. It was one that surprised me, then grounded me.

Let’s rewind about six years. I owned my own scale, my gym had two available scales, one in the locker room and one by the weight machines, and the mall where I worked had one of those crazy scales that you put a quarter in to see your weight and your horoscope or something else ridiculous like that.

I visited these above scales, whichever was most convenient, several times a day. Maybe that crazy scale at the mall was on to something, because each time I stepped on the darn thing I found out how my day was going to go. (i.e. A lower number meant good day, higher number meant bad.)

To make a long, sad (but triumphant, yes!) story short let’s fast forward to a few months later…late May, 2006. I’m trying to sound nonchalant by saying “late” May when actually I know the exact date, May 22nd. I know the exact pair of jeans I was wearing, exactly what I did that morning, what I ate, and exactly what I did the rest of that day. I arrived with my mom at the Research Medical Center’s eating disorder unit, and the very first thing we did was an assessment with the nurse which involved me changing into a hospital gown to be “officially” weighed. The funny thing is (not funny…ironic maybe?) I could have told the nurse myself my “official” weight pretty close to the tenth of a pound. Once I was changed, the nurse (I can remember exactly what he looked like and the color scrubs he was wearing) asked me to step on the scale backwards.

Backwards. Hmm.

This became routine every morning in treatment before breakfast. Change into that beautiful gown and step on the scale backwards. At first the sound of the nurse adjusting the scale was daunting. I strained my ears to decipher where…what number…the nurse might be stopping on. However, the more days that passed by and the healthier I became, the less and less daunting it became. It more or less just because a routine thing to do…just another part of the day…and before I knew it, I really wasn’t thinking about what the number was.

When I left treatment, I knew that getting rid of my scale was going to be an important part of staying healthy. I had my mom dispose of it before I got home. However, I knew there’d be other places that would tempt my curiosity…the gym, the mall, and the doctor’s office. But I successfully avoided all of them.

When I’d go to the doctor for an annual physical, check-up, or because I was sick, as soon as the nurse would ask me to come back and step on the scale I would politely decline. Only one time did the nurse ask me why, and I explained and that was the end of that.

I’m not sure the exact length of time that I went without weighing myself or actually knowing the number. It was a long time, though…over a year at least.

One day at another doctor appointment the nurse asked me to step back to the scale. I took a deep breath and I did what she asked. I made the decision to step on the scale for the first time in a long time because I felt ready to handle whatever number it threw my way. The number wouldn’t affect me anymore.

Since then I’ve wondered about what my number was, I’ve stepped on the scale occasionally, but I never let it change my mood or how I viewed myself.

Now let’s fast forward back to this week. Tuesday evening, as I was waiting for my husband to get home from basketball practice I decided to have a late snack. I whipped out a bag of tortilla chips and the rest of my homemade salsa and started munching away. After a few minutes I thought to myself Angela, you shouldn’t eat this late, you have a doctors appointment tomorrow and you’re going to be weighed. Soon I rolled up the bag and put the food away. Yesterday morning my alarm went off early to get in the day’s workout, but I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Quickly I told myself Angela, you need to workout this morning, you have a doctors appointment this afternoon. Once I was in town I called my sister to see if she wanted to meet me for lunch. When I called I asked her if she’d rather just get some coffee instead because I was telling myself Ang, you don’t want to eat too much right before your doctors appointment.

Then it hit me.

I was letting the darned old scale control my actions. I was allowing a number, a number that wasn’t even real yet, scare me.

Silly me.

I went ahead and met my sister for lunch and I ate whatever I felt like at that moment…which happened to be chips and salsa (go figure!) and mozzarella sticks. Then I went to the doctor with a smile on my face, and I stepped on that scale with a smile in my mind because I knew that I was conquering that negative voice inside my head.

The number that lit up on the scale only confirmed the fact that I know I am stronger and healthier than I ever have been in my whole life…and each day keeps getting better and better.

ang

Comfort in a Britney Spears Song

I’ve had a blast reading through my old journal from middle school. Every day there is a new entry detailing how the boy I like didn’t ask me out and how I had my eye on another boy. It’s a little bit sad how much I wanted people to like me…but I think the majority of people probably go through that phase during adolescence. In all honestly, I still have a lot of those feelings now! I’m always nervous meeting new people because I want to make a good impression. I still feel scared that people might not like me. How crazy is that?!

