Working Through the Weird

I’m a Weirdo

You are too. Heck, we’re all a little weird in our own ways. Usually it’s just goofy stuff that gets you laughed at in good humor. Like that time at the soccer game when I asked someone to get me a walkie-talkie, but only if it was an even number or thirty-three. When they asked why, I told them I didn’t like odd numbers unless it was 3, 7, 33 or a multiple of 5. The guy asked me if I was kidding, and when it was clear to him that it wasn’t, he just kind of stared in disbelief and told me I was weird. Thanks, buddy, because I didn’t already know that!

Now, my strange even number habits may have a little something to do with the OCD I was diagnosed with as a child and it may seem completely explainable to me, but to others, it’s just weird.

And that’s okay. THAT is just one of the many things that makes me who I am.

But Sometimes Life is Weird

Being “weird” and having quirks is okay. It makes you who you are and it makes life interesting. But sometimes, life is just weird. Sometimes things happen out of our control and we have to choose how we respond. We can either laugh at those things or we can walk away with our head down, embarrassed and discouraged. But it’s up to us.

Life is weird, and not always in ways that you can explain.

Sometimes you just feel “off”. Today is one of those days. So was yesterday. I woke up and I just felt weird. It’s not something that I can always place my finger on and sometimes it really bothers me, affecting my mindset and my mood. But it’s something that I’m learning to work through.

Working through the weird is new to me, but only because I am feeling these off days more strongly than I ever have before. I am more aware of them, I am more in-tune with my body and my mind, I am more conscious of how I live every day. So I’m taking these weird days and using them for good. I am using them to grow, learning as much about myself on these days as I can.

The Way I Feel

Why did I feel off yesterday? I woke up still tired after staying up too late reading (it’s a bad habit, probably why I can only read books in spurts – once I start a good, I don’t put it down until it’s finished). It was rainy and I wasn’t at home. I puttered around waiting for Lauren to get home, ate some oatmeal and got dressed. After I left, I sat in front of a coffee shop for five minutes and debated if I wanted to go in or not. I opted to swing by Starbucks and work from home. I wash’t in the mood to haul my backpack in, decide on a drink and sit at a table by myself all day.

So I got home, read a little, did some work, met up with Jodi for a hug and quick catch-up, read some more, worked out (also judging by my lack of energy and my increase in hunger, I believe PMS to be a major part of feeling “off”) and saw a movie with my sister.

Was I as productive as I should have been? Probably not. But I’m learning not to beat myself up over these days, because eventually, I won’t have days like these. Eventually, I’ll have a job that requires more than just a list of phone calls a week and I’ll be so busy that I’ll long for days of nothingness. So while I could (and often can) be depressed about where I am at in life, I remind myself that it is just a season and that when the next season comes, I may be longing for this one so I better enjoy it while it’s here. It’s all about living in the moment. Being ever present and in the Now. It’s still a very strange concept to me, but it’s crazy how effective it really is.

Life is Good

Sleepy Bear

I am a morning person, in every sense of the term. I’m the up-at-4am-to-workout type. The half-my-day-is-complete by 8am person. I love mornings. I thrive in the morning. I am productive, alert and awake as a large portion of the world still lies sleeping. And I love it.

But lately, for whatever the reason, I haven’t been able to get up that early. Recently, I’ve found myself sleeping until 8, 9, 10…even 11am. WHO AM I?

I am worn down. I am depressed. I am heartbroken.

And those things make you sleepy. Those things make you want to stay in bed until 11am, if not all day. Those things make sleeping in later more acceptable, more excusable.

I don’t like it, but it’s the reality of where I am at in my life right now. This season that I’m in is the most painful I’ve ever experienced, but I can only hold onto the hope that that means whatever is coming, is going to be so beautiful that it makes everything I am going through more than worthwhile.

I am holding onto the promises that Jesus will never leave my side, no matter what. And I am asking him to reveal the beauty of this season in my life.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Keep Holding On

So I’m holding onto those things. And while I am, I’m making the best of everyday and everything that comes my way. It isn’t easy, but it’s what I have to do.

