A Few Minutes with Senator Bernie Sanders

I have a lot of respect for the office of the presidency, so when I had an opportunity to chat with a man who could be the next leader of the free world I did it.

Bernie Sanders Presidential Election

Bernie Sanders is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting US Senators who has served in my lifetime, and we don’t agree on many fundamental issues. I’m not a part of his team, but I gained a lot of respect for him today.

I met with him at a small, private gathering in the suburbs before he headed to a campaign rally in a neighboring town. I think it’s important to hear what each candidate has to say because it’s the only way we can hold them accountable.

He listened intently and answered respectfully

He listened intently and answered respectfully

We discussed gun control candidly, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the topic because it hit close to home recently.

I live in a pretty nice neighborhood. It’s home to a variety of professionals, but that didn’t stop me from finding a gun in my face last month. I was headed to rehearsal for church at around 8:15 on Sunday morning when a man pointed a gun at me and demanded that I get out of my car.

I shared my thoughts on gun control, instant background checks, gun usage among criminals and the government’s role (and its perceived role) in all of it. We didn’t come to any grand conclusions, but it was interesting to hear his perspective and the perspective from others in the room.

I rarely discuss politics online, but today was an important day in my little world. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had to communicate with the senator, and I’m looking forward to hearing from other candidates in the coming months.

 

 

 

I Know It’s the Weekend, but This Is Important

Even at the height of my blogging I didn’t post on Saturdays because I realize that no one reads it, but I have something to say that can’t wait.

Last night I learned that innocent lives were taken by a shooter at a movie theater in Lafayette, which is only a couple of hours from New Orleans. My old friend, Clint (aka The Suit) grew up there, and so did my dear friend Shannon. Neither of them live there now, but I feel special affection for that town because of my incredible friends who came out of it.

When I heard that the shooting had occurred, my heart felt heavy immediately. Our country is on a downward spiral. People are hurting, and they’re hurting others as a result. I hate it.

A few moments ago I learned that the folks from Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket the funerals of the victims, and I have a big problem with that.

I respect the first amendment, but I have no respect for hate mongers who prey on families in their darkest hours.

I just sent an email to Governor Jindal asking him to do what he can to protect the mourning families of the victims of the Lafayette shooting.  If you’d like to write him an e-mail, you can send one here: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor

I’ll probably post about this on my other blog as well, but I’m sharing this here and now in the hopes that you all will join me prayer and/or sending positive thoughts to those who lost their loved ones.

The folks at Westboro use God’s name regularly to promote hatred, but The Bible makes it very clear that they’re wrong…

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

 

Fat Photos

I’m heavier than most women I know, but I don’t shy away from the camera. If we’re connected through social media you know that I take selfies by myself and with friends. I share full body shots, and I’ve been known to rock photos in my swimsuit too. (See my Instagram account.)

Yesterday my long time friend, Tammy, posted about our favorite author’s article in Good Housekeeping. Jennifer Weiner and I have never met (life goal,) but the woman understands the inner workings of my mind. She’s been writing books that make me laugh, cry, dream and hope for years, and she opened up about avoiding the camera in first year of her daughter’s life.

I have beautiful friends who avoid the camera because they don’t like how they look, and I know women who will take 20 photos of themselves before they find one that they don’t despise. (I’ve been guilty of that countless times as well.) It’s hard to be happy with oursevles when we’re engulfed in a culture that says we shouldn’t be.

I’m obese…blah, bah, blah…I know. It’s hard to forget, as I have to live in my own skin everyday, but I refuse to allow my size to have bearing on whether or not I choose to live my life or take a photograph.

I went back to school at 30 years old to pursue a career about which I am passionate. I moved across the country and thrived in the biggest, most intimidating cities in America, I sang a solo in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I took on an entire industry in the hopes of making a positive impact for myself and others. I don’t back down from things that scare me, and I will not back down from capturing memories with loved ones.

I think it’s important to recognize our own value. I’ve learned that the hard way, and that learning process never stops. I put effort into how I look, what I wear, etc. I take pictures from flattering angles, and I pose with my big, cheesy grin.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about how we represent ourselves; I’m saying that I don’t want to live as a slave to this unrealistic ideal that we measure ourselves and our happiness against.

I love myself whether you think I should or not, and I’m going to continue to make memories and photograph them when I feel like it because I love looking back at the little moments that make life so special.

Do you shy away from photos because of your weight?

No, I Will Not Clean My Plate Because People Somewhere Else Are Hungry

Yesterday I had lunch with the aforementioned person that I don’t plan to discuss much here. He grew up in a different place, in which many people didn’t have a lot, and sometimes he’s bothered when I don’t finish my meal or take the rest home.

Shrimp Pizza Louisiana Pizza Kitchen

He had shrimp on his pizza, and I had roasted garlic on mine. Yum!

We’ve enjoyed some delicious meals together, and over the last several years I’ve allowed myself to eat without finishing my meal. We typically eat healthy meals together, but yesterday we ate pizza. I ate 2.5 slices. He finished his and ate some of mine as well, and you can see what was left in the photo.

Roasted Garlic Pizza

When the waiter asked if I needed box, I said no. I wasn’t going straight home, and I knew I wouldn’t eat it anyway because I had plans to meet a client for dinner as well.

He said, “Do you know how many people in my country don’t have enough food to eat?” This time he said it with a soft smile because he already knows how i feel about it.

The first time he ever said that to me I responded by saying, “Yes, I know, but they will never benefit from my overeating.” He’s incredibly supportive, and he immediately understood my point.

I hear that statement a lot from people when I’m out at lunch or dinner, and my response is always the same. For years I overate at every meal. I indulged in too much at once and too often, which led me to an unhealthy size.

