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

 

 

How We Respond to the “Bad Stuff”

Last night as my husband and I were laying in bed he asked me if I knew what tomorrow was. I’ll admit that at first I didn’t know. I thought to myself, but I couldn’t come up with anything. I knew it wasn’t any of our anniversaries, and I usually remember all the specifics, all the way down to what I was wearing, to anything important as it relates to our relationship.

Right about the same time he asked me, a commercial previewing the nightly news came on the television. That’s when I remembered.

One year since the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

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My husband asked if I remembered where we were when it happened. Of course I do. We were at our duplex here in mid-MO, we had just gotten some dinner, and we were preparing to cook it. At first when news came on about tornado development I didn’t think too much about it. Tornado watches, and even warnings, are fairly common in the midwest…but nothing ever really happens.

And then came the devastation. I continued to watch the news, and my level of concern continued to rise one-hundred-fold. Proof of the disaster kept appearing all over my television and it was evident in the news reporters…speechless and shedding tears.

There is one thing in life that becomes more apparent the older I get. Bad stuff is going to happen. Inevitable and simply out of our control. However, it’s in how we respond to the “bad stuff” that shows greatness, growth, and an immense amount of faith.

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I remember watching the feed on twitter that night as the news of the Joplin tornado continued on through the night. I remember my heart sinking each time a new, higher death count was revealed. I remember listening in terror to the youTube video of someone hiding in a gas station as the twister came through. I remember sending up prayers each time someone posted the description of a loved one they were missing.

But I also remember all the people jumping to help. Doctors, nurses, policemen, firefighters, construction workers, and ordinary, everyday people. So many people wanting to help that they had to turn away volunteers. I think that in this moment of time, humankind’s true compassion was more apparent than ever, and I’d like to think that the people of Joplin felt that they were not alone. That they were loved.

I haven’t been to Joplin since I graduated from college there four years ago, but this summer I plan to visit the city that I visited nearly every other weekend for three years and spent a year living there myself.  I have only witnessed the tragedy through photos and news stories, but even a year later I’m sure there is still evidence of it.  But greater than the proof of the disaster, I am sure I will see evidence of teamwork, hope, and the greatness that can be achieved when people all come together for a common cause.

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

With God’s help they have, and continue to do so. Please send your prayers to the people of Joplin today, and remember to count your blessings.

ang

Greatness

When I woke up this morning it seemed like every other morning. I drug my booty out of bed, put on my robe, let the princess outside. I wished that I had woken up earlier, but I felt tired and worn down…from what I have no idea. I went to the bathroom and noticed how dark my eyes look, and although that seems like more of a curse than a blessing, I thanked God for my half italian background. I thought of everything that I wanted to do today, made a schedule in my head, but took no action to start on that list. Instead, I brewed a hot cup of coffee and sat down at my computer.

There is something so comforting about a cup of coffee.

I started on my e-mails and was excited to see I had received one from a friend regarding the latest dinner club gathering. Goodness. I’m so thankful to have such amazing girlfriends in my life right now. Then I read on. The next e-mail was to inform me that I had a new comment on my blog. I read it, and my heart immediately filled with gratitude.

This blogging thing is funny. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. It takes up a lot of time, it makes me feel vulnerable, sometimes it is too hard to think of something to write about, and I think that some people think it is weird. But then I get an e-mail informing me that I have a new comment from someone…and their words fill my heart with joy, and I remember why I write.

And I am grateful for this journey I have taken with my pinky toes.

As my morning continued on, my next stop was Facebook. As I scrolled down the page, catching up on everyones’ public personal lives, there were two things that caught my attention. One was this article being shared, and the second was like song that was posted by a relative I haven’t seen or spoken to in awhile…

And then my whole morning made sense.

I have found this happy place in my life through the blessings of God. He had all this planned…I have this amazing family…husband, mom, dad, sister, stepdad, aunts, uncles, cousins, mamaw, grandmas, and grandpas…because of Him. I have wonderful friends because of Him. I started this blog and have carried on writing through events set in place by Him.  I live an extremely blessed life, and while everything along the way so far hasn’t been all daisies, it has all been worth it. The appreciation and gratitude I feel like morning is pretty unexplainable.

Just Greatness.

ang

P.S. Here’s a Friday affirmation for you:

What is Faith?