Life isn’t bad. Life is really, REALLY good. It just isn’t always easy to see the good when you are drowning in the bad, when the negative has you so overwhelmed that you can’t remember the wonderfulness that your days normally are.

Thankfully, I have the most supportive family and friends that I can count on no matter what. They encourage, uplift and inspire me every single day, and I cannot thank them enough for not allowing me to wallow in myself during this hard time.

Yesterday, as I shuffled into the kitchen at 9am, dad asked how I was. I replied, “Well, I slept much later than I wanted to.” He looked at me and said, “That’s okay, it happens.” In that moment, something hit me. I realized that…IT’S OKAY. It’s all okay. It may be hard and it may be a daily struggle that I am dealing with, but it truly is okay. What a freeing realization.

Right Here, Right Now

Just because one day is bad doesn’t mean that they all will be. So I stopped and I brought myself into the moment. I reminded myself that I won’t always be able to sleep until 9am on a Monday or spend the day talking to my parents, so I vowed to be appreciative of where I was in that moment and thankful for what I was able to do.

I started the coffee pot, went back to my room, put on my workout clothes and made myself go for a short run. It was hot and humid, my legs were slightly sore from running the day before and I didn’t go as far as I used to run, but I did it. I took the first steps to getting back to who I was before all of this took me down a few months ago. When I got back to the house, I made breakfast and settled onto the front porch with my journal and devotions. I laid in the pool, packed my things and headed to the gym for a workout before I met a friend for coffee and made my way downtown to watch the FIFA World Cup match with other friends.

As I sat on the floor in Lauren’s room last night, reminiscing and laughing, I was reminded of how beautiful life and friendship truly is. I was overwhelmed by the blessing of being able to have days such as this one and I was reminded that life is good; Life is really, REALLY good.

Rest, Recover, Repeat.

Summer 2015.

If you had told me that during my 25th summer of life I would be working for a professional soccer team, I would never have believed you. Besides a few years of dance and swim team, and a small attempt at basketball and volleyball freshman year before I had surgery on my ankle, I was never actively involved in sports, playing or otherwise. Unless, of course, you count the year my parents signed me up for K-5 soccer at the YMCA, which I don’t.

But I love it.

I struggle with selling tickets, but that’s because I’m not a creature made to push. I have to much empathy and I also fail to separate rejection on a professional and personal level. “Oh, you don’t want to talk to me about bringing your company out to a soccer game? I completely understand, you hate me. No, no, it’s okay, really….”

But the game days? The promotional events? That’s my thing, my niche. I can talk to people all day long. Need help finding your seat? Can’t see over the rain barricades? Want to know why the sky is blue? Sure, I can help you out. I love people (even though there are days where I claim not to) and I love talking (although, I do appreciate times of silence). I love the energy of the people, the fans, the crowds. It’s invigorating and no matter how tired I am from the week, I come alive as I feed off the positive energy from those around me.

So no, I would have never believed you had you told me this is what I would be doing this summer and I may not be doing it next summer, but for right now, I am enjoying every single minute of it. I am building friendships – with the staff, the interns, the players, the supporters – and I am loving it.

It’s amazing to see how much you can enjoy something when you’re passionate about it. I didn’t know much about soccer when I started the job and I still may not know much about sales, but I believe in my team and the boys on it. I believe in my city and the support that I have seen come together because of this league. I am putting 110% in because I know that I am learning and growing from every single thing that comes my way.

Sure, I am exhausted. I work a lot for little pay. Game days have me there from 10am until 10pm, and by the time I get home, I want nothing more than to drop into bed.

But that’s what the weekends (and away games) are for. To rest and recover, so we can repeat.

Sidetracked.

This wasn’t the blog post I was starting. I’m not even one-hundred-percent sure what I was going to write when I opened my Macbook, but this is what came of it – a derailed thought.

Dereailed. That word is surprisingly fitting for my life…

Choosing Happy

Help me, I’m dead.

I wish I was kidding. After an all-nighter driving I-70, a week of adventuring in the Rockies, a full day driving home and then another I-70 excursion to KC for the US Open Cup match in one day, I am dead. Sure, I’ve slept in until 10 and 11 all week (who even am I?!), but that hasn’t brought me back up to speed.

