People Need People

(From The Girls From Ames, a note from Kelly to Angela)

As I finished reading Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Girls From Ames, I couldn’t help but keep thinking the same thing…

People need people.

It’s a simple concept really, but I don’t think that people rely on each other enough. I could be biased, though. I know that I am so unbelievably lucky to have all the people and support in my life that I do. My husband, my dog, my mom, my dad, my sister, all my girlfriends, guy friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, Mamaw…Lord knows that I’ve used each and every one of them to fall back on time and again. My hearts hurts for those people who may feel like they are alone. If you feel that way, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here for you! It doesn’t matter if you have just one person or ten people like the Ames girls…we need each other.

Reading about Kelly and Angela’s journey and struggles with breast cancer was very eye opening for me. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a freshman in high school. I think I was a freshman. I remember when she told my sister and me that I felt sad, but I the thought never crossed my mind that I’d ever be without her. It’s strange how somehow I just knew she’d be okay. I feel bad though, now looking back, that I was so caught up in my own life that I wasn’t a big support for her. I mean, I can’t even really remember what grade I was in. I know by just being her daughter that gave her something to live for, but what I mean is that I wasn’t there for her to cry to or to vent to or just to be whatever she needed to be. I just didn’t know back then that she needed that or how to be it. Just like the Ames girls, as I’ve grown older I realize I may do things different now. Different situations throughout your life make you stronger, more ready.

My mom had many, many, many (and still does) people looking out for her and praying for her. See…people need people. And luckily, she kicked cancer’s booty and will be walking this weekend in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! Go momma!

As Kelly mentioned that her friends, sisters, are there to catch her if she stumbles, “catching” someone can have so many different meanings. Sometimes it means lending an ear to someone…sometimes it means giving advice…sometimes it means throwing a party for someone…sometimes it means providing the bottle of wine to share…but whatever the case, the same things rings true…

…people need people.

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for me finding the Operation Beautiful note in the bathroom at my gym. I needed that person to put that there. I know I wouldn’t be so happy and in love if it weren’t for my husband. I needed him. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have the guts to say what I need to say sometimes if it weren’t for my little sister showing me it’s okay. I needed her…

…and I still do, and I always will.

It’s just so true. We just need each other.

Thank you to my dear friend Casey for giving me the idea of starting a book club through my blog, and thank you to all my friends and family for reading this book with me and commenting when you were able. Thank you for bearing with me as I skipped weeks, slacked on reading a little, and took three months to finish one book! Thank you Zaslow and the girls from Ames for sharing this story and helping me to open my eyes to so many different things. I needed you all!

And so we have it…we’ve shared our final book club blog post on The Girls From Ames…our final cup of coffee together.

ang

 

 

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Kelly and Me. Me and Kelly.

Good afternoon pretties! It is funny how almost each week I can relate my book club posts from The Girls From Ames to something that is going on in my life. This week’s post is all about the chapter Through Kelly’s Eyes. However, you do not have to be reading the book for the content of this post to have meaning for you. Also, if you are not caught up on the reading, that is okay…here is what you may have missed so far:

Kelly and me. Me and Kelly. I’ve said from the beginning of reading this book that I don’t think I have very much in common with Kelly. I thought Kelly seemed a lot like my sister…more of a free spirit, not afraid to say what is on her mind. I don’t think those two descriptions necessarily describe me. I mean, if you say something that upsets me, I’m probably just going to keep it to myself. I have this nifty talent (sarcasm) for pushing down and burying my not-so-happy-go-lucky feelings.

Well, that was the case…until I started writing this little blog.

Anytime I’ve ever had a pressing issue on my mind, I have found it worlds easier to write about rather than talk about it. I remember in fifth grade when I got my first “boyfriend.” I was so excited and embarrassed at the same time, but I wanted my mom to know. So what did I do? I wrote her a note. Whenever I knew I needed real help with my eating disorder, what did I do? I wrote my mother a note. I’m pretty sure that my husband has a secret stash of all my old notes to him throughout the past nine years.

