Stuck

I’m sitting in my car.

I don’t want to get out.

The heat is on high, just how it like it. I’m warm and cozy. I turned off the radio and the lack of distracting sounds is calming. All I hear is the whirl of the defroster and my brain.

But my brain isn’t comforting and cozy right now. It’s actually really sad and crazy and bipolar (not clinically but momentarily). This happens often. I finish work or an activity and I drive home quietly only to arrive in the parking space and feel compelled to stay, inside, safe. No one can ask me a question. I don’t have to entertain my dog (whom I adore). I don’t have to face bright lights or temperatures I dislike. I can’t focus on dishes in the sink or a dirty bathroom. I’m alone and at times, that’s all I want.

Sometimes I think I can just stay in the car and be productive. Technically, I can perform a lot of tasks from the safety of my Nissan and with the assistance of my cell phone. I can answer emails and listen to podcasts. I can read or write a blog post. I can daydream. I can just be.

And then reality hits. I can’t idle my car forever. I have to get out eventually. Even though I don’t like the wind and rain right now, I have to endure it. And solitude and silence is awfully desirable but I know the path that leads to and it’s not a good one.

These are the moments when I dream of running away. Moving or selling everything and just disappearing. Everything and almost everyone feels dispensable (even though I know that’s temporary and false).

Yesterday I witnessed a car accident and as the police were trying to back us up off the exit ramp, it was raining and I couldn’t see well. The office yelled at me and I immediately yelled back, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING!” Then I started to cry. When I just want to hide away from the world, I definitely don’t want to be reprimanded like a child. Even my warm car couldn’t protect me from that unexpected hurt.

It’s weird to think about all the things that we see and feel and process subconsciously. The things that effect us and make us yearn for a hiding place. I didn’t imagine my reaction being so extreme (and maybe it’s not really). And why did that make me feel like a kid? And why did I cry anyway?

I weighed myself this morning (usually not a big deal) but today I felt annoyed by the scale. The number really wasn’t different than it’s been for the last six months but for some reason it made me angry. Then I looked in the mirror and thought maybe I looked a little heavier. I don’t know. Why do I even care?

I’m sure certain parts of this stem from my period coming next week (sorry if that’s TMI). But I know that some of these thoughts and feelings are deep inside me all the time. And if I just hide in my car forever, I won’t ever get through them.

So I’m stepping out into the rain….. again.

Selfies

I used to hate, I mean, HATE pictures of myself. Every photo was an opportunity for me to see all the unsightly parts of me. To critique myself. To dislike myself. To remind myself of how much work I needed to do to look acceptable or be “pretty”. I could spot the smallest hint of cellulite or a double chin. My gray hairs were so obvious to me. When I looked frumpy or my butt looked too big. Whatever it was, it was all I saw.

And I didn’t need a photo to see how unattractive I was. I felt it all the time. It defined me. Every person I met, I compared myself to. Skinnier legs, more muscular arms, prettier hair, nicer skin, better put together, more fashionable, stylish, you name it. It was the foundation of my life. How did I measure up to someone else’s outsides?

I never did…..

I never felt sufficient. Ever.

A few years ago, when God began shifting my heart to align with His, I started to see glimpses of my worth. I got a tattoo on my side, the Hebrew word for sufficient, meaning if He is enough, then I am enough. I thought I was beginning to really learn to like myself but I was just finding new ways to mask my disdain. I could lift a lot of weights and post a cool video of that. I could make intentionally silly posts to hide the fact that I was uncomfortable with myself. I could edit and filter things to only present my “best” self.

Or…. I could just be myself and share only who I truly am, and be more than ok with it. I could truly love myself and see all the beauty within me and not focus on my flaws. But that seemed like an impossible feat…..

For a while I would try to shift my thoughts. Whenever I judged myself, I would say nice things in my head to combat the negative. There’s this guy, Gottman, and he did a study about relationships. Apparently, for every 1 negative statement, you need 5 positive ones to balance out. This is true for all relationships, even the one with yourself. If I looked in the mirror and said I was ugly, I would immediately force myself to say something kind. And if I found myself judging others, I would muster up a compliment and hand it out as fast as I could (and it had to be genuine). I would remind myself of how I ran a half marathon or how I loved deeply or served others well. I tried to find ways to convince myself that I was attractive and “good”. As much kind words I said to fight my mean self, it was never enough. I couldn’t convince myself to see anything differently.

