*Note to readers: There are going to be a few posts about Fitbloggin over the next 2 weeks. It’s taking me a long time to process this info, plus I have the added stress of UNPACKING MY DANG HOUSE, but I promise not to let these get boring. You know that’s a promise I can keep!
You all might recall I have a hard time meeting people I really admire. I get nervous, palms get sweaty, I say stupid things… the usual. And with the added pressure of KNOWING FULL WELL I was gonna meet Dietgirl, well, let’s just say in usual Charlie fashion, I was a mess about it.
After getting to the airport on Thursday and the fiasco that all was, including the 1.5 hour shuttle ride to GET from the airport to the hotel, well, it was just rough. I felt rough. I felt discombobulated. And I wanted just one glass of wine to calm me down.
So I get to the fitbloggin mixer, found my roomie for the night, Steve (more on the fabulous roomies in a later post), and we dropped off my luggage in the room. Then we headed back over to the hotel restaurant so I could get some food. And Steve told me there was a group of us meeting there.
A group? MORE LIKE FREAKING DIET BLOG ROYALTY!
MizFit, Dietgirl, JackSht, Karen Anderson, Christie Inge… the big ones. The ones I’ve been stressing about meeting.
So I’m sitting there at the table, trying to look all cool (after I did the Wayne’s world ‘I’m not worthy’ move at JackSht’s feet. No lie. I’m humble like that.) and not act like I was ready to pee my pants from the excitement of it all.
That was when the waiter, who speaks no-good English, brought the bread and butter. Only the butter looked like a thin wedge of cheese. And there was something totally shaped like a ball on the plate next to the butter.
“Excuse me, sir, but what is this ball thing?”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
(Translation from not-good English to English: CRAB)
Well, that (plus the glass of white wine) totally sent me into fits of giggles. Didn’t matter if I was sitting right across from Dietgirl (whose name is Shauna, BTW). I had no composure to keep my mouth from running. So I kinda acted like a goober. Plus, Shauna’s accent is so flipping adorable! Not to mention the moments we are speaking the same language, but it’s different words for different things. Just had me cracking up with obnoxious laughter! Plus, she was very interested in my uber red lips, and how I make it work since red is a hard color to keep on your lips. We had a discussion about that!
Sending her a direct tweet later that night (cause we’ve been exchanging DMtweets!), I told her this: ‘Sorry I acted like such a goober tonite. I’m still a little star struck!’
(Understatement of the year)
To which she tweeted me back and assured me she didn’t think I acted like a goober and was perfectly fine. Bless her heart.
On Friday, there was the 5K (which I slept through), Zumba (which clearly as the picture illustrates, I was working hard at…watching Jack throw apple cores in the hotel hallway...)
And she was just as sweet and funny as she was the first night. I was a little less goober-rific. Not much, but a little.
On Saturday, I went to the “Intuitive Eating” session, which Shauna was moderating. And the session as a whole was so much more than I could have dreamed. By far my favorite session of the weekend. Intuitive eating is about listening to the cravings of your body and entering moderation into the mix: Essentially, not letting the food control you, but not forcing you to control the food either.
Shauna started talking about the fact that she bought some KitKat bars, and they had been sitting on the counter for a while. She decided she would finally eat them, and offered some to her husband. Half to be exact.
The story went on that her hubs said, “Are you sure you want to share?”
To which Shauna said, “Oh, yeah, cause 2 fingers is enough for me.”
CLASSIC LOST IN TRANSLATION MOMENT. I didn’t think about KitKats having fingers, but they kinda do! Of course, being sleep deprived and giddy, my brain didn’t interpret it that way. NOOOOOOOOOO. I went into the gutter with it. And started CRACKING UP SNORTING.
About that time, you saw the wave of laughter working its way through the crowd. And Shauna was the last person to get it- I blame the lost in translation, because she’s smart as a whip. Which made it even funnier!
So of course, later that day during MY session with JackSht and Mrs.Fatass, I had to whisper that into the mic.
“2 fingers worth.”
And everyone who had been at the Intuitive Eating session burst into laughter.
Shauna caught me in the hallway later and said something like “I heard you mentioned my 2 fingers and now everyone’s talking about it!”
I just nodded my head and grinned, because it really was one of the funniest lines I had ever heard!
We decided that later that night she was gonna stop by our hotel room and have a cocktail with us. SQUEEEEEEE! So we kinda got things together in our room. I ran down to the hotel store (AKA Overpriced Gas Station) and got a bottle of Bud Light and some orange juice. I wasn’t about to drink tequila like the rest of the gang. Noooooo, I’m too much of a lightweight for that. I needed just a little. So Beer and OJ, which we call a “poor man mimosa” was in order. I also picked up a little gift for Shauna, just in case she really did stop by.
Pretty soon, my phone tweet alert went off:
Shauna- Are you still going up there? :)
Charlie- Yes, and I have a silly gift for you up here!!! Come on up!
Immediately the energy in the room intensified. It was me, Mrs. Fatass, Steve, and Sean. And we all just had one collective crap our pants moment. The flurry of excitementexploded in our 21st floor hotel digs. “She’s coming! OMGosh! Shauna is gonna hang out with us!”
Of course, when she walked into the room, we were cool as cucumbers. All our hearts were racing, but Shauna? She kicked off her shoes, plopped down on a bed, and was even more awesome than I could have imagined!
