Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018: The Big Reveal

I have had an absolutely amazing day! It’s my birthday and it couldn’t have been better. I took the day off work and spent it with my mom and my nieces. We played all day! My nieces (who are 3 and 2) “helped” their Granna (my mom) make my birthday cake as well as my brother’s birthday cake. If you don’t know us, yes, my brother and I share a birthday but no, we are not twins – we’re 7 years apart. 😉 I usually have yoga on Tuesday nights but my yoga instructor is also a massage therapist, so this week I got a massage and it was fabulous. Walking has been amazing today. God answered my prayer that it wouldn’t rain or be gloomy out. My dad grilled out steaks for dinner and the whole family celebrated tonight. The being together, the playing, the laughing, the loving, the eating, the gifts: everything was absolutely wonderful.

Since it’s Tuesday though and I usually write a blog post on Tuesdays, I’m still writing one, but this will be a little different tonight. I’ve prayed about writing and posting about this and while I’m nervous, I also think I’m ready. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m very black and white. I tend to be a perfectionist. I’ve been very transparent on my struggles with dystonia and wanting to walk normally, however, something very few people in my life know is that I’ve also been struggling with food issues for almost (in August officially) 8 years. Some call it an eating disorder. It’s been a very shameful and humbling thing for me to acknowledge. So, for the most part, I don’t acknowledge it publicly. But, in the past two weeks, I’ve felt like maybe it was time to reveal this “secret”.

I’m not writing this post to gain sympathy, empathy, affirmation, confirmation or for advice or for shock value or for any other reason except to get it off my chest. For the past 8 years, I’ve felt like I’ve been somewhat lying to people by omission, by not saying anything about my “secret” struggle. I’ve made mention in this blog before that I see a nutritionist. She’s a registered dietitian and nutritionist. I also see a therapist. For some reason, it’s much easier to talk about a dietitian/nutritionist then it is to also say that I see a therapist. At the eating disorder’s worst, I was seeing the therapist 3 times a week. Now, I see her every two weeks. I’ve come to a place where I’m removed enough, healthy enough to share about my experiences, but I’m still hesitant. There’s a shame that comes with being labeled as having an “eating disorder”. I haven’t wanted to share about this part of my life because I’ve been embarrassed by it. When something is physically wrong with you, you can blame it on a disease, but there’s a stigma with eating disorders that says, “just stop…you’re doing it to yourself…just stop and you’ll be OK.” Believe me, I’ve been on that side. I’ve even said those words to people (if not out loud, in my head!).

To just get it out there, I don’t have anorexia or bulimia. To look at me, I don’t look anorexic and I don’t throw up my food. I thought that those were the only two eating disorders out there. To my surprise, they are not. When I was first diagnosed, it was as a binge eater. That’s someone who will eat and eat and eat, but not purge. I’d feel so guilty for eating so much though that I would go for long stretches without eating. It ended up being this cycle of eating until I couldn’t eat anymore and then restricting until I couldn’t restrict anymore and I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round. I was extremely overweight and miserable. A few years into my diagnosis, the eating disorder flipped. I didn’t know it could do that, but it can and did. I had, with the help of the dietitian and the therapist, lost weight and was feeling wonderful. I was no longer binging, but my main “offense” was restricting. I was so sure that at any minute, I would start gaining weight back and I didn’t want that to happen at all. I was on a good eating program, but the thoughts inside my head were that if I was losing so much weight following that program, I could do so much better if I was eating even less. So, I ate less. Then my therapist and my dietitian came up with a novel idea. Some of you know that I eat ice cream every night (or close to every night). Only a select few know that I’m actually “ordered” to eat it so that I’m eating enough calories per day. While I love it now, I was TERRIFIED to do it at first. I had to trust that my dietitian and therapist knew what they were doing. In all actuality, neither of them had ever tried that approach with a patient before. A registered dietitian “prescribing” ice cream every night?! That wasn’t heard of. It was my therapist’s idea and she convinced the dietitian to go along – haha! Thankfully, at the time, I didn’t know that they had never tried this approach, so I just went along. While it might sound like the “perfect” remedy, let me tell you, it was (and at times still is!) hard. And yes, while I eat ice cream (almost) every night, that doesn’t mean I’ll eat it in front of people or out at an ice cream shop with people. I still must know how many calories are in the ice cream and I measure it out each night.