My husband is a photographer and I have always forbid him from taking pictures of me. Professional cameras would capture my hideous appearance with even greater detail. I had no interest in seeing all of my skin and body with such great design. That decision always made me feel sad inside but my sorrow was not stronger than my dislike for myself. I don’t know if it’s me approaching my 40’s or the heart shift with my ankle break or just God revealing things to me, but something recently has changed. Maybe you just stop caring so much about this sort of thing at some point. Probably some people never cared much about comparison. Not only do I like the way I look, but I don’t even have to convince myself to approve of my appearance. Somehow, I actually see myself and see the beauty in me. My belly, which often times is fuller than flat, reminds me that I grew a human and it makes me smile. Sometimes it even makes me laugh because it’s so stinking adorable. And my legs, which are softer because of my ankle break, don’t gross me out even with some stretch marks and cellulite. I can’t even explain why it doesn’t matter, but it just doesn’t. My hair is in need of some fixing, my grays are showing through horribly and the fuchsia color has faded to show dry, blonde-ish ends but that’s ok! I genuinely still like myself AND see a deeper elegance than all those things.

I used to think I needed to present myself as perfectly as possible to be ok. In order to be alluring and like myself, I needed to strive for model type, high level athlete, unattainable fashionista, perfection, well groomed, organized super human. Now, I see true beauty in the authentic, sometimes messy, not always put together but always working hard and loving version of me. The one who puts people before things, who accepts and loves others as they are, who encourages and supports friends in their darkest moments and cheers on strangers in the day to day.

I will probably never be someone who constantly is obsessed with myself, posts selfies all the time or even checks the mirror a bunch. I don’t think I’m in any way giving up on caring about my appearance or going to quit working out to improve my physical health. It just doesn’t mean as much to my value anymore and that feels really good. Seeing myself for the first time, as a fascinating and lovely being, is so strange yet freeing.

I can’t believe I wasted so much of my life focused on something so insignificant. Imagine what I could’ve been doing with my time if I hadn’t been so preoccupied. I hope to inspire others to see their true beauty and value

because it’s there…

Logistics

Last Friday evening ended our adventures out west and although there are a ton of profound and deep things we experienced, there are also a lot of logistical things we learned from. I wanted to share some of the lessons we found valuable in a stand alone post. Since my husband and I will be traveling at least once a month for a while, I feel some camping/hiking/adventuring tips are in order.

Our trip took us through Colorado where we only stopped for a few hours. It was the first time we saw the mountains not covered in snow which was odd. Granted, we didn’t go hike up into the Rockies but even driving though Aspen and Vail, we found them to be bare. It was also somehow a cloudy day (Denver specifically has the most sunny days per year of any city). To say we were disappointed is an understatement. One of my favorite views is approaching Denver on 70 and seeing an endless sky full of snow capped mountain tops. Unfortunately, we did not get that experience this time.

Moab, Utah is only five-ish hours past Denver, just across the Colorado state line. That was our first stop and our third time visiting. We spent two days there and thanks to the owner of our hotel, we had some amazing hikes that were outside of Arches National Park. Which brings me to tip #1: ask someone local where they like to hike. Most of the area around Moab is public land meaning you can park your car on the side of the road and just trek in any direction. We ended up doing one of our favorite hikes ever which culminated with a beautiful arch on a cliff. To top it off, there were only two other people hiking at that trail. It was incredible!

Enter food…. as we drove along 191 through Moab, my husband declared, “I could really go for the best eggs benedict right now.” That’s his favorite breakfast meal so it’s not surprising he was craving it. Well wouldn’t you know, maybe two blocks after that, I saw a sign outside The Jailhouse Cafe, “Best Eggs Benedict.” I mean, what are the chances?? And just to confirm, my hubby is an eggs benedict connoisseur and he agreed they were in fact the best he’d ever had. I’d say tip #2 is to try the small, old looking local places over your familiar, nationwide chains. On a prior trip to Estes Park, we tried a place named The Egg & I and just like this trip, we quickly fell in love with the food and atmosphere.