I told her I was so thrilled, and I felt like I was meeting diet royalty, and her response was (and imagine her saying it with an Australian accent, cause that makes it even cuter)… “That’s just shite. I’m not royalty, I only went on this journey before you did.” If there were ever words that would make me love her more, those were it. Because she DOESN’T have a big head about things. She is a published author, wildly popular podcaster, and long time blogger with a huge following. Yet, there she was, kicking back like the rest of us, enjoying her poor man mimosa I made for her.
And the silly gift I had for her? It was a king size KitKat. (Hilarious to give someone at a health and wellness blog convention…) And her words about that were ones I will never forget.
“There must be AT LEAST SIX FINGERS in here!”
(I was cheesing SOOOO HARD!!!)
Shauna is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Warm and sweet, funny and smart, and so beautiful. Of all the “famous people” I’ve ever met, she is top of the list.
And I’m happy to have been her gooberific sidekick. Even if it was just for the weekend.
It was a beautiful Thursday morning. I kissed my kids and husband goodbye, hopped into Big Blue (the new used van we have made exactly one, count 'em, ONE payment on...) and headed off to the interstate exit. I had made sure there was gas and oil the night before, so I had no reason to stop.
Low carb Monster energy in one cup holder, coffee in the other. No Doubt CD in the radio. Phone charging in the lighter thingy. Airport itinerary and ID's easily accessible. Packed to the gills and cape in suitcase.
That is until Big Blue made a weird noise. She seemed to still be going, and I was almost to the halfway point of getting to the airport (almost 2 hours away), so I slowed down a little. Maybe that was all she needed.
But then I realized I was going a little too slow for interstate driving. (Thank you drivers behind me by informing me with "polite honking." I didn't realize I was having a problem till you brought it to my attention...)
I had the gas pedal to the floor, and at 45 miles an hour and slowing, I realized something was SERIOUSLY wrong with Big Blue. I flipped on my hazards and coasted to the shoulder of the road. As soon as I came to a complete stop, Blue died.
I figured maybe if I sat there for 5 minutes, willing the problem away, there would no longer be a problem. (For the record, that was how I also dieted for a LONG time...) 5 minutes passed, and with all the confidence in the world, having sufficiently prayed the name of Jesus over my van, I knew my van would start.
Only it didn't. It was dead as a doornail.
Now, here was my dilemma. If I CALLED someone, and then the van started, it would all be for nothing, and I didn't want to bother anyone. But on the other hand, if Blue was down for the count, that was precious time I would have to get to the airport so I wouldn't miss my flight. Kind of a catch 22.
I decided to wait one more round of 5 minutes to see if I was in real trouble or not.
Yep, I was in trouble.
Now, here's the weird thing. Up until this exact moment, my cell phone was in a dead zone. No service, no signal. Nada. Zip. I looked at my phone, then up to the sky and yelled "I NEED YOU TO THROW ME A FREAKIN BONE!" (Me and Jesus are tight, so He doesn't take offense to me talking like that. He understands me.) And when I looked back down, not only did I have 4 bars of reception, but I had 3G internet to boot.
Springing into action, I got on facebook.
Status: Van broken down on I74 on way to the airport. Suggestions?
Next, I called our insurance provider. We have roadside assistance for this EXACT reason. All our cars are crap and have to be towed at least 2 times a year. Tow truck was on it's way. She asked me where I would like to have it towed, but the airport was not an acceptable response. Fine, to Wilson's Garage in Crawfordsville. I'd never heard of them, but whatever.
Rechecked facebook. "Call AAA. Call your Insurance. You poor thing."
Called Matt. Not a great conversation, but vehicles never break down when it's convenient. He was stressed out, and worried about my safety. And me getting to Fitbloggin. (He's the best!) He offered to take the rest of the day off to drive me, but truth be told, our white van is in worse shape than Big Blue. (Well, not at that particular moment, but you know what I mean...) I told him I'd try to figure out something.
Recheck facebook. There's a message from Sonnia.
"Call me if you need me to give you a ride to the airport-SERIOUSLY!!"
I really didn't have many other options at this point. And while it killed me to have Sonnia take me, I was desperate enough to get there. I mean, Dietgirl was going to be there! And we were going to meet!
So I called her.
And she said she was going to leave her house in 5 minutes to rescue me.
Meanwhile, the tow truck showed up, got me loaded, and we headed back to the garage. Knowing Sonnia was on her way to fetch me, I asked if he could PRETTY PLEASE drop me off at whatever was closest to the interstate exit so that it would be an easy place for Sonnia to find. He agreed, and I was dropped off at a truck stop.
While at the truck stop, I called Delta Airlines and told them what had happened. They were AWESOME. (And after later installments of this story, you will learn why I will fly Delta for the rest of my life...) They told me to go to the ticket counter as soon as I finally got to the airport, and they would have me on the next flight out of there.
Then, 30 minutes after I called, Sonnia rolled up her glam white sunglasses and big honkin' SUV. My girl knight coming to save the damsel in da' stress. Emphasis on STRESS. She loaded me up, and before I knew it we were on our way to the airport.
"I saw all these people offering you suggestions like triple A, and I thought "Why isn't anybody HELPING her? Wait, all I have to do today is go to the grocery store! I CAN HELP HER!!!"
And I thanked her lots, and we chitchatted the rest of the way to the airport. Before I knew it, we were at the correct exit, and she turned to go into the parking garage. Honestly, I kinda figured she would just drop me off and bolt. But, nay, I got the full service girl knight. She was determined to see me into the airport and make sure I got a flight out of there. As frustrated and stressed as I was, I was so grateful she came in. It was really nice to know I had a friend by my side, making sure I was ok.