I want to help people that may be in the same space I’m in. I haven’t written this post to blame anyone or to seek attention in any way. In fact, I’ve almost backed out of posting this several times already. I don’t want my revelation to look bad on anyone in my family, for they are not the root or the cause of any of this. The eating issues that I deal with are my issues and are not caused by anyone. I’ll probably write more about this on the blog at some point, but for right now, for tonight, I think this is enough. I’ve found myself “slipping up” more recently and I was afraid that if I didn’t start acknowledging the eating issues in a more public way that I would get “caught” at some point and I’d rather reveal things on my own time frame rather than having to backtrack. I really do hope that this “reveal” will be able to help someone, or, if for nothing else, just free me to be more myself. I’ve known all along and continue to know that God’s got my back. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt me from struggling with the way I look or how much I weigh. I often think to myself that I’m not a good Christian because I do struggle with image issues, but then I’m reminded that God never said we would have perfect lives, that we wouldn’t struggle. I have faith that God works ALL things together for HIS good, even the issues we may bring on ourselves. He is a loving Father who forgives us and helps us.

I’ll end this post by saying that God has blessed me beyond measure and I still know and hold firm to the fact that God’s Got This!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: June 5, 2018

Warm, sunny, summer days - oh how I love them! It's June - my most favorite month. Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.

I was at my parent's house a lot this past weekend and took some pictures of their pretty flowers. They say, "summer" to me!

Last week, I got a present and it's not even my birthday (that's next week - ha!). The man who's responsible for my love of motorcycles gave it to me and I love it! Thank you, Dale. It was totally unexpected and totally wonderful!

Last week had it's highs and lows as each week (and each day) does, but overall it was a great week for me walking wise. I didn't fall and felt sturdier on my feet. That's not to say I didn't have my moments or my problems, but overall it was good. The only fall I took was when doing a forward fold while doing yoga at home. I got too comfortable (or maybe I fell asleep - haha) and lost my balance. I'm glad there was no one around to watch that. ;)

I continue to learn new things in yoga. I love my instructor and I love that she creates these "homework sheets" for me, complete with drawings! Yoga continues to remain both a challenge for me to overcome and exercise to strengthen me.

This will be a shorter post tonight because I'm having major writer's block. I can't seem to think of anything to say (or write), so because of this, you get a short post (which I'm sure you're thankful for!).

I do know that whether I continue to have wonderful walking days or if I wake up unable to keep my balance to save my life, The Lord is in and through every second of every day and God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 29, 2018

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Yes, it is Tuesday, although if you're like me, today felt like a Monday. I hope everyone had a safe and blessed Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial beginning of summer!!! It certainly felt like summer where I was this weekend. The family, in 4 separate cars, made our way to Wisconsin to see my cousin, Ben get married. We left the rain, but took the heat with us. At times the temperature reached 100 degrees. I loved it though! I love warm weather, so I can't complain!

I had a wonderful walking week, although my walking in Wisconsin wasn't as great as it was in Knoxville or as great as I wanted it to be. It was still much better than it has been. I did use my Dad or Mom to help me get around though. I just wasn't as confident as I was hoping to be. I think trying to keep up with everyone was a factor. I can walk rather normally and with more confidence if I walk at my own pace, but trying to keep up with people makes me nervous.

I had a blast seeing all my relatives. It's intriguing to me that when we all get together, I start to see that we are truly family. We live so far apart from each other most of the time, that when we get together, I notice things like who I get my love of TV from (my Uncle Chris), who has curly hair besides myself (my cousin Nathan). I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It's fun to recognize stuff like that. One last trait I recognized was that I do have a lot of my mom in me (haha, I already knew this!). I realized at the reception that ALL of my first cousins were in the same place at the same time. So, I orchestrated a picture of all of use lined up in birth order. There are 11 of us cousins. One girl. TEN boys. Yes, folks, that means I am the sole girl in a gaggle of boys. 10 boys. This should clue you in to why I am ecstatic to finally have 2 nieces to spoil. I've been surrounded by boys my entire life!! On another note, I'm the oldest. On yet another note, of the 11 of us, 1 has a birthday on June 11 (Nathan) and 3 of us (yes, that's right...3 of us) have a birthday on June 12 (myself, my brother Stanton and my cousin Lukas). And on one final note...my grandparent's oldest grandchild (me) and youngest grandchild (Lukas) were born on the same day, 28 years apart. I'm not sure why I felt the need to include all of that here on the blog, but now you know!

