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.

A Thank You

I don’t blog for the reach or to eventually earn some income with the traffic. I don’t even blog to keep people I know in real life in the loop (although some of my besties do read this, hello guys!) Is it weird that I kind of like a sense of anonymity?  My goal for blogging is to record what’s on my mind and heart and have a spot for reflection. I also hope to make a couple blog friends or people it can help along the way. I’ve noticed a couple of you regularly like something or comment when it is relatable/etc and that’s very encouraging to me. Thanks for following/frequenting/adding to my blog. I appreciate you! ❤

2016 was a heavy year, am I right? I feel like a majority of my posts were health/fitness related or heavy inner dialogue. Thanks for hanging in there through some pretentiousness and also some dark times. Thanks for encouraging me with your comments and posts on your own blog if we mutually follow each other.

I’ve had the privilege of drawing inspiration or expanding my thoughts on life through your blogs and sometimes I’ve just laughed at a fun memory or meme you’ve shared. Thank you for that.

Here’s to making some awesome blog entries in 2017. One that make us laugh together, cry together, reach out, and encourage us to grow.

DIY Advent Calendar

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to do something extra special for my nephews to help them remember all the reasons they celebrate Christmas. Well, here it is!

15302399_10154406930233855_1679482122_o

There were a few things I had to take into consideration as I made this. The first being this would have to be shipped halfway across the country and last several years. The lesser being that Mom and Dad could hang this where curious little hands couldn’t reach or open them and try to cash in on all the treats at once, ha!

On a scale of difficulty from 1-10, this is like, a 2. Looking back, I’d ideally use coin envelopes instead of my method, but smaller packs weren’t available in stores and I needed to send this out ASAP. I’d also take more time to decorate the outside of the envelope. I’ll do that next year.

I used:

– A wooden plaque with hanging already built in from Michaels.com (Use a larger size for larger trinkets)

Craft wood clothespins from the scrapbook section. They’re shorter than regular ones.

– Wood stain

– Short Envelopes

– Assorted candy, toys, stickers, and quarters

– A printout with verses about the Christmas story. I used this one.

Step One: Stain the wood plaque

(Optional, but it wasn’t hard and adds richness)

image2

Step Two: Use wood glue to glue clothespins ( I laid them out and lifted as I went)

The beautiful hand model is my boyfriend. Haha.

image3

Step 3:  Wood glue tells you to clamp as it dries.

Instead of clamping 24 pins, I used cans. I know, I know. Genius. 😉

image4

Step 4: Print the verses, trim them, prep the envelopes. 

If I had enough time to order coin envelopes I would have used them. Instead I cut short envelopes in half, folded the cut edge over, taped it, and use those as my coin envelope.

image1

Step 5: Prep your goodies

This was a challenging part. I have three nephews which means three of something in each tiny envelope. It made some of the envelopes look really bulky and I chose to give more quarters and opt out of the second candy choice. I know my best friend is grateful for less sugar. 😉 For the last day, I wrote 24/25. Since it’s the grand finale, I gave them all a light saber light up thingy. And on the back of the envelope I wrote, ” The Light of the world is born to save us.” Quarters not pictured.

image1-copy

Overall, this was a very time consuming but worthwhile project! I have to give Josh a shoutout for helping me with staining and glueing. I hope my nephews enjoy it and think of their auntie when they see it each year. Auntie thinks she’ll be sending new envelopes each year to keep them interested in new treats and bible verses.

I can’t wait to make one for Kai when he’s older. ❤

Healthy Fear is Fuel for Future Fearlessness

Healthy Fear is Fuel for Future Fearlessness

Try saying that ten times fast. I’m always in my head, trying to sort things out or sometimes just babble for my sanity. Today’s lasting thought is that healthy fear helps to create future fearlessness.

If I look back on good career moves and personal growth, I see fear. I see fear of the unknown, fear of full potential, fear of knowing what to do. It made it kind of scary but also very thrilling. And as I conquered or overcame them, that became a sense of pride. Fear becomes fearlessness in the end. It becomes a reminder that we did hard things and kicked butt and can do it again. 

In examining life right now, I’ve noticed I don’t have enough fear fueling me in the right way. My fears borderline unhealthy and say stay put, don’t overdo it, don’t risk what you don’t know. Am I talking huge things like quitting my job or moving 10,000 miles away? Heck no. But I am thinking it’s time to fan those flames in my favor towards something scary and exciting.

What fearful things am I thinking?

New friendships – I need a sense of community and sisterhood locally. I need to diligently do my part to meet new people and kindle something. It needs to specifically be someone with ambitious dreams so we can feed off each other’s encouragement.

Planning for my future – Really sitting down and going over financial numbers, what I desire and need to work on in my relationship, and thinking hard about where I want to be in the next year, five years, and decade.

Ministry – Braving bigger roles and practicing some lacking faithfulness and diligence that has made me feel kind of crummy lately. Digging deeper and knowing I’m not just a volunteer.