I got new plane tickets, and then we girls had a Starbucks and sat down for a bit. If you ever get stranded, I sincerely hope someone like Sonnia comes to rescue you. She took my nutso situation and made it kinda fun!
We said our goodbyes and I hugged her tightly. That was an amazing gesture of friendship, and I cannot thank her enough for all she did for me last Thursday. As I got on the plane and we took off, I watched the sky and marveled about how wonderful my life, even with the craziness, really is.
Big Blue will be waiting at the mechanic's for a while. $1000 to fix the dumb thing. Remember how many payments we have made on her? ONE. Frustrating? Yes. But can we get around it and save up the cash to get her out of garage hock eventually? You betcha.
Cause we have a wonderful life. Even when it's stranded halfway to the airport.
Come back tomorrow night to read the second leg of Fitbloggin: Charlie the Goober.
I’m flying on a plane. Staying in a hotel room with people I’ve never met. Taking shuttles and doing the airport parking thing. Going to a conference. Participating in Fitbloggin 11.
Without anybody there to hold my hand.
How far I’ve come!
When I attended SheSpeaks a few years back, I almost had a panic attack every hour on the hour just thinking about it. I stressed over what to wear, where to go, and even how to act (cause I get nervous being myself in new groups of people).
But this time?
It feels totally different.
I wasn’t invited to come because of who I might be or who I would become. I was invited to come because of who I am RIGHT NOW. This blonde haired, shrinking, stressed out, hot mess of a girl. THAT’S THE CHARLIE people want to meet. And that’s exactly who they will get. Because I don’t think I have the energy left to put on pretenses and be somebody else.
I DON’T WANT TO BE ANYBODY ELSE.
I kinda like me.
I like who I am.
I like that I laugh a lot and it makes me snort. I like that sometimes I forget words and my brain grasps at straws for a second, which makes me look like I’m really thoughtful instead of forgetful. I like that everything people say reminds me of a song, and there’s a pretty good chance I will bust out a verse. I like that I always slip and almost fall, at least once a day (if I don’t actually fall). I like that I sweat constantly because my metabolism is burning so hot.
And it’s not been easy to learn to like me. But somehow, through this silly little blog, I’ve learned how to do it. I’ve taught myself that being Charlie isn’t such a bad thing after all.
If you are going to meet me in person this weekend at Fitbloggin, there are a couple caveats you should be aware of. I’ll run you down the list.
1. I will most likely do something embarrassing to myself and potentially others around me. If you are in the danger zone, you can either run for cover, or stick around and enjoy the show. It’s all part of my “charm.”
2. I will say pretty much anything. Nothing that falls out of my mouth shocks me, but it might shock you.
3. I WILL LAUGH AT ANYTHING I SEE OR HEAR.
4. I will probably smell like a man for the weekend, because girl deodorants don’t work on me, so I’m snagging my hubby’s speed stick for men. This is for your protection. YOU’RE WELCOME!
5. I will hug you without batting an eye... BUT I have a personal space issue. Hug me tight, and when it’s over, make sure there is room for an entire person to fit between us, and stay in your dance space while I stay in mine.
6. I have some hearing loss, so I read lips to help me know what you are saying. This is especially important in large groups of people. If I can’t see your mouth, I will probably ask you to play repeater until I figure out what in the Sam Hill you are saying. If you call my name from across the room, there’s a good chance I won’t hear it. I’m not ignoring you. Feel free to come up and tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.
7. Speaking of attention… I get distracted easily. I am famous for starting sentences and NEVER FINISHING THEM. Again, this is all part of my charm, so enjoy it. (Look, a squirrel!)
8. I will go through various stages of dressed like a bum to dressed to the nines. I have many different looks. From shabby homeless to runway ready. And if I have a booger hanging or something in my teeth, you can tell me. I’d rather know than walk around all day looking like a dork.
9. If I get a text from my husband or kids, all attention will shift to that momentarily. They are my first priority, even if I’m gone. Nothing personal, but I’m not married to you and didn’t give birth to you either. If I did, then I must have been on some SERIOUS medications, cause I don’t remember it.
10. I LOVE making new friends! But there are lots of you to meet, and I’m HORRIFIC with remembering names. Please have your nametag on! Also, I don’t want to miss meeting anybody, so I plan to circulate as much as I can. But you are welcome to join in and work the room with me!
OK, I think that’s about it for now! I need to go pack, and get ready for the big day.
The month of May appears to be "Let's see how close we can push Charlie to the edge" month!
On Wednesday, we were extended the offer to move into my brother and Tricky Nikki's old house until we get all the credit score issues taken care of and can move into our forever house. And we said yes.
SO WE ARE MOVING. TODAY AND TOMORROW.
The bonuses of moving there are pretty extensive:
Jetted Jaccuzi Tub
2 Toilets (hallelujah!)
No leaky roof
No basement that backs up with sewer water every time we turn around
Knowing that I can relax at night because there's a security system installed in the house.
It's really a great move for our family, and we are excited. But it's going to take a ton of work to get us over there. So I need to get off here and get back to packing.
And 2 other weightloss related things:
I hit 155. And that brings me to 83 pounds lost.
I am currently wearing a pair of size 6 jeans. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus, for LYCRA.