Today was the first day since Sunday that I’ve woken up before the double-digits hit the clock and I must admit that it was a rough start. And that’s coming from someone who prefers to be up before the sun… This morning was a struggle, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t know what my deal is lately, but my depression has hit an all-time high. However, I will not let it drag me down. I am more determined than ever to overcome the obstacles that are presently in my way and I will be damned if something as pitiful as depression deters me from the goals I have.

I am no longer a victim to depression or to fear. I am learning exactly what I want and what I am capable of. It’s taken me 25 years to figure it out, and now that I have, I will not be controlled by the things that don’t have my best interests at heart. I have dreams and I have goals and I will not be stopped.

Some days you just have to choose…

Some days are harder than others. Some days, it rains and I’m tired and all I want to do is curl up into a ball under my covers and sleep all day. But I don’t, not usually, anyway. Those are the days that I know if I succumb to my depression, I lose. Those are the days where it is the hardest, but it matters the most. It matters that I get up, get dressed and get things done.

Today, I woke up and just needed a hug. When my mom walked in, I cried and cried. I could go on about why, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I dried my tears and made it to my meeting at work on time. I’ve spent the past few hours sitting at a coffee shop accomplishing things for work and enjoying a coffee with my scone and biscotti (okay, so I’m also an emotional eater…). I’ve been watching the rain come down on this dreary day in Saint Louis and dreaming about the mountains, recognizing how I feel in this moment and realizing what I need to do to get me where I need and want to be.

Today is one of those days where you just have to choose, and today I choose to be happy.

Longing for the High Life

Life is hard. Being an adult is hard.

There are so many things they don’t tell you when you’re racing to grow up, like that being an adult involves paying bills, meeting deadlines and feeling like you’re constantly failing at life. There was so much I was unprepared for. There is still so much I am unprepared for.

I know it isn’t just me who feels this way, but I can’t help but look at some of my friends who seem to have it all together and always know what to do and feel like I completely missed that life lesson. What’s the best insurance? What’s a 401K? What things really matter when voting for a President? HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE THINGS? Like, did I miss something? Why am I unable to comprehend all these grown-up things that everyone else seemingly has the hang of?

Life is a struggle. It’s wanting a job that pays the bills, but not wanting to be confined by a 9-5. It’s wanting to move across the country, but not wanting to leave the people I love. It’s desiring to save, but not wanting to miss the chance to live.

So maybe it’s a struggle, but who’s to say that’s wrong?

I’ve done a lot and I’ve seen a lot these past few years. I’ve used Southwest airline credit to celebrate graduating college and Christmas with Sara in Philly. I’ve rappelled next to waterfalls in North Carolina on the way to drop my friend at an Army base in Virginia. I’ve crossed the ocean and solo-backpacked through Europe, losing and finding myself along the way. I’ve flown to Denver with Kayla only to end up spending a crazy, unforgettable night with new friends in Vail. I’ve sung all the way to Nashville with my tripod to tour the Grand Ole Opry and watch the Blues beat the Predators. I’ve road tripped with Lauren to see one of our favorite musicians play in a three different states while car sleeping in hotel parking lots and showering at gyms. I’ve taken a weekend trip to Jacksonville with a woman who was a second mother to me growing up. I’ve rode a school bus to Branson with my mom to turn around once we were home and leave for Milwaukee with her at 1am, detouring through Chicago for gluten-free donuts and the sunrise over Lake Michigan. And most recently, I threw caution to the wind and took an impromptu trip to Colorado with Liana to visit my favorite guys and climb mountains.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost two guys who, at their respectful times in my life, I thought could be “the one”. I’ve worked odd jobs, from waitressing to substitute teaching to managing a gym to selling tickets for a professional soccer team. I’ve even taken a summer off to counsel at summer camp and still keep in touch with the sweet preteen girls I had in my cabin.

After I pay my bills this week, I’ll have maybe $5 to my name. I live at home with my parents. I also have a car that isn’t only not aesthetically pleasing to look at, but is also on it’s last leg. Anyone who has struggled financially knows how awful the reality of all of this is.