That is probably one of the reasons I was not a fan of being a substitute teacher a year ago…especially a substitute for middle school. I had some kids actually make fun of my voice as I was giving directions, and can you believe that what a thirteen year old had to say actually hurt my feelings?

Aside from all my ridiculous boy-craziness, though, it is nice to see that I enjoyed writing back then and how it always seemed to make my mood just a little bit better. Who would have thought writing could mean so much?!

Rewind twelve years. (Um…so yeah, I’m getting old.)

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I love writing, it makes me feel a lot better, even if I already feel good. Today was a great day! The Britney Spears new song “Sometimes” is so much like me! Every word! It goes “Sometimes I run” and some parts go “Sometimes I’m scared” and stuff like that, and that’s exactly me!

Then it goes on about some more boy crazy stuff…someone asked me if I liked so-and-so and I said no but I really meant yes and they didn’t believe me so someone asked so-and-so if he liked me and he didn’t say no. Blah blah blah, you get the point.

Now for your enjoyment…

Thank goodness I had to wait only about three more years to find the boy of my dreams!

ang

So, You’re Telling Me I’m Going To Live ‘Til I’m 103

But those with the most friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 percent.” The Girls From Ames, page 97

I’m not trying to brag, by any means, but I just feel so lucky to be in the position that I am in today. Somehow, by the amazing grace of God, I have been so privileged to gain the friendships of some pretty amazing girls.

I grew up in a household with my mom and sister. These two ladies have been my best friends for my entire life. We have memories stored for decades!

Then there are my girlfriends today. Heather, Casey, Kellie, Megan, Lauren, Candice. I have never felt so close to a group of girls before. I think a big part of that is due to the fact that I am sure of who I am now. I can be me. Completely. While our friendships do not go all the way back to our childhoods like the Girls From Ames’ friendships, there is still great meaning, many memories, and a feeling of longevity. To be truthful, our friendship is only about two or three years old, but most of us seem to feel like we’ve known each other forever. Everything I foresee in my own future, I see happening with my girlfriends.

I remember Megan’s wedding, Lauren’s wedding, Heather’s wedding, and Kellie’s wedding. I remember when Heather asked me to be in her wedding…she had already had her bridesmaids picked out for the past few months, but she felt like she had to add a tenth (yes, ten!) because we had become such good friends in a short amount of time. I remember meeting Casey at Heather’s bachelorette party. We talked to each other like we were already friends. Even other people at the party assumed we had known each other a long time. I remember dancing the night away at Heather’s wedding on the sticky dance floor from all the spilled drinks. I think it’s funny now…Heather told me that right before she met me, her boyfriend (now husband) warned her that I was very quiet and shy. I guess she took it with a grain of salt and the rest is history. I remember how beautiful Lauren looked on her wedding day. Well, I remember how beautiful everyone looked on their wedding day (Candice only by the photos.) I remember when Megan told us she was pregnant, and how we all felt so happy for her new and long-awaited pregnancy. I remember kissing Kellie in the bathroom on her wedding day. In only three years time, it’s funny all the fun/crazy/sad/happy memories I can recall.

Heather, Casey, Me, Lauren, Megan

What I find somewhat interesting, is that, according to the studies, it is hardest to maintain friendships between the ages of 25 and 40. We have all “discovered” our friendships between these ages. I think it is because the thing that makes it hard to sustain a friendship during these times, marriage, careers, and children, are what binds us together. Many of us became friends because of our marriages. I never would have met Heather or Lauren or Megan if it weren’t for my husband already being friends with their husbands. Most of our friends are ready to start their own families, so that is making their bonds even tighter (I’m sort of lagging behind on that one…sorry mom, not yet.)

I do have a little bit of a fear that something, somewhere will pull us apart…there is always a fear of losing the people you love. However, I think we all kind of know that maintaining our friendships will be a little bit harder once there are little babies running around our lives or in my case, when nursing school will be consuming my life…but I think because we know this, we will try harder to make it work. The phone calls, e-mails, get-togethers may not be as frequent, but the times together will be more meaningful!