Please, keep us in your prayers and good thoughts over the next few days, and if you can come help us move, we won't turn down the help. Tomorrow is the actual moving day, starting about 1pm after church, and today I'm just kicking around packing. Just send me an email with your name and phone number at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll tell you where to come hang out and help. :)
I think maybe today’s message might be inspirational, but as I’m still writing it, I can make no guarantees. It’s a crap shoot at this point.
But today, I have to take care of some emotional housecleaning. Because today was a big day in our house. I’m going to break this down as well as I can without getting sued for “slander.” (Even though the truth isn’t slander.) For the purpose of this blog, I shall refer to myself as Y.
X has been dishonest about a certain peanut payment X owes Y, and has been for more than 3 years. More like 6.
Y gets a call from Z offering to help collect said payment.
Y realizes that the amount owed to her by X should be between 30-50 thousand packing peanuts.
Y shows up to court today.
Y tells the truth.
Z is wonderful through it all, and very supportive.
X does everything in X’s power to make Y look bad.
X walks out of court only owing 6 thousand packing peanuts.
Y also gets lectured in court, and pinned for a greedy woman.
Y is DUMBFOUNDED.
And for the record, Y is really tired of being the nice guy.
Helen Keller said “I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
How I WISH that the whole of my day had gone better. I wish that for once, someone is being held accountable for actions besides me. I wish that I could get to be the fun, rich parent once in a while. It would have been nice if we had achieved something great today.
But that’s not my lot in life, it seems. Instead, I get to grin and smile through the small tasks- the homework, the laundry, the bedtimes, the constant bickering, the hurt knees and hurt hearts. I get the opportunity to show my kids love through SERVICE, through COMPASSION, through STRENGTH OF CHARACTER, and through GRACE UNDER FIRE. And frankly, that’s better for them than a bank account chock full of money anyway.
As much as we could have used the extra help, as nice as it would have been to have the chance to take a vacation to somewhere swanky and fun, I get to have daily teaching moments with my babies. When we show them that fun isn’t only found on a roller coaster or an airplane or at a resort somewhere. Fun can be about curling hair in the bathroom, and going googley over a picture they have drawn, and playing “zombie touch football” in the yard.
I know that we are doing more good by teaching them to clip coupons and hold on to their money, and to wait patiently for things they want. I don’t want them to be the kinds of adults who grow up expecting things to magically fall into their laps. And if this is the way God allows me to teach that lesson, I’m going to take it with gratitude. And with THANKFULNESS. God has provided us with an ABUNDANCE of blessings- a safe and happy home, full of love and joy, with an extended family and circle of friends that is amazing beyond belief. Who needs the extra money? Our family has already hit the jackpot!
Maybe you have someone like X in your life. Somebody who is always trying to put the screws to you, to make you look bad or constantly tearing you down. That person only has control over you if you let them. It has taken me a long time to come to this place in my life- but the actions of others, while annoying and irritating, can either make you lose your mind or make you better. I’m choosing to be effected positively through this experience. So I’m on the hunt for the silver lining. Unfortunately, in this particular case, I had to provide my own aluminum foil.
And that’s the secret to life. If you can’t find the positive things, you create your own.
Here are mine for the day:
1. No amount of money could ever compare to what my children are worth. I would lay down my life for them without batting an eye.
2. My husband, who technically has no biological claim to these kids, feels EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. Double Blessing.
3. This issue from court today that was “taken care of" in no way, shape, or form effects us as parents. It changes NOTHING. Our love was never contingent on the outcome. Likewise, our love for the kids is not contingent on the future choices the kids will make. NOTHING could ever make us stop loving them- past, present, or future.
4. I found coupons for foil. Handy. (As I imagine I might need to stock up.)
5. Every single time someone like X causes drama in my life, it only reassures me that by choosing Matt to be my husband, partner, and best friend- I made the best decision of my life. Tonight I apologized to Matt that I came into our relationship with so much baggage. (And FYI, I do NOT mean the kids.) He looked into my eyes and he said, “You. Are. WORTH. IT.” He is filled with more integrity in his hairy little toe than someone else possesses in his entire body. And that’s saying a lot.
6. I walked into that courtroom today knowing that I have lost 82 pounds. And even dealing with the last month of buildup for the court date, finding out we weren’t pregnant, losing a dear friend, having a roof that the landlord never seems to fix, and getting stalled out on purchasing a house: Through it all, I didn’t emotionally eat. I’m kinda proud of me for that!
7. God knows every single tear I have cried over those children, desperately trying to be the best mom I can. He thinks I can handle more. Ergo, God has more confidence in me that I imagined. I am honored. (I also think He’s highly overestimating my abilities. Just sayin….)
8. And finally- Yes, Judge- I AM GREEDY. I am greedy for my kids to grow up to be the best people this community has ever seen. I want to watch them change lives of others around them, be it through politics, art, music, or even digging ditches. Whatever they choose to do with their lives, I want them to encourage others. To be honest and forthright. To be people that do the right thing, even when it stings like a mother effer. (Cause, trust me folks, this HURTS.) And the only way the kids will learn those character traits is IF THEY SEE THEM LIVED OUT. Guess who has 2 thumbs and gets to do that? THIS GAL!!!!
So blessings abound, even in this seemingly unfair place I’m at in life. Yes, it sucks, but it could be worse. I'm counting my blessings.
Last night was one of those nights I will never forget.
