Sunday, August 3, 2014

The D Word

My divorce was finalized last week, and while it was a very welcome end to a difficult and emotional process, there's something about that gavel hitting the judge's bench that got me thinking very deeply. I realized that there's a lot of stuff that goes on during a divorce that nobody talks about. There's aftermath. There are mixed emotions. There's almost always a regression to adolescence when you find yourselves fighting over coffee tables or 401(k)s. My divorce was relatively simple from a legal standpoint. There was little to divide and we pretty much agreed on how to share parenting time, so on paper it was fairly tidy. Nonetheless, there's just nothing tidy about it from an emotional standpoint. Now I know that my posts are generally uplifting and positive but I have to warn you...I'm about to hit you with a dose of reality that may not be so pleasant. I changed my mind about posting this about 15 times, but ultimately I decided to share, not because I want to put my dirty laundry out for the world to see. Rather, I feel compelled to share my perspective with the hopes of giving back some significance to the institution of marriage. It disturbs me to see how quickly people start and end marriages nowadays. Too many people think about the wedding without giving any thought to the decades of hard work that come after you get back from the honeymoon. Marriage is difficult. Divorce is even more difficult. So without further ado, here's my list (in no particular order) of things nobody tells you about divorce:

That all of a sudden the life you thought was planned so perfectly is gone and you have to start again from scratch.

That there is a very good chance you will face significant financial setbacks, if not total ruin.

That you won't fit in with your married friends because you don't have a spouse and you won't fit in with your single friends because you have a child.

That a part of you goes missing and it almost feels like a death in the family, but you just have to keep on going because there's no such thing as bereavement leave for divorce.

That no one, no matter how much they love you or how well they mean, will understand what it feels like unless they have been through it themselves.

That the fear of ever trusting another human being with your heart is almost crippling.

That you will burst into tears or fly into an irrational rage at the most random moments because of a song, a smell, a name, a place, a memory, or nothing at all.

That you will always worry about the impact it will have on your children, and you will always hold yourself responsible for it.

That you will get so tired of your sadness that you feel guilty being around other people because you're certain that you will just bring them down.

That there's a good chance you'll lose 50% of your family or support system.

That some of your "friends" will choose a side...and it won't be yours.

That you will have to spend about half of the major holidays without your kids, and that will leave a hole in your heart.

That it gets lonely. So freaking lonely.

That to lawyers, court clerks and judges, your marriage is nothing more than a legal agreement, and that they will end it unceremoniously and without fanfare.

That if you are a single parent, you have the same number of things to do, but now you have to do them with half as many hands and half as much money.

That you will go from feeling so free and liberated one moment to feeling so lost and alone the next. This can happen about 48 times a day.

That even though you know how you should be thinking, acting and praying in order to get through it, sometimes you will be simply unable to do what you know you need to do.

That the longer you've been married, the longer it will take to be become reacquainted with your true self versus the version of yourself that you became while married.

That you will find out who really has your back...and who just says they do.

That even if you are a very positive person you will, at some point in time, find yourself at a pity party for one.

That dating can be really fun but it can also suck pretty hard, especially when text messaging wasn't even really a thing and Instagram didn't exist the last time you tried to date someone. And these "advances" just make it extra complicated.

That people will constantly ask how you're doing, and you will constantly reply with a lie. 

That it sucks. Even when it's the best choice, the right choice, or the only choice...it still freaking sucks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Size Doesn't Matter!

It’s funny how things happen.  I’ve wanted to write a post about eating disorders for a couple weeks now, but I was having trouble finding the right words or angle.  This morning one of my FBFs shared this link:


Here are some of the comments that appeared below the link:

"0 is not a size! 0 is nothing!"
“They are marketing to mosquitos”
“I want to be slim and sexy but I want curves.  I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t want to fit into a 000.  That would mean I took up crack smoking.”
"I don't want to have the body of a 10 year old. I like my curves."
“You’re fine the way you are. You look like a human…not a lollipop”

And here’s my comment:

I am a size 0 and it is indeed a size. And I have curves. And I'm not skinny or sick or anorexic. I am a healthy and fit woman, no matter what my size. And skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming. It doesn't matter what size anyone wears, as long as they are happy and healthy in their own skin. Please forgive the rant, but one of my biggest pet peeves is that people feel they can make derogatory comments about my body now that I've lost weight...and most of them never would have taken license to do so when I was obese.

