Shedding light or fanning flames? Why 13 Reasons Why and To the Bone don’t sit well with me.

Netflix garnered quite a bit of attention by picking up a series based on a book that deals with teenage suicide and high school pressures. They are back on the radar for the upcoming addition: To the Bone. I watched all of 13 Reasons Why and sat back and wondered about what resonated with me. I felt full of emotions that didn’t necessarily make me more aware, but impacted my well being because I left feeling very uneasy and negative. I watched the preview for To the Bone and also felt this kind of empty pit. Do these types of series shed light on an issue and offer aid to those who are seeking solace, or do they fan the flames of people on the edge? Is it opening a discussion with parents or inviting unhealthy triggers into viewer’s lives?

Reflecting on 13 Reasons Why, I remember feeling so upset that even though a mother and daughter team helped direct it (Selena Gomez and her Mom), and the characters had concerned parents, none of the characters were portrayed as close to their parents. They made out parents to be mindless, unaware, and unnecessarily concerned but unwilling to be more available. They made the high school kids to be in secure families but secretive and so open range that they could walk out on their parents and get caught with drugs at school and still just get an apathetic grumble from mom. To me, this just showed teens not to open up to their parents and to hole up their feelings. The parents seemed to fail them. The school counselor and teachers seemed to fail them. Reliable adult resources were failures, according to 13 Reasons Why. Now that I’m in my late twenties and a decade has passed since my teens, and I have worked with youth in ministry, my heart hurts to see depictions where adults fail the youth and where the youth don’t trust the people placed in their lives to help them. I want to scream, “we were in your shoes too! We understand, please open up to us!”

To the Bone looks like a heartwarming tale from the preview, but I also know that beyond some hints at lightheartedness, there is nothing to romanticize about an eating disorder (ED). It truly bothers me that they chose an actress with an ED past to play the main character and undergo weight loss and method acting that could have caused her to go into relapse. It’s obvious that makeup magic plays a role in making Lily Collins look gaunt and unhealthy, but let me also include a portion from an interview she did with Elle magazine:

“They hired a nutritionist, and we did it in the most healthy way possible. I had a lot of people…to be accountable for how I was doing it, and I had check-ups all the time. I thought it was necessary for me to portray the character in the best way that I knew I could, and also to pay homage to what she was going through. There was never any pressure put on me to reach a current weight or limit. I felt like I had to limit myself in a way as well. I felt like I had to get into that mindset and recognize some of the feelings that I once had felt and that Ellen was feeling.

The gaining of it back was probably a little harder, because it’s just a strange twist on what I went through when I was younger—which was about losing, not about gaining. The idea that after this movie I had to get back to proper health, it wasn’t as easy. You know, eating a bunch of burgers and milkshakes and all that—I don’t really eat meat anyway—it had to be done in a healthy way, and it’s not good to go from nothing to a lot, because your body doesn’t know how to handle it. It took a little while longer than I think most people would have expected it to, but it was a process that needed to happen and it was a very personal experience. But I came out of it extremely proud of the work we had done.”

Source: http://www.elle.com/…/lily-collins-to-the-bone-netflix…/

She felt she had to pay homage. She felt like she had to go back to that mindset. *shudder* WARNING WARNING WARNING. That is SO UNHEALTHY. For her to then say gaining it back was hard, I feel that also sheds light on the fact that even with her controlled environment, that process was difficult on her body.

I have friends and acquaintances who have struggled with ED. It is not heartwarming to hear someone is near organ failure or that they can’t ever have children because their body is permanently changed. It is not funny to see someone you felt so close to distance themselves to hide their condition. It isn’t beautiful to see someone who was so strong and full of energy be a ghost of their former self. It isn’t something you gather around a tv and observe and try to make light of. When you offer a happy ending? Sometimes it makes a fantasy of something with an often harsh reality. How many girls will think, wow, I can get myself to that point, and then a doctor/institution will save me? How many people will feel they can jump ship and get a red and white life preserver thrown at them? I just can’t help but feel very uneasy…

Are these shows shedding light or fanning flames?

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A Late Bloomer, A Once Dormant Seed

Do I know myself? 

The obvious answer is, “Who could know you better?”

As easy and sufficient as a yes could be, the truthful answer is, “I’m still getting there.”

