Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Half Birthday To ME!

 Exactly seven years ago, I was doing this.
Yes, I got married on my half birthday. I loved it that way. I loved having a reason to celebrate something really special exactly 6 months before my birthday each year.

This year, I decided I needed to focus on my half birthday and what this day can now mean to me. Because really, 26 1/2 is such a big deal.

So I ran in the Blacklight Run on Saturday.
 And my goodness, I'm still finding colored powdered in my hair after 2 showers.
 But it was worth it to be with so many of my amazing friends---and ALL of their husbands. Not awkward at all, right? Ok, it actually wasn't. They must be really amazing. Also, I'm a spaz and it looks like I'm photobombing. I promise this is really my group. :)

Then yesterday, I got an opportunity to spend 1.5 hours alone in my car while driving to Tucson to get my kids and it was perfect. I'm serious. I had so much time to think and sort through some things and pray and belt out really awesome songs.
And I wore two of my favorite pendants yesterday, each representing a very special time in my life.

The weekend was good. Today will be good. I have a good life.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Did It Anyway

One time, I hiked the Y. Actually, let me rephrase that, one time I barely hiked the Y.

I had been home from ANASAZI for over a year but had done an extra "dawnstar expedition" on the trail a month or so prior so I just knew I could handle hiking up a mountain. I felt like a mountain woman after ANASAZI, even though I hardly ever did any physical activity once I graduated from high school. I would often drive up to the mountains just to sit and write in my journal and meditate. I still do this sometimes when I'm kidless. Can I emphasize how much this does not count as physical activity?

But really, how hard could it be?
Hard. Really hard. That's precisely how hard it was---hard. Have I overused that word yet?

I remember getting halfway up the Y and I was no longer worried about being cool in front of my friends. I wanted to quit. My asthma was kicking my butt and I felt like I couldn't take another step. I told them to head up without me.

I could not do this! I convinced myself it was too much. It might've just been a small mountain but that day, it was too much. I sat there for a while feeling silly that I couldn't make it up a stupid mountain that thousands of people have hiked. Where was the fighting Suzanne?

On that particular day, I had a choice to make. So I took a little time to think about it and then I got up and started walking. I took one step, and then another, and then another.
When I got to the Y, I may not have been as enthusiastic as I would normally describe myself but I had done it. I had done something that, 20 minutes prior, I was convinced I couldn't do.

Isn't this kind of how life goes for all of us? We look at other people and the trials they face and we mentally pick which ones we would or wouldn't be able to handle it.

So what happens when we're given the trial we decided we couldn't handle?

This is what I was faced with when I was diagnosed with infertility almost 3 years ago (Oh my heck, THREE years?!). I couldn't handle it. But I did it anyway.

The marital problems came flooding in a year later and at the time, I wasn't sure how I could stay married. I wasn't convinced this could be my life forever. But I did it anyway.

And then my marriage dissolved and it wasn't my choice. I had found happiness in my marriage and it dissolved right before my eyes. I was CERTAIN I couldn't handle it. But I did it anyway.

Sometimes I tell myself I won't be able to handle school AND being a single mom AND babysitting but each day, I do it. I do it because I know it is important. Sometimes I do it just because I have to. Sometimes I handle it gracefully and sometimes I'm convinced my kids would be better off being raised by someone else. But I do it anyway because that is what I need to do.

When you have yourself convinced that you cannot handle the things you've been given, remember that you are stronger than you think. Your Heavenly Father gave you the ability to fight the things you need to fight if you let Him help you.

You can handle anything with God. You are a fighter and you can do hard things.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Fearful, Fighting Warrior: My Messy Beautiful

One of the reasons I blog is because I like free therapy. Really, who doesn't?
So today is all about the real in my life right this very minute on this very day.

My name is Suzanne and I fight fear.