I also find it necessary to speak to the friendships I have made through blogging! I am truly beyond humbled to see that people who I have never even met before take the time come to my blog, read what I have to say, and leave meaningful, beautiful comments. I never thought what I had to say really mattered all that much. I am grateful for you girls who stop by and leave a piece of yourself here. I am truly thankful!

In this chapter, The Things They Remember, there were so many studies talked about on how womens’ friendships are beneficial…longer lives, better health, better marriages, more oxytocin, less stress. I find it interesting that a study from the Harvard Medical School found that isolation, or too much time away from friends, has the same effect as smoking, overeating, or drinking too much. In conclusion, putting all the scientific data together, I do think I will probably live until I’m 103. 🙂

ang

Marilyn and Karla

This past week I went back out to Borders and bought The Girls From Ames so that I could highlight and write in it. I don’t think the library would appreciate it if I did that in their book!This week we read about Marilyn and Karla. I must admit, I ended up highlighting a lot of Marilyn’s chapter…I feel like in a lot of ways I relate to her (although in a lot of ways I am very different), and her and Jane’s friendship have a lot of parallels with the friendship I had with my best friend in elementary school.

I, like Marilyn, had a fear of disappointing my parents. I also have a very guilty conscious that doesn’t allow for sneakiness.  An example comes to mind…

The first time I remember lying to my mom, my sister and I were grounded from using the computer (for reasons I don’t remember). While my mom was gone, I got on the computer to chat with my friends. I remember shutting the computer off and leaving the computer room just how I had found it when I was done…but when my mom got home, she knew someone had been on it (it must’ve been her mom-magical-powers). She asked my sister and I who had been on the computer, and at first I said that I hadn’t. Then I immediately burst into tears and exclaimed how sorry I was. To this day my sister (back then a non-Goody Two-shoes) tells me that I just shouldn’t have said anything and mom would never have known. She is probably right.

Especially after that incident, I was afraid to do anything at all scandalous. I didn’t go to parties, I didn’t drink, and I didn’t try to lie…I had nothing to lie about. I’m sure that people thought of me as a “Goody Two-shoes” like Marilyn, and back then I desperately wanted to fit in somewhere…somewhere more popular…but now that I have grown into an adult girl, I am thankful for my Goody Two-shoesness. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that and my Goody Two-shoes friend.

Megan and I…we were two Goody Two-shoes in a pod. We spent so much time together as kids that even our moms became best friends. Like Marilyn and Jane, we were at ease in each others’ houses and with each others’ moms. We have a plethora of memories together, and were been a part of each others’ lives through good times and through some really difficult times.

Personally, I don’t have as much of a connection with Karla. Well, maybe I do, but as soon as she was described as “cranky” (i.e., the very first sentence of her chapter), I think I dismissed that chance. Having acquired the nickname “Happy” at a young age, I tend to go through life trying to be happy every chance I get. However, I feel I can understand her longing to stay close to her children, especially after her own experiences with being adopted, even though I don’t have kids of my own yet.

Even though I have changed my career path a few times in my life, the one thing I have always known that I was meant to be was a mom. I know that God put me on this earth to be a wife and mom. I know it. In that way, I can relate with Karla wanting to be close to her children at all times.

The one line that stuck out the me the most in this reading was in a conversation that Marilyn had with her dad:

For some reason, I always have this fear of losing people. I remember shopping with my mom when I was a little girl, and I would get scared if I couldn’t find her. Now as an adult, I am afraid of losing my friends. My hubby and I just moved a little ways away, and I fear that the distance will literally take them away from me.

I know that is silly, because our friendship means more than a few extra miles…but the fear still lingers there. I know I don’t see my mom or dad or sister nearly enough…and that fear lingers there, as well. However, like Dr. McCormack described…I know if I ever need anything, I can give them a tug and they’s be here for me in an instant…all of them.

ang

“We Will Recover…

…and come back stronger than we are today.”

City Manager Mark Rohr, Joplin Missouri

I had a great weekend. I met someone really special. I ran a race. I won a race. I PR’ed. I spent some much needed time with the husband. I stayed up late. I watched movies. I ate pizza. I had big plans on what I’d blog about come Monday morning.

