To It & Through It

“If God brought you to it, He’s going to bring you through it.”

A sweet lady said this to me a few weeks ago when she was sharing a bit of her personal testimony and the struggles that she had been through the past few years. For such a challenging position, she was faithful and trusting, knowing that no matter what happened, no matter how desperate things seemed, there was a plan. It was all going to work out the way it was supposed to. He had it taken care of.

I was touched by her story, however, I can’t say that I’ve lived by those words during my life. As a perfectionist, a people pleaser, and overall rule follower, I just struggle. I let the weight of my stress, the over-ambitious strains that I put upon myself, and the fear of falling anywhere beneath perfection eat away at me. I let a constant fear of failure haunt me. I spend more time worrying than I do breathing and letting things go. I spend my free time working on other jobs or projects, and I have this idea that if I’m not busting my butt all the time, I’m being lazy. With these habits, it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve landed myself in a high stress job that’s challenged me in more ways than one over the past 6 months.

So this phrase, this mantra and trust in God’s hand in our lives, it kind of spoke to me when she said it. And I’ve kept repeating it to myself, over and over again, for the duration of the past few weeks, weeks filled with the looming terror of a deadline that I had to meet by this weekend. A deadline that myself and many of my coworkers thought was impossible and overly-ambitious. It was something that we thought would never happen in a million years.

And you know what I did? Yes, I worked my butt off the last few weeks. But I also prayed. I prayed and I trusted and I tried my best to just let it go. Take things out of my hands and accept that God’s will was going to happen no matter how much stress I brought into my life. I expressed gratitude for every little bit of progress and said thank you for every step in the right direction.

Yesterday was the deadline. Yesterday was the day that I needed this small miracle to happen by. And it did. It all fell into place right on time, not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. And all I can do now is smile and keep on repeating that little mantra, because out of this whole scenario, I’ve learned one lesson.

There are going to be challenges in life. Times when we think that something is completely impossible. Days when it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and failure is inevitable and it’s just all too much and overwhelming. However, despite those feelings and how easy it is to just succumb to the stress and fear, there’s another option. You can look at an obstacle with fear of failure. Or you can look at an obstacle with faith in God’s plan. And whether that means success or just knowing that you gave it your best shot and God had other plans in mind, it’s a faith that just feels good. And that good feeling that comes with faith, that’s priceless. Because you know what? The unknown is pretty damn scary. Especially when deadlines and important life challenges are involved. But, it’s a hell of a lot easier to face the unknown and life’s obstacles with faith, than it is to look at an obstacle with fear and predicted failure in mind.

Because it’s true you know. Whether it ends up the way you want it to or not, God’s going to bring you through it somehow.

Advertisements

Grow Where You’re Planted

Two years ago, I was probably sitting on my favorite couch, in my favorite apartment, with five of my best friends either upstairs or next door. I was surrounded with love from my sorority sisters, close to my church group, and in love with the greatest job. I was smitten, totally enthralled by this magical, beautiful place called Auburn. Sure, I had seen some heartbreak in that same cozy apartment, but the quaint little town felt like home, causing me to feel anything but ready to leave.

But, the right doors, or the doors that I thought were right at the time, weren’t really opening for me in Auburn. I was rooted in the familiar, wanting to stay in this favorite place of mine forever, desperate not to leave. Yet…. the doors I needed to swing wide open in Auburn were only opening a creak, while Chattanooga was throwing open the gate, calling to me with enthusiasm, begging me to make the jump back across the state line into my home state of Tennessee. It was like this not so gentle nudge, pushing me into something new and unfamiliar and four hours away from the place that I was holding onto so tightly. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog the last few years, the decision that I made probably isn’t a surprise. I packed up my favorite apartment, left my favorite job, cried a lot, and moved to Chattanooga. I was enrolled in UTC’s MPA program, a discipline different than the one I had at Auburn, knew one person in town (my roommate and childhood best friend), and lived 20 minutes away from the center of town and campus.

For my first six months here, I remained rooted in Auburn. I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t give Chattanooga a chance to seduce me with its bridges and people and beauty. I didn’t give myself a chance to grow. I clung to my roommate, my frequent trips back for football games in Auburn, my even more frequent trips back to Nashville to visit old friends and family, and my plans to return to Auburn as soon as possible.

Then, not surprisingly, around this time last year, I realized that I was kind of lonely. My best friend and my only little piece of familiarity in this new place was moving back to Nashville for school, and I was putting so much of my energy into a place that I wasn’t even at in my life anymore. I was no longer in college, I was no longer a frequent visitor at SkyBar, and I no longer lived in Ross Park with all of my sorority sisters. I was a post-grad, 20-something, single, Chattanoogan in UTC’s MPA program. This was a completely different place in my life. And maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t embracing this new stage of my life enough.

