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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Weight Loss Journey

Ok, so maybe I should call this my health journey, because the changes I have made in my life over the last 5 weeks are to encompass so much more than just loosing weight. But weight is what started this change. I saw a photo of myself one day and I thought, OH GOD, how did I get here? It wasn't that my husband was dissatisfied with me, or I felt like I needed to be more acceptable to others. It was that I was disgusted with myself for taking such poor care of my body, and I wanted to be more acceptable to ME. I think had I started this lifestyle change for any other reason, I would not have been able to come so far. And thankfully it was something my husband was interested in doing as well, so it has made our meal planning so much easier when we are all on board. Now 5 weeks in I am noticing changes not only in my body, but in myself that I really wasn't expecting. I feel so much better. I can't say every morning at 5 AM I am jumping up and down excited to be heading for the gym, but I can say I have never regretted going not one single day once my workout is complete. I have so much more energy and focus when I start the day with a full workout. I feel my body getting stronger. I could not even run a full 2 minutes when I started this journey without feeling like my chest was going to explode. Yesterday I ran 1.65 miles. My longest distance yet. I have started to notice a decrease in cellulite and definite change in my muscles. I still have light years of change I want to see, but every small triumph makes it so worth my while. I see a definite change in my face, and I feel like I look younger due to that! It has definitely made me feel better about myself. I don't feel the need to run and put on my makeup every morning, and am feeling more comfortable in my own skin. I guess for me, I am very much an introspective type of person. Every choice, every change I need to understand my reasoning and ponder both the positive and negative effects on my life. For me, the change in my body has also started a change in my mind. I never really thought I could do this. It is hard. It takes commitment, and the ability to press on when my body is screaming for an hour more of sleep or that piece of cornbread! I have had to push myself and deny myself in ways that I haven't done in a very long time. Making a marked change in my body has inspired me even more to outline the changes I want to make in my spiritual life. I have become more thoughtful about what that really means to me, and who I want to be. It is strange that this part of my spiritual journey has pulled me closer into a more personal road, than a well defined "church walk". I feel like if I am capable of change and denial in my body, I am capable of the same things in my mind and spirit and want to walk on a higher plane. Not only has my changes started me thinking about more depth in my life, it has changed how I look at myself, and how I feel I need to respond to those around me. I am strong. I am able. I am more confident. I do not need to please you. I do not need to go above and beyond my own comfort zone in trying to find acceptance. I am learning self love and that really cuts down on my need for social acceptance. I want to keep my circle small and intimate. I have also felt the positive effects of this journey in my marriage. The fact that Jake and I are doing this together has been another great journey in our lives. He has been a wonderful support, and while I am able to keep us on track nutritionally, he has been one hell of a trainer, and I so enjoy spending time with him KILLING me a the gym. The weight loss on both sides have really kicked things up a notch in the bedroom as well. Another great result of this hard work that I was not anticipating. So, if you want to make a change. You want to be healthy, feel better, and shed some of those unneeded pounds, do it for YOU. And you can do it! If you need support, I am here. I would love to share this journey with others who thought it to be as impossible as I once did!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Finding the Beauty

Wow! I read some of my blogs this morning and they are particularly angry and negative. Granted I write better with passion and rage. And often writing is my therapy, but good grief, that was too much. Maybe it is time to turn things around. See I am at this great new phase in my life where I am starting to care less about appearances, and care more about who I am. Who I want to be, and who I need to be. And that person is NOT negative and down. I want to be that person who finds the beauty in life and that is the direction I am heading. I got up early this morning (well late actually at 7 AM) and went on a 3 mile jog. It was overcast and drizzling, but beautiful nonetheless. Most days I would have only seen the gloom and thought it better to lie in bed a little longer. I decided instead this morning that I need to start placing my focus and my energies on the positive aspects of my life. No matter how small, the positive always exists, even when intertwined with the most negative of situations. So as I walked in the misty rain this morning I sought out beauty in my surroundings, and beauty in my life. And I was not disappointed. I am very fortunate to live in such a beautiful area. Though you will often hear me say Danville is a cesspool, I am lucky enough to live out in the county where I can walk down my road and see all the beauty of nature. Not only that, I am healthy enough to get up and actually feel like pushing my body to go that extra mile. There was a time a few years back when walking to the couch was something I didn't feel like doing. How ungrateful of me to complain about so many extenuating circumstances of life, when I have my health and the ability to enjoy all of the beautiful surroundings I have been blessed with. I take these small things for granted and it is a shame. Today I will let my focus remain on the beauty of nature. I feel closer to God when I am alone in the woods or by the ocean. I feel at peace with myself, and who I truly am, when I have the clarity of mind to lay aside the stresses of everyday life and take a moment to dwell on something lasting and real. I think we all get so caught up in the drama of survival that we forget how to live. Life should be more than schedules and obligations, work and bills, finances and stresses. Life should take those things that we have to do, and counter weigh them with the things we want to do! Talking with a close friend, spending a lazy evening with our spouse, playing with our children, feeling our grandkids hug our necks and say they love us. And take time for you. Time to take a walk and revisit the beauty of nature. A quiet morning on the deck with a cup of coffee and a good book. So today, take time for you. Take time for the ones you love, and take time to appreciate al of the things that truly matter!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Finding me.