Today I feel like I was able to have my own mini celebration.

About nine or so months ago, I would wander around the university bookstore and I would always stop in the same aisle. It was the aisle that had the stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, along with various other nursing accessories. There was was thing in this aisle that I really wanted to buy. It was kind of silly really. It was just a red and black lanyard keychain that said NURSING all around it.

At the time I was afraid to buy that lanyard. I was afraid that I’d end up with this red and black lanyard that would only remind me of a failure…because I was afraid that I wouldn’t get into the nursing program. How embarrassing would that be?

So I didn’t buy it.

And in March, I didn’t get in…but begrudgingly, I kept the faith.

And today I am enrolled to start the nursing program in January at the University of Central Missouri!

I marched into that bookstore, I pulled that lanyard off the shelf, and I paid for it. It is no longer a symbol of failure, but a symbol of hard work and perseverance.

 And most importantly…that little thing is a symbol of faith.

While I was there, I decided to continue my little celebration with another special little purchase. Why not?!

My very first scrubs!

I really did have a moment when I took that small, unflattering piece of boxy fabric to the fitting room (i.e. public bathroom) to try on. It was a moment of reality…

…I’m going to be a nurse!

ang

Happy Birthday Husband

Journal entry from 8-5-02:

I don’t write that often, but when something wonderful comes along, I have to leave a memory of it. You never know how long good things last, and this is too good to leave unsaid. I’ve known this guy for awhile because he goes to my church. We took a trip to Colorado and I think that’s when it happened. We are dating now, and it is just wonderful. The bad thing is he’s leaving. He’s going to community college two and a half hours away from me. He leaves August 24th. I don’t know what is going to happen when he leaves; I am too afraid to ask. I don’t want this to end…it’s too much happiness to end. I guess I will just have to wait and see. I just pray that everything will end well and happily ever after!…but you never know.

There is a quote that I find good for this situation…

“I don’t know how God could allow us to meet if there’s no way we can be together.”
-City of Angels

Twenty-eight years ago today the man of my dreams was born. We have been together now a little over nine years and married over three of those…and they have been the best years of my life. And the best thing of all is that I know that the best is yet to come for us.

Matt is an amazing man…he’s a great teacher, a caring person, and the most supportive and loving husband a girl could ask for. I thank God that I am the lucky one to wake up and fall asleep next to him every day.

Happy birthday husband. I absolutely love you.

ang

Talk About It

I’ve never in my whole life been the kind of person who openly talked my feelings or thoughts…all my feelings…with anyone. I haven’t had trouble sharing all my happy feelings and cheerful thoughts. That was never the problem. However, when I’ve felt anger, disappointment, guilt…when I’ve had thoughts about negative body image or feelings of “not good enough,” I just haven’t had it in me to share.

Well, until now.

Okay, so maybe I don’t actually speak about it all the much. I’ve done many eating disorder recovery speeches at my former treatment facility, but other than that my words have mostly been on paper or in my head…or now on this blog.

I use writing as a form of sharing my feelings. It’s not quite the same as talking, but it works just the same for me. I’ve never actually considered myself a writer, an actual writer…I just figured I was someone who likes to write short notes to people or little blog posts, sometimes just for fun or sometimes meaningful. Does that make me a writer, or just someone who writes? (This sounds much similar to the question of whether or not I could call myself a runner.) Then, while I was reading my book club book The Girls From Ames, I came across a line on how Kelly defines the word “writer”…

“…the word “writer” can be defined broadly. It’s about expressing emotion. It’s about helping people think. It’s about using words to understand herself. It’s about helping other people find their own words.”

So…I guess I am a writer.

I’ve said before that I feel like it’s part of my life’s mission to do whatever I can to help prevent future eating disorders. It is a problem that is too un-talked about and too widespread. I try to talk as openly and honestly about my experiences, although I haven’t shared the entire story on this blog yet. Many of the emotions and situations I went through can be stored in the “embarrassing” category. But that’s okay. When I have the opportunity to share these things I know that it may help that person who is feeling the same way but is too embarrassed or scared to share. And it not only can be helpful to others, but it helps me stay grounded in where I am today. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, but how important my experiences are.

It helps me to understand that God has a plan far greater than I’d ever imagined for myself.