So around this time last year, I tried to settle in. I moved closer to town, started taking morning walks on the pedestrian bridge overlooking downtown and the river, joined a gym, worked on my goals that I had brushed aside throughout college due to “how busy I was,” became closer to my classmates, tried to hang out with my Chattanooga friends more, and made a solid effort to embrace the city that I live in now. Don’t get me wrong, I never let Auburn go. I still haven’t. I still love that place with all of my heart. I can still imagine myself growing old there with season football tickets and long walks in Kiesel Park and a regular tailgating spot. But if I’ve learned anything during my two years in Chattanooga, it’s the importance of growing where you’re planted.

Once I decided to settle, to let myself grow in this new place and this new direction that my life has taken, everything in my life has blossomed. I feel more like myself, the pieces of my life that used to seem so fragmented have come together, and I have a much firmer grasp of what I want to do with my life and how I want to spend it than I ever did before. I’ve both grown and grown up, and isn’t that what should happen after college?

There are going to be times in life when you’re led to a place that you think you don’t want to be. But if you make the best of every situation, trust in your intuition, and just grow where you’re planted at the time, change can be a beautiful thing. It definitely has for me, and as I’m nearing another graduation and another stage in my life, I’ve realized that Auburn isn’t the only place that feels like home anymore. And that’s ok.

The Number Games

Over the past two months, I’ve been sitting on a little weight loss plateau. Nothing too crazy, but I’ve just been kind of hanging out at the same weight, despite my time put in at the gym.

Interestingly enough, while I was excited to finally break the plateau this morning, I’m glad it happened. For starters, sitting at 180 without any movement for a solid two months was frustrating, but it made me realize that the scale isn’t the end-all-be-all deciding factor of fitness improvement. Yeah, my scale didn’t move for almost two months. BUT, I dropped a size and have seen some major improvements at the gym regardless. I’ve had to drop down to a medium in a lot of clothing stores, I can run longer and faster, my endurance to teach classes has improved, and I’m slowly but surely upping my strength training abilities.

So why the hell did that number taunt me for two months? Who knows. But I did learn this throughout the entire process: a number is just a number. My 180 isn’t going to look the same or feel the same as somebody else’s 180. And what does that number show for anyway? I could be 180 pounds and miserably out of shape. I could be 180 pounds of all fat and no muscle. Or I could be a lean, mean, 180-pound killing machine. I could be 180 pounds two months ago with a 9 minute mile and 180 pounds today with an 8 minute mile time. The number doesn’t define what I can and can’t do by any means.

So the point to this rant? Plateaus aren’t the end of the world. They can destroy you if you let them, or you can choose to keep working and pushing until you’re over it and better for it. This is the second big plateau that I’ve hit since I started trying to lose weight last year, and both have helped me to really challenge myself and come to terms with my relationship with the scale. A number is just a number, and you can’t necessarily control what it’s going to be every day. One week you may be bloated because of DOMS, another day it could be increased muscle mass, or if you’re a female, mother nature can do crazy things to the scale. But despite all of these things, you can control your actions and the choice to wake up and make improvements to the things that are within your control.

Daily Quote Challenge 1/3

Challenge’s rules:

  1. Post on three consecutive days.
  2. You can pick one or three quotes per day.
  3. Challenge three different bloggers per day.

Confession: I usually don’t pay any attention to the challenges or awards that circulate around WordPress. But this challenge asks me to share quotes with y’all for 3 days! And really, if we were to be totally honest about what’s happening here, I’m looking at this as an excuse to share some of my favorite little insights with y’all. It’s like WordPress is giving me the green light to go back and read through all of my favorite quotes that I have saved on my computer (yeah… I’m that person.) Maybe I hoard quotes on my pinterest boards and computer drive… don’t judge me too much đŸ˜‰

Shout out to Small Town Girl for challenging me, and these are the first three bloggers that I choose to challenge.

  1. A Writer’s Corner
  2. David Snape & Friends
  3. Operation Fat Removal

when-you-do-dance-i-wish-you-a-wave-o-th-sea-that-you-might-ever-do-nothing-but-that-move-still-quote-1

For today’s quote, I chose one of my favorites from Shakespeare, taken from “The Winter’s Tale.” I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned my new obsession with Zumba in my last several posts, and I think that this quote sums up the way that I feel when I start to dance. No, I’m not a professional dancer. I’m not always graceful. I’m convinced that I look like a total goofball when I think that nobody’s watching me. But I love it, and when I start, I just feel free, making it so hard to stop. Tonight, I was standing in the back of the Zumba class for part of it, and the whole time, I was just dancing like a crazy person, letting everything loose (because hey… I don’t think anybody could really see me anyway.) The class was an hour, but I could have kept dancing. And just think, how awesome would it be if we always danced like nobody was watching, or wrote like nobody was reading, or created just simply to create, regardless of approval or the outcome?