I need to keep reminding me I’m not scared of being scared. I need some fear, good fear, to help me continue to evolve into a better person. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. And again. And again. 🙂

More Minimizing Musings

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been inspired to research more about minimalism and capsule wardrobes. The ideals, while not right for me, are really helpful as I am still discovering what sparks joy in my life and how to look at my “stuff” with an honest and mindful eye.

I stumbled across a plus size capsule article that piqued my interest. Mostly because it offered so many valid points. Two stood out to me. First, as a fat gal, amen to the thighs eating pants! I know many minimalist blogs say invest in costly pieces that will last you but plus size gals know the difficulty that is rubbing the inner thigh portion of pants to a pilled or holey mess. The other point was most important. Minimalism as we see it today is a fad of living in excess and having a privileged life.

It’s easy for me to react to that and think I am not privileged, but I am. I like to think of it as being blessed and well cared for despite not making much, but it’s true. One of the reasons I’m in this pit is because I’ve allowed having a little more than enough become a consumerist issue. I’ve fallen prey to owning too much just because I can. How many hours have I wasted wandering aimlessly and getting joy from stuff I shouldn’t own? I should be considering this more carefully. It means I’ve been frivolous and have room to work on how I spend and save my money. It also means I need to be more mindful with what I keep and what I bring into my home.

Be a ruthless editor of what you bring into your home. Ask yourselves, “What does this object mean to me?” – Nate Berkus (interior designer)

Some of the things that inspire me from minimalism are:

1.  Seeking the best of the best in items.

For example, being purposeful and researching even little stuff like kitchen spoons to make sure you love using it and only need one or a few to do something well. It’s no longer about savings or quantity, the value is rather placed in form, function, and purpose. For a kitchen item, that purpose may be more utilitarian. For a necklace however, that might be form – the pendant goes with many styles, function – the chain doesn’t pull hair out and is easy to clasp, and purpose – makes me feel beautiful and put together. If I apply this what gives me joy (KonMari) it makes it easier to make decisions on what goes in my home and what I let go of.

2. Mindfully opening up your space and life.

The best minimalist blogs treat minimalism with a purpose. I found out that there are two types of minimalism. One is domestic, and that is have a system that works for an efficient home and life. The other is travel based, and that is where you see people limiting to the extreme in pursuit of fun experiences over items. I used to think minimalists were just fans of all things white and black and boring, but there is no hard rule unless you’re going for extreme. Walls don’t need to be blank, furniture doesn’t have to be modern, but everything is edited down to essentials and the idea is to only own what fits your purpose. Minimalists don’t think of themselves as limited but rather they are equipped with all that the need and don’t want to fuss with more because it’s not necessary or doesn’t fit their purpose. Less clothes means less laundry. Less furniture and nic nacs means easier and more efficient cleaning. Less buying means more financial freedom. All their minimalist choices serve a purpose.

3. Making the most of what you have.

Rather than thinking they are limited by their space or lack of extra things, they think of how to best work their space and make do with what they have. This is where I fall short the most. I am guilty of thinking “if only” quite a lot and wanting items I already have just because it’s a little nicer when what I have is fine. I need to tap into a spirit of contentedness and be grateful instead of wishful. Perhaps if I did better in the area of gratitude I’d  not be so tempted by retail therapy. When I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot of toys. I thrived on being resourceful and using some imagination to make what was around the house work. Later as a teen, I applied this concept to cooking with what ingredients were in the house and make fun meals that made me proud. Sure, it wasn’t Pinterest worthy, but it kept those items from spoiling and it was fun to experiment and not be restrained to a recipe. Making the most of what I had in those instances was really fulfilling. And it still is today.

Have you found your “a-ha” or “just right” point with belongings? If you have anything to add, please comment and let me know!

You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

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.

Unsolicited Comments : Mark It as Spam

We’ve all gotten comments and opinions we never asked for or invited. Things like:

“Oh, you started working again? I guess your husband’s income isn’t cutting it.”

“Your body may not be ideal but at least you’ve got a beautiful face.”

“It must be exhausting having a downs child.”

“You’re so skinny. I wish I could eat anything and not gain weight.”

“I can’t believe you still use the microwave. It causes cancer.”

Think of these messages of ignorance and stupidity as flagged messages in your inbox and send them to the spam folder.

Do we open messages in our spam folder? No, because based on the subject line, we know the content may be harmful or that the message is meaningless to us.

In that same line of thinking, I’ve been relating it to the unsolicited comments I’ve received in real life. It sucks that sometimes these comments are said by people close to us, but the fact is their comment doesn’t do any good. Before letting a hurtful comment fester – giving time to internalize their words, and opening myself up to their message, I simply sort it to spam. The real life version of “unsubscribe” is to respectfully tell them that topic is off limits, what they said was rude, or brush it off by changing the subject.

Don’t open their loaded email. Don’t let their words ruin your day or get you down. Treat spam as spam: delete. Keep your inbox for what makes you feel good and builds you as a person. Don’t let messages that don’t fit that filter ruin the good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, I also sort gossip to junk mail. Bye bye, BS.