My FBF who shared the link is not a mean or malicious person at all.  In fact, she’s a friend from my gym who shares a weight loss story similar to my own.  However, her post opened a small can of worms and got me thinking deeply about my own history with eating disorders and how much I worry about raising my daughter in a world where it is completely acceptable for us to make comments like the ones above.  To be honest, my own vanity is what has kept me from sharing my story as it relates to eating disorders.  I have been so afraid that if I share, people will assume my 75-pound weight loss was the result of a dangerous illness as opposed to the dedication and hard work that actually got me there.  But screw that.  You know me and I’m not one to censor, so here goes. 

I remember my first night going to a club in college.  Everyone got dressed up in their shortest skirts, tallest boots and most glittery tops to celebrate one of our first nights of freshman year freedom.  But when I tried to put on my tall boots, they wouldn’t zip over my calves.  And when I put on my skirt, I grimaced at my thick thighs sticking out the bottom.  I changed right away, opting for black pants that hid and slimmed my bottom half and a sparkly low-cut top to draw the eyes upward and show off my favorite asset at the time: the girls.  This was the first of many nights of college insecurity for me, and before I knew it I had adopted some very dangerous habits.  Always an overachiever, I gained about 25 pounds instead of the usual “freshman 15” during my first year of college.  By the summer, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.

I decided to stay in Boston and work over the summer, and my awesome godparents let me live with them.  Most of my friends had gone home for summer vacation and I was staying in the suburbs, so I found myself with a great deal of extra time on my hands.  I started using that extra time to think about things too much…and eat.  I would hide in my room with a bag of snacks that I purchased on my way home from work.  I would eat one snack…then another…and another.  Then I would eat dinner with my godparents and some nights we would go out for ice cream afterward.  If there was any junk food left in my room, I would eat it before going to bed, telling myself that I wouldn’t do the same thing the next day.  But I always did.  I would eat until I was uncomfortable and felt overwhelmingly guilty.  I was so ashamed of my behavior that I thought I would die of embarrassment if anyone found out.  I would even take the wrappers back into the city with me the next day so I could dispose of them in a public place where they could not be traced back to me.  Eventually I began to think of how I was going to gain more weight and be even more self-conscious, so I started to purge after every binge.  My boyfriend found out about a month after I started and demanded that I stop.  The doctor-to-be schooled me on the dangers of what I was doing and started to watch me carefully, making it impossible for me to hit the bathroom after meals.  So I switched it up and began exercising excessively.  I would go to the gym near my office after work each day for about an hour or two, then do step aerobics for 2-3 hours when I got home.  When I finished, I would sit down and calculate the calories I had consumed (since I was still binging) and the calories I had burned.  If it didn’t balance out, I would go exercise some more.            

Most people think eating disorders are limited to anorexia (extremely restrictive eating, if any at all) or bulimia (binging and purging); in fact, I was one of them.  When I began binging, I didn’t even think I had an eating disorder.  I thought I was just embarrassed and that’s why I hid while I ate.  I struggled with Binge Eating Disorder (BED), textbook Bulimia (MIA) and also Exercise Bulimia (EB) without even realizing it.  I dealt with each illness to varying degrees for years, although it was never as bad as that first summer of college.  When I moved to PA in 2007, I was far from my family and friends, driving for more than 2 hours a day and working long hours at a job I hated.  I found joy in visiting drive-thrus on my way to and from work, making sure to choose locations off the beaten path so no one would see me.  I would order tons of food but ask for separate bags so the servers would think I was taking it somewhere to share and not look at me like “Wow! You’re gonna eat all that?”  After my daughter was born, I lost my job and battled with postpartum depression, which eventually launched me right back into BED and resulted in significant weight gain.  I remember eating a box of cookies on the couch one day, spilling the crumbs all over my newborn and crying from the shame I felt as I looked apologetically at my crumb-covered baby.  Fortunately I regained control of my life in early 2012, which is when my now successful journey toward health and wellness began. 

I have been blessed with success that includes relative freedom from eating disorders, a love of exercise, enjoying a “normal” BMI for the first time in years, and the adoption of many new, healthy habits over the last 2.5 years.  But I have to be honest and tell you that I still struggle with my own thoughts.  There are days when I’m at the gym and frown at myself in the mirror because I think I see a little too much jiggle when I’m jumping around in BodyAttack.  There are days when I splurge on a muffin and am overcome with guilt before I even swallow the last bite.  Earlier this year, there were days when I got on stage to teach a class and started to panic inside because I was certain that everyone could see the 10 pounds I gained over the winter.  On the other side of the coin, there were days when I was at my lowest weight and couldn’t stand my body because I lost my hips and breasts somewhere during my journey.  There are days when it just seems impossible to be happy with my body. 