Club 24

Guess who turned 24 today?!?!

IMG_1299

And oddly, I’m not freaking out about being old yet. Probably because things seems to just get better and better for me as I age, so I’m just going to assume that these are my golden years maybe? Ok, let’s just go with it. Also, my first moments of 24 were spent wearing a glitter crown and popping champagne bottles, so it’s bound to be another good one.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that I have some friends that write an obituary for themselves every birthday (actually a super cool concept if you think about it), others who cry about getting older, and those that spend the whole day poppin’ bottles (ok, maybe I do some of that too…. treat yo self). BUT I like to do my own little birthday tradition where I reflect on all of the things in my life that I can be grateful for over the past year. If you were reading my blog last year (shout out if you were and have stuck around – y’all are seriously great), you may remember my post “23” where I listed 23 points of gratitude. That little grateful list has actually sparked a practice that I try to do every day where I count my blessings. You’d be surprised just how awesome your day can start out (even Mondays or days that look like they’re gonna be hella stressful) when you just sit and think of some of the wonderful things in your life and say THANK YOU or just feel grateful. Try it y’all, and I promise you won’t regret it. But anyways, since I wrote 23 reasons why I’m grateful last year and I spend every morning counting my own blessings in a little notebook, I’m not going to make a list of 24 things for you to read again. I will, however, update y’all on the highlights of the past year and what I’m most grateful for in order to keep up with my little birthday tradition. Seriously, if 24 is even half as good as 23, I’m going to be pumped.

Fitness Accomplishments

IMG_1174

Since turning 23, I’ve shed about 55 pounds and hit some big accomplishments and milestones at the gym. When I turned 23, I didn’t expect to fall in love with exercise, shed the pounds, become a licensed Zumba instructor, or actually enjoy the process of living a healthier lifestyle. But I did, I love it, and I can’t imagine not doing this now. I’m so grateful for everything that has happened in this area of my life over the past year, and I can’t wait to see what another year is gonna do!

School & Work

23 was full of a lot of opportunities at work and school. I’m blessed with an assistantship that pays for my graduate classes, and I was lucky enough to spend 9 months out of the year working a second job that taught me so much about leadership, what going the extra mile can do, and when its time to follow your gut on something. I’m so grateful for my classes, coworkers, classmates, and all of the other people that I’ve been able to work with and learn from this year. 6 more months until graduation, and I’m excited to put everything that I’ve learned during this post-grad/grad school years to use when I (hopefully) land a full-time job in May.

Adventures

So I have really really great friends. Friends that are spread out all over the country and let me sleep on their couches/floors/beds when I come to visit. Friends that have visited me over the year and gone on adventures with me! Friends that understand my constant desire to roam. I’m so grateful for these people and all of the adventures that we had this year! From Nashville NYE, to Gatlinburg, to San Francisco, to Virginia, to North Carolina, to Auburn, and everywhere in between…. it’s been such a good year.

1467401_10206846386417685_7304799351355304085_n

12122445_10208113478054184_5288246960689319840_n

Relationships

Like any year, I can’t say that 23 was totally perfect. There were some ups and downs, some heartbreaks, and the passing away of a few loved ones. But even with everything, both the good and the bad, I’m so so grateful for every single person that has walked through my life in the past year. When I think about the people in my life and how much they mean to me, the impact that they’ve had on my life, all of the laughs or smiles that they’ve contributed to, or the lessons that I’ve learned from them, I can’t help but smile and feel happy. This year, I hope to continue loving the wonderful people in my life and hopefully bring the same kind of smile to them!

So here’s to 24, being a little bit older with a few more gray hairs than last year, and all of the awesome people and experiences that made my last year so awesome. I have a good feeling about this year, so stay tuned to see what kind of adventures/misadventures I get into!

 

 

Save the Drama for Your Mama

Have you ever had this crazy awful experience that you just can’t wait to be over? That one where you think, why wasn’t I smarter? Why did I do this to myself to begin with? I totally should have seen this coming!

Well, friends. Let me be completely candid by saying that yes, this has recently happened to me, and yes, today was the end of a month-long, drawn out roommate separation, moving process, and semi-dramatic couple of weeks. Overall, the process wasn’t too ridiculous, but when one of our threesome decided to move out, the other two of us decided it would be better to transfer to a two-bedroom than risk it for the biscuit with a random roommate. Hey, ya live and ya learn peeps. We lived, we learned, we transferred to an adorable two bedroom apartment and are living happily ever after post-roommate drama, a hella-quick packing/moving process, and the tenth circle of hell, also known as transporting and unpacking my shoe collection, craft box, and hoard of comfy, over-sized college tshirts. Oh that busted lip I had last week and blamed a knife fight when anybody asked what happened (you should see the other guy!)? Yeah… that was really just a side effect of a heavy craft box falling off a shelf and hitting me in the face. Not that anyone actually believed that I got in a knife fight to begin with, but I digress…

