Day 40: I Promised I’d Write

A mini recap of a few things the last months have brought up:  There will be days when you don’t know if you’re forwards or backwards.  You’ll have days when left looks like right and no matter what you try on, it’s too tight.  You’ll experience amazing days with tiny moments of sheer terror, you’ll experience terrifying days with small moments of greatness.  You’ll come to know the thoughts in your head better than you know your closest friend and you’ll begin to either shut them up or share them with the world based on what they say to you.  Do yourself this favor:  always view yourself from the perspective of an admirer.  If you can’t trust your own opinion, take someone’s you do trust.

I started this “40 Days to Make it Write” challenge on July 8th.  If you calculate that out, you would find that it took me exactly 70 days to complete – the 40 day challenge.

I’ll start by telling you I’m not upset about it.  If you know me well enough you’ll know I am.  I tried intensely to justify it.  I’ll let you in on some more of my craziness.  Here’s how my head works:  First, I thought, “Okay, my Dog just turned 70 (human years)…and it was a 40-day challenge.  If you take 40 from 70 you get 30.  And hey!  I’m 30-years-old!  Perfect.  It should have taken me 70 days.”

Then, of course, I realized how ridiculous that was.  I began to think of another justification route; “Okay, if you divide 40 by 70 you get 0.57.  That averages how many blogs I did per day.  If you round 0.57 you would get 0.60…this is equivalent to 60%…which is a passing grade!  It’s a “D”, not an “F”, so you see, I didn’t fail!  Another ridiculous justification that only exuded the fact that I was upset about ‘failing’.

A good friend of mine I hadn’t seen in awhile called me a few days ago on my evening run.  She was coming back into town and just wanted to catch up.  We were talking and she interrupted herself and said, “Oh hey, by the way, I have to admit I stopped reading at Day 30…been a little busy, but I commit to start reading again.”  I laughed and told her not to be in any hurry because Day 40 still isn’t up and it’s been a week and a half!   (How can ONE DAY take over 10 days to write?) 

She recognized the ‘real’ behind the sarcasm and said, “Mel, that’s why you call it a challenge.  It is challenging for you.”  I started thinking:  If I had made it a two-day challenge I could have 100% succeeded, no problem. (Yes, Mel, it’s called setting the bar low.)   I started thinking more about failures.  I recently read something that I really liked about failures.  It made a lot of sense to me:  “If you are going to achieve goals you have never achieved before, you must be willing to do what you have never done before.  One of those things is to allow, no – actually, PUSH yourself to fail.”  I paused when I was reading and thought ‘what the hell?’ I continued on:  “If you want to succeed big, you have to fail big.  There’s no way around it.”  Setting goals you know you will meet is pointless.  For example, if you set a goal like, “I want to show up to work 5 days a week and take 2 days off.”  Unless you have some crazy reason why you have severe difficulty getting to work, you’ll be there.  Bottom line:  Don’t set goals you know you can meet; set the scary ones.

I didn’t want to post today because honestly, I don’t want it to end.  After all the advice that’s been given to me about that, I’m finally convinced and have an attitude of “it’s only over when I say it’s over (bitches)”…and nothing ever has to end.

Today does end the “40 Days to Make it Write” Challenge.  I’ll tell you this; I learned a lot.  I learned a lot about myself, my emotions, my triggers, my attitudes, my outlook on life and different aspects in life among so much more.  The most important thing I learned though was about you.  I learned about so many of you through your sharing.  I so loved getting to connect with you.  I was not only inspired but amazed at how you opened up and shared to someone (many of you) hardly know.

You shared about many things that I would have never dreamed an eating disorder inspired blog would bring up:  sexual abuse, drug addiction, prescription pill questions, social anxiety, divorce, sexual addictions, severe anxiety and guilt, depression, fitness and nutrition, experiences with abortion, experiences with medical providers…the list goes on and on.  It made me realize that even though some of my actions and behaviors were different, we are feeling some of the same things.  For each and every one of you I talked to, I need to tell you that I am SO proud of you.  More than that, I admire and respect each of you for your courage.

Sharing allows us to connect to people #1, that we normally would not connect with and #2, on a level that exceeds most levels:  It’s a cognitively higher level.  If you read one post or you read all forty, I hope what you got out of it is this:  Everyone has their issues.  EVERYONE. 

We are all working on some issue (or issues).  Working through them is a part of life.  Hell…it is life.  The 40-day challenge is done but my writing is not.  Granted, I have a couple things that are going to take precedence for ‘minute’:  Nursing care plans, Nursing fundamentals, Dosage calculations, quizzes, papers, exams (I hate that they say ‘exam’ instead of ‘test’…so anxiety provoking) presentations, readings, Anatomy and Physiology II and diagrams that will need to be focused on…but writing will never stop.  For me it’s like breathing, or working out, or sleeping, or eating (thank God) – all things are necessary for life, stress management and health in moderation.

I didn’t want to finish Day 40 because of this lingering question:  So what’s next?

I don’t know.  (Ha!)  But seriously I don’t.  I’ve thought about doing a weekly challenge.  Take ‘one thing a week that scares me’; do it, then once a week write about it.  I don’t even know if that’s doable at the moment.  Then a friend mentioned asking other readers to submit their story.  Publish their stories and help share with the world some of the amazing people I’ve met.  I can assure you that the “40 Days to Make it Write” will be a book and (the GOAL) is to have it published and released by December 10th.  If you want to help hold me accountable to this I’d appreciate it.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading.  I hope you enjoyed the last 40 days (okay, 70) as much as I did.  As for now, I’m now sure where life will take me, but I promise; I Promise I’ll Write.

Take care,  Mel

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Day 39: Numbers and Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot about numbers recently.  As many of you know, I started the Nursing program at school and one of my classes is Dosage Calculations.  A lot of math, a lot of translating units from one metric system to the other and since I’m surrounded by numbers right now, I thought that would be a good place to start; with some of them numbers in my life right now.

30.  The age I am when I’m starting nursing.

2009:  The year one of my classmates told me she graduated high school.  High. School.

7/40:  The first number is how many hours of classes I’m enrolled in.  The latter is the number of hours required to study.

9:  The number I wore at Oklahoma City University.  (Also the number on the bottle of Love Potion that will make you crazy.)

0:  The number of Diet Cokes I have now.  (woo-hoo!)  #lovingmycoffee

10:  The number of Cool Racerbacks I have hanging in my closet.  (Wait – 13, three are in the washing machine as we speak).

24:  The number of pairs of Nike Shox I owned when I moved to Kent State.  24 is also the number of pairs I packed to take with me.

2016:  The year I will graduate from the Nursing program and pass the N-CLEX.

69:  A number that is the same right-side-up as it is upside-down.

40:  The number of days I committed to writing to challenge myself.

57:  The amount of days the “40 day commitment” actually took (so far).  #recommit #sorryboutit

Why are we talking about numbers?  In class recently we were discussing BMI’s (Body Mass Index) of children.  Some schools now are including a new column on their report cards.  Math, English, Spelling, Reading Comprehension, Behavior and now:  BMI.  I have a lot to say on this topic, however, in trying to not go into a rant, I’m going to stay focused.  When we started talking about that I was reminded of being at Remuda Ranch.  We weren’t allowed to talk about numbers at all.  Not even telephone num­­­bers:  no numbers at all.  I asked one my favorite nurses there, “What the hell is that about?”  She told me a story of someone years ago that tried to hang herself with her bed sheet.  Luckily she was found before any serious damage had been done and when she talked about ‘why’ she had heard someone say, “I use to weigh ______” and this young woman never got ‘that skinny’ so she tried to end her life.  Talk about needing a new focus…

Some numbers, I agree, can be triggering.  For the entire next semester I’m going to be focusing on numbers:  math, calculations of mL, liters, CC’s and so on.  What I want to urge you to do, is don’t look at the numbers.

I hear people every day talk about how much they weigh, how much they eat everyday, how big or small portions are…even just typing it I get exhausted.  Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.  When I went through my entire day when I was struggling: waking up at 4:00am, running until 4:30, drive to the gym, workout 5-6:00am, shower, skip breakfast, work 8-12:00, workout again 12-1:00pm, work until 5:00pm, workout again 5:30-7:00pm…exhausting.  All because I was focusing on those numbers, those times and how much or how little I was doing.

You can’t do it.  On a larger scale, think of this as a problem you’re avoiding.  I know when I have a problem I need to solve I avoid it.  I avoid one thing and focus on something else.  (Sound familiar to anyone else?)  I thought it might.

