How One Word Can Change Everything In Your World

Cancer. I’ve read the word. I’ve heard the stories. In fact, my father died of liver cancer August 14, 2005, heck, I’ve even diagnosed myself a few times during my late night Google searches. But I never thought I’d have to actually ever experience the pain that, that word has caused me and so many other people. I never thought I’d have to feel the intense heartbreak for a long, long, time. Still, mourning my best friend, who died 2 years ago, I was not prepared to be face to face with something so painful so soon.

All I could do is crumble to the floor after I locked the bathroom door of the hospital. My insides ached all over. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk. I’d commit suicide. That would be my plan, I decided, hoping to cease the debilitating pain. Or at least so I could get out to the car.

Anger surged through me, yet I felt lifeless. If the tears didn’t slide down my cheeks, I wouldn’t have known they were actually mine. I felt foreign to this body that knew not how to move from the current state of paralysis I was in.

My mother still recovering from the anesthesia, was half listening as the doctor who did her endoscopic biopsy, pulled up a chair to discuss what he found. I knew it was bad news. I knew because he had just been talking to another patient two beds over, divided by curtains, while standing.

I didn’t want to cry in front of my mother when he announced that, she did in fact, have a 4cm malignant tumor on her pancreas. He had just pierced my heart with his words.

“She has pancreatic cancer” I had been researching it all over the internet, consumed by it, since the week before she went to the emergency room with jaundice.

She had an ultrasound on Friday, a CT scan on Monday, and the biopsy exactly one week after the ER visit.

Throughout all my research, I found nothing but horrible news. Poor survival rates, “#2 silent killer” is what one website referred to it as. And even though the doctor told me not to go based on everything I’ve read online because it’s all outdated information anyway, I couldn’t believe him, and how could I? I thought it only made logical sense, and how could it not? I just couldn’t believe that every single thing I read online was inaccurate.

I have spent every single day since, googling different keywords, hoping, desperately seeking some glimmer of hope. I just couldn’t live without my mom. I just couldn’t.

When I wasn’t googling information about pancreatic cancer, I was googling painless ways to commit suicide. I was not going to live without my mother. I felt like everyone kept leaving me. Sure, it sounds selfish, but I never am anything but positive around my mother. I didn’t want to be a beacon of pain when she was still in positive spirits. And whether she cried when I wasn’t around, I do not know. But I did know that I wanted to be the one to control when I die.

She’s been referred to an oncologist, and the doctor who did her biopsy, told her that she is a good candidate for the Whipple procedure. He would make the recommendation and then we’ll go from there;  it’s all a waiting game at this point.

My heart is broken. My heart is irreparable. I feel guilty that she’s the one going through this. I want to give her my pancreas, my everything; I don’t want her to suffer. She retired three years ago, and she is so full of energy and life, and I’ve done nothing but NOT live my life. I’ve done nothing, but allow depression to consume me, anxiety to fill me with fear and panic, that I stopped living. And yet, here she is, diagnosed with cancer. I cannot live without my mom. I just can’t.

How can this be true? How can something like this just change your life forever-in an instant?

Four months ago, in late March, she started complaining of abdominal pain. Her doctor suggested probiotics. They didn’t work. She begged them for a CT scan, but the insurance wouldn’t cover it. Instead, they referred her to a digestive disease specialist, but they couldn’t get her in until August 3-one day after her biopsy. It took her to develop jaundice and her bloodwork to show elevated bilirubin levels for them to take action. I am angry. Each day, after that ER visit, symptoms developed rapidly-every new day brought on a new symptom. It was so scary to see the whites of her eyes and her skin so yellow.  There was no way I could be in denial. I tried to be positive and tell myself it was a benign tumor or maybe even a cyst, but that quickly waned when the information from the many google searches vividly flashed over and over in my mind.

Along with the biopsy, they also inserted a bile stent to decrease/eliminate her symptoms. Her skin, no longer yellow, she’s no longer itchy, and her stomach pain has ceased. But none of that changes what the reality is and I just want to be near her all day, all the time.

I’m scared. I’m broken. This can’t be happening. I keep taking deep breaths because the pain is that deep in my lungs. I’ve been coping with Xanax, sleep, anxiety, Xanax, more sleep.

The other day, I picked up some low fat, low fiber foods at the grocery store for her, and I just wish I could cook all of her meals for her. It scares me that her and my stepfather’s daily routine will not change. Since my stepfather was declared permanently disabled for spinal stenosis (he’s also had multiple surgeries and is still not completely free of pain), they are used to going out to lunch daily-she usually used to just eat a small meal-but even now, my stepfather wants to carry on with their daily routine of going out to eat. She asks for no butter, no oil, but is that really enough?

I have so much fear and worry, and absolutely no control…I can’t think of anything other than this.

My thoughts waver back and forth, like a radio station playing a sad song and then another station playing an upbeat song-never in sync no matter how hard I try to just keep the positive, hopeful thoughts on replay, but they just quickly transform into radioactive sparks and shocks that leave me googling things I shouldn’t be.

My thoughts are cancerous cells that spread throughout my mind and body, and the more I try to divert my negative thoughts, the more vivid and abrupt the negativity becomes.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering What I Tried So Hard to Forget

I don't even know where to begin. What do you do when you don't know where to begin? Do you just keep going, walking a straight line, or walking in circles? I have visited this blog over and over again. Like a circle. I have somehow lost my way to find that straight line, or maybe I just realized life is not a straight line and I just got tired of following it.

Perhaps I just grew weary of climbing.

I have logged in. Logged out. Pretended it no longer existed…

I didn't want to remember, what I used to be; how far the current of the river had taken me away from where I left off. My footprints had succumbed to the thousand other footprints that still had the eagerness to go forward; to not stand still; to explore.

I forgot which way I was going. Or perhaps, I made myself forget.

It was too hard to come back to. Too hard to just exist. I know none of this makes any sense. It didn't, and still doesn't to me. I wrote so many times, but I didn't want to share. I didn't want this to be a diary. What started out as a fitness journey, collapsed at the death of my best friend.

It's been two years. I've been through every emotion, and found myself at the bottom too many times. I was pretty certain that I was ready to die. I was done with life. I had done all I had to; experienced everything I wanted, and saw no point in living any longer.

There was no point in going to the gym. No point in getting dressed or putting makeup on.No point in leaving the house. I was done. Officially done.

I was ready for the tide to take me in its icy arms and cradle me forever.