So, yesterday I had a very uncomfortable conversation that left me questioning a number of things. I think right now, with all that is happening in this crazy world, there are many uncomfortable conversations taking place. Often when things around us look all wrong, the first place we have to look is inward to define who we are, and what we truly believe. Defining these things are often hard for me. I have spent the largest portion of my life trying to live in all black or white. Good or bad. Right or wrong. Grey, neutral, and ok have not been part of the equation. At least not in my mind. When I spent years as a Christian I had to attempt to be one of those super Christians who appeared to have it all together. Looking back I see I was full of judgment and pride. You know the type of people I am talking about. I hid it better than some, but inwardly I had these very feelings. When I was bad, I was all bad. I might as well have tattooed my forehead with "I am going to find a faster route to hell and I'm proud of it". I couldn't fall from my pedestal of grace without declaring God was a villain and I was going to take a stand. I always had to be on one side or another. I had to be all in. And I guess we can compare this to the Biblical term of being hot or cold. Well, that is one thing in the Bible I have gotten right. But I believe even in this I have taken it to an extreme. I have come to learn that I can sin and God does not have to be outside of my life. And in no way am I justifying intentional sin, I am just saying, it isn't one or the other. I have learned there is absolutely no such thing as a person who has it all right, or all wrong. We don't live in a black and white world. I believe even the most heinous individual has good inside of them. We are all equal and have the same capacity for good or evil. Now the last thing I want to do is make this a religious post, but this type of thinking has been a large part of my life, so it is important to show the background for my line of thinking. I like my life organized into simple answers, clearly defined boundaries, and a sense of right and wrong. Conservatives want to harp on liberals and try to put them down, but I learned recently that a conservatives point of view is really no different. Overall, especially in business and politics it appears the end justifies the means. I had someone say yesterday (I had a number of interesting conversations) that people buy what they want in politics. I wonder at the end of the day if the deeper pockets always win. People buy what they want when it comes to political issues. Conservatives as well a liberals. People think the outcome out ways the path. This theory gave me pause to think deeply yesterday, and after having to finally shut my mind down with wine, I slept on it, and determined my view. Or at least I refined it a little more. I do believe we need to put our money where our heart is (not where our mouth is because those are often two totally different places). I don't think there is a problem with supporting a cause, but I believe when the outcome is decided through personal gain it is wrong. I hate politics. And I don't want to accept it as ok. I hate politics in the church, politics in the workplace, and politics in friendships. I don't want my relationships, my status at a job, or my place in a religious institution to be based on how well I play the game, and what I can do for you. IT ISN'T REAL! This is a viewpoint I do not want to change. But this is how our world functions. I see it at my job. I unfortunately see it at my husbands, and I fear it is a part of everyday life for most people. It is prevalent in the church. People match up with friends who can get them somewhere or provide something for them. I don't want this to be me. So what does that mean? That I quit my job, denounce religion, and become a hermit? No, it means I function in a screwed up society by living what I believe. I need to focus harder on that. Ethics and equal standards no longer exist. People truly believe it is o.k. to justify the means if the end is a positive product. Is it ok for me be believe cooking the books in a company is ok, if in the end they can acquire a bigger gain? Is it ok to believe our laws are just and fair if they have been established by payoffs? Is it ok to believe it doesn't really matter how management presents itself or follows basic ethical guidelines as long as at the end of the day their numbers are good and their area functions in spite of them. Is it just being neutral and on middle ground to feel this way? I thought about this deeply as well, and the answer for me is NO. Luckily though these kind of issues fall outside of my scope of concern. My issue isn't right or wrong on this on my part, my issue is keeping my eyes on my actions and responsibilities. I need to make sure my practices are ethical, and what others do is not my business. This is my conclusion. I feel for those who are walking through the negative effects, but let's be honest here, been there, done that, got the T shirt. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it life? Yes. Do we have a choice in the matter? Yes. Keep moving forward or find a new path. My fear is a new path may lead to the same end. So maybe my path should be my only real concern. Keeping it swept and clear of this type of debris. You know another issue I am tackling on a personal level is that I am a rebel. I have yet to fully define who I am and what I believe and I always feel I need to define what box I fit in. My husband couldn't have spoken a more liberating truth to me, than when he said last night that boxes don't really exist. I use my rebellious spirit to rage against things I perceive as wrong, and build my own boxes while crying out against them. That was so deep I had to shut my brain down to let it sink it. I think I have to care about every single thing and I carry a lot of unnecessary weight. I need to learn to lay it down. I need to care about what I do, what I have the power to change, and forget about the rest. This is where I want to be. This is my new goal. So, what have I learned about myself? I need to lay down stuff that I don't own. I need to fix the things I do own! I need to quit trying to force myself into the church box, the work box, the what people expect of me box and learn to live out who I am. On an even more personal note, I also need to learn to identify who I am outside of my relationships and titles. I have always defined myself by my husband, my children, my job, my beliefs. But under all of this wrapping I need to know who I am. I am just getting to the stage of my life where I want to dig down deep and discover these things. It is scary and messy, and frustrating, but at times very rewarding. Who I am, and who I want to be are two separate people. But what I want is this. To be real. To be truthful. To work hard and love harder. To NOT be fake. If it isn't real, it doesn't count. Those things alone are enough............. for now.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

About brokenness: A letter to my children.

Writing is my therapy, and right now that is something that is much needed in my life. Or at least at this moment. I prefer to try to live day to day, moment to moment without dwelling on my feelings or circumstances that have just passed by. I actually had to wait a day to write this too keep it from being too dark and depressing. Brokenness is something I believe we all deal with at some time in our life, and in all honesty, probably over and over again to different degrees. Brokenness is something that always takes me back before it propels me forward. I see that same problem in my friends and family who have walked through hurtful and emotionally trying situations. Then every time a new pain presents itself we go back to where we feel our pain began. The important thing, is to not allow those thoughts and memories to justify bad choices or to deepen the pain of our current experience. So seeing that there are others around me who are hurting and falling into this trap, let me just say I know a thing or two about where you are, and what you may be experiencing. I am going to write a few things here that may be offensive to some, so please know that is not at all my intent. Also, let me state that I am truly aware that what my perspective of my past situations were, and what your perspective was may not line up at all (and yet they may both be absolute truth). We see the world and the effects of our actions through our eyes alone. We see our motives, our feelings, our hope for the effects, but those around us view those same things not through our minds, but theirs. One thing did for good, may seem entirely wrong to someone else. So let me go back here, to when I was young. My life started out GREAT. I had a nice little family that I know loved me. My grandparents lived right downstairs and I could see them all the time. There were problems, but as a child I was pretty much unaware. My Nanny was an alcoholic (and I even remember pouring her "totties"), but I didn't know the effects of that in my own mother's life. All I knew was those drinks I made her tasted awful, and that she loved me. Let me add here for my dear Nanny's sake that she totally laid down the drink when she was a little older. Yet the effects lingered on in the lives of her children, and eventually her grandchildren and so forth. I guess this is part of my belief of how sin is generational. I think not only do we often have the same genetic makeup that allows us to be more susceptible to one thing or another, but I also believe the negative effects of having lived with these issues are carried through us, into the lives of those around us. So going from this happy portion of my childhood, things deteriorated quickly. My parents fought so damn much my sister and I actually thought we wanted them to split up. The effects of all the fighting and tears were a heavy emotional pain a child really cannot understand or describe. I still can't. But so many people suffered the same, and so many of you suffered worse. I will not go into great detail here, other than to say my dad eventually left (which honestly left us more broken), and things did not get better, but worse. My parents did what they had to do, each to survive the pain in their lives. And though I used to carry both the blame and the consequences on my own back, I now know it was neither my fault, or did they want to hurt me. But, being young, I did not understand this and I used the circumstances of my childhood to justify my choices as a teenager and early adult. And though the feelings of utter inadequacy and being of no value prompted my choices, I still did have a choice. A choice that I was emotionally