Last Summer

This time last year I was struggling with something that a lot of young women can relate to – body image and anxiety.

During the beginning of 2016 I was feeling beautiful and confident in my own skin. I was working out more regularly and I had lost weight leading up to my wedding day.

Between work, graduation, and wedding planning there were times when I was simply too busy to sit down and eat a real meal. Juices and smoothies became my go-to for lunches when I was out running errands. I ended up losing weight, but I was also feeling fit and healthy.

After our wedding, that all changed.

The week after our wedding was spent packing and getting ready to move into our new apartment. Again, there wasn’t much time to sit down and have big meals, so we were always eating quick bites on the go.

Once we had moved into our apartment and I had unpacked everything and got our little apartment all set up, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself and all of the free time I now had.

The days seemed to stretch out ahead of me with countless empty hours while Brendan was at work. I didn’t know how to fill these long lapses of time while Brendan was away, so I started watching television. Having television to watch was a treat for me since I didn’t have cable when I lived with my grandma the previous year.

Televison became my constant companion. I always left some show streaming all day long, whether I was actually giving it my full attention or not. It was comforting to me to have some background noise of human interaction on.

I was excited to be married and living in a new city with Brendan. But I was also scared and lonely, and this resulted in me feeling depressed and very anxious all of the time.

I started to feel so alone and craving time and interaction with other people (rare for an introvert like me). It didn’t help that our small apartment got little to no sunlight due to the fact that our windows faced a parking garage. I never knew if it was sunny outside or not.

My mood quickly began to reflect the view I saw outside that window – dark, cold, gray, and ugly. I built up walls and literally made a prison for myself. For some reason I was scared to go outside in this unfamiliar city without Brendan by my side. I cry a little on the inside every time I think of how I isolated myself.

I craved going back home and visiting my family. I felt safe and comfortable there, and it was nice to have others to talk to.

I remember being excited to go to the dentist and be around other people. My hygienist complemented my hair, and I thought about that all day long and how good it made me feel.

I eventually found my way back to journaling and blogging and that helped me with getting my feelings and frustrations out. It also helped me to understand myself a little bit better.

I started going to Starbucks to sit outside in the sun to read and write. But this didn’t cure me of all of my woes.

July came and my body image came to an all-time low. I gained weight after the wedding and I began to hate my body and beat myself up for eating more than I had earlier in the year. I took up going to the gym to work out. I felt better at first. I started going to the gym at least 5 times a week and would work out at least 2 hours while I was there. It gave me something to do and helped the hours go by while Brendan was at work (4 p.m. – 12 a.m.).

I began to develop more muscle and as a result I weighed more. This crushed me. I couldn’t shake the number on the scale and the fact that my pants fit tighter. I had also become obsessed with tracking calories again and how many steps I was getting.

This immediately took me back to when I was a teenager, counting every single calorie and on the verge of an eating disorder.

I started regularly having anxiety attacks and would break down crying in Brendan’s arms. I hated looking in the mirror and I wanted to wear clothes that would hide my body.

One evening that really sticks out to me was at the end of August (2016).

Brendan and I had decided to go to Liberty University for a movie night they were having as a way to kick off the new school year, and I was feeling so defeated with my body that evening. Everything I tried on I hated – I felt bloated, fat, and disgusting. The worst part was that I knew we would end up seeing some of Brendan’s former co-workers on campus and I didn’t want them to see me looking the way I did.

Isn’t it stupid?! In my mind I thought I needed to be thinner and prettier, and I felt like I didn’t deserve Brendan. In reality, I’m sure nobody would have even noticed that I had gained a few pounds. I cried before we left our apartment that evening, and we almost didn’t go because of me.

When September rolled around I knew that I couldn’t go on like that much longer. I decided to stop weighing myself everyday and stop looking in the mirror to constantly pick myself apart. I also stopped wearing my Fitbit, gave up tracking calories on MyFitnessPal, and cut down my gym time to just 3 times a week.

And with these changes I felt the shackles loosen and fall off.

Of course, it didn’t happen over night. After a few weeks I started to realize that I wasn’t focusing on the reflection in the mirror anymore and I was actually starting to enjoy my food again.

I’d say it took anywhere from a month to a month and a half for me to start really feeling better. It took hard work and dedication, a change in my mindset, and the support of my husband.

I never really told anyone else besides Brendan that I was struggling. Body image and anxiety can be a difficult thing to talk about and trying to explain it to people can be even harder.

Those were some very dark days for me, and it hurts me to think about how I beat myself up so much. It hurts to write about it too, but I feel like it’s important for me to share where I’ve been.