I turn to small things that aren’t as important to focus on and control because that comes easy for me.  I focus on organization now.  I didn’t used to.  Example, if I have 300 pages of something to read for the week, and this is a good amount of time for me to get going on it, I’ll dust, sweep mop, and bleach the entire house.  Oh then I’ll think, “The house would look really nice with flowers…” So I go get flowers.  Then I’ll come up with, “You know, there’s a lot of clothes in my closet I don’t wear, I should go through them and donate some.”  So I go into my closet, get rid of clothes, put them in a donation bag.  Now do I start reading?

Not quite.  “Man, this room could really use some help.”  So inevitably, the room gets cleaned spotless and now it’s late afternoon and no reading has been done.  Did the 300 pages go anywhere?  No.  They are still there staring at me on the schedule and now there are more added on top of it.  However, at this point I’m too exhausted to start.

Here’s the message.  Focus on what really matters.  I assure you, knowing the number of calories, your bust/waist/hip/thigh measurements and your weight every minute of the day are not the most important thing in your life.  If you feel you want to argue here, “wait a minute, they are to me!” Then I urge you to take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this:  I AM MAKING THESE THINGS THE MOST IMPORTANT.  Luckily, we get to choose where we put our focus; no one chooses it for us.  You can choose to eat healthy, work out in moderation and live a healthy lifestyle.  You can choose to focus on your home, your job, your friends, your spouse, your kids and even yourself.  Hopefully you find a balance in focusing on all of them.

We need to stop turning in circles and get back to a center:  a central focus of what is important in our lives.  For me, I am trying and recommitting everyday to keeping God as my focus.  For you, decide what matters most in your life and focus on that.  Because the reality of it is the rest, all that other stuff, is just stuff.  I believe you can change anything you want in your life, but first you’ve got to recognize what you need to stop doing and what you need to start doing differently.  You can’t get new results with the same actions.

“If stuff is your focus then all you’ll see is stuff.”  Take it from me; you want to get more out of life than just ‘stuff’.

 

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Day 38: God Came Back

Even though I titled this one “God Came Back,” I wanted to point that God doesn’t leave; He never left.  I just thought God physically showing up twice in a matter of days seemed like a lot.  (He must have really needed to get a point across…)

I left you last after I had talked to my Dad about my conversation with God and Grandpa.  That was in the morning.  That evening my sister came over for dinner and I got to tell her and my Mom the story too.  My Mom’s response was pretty funny; “Thank God I didn’t come up there to check on you!  If I had heard you talking out loud to someone I would have opened the door and messed everything up!”

“I’m sure God would have found a way around you, Mom.”

One day went by.  I had researched a few places online for treatment centers.  I had talked to David off and on and it was this awkward conversation of, “So…are you going to come back?  Are you going to get help?  Do you need help?”  Neither of us had the answers.  I found a treatment in Naples, Florida that (at the time) specialized in eating disorders.  I got semi-excited about it and called them.  I asked if I’d be able to have visitors.  I think I even said, “So let’s say someone wanted to take me out to lunch?  Could someone pick me up and bring me back?”The lady on the phone paused and I could hear her thinking, “what exactly are you looking for from this place?  This isn’t day camp.”   Instead, she told me no and politely said, “That’s not exactly the way inpatient treatment works.”  I still thought it was okay since at least I’d be near Naples, but I didn’t call them back after that conversation; sadly, it didn’t feel right.

After I long day of researching and looking up places to “visit” I found some great locations: Orlando, Utah, West Virginia, a couple in Arizona, a lot in California.  There were even a few celebrity sightings at some of them.  At the end of the day I was exhausted.  Ugh.  I don’t even know if I’m going to go yet – why do I have to do this all day?  This cannot be what God wants me to do.

That night we ate dinner, me, Mom and Dad.  After we were sitting around the TV and I thought before I passed out sitting up I would take a shower in the good bathroom.  Let me explain.  My parents remodeled their bathroom and to this day, any time any one of us three kids is over and needs to get ready it’s, “I call Mom and Dad’s room!”  The water gets smokin’ hot.  The rain showerhead has great water pressure, the shampoos and soaps are always full, and right outside the shower there’s a heater to keep you warm and cozy when you step out.  It’s perfect.

I asked if I could shower back there and they said yes.  I steamed up the entire bath and probably the master.  I took the hottest shower on record.  I get out, my skin is beat read and tingling.  I stepped onto the mat and grabbed the fluffy, fresh towel hanging on the stand.  As I’m drying off in front of the heater (almost starting to sweat) all of a sudden I freeze:  I feel a frigid ‘breathe’ (think ‘whoosh’) of air starting at the back of my head going past my face swirling right by my ears.  I had goose bumps from head to toe when I audibly heard the phrase this time, “tell him the story.”

You’ve got to be kidding?  Again?

I closed my eyes.  This time I believed.  Standing there soaking wet with my towel around me I kept my eyes closed, “tell who the story?”  I said it out loud but softly under my breath.  ”Tell who?”  Does He want me to tell Grandpa again? 

Once again:  the same breath of cold air came behind me and ran down my body this time as I heard the same words, “Tell him the story.”  I stood there as my eyes began to tear up and after the air blew through I was warm again.  I stood there, waiting, I asked again, “Tell who?  Please tell me who?” 

That was it.  It was gone.  I stood in front of that heater with my eyes closed for who knows how long (I guess God knows)  and there was nothing else.  Just left with a “tell him the story” message (again) and me questioning every person I could think of in my head:  dead and alive.

I walked back to the main area of the house and found both my parents sitting in the office working on the computer.  I can only imagine what my face must have looked like because they stopped cold in their tracks and looked scared, “Is everything okay?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but God was just in the bathroom.”   They didn’t say a word as I told them what happened and my Mom spoke up first saying, “I’m not coming up to check on you tonight.  No telling who you’ll be talking to!”

They told me to sleep well and said they would pray.  I went upstairs to bed.  The bedroom I sleep in at home is the first room on the right at the top of the stairs.  The door is halfway closed.  I make my way up there and push the door open.

As I open the door the entire room goes blurry.  The entire room is blurred out; except for one thing.  Sitting next to a sparrow candleholder that represents my Grandpa is a picture of my brother.  My brother’s 5×7 picture in a blue frame was the only thing that was clear in the room.  It jumped out at me, like when a photographer focuses on a really pretty flower but you can’t tell what the rest of the photo is.  It lasted for three long seconds.  And then it went away.

I’m going to tell my brother this story in person.  Surely God doesn’t want me to call him.  If he did he’d surely come back, blow cold air on me and say “Call him.”  Right?  Rob, my brother, was planning on coming home the next day anyway.  In my heart, when I could clearly see his face and no one else’s, I knew that my brother would have something God wanted me to know.  He would have something more for me, at some point, than when I told anyone else the story.  I was sure of that in my heart.

I combed my hair, put on pajamas and decided that after the last two craziest days ever I didn’t have any energy to talk to anyone.  I didn’t even call David.  I laid down and as soon as my head hit the pillow, my phone rang.  Oh my God…if that’s Rob…   But it wasn’t.  It was David.

Back it up some:  David and I didn’t talk a lot about God.  He grew up like I did, in the church.  He had told me before that he believed there was a God, sure, but more than that it was a topic that didn’t get discussed.  My heart froze when I saw his name on my phone because I knew; even though God wasn’t expected to be the topic of conversation for us, it was going to be tonight, and from here on out.

“Hi Mel!”  He sounded happy on the phone.  Then he sounded very brave and said, “So what are we doing?  Are you finding a place to get help?  Are you moving home?  Is there anything I can do?  Are you ever coming back?”  He was so confused; he had no knowledge of eating disorders, treatment and it didn’t help that I drove over to his house at 10:00am and said, “See ya!” and left and was gone the next morning.

“Yeah, um, before we talk about that…I have a story I need to tell you.”  I was so tired but something in me was pushing me to tell him.  So I did.

You could hear his voice drop and feel the full attention like when you say “we need to talk” to someone.  I laughed and said it was going to sound a little crazy but “I need to tell you a story.”  I knew I needed to.  I’m sure it took me an hour to tell him.  I never once had to ask him “did you even hear what I said?” or “are you still listening” or “did you tune me out?”  Or even ask  “Hello?”  He was listening.

He was silent the whole time as I told him the entire story.  I hadn’t told him any of it yet.  A silent pause prefaced a very deep breath that was followed by, “Wow.  I don’t even know what to say.”