People left me alone, as I wanted them to, I didn't care. I didn't want anyone. And when I did talk to someone, it was usually a family member, and they didn't understand, nor did I care to ever make them understand.

What was going on with me, "Was 'just nonsense'… Was, as they say, 'all in my head".

"Why can't you just get out and do things."Why can't you just…

Why can't you just...

Why can't you just…

The screams echoes inside of me, and just confirmed that I…

I was done. I did not care. Why do I need to go anywhere? I did not care. I lived my life. I was done. But I knew that they, or no one who hasn't ever experienced it, would only ridicule me and judge me. So I decided it was best to just limit my contact with them, and when I did talk to them, I made sure to never discuss what was going on with me.

I didn't want to commit suicide. I didn't want to leave my kids without a mother. I did not want to take my own life; I was just ready to die.

It doesn't make any sense. I know that. But, nothing made sense to me, and I can't say I ever cared.

My mind didn't go beyond the footprints that were buried on that path, in the same spot.  No longer were the etches of the life that I once had lived recognizable. Everything I once knew or dreamed of, traveled on without me, clinging to others' footprints, seeping into the crevices of another sole, and then dragged until the remnants; what was left, had fallen into the once well paved path.

A lot can happens in a year, 'they' say.

It's been 2 years, I believe, since I even had the urge to write something, anything…

So much has changed. Rightfully so. Life, in general, changes you.

Moments change you, and some of those moments, change A LOT, as they rob you of your identity, your soul, spirit, energy and your footprints.

I often imagine, selfishly, that the ocean is cradling me and I'm at peace, relaxed and full of life.

And then, I unravel from its arms as it crashes to shore…

I wipe my tears. My eyes widen, my heart thumps harder…spread out before me is an entire canvas to sink my feet into; to carve new footprints. And as I hear the water's sweet sound washing away behind me, I place one foot in the sand, and then the other, carefully allowing the cold, damp sand between my toes, wrapping them like a gift.

And I can't help but notice that each footprint is deeper then the last.

 

 

 

 

 

Coping With Pain and Worry

I wrote this staring at this white blank space on wordpress, and I didn’t really worry about editing it….In fact, I couldn’t even come up with a title and I’m going to bed to try to at least fall asleep….

“You look like you lift…” (I heard this in the gym a few times)
Really? Well, I do…
Can you see the pain; the bruises, the deep nest that anxiety and most recently, depression, has burrowed itself into?
You look like you lift
Thank you, because underneath I feel like I have to lift this burden off my body every single day
It feels so heavy, and I’m so tired so battered tethered and worn
Oh you were talking about weights
Weren’t you?
Every day I struggle to lift; to carry the pain that recklessly pulls at my core
As I desperately try to cover up and hide
(I’m) Not willing to unveil the demons that fuse the flames between the angst and desperation that wrestles inside of me
I lift in my sleep
I lift the pain, I lift the emptiness;
The chaos that corrupts my entire being
I lift when I awaken and when I am dreaming
There is no calm there is no storm
It’s all in mind, but then again it’s really not
It’s physical and I keep lifting
I keep fighting
I keep lifting
Internally; externally my body won’t even let me shut down
I fear the worst, I fear the least
I fear FEAR
But the fear is deeper than me
Damn It
It’s a curse
But every day
I lift
Every moment of every second
I lift
And therefore
I become stronger
I become able
I become willing
I can lift more, I can see more, do more, live more
So yes, you say, “you look like you lift”
And physically, emotionally, mentally
Yes I do. I do lift
My body reflects my fight

I give it all I got, I leave all of me behind…

I grasp the iron, contract the muscle, divert the mind

reaching for something that weighs heavier than what’s inside of me; heavier than what’s trying to suffocate me; something that reminds me that I’m still alive; vulnerable, yet in control…

Tonight, I was sitting on the floor with a barbell weighing 275 pounds preparing to do hip thrusts, when I awkwardly made eye contact with a girl who was obviously talking about me to her friend. At that point, I was exhausted, but still wanted to push that amount of weight, but I just couldn’t; my mind unraveled the worst….

She was probably seeing the weakness in my eyes, or that the fight in me was fading…

I did feel broken and detached, and with that barbell hovering over my hips, I just couldn’t seem to make my mental and physical self connect.

I sat there feeling like I was no longer in control.

I decided to at least unload the bar down to 205 and completed a set. 8 reps and I was done. I couldn’t stop sweating, I was burning up, and my heart was pounding hard. After putting the weight back (of course), I was leaving the gym, and the girl who had been watching me, made eye contact with me and quietly said, “Every time you’re in here, you’re always killing it in the gym”…..

That made me smile. That made me feel vulnerable, but only for a little while.

Tomorrow is my doctor’s appointment with the endocrinologist….

Depression: I Can’t “Just Get Over It”…Yet

I remember when I started this blog. I wanted to fill it with everything fitness…and I still do, but I’m really struggling. I haven’t wanted to burden anyone’s eyes with words of sadness or dismay, but everyday for the past couple months has been a struggle, so hoping this will be therapeutic….

I am not where I want to be, nor am I who I want to be…

I haven’t done any cardio for weeks (almost a month), In fact, I haven’t really done much of anything, except fighting some darkness, and trying to find the light that once ignited the fire deep within me. These days, it’s all it takes for me to get out of bed. I’ve had more off days from the gym than I’ve had since I started this journey about 5 years ago. However, when I do get there, I go heavy. .

I go heavy to push all that darkness out of me…

But when a new day begins, I’m plagued by the same demons.

It’s no secret that I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for the same amount of time I started going to the gym. The gym, the weights; the control it gave me, molded my purpose, and made me fight harder than I ever knew was possible. It showed me what I was capable of and chipped away at a lot of fears and buried a lot of doubts I had about myself; about life, my purpose etc…

Fast forward, when my best friend of 16 years, passed away at the end of July, and I suddenly felt alone. I went to Las Vegas a week later for an already paid vacation and I couldn’t shake the invasive thoughts of how, I, too was ready to die.

Honestly, I don’t know how I made it through that week. 