Thankfully I am in a much better place now – body, mind, and spirit.

I didn’t write this post because I want people to feel sorry for me. I wrote it in the hopes that it might help somebody else out there that is dealing with something similar.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to not always feel okay. Television and social media are always showing us these beautiful little snapshots of people’s lives, and we don’t always see what’s going on on the inside. The important thing to remember is that we’re all human and none of us will ever lead a perfect life.

Learn to listen to your body and its needs. Surround yourself with a support system – even if it’s just one person you can confide in. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourself because you are worth it!

 

 

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Weekend Recap (Aug. 4-6)

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a simple weekend recap on the blog. Last weekend (August 4-6) was so refreshing so I thought I’d share a bit about it.

One of Brendan and my intentions for the month of August is to have a date night at least once a week. We already spend a lot of time together, but we wanted to focus on spending some quality time together outside of our apartment. Friday was the night we planned to have date night.

During the summer Brendan gets off work a little earlier on Fridays, so we were able to head out for dinner around 5:30 p.m. We chose Olive Garden for our dinner destination.

For dinner I ordered whole wheat linguine with traditional marinara sauce, salad (with no dressing or croutons) and, of course, breadsticks. Since going vegan in November last year, I’ve learned different things you can order from chain restaurants that are vegan friendly. I was surprised and happy to find out that the breadsticks at Olive Garden are vegan!


After dinner we decided to walk around downtown for a bit to get some exercise before going for dessert.

A storm ended up rolling in just as we were walking back to our apartment. So we watched and waited it out from our apartment before walking to get dessert.

We had dessert in downtown Roanoke at Altus Chocolate’s newest location. Altus Chocolate is a charming local artisan chocolate shop/cafe that originated in downtown Lynchburg. Their story is so inspiring and I love that the idea for the shop was conceived after the owners watched the movie “Chocolat”.

Altus Chocolate has been around for about five years now, but since I’m not a big chocolate person I never went when I was living in Lynchburg. When I heard that they were opening up a new location in downtown Roanoke, I was delighted and knew that we would have to go check it out.

Brendan and I had a wonderful experience at Altus Chocolate – the employees were very helpful and friendly, the desserts were rich, flavorful, and pure, and the atmosphere was charming (I especially loved the French inspired music).

I ordered the Rich Hot Chocolate and had it made with coconut milk and no whipped cream, and I also got one of their vegan Coconut Cranberry Macaroons. Brendan got a chocolate chip cookie. The chocolates are a bit on the expensive side, but they are handmade by the staff with the highest quality ingredients. I love the fact that they have dairy-free and vegan options for people like me!

Photo by Brendan
Photo by Brendan


I would definitely recommend a trip to Altus Chocolate if you are in the Lynchburg or Roanoke area and are looking for an authentic chocolate treat. I can’t wait to go back and try some of their coffee.

I am currently reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris, so I thought it was very fitting for me to sit a read a chapter while I was at Altus Chocolate.

Nothing too exciting happened on Saturday (August 5). I spent the whole day working, so didn’t feel like doing a whole lot that evening. Brendan and I ended up getting dinner to go and enjoyed a nice cozy evening in our apartment.

Sunday (August 6) was a gorgeous day filled with spontaneous adventures. After church Brendan and I came back to the apartment and went over all of the chores and different things we wanted to get done that day. But the weather was so nice, we both decided that it would be fun to grab some food and then go on a little drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Well, our little drive ended up taking us all the way past the Peaks of Otter and into Lynchburg. And I didn’t mind one bit. I decided to let go and just enjoy wherever the day would take us.

By the time we go to Lynchburg it was about 2:45-3 p.m. and we were in need of a pick-me-up, so we decided to go to Starbucks. And since we had both brought a book along with us we sat outside in the sunshine and read for a little bit before moving on with our adventures.

Next we ended up driving over to Riverside Park near Rivermont. Brendan and I had never been to Riverside Park before. I can’t believe I lived in Lynchburg for 5 years and there are still so many places that I never explored. The trails were nice in this park and we even came along some pieces of Lynchburg history as well.

Brendan was especially excited about this steam engine we found in Riverside Park.

As we were walking down one of the trails, we stumbled upon the big train trestle over the James River. This is the same train trestle that has seen so many lives taken over the years, including the life of Liberty University student Jon Gregoire. I had never seen the trestle in person, only pictures of it. There was such an eerie hush that hung in the air. We paused for a moment there in silence, remembering those who have lost their lives at that spot.


After the park, we headed to Rivermont Pizza for some dinner. Rivermont pizza is one of our favorite places to eat in Lynchburg. The food has been excellent every time we’ve gone.