But you know what? I am constantly reminded of the Lord’s goodness. He always knows just what I need and He provides. He never lets me go hungry or unclothed. I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need (even if I cry to my mom today about not even having enough money to buy new socks to replace my hole-filled ones).

I have the most supportive parents in the entire world. They have not only allowed me to live at home rent-free during my post-college life adventure of “finding myself”, but they have supported me every step of the way, no matter if they thought I was making the right decision or not. I am truly blessed and humbled by the life they have created for our family.

Currently, I am sticking out the soccer season with the fantastic team I work for as I apply for full-time positions and look for housing near Vail. My desire is to move there for the Winter season and work at the resort, exploring mountains with the boys when we have days off and finding more of God in the stillness. In the past few years, in all the places I have been, it is the only place where I have felt at home, even more so than St. Louis itself at times. I know this is a step in the right direction. I have started and stopped more endeavors than I can explain, but I am determined to stick this one out. I am determined to struggle and claw my way to support myself in a state that holds my heart in order to learn and grow. It’s not something I’ve decided on a whim, it’s one that I have been toying with since January of last year and I am ready to throw caution to the wind, break free of my fear and GO.

I know who stands beside me, and I am not afraid.

Colorado Mountains, I-70 Eastbound

Colorado Mountains, I-70 Eastbound

Waiting as I Wander

“But I trust in you, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…” – Psalms 31:14-15a (NIV)”

“There is an appoint time for everything. And there is a time for everything under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NASB)

“All the different periods of life:
The times of prosperity and the times of adversity,
The times of advance and the times of retreat,
The times of activity and the times of waiting,
They are all in your hand.” – Steve Gallagher

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” -Psalms 27:14 (NIV)

     I have never been very good at waiting. It’s a character flaw, I suppose. I live in an impatient society. My generation is one of instant gratifications, a phenomenon studied by many psychologists, some of whom I would imagine were not raised in an era where that was even a thing. I live in a world where smart phones get more attention than our friends and family, Netflix is chosen over a good book, and looks are all that matter. It’s heartbreaking, but you can’t help but get caught up in it all.

     Yet, when I do, I not only reduce my ability to wait on the things I want, but I also lose my ability to wait on the things of God. I want an “instant God.” I want my prayers to be answered and my desires to be delivers right away. I don’t want a mediated “No.” because something isn’t meant for me. I want everything to be a “Yes, of course you can have that, Anna.” I want the wages without the work, so to speak.

     The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert searching for the Promise Land, even though the journey should have only taken days. They grumbled and complained, they were not instantly satisfied, even though God provided for their every need. And Moses failed to enter the Promise Land because of his disobedience to God. WOAH, what?? Fast forward a few thousand years and let’s apply that to my life.

    How often do I feel “lost” and like I’m wandering without a purpose? DAILY! How often do I complain or question that? More times than I care to admit! And if God is telling me to wait on Him and I am being disobedient, is He going to withhold His promises from me? YOU BETCHA!

     Praise the Lord that a story of searching that happened so many years ago can relate and reflect my life today. To me, things like that teach me lessons, they bring the Bible to life and they guide me in the ways I should go (as the Word is meant to). So, while I may be wandering in my own little desert right now, I need to PRAISE GOD in the midst of my journey for all He has provided me. My obedience to Him should be of the utmost importance, and if I follow Him, He will lead me into a land overflowing with the abundance of His promises.

God is something else, something that may not be instant, but He sure is eternal. Amen!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”  
– Psalms 139:14

Body Image

For years, I have struggled with body image issues. During high school, my highest tracked weight, right before I started Weight Watchers with my mom, was 232 pounds. I also wore braces and glasses, while dealing with that lovely thing called puberty that brought my chubby face many bouts of acne. My high school years were not nice to me.

Going into my college years, it didn’t get much better. Sure, I had dropped some weight, but I was still topping the scale around the 210-215 range. And to make matters worse, my face broke out. Not in the “oh, hey I have a pimple” kinda way. I mean full out, bright red bumps and white heads from up near my ears, all over my cheeks to down around my mouth and chin. Even looking at the few pictures I have from that year, I cringe at the sight and the memories.