Matt (the hubs) was joking with me about the differences between men and women. Men are visual, and women are emotional. He had already lavished emotional praises over me throughout the day. So I decided it was my job as a good little wifey to drive the man to utter distraction with some visual. Oh, and for me to do that while he was on stage during his opening night performance of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
Cause I’m ornery like that. Plus, it’s wise to keep the home fires burning hot.
And so began the arduous process of my hair and makeup routine. Vintage hair… rolled and pinned and sprayed to infinity. Makeup…false eyelashes and winged liner and lip stains. Powder and highlight base and shimmer shadows. Ben Nye FINAL SEAL (best product EVER, by the way) to set it all in permanent place.
Once that was done (and we won’t discuss how long I obsessed over it last night. Not from vanity, but because I know what get’s my husband’s motor revving. Besides me being in the same room and other having things to do, of course…) I started the next process of dressing.
See, I’m still dealing with the Orb of Mystery. It’s better, but I’m still kinda poochy. Every time I start getting stressed out, it pops back out a bit. So my pretend pregnancy is stress related. I am doing everything I can to stay calm at all times, lest my tummy jumps back from a 3 month bulge to a 6 month globe of disaster. Which really fowls up my wardrobe choices.
Nevertheless, last night was a reason to pull out the big guns. And by big guns I mean big girdles. I don’t do Spanx or other kinds. I do hardcore vintage 25 hook girdles. And I use more than one at a time.
The secret to smooth girdle wearing is to layer them so you get the biggest bang for your minimizing buck. I begin with underwear and a firmly secured poise pad. This is because when wearing multiple girdles, you can’t always whip yourself free and make it to the potty in time. (Lesson I’ve learned MANY TIMES OVER.) Next, I put on the smallest of the girdles. Then the next one, which covers a little more of my back rolls. (Not as bad as they used to be, but are a consequence of wearing binding garments.) Lastly, I put on the smooth line girdle, with no hooks, to help camouflage the bajillions of hooks and eyes.
Finally the dress. My new Cherry dress I found on ebay. ADORABLE. And perfect to drive the hubs crazy. I put it on, it zipped up and looked FANTASTIC. Threw on my favorite red shoes, and headed outside where I had Amy, our oldest daughter, take a pic. Here’s the end result of all my hard work.
I know. I clean up pretty good.
After taking the pics, I grabbed my jean jacket and we jumped into the van. My neighbor (and high school friend) Beth was outside. I decided I needed a second opinion before walking out in public in a teeny tiny dress. (It’s teeny for me, as I usually don’t wear sleeveless.) Since they live just a few houses down and I was wearing mega heels, I drove down to her driveway, hopped out and asked “OK, am I too old to be wearing a dress like this? Do I look totally slutty?” For the record, I asked this because I try to keep my wardrobe balanced between kindergarten teacher and prostitute. It’s a tough balancing act on nights like this one.
Beth assured me I didn’t look like I was going to be propositioned, and I felt much better.
That was when I heard the words that changed my entire night.
From the van, ALL 3 OF MY KIDS YELLED OUT:
“MOM, YOUR DRESS IS UNZIPPED!”
I felt my backside, and sure enough, the dress was unzipped. I giggled and asked if Beth could zip me back up. Her husband, of course was sitting on the front porch, laughing. He’s met me. He understands.
As I turned around and Beth went to zip me back up, she made the sound.
I had NO back up dress planned. I had 15 minutes to get my kids dinner at a drive thru, drop them off at Tricky Nikki’s house, and get all the way across town. No time to change.
And that’s when Beth asked me the question I’ve been asking myself for YEARS.
“Why does this kinda stuff always happen to you?”
I have no idea. Maybe it’s cause I can handle it like a pro. Maybe it’s cause my magnetic personality is actually only attracting bad luck. Whatever the reason, I was stuck with a broken dress.
I did some mental math, and realized that the jean jacket I had brought “just in case I got cold” was now going to be a full time member of my ensemble. But I wasn’t about to let that ruin my night. I still looked cute from the front.
I jumped back in the car, got dinner for the kids, and dropped them off. I headed to the theatre, and as I got out of the car, I put on my jacket. Which USED to fit me fine. Now, it hangs on me like a potato sack. Not the cute I was expecting. But I was willing to work with it. Necessity was my wardrobe tonight. And at least I didn’t have to button it. The dress could still be seen if I opened the jacket up a bit.
Glamour is a state of mind, and isn’t found in the actual details. Thank goodness for that.
So the rest of the night went great. Matt blew me away on stage. I have never seen him sing or act the way he did last night. Folks, the man just makes me SWOON! (Even if he had to kiss another girl on stage. That didn’t bother me at all. I just wanted it to be me up there because I would have kissed him RIGHT! Hahahaha!) He had the entire crowd ROLLING with laughter. It’s a gift, I say, a gift.
After the show, I was standing around talking to people, assuring them that “sweet quiet mild mannered Matt” really is a comedic genius at home, and that’s pretty much what we are like 24-7 around here. Then he came up and squeezed me, called me a megahottie, and smootched me. He needed to change out of his costume, so I hung around for a while, waiting for him. And I was chatting with Sonnia in the lobby, who makes me laugh all the time. I needed to text Nikki, to let her know I was almost on my way to get the kids. As I unzipped the back pocket on my purse, the darndest thing happened.
The zipper head flew off my purse and onto the floor.