But, Vegas, I guess was a distraction. It felt different. But I felt different. I felt that it wasn’t me who was experiencing the things that surrounded me; I felt like I was just existing, and all these things; the lights, the photo taking, the eating, the laying out in the sun, just happened to be occurring, with each breath I took, every step,and with all of that, I was stuck with an extremely deep and penetrating pain and void…

And it only got worse when we came back from our trip. I was forced to deal with the reality every time I felt pain and went to pick up the phone to call her, and suddenly realized that she wasn’t ever going to be there to answer, and all I had was a voice mail from her, but I wanted so much more. I started eating like shit, my obsession with the gym was waning, and social media just became too painful to log on to.

All of it seemed like a waste of time; a vacant place to unload a false perception of my reality.

And I certainly didn’t want to socialize or interact with anyone else in person. I was being buried and I didn’t want to fix it. For once, I didn’t care to fight, to fix anything, I just wanted to shut down and sleep. I’ve suffered from acne since I was 16 and at this point, the medication that had gave me clear skin and helped my confidence was suddenly ineffective. My face was breaking out like I was 16 all over again. I was embarrassed, I felt ugly, and I was sinking into a further depression, especially when my reflection in the mirror would point out 5 or 6 more pimples to look at. And I couldn’t stop crying over the loss of my friend. I was grieving and feeling desperate…

Finally, I went to my primary doctor for help.

She ordered blood work to test my hormone levels as well as my thyroid and vitamin d levels which all came back normal, but after feeling around my thyroid, she requested that I also have a thyroid ultrasound done. She found a nodule and all I could think was the worst. Of course, I researched what it meant to have a nodule, and grew even more scared and anxious. And where I once was following a more flexible diet, I cut out all dairy, sugar, and processed food, hoping that it would make me healthier. That maybe I did something to my body; I caused this. I did this to myself…

I’ve always struggled with insomnia, but now I would lay awake until 6 or 7 am. Every night is plagued with worrying, crying, panicking, feeling my heart race, my whole body shake and perspire, I want so desperately to just be able to close my eyes and fall asleep that when I finally do, I don’t want to open my eyes to feel the pain.

In the past couple days, I’ve received two phone calls: one confirming that I have a nodule and one to to schedule the appointment with the endocrinologist, and now I just want to sleep even more to forget.

Funny how I sit here and as, I write this, I wonder what happened to me? What happened to that woman who fought so hard for strength and the freedom from the terror of anxiety and panic attacks that make me feel confined, institutionalized within my own mind. Where I once started to stand strong, I have now crashed. I am at my weakest. I am vulnerable; I feel shattered, broken, and stumbling over my own thoughts. Yes, I feel I’m at my weakest point. I’ve allowed the intensity of my emotions and circumstances to grow and wrap snug around my neck much like a venomous snake.

Depression is real. You may not be able to see it, there may not be blood tests to determine that you have depression, there will be people who don’t understand it, who think it’s made up or you’re just doing all of this on purpose, or for attention. There will be people that will tell you to ask for a higher dose of medication, more xanax, more ativan, more of anything that will numb you. But what is forgotten is that not all depression is “fixed” with medication. Going out more, socializing more, or getting out of bed is not something that will “fix” a depressed, anxious person. It’s bigger than that. In fact, it is quite similar to a venomous snake wrapping itself around your entire body and mind. It’s not a phase and it doesn’t matter if you are attractive, rich, drive a nice car, or live in a huge mansion, depression affects everyone. It’s just unfortunate that there are some people who don’t understand it and make ignorant comments that only causes the sufferer more pain.

Trying to rationalize a person’s thoughts or behaviors is not helpful. Making a statement such as, “If you’re going to live this way for the next 30 years, you might as well kill yourself” is not helpful. (Yes, I had someone say this to me) That’s just toxic. (Maybe if people weren’t so callous with their words, people suffering with depression and anxiety wouldn’t hide away and shut down.) Your anger at someone’s depression or anxiety isn’t going to make the person “snap out of it”.

Things that are helpful are:

1.) Letting the person know that although you may not understand, you are there for them when they’re ready.

2.) If the person tells you that they’re not suicidal, don’t keep bringing it up.

3.) It’s okay to worry about the person and only natural to want to help, but don’t take it personal and share your anger. It does not help at all. It only makes the person feel even more hopeless and depressed.

4.) You are not a therapist, or a doctor, leave the treatment plan between the patient and their doctors. What worked for you, may not be what will work for everyone else. Everyone experiences depression for different reasons and sometimes there’s actually a reason.

Any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Saying Goodbye

I’ve taken some time off. Not deliberately, but somehow I had found myself drifting again. Drifting in a direction that left me numb; an, “I don’t give a shit” attitude, everything is stupid”, and that’s how it was for awhile. In fact, there has been many times I’ve started to write, and nothing seem to be worthy of posting, or I just wanted to block everything out for awhile.

I guess I just didn’t want to feel anymore.

It’s funny because the last post I wrote was about giving up…I don’t even know who that was. Perhaps, I forgot.

Perhaps,  I let myself become numb for too long…

All I could picture in my mind over and over again, was my friend of 16 years in a hospital bed, waiting for a heart transplant, and I kind of just shut down. I started sleeping more; truthfully, I was in a fog. I was so used to being able to call her and talk to her for hours through the night whenever I was anxious or just bored. We always had the best conversations at 2 am, often staying on the phone until we just barely fell asleep. I cherished those phone conversations, and I missed them. But I also recognized that she was going through something far more detrimental than me missing a phone call or a conversation.

When I did speak to her, she was always upbeat and tell me about all the things she was going to do with her new heart. We made plans to hang out and go to her favorite restaurants. She told me how excited she was to be able to truly live life pain free; she couldn’t wait to visit different places, see different things. In particular, she talked often about moving to Virginia because that is where her “psychic” told her she would meet the man she was going to marry. (She was a spiritual person)

The thing was is that she believed and I did not. Perhaps that was a part of the anxiety? I did find comfort when she would talk about her new heart, but it just wasn’t enough to put my subconscious mind at ease.

In a way, I feel like I abandoned her as well as myself.

She was in the hospital in New York City for about 5 1/2 months, undergoing tests, and the doctors trying everything to get the water weight off of her as well as clean her blood. Listening to her, while often comforting because she stayed optimistic, but I could often hear the question in her voice. And I guess I learned to become numb to it, I didn’t want to walk the same path that death was leaving its footsteps. I struggled with her being there, it was selfish, I know, but like I said, I just became numb.

In July, she was transferred back to a hospital near her home. It was at that time that the truth was revealed; she was never going to get a heart because she had too many antibodies in her system and her kidneys were failing. I don’t know the specifics, it was all so confusing to me, and it didn’t even really hit me until the day of my daughter’s high school graduation party when she texted me to tell me she needed to see me.