We laughed and talked a little more about it.  He definitley hadn’t heard a story like that before.  But it’s my story, and neither had I!  I was mostly afraid that he wasn’t going to believe me.  I figured he’d say something like, “So this psychiatrist they sent you to, what meds did she give you?”  (That’s what I would have said.)  But he didn’t.   He told me he loved me and wished he could help but didn’t know how.  I told him what my Grandpa recently told me, “It’s okay, I’m in good hands.”

Rob came over the next morning.  I was back in my parents’ room talking to my Mom and in walks ‘my bro’.  HI!!!   I gave him the biggest hug I had in me.  I said, “hey, no one has told you anything about the last few days have they?”  I thought maybe my sister had called him and said, “dude you won’t believe who Mel talked to!”

“Um, no…why?   I can’t believe you came home!  Do you know what a great job you had?  Taken care of kids, making more money than you should, chillin’ on the beach…?”

“Bro, I gotta tell you a story.”  Telling Rob this story is a day I’ll never forget.  He completely believed me; it’s too ridiculous of a story to make up.  Telling Rob was different than telling anyone else because at the end, when I got to the part about his picture I said, “You will have an answer for me.  And it sounds confusing but I don’t know what the question is yet.  Just know that I might call you, randomly, ask you something and tell me your answer, whatever’s on your heart.  I’ll go with whatever you say.”

THAT probably freaked him out a little.  “Oh great, no pressure, Mel, thanks.”

My brother told me about 2 years ago that he felt bad he wasn’t able to come to my family week in rehab.  What Rob doesn’t realize is the reason I went is because of his answer.  Without it, I might have tried to do it on my own and kept the ‘circle’ going.  Being able to have that much faith and trust in someone is a feeling I wouldn’t change for anything.  Thank you, Rob.  You were a bigger part of my recovery than I could ever express in words.

That afternoon I found Remuda Ranch online.  It was a biblically based treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona.  They gave me some details, sent me an information flier through an email and I said, “Okay, I’ll be in touch.”  She was quick to stop me and say, “no, no, that’s not how I want this to go, don’t hang up.  Maybe we could talk about flight schedules instead.”

“Well.  I’m going to be pretty busy the next week or so…”

“Busy?  I thought you just told me you don’t work right now?”

“Oh, yeah, um…I’ll call you back” and hung up the phone quickly.  She had all my information.  The next day came an information packet in the mail (along with 6 others I requested).

That next night, I drove to the lake to walk, pray and watch the sunset.  After the sun set and darkness came I drove home.  It was a beautiful evening.  On the way home, after all the debates and the fights I’d been having in my head I felt like there was one person who had the answer; my brother.  My brother was throwing a party that night.  He and his friends spent a long time organizing and setting up everything for that night.  In other words, I didn’t think he’d answer.   The phone only rang once.

“Mel?”

Shit.  I wasn’t ready to ask.  “Oh Hey, Bro.  What’s up”?

“Getting ready to have some fun, everyone’s starting to get here.  What’s up?”

I hesitated, but got it together and asked, “Question:  do I need to go to rehab or can I do this on my own?”

He paused, but only for a couple of seconds.

“I think you’ve battled this on your own long enough.  You need more help.”

I cried the rest of the way home.  I think I knew the whole time but didn’t want to admit it.  When I heard my brother’s response I could tell that this was the answer God gave my brother for me to hear.  My sister also sent me a scripture not even two minutes after.  God was telling me what I needed to do.

The rest happened all in one day.  The next day my Dad talked to Remuda Ranch on the phone, it was someone in the financial office.  It couldn’t have been 2 minutes after he’d hung up with her that he called the house and said, “Melissa, this is the place you have to go.  I knew the minute I talked to her.”  I flew out the next day.  That was October 9, 2008.  As of today, August 28, 2013, that was exactly 1784 days ago.  (4 years, 10 months and 19 days.)

Thank you for reading this story, it’s Gods story and I hope you enjoyed it.  I hope it inspires you, moves you, reaffirms a possible straying or faded faith…or at least made you smile at one point or another.

Only 2 days left in the 40 Days to Make it Write challenge!  So until Day 39…

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Day 37: God is in my Bedroom – Part III

Ironically #37 is one of my favorite numbers.  In trying to decide what jersey number I wanted when I was little; I struggled to choose between The Babe, number 3 and Mickey Mantle, number 7.  Since everyone said #37 was ‘too big of a number” I wanted the number 10 (3+7).  Anyway – onto the real story.

I ended yesterday by telling you I had a crazy “it’s time to go home” dream and I flew home to Oklahoma at 6:00am the next morning.  I arrived at the airport and was greeted by my Mom.  You could see the concern in her eyes just as much as you could see the “it’s so good to have you home” feeling.  I could feel the love in her hug.

That night my Mom, Dad and sister ate dinner at home together.  My brother wasn’t there; he was still in school and couldn’t make it.  (This will be important later).  I told them everything:  the whole story.  They prayed for me, I was pretty sure that that wouldn’t work, but I went along with it.  I agreed to go back into outpatient therapy.

That first ‘welcome back’ session with my therapist I will never forget.  I told her everything and her response to what I had said was “So you think you’re finally ready for inpatient treatment?”  What?  What do you mean I’m finally ready?  I angrily replied back to her, “You think I’ve needed inpatient the whole time?”

She told me, first, that yes, I’ve needed it for years.  But if I wasn’t ready to go it wouldn’t work anyway; so what was the point?  Then she told me it wasn’t for everyone.  I proudly sat there with my ridiculous shoulders held ridiculously high and said “I don’t think I need to go.  I want to fix this myself.”  She actually laughed out loud at me.  “You think you check in somewhere and they fix you?  Sweetie, I assure you; you are going to do all the work while you’re there.”

Feeling defeated I went home and told my parents I was going to start researching facilities.  This process took about a week.  A lot of moping around, still bingeing and purging while I was home, still over exercising I had found a couple places that looked ‘pretty’ but the bottom line was:  I didn’t want to go.

It was about nine or ten o’clock a few days later.  Mom, Dad and I had eaten dinner and were sitting on the couch watching TV.  It was pretty easy to see how depressed I was.  Had no idea what to do; who to call, how to even begin to explain to David what was going on.  At about 10:00pm I told them I was tired.  I’m going to bed. I dragged myself up the stairs, washed my face and slumped into bed.

It was really dark.  The streetlight happened to be burned out then so there was no light shining in the corner of the blinds in my upstairs window.  You know that feeling you get when you mess up so bad you’ll never fix it?  Sometimes your chest drops to the bottom of your stomach, but this when your heart is hanging around at your ankles instead of your chest?  That’s where I was.  I laid on my pillow with my left side against it.  For no reason at all, I began to cry.  It turned into sobbing, the kind of sobbing you expect people to hear months from now.  Out of nowhere…I begin to apologize.  Apologize?  Keep in mind; this God I don’t believe in is one I’ve been ‘sitting in’ on prayers to about me.

Finally I spoke out loud: “God, I’m sorry.  I am so, so sorry.”

All of a sudden, I can’t move my head.  I began to freak out.  Immediately after there was a light: not multiple lights, not the ceiling light kicked on, it was one remarkably bright light shining in my room.  I tried to move my head and I still couldn’t.  I tried to open my eyes, but couldn’t because the light was so bright it hurt to look at it.  Is this it?

“God I’m sorry because I stopped believing in you.  I took control of my own life.  I kept you out and ran with it and I ran it directly into the ground. God, I’m done.  I am so done.”

There’s a part of me here that still thought this is how I was going to die.  Maybe I was already dead?  How many movies have you seen where someone yells “stay away from the light!” while their loved one is laying on a hospital bed?

I continued to sob and to talk, “I want no part of my life.  I quit.  Take it.  Take my body, take my sins, take my guilt, take my self-hate, take this eating disorder and you handle it.  I’ll do whatever you say. Whatever you say.”

Still the light is shining.  It was almost blinding.  However, I started to feel comfort.  I didn’t hear anything audible, but the feeling I got when I spoke those words was comfort.  I explained how much I hated Him for taking my Grandpa.  I explained that I was mad and that I didn’t expect to be forgiven…for any of it.”

Here’s what’s hard to put in words:  Have you ever ‘felt words’?  Felt them.  You didn’t hear them, but you felt someone pushing you in one direction, felt someone telling you to do something, have you felt words?   The words I felt were, “tell him the story.”

“What?”  I answered out loud even though I didn’t audibly hear it.  Again I felt the words, “tell him the story.”