I did something at this wedding that I've never done before: I sang karaoke. I made my cousin Phil's wife, Kim (I guess that would make her my cousin too!), do it with me. We had a blast. I sang horribly, but it was so much fun. I just let loose and it was freeing and absolutely fantastic. We sang "I've Got Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks and "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner. We sang back-up on several other songs and ended the night singing "American Pie" by Don McLean. I had absolutely NO intention of singing. None. I didn't even know there was going to be karaoke, but I threw caution to the wind and just belted it out and it was epic. So, so, so fun!!!!!! Kim and I are booking gigs, so if you want us at your next gig, contact our agent (Phil). Hurry though, we're being booked fast. ;)

Saturday night, as I was sitting at the wedding reception, I looked out and this thought came to mind, "Life sure is messy, but life is also so beautiful." We all have our problems and issues. Some of us have more problems and issues than others, but that's what makes us human. What also makes us human is to be able to celebrate with those who celebrate, like at weddings. Do I wish I could walk with out any problems at all? Of course I do! But that's not where God has me right now and that's OK. Learning to be content (content, NOT complacent) where I am is going to feel awesome, when I get there. ;) And, yes, I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. God's still growing me and molding me and guiding me. I still danced. I got to sing karaoke (by the way, I really hope there is no video evidence of this). I had fun. I lived life. I'm glad I made the trek up to Wisconsin. It was well worth it to rejoice with Ben and Micaela and celebrate with not only them but the entire extended family.

I think since having the deep brain stimulation surgery, I've been more adventurous. Grant it, I never was a huge adventurer to begin with, but I'm starting to do things that I previously would have been too embarrassed and/or shy to do. This could also be due to my age. My parents have always told me the older you get the more you just don't care really what others may think of you. Having the DBS surgery has made me loosen up a little bit though. I'm not as scared to try new things. My newest "want" is to go horseback riding. I've done it before, but it's been years and I really want to do it again. ;)

I had yoga tonight and it was fantastic. I feel so much better about myself after a session. Tonight we did restorative yoga. It was gentler and more peaceful. At first, I really wanted to do more physical stuff, but what I wanted and what I needed were two different things. I got what I needed (without really even knowing I needed it) and it was absolutely perfect.

I can't believe another week has come and gone. Some days are rougher than others, but all in all, life is a beautiful blessing. I love seeing where the Lord leads. With Him at the helm, life is always an adventure. I know always that God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 22, 2018

As I write this blog post tonight, I'm reflecting on the week that was and thanking Jesus for it. It was pretty great. Not perfect, but wonderful all the same. There weren't any life-changing events that took place, but walking was better! Sure, there were times when it wasn't great, but for the most part, walking came a little easier and for that, I praise Jesus.

It was either Wednesday or Thursday that I tripped. I was at home and I even remember thinking, "Oh this is going to hurt." because I was on tile floor. But, just as sure as I thought I was going to fall, I didn't. My leg held. I attribute that to Divine intervention and to the strengthening of my legs. Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I saw someone (from a distance) trip. She didn't fall, but could have. It just made me realize again that everyone at some point trips, slips or falls.

If you know me, you know I'm not a daredevil. I'm very cautious and reserved for the most part. But there is one thing, since brain surgery, that I've fallen in love with. I never in a million years would have thought I'd fall in love with it, but I have. It's riding a motorcycle. I know it's dangerous, but so is walking across the street sometimes. Friends at church caught on to my desire to ride a motorcycle and a year ago, I rode for the first time. It was a blast! On Saturday, I got to ride again with the same friends. The first time was kind of short, but this second time was a little longer: 131 miles. It was so much fun. The wind in my hair, the speed, the views...everything was spectacular. I pondered why I like riding so much and came to this conclusion: I can't walk fast. Maybe I'll get that back someday, but for today, I can't. Since I can't walk or move fast, I find myself wanting to be "fast" in other areas of my life. Riding a motorcycle fulfills that want/need. I tend to be a fast driver too, according to my dad. I'm working on this and slowing it down, but I just like to be fast. I don't want to be dangerous or reckless, just fast. :) I really am trying to be conscience though of my speed in a car.

Sunday, I had a little trouble getting into church, but God provided a friend (Whitney) to help me in. Again, I wanted to walk fast, but the harder I tried, the more problems I had. I was again reminded that sometimes the simple touch of a hand can calm my muscles. This was evident in walking up to and back from communion. I held my niece, Hope's hand and had no problems walking. Hope's two. There would be no way she'd be able to catch me if I fell, but the simple touch of her hand in mine calmed me so much that I didn't even think about falling.