Everyone has something, right?  I guess this is my cross to bear.  I don’t smoke or do drugs.  I hardly drink, and I don’t really have a vice other than food.  Just like an alcoholic has to continuously focus on his or her sobriety, I need to constantly tell myself that it’s okay to eat and even to indulge sometimes.  There’s no need to hide or try to “undo” every caloric splurge; instead I should just enjoy them and move on without obsessing.  This is what I can do personally, but there is so much more that we can do as a society.  We can stop comparing every woman’s body to someone else’s.  We can stop the constant scrutiny of our physical appearance for the purpose of deeming some of us better than others simply because we have lighter skin, smaller thighs, a flatter tummy, more curves, fewer stretch marks, longer eyelashes, a lower BMI, fuller breasts or shinier hair.  We can stop saying exclusionary things like “real women have curves” and “strong is the new skinny.”  We can acknowledge that skinny shaming is no better than fat shaming because we are still passing judgment that isn’t ours to pass.  We can teach our girls (and boys!) to celebrate each part of their bodies because they were made just as God intended them to be: unique and beautiful.  If we don’t set the example and teach our children, how will they ever know?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Intuition


We have all been given the gift of intuition.  It’s that little voice inside that tells you when something is not quite right, even if you can’t explain why not.  Unfortunately we don’t always listen to that very wise little voice.  I think of following your intuition as having faith in yourself; it’s like having the ability to trust your own heart even when there is no proof or evidence to back up “that feeling.”  There is only one reason why I have every ignored my intuition: fear.  And the consequences were severe. 

Many years ago I was in a new relationship that had progressed pretty quickly.  When I met this man, I fell hard and fast and broke all my own relationship rules.  I still remember one of our first fights and I will never forget the moment my intuition kicked in and told me something was wrong.  I had snooped at a Christmas present and then lied about it when he confronted me.  I immediately backtracked and apologized, but it was already too late.  There was no forgiveness; only an extremely angry and over-the-top reaction that resulted in him yelling, unpacking my Christmas gifts one by one, and throwing them on the floor in front of me while I cried, apologized repeatedly and begged him to stop.  This was followed by about a week of the silent treatment.  We lived together at the time, but he would walk right past me as if I wasn’t even standing there, and he didn’t say a word.  I tried to talk to him about it, but he ignored me and went about his business.  When he decided that he was done being mad, he carried on like nothing had happened while I sat there dumbfounded.  My intuition told me to run for the hills and get away from this volatile person, but my heart and my mind were full of fear and talked me into staying.  Since we lived together, there was a level of uncertainty about what would happen logistically and financially if we broke up.  I was also afraid of being alone and of admitting my own failure due to jumping into that relationship way too fast even though I knew better.

Because I ignored my intuition, I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship that lasted for much longer than it should have.  I became so fearful of the silent treatment, the invalidation of my feelings, and the days of isolation that I eventually just stopped speaking up about things, no matter how much they mattered to me.  I tried to be okay with everything and only spoke up when I couldn’t hold it in any more.  Even after being isolated for days at a time as punishment for voicing my feelings, I would be so glad when it came to an end that I would welcome back my abuser with open arms simply because it meant that I didn’t have to be shunned any longer.  When things were good between us, they were so good.  But when they were bad, they were painfully, horribly bad. 

My intuition had also told me on several occasions that he was cheating on me.  Again, I let the fear win and I silenced the voice that told me something was wrong.  Eventually I found the strength and courage to listen to that intuition and on that day I received confirmation that he had indeed been cheating with several other women and for quite some time.  Again, the consequences of ignoring my intuition were grave.  I had actually put my own life at risk by continuing to share my bed with a man who had been sleeping with Lord only knows who else.  Not only that, but I continued to lose pieces of myself throughout the course of that relationship.  The longer it went on, the harder it was to leave.  I used to take so much pride in my “spark,” yet I continued to allow this man to snuff it.  By the end of that relationship, I barely recognized myself anymore.  I was a shell of who I used to be.  It is only by the grace of God that I eventually made the decision to stop ignoring my intuition and came up with a plan to get out of the relationship.  Thankfully I did.   