and mentally unable to make at that time. I could not see beyond my pain and beyond my perceived lack of value to anyone in my life. My next choice was a marriage I still have nightmares about. But let me not lie here, I still have nightmares about my childhood as well. I carried my lack of value into the next section of my life and had it amplified by a husband who called me a worthless bitch and a cum sucking whore more often than he called me by own name. And once again I allowed those things to define who I was, and I allowed the pain and the brokenness in my own life to be a part of the lives of my children. Looking back on those early days (before I completely lost my mind), my children were my entire world. I wonder if they know how deeply they were loved. I wonder if they know they were the only light I saw. I wonder if they realize how hard I tried to make their lives as happy as I could and how I would have given anything to make their lives better. I wish I had been stronger, and I wish I had made changes early on that would have offered them a different life. I know that some of my children experienced some horrific things (things that I am just finding our about now that they are adults). And I know I played a role in those things through the choices I made. And this knowledge makes me understand that the things I endured as a child were no more intentional than the things my children endured. And I can guarantee you that the things my mother and father had to face were not intentional either. And while we are on this subject we may as well add that my children's biological father had a childhood that probably made most of ours look like a fairy tale. I know I was shell shocked when I found out how he lived and what he had been through. So there is that side of my children's story as well. Moving on, it took my entire life collapsing and exploding before I was able to set my mind free and move up. I literally had to loose everything that meant anything to me (and that one thing was my children), to make a change that would take our lives on a different course. If things hadn't played out in the horrific manner that they did at that time I think at this point in my life I would be one of the washed up shells of a person you would picture walking down a lonely street or hanging out at a seedy bar. I don't just think that is who I would be, I know it is. But thank God it is not. You see, I had escape hatches strategically placed throughout my life. I had people who loved me, and I was so wrapped up in my own self I could see none of these things. It took getting stripped of everything for me to fight. I don't want any of the generations following me to allow this to happen to them. You know we are all survivors! Look at where we are, and where we could be. Look at all the positive things that we have in our lives, and the love that we still have for one another. It is time to let go of the pain! Every time it crops back up in my life I try to focus on how far I have come and what the positive effects of the struggle are now. Sometimes I get tired of hearing how strong I am, because I am NOT. That is just how you perceive me because that is the image I chose to wear. Right now, that garment is thin and way too often my pain is shining through. There are days I still cling to the thought that my parents don't love and I am a failure to my children, and there are days I embrace the fact that I am loved by my parents and my family, and that I am forgiven of my past failures. I want to live in the later. To my children. I know you hurt. I know every hard circumstance in life that comes along and causes you pain takes you back to years and years of things that weren't fair. But unfortunately that is life for most everyone. Please don't let these things define you. Please make your choices based on your future and not on your past! Please do not let these things influence your lives to the point that your children pay the price like we all have for the past 3 generations. And know, that I love you with all of my heart, and no matter what I will always be here for you. No matter what you do, or where you go, or how far away you may feel, I love you as much as the day I first held you in my arms. Nothing will change that! EVER.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Killing the Flower

Here we are once again at the closing of another year. All my life I have heard that the older you get, the quicker time passes. I have found that truer words may have never been spoken. While this year was not a total loss, I must admit I am not sad to see it go. I have had a difficult year. A rather dark and depressing year when you think about it. So I must say it is with a sigh of relief that I see an end in sight. But the end I am speaking of is not necessarily 2017, and the changes won't start for me on January 1st. In all honesty the changes began right before Christmas. Well, the positive changes began before Christmas. The negative changes seemed to have accelerated near the end of 2016. Over the course of this last year I have lost my focus, my joy, my drive. I seemed to get sucked into a pattern of thinking that led me down a path that chased after my wants, my needs, my dreams, and further away from who I was created to be, and the things that are truly important. This pattern of thinking led me out of the deep and into