The only person on my heart right then was my Grandpa.

“No.”  (Right after I told God he could take my life and do anything with it He wants…I turn around and tell God “no.”  That is some kind of prayer for forgiveness.  Not to mention, I didn’t even know what he meant yet.

I knew exactly what I was being told.  “God, don’t make me tell my Grandpa that story.  The story of how I hated him, and you, and the whole ‘God thing’.  He’ll be so upset about my life and especially the eating disorder.”  There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t tell me how beautiful I was.  I was begging; pleading, even (which is not fun to admit).

Still there was light.  I was still shoved against the pillow and couldn’t move.  All of a sudden my tears stopped.  I said one last time in an exhausted exhale, “I am so sorry” and immediately was overwhelmed with a feeling I couldn’t remember having: serenity.  I was finally at peace.  The light began to fade and I could blink.

I quickly re-shut my eyes though.  I don’t know why – I guess I was afraid of what I might see.

I tried to move my head again and this time I tried, I could move it.  Keeping my eyes closed, head now pointing straight towards the ceiling I saw the clearest picture I’ve ever seen: almost like there was a window on my ceiling.  I saw a small yard and on it was an old farm-like house.  Whitewashed with a big wrap around porch.  On the porch there was a rocking chair next to a side table.  The picture began to focus more and more.  I had never seen the house before, but in the rocking chair sat a familiar face.  Shit. 

It was Grandpa.

He was rocking back and forth in the chair and I began to cry again.  Why am I seeing this in my head?  This is frickin’ crazy.  I don’t even take drugs for God sakes.  

“Missy-Poo!  Why are you crying?”

Oh my God he heard me. 

“Grandpa?”  I said frightened and out loud.

“Well, yeah.  Who else would it be?  What’s the matter?”  His voice was if I had just heard it yesterday.  So clear, raspy, and high-pitched when he laughed.

“Well, I gotta tell you a story actually.  Um…God told me to.”

“I believe that.”  Grandpa was always so strong in his faith.  He shared that with everyone. “What’d ya got?”

“Grandpa, I fucked up big time.  I mean, um, sorry.  I messed up.”

He laughed and said a phrase that let me KNOW it was him, “Oh, Missy-Poo,” (the only one who’s ever called me that), “You’re such a character.”

I told him how mad I got when he died.  I told him about the eating disorder.  I told him how mad at God I got when he took him from the earth. I told him for a while I didn’t believe in God but tonight He was in my bedroom.  I told him I was sorry I got so mad.

I will never forget Grandpa’s response when he said; “You must be worth it then for Him to show up that way.”  And he smiled.

Just then, someone called from inside the house, “Bennie!”   Who is Bennie?  Everyone called my Grandpa “Ben” or “Benji”.

“Bennie! You out there?”  A woman walked out, one that looked a little familiar but I knew I didn’t know her.  I didn’t know if she could see me or not.  I stayed quiet.

“Yeah, I’m here.”

“Well what are you doing?”

“I’m out here shootin’ squirrels with my BB gun.”  He winked at me and smiled.

“Oh Bennie,” she laughed and slapped him on the shoulder, “You know you can’t shoot guns up here.”

Maybe it was heaven?  She said ‘up’ here?  I still stayed quiet.

“Come on inside, Bennie, its almost time to eat.”

I cried again.  I could feel our conversation ending and I didn’t want him to go.

We talked for a little bit more.  I remember laughing some, crying some and the last thing I remember was him saying, “You’re going to be okay, Missy-Poo.  You’re in good hands.”

I must have asleep and it faded to black.

I don’t even remember falling asleep.  I do remember waking up though.  I shot out of bed.  Did that just happen?  I looked all around the room, I looked in the closet, and I even looked under the bed.  What the hell are you looking for anyway?  I climbed back into bed and got under the covers.  What do I do now?

The first thing I wanted to do was call my Dad.  Grandpa is Dad’s dad.  He’s not going to believe this.

The secretary answers and I hesitantly say, ‘Hi, it’s Melissa, is my Dad available?”

“Sure.”  I’m thinking; well, I’m just going to dive in and tell him.

“Hey So-do.  What’s going on?”  (So-do is my nickname, by the way.  He used to yell it from the stands and I remember a college coach coming over one time and asking, “So who is this So-do?”  Neither here nor there.)

“Dad.  Um, I’m not sure how to tell you this.  God was in my bedroom last night.”

[Awkward silence]  “And I talked to Grandpa.”

I can assure you my Dad didn’t believe me but he acted like he did.

“Well.  Okay.  How, um?  Or Where, um…”

I just started telling him everything that happened.  When I got to the part about Grandpa and I described the house in great detail.  I interrupted myself and said “Oh yeah, I wanted to ask you:  the woman called him Bennie.  No one called him Bennie, right?  Everyone called him Benji or Ben.  What’s that about?”

My Dad began to cry.  “Melissa, that house you just described is the house that my Dad grew up in.  I don’t know how you would have known that though; you’ve never seen that house.  And Bennie,” he paused to fight back the tears, “was what my Mom called him.   And you never met my Mom.”  My Grandma, Patricia, died when my Dad was nineteen.  I had seen pictures of her, heard stories about her, but never met her.

[Pause.  Goosebumps.]

We talked a little bit longer and I told him I was going to get online again and look for some more rehab centers.  ”Maybe since God shows up in my bedroom, he’ll be on the computer too.”  He laughed.  (Much easier to make jokes than it is to face what you need to face.)  After we hung up my Dad scanned a picture he had in a file in his desk.  It was taken of my Grandpa in 1936, he was three years old.

I guess my grandma and great-grandma were the only people to ever call him Bennie.  I had never heard that before.

With all the ‘intelligence’ and ‘evidence’ I had built up to tell you “there’s NO God”, there was no way now I could deny it.  You’ve now heard about God showing up in my bedroom.  Remember I told you that my brother not being there yet would be important?    Did I tell you that God shows back up?  Did I tell you about telling David?  I didn’t think so.  My next post will show you how God came back days later, told me how to make a huge decision and I’ll tell you how He pointed to the right treatment center.  I’m so glad you read today.

This is the time period that I was drawn to my all-time favorite verse (the other card I keep in my wallet, and hopefully tatooed on someday).  ”For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future…You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11,13

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Day 36: God is in My Bedroom – Part II

“Don’t’ talk about how big your problem is, talk about how big your God is.”   The TV was on for 15 seconds yesterday with Joel Osteen.  It was long enough for me to hear one sentence and this was what I heard him say.  What I hope you get from my story is how truly big God is.  Bigger than life, bigger than death and certainly bigger than what we struggle with on a daily basis.

Yesterday I left you when I had just taken a bike ride and had a strangely strong feeling of “something bad is going to happen.”  That bike ride was on a Sunday.  That ‘something’ that happened, happened Wednesday night.

It was a typical evening (not for most of you, but for me it was).  A typical day in the life for me then went something like this (in condensed version): wake, clean up, kids to school, clean house/laundry/shopping, shower, pick kids up from school, homework, then dinner.  I’d clean up dinner after the family ate, I was ‘off-work’ at 7:00pm and I would head to David’s house where I would claim to have already eaten.  Next, I would either stay with David, return early in the morning, or ‘claim to’ drive back home.  This night I went home.  If I stayed with David I was usually safe.  In the event that I went home, which started happening more and more frequently, I’d drive to the grocery store first before going home.  I’d load up on hundreds of dollars (multiply this by 5 times a week…adds up fast) of food, take it home and binge and purge. I thought I was careful enough that no one knew, no one suspected anything and I always cleaned up any ‘evidence’ that might lead to suspicion.  News flash:  everyone knew something was wrong.

Same thing happened on this night.  I remember going to my room, eating food, making myself sick and then all of a sudden it was morning time.  It was Sunday morning.  I had Sunday off so I drove to the beach and went for a run.  I came home, parked in the driveway and walked in through the garage.  When I walked in, I looked toward the kitchen table and there sat the woman I worked for.  She looked pissed.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, what the hell are you doing?  It’s 8:00am on a Monday morning and you’re nowhere to be found!  I had to drive the kids to school…” and she went on and on about me leaving the house in the morning when I was supposed to be working.  I looked up at the calendar on the wall and sure enough, I had mixed up what day it was.  It was Monday and Sunday.

“Oh my God I’m so sorry”, I begged and pleaded with her, “It will never happen again.”

“I’m sorry too but this will never happen again.  You’re done here.” And then she said something to me as all time stopped and she got louder:  “It’s time for you to go home.”