Sonnia looked at the floor, then looked at me laughing, cause she knew my backside was totally exposed under my jacket, and she said, “Two in one night?”
Yeah, I take glamour and coolness to a whole new level.
Conferences scare me. And if you have signed up to attend a big conference, there have probably been moments when you’ve said the same thing as me.
WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS???
It is NOT that we want to miss the information that will be brought to us. It’s not that we don’t want to meet some of our favorite bloggers face to face. It’s not that some of us (especially the stay at homes) aren’t DESPERATE to get out of the house for a weekend without the kids. And it’s certainly not that we don’t want to go.
It’s the emotional red tape our minds put us through leading up to the conference that gets us.
A few years ago, I went to SheSpeaks, a conference to bolster Christian women who want to speak and write. And thankfully, I experienced every one of the things I will be addressing today while preparing for that conference. So you get the added bonus of learning from all my mistakes.
Perhaps you aren’t attending Fitbloggin. Don’t think this post isn’t for you. These principles can be applied to ANY new and scary situation. Especially if you are neurotic like me. M’kay? Here we go.
A practical preparation guide for neurotic bloggers.
1. The people at the conference are going to be awesome. That includes YOU. No one misses falling under the awesome umbrella. Often times we feel intimidated by the idea of seeing folks face to face. (Me meeting DIETGIRL? YIKES) Well guess what? Bloggers are people just like you. In fact, I think bloggers have a special bond unlike other people. We read about each other’s lives on a regular basis. We are this huge network of socially awkward people. (Otherwise, why would we blog?) Yes, we feel safest from behind the dim light of our laptop screens, where we have time to think about our words and responses. But this is the one time we become a united people group in one place. Like minded individuals who can talk about our experiences with folks who really understand. Focus on that. This is your chance to make new contacts and friendships that will last forever. Embrace the awesomeness that is in you.
2. DON’T HIDE!!!! When I went to my last conference, I was so intimidated by the sheer volume of people (I shouldn’t say that heading into a conference about dieting, I guess) that I panicked. I freaked. Too many faces for this Chicken Little to process. So I committed the cardinal sin of conferencing: I HID IN MY ROOM. And actually, I didn’t come out until the Trac(e)ys (2 gals named Tracy and Tracey, respectively) latched onto me and helped me feel more comfortable. They saved seats for me. The talked to me during breaks. They went outside with me when we needed a break. Why I am telling you this? Instead of hoping I’ll get another set of Trac(e)ys, this time I’m going to BE a Trac(e)y to someone. Reach out and embrace them. Include them in what I’m doing. Those girls saved my conference experience, and I want to pay it forward. I suggest you do the same.
3. When you are walking down the hallways and sitting in classes and eating meals and in general participating in conferency activities, SMILE. I don’t care if you have to slap Vaseline on your teeth to get there. (Just watch out, because Vaseline has 100 fat calories per tablespoon. So don’t swallow it. Plus you’ll get the trots. Don’t ask how I know this…) Tell yourself “I am the prettiest/handsomest person in the room, and people want to meet me.” I used to tell myself that before I lost the weight and felt like hiding. All of a sudden, I carried myself with confidence I didn’t have before. And ya know what? It WORKS. People are drawn to confidence. Even if you are a confirmed wall flower, this can work for you. Make yourself as approachable as you can. Then watch the magic happen!
4. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE IN THIS WORLD: LAY OFF THE PERFUMES AND BODY SPRAYS. This is a matter of personal preference. But when folks are crammed into a room that’s 20X20, and you have put on enough perfume to take down a small elephant, I’m going to give you dirty looks. I know you like the way your perfume smells. But I might not. Plus, there are folks with allergies, and if you send someone into a sneezing fit, everyone is going to know who caused it. If you MUST wear scents, try to keep away from the flowery heavy stuff, and look for some light fruit scented sprays.
5. Don’t stay up all night talking to your roomies. Tempting as it may be, you will regret it on the last day of the conference. So will everyone around you, Mr/Mrs/Ms Grumpypants…
6. When meeting new folks, give them your blog business card. Not only will it help them remember your name, but when they go home, they can look you up and follow your blog. And we all know how exciting it is to get new followers on your blog! (Are you following ME yet? Go ahead and make my day. Become a follower.) It also helps to take lots of pictures. I’m planning on bringing my video camera for some special moments too. So don’t pick your nose in a corner or I might be sending it to America’s funniest home videos!
7. We are ALL at different points in our fitness journeys. Some have just begun, others have achieved the halfway mark, and others still are at goal and in the maintenance phase. NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR JOURNEY, what you have to say is important. Your perspective counts. And even if you aren’t in a certain place yet, or are further ahead than someone else, don’t disqualify another person’s feelings about where they are. I feel MUCH differently about my weight loss journey now than I did 3 years ago in the beginning. But that doesn’t mean the feelings I had in the beginning weren’t valid. It just means I’ve managed to work through that feeling set and moved on to the next group. There aren’t any magic answers to this fitness goal. The journey is different for everyone. No matter where you are, I’ve already decided I can learn from you. And I hope you can learn from me.
It was back in high school at a “Christ In Youth” conference in Missouri. They were having auditions for high school students to sing specials during the worship services, and my youth group encouraged me to try out. I agreed to it only because Sara was going to do sign language to the song with me.
I walked into the room and there she was. Jet black hair, piercing blue eyes, and as much makeup on as me. I liked her INSTANTLY.
Then I started hearing the whisperings in the room.