Tip #3 is all about the heat. And let me tell you, we messed up big time in this department. We booked a campsite in Page, Arizona for a week. We knew it was the first week of July and that Arizona and Utah are both hot but we also know that the desert cools at night. We’ve camped in Joshua Tree in June before and while the days were scorchers, evenings got down to the 50’s. Page, Arizona is somehow an exception to that rule. The lows were in the 80’s….. We prefer camping over hotels for cost efficiency and also proximity to beautiful views and star lit sky’s. Just make sure you check thoroughly before booking a site or else you will waste money, end up staying in a hotel anyhow and be annoyed.

Last few tips: if you forget something important, live without or buy a replacement. DON’T TRY TO HAVE SOMEONE MAIL IT TO YOU! Our package got lost for a week and by the time it was found, we were already home.

Once you pack your belongings, take 1/3 out. I never wear everything I pack and it’s wasted since really. From a camping and hiking perspective, where showering daily isn’t even always an option, changing all your clothes all the time becomes less important. To be honest, most established campsites have laundry facilities also so rewearing things after washing is way easier than having a full outfit for every day.

Lastly, a decent amount of hikes and adventures require advance planning, special permits or a cash/check payment. If you wanna see The Wave in Arizona, it’s a lottery and only 20 people total are allowed per day. You can only enter the online lottery 4 months in advance. If you wanna hike Half Dome in Yosemite, you need a special permit and similarly, they have limits on how many people can go per day. Make sure you prepare well in advance, have all your ducks in a row and carry small bills at all times.

Hopefully these tips are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! I will be sharing a lot of tangible tips and emotional growth experiences in the coming months and hopefully even adding a vlog!

Undeniable

It’s 4pm in Moab, Utah and I’ve already hiked almost 9 miles up to a huge arch in the middle of no where, through a sand trail that traversed a stream multiple times. Wait, let’s re-read that sentence…

Didn’t I break my ankle just four months ago? I know, I know, I keep talking about it but seriously, how did I do this crazy slanted slick rock hike? How did I navigate sand and algae covered rocks? And with NO PAIN? No swelling?

We can go over the first part of that sentence also and be in awe… I’m in Moab, adventuring with my husband. A month ago this was not our reality but now we have plans to travel every month for the rest of the year and maybe even longer. Oh, and let’s clarify, we aren’t paying for our trip, it’s all work related and my husband is actually being compensated for these amazing adventures.

Here’s what’s even more crazy: three years ago we wrote this down as a dream we wanted to see fulfilled. My husband aspired to be a full time photographer, traveling the country and working enough to support our family. I aspired to be working less and traveling with him, helping in whatever way possible and having time to write more. And if we travel back in time to when I was 18, I said all I wanted to do as an adult was travel around the country even though I had no idea what that would look like.

The path to get here was full of two broken ankles, a lot of moving around, some really emotional and tough situations and unending trust and faith. We spent a lot of time praying, making decisions that felt guided by our God, attempting to discern our path through the mess. We had so many opportunities to give up but I am so glad we kept going.

This trip is covered in blessing and prophecy. It’s clearly meant to be, undeniably a gift from God. Even up to our departure, we acted out of faith and received confirmation. Ten days ago the bulging discs in my back flared up. I could barely walk. I couldn’t work. I was miserable. I saw a chiropractor, got my back dry needled, was put on steroids and muscle relaxers. I attempted everything I could to heal. I thought for a moment maybe I was going to have to cancel going and send my husband out alone. But I also knew I was supposed to go and so I trusted that somehow, my back would feel better…. and it did. Almost 24 hours in the car, which would normally ruin any a human, was exactly the process my back required to be restored. That makes no sense……

So here I am, living seriously my best life, with my body functioning and feeling amazing against all odds. And while this season is oh so good, I will remain faithful, hopeful and positive whenever this peak becomes a valley knowing that if it’s not good, it’s not God and it’s just not the end yet. I hope those who are also enjoying moments of dreams becoming reality take a second to feel ultimate gratitude for the journey that they took to get there. And for those facing struggles and working hard to stay positive, I pray for the perseverance to keep your head up and the belief in the goodness that surely will come.