Before we headed back home to Roanoke, we made a quick stop to see my brother Jon and his new apartment in Lynchburg. He’s in a nice spot in town and I can tell he’s loving it already. Lynchburg really is a great city and I love going back for a visit every chance I get.

We got back home around 9:30 p.m. It was such a fun, rejuvenating day. Sometimes it’s important to leave the dirty dishes in the sink and the laundry unfolded to get out and explore!

 

August Goals + Intentions

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but I felt that it was important for me to post about my goals and intentions for the month of August.

With summer quickly coming to an end, I’m looking back to the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and realizing that I have a lot left that I want to accomplish. For me, I’m more likely to get things done when I write out monthly, weekly, and even daily goals – looking at my goals and intentions through this lens makes them feel less daunting and more attainable.

My list of intentions for the month of August is looking a bit lengthy at this point, but I’m not going to let that deter me. An area that I really want to bring more focus to this month is reading and writing. With work and life in general, I just haven’t put as much time and energy into it as I would like. And I want to change that.

I’m looking back to my 14-15 year old self for inspiration on reading. Back then I was going to the library weekly, reading a chapter a day of several books – one of the classics, Shakespeare, some history, etc. And let’s not forget that I finished the entire Harry Potter series in exactly 31 days. I was a reading machine.

And then I’m also looking to my 18 year old self for writing inspiration. I was spending hours in the morning writing – journaling, writing letters, fiction writing, and even dabbling a bit in poetry. I was challenging myself and writing in styles that were out of my comfort zone. I definitely wrote a lot in school (I did study journalism after all), but I rarely did writing for myself.

This month I’m looking to change that. I want to write for myself, whether that’s journaling or writing fiction. And I want to get into a daily habit of it.

Here is a list of my August Goals + Intentions:

August Goals + Intentions

Monthly:

  • Finish hanging wall art/shelves
  • Transplant plants to pots
  • Write more – journal, letters, short stories
  • Take Unit 1 quiz for Herb Course
  • Incorporate dry brushing into my health routine
  • Form a night time routine
  • Make 20 homemade cards
  • Finish reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Weekly:

  • Stick to meal plans
  • Oil pulling 3x a week
  • Brush w/ activated charcoal 3x a week
  • Gym/workout 3x a week
  • Read a book from the library every two weeks

Daily:

  • Read the Bible
  • Journal for 5 minutes
  • Go on a walk
  • Read a chapter of a book

What are your goals and intentions for this month?

DIY Mother’s Day Gift “Basket”

Hello and Happy First Day of June!

This post from Mother’s Day is a bit overdue. With traveling and going on vacation for Brendan and my one year anniversary I just haven’t had the time to write. But, better late than never right?

I had so much fun putting this gift “basket” (jar, really) together for my mom this Mother’s Day. I wanted to give her something that was pampering but also practical for everyday use. Like me, Mom is into essential oils, natural face soaps, tea, and lovely candles. I wanted to include a few treats in this gift that she normally wouldn’t buy for herself (such as essential oils). While I put this together for Mother’s Day, you can make this for any occasion you want! So here’s a little peek at what I decided to include in Mom’s gift.

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Jar from Marshall’s 
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The smell from the candle, soap, essential oils, and tea was heavenly. 

I actually found a lot of these goodies at T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s. Surprisingly, they have a great selection of natural health and beauty products. I have seen some of these brands at natural/health food stores, so I trust that they are good quality. I have used some of these brands before, like the Eucalyptus soap by PlantLife and the Cooling Eucalyptus candle by DW Home and I really liked them.

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I also tried my hand at making some homemade Bug Bite Salve. Again, I wanted this gift to be pampering as well as practical, so instead of making some body scrub that I knew my mom probably wouldn’t use I decided to make this bug bite salve. Mom loves to spend her time outdoors, so I knew this would come in handy. I bought the tin and most of the ingredients I needed to make the salve from Health Nut Nutrition located in Lynchburg, which is one of my very favorite natural health stores.

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While I had never used this brand before, I loved this little aromatherapy roller set from Tisserand Aromatherapy. Each roller has a special blend of essential oils to help you de-stress, give you energy, and aides in a restful night’s sleep. I bought this set from T.J. Maxx.

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I also decided to include some dried chamomile flowers (from Health Nut Nutrition) so that mom could make a fresh cup of hot, relaxing chamomile tea. I found the adorable muslin sachet from my local Co-op and then just included a little index card with instructions on how to prepare the tea.