“She’s already got a song on the radio.” “She’s a REAL singer who wrote her first song and got it recorded.”
That song was called “A Baby’s Cry.”
And that girl was Amanda Pate (now Fessant).
As you guys well know, I’m not opposed to walking up to ANYONE, regardless of their level of fame, and talking to them. Amanda was no exception. And I’m forever thankful I did.
She and I became fast friends, especially after we heard each other sing. There was an instant respect between us regarding talent. We spent the majority of the conference hanging out together, talking about things like music, our body images, and our dreams for the future. The real bonus was we lived less than an hour away from each other.
That friendship continued for several years. She would come to Danville for a concert or a game, and we would meet at the Monicals Pizza. I’d go over to her house in Paris for the weekend, and we’d spend time raiding her mom’s ivy decorated kitchen, singing and talking about Jesus and boys. And she was the FIRST person to introduce me to tiramisu.
The fact that Manda-May was singing professionally never got in the way of our friendship. I was always so proud of what she was doing, and the ministry she had started. Perhaps at times there were twinges of jealousy, but it was never because I wanted HER life. I just wished I was as sure of what God wanted from me as she was. Me and God had this prodigal daughter routine going. Mandy was as steady as the rock of Gibraltar.
After we graduated from high school, our feisty little friendship continued. We spent weekends together, running all over Illinois and Indiana. I wrote my first real song at her house. On her bedroom floor. And to date, it’s still my favorite song I’ve written. “Alabaster Jars” And I’ve never performed it. But one day I will.
Mandy had a friend in the band “All Star United” (and it was no secret that there was major crushage going on there, on one side for sure, and perhaps on the other) and she had been mailed a demo copy of their not yet released album, with 4 songs on it. We listened to the song “Drive” over and over again the whole night, dissecting the lyrics and trying to decide if it was written for her or not. That was one of my FAVORITE nights with her. (And I’m listening to that song as I’m writing this.)
Then Mandy decided she was going to move to Nashville, TN to really pursue her music career. It was hard to be so far from her, but one weekend, she called and asked if I wanted to spend the week with her in Nashville. She had to work, but she knew I had written a few country songs and wanted to give a shot at getting them sold. I had ONE music contact, so I made an appointment on Friday, and on Sunday afternoon, Manda-May and I began the roadtrip to Nashville.
I SWEAR ON ALL THAT IS HOLY- Mandy had a lead foot that terrified me. We were in her dinky little car, and she was going AT LEAST 100 mph. Every hour I had to make her stop so I could pee and smoke, just to calm down from the fear of almost meeting Jesus on the interstate from her driving. If Mandy hadn’t been so good natured about the whole thing, I would have felt bad. Cause I kept yelling for her to slow down or she’d kill us both. She just laughed and said “God’s got things for us to do. We aren’t going anywhere.” Like that helped me unclutch my white cramped knuckles from the O.S. bar on her car’s interior roof…
Up until that trip, I thought I knew how my life was going to go down. I’d become a Nashville fixture as a country songwriter, and we would continue our friendship as we always had. I’d make a bundle from royalties (back in the day when people actually bought cassette tapes and CDs) and I’d work to become a Christian vocalist.
But that didn’t happen. The one contact I had didn’t like my songs, because they weren’t recorded. She encouraged me to make a demo tape (but a really good one, which means expensive in music speak) and come back. But I never did. That one rejection was enough to make me lose my nerve.
That was the first time Mandy and I ever fought. I was broken hearted, but she was used to the rejection. “That’s the music business. You have got to be thick skinned!”
Except I didn’t know how to do that. So I started to pull away from Amanda, because her success reminded me of my own failure. And I couldn’t bear it.
Mandy was always ministry minded. God driven. She wanted to change the world. Love people.
I however, was “me-nistry” minded. Idol driven. I wanted to change my world. Make people love ME.
When you get into a position where you share your life with others, be it in relationships, on a stage, from a pulpit, or even on a blog- you learn quickly that people are messy. They are opinionated. They feel justified in saying things about you that break your heart. And I wasn’t ready for that when I was 19. I wanted to run around, party, and be irresponsible. She had met her darling husband BJ, and was getting ready to be married. She asked me to be a part of her wedding. I knew Mandy didn’t approve of my chosen lifestyle. Nor should she have. I was being stupid, making dangerous choices, and would soon pay the price for my indulgent ignorance. I didn’t go to her wedding, because I was afraid she would see right through me, and call me out on my behavior. I wasn’t ready to give it up.
After I met the first husband, I was pregnant 6 weeks later. Long before we were ever husband and wife. I found out a few months later Mandy was pregnant too. When I brought Amy home from Phoenix for her first Illinois visit, I met up with Mandy, her mom, and her new baby son. They talked about how HIS Ministry was growing. How God was changing things. Me? I was a mom now, but now struggled even more with who I was.
After all the kids were born, we reconnected a few more times, but our friendship was never the same. I was always running from ministry. Mandy hoped I would get there one day, yet I don’t think she was holding her breath. Our friendship suffered because of ME. My utter denial that I could ever be a leader in this messed up world.
I mourn that we never really got to make things right before she died. But I know she sees me now, and I hope she understands. I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. Until now. And it’s not too late.
After years of running, I find myself smack dab in the middle of a ministry I had no idea I would be in.
I know that every word I speak on here isn’t about God. Sometimes it’s about periods and boobs. Sometimes it’s about my frustration with Dominos. Other times it’s about my friends who support me. Or my feelings. My hurts. My burdens.