If you’ve asked me about this process anytime during the last week, I probably just laughed, shook it off, and took an extra large sip of the coffee or wine (shout out to these two for helping me through the last month!) that was undoubtably in my hand while we were talking. But looking back, I can’t help but be grateful for the entire experience. (Yes, you did, in fact, read the word “grateful” there… don’t worry! Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you). Here’s why:

Without moving into the first apartment with the first set of two roommates, many things would never have happened. I wouldn’t have turned down that job that I would I have hated, I never would have gone to the smaller YMCA that’s close to my apartment, I never would have walked into that first Zumba class, meaning that I might not have fallen in love with exercise, got licensed to teach, melted 30 lbs off, or met some of the awesome, encouraging people that I love to work out with. Some of my favorite nights in the last few months were spent out on the town with my friends that live in this complex and on this side of town, and I would have probably missed out on a few wine nights too. I wouldn’t have started going on my weekly walks (that I’m absolutely addicted to) around the park and Chattanooga to burn off steam or get out of the apartment for a bit, I wouldn’t have started waking up earlier to ensure some me time in the apartment, and I’m sure that several other characteristics of the last 5 months probably would have looked different too.

Perhaps these things would have all happened in their own time, but I really think that God has the perfect timing. People and events and situations all come into our lives at the right time for the right reasons. And now, despite all of this crazy drama over the past month, I honestly can’t help but just be grateful and happy and full of this sense of peace about the whole thing. Sometimes, it can be really scary to sit back and accept that what is supposed to happen is going to happen in its own time, and all the things and people that walk through our lives, whether good or bad, are meant to be there for a reason. Maybe looking back, I should have known that this roommate situation probably wouldn’t be the best idea. But would I change the last 5 months? No. Not in the slightest.

Shakira-in-Training

Good morning!

This blog post is coming to you fresh from the Starbucks in Manchester, TN and is accompanied by a dark roast and nervous/excitement/jitters for the Zumba certification that I’m going to in an hour. Since working on homework during this little break only lasted for about five minutes, I figured I’d share a little bit about what’s going through my head as I check this goal off my list of things that I really really want to do.

First things first, let’s back track. How did I end up in Manchester waiting for an 8-hour day of training in salsa, merengue, and reggeaton? Back in June, I decided that I wanted to kick my weight loss journey into a higher gear and attempt to develop a slightly more healthy relationship with food. I had been working on making healthier choices since January, but my eating habits looked a lot more like a roller coaster of underating/overeating, combined with a severe lack of sleep, loads of stress, and minimal self-esteem.

So naturally, I was like HEY! I should get a gym membership. Because that’s the natural next step right? Sweating? People who exercise have endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands! (If you didn’t catch that reference, it’s time for you to catch up on the movie Legally Blonde.) The same day that I joined, I found out there was a Zumba class that night. I had been to one or two classes before in college, but exercise wasn’t really a priority for me at that point. So I went and I danced and I sweated and I probably went the wrong way or did the wrong moves for most of the class, but I immediately LOVED it. I spent a lot of time laughing at myself, but the instructor was mixing some fun hip hop songs into the mix, and it brought back some of that routine memorization/dance aspect that I used to love so much when I was into dance and cheerleading back in the day.

Fast forward a few months, and it’s like my happiness, outlook on health, and self-confidence have made a complete 180. My instructor brought up teaching to me twice over that course of time, but it wasn’t until the second time that I actually felt like this was something that I could do. Sure, I’m not where I want to be weight-wise. But I have this theory that maybe, just maybe, teaching isn’t about me. It’s about showing other people what they’re capable of and sharing this joy of dancing and sweating and hard work with them. Luckily, I’ve had really great instructors and gym pals that have continuously encouraged me to push myself and let loose over the past few months, and now I want it to be my turn to do the same thing for other people!

So here’s my first step, and I’m so excited and nervous and ready to shake it all day that it’s not even funny. I used to be a little shy about how obsessed I am with Zumba, but I’ve kind of gotten over that at this point. I’ve drank the crazy Zumba koolaide, and there’s really no going back now – I dance in the grocery store, in the car, at home, at work, and pretty much any time I hear a good song come on and don’t even get me started on some of the crazy, colorful workout clothes that I’ve unintentionally found growing in my closet.

We’ve all heard the advice that you should do what you love, do what you want to do, and don’t care what anyone else thinks. Because hey! Life is short and nothing is certain and it just seem like such a waste to not do what you love.  It’s easy to hear that advice over and over again, but I’ve learned over the past few months that it’s oftentimes a lot easier said than done. However, I’ve also learned that once you do figure it out and forget about other people’s expectations, it’s a beautiful, wonderful feeling that’s too good to shake.