I am a late bloomer in the sense that I have only spent a handful of years searching, discovering and asserting things that makes me essentially Laura.

As a person pleaser, it has taken me YEARS to be open, honest, and consider MY feelings being of equal importance. The idea of taking and giving is hard for me. I have a hard time opening up but I want to speak up when needed and know it’s okay. I have the right to voice my opinions. I have the right to communicate my feelings even if they won’t be well received. It always shocks me when I do speak up how much I audibly needed to hear it.

As a goody two shoe growing up in a highly conservative and religious environment, I held back so much of myself trying to fit a mold. I love Jesus. I also love secular music, fantasy and supernatural movies, all types of art, and don’t always see things as black and white. And others don’t fit the mold so well either, but I didn’t honestly know that because we, myself included, were so bent on seeming perfect. I hid all the parts of me I thought were weird or that others wouldn’t like. The truth is despite scoffing at legalism, it was a cloud that hung low and was always on my mind. Shaking off that fog has been GREAT for my faith. I want to be real with people.

I’ve only diversified, traveled, and encouraged my own thinking since about 23. My bubble growing up was pretty tiny. I’m naturally introverted and have always been a family girl and homebody. I grew up with both parents working and they never made it a big deal to set up play dates or whatnot. My brother actively sought out friends and hangouts, but I was quiet and internalized my loneliness. How could they know I wanted more if I never said anything? I kind of settled. I was group bullied by girls in my 4th grade class and physically abused by a guy in public school that threatened to kill me if I ratted him out and in hindsight, should have had some counseling. I was removed from public school and homeschooled, which was a great opportunity, but I also carried a bitterness and apathy from those experiences. People betrayed, people hurt me, people weren’t worth investing it. So I shut almost everyone out. It took some unwavering friends and leaning on my faith to get me out of that pit. I had to figure out that others were also hurting and that I couldn’t show Jesus’ love with that attitude. I had to invest in people even if it was hard.

As a teen and young adult, I never really said yes to socializing events/self-building opportunities. I also wasted too much time using what opportunities I had going to malls with people instead of really talking deeply with them and rooting our relationships. It wasn’t until the latter half of my college career that I was in an area that wasn’t predominantly white. I enriched myself in different cultures by getting to know students of other nationalities and through college classes. I realized there was so much more. As my friends moved away, I slowly started taking solo flights and losing the anxiety of being alone in a new space. At 25, I moved out and liberated myself with the idea of being self-sufficient. I finally found a new home church around 26 and a church body that was what I needed. At the end of 27, I realized stuff and clutter was dragging me down and now I am more mindful of who I am and what I need physically and mentally.

– I’ve grown to love myself and take me as I am. With mindfulness and the body positivity movement and embracing feminism, I am more aware and accepting of myself. Yes, I am fat – I’m not longer scared of that word or what it means. It doesn’t hold power over everything else I am, and I have a lot more than pounds to offer. I’ve realized that even though I don’t feel able, I have so much potential and it is worth it to try and take risks.

There are some people in their late teens/early twenties that I look at and think, “Wow, I wish I was that self-aware at their age.” But I know I’m not the only late bloomer. There are many of us, and rather than looking at years wasted or not given their full potential, we should celebrate that our petals have opened, and we have so much more to see and to be.

Yes, I was dormant: I was a seed waiting for the right conditions to sprout. And I have sprouted. And I am growing.

Ignoring Ignorance. Choosing to Love.

First of all – my ultrasound results for my legs came back negative for a circulation issue. That’s a big praise report! I still have no idea what is causing my issues but I think it NOT being blood clot or circulation related is a definite positive.

With some of the health issues of late, I’ve gotten constant reminders, not from doctors but my mom, to lose weight. She loves to chime in with “maybe your problems would go away if you just lost X pounds.” (Yes, there is some potential truth to that) She also drives me batty because she’s one of those people who watches infomercials and thinks it or what Dr. Oz has to say will be magical for me. “I’ll buy you this 30 day fix.” “Dr. Oz says to lose weight you should…”

Most recently I showed her passport photos I got done. My hair was down but placed behind my shoulders. The camera angle was rather unflattering because it was angled slightly up instead of straight on. I showed it to her to let her know I was proactively working on getting my passport ready but her first response was, “Did they tell you to put your hair back like that? It’s better in front of your face.” Without being direct, she hinted that my moon-shaped face looked slimmer and more flattering with hair covering the sides and elongating.

