Stop asking me when I’m going to [insert life event here]

I’m just a small town girl (((go ahead….try to not hear “Don’t Stop Believin'” in your head right now))) and with that comes small town expectations. I graduated in a class of approximately 132, and many of the friends I grew up with are in serious relationships, engaged, married, and/or building families.

And then there’s me.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me the plethora of “When are you going to….” questions related to all aspects of my life. 90% of them are from people who assume that since I’m 26, single, living at home, and married to my job that I’m just miserable all the time. The truth is that, aside from my age, those are all things I’ve chosen for myself.

“When are you going to move to a place of your own? Aren’t you tired of living at home?”

I work in Elkhart, which is significantly bigger than my teenie town of Ligonier. There are some really nice areas of the city, but there are also very bad parts. Affordable housing in good areas of town are hard to come by, so I CHOOSE to live at home. I love my parents dearly and living at home during the start of my professional life has allowed me to grow a lot closer with both of them. Plus, I work for a non-profit agency which means I get paid far less than I should for the work that I do, so the money saving aspect is pretty fantastic. Truthfully, I love my job so the pay doesn’t bother me nearly as much as what people think.

“When are you going to settle down? Maybe you should stop being so shallow and overlooking good guys that are right in front of you.”

This one grinds my gears to no end. First off, my job makes the dating scene difficult the vast majority of the time. Second, since when did having standards make me shallow? While it’s not everything, I think physical attraction is a very important thing in a relationship. It’s a very primitive thing as we look for mates with good genes to pass along to future offspring. All that aside, the reason I’m attracted to men who are physically fit is because it shows me that they care enough about their bodies to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fitness is a HUGE part of my life, and ideally I’d like a partner with the same passion. The other major things I look for are:

  • Intelligence/Education-I’m college educated and consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual. I would love to find the same in a partner.
  • Morals-Knowing right from wrong isn’t hard for most, but there are the select few that just don’t get it.
  • Open Mindedness-I tend to clash with close-minded individuals. I have friends and family whose lifestyles vary from the societal norm. I refuse to let these individuals leave my life and so I need someone who will accept them for who they are and not what they are.
  • Stability/Career-Building a career is a beautiful thing. I want someone in a field they’re passionate about that they see bettering themselves in for years to come.
  • Sense of Humor-I’m sarcastic, goofy, and I snort when I laugh. I want someone who is on par with my sense of humor.

I highly doubt the fact that I know what I want makes me shallow, considering the bulk of my qualities aren’t even related to physical features. As for when I’m going to settle down, that’s God’s timing, not mine. I’ve got prospects, but I’m not putting all my eggs into one basket. My relationship with Cameron taking a fiery downward spiral kind of wrecked my ability to easily put my faith into a “could be forever” sort of thing. I’m not going to rush into something or settle simply because those around me are pressuring to do so. I’d rather marry later than my peers than be both married and divorced before 30.

“When are you going to stop taking all that stuff? You’re already skinny enough and you should be proud of where you’re at, not trying to lose more weight.”

This one is simple: AdvoCare products make me feel great, help me cut body fat %, and build glorious muscle. So…..you know…..never is the answer to that question.

“When are you going to have kids? If you wait until you’re married, it may be too late.”

Just….what the hell, people. Stahp. Just staaahhhp.

You get the picture. The bottom line is that this is my life and I’m happy with the way things are going. I firmly believe that when the time is right, each of these questions will be answered. Until then, stop hounding me. If you’re over the age of 50, I may just start hounding you with the “When are you going to plan your funeral? You know you’re getting up there, right?” response.

For When Smiling Isn’t Enough

Last night, I logged on to Facebook to respond to some messages before having dinner with my parents. There, at the top of my news feed, was the tragic headline:

RW

My first thought? “Oh, this has to be another death hoax. They’ve killed him, Hulk Hogan, and almost all of One Direction in the past few months.” Then I saw that it was a link to CNN. CNN does not (typically) report hoaxes. Sadly, it was true. One of the greatest actors, comedians, and human beings of my lifetime was gone. I immediately passed the information along to my parents and my brother, and we just kind of sat there after reading the even bigger shock: his death was an apparent suicide.

I’ve worked in the mental health field for almost 3 years. During that 3 years, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve been a direct care staff, a skills training specialist, and am now a care facilitator. I’ve had training upon training about depression and suicide, and it amazes me how taboo the subject of mental health still is. Depression is not a joke. It is a real illness that can affect absolutely anyone. Robin Williams’ sudden passing is a sobering reminder of this. All the smiles, adoration, and fame in the world are not enough to suppress the demons within. Sometimes, death seems like the only escape. Suicide is also a hush-hush subject. Many people consider it to be a “cowardly” way to escape from problems. Truthfully? It takes a lot of courage and despair to make the decision that ending your life is the only way to extinguish the pain. There’s no undoing it—and that’s terrifying to think about. On the outside, Robin Williams was happiness in human form. On the inside, he battled the demons of depression and addiction. No one is immune to mental illness. Eerily, some of my favorite Robin Williams quotes fall right in line with views and treatment of mental illness.