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Earlier this year I took a free online course through Herbal Academy which introduced me to herbs and learning how to draw plant monographs. It included a bunch of wonderful resources and free print outs, such as this Tea Meditation practice. This Tea Meditation encourages you to sit with a cup of herbal tea, taste the rich flavors and complicated flavors and take time to relish in the moment. Then, take a moment to journal about how drinking the tea makes you feel – what does it taste like? Do you feel the tea working in certain parts of your body?, etc. Since Mom loves a good cup of tea and journaling, I figured this was the perfect thing to include. In addition to the chamomile flowers, I also included some of our favorite teas from Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea.

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And finally, I finished off the gift “basket” with some fun packaging! I found the cute bag at Marshall’s and the sparkly tissue paper from T.J. Maxx.

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I had so much fun shopping for my Mom and putting this little gift together! Hopefully this will bring you some inspiration for your next DIY gift basket. Have a lovely day everyone.

 

 

End of the Month Reflection

As I sit in front of the computer this evening reflecting on the past couple of weeks, I find it hard to believe that we are well on our way into 2017. Is it just me, or does it feel like New Years Day was just a few days ago? This month has been so full of change, happiness, and positive energy – just the start to the new year I was hoping for. I hope that the month of January has been as lovely for the rest of you as well.

I wanted to devote some time today to looking back at my goals and habits that I set for myself at the beginning of the month and assess how well I stuck to them.

I definitely met some of my goals – getting a job, recycling more, and doing yoga more often – but I ended up slipping on some of my healthy habits I was trying to establish. I started the month off strong doing 15 minutes of yoga in the morning and at night, I was journaling everyday, and making headway on my reading list. But then I started my new job and my routine got thrown out of wack, and I’m sad to say that I haven’t worked very hard on getting back where I was. So I think the month of February will be a great opportunity to do this.

During the month of February I want to get more serious about my yoga practice and dedicate more time to it daily. I want to start incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet because, believe it or not, even though I’m vegan I definitely don’t eat all of the plants I should. I want to go to bed earlier so that I have more time in the mornings to read my Bible, do yoga, and eat breakfast before going to work. And I also want to write more – I want to journal, blog, and write letters and articles more regularly. These are just a few of my goals + habits though.

On another note, Roanoke continues to grow on me. Meeting new people and really learning more about the community is giving me a deeper appreciation for this city. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I’ll have more to share with you about how I am getting involved in this beautiful little community and how I want to serve and make a difference.

Roanoke really has so much potential and I am excited to see it grow and thrive in the years to come. How awesome it is to be placed here right now at this time of growth and development and to know that I have the opportunity to help progress that change. I know God has me here for a reason and I pray that He will help show and guide me to the areas I can be of service.

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And with that I say so long January! You’ve been grand.

 

The Greatest Adventure is What Lies Ahead

Happy Tuesday!

My goal for my blog this year is to post once a week, and so far I’ve missed the mark.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted on here in a while is because I’ve been busy trying to accomplish some of my new year’s goals I set for myself – two of those being getting a job and getting involved in the local community.

Within the past couple of weeks God has so graciously blessed me with a part-time job, an offer to write an article for a local magazine, and an opportunity to volunteer in my local community. How amazing is that?

Brendan and I moved to Roanoke in June last year and it has been quite the struggle looking for a job. First of all, I was a little nervous about moving to a new city and looking for a job. I wasn’t at all familiar with the area, and I knew that jobs in my field were scarce. I looked for some local writing jobs, but could never find much. I did apply for a few retail/food service jobs, but if I’m being honest, I really, REALLY didn’t want to work somewhere like that.

I tried not to be close minded, but I just genuinely didn’t feel ready to get a job and start working. Brendan was so sweet and never rushed me, or made me feel like I needed to get a job right away (I was so thankful for his full-time job and that we were able to live off of one income). But there was this part of me that felt guilty for not wanting to get a job just yet. I felt guilty for staying home and doing everyday chores like dishes, laundry, sweeping, grocery shopping, and cooking. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to help out. And I hated when people would ask me (or ask Brendan) what I was doing and if I had a job yet.

“Yet” – I hated hearing that word. It was as if these people were thinking “What is this girl doing with her time if she doesn’t have a job?”. It made me feel belittled and useless and there were times that I cried because of it. Believe it or not, I am rarely bored, even if I’m just at home by myself – I know how to occupy my time and I don’t feel the need to constantly be planning outings with friends just to fill the void. I’m not afraid of alone time, in fact I need alone time to recharge.