My aunt who lives in town was over a while back and I was a little more done up that usual in a dress and wearing makeup for church. Before she left she grabbed my face and told me how beautiful it was. She said if I could lose weight I’d have a beautiful body to go with it. She tried to encourage me with her double sided words, assuring me that some people have a nice body but can’t change their face, but I had the face and my body can change.

I’m still surprised I made it through teen-hood and my early twenties without an eating disorder. I don’t mean that flippantly. I’m serious. My family and extended family have been my worst offenders throughout my life. I still remember the holiday I locked myself in my bedroom after my uncle offered to give me $1/lb that I lost. I thought “wow, I cost less than steak per pound. My total worth is about $220.”

Why am I bringing this up? Because I could be very bitter and hate these family members for their words. Instead, I choose to forgive their ignorance and ignore their implications. I am more comfortable with who I am than ever although I do wish to lose weight. And their hurtful comments are now easy to shake off because I know I don’t need to process their unfiltered nonsense.

I wrote about sending comments to spam here. It’s been a life changing way of dealing with negativity and unsolicited comments. I can be conscious of my present state and plan of action without letting the thoughts of others invade my feelings.

I’m changing for me. No one else.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

I feel like I have a firm grasp on this fresh year. It’s only in the recent year or two that I’ve been extra mindful and I can see areas of improvement from it.

I feel like a lot of the burden that’s lifted has to do with -stuff-. I’m still not at my aha! point but I’m getting there. In each category I’ve noted basic observations AND given myself a room to spend. This will help me narrow my wants and save up for specific items instead of impulse purchases and hoarding because of deals and clearance.

General Bedroom:

– It is most important in this current living situation for belongings to be functional.
– It is better to be functional/multipurpose than aesthetically pleasing or stylish.
– Well constructed but replaceable/donate-able furniture won’t tie me down.
– Furniture that folds up/breaks down to move is ideal when thinking longer term
– My room is a private place. It needs to only visually please me. This includes tidiness.
– Continually remind myself this isn’t a permanent living situation; stay minimal.
– Surround myself in things that bring me joy.

Room to spend: New window privacy clings/window treatment, secondary comforter that is thin enough to go in my washing machine and doesn’t require a trip to the laundromat

Books and Wardrobe:

– Mark a day each month to review and donate excess or reorganize
– Take advantage of Amazon Prime Book rentals/free items
– Get back to the library and checking out books
– Don’t buy hard copies unless they are keepers
– Work in magazines for self care wind downs and discard/donate ASAP
– Pare down to only black socks (because I’m too lazy to bleach white socks)
– Reduce spending on accessories/pare down cheapie accessories
– Actually wear the jewelry/accessories I love and treat them with care

Room to spend: Sterling silver jewelry at discount, affordable digital books, new clothes ONLY IF I lose enough weight or need to replace staple (like jeans)

Bathroom:

– No more value sized bottles that bore me before they’re used up
– Replace empties as needed. Don’t stock extras/multipacks if possible.
– Use up beauty products I have. Avoid beauty aisles in stores.
– Figure out holy grails and don’t stray
– I don’t enjoy makeup/styling. So stop spending/exploring like I do.

Room to spend: Quality skincare and lotion (only to replace used product)

Kitchen:

– Keep it to basics; this is a shared area I am reprimanded for
– Reduce bulk buys and stocking up
– Work to eliminate my pantry
– Simplify meals to require less ingredients
– Treat myself to on-plan meals out, but allocate in budget
– Use more frozen produce to supplement space/reduce waste
– Get into a habit of washing things as I meal prep

Room to spend: Dining out (no more than 2x/week), Unique ingredients to cook with *that day*, On plan snacks (limit options)

———————————————–

Weight Loss Room to Saves (Rewards):

15 lbs – Beach or Hiking Day (~$15 for parking pass)
25 lbs – Foot Spa Massage (Basic Package) (~$25 + tip)
40 lbs – Facial  (~$50 + tip)
50 lbs – 2 New Outfits and Foot Spa Massage (Nicer Package) (~$150)
60 lbs – Nice Workout shoes (~$80)
70lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
80 lbs – 2 New Outfits + 1 New Workout/Class (~$250)
90 lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
100 – Disneyland or 3 Day Adventure (~$250-500)

* I know treating to food is usually a no-no but if I am past 50 lbs I’m pretty sure I have a better grasp on food and I don’t feel bad about rewarding with a special meal!