So I challenge you to talk, or write, about it…whatever “it” is for you. Because more than likely there is someone else in the world feeling the same way, but she or he thinks they are alone.

We aren’t alone in our struggles or our strengths, and the greatest thing about people and community is that they are the best support systems.

Oh, and by the way, you are looking gorgeous today (even if you’re still in your pajamas that consists of a baggy t-shirt and shorts…like me! :) )

ang

July Nineteenth

I got home from work late Monday night and I was ready to go to bed. My hubby wanted me stay up with him for a little while, so we watched some television and snuggled up on the couch. All of the sudden his alarm starts going off on his phone and he immediately grabs me, hugs me, kisses me and tells me,

“Happy Anniversary Baby!”

It was midnight, July 19th, and it was the third anniversary of our wedding day, and the ninth anniversary of our first date. He then took me to his closet, opened the door, and there was a card with a rose waiting for me.

What a sweetie.

We spent out anniversary shopping together, going to see a movie, going out to dinner, tasting some crazy beers, and staying at a romantic hotel. It was a delightful day.

Matt,

Thank you for being the most wonderful husband. You have honestly made me the happiest girl in the world. If there was a happiest wife contest, I would so win. You have stood beside me through thick and thin, and you have supported me (and continue to support me) in everything that I have wanted to do. 

It’s crazy to think about how we started those nine years ago when I was only sixteen years old. God surely did bless me with you, and I know He’s had his hand in this the whole time.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. It is hard to wait because I know it is going to be amazing. I love you.

ang

“Honey, Are You Crying?”

That’s what Matt asked me last night as I was reading this weeks chapters from The Girls From Ames.

“No,” I replied as a wiped the tears and snot on the sleeve of my oversized night shirt.

“Yes you are. Why are you crying?”

“It’s just so sad!”

This weeks reading made me think a lot about my beautiful Wish Kid Gabi. And it made me think about her gorgeous mom…and her dad and all three of her adorable sisters. I’ve only met them all a handful of times, but they all have an amazing, unmistakable presence about them. They all seem so positive, even with that evil cancer invading their lives. They all seem so grateful…grateful for Gabi’s good days, grateful for their good health, grateful for their blessings, but especially grateful for their families’, their friends’, and perfect strangers’ prayers for Gabi.

While I have had the opportunity to be a part of Gabi’s wish experience, I have thought  lot about what it would be like in her mother’s shoes. Then, reading the chapters Their First Child and Tears in the Ladies’ Room, I thought even more about being a mother. Maybe it’s because of my age, maybe it’s because many of my friends are having babies soon, or maybe I just have a bad case of baby fever, but I worry more now about something happening to my future children than something happening to me. I guess that’s just a mother’s instinct. If only I had a nickel for every time my mom said, “Just wait…when you have your own kids someday you’ll understand why I worry,” I’d be a rich girl right now.

So when I hear these stories of daughters being diagnosed with cancer, yes my prayers and thoughts go out to these girls, but my heart just breaks for these mothers. I’m sure the only thing they want to do is just take all the pain out of their child. Gosh, I want to take the pain out of their daughters so that they won’t have to feel that burden!

My heart goes out so much to Karla and to Gabi’s mother. I truly can only imagine their pain…and I’m sure that doesn’t even come close to the reality.

As for these two amazing girls, Gabi and Christie, their courage is outstanding and beyond admirable.

As Zaslow writes about Christie’s positive outlook, I can’t help but read in disbelief. How could she be going through so much, yet always find the silver lining. I was touched when I read one of her quotes from her Caring Bridge site, “Life is good, and you just need to take it day by day. Be thankful to see the sun rise and set each day.”

Honestly, there is probably not a better piece of advice in the world.

And then I think back to a quote from Gabi on her Caring Bridge site. Let me back up a bit and give you a small history on Gabi. She is a ten year old girl who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her leg earlier this year. After much consideration, Gabi and her family chose to have rotationplasty, a rare surgery to cut out the tumor and to give her the best chance to continue to do the things she loves (she’s a little dancer). This is not a small decision for a ten year old girl, and her mother was worried about her self esteem, how other children might take it, and how Gabi would feel about it in the future. Gabi’s reasoning (as quoted from her Caring Bridge site),

“That looks really weird, and it will probably take me a year to get used to it.  But at least I will be able to dance again.”