So, this blog is just a compilation of a bunch of little notes that I want to share with the world. It is a place where I actually can speak what is on my mind without feeling scared or embarrassed or judged.  It is a place where I can actually see myself relating to Kelly Zwagerman on so many levels.

Like Kelly, I have also given much thought to the question of who I am now and who I want to be as I continue through this life, and I find myself coming up with the exact same answers…

“I want to be a strong female role model.” I’ve always, always, always believed in leading by example. I feel like now it is my duty to live a life fulfilling a positive body image and healthy lifestyle.  

“I want to be an inspirational and motivational teacher,” or rather nurse in my case. I so desperately want to work as a nurse in an eating disorder unit so that I can give hope to patients and hopefully motivate them to take the right steps toward recovery.

“I want to be a parent (someday) who builds a network of love and support for my children.” Goodness I want to be a mom someday…..so, so much. I can’t even look at my husband without getting giddy imagining him and me being parents someday.

And of course, I too, “want to be a kind and caring friend.” 

I truly, from the bottom of my heart, support Kelly on her “health as opposed to glamour” focus. I’m not necessarily opposed to glamour…I’m definitely a girly-girl who likes to paint my nails on a daily basis and wear make-up to workout in. I enjoy getting all dolled up for things and feeling pretty. So, maybe I’d say something more along the lines of “healthy is glamorous.”

We definitely do need to “combat” this culture that has been created through the media that thin equals beautiful. We’ve been given countless images, literally unreal images, to compare ourselves to…to make ourselves feel unworthy. Less beautiful.

But, if we all can look deep within ourselves, we know that our beauty does not come from a size. It does not come from a weight. It does not come from a lack of cellulite. Or wrinkles. Or stretch marks. Beauty does not come from these things that we have been told over and over again in magazines.

Beauty truly comes from inside. From your heart.

And the fact is, we’ve been taught that too, from early on in life. We’ve all heard our mothers tell us that it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. However, I had a coach once tell me that for every negative thing you say to someone, it takes eleven positives to counter the one negative. So how can we fill ourselves with the thousands of positives we desperately need to counter everything that magazines and television are throwing at us?

Well, here are my eleven:

  1. You have a beautiful heart. You are so caring.
  2. Your smile lights up a room.
  3. You are so talented. Think of all the good you can do with your talent.
  4. You are so loving.
  5. You are so worthy of being loved. Someone is sure lucky to know you.
  6. You are a nice person. Your kindness is overwhelming.
  7. Your personality is so welcoming.
  8. You are thoughtful.
  9. You are radiant.
  10. Your kindness is contagious.
  11. You are gorgeous just the way God created you.
Thank you Kelly, for making me realize that my words can serve a purpose. Hopefully these eleven on this little blog took one negative away from someone reading it!
I guess we have more in common than I thought. 🙂
ang


A Life Too Blessed For One Girl

This week’s chapter, Coorporation and Appreciation, from The Girls From Ames was a lot about family, and family is so utterly important to me. I am so grateful to have grown up in such a loving home and to have such amazing relationship with my mom…

…like Jane, I can imagine her saying, “I want them (my kids) to become happy, fulfilled women who feel a sense of pride in themselves.” Her happiness and pride for Maggie and me was/is contagious, and she has always made us feel like the two smartest, most beautiful girls in the world. She has a humble smile and a spark in her eyes when she looks at us. I think she can look at us and know she’s done a wonderful job raising us. I hope she knows.

Because I’m not a mom yet, I cannot give myself a grade on motherhood like the girls from Ames did in this chapter. I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist, and I rarely accept anything less than an A. I know, though, that when the time comes and I have the opportunity to be a mom, if I put in just half the love, caring, determination, dedication, and hard work that my mom put in, an A will be a walk in the park. When I look back and think of everything she did for my sister and I, I almost can’t believe it. A+ for you mom.