NYR’s and PR’s

NYRs = New Year Resolutions
PRs= Personal Record

I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I’m feeling refreshed and ready to make the most of 2017. I’m also humbled and feel like my selfish desire to hide out for a week was wrong. I truly enjoyed the company of the relatives that came for Christmas and the relatives I saw in Arizona during my week off.

I ate horribly this holiday season. I didn’t really follow any guidelines for food or exercise and I sweet-ed myself out. All that to say when I was in AZ with my cousins and they were obsessing talking about logging calories into myfitnesspal, going to the gym religiously, and breaking all types of weight-lifting PRs, it made me feel super crummy. Some of the crummy I deserved to feel because I was making poor choices. But a lot of the crummy felt like shame, incompetence, and worthlessness — and I’m not okay with that.

They have all worked hard and I can’t discredit their efforts. I’m PROUD of them. I will say that they started out as healthy individuals of ideal weight and physical ability when they started so they didn’t have weight or health issues and were able to hit the ground running. Trying to compare myself with them isn’t fair. We have different goals even though we’re both working on our health.

We went out for a hike one of the days there and I needed to prove to my own self that I was capable. As we hiked (it was an easy trail, btw) I kept the lead most of the way up and down. Some of them weren’t wearing proper shoes or clothes, and I was in snug jeans, so none of us had ideal attire, but I pushed myself to keep ahead. It didn’t matter if they were casually hiking and I was putting in 110%, it mattered to me that I was able to keep up and feel good about what I was able to do. That hike dissolved a lot of the mucky feelings I was having and set my mind straight for 2017.

Here are my 2017 resolutions:

1. A healthy body, mind, and spirit. First and foremost.

Learning to rest/de-stress myself physically and mentally because I’m HORRIBLE at it. And leaning on Jesus. Also working on this body of mine, one day at a time, with new focus.

2. Working on patience instead frenzy, kindness instead of aggravation, and helpfulness instead of frustration. Especially with family members.

3. Minimizing belongings and unnecessary thoughts/feelings that cloud my outlook, rob my time, and prevent me from seeing my potential. Dwelling on/owning what truly brings me joy.

4. Being better friend. Finding new local friends organically.

5. Giving myself a heck of a lot more grace than I did in 2016. But also push myself harder with healthy motivators.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Too Fat to Ride

Talk about an amazing extended weekend staycation, and I got to do it with one of my best friends. I got eight hours of sleep multiple nights in a row, several coffee and chit chat trips with H, and we got a theme park and beach day in. It was amazing!

Living near Universal Studios and Disneyland, it’s always fun planning a theme park day especially when new attractions come out. H and a group of mutual friends and I were highly anticipating the brand new Harry Potter World addition in Universal Studios. I had turned down several invites throughout the year because it meant a lot to me that I go with this group of awesome ladies. And I’m glad I waited, because we all experienced the magic together for the first time. Every detail was considered and it really looked like you were transplanted to Hogsmead. That’s why one detail bothered me even more…

I can’t do coasters. The most I can stomach and often lands me with a headache is Space Mountain. Anything beyond that caliber means trouble. That’s why I did my due diligence and looked up the new HP World ride reviews on Yelp and videos on YouTube. As I preview Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, I notice an interesting video in my recommended panel. It had to do with not fitting. The lady in the video sat in a test seat and tried several times to pull the chest holster over and get a green light. It never lit. And my stomach sank as she said she is a size 18/20.

I’m a size 18/20.

I asked about ride intensity on one of my social media accounts, and again, someone commented on the confining seats.

I may be too fat to fit.

Now, instead of worrying about speed and intensity of the ride, I was afraid my 5’5 size 18/20 body would disqualify me from the fun.

I confided with H before the trip my fears before we went. I needed to let her no that no matter the outcome, I didn’t want anyone to feel bad or not ride on my behalf. As we entered the line, a Universal Studios staff member pulled us aside. He didn’t address anyone’s weight. He didn’t single out the overweight people in my party. He merely asked if it was our group’s first time on the ride and if we knew we’d fit comfortably.

Person by person, we tested the ride and the green light lit for our party.