I could have shared a handful of other stories about the consequences of ignoring my intuition…so why did I choose the most personal, painful one?  Well for one, I think it is by far the most poignant story I have to share, and I hope it will get my point across.  God gave us the gift of intuition for a reason, and if we learn to use it properly we can protect ourselves to some degree.  Ignoring it can only lead to regret and a whole lot of “coulda, shoulda, wouldas.”
 

Also, I felt the need to talk about abuse.  I hear so many people talk about how they would NEVER allow themselves to be in an abusive relationship.  I hear women judge other women for “allowing” their boyfriends’ and husbands’ drinking, gambling, drug use, philandering or abuse; they say things like, “I don’t know why she doesn’t just leave!”  I see women who suffer silently and hide it as well as they can because they are embarrassed or feel responsible.  I was that woman for too long, and I am outraged when I think of how I blamed myself for the behavior of another human being.  There are so many conflicting feelings when you are in an abusive relationship.  You want to believe that the charming, handsome person you fell for is still in there somewhere.  You want to believe that your love was real.  You start to wonder if somehow it’s your fault.  You worry about the embarrassment you would feel if others found out.  You fear being alone and starting over.  You feel weak and lose a little more respect for yourself with every day that you stay.  As your self-esteem takes hit after hit, soon you start to believe that nobody else would want you.  And eventually you don’t even know what’s real anymore because you’ve gotten so used to telling lies to yourself and others just to make it through each day.  If this applies to you, please know that it is not your fault.  Nothing you have done could possibly make you deserve this.  You deserve better.  You deserve everything.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is almost here.  It’s one of my favorite holidays because since giving birth to my beautiful girl almost 6 years ago, I have come to truly understand all that it means to be a mom.  I love that there is a day dedicated to celebrating mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, Godmothers, grandmothers, and any other woman who plays an important role in the life of a child.  Normally I am filled with near giddiness around this time of year because I just love the idea of waking up to a loving family, having breakfast in bed or brunch in a cozy restaurant, getting a homemade card or two, going to church and then going to PA to celebrate with my mother-in-law.  But this year is different.  This year it’s just me and my girl…and I thought I would be fine, but I’m not.

It’s my first Mother’s Day as a single mom, and I’ve been having a lot of anxiety about the things I’ll be “missing out on” this year despite the fact that I have more responsibilities now than ever before.  I was feeling sad about spending the day alone with Jordin and wondering if it would still feel special.  I was wondering if her father would even think of wishing me a happy day and thanking me for giving so much of myself to our child, or if he would be too busy celebrating with someone else.  I felt a little panicky and even contemplated taking a drive all the way to Maine to escape the loneliness and surprise my mother and the rest of my family.  To be honest, I’ve been feeling sorry for myself.  Yup, I do that too. 

BUT

You knew that was coming, right? 

BUT

No more self-pity.  It stops here and now because last night I realized how much I still have to be thankful for and to celebrate this Sunday.  I have a beautiful, intelligent, and loving daughter who is full of so much personality and provides such constant comedy and entertainment that no day with her could possibly be boring or lonely.  I have friends who have already given me thoughtful Mother’s Day cards or invited me out for brunch or to a BBQ.  I have various family members and friends whom I consider to be excellent examples of mothers, so instead of worrying about myself, I’m going to focus on celebrating them.  And I can’t help but think of the mothers of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and the pain and fear they must be enduring right now.  Their story alone gives me some much-needed perspective and helps me realize that although I’m feeling sad right now, I still get to kiss my daughter every night when I tuck her in and know that she will be there when I wake up in the morning. 


My Mother’s Day story is just one example of how the quality of our lives depends so much on our outlook.  Nobody’s life is happy all the time, and it’s okay to get down and even feel sorry for yourself every now and then.  We all go through it, but the important thing is not to let yourself wallow for too long.  I'm a big Joyce Meyer fan, and she always reminds her readers/listeners that we don't have to think everything that falls into our heads.  We have more control over our own happiness than we think, and we must remember that if our thoughts are always negative, then our lives will always be negative too.  My week has been long and difficult because I allowed myself to get caught up in these negative thoughts for too long.  Fortunately I know my Mother's Day is going to be great because I've officially banished the negative thoughts and replaced them with positive ones that are focused on my blessings.  My life isn't perfect; there's plenty of room for improvement.  But rather than focusing on all the shortcomings, I'm going to spend my time celebrating all that I've been given.  