Then it hit. It hit Joplin, Missouri. It hit Joplin hard. HARD.

It hit too close to home.

I live in Missouri, a couple of hours away from Joplin, so of course I can feel the overwhelming angst surrounding this terrible occurrence. However, had it been any other city…some city I wasn’t familiar with…maybe my heart wouldn’t feel so heavy.

I lived in Joplin for a year. And before I actually lived in Joplin, I drove there pretty much every other weekend for four years to sneak into Matt’s dorm and spend the night with him. It was the city I attended my first college football game, college basketball game, and the city I first played the game “baseball” in. It was the city where I first lived with Matt. It was the city where I ended up graduating from college. I’ll be honest…when I lived there I kind of despised it, but that probably had to do with the fact that we lived in an apartment complex that just happened to have a roach problem. And although my roach infested memories are the most vivid in my mind, I do have some pretty good memories from Joplin.

I sat and watched the Weather Channel for hours yesterday evening. I cursed the television when they would play the local on the eights; I just wanted to see the twister. I wanted to see Joplin and all the places I used to go. The hospital…gone. Wal-Mart…gone. The local high school where Matt did his student teaching…gone. It really is unbelievable. Unbelievable.

And then I wanted to see where it was going. My mom is on vacation in southern Missouri. My mom was too close for my comfort. This murderous twister…too close to home. I made her text me over and over until I knew it had to have passed. Her and her hubby are fine. Thank You God.

My heart aches for the people that live there. It aches for the ones who have lost their lives…it aches for the people still undiscovered or trapped……it aches for their families…it aches for the now homeless…it aches for the injured. I’m sure they are scared, and I just want them to feel okay again. I don’t do well with the waiting, the rebuilding, or the time in between tragedy and wellness. I want to take away all those peoples’ sadnesses now. I wish I could.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I wanted to see the updates on twitter and Facebook. Old acquaintances from Joplin informing the world when they made contact with their loved ones. Some people posting and spreading pictures of their loved ones still unfound. People organizing search parties, and people offering their homes for anyone who needed shelter. People posted links where you can donate to Joplin through the Red Cross and links where people could declare themselves safe so their families wouldn’t worry.

I’ve seen a first-person video taken by a young man who had taken cover with twenty other individuals in a walk-in freezer of a convenient store when the tornado struck. The video is nearly all blackness, but the emotion in the audio is heart-stopping. Perfect strangers telling each other they love each other, people proclaiming to Jesus over the roar of the twister, and then, finally, people asking each other if everyone is alright. Luckily, all those people survived.

I am lucky. I have so many blessing in my life. My family and my loved ones are lucky. I love you all. Remember to make sure the people in your life know that you love them.

As devastating as this tornado has been, a feeling of togetherness has formed out of the tragedy. People, even strangers are coming together to help one another. Medical personnel, fire fighters, policemen, and just regular people have come from surrounding cities to help dig through the rubble. And as City Manager Mark Rohr said,

We will recover and come back stronger than we are today.”

Please keep Joplin in your prayers.

ang

‘Fraidy-Pants Friday Updates!

Okay…I thought of a few more things that I was afraid of that I must add to my list!

16.  Snakes.

17.  Snakes that might be hiding under my bed.  Have I ever found a snake under my bed? No.  But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t scare me!  I am always afraid when I have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, because when I come back to bed the snakes are going to be ready to bite my feet!  This fear has caused me to form a habit of jumping into my bed from about two to three feet away from it.  Tia thinks it is a game and she tries to bite my feet…but she never gets me!

18.  That I am going to forget something I need for my race or for the whole weekend! Yikes!

{Of course I need a hair dryer and make up bag for a race weekend!}

19. Bad guys.

20.  Bad guys that might be hiding under my bed.  This is a lot like the snakes under the bed fear, in that I am afraid a bad guy will grab my ankles if I do not make a running jump into my bed at night.

However, number nine from my last post is becoming less of a fear as I am crossing things off of my to-do list!

Tia probably won’t get her hair fixed today, but I’m sure she’s okay with that!

As far as my race fears go, I have been doing everything I can to prepare…I’ve been eating tons of carbs, I packed a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket, I finished an easy three mile run, and I went to a nice relaxing yoga class today.

Here goes nothing!

ang