As John Keating in Dead Poets Society:

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

As Hunter “Patch” Adams in Patch Adams:

“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.

As Jack Powell in Jack:

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting.”

As Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man:

“I try to make sense of things. Which is why, I guess, I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.”

As Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings:

“The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. THESE are the things that matter.”

And, of course, as the lovable Genie in Aladdin, Williams said this:

“But oh, to be free…such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.”

And how true it is. You’re free now, Genie. May your joyful soul  find in passing the peace you longed for in life.

If you or anyone you know is battling depression, mental illness, or thinking of suicide. Please get help. You’re not alone and there are people there to help you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-8255

My AdvoCare Journey: Where I Came From & Where I’m Going

Many people have asked me about my journey with AdvoCare, so I decided to share my story and where I’m going from here—it should be no surprise that this post was coming 🙂

I have always battled with low self-esteem and a distorted body image, even though I was always told how tiny I was in high school and early college. Unfortunately, the “perks” of being a legal adult took its toll on me, and after I turned 21 I went from an unhappy size 4 to an unbelievably miserable size 12 within a matter of a few months.

To add insult to injury, I was also a dedicated pageant contestant, competing 4-9 times per year. One of the hardest moments for me was going to a pageant thread website and being classified as the “chubby girl,” the “plus sized contestant,” and even told that I needed to stay off the stage unless I lost weight. It cut me deeper than I thought possible.

April 2011

April 2011

After graduating from college in 2011, I was hired as a youth care worker at Bashor Children’s Home. The job was demanding, both physically and mentally. I was frequently required to engage in physical restraints to keep kids safe, or chase them down the road if they tried to run from the facility. I would find myself out of breath, sore, and sweating buckets when these were over. My stamina was low, my strength was hindered by my extra weight, and I was slower than I had ever been in my life.

Giving my Maid of Honor speech

Giving my Maid of Honor speech

My best friend Tabby's wedding

My best friend Tabby’s wedding

November 2012

November 2012

I knew I needed a change.

In December 2012, my mom told me about our family friends, Jimmy & Angie McDonald, who were doing a challenge with a company called AdvoCare. I had never heard of it before, but I saw the incredible the results they were having and began to do my research.

On December 26, 2012, Jimmy sat down with me and told me about AdvoCare. I was hooked, and ordered the 24 Day Challenge. Not only did I order, but I had such immense faith in the product already that I signed up to be a distributor.

January 3, 2013 180 lbs Size 14

DAY 1
January 3, 2013
192 lbs
Size 14/16

On day 7 of my first challenge, I had my surgery. When I set up my appointment to have it done, I was told it was basically going to be something that had me out of commission for a day and then I’d be good to go to hit the gym. When I arrived the morning of, I found out exactly how invasive it was going to be…..and that I was not going to be allowed back in the gym for at LEAST 3 weeks.  I was even MORE upset about the whole thing. To make matters worse, 2 days after my surgery I had my car accident.  However, I was really surprised to see that even without working out, I had incredible results at the end of the cleanse.

January 13, 2013 173 lbs Size 12/14

DAY 11
January 13, 2013
185 lbs
Size 12/14

I was even more determined during the last 2 weeks after seeing the results of the first 10 days. My grand total for the first challenge: 15 lbs and 25.6 inches lost.

DAY 24 January 28, 2013 165 lbs

DAY 24
January 28, 2013
177 lbs

4 MONTHS POST CHALLENGE May 4, 2013 155 lbs

4 MONTHS POST CHALLENGE
May 4, 2013

I was so impressed with AdvoCare and had such energy and determination, that I decided to do the challenge a second time.

LEFT: DAY 1 June 3, 2013 RIGHT: DAY 11 June 13, 2013

LEFT: DAY 1
June 3, 2013
RIGHT: DAY 11
June 13, 2013

To date, I am down 40 lbs, happy and healthier than I’ve been in years. I owe it all to AdvoCare. It gave me the confidence, the guidance, and the ENERGY to create a better me.