Sunday night, I had a horrible night's sleep. I don't know what was with me, but I woke up at 2 am and couldn't go back to sleep. Needless to say, I was struggling yesterday to stay awake. I decided to go to bed super early last night. I was in bed at 8:40 pm. The next thing I knew my alarm was going off this morning. I had a superb night's sleep. Today was beautiful. I walked with confidence. I love days like today when walking comes more natural. I didn't struggle as much. Thank you, Jesus! Yoga tonight was fantastic. I learned new things. I adapted. I did. I tried everything. My instructor was surprised by some of the things I could do. There were other things that had to be adapted, but I still did them. I'll never know what I can or can't do unless I try. That was the theme of the night. I did things that surprised both my instructor and myself. And then there were things that I thought would come easy that didn't necessarily come easy. But it's all OK. I'm still learning to give myself grace. In the meantime, I have my yoga instructor to help me in that area - haha!

It was a beautiful week last week. For in the little things, I found my greatest joy. Life doesn't have to have earth-shattering moments to be memorable and enjoyable. God grants us pleasure in the little things as well. I'm reflecting on those "little" things that turn into big things. Thank you, Jesus for granting me more ease in walking and more confidence in facing those times when walking didn't come as easy. I will always remember that "God's Got This!".

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 15, 2018

This past week has been really good. My walking was better and there were things to celebrate. I didn't fall and felt like for the most part, I could get around easier. I'm feeling extremely blessed as I write this post tonight. That doesn't mean there weren't frustrating moments or that my week was perfect, but it does mean that I'm growing and that God's allowing me to learn and see beauty in the broken.

This past week we celebrated Mother's Day. And in honor of that I'm going to tell you a story about my mom. I might have already shared this before, but it's worth sharing again. It's one of those moments in life that I'll never forget and one that has had a lasting impact on me ever since it happened. I had just had the awake portion of the deep brain stimulation surgery (there were three separate surgeries that encompassed the deep brain stimulation surgery experience). It had been quite a day. I had to spend one night in the hospital for monitoring, but would be able to go home the next day. Mom and I were watching my favorite show, Chicago Med, on TV. About 15 minutes into it, I couldn't watch it anymore. It's not that anything on screen got to me, it's that my head was killing me. And for me NOT to watch my favorite show, you know I had to be in pain. ;) I couldn't sit up in a chair anymore. I had to lay down. I got in the hospital bed and then I couldn't keep my eyes open. The pain was excruciating. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "splitting headache". It literally felt like my head would split open. I got pain meds, but they didn't even take the edge off. The nurses gave me more medication and it still didn't even touch me. They finally got permission from the doctor to give me a stronger medication and it helped some, but really not enough. I was miserable. I was nauseous and knew that any movement would make me throw up. My mom was with me through the whole thing. She would go get the nurses and demand that I get more medication. She brought me banana popsicles and saltine crackers - the only two things I could stomach. She did it all that night. But, what I cherish the most and what still makes me tear up to this day is that, in the middle of the night, in the darkness of the room as I was crying in my pillow, she gently reached over, found my hand and held it. That's a mother's love. No words needed to be spoken (although she did pray over me!), just the simple touch of a hand to let me know she was there and she cared. The most simplest of acts, yet the one that I'll never ever forget. So, thank you, Mom for that. It meant the world!

Not only was it Mother's Day on Sunday, but it was my brother's birthday. He came into town and we celebrated. It was a fantastic weekend and I didn't think much about walking at all. When I don't constantly focus on walking, it's easier to do. It's good to have happy distractions in life!!

I just got home a little while ago from a yoga session. I am learning so much. It's definitely NOT easy for me, but I'm growing and learning. The more I do it, the easier it gets. However, it's still challenging! For all these years I thought yoga was all about zenning out, but yoga can kick my butt too! It can definitely be quite the workout. I feel stronger after I do it - whether I succeed in the task at hand or not. I am so thankful that I have a kind and patient instructor. I still want to do things "perfectly", but I'm finding more and more that "perfect" is boring.

Uniqueness is a gift given by God that we all should embrace. I'm speaking more to myself here than to anyone else. Embrace life as you have it now. Laugh more, judge less. If you fall, fall with flair. Be bold, be courageous and always remember God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 8, 2018

I have a confession to make. I try so hard to write these blog posts before Tuesday night, so that I can post them earlier than I do. However, I've only succeeded at that less than a handful of times. There's just something about writing them on a Tuesday night that works for me, I guess. These posts are off the cuff and spontaneous, yet I still "agonize" over what to put in them and give great thought into what I say. I'm just a writing contradiction of myself, I guess! What I mean is that I know I'm going to write a blog post every Tuesday and although I dwell on what I'm going to write about, I actually have no idea what I'm going to write about until I start typing it. Does that make sense? Probably not, but that's OK!