I have a beautiful relationship with my dad…

…as mentioned in the book, studies show that most men would prefer to have sons. I know my husband has dreams of raising boys and coaching them to become  team of elite, professional athletes (which is why I’m pretty sure we’ll be having all girls!). However, I think for my dad it was different. I don’t actually know, because I never asked him if he ever wanted to have a son, but the way he interacts with Maggie and me made me believe that God meant for him to have girls. I think from the second I was born he fell completely head over heels.

Like the girls’ husbands and daughters, I think my dad and I also bonded a lot through activities. I can remember when I was younger (and had dreams of playing in the WNBA…true story) my dad and I would play game after game of one on one basketball in the driveway. He made me feel like I was really good by letting me beat him over and over. Thanks pops.

And then there’s my sister…

…she is my best friend.

When we were little, though, I kind of considered her a bully! I mean, she hit me with barbies, made my nose bleed, and threw spoons at my friends! She was always grounded for doing something bad, while I was a perfectly-behaving princess. 🙂

As we have grown a little bit older, we have also grown so much closer. I think Jane wishes are right on when she says, “…and most importantly, I want them (her daughters) to really love each other. I always say to them, ‘Friends come and go, but you always have your sister.'” As I’ve come and gone through different stages of my life, my group of friends have always come and gone, as well. I will admit that a lot of that is my own fault, just not staying in touch well enough. But through everything, my sister has been there. Everything.

We don’t talk or see each other quite enough for our liking, but when we do get that quality time, we can stay up for hours on end just talking. I think we “get” each other in a way that many people just don’t understand.

Now those were just the people who were put in my life without a choice! You all probably get tired of reading about it, but I still cannot truly put into words how lucky I am to have found the perfect person to spend the rest of my life with and someday start a family with.

Like the girls, I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to make a marriage last forever. I like all their line of questioning…”How does he make me feel about myself…how attentive he is…the quality of life he brings to my family.”

Well, he tells me how smart and pretty I am about a million times a day, he still gives me butterflies when I see him, and I am always ecstatic when he comes home…so I’d say I caught a good one! 😉

And as always with The Girls From Ames, this chapter placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of friendship.

I mentioned earlier how my friends have always come and gone throughout my life. I truly believe now that I am in a place where my friends now are friends for life. These beautiful girls are always there for me, waiting to lift me up, give me hope, make me laugh, or just make me feel awesome in general! I have also had the opportunity recently, living in a new town, to make new friends…something I’ve always been somewhat afraid of.

Also mentioned in the chapter is an organization called “Girlfriends For Life,” an organization that emphasizes how important women’s relationships are in times of depression or crisis. I think they put it just right when they say,

“Sometimes the only think keeping a woman from falling over is the girlfriend right beside her.”

Thanks Zaslow and the girls from Ames for another delightful week of reading, and reminding me how important everyone is in my life.

I live a life too blessed for one girl.

ang

Sheila and Kelly

If you are often guilty of not stretching enough (like me), stretch while reading! You can easily do a leg straddle stretch with a book out in front of you, pigeon pose, or butterfly stretch. Hold each stretch for one or two pages, then switch. Give it a try!

This week we read about Sheila, the “vivacious, flirty, bubbly, and busty” girl from Ames, and Kelly, the “disarmingly outspoken” girl from Ames. Both of these girls’ stories make my heart all happy inside, and at the same time they are very sad.

It was fun to read about Sheila, and to keep this lighthearted, my favorite part was when they girls recalled an old letter of hers which talked about Ted Stoner, “‘He is definitely 2320123!'” Sheila seems like such a fun friend for anyone to have.