shallow muddy waters. It led me so far away from who I am. It led me so far away from my God. But thankfully, that slow crawl backwards, is becoming an unsteady walk forward. And I feel it get steadier each passing day. Even here, in sharing this story, I feel I am making more forward strides. You see, the things that pull us away from who we are meant to be don't come to us as ravenous wolves, but truly as wolves in sheep's clothing. They aren't some huge sin, or a massively destructive choice that pulls us off of the path. Sin appears as a tiny yellow flower just barely touching the path we are meant to take. So small. so innocent, so beautiful. Nothing more than a tiny joy outside of the mundane existence of walking down a path that is hot, dusty, and desolate (to our tired and weary minds). And that beautiful flower (or simple thought) is something that once picked up joins itself to our soul. It becomes a ravenous weed that grows roots deep inside our spirit and changes who we are, how we think, how we behave, until what was becomes foreign, and we no longer seem to even govern our own steps. Everyone dwells on sin, and I believe we sin everyday, but true sin is a change of heart or a change of thinking that draws us away from God. It is not so much in the acts we commit, but in a heart and a mindset that allows us to commit those acts, and to excuse them. It is any choice we make that puts our love of ourselves above our love for God, and our love for others. As I have started this journey forward I have found my conscience to be much more intact. The other day I sent an email. An irritated, why do I have to deal with this stupidity, lightly veiled email full of frustration and mild contempt. And I felt so stinking guilty for it! Even when my husband said he feels the exact same way rather often, I still felt bad. I still feel bad. And I am so grateful for that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A few months ago I would have excused my behavior because the person on the other end asked for it. This person's lack of understanding and lack of work ethic warranted my reply. But that is not true. I am no better of a person, and I should love and respond as God would. That is my new goal. Every morning when I rise, and how I weigh my actions of the day before I close my eyes at night will all be based on did I put others before myself. Did I love God with ALL of my heart, soul, and mind, or just parts of it. I want my life to center around the words of Jesus, when he said the two greatest commands are to love God with all your heart soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said "on these two commandments, hang all the law, and the prophets." This I believe with all of my heart. If we can live within these bounds of love, everything else will line up. If I choose to do something purely for my own good, my own pleasure, my own success, with no thought of the consequences for those around me, I choose wrong. If I put myself above another I choose wrong. If I place my wants for my life above God's plans I choose wrong. I never thought that while living such a blessed and happy life, I could so easily step away from where I was meant to be, but it happened in the complacency. I no longer wish to be complacent, and I no longer want my achievements to be marked as steps forward or successes in my own life. I want my achievements to be the help I provide to others, the light that my life shows, the relationships I have built, and the truths that I have spoken. I want to return to the simple things that shifted out of focus under the weights that I chose to carry. I want everyday to put God and my family, friends, and even enemies before me. So as I chose to walk forward please have patience with me. I am not claiming to be better than anyone. I have learned that is jut not true. We are all the same. We all deal with anger, jealousy, desire, contempt. We all have moments of feeling hurt and abused, and of feeling superior. We all have to choose every moment of everyday if we will serve ourselves or others, and if we will follow our shallow desires or follow God. I fell. I chose to follow a shallow mindset. Now I am laying it down and walking forward. I still have roots attached to my ankles, ever so often pulling me slightly backwards. Asking me if I really want to let go of that delicate yellow flower. Right now, I don't want to just let go, I want to set it on fire and offer it up on an alter to God. Offer up the experience of failure, offer up the knowledge that I am better than no one, offer up the ability to help someone else who is entwined in a poisonous way of thinking. And offer up a love I thought I had lost, that calls out to us even when we are too full of ourselves to see it still exists! The week before Christmas God met me in my car in the Sam's Club parking lot, and as I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried in front of everyone walking past, I felt nothing more than love and acceptance. No condemnation, no fear. May I in all my imperfections offer the same to others that a perfect God was willing to offer a wretch like me!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Finding a New Church. Part 1