Lately, I've really been trying to concentrate on being "uniquely me". I've been trying to be OK with my idiosyncrasies (you wouldn't believe how many times it took me to at least get somewhat close in spelling idiosyncrasies so that Google would understand the word I was trying to use. I used to be so good at spelling words!). This is hard work! Being OK with the way I walk is HARD. I want to do it "perfectly", but perfectly for me, is going to be different than what it is to those who have no walking issues. And that's OK. I just have to let it be. It's so much easier to say (or in this case, write) that, than to actually put it into practice, but I'm trying. The way I walk makes me uniquely me.

This past week, my walking has improved. However, I still get nervous at times and will still gladly accept help. Most of the time. There are times when people have asked if I'd like help and I've turned them down. It's usually not because I'm embarrassed. It's not because I don't like them. It's because, in my mind and my heart, I know I can do it. So, I may be slow, but I do it. I walk on my own. On the flip side, there are times when people ask if I need help and I know in my heart that I can do it, but I want to get somewhere fast or I just feel like I need extra help so I'll accept. All this to say, if I decline help, please don't think I'm mad at you and if I accept it, please don't think of me as weak. My confidence in my walking abilities varies. Some days it's high and other days it's greatly lacking. There are just going to be good days and bad and it doesn't mean anything other than that.

I didn't fall in the past week, unless you count me falling over in yoga tonight. ;) My instructor asked if that's how I normally fall. I was doing a pose and lost my balance and kind of just rolled onto the floor. She said it was graceful. I assured her that that is not the way I normally fall. No, my normal falls include flailing of arms and making a big scene, blood and tears. There is no "graceful" in them. :) At least tonight, I "gracefully" tipped over and there was no making a big scene, no blood, injuries or tears.

I remain at the same level of electricity in my deep brain stimulation device as I've been on the past couple of weeks. There are definitely signs that I could probably use a little more, but then I have to weigh the good with the bad. If I "up" the electricity will the good that comes from it outweigh the bad? I was just up a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't as good. So, I'll sit on this setting a little longer and see what happens from there. I can always change the setting if need be.

I think that's it for this post. Last week was good. It had its struggles at times, but overall, it was good. I thank the Lord for good days and weeks. I'm blessed in so many ways. The way I walk - good or bad - makes me uniquely me. No matter what, I must always remember that God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 1, 2018

This post is going to be a little different tonight. I had a "rough draft" of what I thought I was going to blog about tonight but decided to throw that out the window and praise Jesus. Yes, praise Jesus. Too often, I'm way too pessimistic. As I was sitting in traffic on my way home from yoga tonight, I decided that I would ONLY praise Jesus in this post. So here goes: a sampling of things that have happened in the past week in which I only have Jesus to thank and praise for. In no particular order, here's my thank you note to Him:

- I didn't fall!
- I made it to the gas station without running out of gas AND I got .20 cents per gallon off.
- I have a job that I love and co-workers who I love even more.
- I had a friend walk with me on Sunday morning into church (thank you, Tina).
- I'm able to pay for medication and doctors visits, when so many around the world aren't.
- I got to see both of my nieces. I witnessed one get giddy about putting her money in the offering plate at church and the other, ever so sweetly and subtly, came up and put her hand in mine and we stood hand-in-hand. Precious moments indeed.
- My hair is long enough to put into a ponytail! (Mom, if you're reading this, I am going to cut it soon, because it needs it, I just haven't had time.)
- I can use my left arm and hand (I was once again reminded tonight that there was a time right after DBS surgery that I couldn't.).
- There is no such thing as "bad" walking. Either you walk or you don't. (Thank you, Jack for those wise words that I still carry with me all the time).
- It's MAY and it was warm outside today. I love, love, love warm weather. There's also more sunlight which does my soul good.
- Even when it's hard, I love yoga. I love my instructor and the encouragement she gives. She's a bright light in this world.
- As I was stuck in traffic, I was able to view the most spectacular sunset and listen to hymns by Amy Grant.
- I get to watch a favorite TV show tonight and eat ice cream.

I know there are so many other things I could list, big and small, but the above is just a sampling. Even when life seems overwhelming and hard, if you really look for it, good is always there. Good is always there because God is there. My "life verse" is Philippians 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." However, just a couple of verses before that, Philippians 4:4 states, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Tonight, I'm rejoicing in Jesus. Life's tough, but God's Got This!