For everyone but me.

I was too fat.

So many thoughts raced through my head and I chased them away before they could fester. Gathering the confidence I had left, I tried to stay positive and offer to hold my friends’ bags and see that as a bright side. Avoiding ride lockers is always a plus. The staff member was kind enough to let me try again and have a friend push down to see. No green light.

In a way it was hard. I wasn’t the only overweight person in the group, but I’m most definitely the heaviest. My taller and more apple-shaped friend fit just fine, and my shorter curvy all over friend did too. I can’t tell if my really thick thighs or Size 40 E chest was the culprit behind the red light. But either way, I didn’t fit. The guy apologized and said for the inconvenience he would give us a password to the front of the line. Which was awesome! I’m so glad we skipped an hour-long line. In no way was I singled out and I was so thankful. And I was happy the test seat was discreetly placed, and available so I wasn’t shamed as I hopped in an actual ride seat. One of the gals offered to stay behind with me and I wouldn’t have it. I thought it was so sweet, but I knew it would make me feel guilty and frustrated to have someone else miss on the fun because of me.

I sat in the child-switch area with all the bags and time flew by. I kept my mind occupied on the movie clips they had a tv screen. I stayed positive. We searched out the other HP world attraction and there was another test seat. This would just had a little seat bar. I thought, pretty much knew, I’d fit. I’m fat, but my butt fit it fair and square, but as I pulled the bar to my belly, it was my knees that hit.

Everyone else fit but me.

This is where it got difficult. I was prepared to not fit the first ride, but both?! What gives?! I tried to stay positive but this time, it was a full on war in my head. I was going to miss both the rides I’ve anticipated for half a year because I was too fat. Not only was I fat, I was shaped in a way that didn’t help me for either ride.

I want to disclaim that I’ve never felt entitled to anything or any accommodations because of my weight. I’m over 250 pounds and I know 250 is kind of where places draw the line. But at the same time, I felt like Universal Studios Hollywood did not care about my worth. I was too fat, too small of a percentage, for them to give two shakes about. And that made me feel awful. I fit ALL THEIR OTHER RIDES, I don’t require a seat belt extender in an airplane seat, but I couldn’t fit their new rides. How come their larger riders weren’t considered in the grand scheme of things? Why did I fit all their other rides and not these? Obviously the test seats alluded that many other riders would be facing my reality too.

I also felt it personally. I felt like I finally hit that “fat” where I am truly handicapped from certain activities. I can bend, I can walk long distances, I can carry myself with dignity, I can run miles at the gym, but I couldn’t fit these damn rides. Lots of ultimatums raced in my head.

“I have a season pass, I’ll starve myself until I fit.”

“I’ll use this shameful moment to GUILT myself until I’m smaller.”

“Look at my random health issue and this now. It means I need to do something EXTREME before it’s too late.”

These are horrible thoughts, and I’m ashamed to admit them, but they did reside in my head for the first half of the day.

I’m that fat. The kind that now holds me back. And that hurt. And it made me upset that even if I dropped a ton of weight, my boyfriend and other overweight friends would have to go through what I felt. That made me really angry.

We went on the tram ride, I got to excitedly share my favorite ride, Transformers, with our group, and I happily walked ahead of the group many times without needing my inhaler or huffing and puffing. Even with my edema, I gliding down stairs and walking fast.

I wasn’t a handicap, I am able-bodied! I tried to remind myself of how well my body was carrying me throughout the day. We were there until nightfall and I never ran out of breath or asked to take a break because I was tired. I might of failed a couple rides, but as a whole I was doing okay.

In the end, I was grateful for the caring and considerate group of friends who supported me and that I got to spend the whole day with. The fat factor will always sting, but I have to remind myself I am still able-bodied and valued, even if a couple theme park attractions disagree.

Self Harm No Longer

This blog post is really hard for me to talk about and admit, even though it’s probably been evident to people longer than it has to me because of location.

I grew up thinking self harm was inflicting horrible pain upon yourself or cutting your wrists. And I ignorantly thought that since I once attempted to cut my wrists with a knife and it scared me shitless that I didn’t self harm.

Except I have been for a majority of my life. And I’m publicly posting this as a commitment to stop.