Seven years ago, I entered into a commitment that was supposed to last forever. In my mind, it really was going to last forever. That seven year anniversary is coming up next week and yet, six weeks ago, that commitment was dissolved. I thought I would never have to search for love again but here I am, feeling empty handed of the love I once had. I fear being loved.

I was once a little girl who felt judged. I am now an adult who feels judged every day. It doesn't matter if people are actually judging me, I over-analyze every move I make because I'm just certain someone is going to be unhappy with what I say or do. I fear judgment from others and the judgment I receive from myself.

I had have an eating disorder. I always will. Truthfully, it's something I've struggled with since I was 14 but eating disorders don't just up and walk away from your life {I wish they did}. I fear telling you all that because I'm overweight and that just seems ironic. I fear telling you that because I am scared you'll think I'm unstable. I'm not. Well, sometimes I am but it has nothing to do with my eating disorder. Eating disorders are something I want to fight against. Being so personally affected is one of the main reasons I keep choosing to write my English essays on body image or eating disorders. I fear my own body image.

The reason I said I fight fear is because every day, every dang day, I fight these fears. I don't always succeed but I fight.

Throughout my life, dealing with loss, infertility, divorce, shame, etc., I've learned that there are always two roads I can take. Always. I always end up with a choice.

Isn't that a brutiful thing? Sure, it's scary. Sure, I'd like someone to make choices for me once in a while. I ask my therapist to make my choices for me all of the time! Just ask her. Oh wait, I'm kidding. Don't ask her. You don't know you?

Because I was born feisty, I was born with an innate sense to FIGHT for myself. As a teenager, I thought fighting for myself meant defying anything anyone told me because they had no clue. I've heard this referred to as the "eff you teenager" phase. That statement is truer than true for me and reflects a lot of the feelings I've been stuck with. You know, those hard feelings that aren't always surfaced without a lot of work.

So here's what I've learned:

The hard feelings are the ones worth surfacing. The hard feelings make me who I am. They explain my fear and they explain my fight.

I have been betrayed before and I will feel betrayed again before my life is over but I am a single mom with a fighting chance. I choose to fight and fight and fight because life is worth a fight. Life is worth the relief I feel for 5 minutes before the next fight tries to knock me down.

My life is messy. My life is beautiful. My life is beautifully messy.

I like to refer to my life as "icky sticky". I often feel like I'm trudging through honey or peanut butter or maybe even Nutella {who doesn't love a little Nutella?} and I pick those particular foods because they're
sticky and yummy. I pick those foods to explain my feelings on "icky sticky-ness" because everytime life gets "icky stick" {Am I over-using that phrase?}, I learn. I grow. I get stronger. And it ends up feeling a little sweeter and a little better than before it started. Heartbreak becomes beautiful when you choose to learn and grow and have empathy and compassion.

I've learned that life isn't about perfection. Ok, fine, maybe I'm still pretty obsessed with being perfect and maybe I still struggle to find a balance between my fears and my faith but I'm fighting!
This girl is a fighter. This girl has found strength in the BRUTIFUL life she's been given. This girl is WEIRD for posting that picture twice on her blog but she's trying to accept the weird because there are a lot of cool things about this girl.
This girl is grateful for life and love and trials and hard days and wonderful days because they all intertwine to create a beautifully messy life.

This post was inspiringly written for the Beautiful Messy series on Momastery.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

Today I have an overwhelming amount of gratitude for life.
When President Uchtdorf talked about living through our trials and finding gratitude, Satan was sitting close by and whispering to me, "You aren't doing enough. You are a complainer. You whine about your life so tell me exactly how you are grateful at all." He started to win as I was ferociously writing words to try and remember so I could learn how to be a grateful person. I started to feel unworthy and bad about some of my posts lately because they didn't show my gratitude.
And then almost instantaneously, I received two text messages from separate people, telling me they were thinking of me during his talk and how thankful they were that I was an example of gratitude for them.
It was God's reminder to me that when I have bad thoughts, they are from Satan. God doesn't ever tell me I am ungrateful or unworthy of love because I complain. He shows me what I'm good at.
On the other hand, Satan takes what I'm good at and tries to belittle it.