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog. The last year and half have been a whirlwind of activity and change. And right now I feel almost as if the slate before us is perfectly bare and we are starting a new chapter. And believe me when I say I am both grateful and extremely ready for something new and different. One of the things we are looking for that is different is a new church home. I have never left a church on good terms before, with no ill feelings, but for the first time ever have found this to be where I am. Our church wasn't bad. We aren't upset with anyone. We aren't opposed to what they preach or what their vision is. It just wasn't where we belong. We were growing stagnant, and there must be change, accountability, and responsibility to stimulate the type of growth Jake and I are hoping to attain. I personally don't think one church or one demonization is correct or has it all together and another is lacking. I think we are all different people and we have to plug in where we can be fed, and where we can be used. That is what we are hoping to find. This morning was the first new church we visited in respect to finding a new church home. And I was both scared and nervous when we arrived. I am kind of touchy about religion in general. I believe our spirituality and our relationship with God should be so much more than sitting in a pew once or twice a week. I am like everyone else and have struggled (and am struggling) through some MAJOR roadblocks in my own life. I think these things make us stronger. Make us more able to relate to and sympathize with others. In my case it brings about a much needed dose of humility and the inability to ever think because of Jesus I have it all together. I used to be one of THOSE Christians. I never wanted it to show, but inwardly I thought I was better than THOSE other people. You know the ones. The ones who smoke, or drink, or lie, or cheat. God forbid! I didn't seem to recognize that I judged, I was proud in my thinking, I reeked of sin worse than the ones most people wear outwardly. This is NOT the kind of church we want to be involved in. (Just for the record for the most part, our past church wasn't like that, it certainly wasn't their vision to be, but I have been involved in these type of groups before). So in short church shopping is scary! So we walk in this morning and it is very different than what we are accustomed to. People were nice and spoke to us, and the music was pretty good. Now it had a bit of a Pentecostal edge to it (and after sitting in a Baptist church for 8 years, I believe I have been converted). I now felt that uncomfortable twinge that I am sure most people feel in an environment that is a bit out of their comfort zone. To make matters worse, I notice on the bulletin that the sermon was going to be on finances, and there was a place to take notes. "Sweet baby Jesus, please don't let this be some prosperity doctrine church." I thought. Been there, done that, did NOT buy the T-shirt, and don't plan on ever doing it again. If my first pick was leading me backwards, Jake was going to do all the choosing from now on, or I will be sitting at home You-tubing Rob Bell every Sunday morning. And God knows I get all the praise and worship I need in my car to keep me motivated. Surprisingly the sermon was pretty good and I agreed with most all of it. The point of God getting us into a good financial position was all outward focused on increasing our ability to give into the lives of others. I believe this 100%. Jake is the most giving person I have ever known. If we had a choice in how to live we would be rich and give it all away. Do projects for those truly in need, bless the under privileged. Give our lives and work for something that matters. I would truly rather be a servant than be served and so would he. Now while this was probably NOT where we are going to land, it wasn't a bad start. If the prosperity doctrine had been preached, someone had laid hands on us, or no one had been kind or welcoming, my search for a place of spiritual growth and contribution may have ended this morning. After church we went to lunch and talked about what we are looking for, and what we need. We both have the same wants and needs, and we both realize we aren't going to find anything perfect. We just want to find where we need to be for this season. This time of change. I am just relieved I made it through step 1, and am still willing to go ahead and take another step.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Looking at life from a different viewpoint

Life has been hectic for the last year to say the very least. Over worked, over tired, and over stressed would all be understatements when describing our lives. Jake and I have been killing ourselves working crazy hours, doing extra jobs, taking care of the house, the kids, school, and everything else you can think of. We are working hard to pay off our debt and reach our dream of moving to the coast. Nearly a month ago I kicked it into over drive in preparation for our son returning from Okinawa for a brief visit, a short vacation with the family, a graduation party for our middle daughter, a welcome home party for our son, getting all my responsibilities at work completed so I could take a bit of time off, getting my house spotless, and everything ready to go away, getting ahead on my studies so I could not have to focus on them while we were gone, not to mention the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of my chickens, etc... etc.... Well apparently I am not