LEFT: 2012 180 lbs Size 14 RIGHT: June 2013 145 lbs (I've since hit the 40 lb loss mark) Size 6/8

LEFT: 2012
188 lbs
Size 14
RIGHT: June 2013
155 lbs (I’ve since hit the 40 lb loss mark)
Size 6/8

I’m becoming more invested in the business side of AdvoCare as well. My goal is to make at least $1000 a month so that I can use my AdvoCare earnings to pay off my student loans, car payments, etc. Ideally, I would love to earn enough so that I could go to graduate school and not have to worry about more student loan payments. The sky is the limit, and I am reaching for it!

Stay tuned….big things are coming!

Life’s a Funny Thing

It’s amazing how much things can change in just a few months. So many things have happened since January that it just blows my mind. Life has  had its ups and downs, filled with accomplishments, changes and scares, but I’ve come out the victor.

In early December, I went in for my annual exam without thinking much of it. Unfortunately, it would yield one of the biggest health scares and unexpected events I’ve had in my 24 years of life. It really made me realize how I needed to start taking better care of myself, even though I really had no control over this medical scare.

Luckily, I had already taken a step towards a healthier me. January 3rd I embarked on a new journey with AdvoCare. I began my 24 Day Challenge at 192 lbs, and I ended it on January 27 at 177 lbs, with a total of 25.6 inches lost. The first 24 days was done simply by eating right and taking vitamins because I couldn’t go to the gym after my procedure. Once my doctor gave me the OK, I was back in the gym almost every day. Some days it’s hard for me to see the progress I’ve made, even though others notice it. It’s only when I see the pictures side-by-side that I’m able to truly grasp how much weight I’ve really lost.

Fotor0527135228

(From L-R) 1/3/13, 1/14/13, 1/29/13, and 5/8/13

I feel better, I look better (so I’m told), and my next goal is to get to the 30 lbs mark, then the 40, and (ideally) the 50 lbs mark by Thanksgiving, when I plan to run my first 5K. The best is yet to come!

The career has also changed. I’m still working AT Bashor, but I’m now employed by Oaklawn Psychiatric Center as a Skills Training Specialist. I love my job–I have an office, a normal 40 hour work week, weekends/holidays off, and I get to wear cute clothes & shoes now. Most of all, I’m using my degree. I guess that’s a big deal, considering I spent a lot of money on it.

The past 4 months have produced significant changes in my life. I’ve retired from pageantry, focused on my career, and have matured more this year so far than I thought possible. I hardly drink, I work out 5-6 days a week, and I eat right. I’ll be 25 in August , and I plan on making this the start of a new and healthy life. I went from complaining about my weight and appearance to doing something about it, from a job I hated to a job I love, and finally understood that I’m worth more than I often give myself credit for.

It’s amazing what determination, a lot of sweat and hard work, and a little bit of ambition can get you……and I’m just getting started.

Viva Las Vegas

**NOTE: I didn’t realize this didn’t post while in flight…..so, you know, better late than never right?**

I do have to say, in flight internet may just be the most awesome thing in the world right now. Seriously, I may be easily amused, but it’s fantastic. I’m currently hovering somewhere over the cornfields of the Midwest, en route from MSP to sunny, glittery Las Vegas. It’s really sad that it takes a 2.75 hour plane ride to get time to add a new post.

Eh, it happens.

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….sweet baby Jesus, I hope that’s true. I don’t want to come home with a tattoo, a criminal record or, God forbid, a new last name. My only goal for this trip is to come back bronzed and to not once think about work. This past week has been insane and I’ve had to break up what seems like a million fights between the 5 crazy boys I watch over. I’m beginning to feel a lot more like a corrections officer than a YCW. It’s gotten to the point where I’m 99% sure the vast majority of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Dept. know me on a first name basis……

My job has really been a humbling experience over the past year. I realize exactly how lucky and blessed I am to have been given the life that I have. I have parents that have been happily married for 25 years and who have never touched a drug in their lives. Sure, they have been known to throw back a few longnecks every once in a blue moon and my mother smokes like a chimney when she’s stressed out (I’ve begged her and my dad both to stop…..the ignore me), but it’s nothing that interfered with them being good parents. Hell, they’re AMAZING parents. The kids I work with often come from broken homes where their parents are addicted to drugs, drink profusely, have no idea who their baby daddy is, or who are out of the picture entirely. I grew up not worrying about where my next meal was going to come from, and these kids often grew up without much of anything at all.

Sometimes, all kids like my residents need are a little attention and someone who proves they even remotely care. Is it all sunshine and butterflies? Hell no. 9 times out of 10 I feel like I’m in Hotel California….I checked in when I liked, but I can never leave….ever….ever ever ever ever.

I don’t want to stay at Bashor for the rest of my life. I literally would go insane and probably jump off a bridge.

However, I’m thankful to have not only a job, but one in my field……and to have this 10 day break to paradise.