Just then a grandfather clock chimed.  I was frightened by it (because they didn’t have a grandfather clock) and the ‘gong’ was so loud.   There was a pause.  The clock ‘gonged’ again.  Just then her husband walked in.  He was sweating, looked exhausted and stood right in front of the grandfather clock; he looked at me right after the second ‘gong’ and said, “It’s time for you to go home.”

I immediately opened my eyes.  Oh my God I was dreaming.  When I woke I was face down in the bathroom.  My face was pressed against the cold tiles, head resting on my right hand and I was in my robe.  It was still dark outside.  I quickly stood up and needed to figure out what time it was.  Was I dead?  Did I black out?  Did I fall asleep?  Pass out?  Oh, and WHAT F@$#ING DAY IS IT?

It was 2:30am.  All the grocery bags, food wrappers, uneaten food and receipts, were scattered all over the room like I had left them.  Food was still all over the bathroom.  I quickly half-ass cleaned everything up and hid it in case anyone would have come in.  All I could think was how could you be so stupid!  You could have been caught!  I could have been dead.

“It’s time for you to go home.”  I heard it over and over.  Is it time for me to go home?  I only had to ask myself that question once and I knew the answer was yes.  I didn’t believe in anything, but for some reason, I believed this message.

That phrase rang through my head and as I climbed into my bed and tried to fall asleep. I began to think about going home the next day.

I had another dream.  The dream this time was the next day.  In my dream, the kids woke up super early.  I ended up driving them to school.  Usually when I drive them to school we’d blare the music, sing loudly and talk about other classmates they wanted to see or didn’t want to see. In my dream, no one said a word.  When I got home no one was there.  Just then, the woman I worked for walked in from the garage.  She was sweating; she looked tired and had just been on a bike ride.  “I need to talk to you,” I said as she walked past me.  Next, walked in the man I worked for; also sweating, they had been riding bikes together.   I was in and out of this dream.  Just as suddenly as I fell asleep I was suddenly woken up by footsteps running down the hall.

“4:00am?  Jeez!  Usually they’re up at 6:00am but never 4:00!”  Oh my God; the dream.

I laid there awake rehearsing how the conversation was going to go “So…It’s time for me to go home…”  At 6:00am I walked down to the kitchen.  I unloaded the dishwasher, helped with breakfast and got the boys ready for school.  I asked the woman, “Do you need me to take the boys to school today?”  I was partially hoping she’d say yes because I thought this might be the last time I see them; partially hoping she’d say no because that would mean more of this weird dream was coming true.

“No, I’m good.  I can take them.”    Phew. 

The boys are eating and getting their bags ready when the woman walked back in the kitchen, “On second thought, would you mind taking them today?  I have an appointment I would like to get ready for.”

“Okay.”  Too weird.

We loaded up in the car and started to drive away.  Not one word was spoken.  I even turned the radio on their favorite station and then turned it down because it was awkwardly quiet in the car.  Not. One. Word.     What the hell is happening?

I’m almost in tears because I think this might be the last time I see these boys and I know they’re not mine, but I think of them like they are.  They got out in silence.  I told them I loved them; they kind of looked at me funny, said, “I love you too” and went to school.

Driving home I did more rehearsing of how the conversation was going to go.

I get home back and both cars are there.  I’m giving myself pep talks walking in, “you can do it, you can do it, just tell them thank you for the job, it’s not for you, it’s time to go home.”  (Side note:  even with every behavior I was acting out, I still didn’t think I had a problem.  I did think I was sad, but honestly…honestly…couldn’t tell you why.)

I got home and no one was there.  Shit.  I want to get this over with.  I stood at the dishwasher with my back to the garage door.  I stared around the beautiful home in silence.  Just stood there.  I have no idea how long I stood there but usually when I was there I was doing something.  Just ‘standing around’ wasn’t on my to-do list.

Just then, the back door opens and in walks whom?  Yep.  The woman.  She’s sweating, tired, chugging a bottle of water.  “It’s hot today, we just went for a bike ride.”  She sat on the couch and noticed I was just standing there staring out over the water, “is everything okay.”

“I need to talk to you.”  I didn’t know what to say so I just said the phrase that I dreamed about all night.  “I think it’s time for me to go home.”

“You don’t need to go home.  You need help!”    Shit!  She knows?  I nodded my head in agreement.  “Okay…maybe I need help.”  I went to sit by her on the couch and told her about my ‘vision’ the night before.  I told her all of it.  We cried together, she said she didn’t want to send me home and she would help me get help.  I declined but thanked her.

Next, who walks in from the garage?  The man.  Sweating, tired he saw us blubbering there on the couch, “What the hell is going on?”

“She wants to go home,” she told him in an understanding and concerned voice.

“Can you give us two weeks to find someone else?”  In my head, I wanted to say yes.  That would have been the right thing to do.  In my heart, which runs directly to my mouth I said, “No.  It’s time to go home.”

The rest of that day was a whirlwind.  I drove to David’s house and went to talk to him.  You can imagine how crazy that must have sounded, “Hey, I know yesterday everything was great but, um, I’m going home.”  He was angry.  Wouldn’t you have been?  This came completely out of the blue.  The anger stemmed from confusion, lack of understanding and the unknown.  He had no idea I was struggling.  He left the house quickly and said he’d take me to dinner that night.

I called my Mom and said only this, “Mom, I need to come home.”  No sooner did I get the words out she had already booked me a flight.  I said some terribly hard goodbyes, shipped all my things with UPS to Oklahoma and left Naples at 4:00am the next morning.

I know what you’re saying, “how is that God?  It was a dream?  You were crazy and starved and a lot of people have dreams…it doesn’t mean God’s in your bedroom…?” Just wait.  I didn’t believe it either.  I gave myself full credit for the dreams and the actions I took to get out of there.

Tomorrow you’ll get part three of this story.  You’ll see how God showed appeared in a light that I never knew could physically exist.

Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with this verse: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  Luke 17:6

Nothing. Is. Impossible.

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Day 35: God is in my Bedroom – Part I

I’m supposed to be reading about the endocrine system today.  Also reading the history or nursing and the Introduction to Nursing Fundamentals book (that weighs 35 pounds) but instead I’m writing this.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to the school stuff, I just felt like today this was on my heart pretty heavily and wanted to get it on ‘paper’.

A good friend of mine emailed me a LONG time ago…like embarrassingly long enough that I should have already given him a response.  He talked to me about God, asked me why I believed.  I shared with him years ago that, “I am too smart to believe there’s a God.”  I was convinced that it was all a fairytale; every culture has a ‘creation’ story, everyone has some sort of “God-like” person at the center of it regardless the name.  Why would I believe in God?  He knows I am strong in my faith now and wanted to know what changed in my life that got me from there, to here.

I’ll start by telling you it really upsets me to write those words. It’s devastating that I actually had myself convinced that it was true.  Denying His existence was leading me down a long, scary, torturous road and I thought I didn’t need Him.

When I responded to his email I said this, “Have I never told you my God is in my bedroom story?”   He said no and I told him I would tell him.

I am so sorry this story took so long.  I was talking to my Husband about this today and trying to figure out why I haven’t shared it.  I have told this story to some friends; close friends.  Many of them are already believers.  I think I’ve put so much pressure on the story to be perfect (since God’s in it) that I have been almost afraid to write it.  I have told you in a few of these last 34 posts that, “One day I’ll share with you my God is in my bedroom story” and yet I keep finding other things to write about.  Why isn’t this the most important thing I should write about?  It absolutely is.  Because by a long shot, this is the most important thing I should have told you.  By far: more than being born, having bacon grease dropped on my leg, my first collegiate no-hitter, checking into rehab, moving to Florida…this is by far the experience in my life that is the most important. (Everything listed above is extremely important to me; this story is bigger than me.)  No more “I’m saving this story for the book” attitude.  God saved me and enrolled me to share His story…so here it goes.

Our family grew up in the church.  We went to Vacation Bible School, we went to church every Sunday, we went to church camp, we went to Mother’s Day Out at the church, we did Sunday school, bible studies: we did a lot at church.  I believed in God and His son, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and that the Holy Spirit lives inside each and every one of us.  Let’s fast forward: high school, College (still in church) and then I transferred from Kent State University to Oklahoma City University, a private Methodist university.  (Think ‘big church-school’).  You would think here, at a Methodist university I would still recognize there was a God, right?  You would be wrong.