     
To all my fellow mothers, I wish you a happy, healthy, safe and blessed Mother's Day! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Don't Force It

Maybe it’s the Leo in me, but I just love to please people.  Since I was very young, I always aimed to please.  I wanted to please my parents and teachers by following the rules and being a good student.  I wanted to please my friends by being loyal to them, treating them well and making them laugh.  I wanted to please my bosses by working hard and being a team player, and I wanted to please every potential friend and love interest I came across, regardless of whether or not that person was right for me.  Sometimes my desire to please was a good thing; it meant I was a straight-A student and that my parents never had to worry about me staying out all night and doing drugs or God knows what else.  But sometimes I took it way too far, and this is a lesson I’m still learning in my 30s.  Over the years I have tried to force relationships (both romantic and platonic) that were simply not right, to stick it out at jobs that just weren’t for me, and I even came very close to choosing a career path that would have been all wrong as well.  In all of these situations, I ended up feeling the same way: stressed, upset and full of resentment.

The best things in my life are relatively effortless.  I’m not saying they don’t require work because they certainly do… anything worth having will require some hard work.  But the thing is, when something is so right, it doesn’t actually FEEL like work.  I can’t tell you how many times people ask me how I manage to keep up with teaching at least three classes a week at the gym AND fitting in my own workouts, all while working full time and raising a little firecracker of a five year old.  Yes, I’m busy.  Yes, I work hard.  Yes, it gets stressful at times.  But I’m so busy enjoying it that I rarely have time to sit around and complain about it.  I LOVE what I do, so it hardly ever feels like work. 

The best friendships I have are the ones that feel effortless.  I met one of my best friends 20 years ago.  We were super close in junior high, hung out with different groups in high school, and then I went to college out of state and we each settled down with our families…almost 400 miles away from each other.  But despite all that stands between us giving each other 100% – physical distance, demanding jobs, our children and other responsibilities – we are still very close, and every time we pick up the phone it’s like no time has passed.  There’s no need for explanations about why we haven’t spoken in weeks or even months.  We just get right to catching up and we love every minute of it.  I recently helped another close friend move into an apartment that was not as clean as she expected when she arrived.  So while she unpacked, another friend and I rolled up our sleeves and started scrubbing the kitchen until it sparkled.  Now this was actual manual labor but it didn’t feel like work for one second.  Why not?  Because I knew that it would give her much-needed peace in a stressful situation.  Because I knew that she would do the same for me without me even having to ask.  Because our friendship is real and that makes it feel effortless. 

It’s an ongoing process, but I’m trying not to force things anymore.  Excuse the vulgarity, but there’s a lot of truth in this:




I realized that I have two choices: I can either waste countless hours and incalculable energy forcing relationships with every single person I come into contact with just so I can sleep soundly at night knowing that everyone likes me, or I can stop wasting my time and pour all of that energy into taking care of the people and doing the things I truly love.  From now on, I choose the latter.      

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dead Weight

Have you ever carried a dead body?  My goodness, I hope not.  But what about a child who fell asleep on the couch or a frat brother who had a little too much to drink and passed out face-first in the toilet bowl?  Most of us have carried “dead weight” at some point in our lives, so we know that it seems to weigh a whole lot more than “regular weight.”  If that sleeping child was even half awake and not quite so limp, you could count on her to wrap her legs around your waist while you carry her to bed.  If that frat brother wasn’t three sheets to the wind, you could probably throw his arm around your shoulders and ask him to put one foot in front of the other so you could get him home.    You would still be carrying weight, but at least the burden would be shared. 

What kind of dead weight are you carrying around right now?  Some of us don’t even realize we are carrying it because we’ve gotten so used to the burden.  Dead weight can come in many forms.  It can be that really negative person in your life who doesn’t know how to find the silver lining in any situation.  When you talk to her, you try to help her see the bright side of things, but she would rather complain and wallow.  Maybe your dead weight is a long-distance family member who calls and talks about his own problems for 30 minutes straight and then says he has to go before it ever occurs to him to ask how you’re doing.  Does your dead weight live in your own mind?  Is it low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, addiction, doubt, or negativity? 

I’ve been carrying all kinds of dead weight around for years.  Some of my dead weight was people.  There were some who never had anything nice to say and tried to create or perpetuate drama in every situation.  They made me laugh from time to time and we had other friends in common, so I thought it just made sense to keep them around and not rock the boat.  Others would run to me with every need or problem, knowing that I would stop what I was doing to solve their problem, meet their need, or just give them a shoulder to cry on.  But when I had a need, they were too busy to help.  I’ve pulled away from a lot of these people because I realized that they were dead weight and I refused to let myself carry them any longer.  Some noticed, and some didn’t.  I’m not mean to them…I have no reason to be.  They are who they are and I can’t be mad at them for it.  However, I do not need to allow them to have a place in my inner circle.  That, my friends, has to be earned now. 