Courage.Out.Of.This.World.

So during times of my own trials and when I feel like I’m being tested, I will try to remind myself that life is good, and at least I can dance.

ang

Rest in peace Christie Rae Blackwood, and to all those who read this, please keep precious Gabi in your prayers during her recovery!

 

Book Club Post…Five Hundred and Thirteen Pages

Finally…book club is back (like, four years later)! And since nearly half a decade has passed since I have written about my girlies from Ames, I have four whole chapters to recap (yikes!) So, I’ve decided to do this post a little differently so that I don’t end up writing a nine-hundred and seventy-three page book report!

For each chapter, I will pick out my favorite quote, and then write about what that quote means to me…then you can do the same (if you want to)!

The Intervention

Studies suggest that the average girl today is likely to grow up to be a lifelong dieter, to have a distorted body image, and to be emotionally scarred by cliques.”

Poor Sally to have to go through that. It takes a very strong person to come out of such a devastating situation with so much forgiveness.

And, of course I’d pick this quote in this chapter. The most disturbing word here is “likely”…the average girl is likely. A couple paragraphs later this “likeliness” is referred to as a “national crisis”. A national crisis indeed!

When did we (girls, women, media, people) become so mean…so comparing…so judgmental?! I’m not saying I’m innocent either, although I like to think that I keep other peoples’ feelings in mind before I speak. But again, I’m not innocent. I catch myself making comments about people on television, about people I see in a store, about myself. Then I feel like a hypocrite for preaching about owning your beauty here on my blog.

However, I do think if we all (as in everyone in this world!) could make a conscious effort to change the way we talk about other people, change the way we talk to ourselves, and stop comparing ourselves to other people (easier said than done, I know), then we could change this “likeliness”.

I read a quote from Lolly on twitter today that read,

When you know who you are~you are more accepting of others.”

This sentence is so true. Live it…..and remember that you are deserving and beautiful and admirable…and you will see those traits in others, too!

FBB and Other Secrets

There were times when they felt humiliated or ashamed and kept it to themselves.”

I chose this quote because it is so me. I definitely find it hard to talk about the difficult things in life, and I’d rather people view me as a happy person! But I have learned to keeping up a happy face is not always possible…..and that’s okay! The funny thing about it is, whenever I actually have talked to someone about my problems, I always feel better afterward…then I can actually go back to being happy!

Defining Love

“‘I think we’re meant to truly love one person, to have a life partner.’” 

Okay…so I loved this chapter!!! (Of course this sappy, lovey-dovey chapter would be my favorite!) I feel like I can relate so much to Karla in this chapter. I feel incredibly lucky to have found my life partner…my soul mate…my one true love! I agree with Karla in that I believe God put two people in this world who are just meant for each other!

And I can partly agree with Kelly. I don’t necessarily agree that a person should have a new love with every stage of their life. But, witnessing my mother get married last year to a man that is not my dad has made me believe that it is possible to love more than once in a lifetime. I know that my parents loved each other, and without that love, my sister and I wouldn’t be here. But I also know that after so long, my parents were not right for each other. Now my mom is happy in love again (and I’m working on my dad…anyone know any lovely, single 40-50 year olds?! Hehe!)

And although I don’t have children yet, I admire Karla’s love for her daughter, too. I believe when I am a mother I will feel that same way. I also loved the quote in this chapter, “The girls watched her snuggle with her baby, partly envying her and partly wondering about the ways in which loving feelings would swell inside them when their time came to be mothers.” I feel the same way when I watch other people with their babies, and I just cannot wait to be a mother someday!

“If Not for You”

Women need other women.Dare I say…sometimes women just understand better than men. I adore my husband, and I will always tell him everything, but I will always need some lovely lady to rely on. I’ve always had my mom and sister there for me if I ever needed anything, and now I feel like I have a strong core of girlfriends that are always there for me, as well. I know that my mom feels a lot of the time that I am grown up and don’t need her anymore…but mom, I will always need you. (And you too, Maggie, and all my girlies!) Always.

Sorry…this did end up pretty close to a five hundred and thirteen page book report! What were your favorite quotes of these chapters? If you aren’t that far, or just aren’t reading the book, what do these quotes mean to you?

ang