Today I am thankful for a loving Father in Heaven who knew I was getting lost for a second during a talk that was supposed to be empowering me. I'm thankful He sent two earthly angels to remind me that I'm doing ok and I'm extremely grateful that those two people were listening to God when they were prompted to send me those texts, whether they recognized it as that or not.
I feel so lonely so much of the time but God always sends me what I need, when I need it. It's when I recognize His hand in my life that I realize I am anything but alone.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Body Image Issue

Disclaimer---kind of: I feel a teensy bit like a hypocrite for writing this because I struggle every day but I'm going to write it anyway. This isn't meant to say that I'm super awesome and love myself always and never struggle. It's actually because I struggle that I'm super passionate about issues like this.

The Body Image Issue

I wrote an essay this week on body image and how the media affects this issue and a lot of what drove me to choose that topic is based on my own personal experiences mixed with my anger toward some of the things I've seen in the media lately.

Let's get real, friends. The media does, absolutely does, affect our world! Everywhere we look, we see images of flawless, stick-thin women and toned, athletic men. What are our children going to grow up thinking about themselves if we don't take a stand and teach them of their worth from a young age?
I know it gets hard. I know most of the things parents say are out of love but please promise me or yourself or your children something today. Never ever ever ever EVER comment on your child's body size to them. Never. Because they already get that from the media. They will already struggle with whether they are perfect enough or worthy enough for their dream guy/girl to run with them into the sunset and live happily ever after. I can assure you they will worry about it. What they need from us is to teach them that the media is WRONG. What they need are people to fight against the model-like body type that probably 2% of women can actually attain and celebrate who they are for who they are.

In an article I recently read, it stated that "body dissatisfaction manifests throughout the lifespan with girls as young as nine years of age desiring to lose weight." source NINE YEARS OLD, friends. I was 9 years old in the 3rd grade and actually, I mentioned weeks ago in my Eating Disorder Awareness post that I was dissatisfied with my body at age 6. I distinctly remember it and it wasn't fun...and it still isn't fun.

''For the modern woman, being thin is the ultimate form of perfection, the kind of personal control required to become the new Superwoman parallels the single-mindedness that characterizes the anorectic" source

I’ve witnessed some pretty appalling commercials and advertisements in my adulthood; advertisements for shoes that sexualize women, advertisements for hair products that sexualize women, advertisements for jewelry that sexualize women, etc. In each of these commercials, I have recognized a similar trend of a half-naked woman with a flawless body. I grew up watching these things on television and having this idea in my mind that thin would make me wanted and beautiful and worth something. For teen girls and women, this is a dangerous cycle and for teen boys and men, this is a detrimental view of what women should be. Men are being raised to see images in the media of perfection and not very many women are able to attain that perfection men might desire. For women, this creates a serious eating disorder problem. For men, this creates a serious pornography problem. The life we all want to obtain is demoralized by the things we have become insensitive to on our televisions and through the internet.

One of the key factors in body image is the depression so many adolescents face because of the stigma that being thin is the best thing you can be. This creates a pressure on our youth that many of them will carry well into adulthood. “A young woman between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four years has a 7 percent chance of being as thin as a catwalk model and a 1 percent chance of being as thin as a supermodel. Models and many actresses are abnormally thin, but teenage girls who are not thin may view these images and believe that something is wrong with them.” source How do we change this ideological behavior? When will enough be enough? Most of us would agree that we want our children, our peers, and ourselves to love who we are for what we are but how do we change the world’s stigma of “thin is in”? We can start by advocating for real women in magazines and teaching our children and friends about these distorted images. We can also start by accepting the people around us, no matter their looks. We need to throw away the ideas in our minds about body image and start accepting who we are for what we are. This comes easier for some than it does for others. A lot of women already struggle with eating disorders because of the massive amounts of pressure they get from the media about being thin. We are bombarded daily with commercials, advertisements, billboards, and many other types of media influences that we are having to fight constantly.  