So, I kept working out. If I couldn’t figure out how to fix my face, I’d make my body look better. By summer of 2010, I was down to the lowest weight I can ever remember reading on a scale – around 185. I was doing light weight workouts and running every other day. I was also sticking to my Weight Watcher methods, again. After combining that with some dermatology treatments to clear up my face, I thought I looked amazing.

Setbacks

After a bad car accident in October 2010, I struggled to workout after dealing with a ton of knee pain. The further away from exercise and “healthy” eating I got, the closer to alcohol, depression and laziness I got. I ate anything and everything I wanted, I drank alcohol, I smoked weed. Anything to coat the depression. Nothing worked though, and I ended back up near 215, a number I swore to myself I would never see again, by early 2012.

At this point, I was determined to change things. I began my “healthy” eating habits again (I use quotations because now that I’ve learned what healthy eating really is, I realized that for years I fell victim to the “low-fat, low-cal” diet food industry) and signed up for a membership at a Club Fitness just a few miles from my apartment. My friend moved in with me that summer and we began working out/eating healthy together, which helped a lot. However, we also indulged and helped each other justify our “cheats”, which didn’t help at all.

In November 2012, I attempted the Shape Reclaimed diet (the homeopathic line of the HCG drops). I dropped from 214 to 194, and while I was ecstatic, it was the most miserable “fix” I’d ever attempted – 500 calories and no workouts make me a very grumpy person. I swore I would never do it again.

After graduating college, I spent the first two months of 2013 eating and drinking my way through Europe. I packed back on about 10 pounds and regretted NOTHING. It was delicious, decadent and delightful.

A Change in Course

When I returned home, I was determined to get those 10 pounds off, and hopefully then some. I became a crazy cardio workout regime and slowly added in lower and upper body weight lifting sessions. I quickly lost the “Europe weight” I had put on and felt okay, but the stomach issues I had been having for the past few months continues. I tried everything – medicine, cutting out gluten and dairy, all natural remedies – nothing worked. Even if something started to work, it was extremely temporary and I just ended up miserable again.

For the last year, I have struggled with working out, eating well and feeling miserable. I felt as though I was constantly fighting a losing battle. I tried different workouts, bought macro/meal plans, adding in more cardio…and nothing. I was stuck in the 193-197 range. Which I would have been okay with, had I not felt miserable and huge.

So when the doctor called and told me that my blood work tested positive for Heliobactor Pylori, I was so relieved. It explained the pain, the constant hunger, the weight gain (I was back up over 200 — YUCK)… Plus, during the past year, my body was also absent of periods, which didn’t help with feeling gross and the stalled weight loss. So I thought that at some point, after antibiotics and progesterone pills, that I would just drop the weight and feel great.

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel better, but it wasn’t immediate and the weight has not come back off. I’m currently bloated, about to start and hoping my periods have come back to stay. I haven’t counted calories in over three months, but I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full (some call this intuitive eating). I also fill my plate with protein, tons of veggies and healthy carbs, along with good fats (okay, so I eat too much peanut butter…but, I feel like it’s kind of excusable, it’s a trade off for all the bread, pasta and cheese I can’t consume! Don’t judge…).

I started a new workout regime two week ago with my trainer friend and my weight has gone UP. But you know what? Screw the scale. I feel so good. I can see my body changing again and I am STRONG. Plus, I’m HEALTHY. So screw the number on the scale or a clothing tag. I don’t know who instilled in us the idea that you had to be a certain size to look or feel good about yourself, but they suck.

I saw a photo someone posted of their post-workout self one day with the caption, “This is the body I’m currently working with. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either…” and I often repeat that to myself when I’m having an “eww, I feel huge and look fat and just want to eat everything in sight” day. I have accepted the body I have, realizing it’s the only one I’m ever going to get. But you know what? It’s just a body. It’s a shell. It isn’t the skin I’m in that matters, it’s the soul and the heart inside of it. Yes, I want to look good on the outside, but my inner health and beauty is far more important.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
 
Jesus thinks my insides are pretty beautiful, and in the end, isn’t that all that really matters? I can’t take this body with me into eternity (and I think the heavenly one I’m going to get is going to be pretty darn awesome!).

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