Whenever I’m anxious, frustrated, or unable to cope with my feelings, the first thing I do is pick my arms. I will scratch with my nails until I draw blood or pinch my skin until it opens and then I will pick the scabs and not allow them to heal. Sometimes when I feel neck deep in anxiety the first sign is not how I feel (when I’m neck deep I don’t “see” it), but looking at my forearms. They will be spotted with red welts, dry flaking patches of dead skin tired of scabbing, and dark traces of where a wound has been.

Nobody has really talked to me about it. Maybe they didn’t know why or didn’t want to be rude.  I guess it may disguise itself to others looking like psoriasis that comes and goes. Or perhaps people thought they were bug bites I scratched until bleeding. But I know why.

The reason varies. Sometimes I feel nervous or overwhelmed and it gives me something to distract myself with. Sometimes I feel frustrated with myself or a situation and I feel relief with “punishing” myself. Sometimes I need to fidget and ground myself and that is what I resort to.

I cannot practice self care while still practicing self harm. I am consciously acknowledging that the pain and comfort of scabbing my arms is not acceptable and not the right response. I am forgiving myself instead of letting myself think I am despicable. I am translating that energy and relief into writing with mindfulness and fidgeting with jewelry or my fitbit.

I commit today to self harm no longer.

Made Up: Realizing Skin Deep Perspectives

Confession time. There are times I get extra dressy and made up for my boyfriend. For what purpose I’m not quite sure. Some compliment fishing, if I’m honest? But mostly because I want to look special to show love and appreciation when we do something special, or to make a casual date something special.

Except that’s not how Josh ever sees it. Seriously, this guy doesn’t give me a second look over most of the time. And HE never dresses up for me unless it’s a dress code for the event. What gives? Doesn’t he know I suck at makeup and it took me a LONG time to get this put together? Doesn’t he know I fussed over what to wear today to tie to all together?
Once in a while, he’ll tell me he hasn’t seen my shirt or dress or something before and ask if it’s new. That’s pretty much the extent of it.

Do you see how fussy and huffy and full of expectations my last paragraph was? I can and have gotten flustered over it.

But it finally dawned on me after forever and a day why he doesn’t say anything, and it’s not because he doesn’t notice or isn’t a good man. It’s because he’s a good, honest, and simple man. It’s because as awful as I paint him in paragraph 2, that is just a biased perspective that isn’t being rational.

The truth is, Josh has told me multiple times I don’t need makeup, he likes me fresh faced just as much. He also compliments my physical traits at the strangest times. We’ll go on a rigorous hike or drive back to my place after the gym and he’ll glance over and say “Pretty Kitty” when I’m dripping sweat, frumpy, and could probably afford more deodorant. We’ll be three episodes into a Netflix binge and I’m in comfy clothes and day worn makeup and he’ll compliment my beauty.

That’s because, as shallow as I think of myself at times, my guy doesn’t see my beauty as conditional or situational. So why make a big fuss out of fancier clothes or extra beauty products? My lesson here is that in a relationship, dating or married, expectations are sometimes false perspectives on reality. What we expect of another person may sometimes paint them in a bad light and be a lie. That lie for me sometimes is that he doesn’t appreciate my extra efforts or doesn’t think much of my looks. But when that perspective is fully illuminated, I see that isn’t the reality of things at all.

Next outing I will dress nicely to feel nice for me, and take the extra effort to communicate verbally that I appreciate this time with him. That the two of us adventuring or enjoying everyday things are special to me.

Being Still

Life has been pretty quiet as of late, and it’s wonderful. I’ve got some fun things on the horizon (helping my family redecorate the living room, planning a baby shower for my sister in law, working on more KonMari) but nothing particularly stressful.

I live with bouts of high functioning anxiety and before I really paused to identify and address it, I just thought I was busy and that being busy was good. Busy meant I was purposeful. Busy meant I wasn’t lazy. Busy meant I had worth to others because I was helping. I now know that being busy 24/7 is a mess for my body, and that my thyroid issues of the past were in part to lack of sleep and the stress of busying through life. I also know that my worth has NOTHING to do with human opinion. And retrospectively, duh, God patterned a day of rest for us. It is good to rest and be still.

I currently don’t have any real commitments besides church ministry and going to my art lessons on Friday. My schedule is wide open and it’s weird. I won’t have much to do with the non profit until the beginning of next year now that our main event is over. And, for the summer, I’ve decided not to do the optional bible study group.