I had to take a religion class as one of my electives and my advisor enrolled me in “Introduction to World Religions.”  We talked about Buddhism, Judaism, Native American beliefs, Hinduism, Shinto; I don’t remember the whole class but I remember learning that there are over 4,200 religions in our world.  I had a ridiculous epiphany of “WTF?  Why do we spend so much time learning all of this crap?  Everyone has some made-up character and a ‘how our world was made’ story…do people really believe this?”  I was so sure that my entire life in the church was wasted time.  What is the point?  And that was it.  One class + one semester = there’s no God.  Even when I wrote ‘God’ I wouldn’t capitalize it anymore.  I told someone one time that “People believe in God solely as a way to cope with death.”

And then my Grandpa died.  If there was any last, tiny thought in my head that a God existed, when he passed away, that belief went with him.  I was so pissed I was cursing at a God I didn’t believe in.  Some of you got to know him.  I wish all of you could have.  He was (and still is) an amazing man and he is an important part of this story.  We’ll come back to Grandpa.

[Wipe away tears; continue to type.]

I’m going to try and sum up the next few years of my life in one sentence.  We need to move this story along.   Grandpa dies, college ends, Eating Disorder gets real bad, Devil Wears Prada job, google ‘jobs on the beach’, move to Florida.  Phew.

Okay, now I’m in Florida.  I live in with the family I’m working for.  I have my own room, bathroom, etc and the home is beautiful.  I need to point out here that I gave myself full credit for getting that job.  ALL me.  God?  No.  Coincidence?  No.  I found the job, I got the job, I decided to pick up and move, I was going to ‘heal myself’ by myself…all me.  God got none of the credit.  Why?  Because “there is no God, silly”.

In the time that I was there with this family I did a lot of new things I had never done before.  I’d never been on a yacht, for starters.  Never tried lobster, never scuba dived, never eaten anything that was ripped out of a huge seashell and thrown on a grill.  I had never driven a BMW, never been in charge of two young kids, never took my morning run on the beach…the list goes on and on.  A lot of ‘firsts’ I guess you could say.  I also started writing “I Promise I’ll Write”.

We lived in Florida for the school year, went to the Bahamas and then went to Pennsylvania for the summer.  We came back in August to start school and David and I spent a lot of time together.  We rode our bikes to the beach to watch sunset a lot.  One night, in September, I remember riding bikes and having a very weird feeling come over me.

“I feel like something bad is about to happen.”

“What do you mean bad?” 

It’s hard to explain, but it was such a strong feeling that when we got to the point in the road where we had to cross the highway, I almost didn’t go.  I thought maybe the something ‘bad’ was me getting run over by a truck.

“I don’t know.  I just feel off:  I feel like something bad is going to happen.”

David I think said “okay” and ignored it.  I would have too.  This “feeling” that I had, by the way, I accredited fully to my ability to ‘read myself.’  My intuition, if you will.  100%, again, all me.  No God.

Most of my time in July, August and September was spent starving myself.  Okay, June too.  I lied a lot, snuck around a lot, and hid things from everyone, including my family at home.  I even thought that maybe the ‘something bad’ would be death from an eating disorder behavior: heart attack, internal bleeding, suffocation…there’s a longer list but these were my top concerns.  Whatever it was, I was prepared for something terrible.

This story has to come in parts.  It’s too big.  Part one is tonight.  You have just read the background and the set up for a truly amazing act of God that, you will see, in Parts 2 and 3, changed my life and gave me faith in something greater than myself; something bigger than anything in this world.

I am so excited to share my story, the important part of my story, with you.  I’m really looking forward to it.  This is the card that I keep on me at all times.  This verse has been there at so many different points in my life and I continue to go back to it.  Psalms 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

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Day 34: The Bend: Hold the Snap

Yesterday was my first day of nursing school.  The photo to the left, is a stance that many of us took when we started kindergarten, first grade…okay in my house, EVERY first day of school, even senior year, we took a “first day photo.”  I’m thirty now, maybe I should be over it.  I took one anyway yesterday.  (#iloveyoumom)

The first day is Nursing Orientation for students just starting the program.  It’s a 9:00am-4:00pm class.  I walk into the Nursing building where all my classes thus far have been in and I see a big sign on the first door I come to that says “Welcome Nursing Students!  Orientation Room N-103.”

Great!  I’ll head to N-103.  I should have prefaced this by telling you I’m 1. 30 minutes early. 2. Wearing my ‘lucky test pants’ just in case there’s a surprise quiz and 3. I’m parked in the furthest lot away on campus, 3 spots in from the left.  Why?  Because the fist test I got a 100% on, that’s where I was parked.

I commit to letting go of many things in my life, but superstitions are not one of them.

Having said that, you probably gathered that I wanted the day to go well.  So, I see this sign and keep walking.  I see the elevators on the right, the simulation labs on the left, the Nursing offices up ahead and across from the stairs there’s a large conference room.  All the walls are tinted glass.  In this room, I had my pre-nursing orientation 5 months ago when I decided to try and get into the program.

On that door there’s another handwritten sign “Welcome Nursing Students!”  I can see people in there but it’s dark.  There’s a lot of moving around going on and I’m thinking, “This is an active group for a first day orientation.”  Great!  How exciting!  When I open the door I see that everyone is dressed in one of two things:  scrubs (complete with a stethoscope and an ID badge or a school Nursing uniform, which is a collared blue shirt and khakis.

Holy shit.  Did I miss an email about getting scrubs?  Should I have a different shirt on?  I thought we didn’t need a stethoscope until spring semester?

I see a long table at the front of the room and there are folders there with people’s names on it.  I do a quick scan (and I mean quick) to see if “Workinger, Melissa” is on one of them.  I don’t see anything, but I figure I was more focused on that I’m dressed wrong and I need to find a seat more than anything.”

I walk 7 rows back and sit down.  Next realization:  I’m also the only one in flip-flops.  What is wrong with these people?  It’s Florida.  However, the projector screen still has a message on it that says “Welcome Nursing Students” so I’m not leaving.

A few people I noticed staring at me.  A few of them said hi, one nice girl (I think I accidentally flirted with) said hello and she sat down next to another girl who was sitting right next to me.

Time to begin:  the lady in charge (who I didn’t know but everyone else seemed to) stands up and says, “Welcome, everyone, to you last semester of Nursing School!”  Everyone applauded and cheered loudly. Everyone, that is, but me.  I immediately look at the two girls next to me and go “Shit.  I’m in the wrong room.”

If I could have stopped them from laughing I could have gotten out of there faster but when they did, they asked where I was supposed to be.  I told them N-103 and they pointed out a HUGE SIGN (that I missed) on the wall that said “N-148”.

I smiled and told them “thank you!  Great first day!”  They continued to laugh and sarcastically wished me luck.  I walked 4 doors down into N-103 and recognized some faces.  Everyone in street clothes, the majority was in flip-flops, I found the right room.

How many years have I been in school?  20-ish?  I’ve never walked into the wrong room.  I think I had nightmares about doing it the night before the first day of freshmen year in high school…but I had never actually done it.

I found the right room and was still 10 minutes early.  The rest of the day consisted of talking about the nursing program and what kind of studying and time it would take.  How our lives are going to drastically change, our test taking skills are going to be different, our family members are going to have to adjust, etc.  They had 4 different people come in and talk to us.  The first woman is the Program Director for my campus and she’s also my Pharmacology professor this semester.  She talked about wearing ‘many hats’ as a nurse and then she said something that stood out to me (I was actually taking notes, so I wrote it down and circled it):  “Be flexible like the reed, don’t snap like an oak.”  Interesting.  A lot of my life has required this and many times…I’ve snapped.

I try and stay present for the rest of her lecture and then another professor comes in.  She’s all over the place, I think she was in between classes and had a 4 or 5 classes she teaches to 2nd year nursing students and in the middle of telling us about tests drastically going to be more difficult she says, “You know, in nursing, you’ve got to be able to bend like the reed…don’t snap like the oak.”

Admittedly – I wrote it down again.  This keeps coming up.  I love that analogy.

Third guy comes in, Dr. Someone this time.  He’s giving us the top 10 test taking tips and telling us how to be successful and when he gets to some nursing practice questions HE says it now.  “You know, this semester you will realize you need to bend like the reed.  You can’t snap like an Oak tree.  You’ll burn out.”