It is incredibly sad to hear about, or read about, a person dying at a young age. I remember watching the movie about the Notorious B.I.G. and how he died, and I felt so sad watching it. I never even liked him or listened to his songs, but it just seemed like it wasn’t fair that he died so soon. I feel the same way for Sheila (I bet she’s never been compared to Biggie Smalls before!) She obviously touched each of the other ten girls’ lives in such a big way, that she probably would’ve made a big impact in many other peoples’ lives as well, had she lived longer. But, her story just reminds me that everything happens for a reason, and her story reminds me to be grateful right now for all the people and opportunities in my life (P.S. I’m grateful for you!)

Questions: Have you ever lost anyone who was very close to you? How did you deal with the sorrow? How do you remember and celebrate his or her life today?

So far in my life when someone has died, I have felt more sorrow for the other people who mourned them. I love my grandpa and grandma dearly, more than I can say, but when my grandpa died, I felt so sad for my mom. I wanted to take all her pain away. The same goes for my grandma…I love her so much, but all I could focus on was making my dad happy again. As I get older, the fear will always be there that I will someday lose someone very close to me…that’s just life. Like the Ames’ girls continue to do, I think it’s important to talk about the lost loved ones in order to continue to celebrate their existence and to deal with the sadness.

Now on to Kelly! Kelly definitely seems like someone who would be fun to be around, but she would probably make me nervous (sorry Kelly!) I still want to compare Kelly to my sister, Maggie, even though she doesn’t think so. They are not literally alike, but have so many of the same qualities: outgoing, good writers, passionate about certain issues, good at making me feel nervous.  Sometimes when I’m around Mag-pie (and more so after a couple of drinks) I think, oh boy, what is she going to say?! An example comes to mind…when she was staying with me in my first apartment and some guys came to the door to invite us to a party, they asked her what her name was, she replied, “Maggie” (duh), and they said, “Maggot?” She then replied with some words that I won’t write on my blog :), but I remember I slapped her for it! But she typically says something that everyone else is already thinking but don’t have the guts to just say it. I admire her for that! I also admire them (Kelly and Maggie) for the fact that they are so passionate about many important issues. Change for the better is only possible when there are people like them behind the cause.

Questions: Are there any issues in the world today that you are passionate about and willing to fight for? How do you advocate for them?

I’ve never been one for politics, therefore I never used to think I was really passionate about change…until recently. Now I feel like one of my reasons for being is to advocate for eating disorder awareness and to promote positive body image. I do this by writing this blog, by being a SoleMate, by giving recovery speeches, and by example. These are just small things, I know, but if a whole bunch of people are passionate about the same thing, maybe one day it will make a difference. One can hope!

I also admire Kelly when Zaslow talks about how she didn’t write about a famous hero when asked to for her English class assignment. It was such a bold move, and even though her teacher didn’t appreciate it, I think it actually says a lot. I do wonder, though, if Kelly would have an answer for that today.

Last Question: Who is your heroine?

Duh, my momma and sister! 🙂

ang

They Still Call Themselves “Girls”

I snatched up The Girls From Ames from my local public library last week. A few days later I picked up the book and began reading. After the first page I had wished that I had bought the book because I have the urge to highlight just about every other sentence! Instead, I’ve doggie-eared about half of the pages from the intro and first chapter.

Just into the first few pages, my throat started to knot up a few times…I have a feeling this book is going to be beyond emotional (at least for me). I think that I feel over-the-top emotional as I’m reading because I am relating it so much to my own life and my own friendships. I’m already picking out which girls I most relate to, and which girls are most like my friends (and family…because you are my friends, too.) 

I was surprised at first when I read in the intro that they still called themselves girls, but right away, I appreciated the honesty in that statement. Growing up is a funny thing. When I was a kid, I thought people my age were so old! They have jobs, marriages, families, bills…OLD! However, now that I am “old,” I still feel like I am that girl in high school. I’ve coached middle school and high school age girls in volleyball, and I felt like they could be my friends…that was until I realized I was ten years older than them! A decade!

When I am around my friends though…I am that girl…I feel like a girl, not a “woman” and I am okay with it. I kind of hope that I always just feel like “a girl.”