Her mother was the first to send me a message via Facebook, informing me that her daughter didn’t have much time left, and she knew that now, but she was really worried about how she was going to tell me.

But I already knew. I had known for 2 weeks before she did. Her mother let me know and asked me not to say anything and just stay positive around her. That was the easiest thing to do; it was like I was cast this role and I could be in denial without feeling like a piece of shit. After all, I was just doing what I was told.

They say life is fleeting; every moment should be cherished, but for the last few months, I dedicated every moment to improving my strength in the gym, and with every lift, I could only feel the grip that death had on me, I wasn’t in that hospital bed, dying, but I was out here, walking the same grave path. I wanted to hurt, I wanted to feel pain, but I could do nothing to stimulate those feelings.

Nothing felt the same, when I wrote, I wasn’t sure it was really my voice that was speaking, when I took a picture and looked at myself, I wasn’t sure if that was me in the image that was captured.

It was probably the same unrecognizable image; the same voice that came out of me, as she looked at me in the hospital room that evening, her eyes not directly looking at me, maybe she saw it too?

I just started crying, I knew; I already knew, and I wanted to stop her from saying it, I wanted to tell her I knew.

I wanted to comfort her, but through it all, I initially was angry at myself. .

I was so angry that I allowed myself to grow away from her; to become numb; that I didn’t spend more time talking to her, laughing with her, crying with her, all because I chose to empty out my emotions right on the gym floor instead.

And now there I sat, pleading for her not to go. It felt so selfish, I didn’t want her to leave. She cried and said that she wasn’t ready to let go either, but she had no choice. She was my anchor. She always was. And in that moment, when I should’ve felt like drowning, I embraced her and felt her lean into me, her frail body, weak from fighting for so long, that’s when I truly understood God’s plan. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing all along. I was physically and mentally preparing for our last moment together. All this time, God was simply granting me the tools to be strong, mentally and physically for our last moment together, and for every moment thereafter; He had been preparing me for this moment for a long, long time. And in that moment, it was Him who allowed me to hold her up; to be strong for her in that moment when she was at her weakest.

She died 4 days later. The following day, my mind kind of in a fog, I escaped to the park for a cardio circuit, Small golden butterflies floated around me, and I just knew it was a sign of the beginning of a transformation.

I knew it was a sign from her.

Is Fear Suffocating You?

Be okay with who you are and what you see in the mirror. Your imperfections are only seen by you and no one else…

You’re pushed up against the wall. The grip around your neck is getting tighter and tighter. You want to move your arms, your legs, something, anything to remind you that you’re alive; that you got this. You got this.

You’re trying to make yourself fit a mold that doesn’t belong to you; doesn’t exist into your realm of desire; a vision you have falsely envisioned. Created. It’s a fallacy; you feel drugged, poisoned, toxic. How do you stop the suffering? Simple. Stop thinking of it as suffering. It’s a chance for you to start over; to share your experience and witness determination and your will to succeed. You will make it because you ache; something is missing and you won’t be able to let go so easily this time. You’re alive. You got this.

Why are you allowing FEAR to establish control? What has it done to you to become so powerful? What happened to you? What happened that has made you so willing to praise FEAR and hand over your entire being so that you can continue to worship it. Every night you lay awake, does it come to you? Does it reveal the face it hides behind the mask it wears to control you? And you are under its spell….

Laugh in its face. Don’t be afraid to embrace fear as part of the process. You’re alive. Fear doesn’t have to be.

Remember, You got this.

 When you make a mental transformation, you also make a physical transformation. And slowly, you grow, right in front of your eyes. Right in front of the mirror.

Your physical transformation will challenge you mentally and vice versa. It’ll call on fear to come and “rescue you” but you’ll remember that piercing pain that gripped your neck and you’ll remember that, you’re alive. You got this.

When you make the decision to let go of fear, it’ll still haunt you. It’ll tempt you and plead with you daily to come back; to serve once again. Remind yourself that it’s a process; the transformation you make mentally is an ongoing process, there is no finalization, no dotted line to sign, it’s constantly evolving, overcoming, processing, capturing, it’s telling you and reminding you that you’re alive. It’s telling you that you got this….

Mentally AND Physically.

You got this.

How to Age the Right Way

I’m 37 years old. My joints ache more than they should. The anxiety is still present, but somewhat controlled (still, some days are better than others), asthma is under control, and I still push myself further and further at the gym. I aim for high standards, and there are times I get discouraged because I can’t ignore the fact that if I were in my twenties, I wouldn’t experience half the pain as I do now.

Admittedly, I imagine what it would have been like if I had started earlier, like in my twenties. But you know what? The gym just wasn’t where I was supposed to be at that time in my life…

And so I quickly jump back into reality; to the present, and stay informed through research as well as personal experience (what’s worked for me and what hasn’t),  so that I can continue to drive my passion of fitness and health to the max. After all, I want to look good, but I also don’t want to deprive myself of the opportunity to maintain my independence as well as the ability to demonstrate an insane amount of strength and endurance as I get older.

Medicine and science has come so far that the average life expectancy has increased dramatically from what it used to be. But even though medicine and science are much more advanced, more and more people become too reliant on it and therefore, leave it to such advancements in medicine and science to treat them for high blood pressure, diabetes type II, etc, rather than becoming proactive in their own healthcare.

I want to be as full of life and energy as I am now, if not better as I age, rather than have my age be a deterrent for what I hope to achieve. And it won’t.

I mean check out 62 year old Andreas Cahling out on his Facebook page.

This is a quote from two of his recent Facebook posts:

“At 62 – as a master’s bodybuilder it is about getting the job done with a minimum of wear and tear while paying attention to restorative possibilities. Avoid toxic commercial hormone disrupting, estrogenizing skin products. Stay strong. Many things raise or decrease your testosterone levels and receptor capacity.”-Andreas Cahling

“At 62 – Exercising and eating natural foods while maintaining adequate testosterone levels are among the keys to staying in shape for life. So is the avoidance of hormone disrupting commercial skin products.”- Andreas Cahling

And here’s an inspiring photo of him found doing a quick Google search:

6kn8JWH

 

His philosophy on aging and maintaining performance and the ability to continue his passion (at his age..because age is nothing but a number), touches on nutrition as one way to achieve/maintain results and longevity….