But back to the whole job thing. I felt like I needed to get a job because I didn’t want people asking me about it anymore. Which is really a terrible reason to get a job. I know it may sound kind of hippie, but I just wasn’t getting the feeling that any of the jobs I applied for were the right ones for me. I wanted to trust that God had the right job out there for me, and I would just know it when I saw it. I knew some people would roll their eyes at that – I didn’t want to use that as an excuse to not get a job, but that’s honestly how I felt deep down.

And I was right. The new year was right around the corner and I had this new surge of motivation and inspiration. I was determined to find a job and get to work. Little did I know I would find that job within the first week of the year. And I knew I should pursue it because it just felt right and I wasn’t dreading it.

So, within the past couple of weeks I started a new part-time retail job at a chocolate shop (kind of ironic because I don’t really like chocolate and most all of the chocolates they sell are not vegan), I have been writing a magazine article, and I also met with a lady in charge of the community gardens in the Roanoke area and talked about areas that I can get involved in and volunteer at the gardens.

My planner went from empty to filled almost overnight, and I’m totally okay with that. I want to get involved and make a difference in community.

To be honest (I’m trying to be very honest about my feelings in this post), there was this part of me that was still holding onto the city of Lynchburg. Over the course of my 4 1/2 years of college, I came to really love the city of Lynchburg. I loved the people, the local businesses, and the familiarity of it all. But that was the problem, it had become too familiar and I was stuck in my comfort zone. When I first moved to Lynchburg I hated living there. It wasn’t until I invested myself into the community that I really grew to love and appreciate the little Lynchburg bubble. And even though I tried to deny it, I knew it was time to break free of that bubble and have a fresh start in a new city.

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Downtown Lynchburg – home to some of the cutest shops and cafes. This city will always hold a special place in my heart. 

So even though I’ve been living in Roanoke since June last year, I’m just now allowing myself to let go of Lynchburg an immerse myself in this place they call the Star City. I don’t know why I tend to resist change (sometimes unknowingly), but I’m working on not dwelling on the past. From here on, I want to really put my energy into the present and and learn to be at peace with where I’m at instead of looking back to the past. J.R.R. Tolkien once said “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead”, and I’m learning to believe that.

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Downtown Roanoke – My new home. 
Sorry for rambling on, I just had a lot of thoughts I wanted to get out and share. Have a great day! 🙂

2017 Goals and Intentions

Hello 2017!

Yesterday was a wonderful start to the year for me. Brendan and I visited a new church, we went to a family Christmas/New Year’s party, and then went to my parent’s house to do Christmas presents with them.

Since I was out all day yesterday, I decided that today is the day I am really going to start focusing on my goals and intentions for 2017. I started my morning with reading my Bible, checking notifications on my phone, 15 minutes of yoga, finishing off a bottle of water, drank a ginger “flu” shot, and now I’m sitting down with my cup of coffee while I write this post.

One of my goals this month is to establish a healthy morning and night time routine. I am guilty of taking forever to get out of bed, then drinking my morning coffee while ignoring my water and mindlessly surfing the web. And I tend to do the same thing after dinner, snacking and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth.

I’d really like my mornings to start by spending time in God’s word, 15 minutes of yoga, and then drinking plenty of water while I read or blog. And then at night I’d like to spend my evenings journaling, 15 minutes of yoga, and then bed. One thing I know for sure I need to work on is being more mindful of when I am checking my phone. I spend way to much time on my phone and not enough time reading, writing, blogging, and doing anything else creative.

A N Y W A Y …

I have a much longer list of goals for 2017 than I have in years past. And as the days go on I’m sure more will come to mind that I will add to the list. But I wanted to share with you the goals I have written out now – I’ve heard that sharing your goals with others helps keep you accountable. So here it goes!

 

2 0 1 7  G O A L S  + I N T E N T I O N S 

  1. Practice more yoga (daily if possible)
  2. Buy less, Waste less, Recycle more
  3. Shop local more often (Farmers Market/Co-op)
  4. Get involved in the local community
  5. Wear less makeup
  6. Incorporate more natural beauty products
  7. Journal almost daily
  8. Blog Weekly
  9. Read 45 books
  10. Get a job
  11. Waste less food
  12. Meal plan/prep
  13. Find a home church
  14. Take a yoga class
  15. Check out library books > Buy books
  16. Write letters to people more often
  17. Look into taking nutrition/health classes

In addition to these goals for the year, I’m also going to continue with writing out goals and healthy habits for myself each month. That way I have smaller goals to work on that are more attainable and less daunting.

I am feeling so motivated and inspired to make a change in 2017. So I’m going to let go of the things that have been holding me back and I am going to start taking the steps I need to in order to be the person that I want to be.

Let’s fill 2017 with love, laughter, positive vibes, and change!