I know I posed the question which of the eleven girls do you most relate with, but I’m going to take the easy way out. I read and reread trying to pick out which girl was “me,” but I just couldn’t pin-point one of the girls. I saw bits and pieces of myself in each one of them…well, except for Kelly. Kelly definitely seems like the most outgoing girl of the group, and right away I relate her to my little sister. Just like the other ten girls looked to Kelly to ask the question that they were all thinking but were too afraid to ask…that is kind of how my sister was for me. I didn’t buy a thong until I found out she had bought and worn thongs (yes, the panties, not the shoes!) I didn’t drink until after she drank. I even made her ask out my mom’s now new husband for her, because I was too scared!

I relate to Marilyn as she is described as a bit of an outsider. Growing up I had a lot of friends, but I was never totally “in” with all of their groups. I relate with Sheila for having the dark hair and being the little girl everyone thought was cute. I relate to Karla for “not always being sure of herself.” While I feel sure of who I am as a person now, I still have an insecurity when it comes to meeting new people.

How did we all get here? The girls in the book don’t really remember how they all arrived at being best friends. Is this the same for you? I do remember meeting my first real best friend the first day of kindergarten. My anxiety and insecurity with meeting new people has been a part of me all my life, but I guess at age six I didn’t let it get the best of me! I remember getting on the bus my first day of school and finding another kindergartener that I thought was pretty. Then I simply asked, “Do you want to be my friend?”

Thank goodness she said yes!

Now, as an older “girl” living in a new town with the same anxiety about meeting people…I wish I could just go back to being that six year old girl and just ask the people here if they want to be my friend!

Aside from my family, my closest friends now are friends that are newer in my life…friends that I’ve made since being married (and through being married); therefore, for the most part, I remember when and how I met each one of them. Now, how we became best friends out of all the other girls we know, I think that answer could only come from God.

This is the same for the bloggie-world. I have “met” some girls through reading their blogs, and I have felt an instant connection with some of them. How did we get here? How did I find my way to their blogs out of the millions of blogs out there?!

There was another line in the book that caught my eye. Zaslow talks about how the girls are popular and not afraid to “strut their stuff,” but that they are actually insecure individually. I think this is true of almost all adolescents, and probably true in many adults. I’ve already admitted to having anxiety about meeting new people (amongst the zillion other anxieties I have), but a good group of friends is powerful.

You girls give me a security that I would not otherwise have. I believe that is why God gave me YOU…He knew what I needed, and He provided me with it.

I’ve talked too much now about myself and my thoughts…not it is your turn. Tell me what you think! (Please!)

ang

P.S. I LOVE this book!

Book Club!

Hi everyone! This post is going to be super quick because I don’t have very much time. I had an amazing weekend with wonderful people, but I will write more about that later. However, when I was with my girlfriends this weekend, we decided that we needed to read a book together, and then discuss it…just like a book club! Then they suggested that I “host” this book club on my blog as an easy way to have discussions.

The book we are going to read is The Girls From Ames, by Jeffrey Zaslow.All I know is that it is a book about womens’ relationships, and how these women remained friends their whole lives!

I feel so lucky to  have such amazing friends in my life. I feel like I have people that I can tell me deepest secrets to without being judged. Also, through my blog, I feel like I can truly express my feelings and thoughts, and that has given people who don’t know me as well to get to know me better. And to readers who have never met me before, nor I them, I still feel like I have made a friend in you! I feel blessed when I get to read your comments here on my blog! AMAZING!

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I would love to have you join the book club and join the discussion about our friendships with other women. If you have any suggestions about how this book club should work, just let me know, as I have never done anything like this before!!! Invite your friends to join in on the discussion as well! The more the merrier!

I won’t start it right away, so I will give you time to go get the book! (I have not gotten it myself yet!) Please leave a comment if you plan on joining in or if you have suggestions…I can’t wait to hear from you!I can’t wait to get our read on!

ang