as strong as I used to be because I pushed myself so hard my immune system took a vacation and I ended up with an acute case of salmonella. And speaking from experience with illness I would have to say that is the sickest I have ever been in my life. I nearly died. I had been sick 8 days by the time I was diagnosed and I was so dehydrated and depleted my organs were starting to shut down. It is funny how when you are that sick and it takes all of your energy just to breathe, how your mind seems to shut down as well. It is very dark and solitary. It is still haunting at times. I have never EVER been so sick that I was looking forward to dying. This was a horrible experience to say the least. Thank God for a praying and loving husband who never left my side. Thanks to all my friends and family who prayed for and showed concern for me. This experience was a game changer. It was amazing to see the people who reached out to us, and the ones who didn't. They say when hard times or illness come you know who is true and who isn't, and that is a fact. I learned several important things through this experience, and it seemed to really change the way I think. 1. I worry too much about things I don't need to worry about. I need to just let some things go. I have decided at this point to make a few changes in my life, and in my pursuit of a different future. I am planning now on just finishing my real estate licensing and not going back to college to complete my business management degree. I am still hoping to land a job as a property manager at some point, but if a 4.0 in my one semester in college in business management, a real estate license, and 12 years experience as an area manager for a finance company isn't good enough, well, it will be their loss. I will trust in God to open the right door, in the right time. No more killing ourselves to pay for college for me, or for my fitting one more thing in my hectic schedule. God has blessed me with a position that I was not originally qualified for, and with my experience and drive He can do it again. 2. I don't have time for the negativity and drama. Life is too short to be negative, or to have unneeded drama in our lives. God knows life comes with enough unavoidable conflict without adding to it. There are people that are just going to have to take backseat in our lives. Both friends and family members who tend to bring me down. I am done with it. I will be here if anyone needs me, but I can't deal with unnecessary drama any longer. Life is just too short. I am praying God shows me how to balance this with love. To be able to be present, but to know when it is time to just shut it down. This will be a work in process, and it will take me a bit to get it right, but I am definitely headed in that direction. 3. Work does not need to rule my life, and I need to slack off on trying to keep everything perfect. It wasn't like I was always succeeding in that anyway. I have let work take too high a priority in my life, and I have always strived to do everything at 100% all of the time. Well I have learned the hard way I can't do it. I need help. I need to rely on my family to help me. I need to put things in the proper order. And if I need a day from work for my family, then by God I am going to take it. I have missed things I shouldn't have missed, and if I had died this would have been one of my greatest regrets. I will focus on things based on priority. Now don't get me wrong, my competitive drive has in no way died, and I will still be on top of my game, but my mental attachment to that will be by far less. My value and the quality of my life will be based on much deeper issues than how well I perform. 4. I don't want to wait until I retire to live my dreams. Everyday should be a part of that dream. I want to find beautiful moment in everyday to enjoy. Whether it is having dinner with my family, sitting on an overlook and taking 5 minutes on my drive to work to thank God for the beautiful view He made to brighten my day, or just sitting on my deck and relaxing, I will focus on the good, and not get consumed with my schedule. It is amazing the peace that you can gain in a 5 minute break. 5. I will work towards us achieving our goals earlier instead of later. Ok so maybe we will get a smaller home and move to Beaufort, NC instead of Buxton, NC. But in Beaufort I am pretty sure we will find better jobs, and housing is definitely cheaper. I will still be coastal and a whole 15 minutes from my beloved ocean. It may not be my original dream, but my real dream is a slower paced life, where I have time to LIVE, not just work and strive. It isn't about the money, but about the ability to survive, and survive happily. 6. I want to make sure that I am a support and blessing to others. I want to smile and encourage people more. I want to bring help and happiness to others. I want the opportunity to share my faith and my peace with others. And this follows every other change I am seeking, because if my life doesn't show peace and happiness, why would anyone want anything else I have to offer? Everyday is a gift, and we never know which one will be our last. I want to love everyday, learn something new (whether from good or bad experiences), love passionately, and live freely. This is my new goal. My new outlook. May God keep my feet on this path, and provide me the wisdom needed to seek His way above my own.