This time I pulled another notebook out of my bag and started writing this blog instead.  Think about that saying.  If you didn’t know what it meant, and someone asked you if you’d rather be an Oak Tree or a reed what would you say?  I’d say Oak Tree.  They’re strong, beautiful, classic, old, and they have character.  Why would anyone want to be a wimpy reed?  Reeds are smaller, scrawnier (yeah that’s a word) and they make a lot of noise.  So then what if they asked you “Which would you rather be in a hurricane?”  Now I’d probably say the wimpy reed, as the big, tall, strong, sturdy arms of an oak tree would snap off.

Think about your life in this way.  Your hurricanes:  change, adversity, struggles, stress, loss and broken times.  If you stand strong in your ways and can’t ‘grow with change’…you’ll snap.  I don’t know about your ‘snap’ but mine is hideously ugly.  Growing with change means you can adapt without falling apart.  This made me think of my favorite quote:  “The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty.”  As well as “The only thing you can count on is change.” 

Every single one of us, at some point or another, is going to be hit with life’s hurricane.  Here’s the message.  Bend like a reed when the wind gets strong.  You’ll never make it out alive as an oak tree.

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Day 33: Pull the Trigger

There are a few things (I’ll admit) in life that I don’t particularly handle well.  Here’s a brief list:

  • Animals dressed as humans.
  • Attitudes from hitters (or catchers).
  • Those who drive slow in the left lane.
  • As well as those who drive MILES with a blinker on.
  • Shopping carts left in open (what WOULD be open if there wasn’t a cart there) spaces in parking lots.
  • Dental assistants that prop your mouth open and ask you hundreds of questions.
  • Comedians that laugh harder at themselves than they are laughed at by others.
  • The high-pitched sound a shoe makes when it squeaks on the basketball court.
  • When the bottom of your pant leg gets soaked from either rain or snow. (I hate that).

You get the point.  I’m sure some of you have these and many more things that you don’t tolerate well.  Of all the things on this short list, there’s one major one I left off and I think it’s the biggest thing I don’t handle well:  stress.

Many different things can cause stress and it affects different people in many different ways.  (I used the word ‘different’ three times in that sentence about a topic that affects everyone…interesting).

For example, going out to a restaurant used to cause so much anxiety that if I didn’t end up calling and canceling, I would spend hours on the website and research what was ‘safe’ for me to order.  That way, when I got there I was prepared and could semi-relax.  Now, when I go to a restaurant I’m thrilled.  1.  For the evening, food, conversation and time spent with whom I am going with. 2.  I don’t have to do dishes.  Woo!

Money problems cause stress, job stress, relationships, co-workers, school…I could go on and on.  We all have our own things that stress us out and what’s important to know about stress is what things ‘trigger’ you to become stressed.  What’s even more important that than is how you handle those triggers when they happen.

For me, and many of you, being stressed is your main trigger.  Even though what causes it may look different from one person to the next.  An example I used recently, an overwhelming schedule, unorganized paperwork and calendar could cause someone to be stressed, then you act out in some way, form or fashion.  That’s acting out on a trigger.  So what triggered you into that action? 

We did an entire ‘workshop’ (for lack of a better term) on triggers in rehab.  We identified what a trigger is, what ours specifically are and found new ways to cope with them.   (Hint:  starving yourself, over exercising or bingeing and purging are not good ways.)

First think about what stress does to our bodies.  In celebration of my 1st day of nursing school tomorrow (#lilbitstressed) we’ll look at what it does to our health.  Not only in celebration of school but because health should be one of your top priorities for your life.

Stress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches and an upset stomach. It will also elevate your blood pressure causing chest pains.  It’s the main cause for problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.  (This comes in because it wears down your immune system).

I recently read in a book that people who are ‘happy’ live an average of 4 years longer than those who are not.  The book goes on to talk about not having stress wearing you down and the less affects on your body give you a longer, happier, healthier life.  I don’t understand the science that backs up that statistic, but I could see how it could be true.

I have had so many things I could pin point as triggers.  Triggers can change over time and I’ll tell you from experience it’s a really good feeling to look at something that used to be a trigger and realize it has no power over you anymore.  Really good feeling.

I will share with you some of mine in hopes that you will look at your own life, find what triggers you and start to eliminate them one at a time.

1. Not sweating.  Not working out in some way, shape or form is big time triggering.  Think of someone you may know that had an injury or surgery and had to rest for a long period of time.  I know many people that are then triggered and take drastic measures because “they can’t go to the gym for 8 weeks.”  I also know people that would be thrilled to hear they couldn’t go to the gym for 8 weeks.  There’s a balance in there somewhere…

2.  Being out of control and/or being controlled. An eating disorder is a huge control issue.  I didn’t feel I had control over any area of my life when it started, so I controlled what I could:  the food I ate and the food I didn’t eat.  Simple.  This exemplifies that an eating disorder is not about food.  Alcoholism is not about the juice.  Drug addictions are not about the drugs…and so on.

3.  Being full.  I love food, but being full after a big meal makes me so angry.  I’m working on this one.

4.  Trying on clothes.  This is ironic because when I get stressed or ‘triggered’ I want to shop.  Hmm.  I’ll have to look more into that one.

5.  Disorganization.  Big time.  As I’m thinking about school starting, having less time to workout, less time to socialize, less time to work (translating into less money I’ll make) and the more time I’ll spend studying, I realized I needed to act on this stress in a healthy way.  After I went and got my books for classes today, I came home and cleaned out my phone.  I ripped out shelves, organized closets, re-folded clothes, tore through drawers and afterwards, was able to relax tonight.  No working out, no drinking, no crying and getting stressed out…it felt good.

Here’s my advice: pull the trigger.  Don’t shoot anyone, but ‘pull these triggers’ out of your life.  Find out what triggers you and causes you to act in ways you shouldn’t.  But ‘pulling you triggers’ out, looking them right in the face means they are out in the open now and you can see them.  Accept that they exist, face them when you can and (maybe even audibly) tell them “you don’t control me anymore.”  I think you’ll find power in that.

In summary, pull the trigger on your triggers.  It’s an important step to owning your life that should be only yours to own in the first place.

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Day 32: Take Your Gloves Off

Okay. Who here likes to fight?

Really?  Oh, come on; stop lying.  I know you like to fight.

We all like to fight.  No matter what the intention is:  maybe you fight because you have nothing better to say, maybe you fight because you’re bored, maybe…just maybe, it’s your defense mechanism.  Maybe you fight because it’s a type of foreplay (think “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” the kitchen scene…one of my favorites).

I know a lot of you right now are saying “I consider myself non-confrontational, but thank you anyway”.  You probably say it with a sweet smile and batted eyelids.  And I believe that you believe that.   Maybe you are.  Maybe you don’t like to confront others but we both know in your head there could still be a huge fight going on and ‘non-confrontational’ means you’re not sure how to approach the conversation…with yourself.

I love to fight.  And by ‘love’ I mean I have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with fighting.  I love it because it means you’re expressing how you feel inside and true emotions are coming out.  (This is a talent and a gift if you can do this freely, by the way.)  I also love it because if you’re fighting with someone it ususally means you get to make up at the end.  Where the ‘hate’ part come in is about the actual ‘fighting’ part.  It’s miserable to fight, right?

Think of your spouse.  Your best friend; maybe a family member or loved one.  You don’t want to fight with them…?  It is devastating and leaves you with a terrible feeling.  Trust me; I know.

Here’s one you may be ignoring (because it’s easier):  What about the fights with yourself?  Yourself.

I guarantee you; and I told my Husband this too; I don’t care how bad you can try and hurt me; I can kick my ass better than anyone else (including you) can.

I decided to write about ‘fighting’ tonight after I got off work.  I told you already; I love to fight.  I don’t consider myself good at it, but to fight, simply ‘just to fight’ can give us something to learn from.

Most of you know I work at a store where there are a lot of men and women trying on clothes all day long.  Yesterday, I was in the fitting room area and I almost broke down and lost it.  (Loving the drama?  I’m not, but keep listening).

I was in the back with a woman who is a ‘size 2’.  She’s probably a zero, but in our clothes, she’s a size 2.  She’s trying on different items behind her door and I hear a huge gasp: “Oh my God!  The size 4 fits me!!!  I am NOT a size 4!  I refuse to buy a size 4!  Something is wrong with your designers.”

I can’t repeat what went through my head exactly, but what I was thinking to myself is, she serious?   She’s a beautiful woman, number one, AND she’s active, she’s healthy, she’s built small, why the hell is this a problem?