And while many (I’m pretty much open) have different approaches and/or viewpoints as regards to nutrition, (I mean it’s a huge debate) it does really come down to:

1) Finding what meets your needs/goals. In other words, what is sustainable to keep YOU on track to meet those goals? And…

2) Finding a manageable balance between aesthetics and overall health as we get older… “you’re not as young as you once were”.

Because, let’s face it, What good is a nutritional approach, if you’re just going to hem and haw and feel absolutely miserable? What will happen?

Simple. You will fail. You will feel discouraged and disgusted. And then it begins….

What’s going to make you look better? What’s going to make you feel better? What’s going to make you perform better? However and unfortunately, I think it’s safe to make the claim that aesthetics blows any and all rationale out of the water.

Aesthetics allow one to look visually appealing, but has no bearing on an individual’s health status.

Do you agree?

It’s not always the “quality” of food that you are eating that determines health, but simply making adjustments that will make sure that you are getting the proper nutrients/ breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fats rather than ultimately discovering that you are deficient in any of those components to the degree in which it could potentially stifle your overall  performance, energy, independence, among others.

For example, if you choose to follow the infamous “flexible dieting” approach, (however, this can apply to any nutritional approach), it would be wise that you don’t solely rely on one or two food sources ( I am not going to identify those food choices because it just causes stress as well as alter your relationship with food in general). In other words, it is important for whatever approach you choose to help assist you in your goals to choose from a vast selection of foods that will provide adequate nutrition (vitamins, protein, fat, and carbs).

While I will be pursuing a nutrition certification beginning in March, I am not a registered dietician or a nutritionist, therefore these are not meant to be recommendations or to diagnose/cure anything. This is just an observation touching on the various, ongoing debates about the “diets” (I even hate the use of that word) circulating the Internet (among other places).

It pains me to see people who are just determined to lose weight, gain muscle, improve performance, focus on longevity so much so that they will innocently attach themselves to a diet approach that may or may not be aligned with their goals or just simply not right for them ultimately experiencing side effects other than making progress towards their actual goals. Most are steered away from their actual needs, which then can become a limiting factor, preventing them from reaching their maximal potential in becoming the best version of themselves over the long run.

Getting proper nutrition also needs to be a resource for optimizing performance and health in spite of age. When we lack certain components of nutrition, we are allowing ourselves to age faster and it shows. Bottom line: Nutrition=the ability to be more mobile therefore achieve more (or just continue to do what we used to to some degree) as we age.

Always do your homework and consult with a trusted professional to make the most out of your journey, and not just for aesthetics, but also for longevity, health and prosperity.

Nobody is going to give a shit how old you are if you’re showing up with results, a positive attitude, realistic expectations, and your continuous pursuit of a dream. They will see passion and drive, not age.

What Motivates You?

I often wonder what motivates someone…

What’s their story?

What makes them want to make a change?

When do they reach “rock bottom”?

What prevents them from reaching “rock bottom”?

Things that motivate you constantly change. If it didn’t, wouldn’t our flame just quietly burn out?  and all we would be holding is a bunch of hardened wax.

Unfortunately, frustration, desperation, resentment, hurt are the feelings that we give into a lot more and seek out ways to sabotage ourselves. You find “comfort” in doing things that you’re familiar with; comfortable with, vices that make you numb. (i.e., food, drugs, alcohol, etc) yet only damages you mentally, physically and emotionally when it becomes the only thing that you turn to in search of comfort and escape from reality.

We always go back to what hurts us rather than reassessing our plan and reminding ourselves that we’re training for a long term goal, and we owe it to ourselves to stick it out and push that much harder just to get that much further. Don’t we?

Instead, we continue to remain in a comfortable, familiar time and space that is controlled by fear, self doubt and very little confidence. We resort right back to what our bodies our accustomed to and let our mind control us. Let our problems dictate how numb we want to be.

What if we just used those “negative” feelings as a driving force to make us do better?

What makes some people fight for their life, and other choose to just watch their life pass them by? It’s never a simple answer….

Fighting for your life requires a willingness to face change and for you to allow yourself to become vulnerable to the unknown.

Fighting requires faith and to allow yourself to believe you’re worth enough to go out and find the answers to become better than you were yesterday.

A quick story…

Tonight, while out grocery shopping, I encountered an obese man walking back to his cart with a gigantic jug of vegetable oil. He was breathing heavily, struggling to walk the short distance where his cart was waiting about 5 feet away from him.

I wanted to walk up to him and share a piece of knowledge; a better option to cook with, but the next time I saw him, he was paying for a huge bag of cooked fried chicken at the food kiosk before walking out the door.

Maybe you think I was judging him. I wasn’t. I swear. I felt concerned and I was just observing him trying desperately to figure him out.  I just couldn’t help but wonder what his life was like; what his back-story was. You see, I didn’t just see an obese man, I envisioned someone who cared for him and loved him, having to live without him.

And I wondered what would motivate him?

I’ve been that way for the past week. Observing and asking questions; praying that more people could find the strength or motivation to fight adversity, hardships and obstacles that get in the way of making healthier choices.

These past few days, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. A lot has been going through my mind and it’s followed by a feeling of despair and hopelessness. It’s that feeling you are trying to fight, but your hands are tied and there is a deep sadness felt in my heart so much so that it aches.

And I wish I didn’t care so damn much.

But I do. I want my friend of 17 years to be okay. I want her to experience life the way I do on one of my happiest days. I want her to be able to go out to lunch and talk with me over coffee. I want all of these selfish things that really sound like they have to do with me, not her. Because right now, I’m sure she just wishes that she could feel better once and for all. I’m sure that she just prays that they will find a way to help her heart heal so that it will stop destroying her kidneys and liver.

I wish for that too. But to wish for those out loud would be to acknowledge things have changed and time has passed.

I pray that my stepfather could heal and not have his quality of life disrupted by spinal stenosis. That would mean everything could go back to the way it was before. I’m not naïve. We’re getting older. But I just wish I could be granted a little bit of that innocence that left me the day my father passed away in 2005.

I try to stay focused on my long term goal so that I don’t unravel when life throws curveballs at you one after another. That pain I feel is what keeps me pushing and fighting…

When life opens up into a huge slippery slope, I go to the gym to and just focus on the weight on the bar, and to replace the pain with a different type of struggle.

I want to feel uncomfortable by something that I can actually control and conquer.