How am I handling this extra time and less commitment? I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s freeing but also strange. Some days I just listen to music and get the little stuff done and call it a day. Other days I’m a bit more purposeful, but I am being rather ‘lazy’ by Laura standards right now.

How is it translating? 

– I am pushing myself harder at work, really testing my limits and seeing positive results. I’m full speed and recoup at home knowing I’m not rushing to something else.

– I am able to use the quiet less rushed morning to acknowledge God’s goodness and start my day with a thankful and focused heart.

– I have a better vision of what my day, week, and month looks like.

– I am more available to help loved ones even in small ways. Letting my dad use the car, being home when my brother drops by when he’s in town, random skyping sessions with friends to help them through their hard day, etc.

– I feel less trapped in a schedule that is always demanding.

– I am less moody. I have more time to process things, and I’m starting to see how short I become and how easy it is to not own up a bad attitude when life is crazy.

There are things I need to put into practice during this time, but I want them to happen organically. Firstly, I have fallen hard off the home cooking healthy food wagon, mostly taking the convenient road instead. And I need to get back on that wagon. Secondly, I need to add back a devotion filled time with God outside of Bible reading (which I hadn’t been doing all that faithfully outside of my Bible study) and I’d love to see that translate into more Bible art journaling and studying more systematic theology and apologetics. I want to apply the studying tools and techniques from my study into my personal reading since I am guilty of trying to read the Bible like literature if I don’t take the time to reset and pray for discernment.

This has been a ‘mind detox.’ And it’s proving to do a lot of good.

You are attractive. Incredibly attractive.

Ladies, when’s the last time you thought about how attractive you are? Are you disgusted or accepting of your image of you? Or perhaps you know you are and love it?

I think in a world that wants us to turn heads with body language and sex appeal, or find approval of ourselves through others’ opinions, it’s important to step back and see your attractiveness in your own eyes.

Look at your body, and think of how incredible it is. You can lose or gain weight to better your health. Your body is able to stretch to grow a baby or flex some mighty muscles. Whether you are tall curvy all over, petite and slender, or some other combination, your form is womanly without trying. Your body is powerful and provocative without ever showing any of it off. Your hair, eye, and skin color? All of that is an awesome combination God picked out for you and is part of what makes you unique. There is a specialness in having your grandmother’s eyes and your dad’s nose.

Think of what you’re attracted to when you’re thinking of your boyfriend or potential date material. What is conventional and what isn’t? More than likely, you don’t just like someone for conventional attractiveness. If the idea of tall, dark, and handsome makes you giggle and roll your eyes, then why do you think you need to be some idealized creature? You probably had non-physical traits in there too, didn’t you? Maybe you like someone with a good sense of humor. Maybe you like someone who is confident and fearless. Maybe you like humbleness or sensitivity. Did you throw in common interests? Maybe they need to be fluent in Marvel and DC comics. Perhaps they need to love pizza as dearly as you do. Did they maybe need to share a sense of adventure for the outdoors? Think of how it is not only the physical traits that make you attracted to others. Think of how others likewise see you as a multifaceted person with interests and passions that also connect you with them. Think of how unique you are and how special it is when there is a common bond.

Let’s take a moment to examine how you project yourself. What do you want to say about you, and how do you want that affecting your allurement? Perhaps you are mindful of your vivacity. You’re loud and animated and you love it and they have to love it too. Or perhaps your passion is spiritual and that is a large priority that you project to potential suitors – they know you are firm in what you believe. Perhaps you are nurturing and you show warmth and care and encourage growth in others and you find that someone with that trait works best so you can be more effective as a couple. Do you consciously put anything out there, looking to find someone that appreciates that projection? Are you aware of how you present yourself to the world? Everyone has something great to project, but sometimes we don’t make it mindful or do so boldly.

Lastly, think of what you personally like about yourself. There is always something, and ideally, there should be many things you can think of because you are truly awesome! Accept that others may think these things are pretty cool too, because more than likely, they do!

You are attractive. You are magnetic to the right people. You have control over what you project. You are worthwhile not because others say so, but because you know so. Don’t ever let self-doubt tell you otherwise. You don’t ever need someone’s approval to know so. Know that you are attractive as you are, outside of other people’s opinions.

You are magnificent and beautiful just being who you are, and being true to that attracts just the right people for you.