But in everything I do, I want you to know one thing.
In all that I have done wrong in this world, I have been forgiven. My blessings supersede my previous behavior. I hope that I bring you a not-pushy message about what a woman with a little drop of faith can accomplish. I refuse to become one of those people who slap scriptures on every item in my house. Sometimes, life doesn’t necessarily have a spiritual point. If it doesn’t, I don’t make one up. It’s just a story, an experience. But when there is a point, I feel compelled to share it. And I pray that my humble words bring you peace and inspire you to keep seeking good things in your life.
My “ministry” will never look like Mandy’s. The reach God allowed her to have is amazing. She was well loved all over the world. When she found out about her cancer, more people were praying for her than live in both our hometowns put together. Her heart’s cry was “If all the people who said they were praying for me would talk to Jesus and get a real relationship with him, I would go through this all over again.” I bet she had an amazing homecoming when she passed into the next part of her life. Her life was a beautiful testament to God’s love.
As for me?
What is my ministry?
I have learned that I don’t want to be famous around the world. I want to hug people and walk through fires next to them. I want to show you that we can live normal lives and have hope. Have joy. We can laugh. We can fight alongside one another, even if the common enemy is the scale. I want to embrace joy whenever I can, and share that joy with you. Even if it’s about peeing my pants.
I want to encourage you that no matter what your faith is, you should never give up hope of conquering your struggles. My opinion of you doesn’t change if you are a Christian or not. If you are fat or not. If you are living a questionable life. I don’t care about your “whats.” I care about the “WHO.”
YOU ARE A PERSON WORTHY OF LOVE.
YOU DESERVE GRACE.
TO BE HUGGED.
TO BE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY, just as I once was.
That is my ministry, the point of impact I hope to have in the world.
I pray I will do you justice.
And now, it’s time get ready to say goodbye to my friend.
I love you. I always have. And I can’t wait to see you in heaven. Thank goodness we don’t have to drive to get there. I'm dustin' off my boots as we speak.
She was watching her Mama cry tears of sorrow, because I lost my friend Amanda, who went home to be with Jesus today. And even though she didn’t remember meeting Mandy, Natalie used her empathy skills to console me. She then started helping around the house, without being asked to.
After I had composed myself (a little, anyway) I thanked her for being such a sweetheart.
She nodded and said, “I did such a good job I think I earned some homemade cookies!”
We don’t have any in the house, but if we would have, I would have given her the whole lot.
I dropped Amy, our oldest, at the movies with some friends, thankful to have a few moments in the car alone. I went to the store, and grabbed a few items. Then I went to the refrigerated cookie aisle and picked up a package. Because I was determined to bring that little girl some cookies.
As I got in the car, my heart heavy with frustrations and sorrow, I cried. I prayed and asked God to comfort me. And the still small voice inside me asked one question.
“Is she WORTH cookies?”
Before the horrible parent police show up at my door, I want to assure you- this question is not what you think it is. But I think a letter to my daughter would best explain what I mean.
I want more than anything to give you cookies. Sweet, just like you, and so delicious. There have been many times in my life I earned cookies too. Sometimes other people gave them to me, especially when I was a kid. As a grown up, living on my own, I got those cookies myself. Even though I shared them with you kids a lot, there were many packages of cookies you never knew existed.
Any time I felt extreme feelings, ranging from happiness to crushing sadness, I had cookies. And chips. And cakes. Those things made the feelings I was experiencing seem a little more tolerable. They moderated the extremes in my life.
And you saw the result. My body 3 years ago was proof that I had been “feeling” for a long long time.
Natalie, you are one of the most precious children I have ever met. And I know it’s tough for you being the middle kid. Amy gets to do everything first, and you often get her hand-me-downs. Tim gets to do other things because he is a boy. He gets clothes nobody else has worn, because he doesn’t do pink. So you kinda get the short end of the stick. And I know that.
And while you asking for cookies seems like such a small request, so insignificant, so easy to just let you have-
My sweet darling girl-
I’m going to say NO.
Because you are WORTH MORE THAN COOKIES.
You don’t deserve a life that bases your feelings or your worth on food. You deserve to be taught appropriate ways to self-soothe, a skill your Mama has been lacking a very long time. As much as I want to give you cookies today, I don’t want you to struggle with wanting cookies tomorrow.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have cookies again. That’s the joy of this- if you learn to enjoy them in the right way, they will taste even sweeter.
I wonder where my life would be today if I hadn’t abused food. Granted, this blog would never exist, but what else could I have achieved in my life if food hadn’t been an issue? Would I have pursued my songwriting career? Would I have moved to Hollywood? New York? Paris?
I will never find out what my life could have been, but my daughters (and son, of course) deserve to find out where their lives can go. I cannot pass on my broken habits to them. I want to give them every opportunity to learn to be the most complete and whole humans they can be while under our roof. They will move out and make their own mistakes, I realize that. They will have their own struggles, but I don’t want one of them to be food. Because that one comes straight from me.
Tonight, as I struggle with more than my children will ever realize is on my proverbial plate, telling God I can’t handle ONE MORE THING, and another thing falls on my head and heart- I am left with the question.
Do I finally realize that I, too, am worth more than cookies?
Am I ready to use my faith to self soothe instead of calling on the disciples Ben and Jerry? Am I willing to deal with the feelings instead of shoving them down with food?