Megan Web (2 of 11)

When I train, I feel alive. I feel all of the venom in my veins being lifted from that bar. I feel strong; I feel angry too, but mostly, I feel strong.

I train because it makes me feel disconnected from that ache in my heart.

When I train, I’m not just training for myself. I’m training because someone else can’t. Or someone else won’t.

I train because I feel as I get stronger, they’ll get stronger through me as I’m able to lift the pain and frustration that burdens them.

Why do you train? How has training helped you deal with issues in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

The Truth About Binging (My Perspective)

Binging. Many experience it. Many wait until they’re all alone before they binge. Some do it out in the open. You just can’t stop eating. And eating. And eating. And even though you’re out of control, you actually feel very much in control. 

Food is a social experience; it is at the center of social gatherings, relationships and communication.

Many have suggested binging comes after following a restricted diet for so long; denying or looking at food as “unhealthy” and No I can’t eat that or that or that….

But I don’t think that’s the entire story. I believe that because we already have an established relationship with food, when we “go on a diet” it can feel like a loss and we experience grief.

And I believe once our relationship with food is questioned or altered, it becomes one of the major battles to confront.  It impairs us mentally and emotionally.

Why?

Because food is more than just food. It’s our way to connect and forge relationships with others. It’s our way to prevent feeling like a social pariah.

And a lot of memories and experiences culminate around food. Food can bring back a memory of a loved one who has passed on, and can make us feel more connected to them.

It’s a way for us to carry our relationship with us well after they are gone.

I remember, every Sunday, my father and stepmother would take that day off from work and we’d drive an hour or so away for a fun afternoon of jet-skiing and a picnic. I yearn for those days of eating together at an old rustic picnic table, flies swarming our food, my father cracking jokes, and my family and I just laughing and spending time together before hopping back on the jet-skis.

I remember my grandmother’s delicious hamburgers every Thursday afternoon. Even when I grew older, I could always visit grandma and she’d insist on making me a cup of tea with milk and sugar, and something to eat. We would sit in the kitchen, and I would talk her ear off for hours.

Moments like those made me feel connected. When you “diet” you essentially are denying yourself a relationship and disconnecting yourself from that relationship. And I wouldn’t change anything.

If only I could have those moments back.

Just this past Thanksgiving, I broke down and cried when I tried to make a recipe of hers and it all just fell apart.

A diet, while often necessary to achieve a desired result along with exercise, is not just a restriction of food to aid in weight loss, it’s not just a caloric deficit, or cutting out carbohydrates, fats, or gluten even, it’s a break up; a detachment from memories, old and new, past and present with family, friends, laughter, and comfort.

A diet becomes a grieving process; it’s not sustainable long term because you feel isolated from friends and family, so more than likely, for the sake of reestablishing those familiar feelings and memories, you binge to find those emotions again; to try to reconnect and feel somewhat kind of “normal” again.

Binging doesn’t have to be an option. It’s a hard habit to break. I know, I’ve been there. Over and over again.

But I also know that no matter how challenging it is, it’s also not impossible. I can still create new memories that still align me with my goals, while not giving up my memories entirely with flexible dieting.

Flexible dieting is an alternative to the old standard “diet”, it’s not the solution, but it’s a much better approach from a psychological point of view.  With flexible dieting you aren’t restricting yourself from any particular food groups and therefore, allowing yourself to have more freedom and control.

With “clean eating”, the idea behind it is to eliminate processed foods, eliminate sugar, eat small meals throughout the day, and you limit or don’t allow yourself to have “junk food”.

The idea behind Flexible dieting is to get you to count macros such as carbs, proteins, and fat. It focuses on getting a nutrient based diet from whole foods, but allows you to treat everyday if you want. It makes  “dieting ” a little bit more sane, however, it’s equally as challenging from the standpoint that you still have to make sacrifices. It’s still a diet, you’re still committing the act of restricting yourself, so it still fucks with you mentally because the mind will always want what it cannot have.

Keep in mind, this approach has its challenges as well. For example, it’s impossible to not develop or hone your OCD tendencies with either approach. Counting calories, macros, weighing food, it’s impossible to NOT develop a more direct, focused relationship with food; to be more cognizant of what you would like to eat vs what you’re actually able to “fit within your macros” for the day.

But the overall objective is to develop a positive relationship with food as well as with your body.

(Because of course, micromanaging your meals when you suffer from an extremely low body image is only going to make it that more mentally destructive and damaging.)

As I said, I’m a “recovering” binge eater, so I have recently started following a macro counting approach (Again) to combat my binging and to provide more structure and accountability. The benefits of a more structured plan, after taken into account past experiences definitely outweighs the risks; mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Trying to control my body from a healthy, physical aspect, is extremely challenging and takes just as many years if not more to undo the relationship that we previously had with food while we were growing up. But I realized, binging isn’t acceptable either. Not in this society. You’re either an addict or your not. And it’s a slippery slope that anyone can stumble onto if not careful. The relationship that we have with our physical being doesn’t always align with our mental being. Binging is only going to be self destructive and following a structured approach has more potential to guide you away from the beaten path.

While you may discover some OCD behaviors, structure is sometimes what is necessary to establish so that we don’t become a menace to ourselves in the long run.

I’d also like to note that I have an extremely addictive personality, and come from a family that has suffered from addictions as well (I’ve been there at a point in my life as well) so I need some kind of “rehab” if you will….

I need structure and accountability or else I’m going to just keep binging; I’m going to keep self- destructing. I want to keep my memories, but I also want to achieve my fitness goals as well.

And I aim to achieve that by striving to establish a positive relationship with food.

Admittedly, the feelings I have of beginning a macro counting “lifestyle” again, makes me crave things that I can’t have. So you see, there is some degree of restrictiveness there. Once I hit my macros, I’m done for the night. No more food. Regardless if my stomach is growling and my mind is trying to convince me to just have a midnight snack, or an afternoon snack. But I still have my sanity. I still have my memories. I still feel connected.

I feel cranky because I’m hungry and I can’t just eat. I want to binge, I want to raid the kitchen, but I’m staying strong and telling myself this is only temporary. It’s like a detox anyone with a drug addiction or really any type of addiction goes through.