I had little time to think and didn’t want to start a fight:  I calmly said, “Yeah – I’ve had a lot of people size up in that style.  You know…the tag rips out?  No one sees what size you are?”  And I kind of laughed afterwards hoping she’d calm down.

“NO!  I’m a size two.  Thanks or your help though (sarcastic).”   She promptly left.  That was yesterday and yesterday; I still couldn’t decide what to write about.

Today?  Completely different, but similar situation.  A woman and her boyfriend came back to the area I was working in and I started talking to them.  “Hi.  What do you do to workout?  What style do you like?”  She showed me and I said “Okay great!  What size do you wear?”   She answered me, “I’m a FAT size.”  She’s clearly smaller than me, by the way.

Seriously?  Of all the people you’re going to give that answer to?

Her boyfriend spoke up before I could and said, “You work out everyday, why do you keep talking to yourself this way?  It’s ridiculous!”   You could tell how much love and admiration he had for her and it was enduring.

“Okay…I’ll give you a couple of sizes and you tell me what fits you best.”

She was joking about it the whole time and looked great in everything she put on.  I finally looked at my friend I was working with and said “what the hell?  We’re not only fighting with other people we are fighting with ourselves!”  And that’s when it hit me:  I am worn out from fighting:  the majority of this fighting…all with myself.

As much as I try to do always, I’ll let you into my life a little bit more: I have been fighting with myself a lot lately.  I haven’t been going to the place I work out:  I’ve beat myself up, kicked my own ass, and am down (way down) about that.  I haven’t been prepared for my school that starts next week and (in my free time) I kick my own ass about that.  I don’t like the way my clothes fit, the way my schedule looks, the way my organization has been recently and I am hard on myself about all of it.  I can keep going:  I fight myself about decisions I make, the clothes I wear, the money I make, the comments I say and the advice I give because I believe that nothing I do is ever good enough.  That’s a fucking fight.

I have gone to bed and woken up recently thinking ‘there’s no point’.  Why even wake up?   I’ve been asleep a lot and when I’m awake I can only think, “I’d be a lot better off if I was still in bed.”

I’m here to tell you, because maybe you don’t believe it now but you could…It’s not true.  I’m a lot better off being out of bed and doing something in this world than doing nothing.  And if you think I’m only talking about me right now…I have news for you:  I’m talking about youEveryone goes through these thoughts at some point and I assure you without you, the world would be a lot less interesting place.  You (and me) have a place in this world that means something; that serves a purpose.  If you want to find out what your purpose is, I have more news for you.

You’re going to have to put your ‘dukes’ down and stop fighting yourself.  STOP. FIGHTING. YOURSELF.  I’m serious! 

Think of who else you could be fighting with!  You could be fighting cancer, drugs, AIDS, sickness, kids, jobs, our government, a family member, an in-law and even your spouse!  All these (there’s more) and you’re STILL not having to fighting yourself!   YOU are the one you need to stand strong for and YOU are the only one who can defend you.  That’s important; read that again:  YOU are the only one who can defend YOU.  So fight for you…why bother with the rest of them?

I have been down. I have been on top.  I have also been constantly fighting.  What I can tell you (that you already know if you’re there) is that it will exhaust you.  Absolutely exhaust you) if you keep fighting yourself.  It’s not worth it.

Tonight you are reading Day 32.  I’m two days behind and I decided tonight NOT to beat myself up about it.  I’m okay with it.

Do yourself a favor, if YOU start to fight with someone else, put your ‘dukes’ up.  However, If you start to fight with yourselftake off your gloves.  It’s difficult, but I know you can do it.  It’s not worth the abuse to fight yourself.

Let the fight begin!  (But please, be easy on YOU).

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Day 31: He Knows How You Feel

I haven’t quit on you; I promise.  Day 30 was a terrible day.  Then yesterday should have been Day 31 and I skipped it, pushing us back a day.  Yesterday was better, but I was experiencing some odd emotions.  What makes them odd is that I hadn’t dealt with this one in a while.  It blocked me from postivity, hopefulness and an authentic will to do anything.

My husband came home for lunch this afternoon and asked me what was wrong.  “You just seem down”, he told me.  I explained to him everything I needed to do today, everything I wanted to do today and told him that with all that swirling in my head, the best option I felt for me was to stay in bed until noon.

Clearly, the conscious me knows that’s not the best answer.  I could hear myself trying to motivate me in the back of my head yelling, ‘Come on!!  Get the day started!  Go on that run!  Go walk the beach and get some sun!  You’ll feel better.”

Eh.  I pushed her further to the back of my mind and sunk more closely into the center of the bed instead of my side.  What the hell? I kept thinking to myself.  I usually shoot out of bed.  Typically, there is two things that keep me in bed; the first one is a great reason to stay in bed…I’ll let you figure that out.  Secondly is being hungover.  There are 4 things (sometimes more) that will get me to jump out of bed the minute my alarm goes off:  work, a great workout, travel or a great breakfast.  Last night I even brought home 8 FULL pages of workouts I could do before I go to work at 3:00pm.  None of the caused any excitment or desire to do them; none of them drove me to make a move.

Today I just wanted to be in bed alone just to be in bed.  I thought back to my past and I remember this feeling from a long time ago.  I had just graduated from OCU; softball was over, I hadn’t found a job yet and I had started working out with a trainer at the gym.  I didn’t train with him everyday, so on the off-trainer-days I would go and workout by myself.

One morning I was going to workout by myself at about 8:30 in the morning.  I got dressed, packed a towel and a water bottle, laced up my shoes and drove to the gym.  I got to my normal parking spot and stared up to the door on the second story.  My heart sunk and I started to cry.  Weeping tears dripping from my face and pouring into my hands.  What am I doing here?  What is the point?  What am I going to do when I get in there?

I ended up turning around, got undressed and slid back into bed when I got home.  I remember calling my Dad and among other helpful things he said is, “sweetheart you need to talk to somebody.”  He also got me a new set of golf clubs.  An athlete needs something to compete in and the gym didn’t give me any of that.  I am planning on using those clubs again soon, just so you know.

This blog; this 40-day-challenge is what got me out of bed today.  I am so grateful for that and for all of you, who like, comment, send me emails or messages or even talk to me about what I’ve been doing the last month.  It makes me feel good and has helped (especially today) hold me accountable to get up and write.

When you don’t feel like writing, they advise you to read something else.  “Something” could be so many things.  I have a magazine here telling me how to fix my hair, learn to run a 5k, the added benefits of throwing Quinoa into my diet…that didn’t do it for me.

I’m reading a book right now by John M. Gottman titled The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  I went through and read another chapter.  Nothing jumped out at me that gave me that ‘ah-ha’ moment to jump back to my computer and write anything exciting or inspiring.

I checked my phone and had a missed call from my Dad.  He was just checking in to see if my day yesterday and today was going any better than Day 30.  He always ends with ‘I love you’ and it brought a smile to my face.  He always inspires me.

I kept thinking, “Okay…what else?”   I keep a few verses on my mirror and one on my nightstand.  I also keep a sign that says, “Women who behave rarely make history.”   I look at that one everyday and smile.  I know I could write about that, but today making you laugh didn’t seem like an option either.

I went back to my book of ‘Grace’ by Max Lucado.  I flipped through the pages and found one that I believe is applicable for today.  I read the entry from April 30thHe Knows How You Feel

“Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, hungry enough to eat raw grain, distraught enough to weep in public, fun loving enough to be called a drunkard, winsome enough to attract kids, weary enough to sleep in a storm-bounced boat, poor enough to sleep on dirt and borrow a coin for a sermon illustration, radical enough to get kicked out of town, responsible enough to care for his mother, tempted enough to know the small of Satan, and fearful enough to sweat blood. 

But Why?  Why would heaven’s fines Son endure earth’s toughest pain?  So you would know that “He his able to run to the cry of those who are being tempted and tested and tried” Hebrews 2:14”

Whatever you are facing, He knows how you feel.

Whatever any of us are going through, in life, in your marriage, in your job, in your training, in your disorder, illness or sickness…know that you (we) are not alone.  Reading and praying on this verse today made me realize that I have been created on purpose for a purpose.  My ‘purpose’ is not to lie in bed all day and wish I were somewhere else.

I am here.  I have a job to do, a family to love and a passion that I am passionate about so let’s go!  I’ll leave you with this question:  If you knew you could be the greatest, happiest, healthiest version of yourself, why wouldn’t you?  Find out what’s holding you back and destroy it.

I hope you have a great (not just a good) day today.  But don’t sweat it, if today’s a bust it doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be a great one.  Hang in there.

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