There is one commercial in particular that I've had the unfortunate opportunity to watch and ponder. You all know what Reebok is, right? You know, that shoe company...the shoe company that sells shoes...that shoe company that sells shoes and apparently sex, all in the same commercial! Friends, if you'd like to look up the Miranda Kerr Reebok commercial on your own, feel free. I can almost assure you that you won't be happy with it. And if you find yourself unhappy with it, I'd be really happy to help you stand against this type of thing with me! I have already emailed them, tweeted them, and Facebooked them and since I put links on each of those phrases, feel free to send them your own opinions as well. We need Reebok to know that their shoes can sell without sexualizing women. They are shoes! What in the heck do shoes have to do with sex?!

It's a sad world we live in when advertisers of all types are using sex to sell their products. Hmm, shouldn't your product be good enough as is?

 The effect the media has on body image is scary and sad but we can fight! We can fight against commercials that are distasteful. We can fight against the very thoughts in our heads that tell us we aren't good enough. We can fight for our children and future generations!
Let's not allow the media to define who we should be.

Let's try so so so SO hard to be good enough as is.

We are enough. We have always been enough.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dear Divorce, You Suck

Dear Divorce,

You suck. You really really really really suck. You have brought way too much pain and way too much loneliness. No one can fix you because you're a constant dark cloud. You'll always be there. I'll always have your label, no matter where I go and no matter what I do.

You make me angrier than angry. The choices that caused you make me angrier than angry. You make me feel stupid and vulnerable and out of control. Some days, I lose hope because I've seen what you cause and I've seen what you can do to a family.

You are a liar. People look at you and think you might be easier but I am on the fence.

You have caused me to lose family that I loved. You have caused my children to miss out on being close to family they love. None of this seems fair for the people who didn't decide to lie and deceive. But life isn't fair so now we just get to decide how we will make divorce the best possible situation it can be...even though my sarcasm wants to speak up and laugh at that thought.

It isn't actually you, it is the person who listened to you. But you still suck.

And Dear Lying,

You suck. You really really really really suck. Shall I copy the rest of the above here?

I think you all get the point.

If you have a hard time telling the truth, get help. I'm not being mean but I am being harsh. Get help. Compulsive lying is so harmful to you, to your relationships, and to everyone you are around.

Compulsive lying just ticks me the frick off!
What if it were you? What if you had spent almost a third of your entire life building up something great only to find out everything was based on lies? And literally the day your marriage fell apart was the day you started to find out about these lies, one by one, little by little. You'd probably feel about as stupid as I felt. It's one thing to trust someone you should but it is a whole different ballpark when you find out you've been trusting someone you shouldn't have.

Yeah, that's where I'm at today.

Do I think you're a bad person if you can't stop lying? Not necessarily. I believe compulsive lying can be an addiction. So get help.
Manipulating the people you are supposed to love is not an actual relationship, it's a power struggle.

So if you can't stop lying, take a step back and try to figure out why. Are there choices you are making that are causing these lies? If so, get help.

And seriously? Can we just set this debate straight? Intentionally deceiving someone is the same thing as lying. It's the exact same thing! So don't do it. And if you can't stop yourself, get help.

Marriage, relationships, life in general would be better off if we were all willing to be truthful. Keep that in mind the next time you think of telling a little white lie to cover your tracks. Because little lies turn into medium lies that turn into big FAT lies.

I think I'll go fold some laundry now and calm down.

Monday, March 31, 2014

What Today Taught Me

I'm tired, I so badly need a shower, and my inner beast is surfacing so yes, it's time to start getting ready for bed.
But I couldn't NOT post tonight.
I just couldn't!
There is no excuse that is good enough right now for me to not tell you how I feel.

I feel grateful. Today was an amazing day. Shall we just relive it a little bit? Yes, let's do that!