See, the training part is the easy part. You clap yourself on the back when you are able to increase your strength, run a bit faster, your mind is there. Your mind is there cheering you on and your focused ready to tackle the weight, the run; you’re driven, you’re focused, but as soon as your mind drifts over to thinking about food and, “how many macros do I have left,” it wants to fail and shut you down. It wants to tell you to just eat, it wants to make you feel weak and vulnerable. And you’ll realize you can’t stop thinking about food. You’ll eat one meal and then anxiously await your next meal.
But in the gym, when your lifting weights, your mind is ready to take on a challenge because there are no limitations , the goal is to become stronger, faster, the goal is to do MORE….NOT LESS.

But then again, it’s possible to overdo it in the gym, and I know that there are times when I should lighten the load and/or take a rest, but I don’t want to because I just want to keep pushing.

The mind is constantly playing devil’s advocate.

If you can remember that, you will succeed.

And never do something that is going to bring you down. Find a way to fight back while still allowing you the opportunity to achieve your goals while maintaining a positive relationship with food and your body.

In memory of my grandmother and father….

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Finding The Road Back To Fitness

It seems so long ago. But really, it was just within the past 14 weeks that I’ve discovered a lot about myself. I had an epiphany.

One might say that, I’ve come so far. But really it was just an awakening. Euphoric and I feel like I’m in a much better place. Finally.

Finally I can focus on me. The real me. No more denying who I am. Like I said in my previous post, I will not allow myself to be defined.

And it all started like this…

Before I just did a figure competition because I thought that would make me seem raw and a lot stronger. It would make me seem like I have this anxiety down to a science, that I was the one in control. But that was all just a lie. I thought if I competed, I would be perceived as courageous and demonstrating exemplary strength, unfortunately, behind the scenes, I was breaking. I was crumbling. I was allowing it to define me. Define my self worth. I was becoming obsessed and felt as if I didn’t do it; if I ate one thing that wasn’t on the diet I was a failure. If the scale didn’t read a certain number, I was a failure; that it would just prove that I was weak; that I was what I had felt all along…nothing. I was a failure. At that point, I would allow guilt to binge at my conscience, which by now had somehow turned into my own worst enemy. In turn, I would then sabotage myself by binging and sleeping long hours. Depressed. Anxious. Guilty. Defined. Lost and confused. I couldn’t sort out which one I felt the most and which one I hated the least. I would “check out”. I would lie in bed and imagine myself not here; somewhere else. Somewhere where it would all make sense; where it would all just seem “much easier than this” but that’s just it, I didn’t even have any idea of what “this” actually was. Everyone around me seemed to be doing a fitness competition, and I couldn’t help but feel hatred and resentment. Why couldn’t that be me? Stupid anxiety I would utter all the time. I would shut down and give up. The self- hatred grew so much that I could barely see my own achievements because they never seemed enough. I never seemed good enough.

And over and over again, I set out to put myself in the most uncomfortable place again; in contest prep. It was, at that moment, what I felt I had to do to feel a sense of purpose. But deep down I wasn’t looking at it is an experience, it was becoming my ENTIRE life.

Prepping for a fitness competition only made old wounds reappear, and new ones hastily emerge….

I would go through the prep, struggling, sacrificing, sinking lower and lower, telling myself that if I didn’t do it, I was basically nothing special. But for some reason, as I went through it, the deeper involved I’d get, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I couldn’t possibly imagine going back to not counting macros on a scale; weighing my food, myself and skipping the gym, even for just one workout…the mere thought of any of that scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t be a failure again. I couldn’t just quit. For some reason, the pain and struggle made me feel alive. Not normal, not really living, just alive. And all too real. I was starting to realize that I was trading one disorder for another; I was using all of these obsessive tendencies, these unhealthy behaviors I was adapting to and clinging to, to replace the anxiety that had me feel so out of control at times. Unfortunately, it wasn’t helping, it was only nurturing those toxic weeds to grow more furious and wild inside of me until I couldn’t control it anymore, in fact, I didn’t have control at all. Ever.

I forgot how to enjoy and love fitness and health and instead trapped myself in a web of self-hatred, lack of self-worth and didn’t even know where I belonged anymore.

Comparing my life to others; my worth to others, only made the anger and bitterness deepen. I spent so much time trying to conjure up an image of who I thought I could be, and instead of being proud of who I’ve become; how far I’ve come, I lost focus, and I was throwing myself into hot burning coals before the fire even had a chance to ignite.

If someone gave me a compliment, I’d thank them for the compliment, but in my mind I’d rehearse all of the things that they don’t see. Like maybe the cellulite on the back of thighs. Or that tiny little bit of fat that makes you feel self conscious in a pair of short shorts. The list may go on; it’s different for everybody. I know I’m not alone. I even found myself considering breast implants because I didn’t think I was good enough just being me.

I kept trying to walk away, but once it gets a hold of you, it’s extremely difficult to walk away; it latches on and doesn’t let go…

It wasn’t until I realized that it’s no different that any other addictive behavior; you need time to heal and recover. You need time to get your shit together; your mind right, and that requires just as much strength, if not more, to fight the urge to be honest with yourself. To not let anyone or anything get inside your head and weigh you down.

Each time I was beginning competition prep, I was only unleashing a whole new beast; I felt as though if I didn’t compete, I just wasn’t strong enough; or put in the words of a fellow gym-goer, “it was too tough for me to handle.”

But they didn’t know me. Nobody really knows the true me. And how could anyone if I even lost sight of who I was? It wasn’t that it was too tough; it was the fact that my cortisol levels are already chronically elevated most of the time, and all of the dieting and cardio was exacerbating the issue. It went from being obsessive and getting anxiety at the mere thought of having to eat something that was processed to having anxiety about sodium levels, fiber, carbohydrates etc., anxiety about cardio, or just being able to get to the gym. It was all I could think about from the moment I opened my eyes to the moment I closed my eyes. The program I was on was designed so that I would have to weigh myself everyday, and depending on the number, my macros would decrease or increase. To avoid that, I wouldn’t drink or eat anything until it read what if felt it needed to say before sending anything to my coach. I didn’t want him to lower my calories, I could have easily just lied, but I wouldn’t feel good about myself doing that.

I still can’t help but weigh my food still or fixate on the scale.

Like I said, I felt like a failure. And yes, all of the time. Even though I was hitting my macros right in point and doing all the cardio prescribed to me if the scale even fluctuated by an ounce I’d still feel like a failure.  I still felt fat. I felt that I was never going to be good enough. That’s what I thought…constantly.