I think the most dead weight I carried lived right inside my own head.  I spent so many years trying to make other people like me that I never got to know who I really was.  Instead of being me, I was the version of me that I thought everyone else wanted.  Instead of knowing myself and owning my personality, I would adapt to whomever I was with at any given time.  Because I had no idea who I really was, I lacked confidence.  That constant second-guessing of myself – who I was, how I looked, what I wore, what I said, etc. – was enough dead weight to run me right into the ground.  I was also a worrywart.  I would worry about every detail in every situation, playing things out over and over again in my mind.  It was only when I started going to church, reading the Bible and listening to a whole lot of Joyce Meyer that I learned to turn all my worries over to God and enjoy peace while He took care of the rest. 

Getting rid of dead weight isn’t always easy.  In many cases, you can’t just drop it because once you’ve been carrying it for a while, it becomes a part of you.  You start to feel safe under the weight, and shedding it can feel pretty terrifying.  The first step is to take a good look at your life and the people in it so you can identify your dead weight.  After that, it’s a process and it takes some people longer than others to go through it.  I know firsthand what it’s like to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that something or someone is weighing you down but be too scared of the unknown to do anything about it.  The good news is that I got there.  It took time and I changed my mind about 47 and a half times, but I finally got there…and when I did, I felt that weight lift right off my shoulders and the freedom was almost intoxicating.  Now I'm ready to fly.  


Monday, March 24, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

One year ago today, my life changed dramatically.  There were days when I didn’t know how I would get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, let alone take care of my daughter, go to work and get dinner on the table.  I’m typically pretty strong and positive, but I definitely felt myself sinking into that horrible place of self-pity.  I remember asking God, “WHY ME!?” and wondering what I had done to deserve what I was going through.   I made a lot of choices and sacrifices out of desperation, and they weren’t always the right ones.  I felt like nobody could possibly understand my pain, fear, disappointment and anger.  In a word, I felt alone.  I remember going to the doctor and hanging my head in shame as I told her that I couldn’t do it alone and that I thought I needed counseling and medication.  My OCD was out of control and my anxiety would go off the charts if there was the slightest change in my routine.  As the memories of my struggle with postpartum depression came flooding back to me and the tears started to fall on the floor in the doctor’s office, I wondered how many times I would have to go through this again.  Then I remembered what made it so bad the first time around: I tried to do it alone.  Then and there, I dried my tears, lifted my head and promised myself that I would NOT do it alone this time.  And I’m proud to say I didn’t.  I told a few trusted friends and family members and I was honest with my doctor about my symptoms.  What a difference it made.

I also realized that I needed more help this time around; more than friends, family, doctors and pills.  I knew I needed something much bigger than all of that…I needed Jesus!  My desperate circumstances led me to Tapestry Church, where I found a new home, became a part of a new family, and had a long overdue spiritual awakening.  I knew that I didn’t want to take those pills forever or continue paying over $200 a month for a therapist to let me sit on her couch and talk about my feelings.  I prayed about it often, and soon I realized that God was the best therapist I could ask for, and best of all, he doesn’t charge by the hour!  Every morning I used to take a pill, but now I read this every morning instead:



And I’m proud to say that I, Jenalee Hill, former uptight worrywart, have more peace in my life now than ever before.  The last year was probably the most challenging one of my life, and I know that there are more challenges to come.  But I don’t look back with any resentment or anger because not only did I get through it, I GREW through it.  A year ago I didn’t know how I could pick up the pieces and go on, but today I’m happier than I have been in years.  I learned something very important years ago, and it’s the reason I started this blog in the first place:




Sometimes the last thing I want to do is tell people what I’m going through because I feel ashamed or I don’t want them to pity me.  People generally mean well, but it really drives me nuts when someone defines me by my circumstances.  This alone makes me want to keep everything to myself, just to avoid them labeling me a victim and giving me that piteous look every time they pass me.  Nonetheless, I know that today’s tests are tomorrow’s testimonies and that my testimony is worthless if I keep it to myself.  I’m a witness to the beautiful things that can happen with effort, prayer and faith, and if my sharing can help even one person, it’s well worth it.