This morning, after dropping P off at school, Spidey and I headed to my mom's because she was going to watch him while I went to math tutoring---bleh. Math and I have been enemies this semester. A few weeks ago, I was ready to call it quits. I couldn't handle the pressure and I couldn't handle seeing my grade (63.7%) get lower and lower. I emailed my teacher and told her I'd be dropping the online class and that I'd take it this summer at the school.
Her response caught me off guard. It went something like this: "Suzanne, I'm happy to withdraw you if that's what you really want but I would love to work with you to bring that grade back up. Don't give up yet! I'm going to open chapter 3 quiz for you and I want you to try it again. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you need to and utilize the math tutoring center."
I was very hesitant. I didn't think I could do it but that email gave me hope. I knew I needed to try.
I re-took the quiz and brought my quiz grade from an F to a B. I re-did some homework and brought those grades from D's to B's. Today I went to math tutoring and got 100% on all of my homework assignments! This is huge, people! My grade is still a D but there is now a cute little + in front of it.

So I was feeling good when I went to pick up my Lil Mr from grandma's house. We came home, I signed on to Facebook before we were going to head out to the gym and I saw that my cyber-friend was having a crazy morning.
Let's back up a bit with the story of my new friend. I'd like to start by pointing out that I have 100% utilized this year's word, brave, when it comes to making this new friend. I read a blog post last month that TC had written about National Eating Disorder Awareness, which inspired me to write this post on my blog. I wanted so badly to write her a message on Facebook but hesitated because that isn't just a thing you do to people you don't know. Anyway, a few weeks later, I saw TC post on my daughter's school Facebook page and realized our kids go to school together! For some reason that made it seem less creepy so I messaged TC and gave her my life story. Just kidding---kind of.
So we became cyber bff's and planned to meet someday soon.
Flashforward to "someday soon".
Last night, TC and I were texting because I realized we are in the same stake! Is the world seeming smaller yet? I thought it was so funny that we were a teeny bit more connected than we were before. Today TC was having a crazy day and I knew exactly what I was going to do. I FB messaged her and asked for her address and favorite snack.
She didn't respond.
I texted her and asked her for her address and favorite snack.
She didn't respond.
I threatened to look up her address if she didn't respond.
She didn't respond.
I texted her to tell her I was on my way.
She didn't respond.
(Would it be important to tell you she was painting her house so the lack of response wasn't because she thinks I'm as crazy as I actually am?)
So I got brave and showed up at her house with a bag full of different snacks.
You guys, I was so afraid she'd think I was crazy but since I felt insta-connected to TC, I hoped she wouldn't call the cops.
Don't worry, she didn't. And my bravery won me a new friend today. A real new friend.

So I left, feeling happier than happy. And it wasn't even the "service" kind of happy, it felt like a real happy. I felt like this day could be the first day of the rest of my life. Cheesy, right?
I digress...I went to the gym and kicked the crap outta my mile run. I shaved 30 whole seconds off of my run. Booyah.

This afternoon, we needed to clean the house. Really badly, we did. But the kids were oh so whiney and cranky so we started with a bike ride. I even mustered up a little bit of patience and jogged next to Spidey so I could help him with the two-wheeler he's known how to ride for 6 months but thinks is scary. He mastered it beautifully and by the end, was riding almost as well as his pro-bike-riding sister. Another booyah.
We got a little bit of cleaning done before the whining and crankiness started up again so we stopped for a dance party, including but not limited to shaking our booties, jumping on my bed, wrestling, and a crud-load of laughing. It was perfect for a minute---a minute is accurate.

So today was great and the cherry on top was posting on our neighborhood page to see if someone could grab me some conditioner if they were at the store tonight {because this girl is in serious need of a shower right now} and having a wonderful friend send her daughters to the store just to get me conditioner.

People are so freaking amazing.

Tonight I decided something that was probably already decided but was reiterated a thousand times over today.
This girl is going to be just fine.