 I felt so much anxiety going to my mother in laws home five hours away because I didn’t know how I was going to make it to the gym since after all she was having a heart procedure. I had no energy, no life, no memory, anxiety, sleepless nights, I loved food but I also hated food. I hated the thought of not being able to see my abs. I’d pick everything wrong with my body; I even contemplated getting breast implants. I wanted to fit in so badly. But I was not even fitting in with my own family anymore. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I needed to make a decision. I struggled with it. The inner voice told me I was a failure, I wasn’t worth anything… who the hell am I without this? I felt depressed and even suicidal. I thought maybe that was my only way out of this mess.

For the past 4 years, I have severed relationships, missed a lot of awesome moments, and restricted not just my diet but also my life. I have 3 kids, 11, 13, and 17, and if they weren’t my kids they’d probably choose to walk away from me. I was angry, moody and obsessed all the time. I just became so intolerable of everything; and isolated myself as well as neglected anything that might have been important. If it didn’t fit around a way for me to think, talk, or breathe fitness, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t enjoy functions because I didn’t want to be around other people laughing and enjoying themselves without eyeing a plate of food trying to calculate the macros or calories it had before actually eating it. Each time I saw that, I would either feel envious or just felt the need to inform them of the physical change they could undergo if they were just to make “better choices”.

I longed for the days where I could just have control. I missed the passion; the spark I had found in fitness and nutrition. I missed the way it helped me find my way out of the darkness and thrusted me into this new dimension of life…this whole other territory that made me feel alive, more normal than anything I’ve ever encountered. I wanted that back….

This process that I’ve been on has really been quite the experience. Each and every single time. Even the two times I actually managed to make it to the stage. But this time, this time it has been way more than just a physical change. It has forced me to ask questions that I pushed away before. It has forced me to seek answers to those questions and many other questions that I had allowed myself to drown in and play dead. I was forced to seek answers that maybe I wasn’t even really ready for or had even expected to discover. And this time, well, this time I know what I really want. I want to be happy. In my own skin, my own body; I want to be happy. I think back to a time when I was the happiest and the most confident, and it wasn’t how others saw me. It wasn’t about finding myself where I didn’t really want to be. It wasn’t about living someone else’s story line to make me feel important or give me a sense of purpose. I don’t need to compete in fitness competitions to validate me; it’s just not the direction where I want to go. It may seem crazy to some how something that is so capable of strengthening the body can have the exact opposite effect on the mind. It may seem like I’m not “tough enough” because I choose not to compete, but I really don’t need a competition or validation from anyone or anything to undergo a testament of my true self. I’m not just a wanderer, I’m becoming free; free from the walls in which my mind has placed the key.

To some people, competing gives them validation for all the hard work that they put themselves through. And the number of people, whether or not they belong on stage or not, is growing immensely. I only wish more people could realize that it doesn’t take a competition, or even contest prep, to solidify the accomplishment of getting into shape. I wish more people would recognize that fitness can be a lifestyle without all of the sacrifice; without driving yourself into the ground, sacrificing relationships, missing out on events or memories that can never be relived.

Bottom line is this: there’s nothing wrong with competing, but if you’re going to do it, do it for you. Do it because you want to. Not because you want to spend hours on the elliptical dreaming of the day you can, “go back to being normal”. The process is a real mind fuck, and it has somewhat of a permanent residual effect, which requires time to heal and recover, especially to get back to a good place mentally; to unravel all of the obsessive tendencies and unhealthy habits that develop, which are pretty much inevitable. And when you’re not even competing, you’re still competing. You’re still thinking about food; thinking about what that number on the scale really means. Still studying yourself in the mirror, still taking selfies, still pointing out flaws, still getting plastic surgery, still trying to “feel better” or “waiting for normal to happen again”. It can be an unhealthy transition from contest shape to coming to terms that you can’t walk around depleted, on a low calorie deficit, doing massive amounts of cardio. You just can’t. And that’s a real head twister too. Even the slightest amount of water weight can make you feel all twisted inside; make you feel “fat”.

I want to be in control for once, so instead of giving in, or exerting all of my energy to combat the anxiety, I’m going to say that I’m no longer going to even waste my energy on it. It’s not helping towards my goals so why mess with it. I want to enjoy being fit and healthy. I don’t want to place myself in a box where I’m cornered in and have no say. Simply put, I don’t want to be controlled by fitness, I want to control it. For me, that just works best for my anxious mind. That makes me happy. And what’s better than to do it on my own terms?

When I feel anxious, I want to get annoyed and get pissed off. Like what the fuck are you even doing here? When I’m on the treadmill running my heart out, beads of sweat dripping, my heart pounding, and my adrenaline surging and a panic attack happens, I want to take control and ask it, “what the hell, can’t you see I’m running here?” And I want to run harder to keep pushing it away, burning it so that it drips like sweat from my pores. And if I feel like I’m drifting, like I’m losing the fight, I want to be able to say, “ okay fine you win” without feeling defeated. Yes, I want to be able to have those painful thoughts just so I can remember that I’m being tested; each and every time, I’m being tried and tested. And I’m growing. And I want to feel that pain; feel that growth burning in my lungs, burning throughout my veins. Right there on that treadmill, right there with the weights right above my head; I want to feel like I’m growing and fighting back. And for that, I will be thankful.

 Thankful for my arrival to a place where everything around me will feel different; still scary, yet, new and inviting…

True value and worth have both come to mean something entirely different now. As I stated in my last post, I will not allow anything or anyone to define me. And a fitness competition defines me. It controls me and steers me away from what truly matters, family, faith and overall fitness, health and my wellbeing. Those are what is most important to me.

I’ve said it in previous posts, but I’ll say it again, I’m never going to be fully healed; it’s a battle every single day. Every single time something arises; a new situation, a new journey, I’m always going to be presented with change and uncertainty. I’m always going to have to face this anxiety head on. Yes, even when I’m not looking. This massacre of feelings that keeps me constantly on edge, teaches me something every day. Something new I’ve realized is that I feel anxiety because I long for purpose, or anything really that will allow me to experience fulfillment and value. I need to stop fighting and just ride the wave. The more I resist, the more I doubt myself, the larger the wave becomes. I’m not sinking, but I am almost always close to obscurity from even my own eyes. I need to just take action and quiet that frail and fragile, broken voice from within; to restore and redefine not so much myself, but the importance and purpose of my own life.

And I’m going to do it for me.

 “You are my armor and my sword, my faith and my treasure; everything I’m fighting for.”

-Alice Hoffman