I try not to take advantage of everything I have, but sometimes I do. I do my best to conserve water at home, and I limit my consumption of bottled water by using a 5-gallon water cooler in my kitchen. I do a lot of little things to offset my consumption, but eating the rest of my meal will never be a part of that.

I grew up being forced to “clean my plate.” My parents did what they thought was best, but I’ve spent years letting go of the guilt and habits associated with leaving food uneaten. Now I’m okay with it, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s okay to do what is best for myself.

Do you feel guilty when you don’t finish your meal? Do you eat leftovers regardless of what they’re made of?

 

Fitbloggin’ 15 and Family

I’m making some changes here, but I couldn’t wait to share my Fitbloggin’ recap.

*****

After spending a glorious week in Colorado, I’m back home in New Orleans. I haven’t really had an opportunity to process everything yet because as I was departing yesterday, I became ill. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say that I now have a new “worst flight ever” to remember. I’m pretty sure the people sitting next to me would agree too.  Thankfully, we were in the air before the decided to call a medic, otherwise I’m not sure I would have made it home at all yesterday.

I’m not 100% yet, but I’m far less miserable than I was. I have no appetite, but I no longer feel so putrid that I can’t even think of food. A sweet someone brought me dinner and meds, and I’m on the mend now.

Fitbloggin’ didn’t officially start until Thursday evening, so I spent the afternoon with my sister and nieces, and Leslie and Jaason joined us. It was awesome to let my worlds collide for an afternoon by introducing my family to friends who feel like family. We walked around downtown dinner, chatted for a bit, and relaxed.

Leslie Steph and More

My oldest niece, Hannah, knows how to make her auntie feel good. When she spotted me she ran through the lobby of my hotel to greet me. I love that kid. She’s so awesome! My youngest niece, “Haddy,” took a while to warm up to me. She’s only one, and she didn’t know me. Thankfully, through offering her a bite of a cookie, we became instant BFF’s. I definitely think she’ll remember me when she’s here in a few weeks.

Westin Denver

They loved that I let them jump on my bed too. (What can I say? They’re adorable.)

I didn’t spend a lot of time at the opening mixer because I had dinner plans with Leslie, Jaason and David, which I’ll discuss more in a moment. I did stay long enough to say hello to a lot of people whom I adore and to make my official Fitbloggin’ badge. It’s a fun way to kick off the conference every year, and this year we were instructed to place a star on our badge for every year of attendance.

IMG_1570

They’re some of the coolest California people I know.

IMG_1768

Five years of Fitbloggin’. Wow..

I’ve attended this conference for five years in a row, and there’s one specific reason for it: the people. I don’t care about blogging now nearly as much as I did when I started attending this conference, but enjoying a friendly reunion weekend never gets old.

IMG_1504

J’s pretty good at taking selfies. I’m glad he’s tall.

Everyone should have a friend like Kris.

IMG_1523

After hours…

I wouldn’t have gone this year if Leslie hadn’t agreed to go as well because it’s just not the same without her, but I’m glad she did. I’m glad we all went. Thursday night we ate at Mercantile Dining & Provisions inside Union Station. We shared several appetizers, and I chose the Boulder Natural Crispy Half Chicken heirloom grain porridge, shaved asparagus & morel mushroom salad, spring onion crema.

Mercantile Denver

My chicken is definitely fancier than your chicken…

Earlier that day I had breakfast with some of my other Fitbloggin’ pals, Kris, Deb, June and Julie.

Fitbloggin Breakfast

Julie, Me, Kris, June and Deb

The conference offers some cool sessions and opportunities to work with various brands, but some of my favorite things happened after hours this year.

My friend, Kelly at No Thanks to Cake, decided to have an impromptu chat Friday evening, and people filled the room to listen. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening at the time, but it led to an amazing conversation with friends in the other room.

Fitbloggin Women

Deb, Pauly, Dani, DeAnna and me

We talked about life, self-love, love from others and a myriad of other things. Pauly shared the most amazing beer ever with me too, Hell or High Watermelon by 21st Amendment. (It’s probably good that I’ve never seen it in New Orleans because it’s too delicious!) Anyway, these women all come from different backgrounds, cities, etc., but they reminded me that we all want the same thing at our core. Moments like the ones we shared that evening are the reason I go to Fitbloggin’ every year, and I’m so thankful for them.

After the conference I picked up a rental car and drove to Colorado Springs. My favorite thing about the conference this year was the proximity to my sister’s house. It was great to spend time with her family, and we filled every moment with something fun.

One of the highlights of our time together was a little hike we did near their house. We had an amazing view of Pike’s Peak and Pulpit Rock, and the weather was perfect! Colorad Springs  We did a lot of other fun things, including mani/pedi time with Auntie, a cupcake date with Mom and Auntie, shopping at Trader Joe’s (because I can always use more Belgian chocolate) and breakfast that included a flight of pancakes.

IMG_1440

IMG_1706

I’m so thankful for the week that I got to spend surrounded by people I love. I left to conference with some insight into where I’d like to take my blog in the future. (I kind of regret trying to merge the two.) I also created some small, reasonable goals that I hope to share here soon.

My first year at Fitbloggin’ will probably always be my favorite, but this year gave it a run for its money. I can’t count on both hands how many people I know and love as a result of this community, and I can’t wait until it’s time to see them again.

Until next year…

 

 

 

If You Walk Into Church and Can’t Find A Sinner, You Should Probably Run

I haven’t written a blog post in a while, but as I prepare to attend my favorite blogging conference, I feel inspired.

Blogging has been a big part of my life for years. I’ve gained so much from it, and I’ve also let go of a lot as a result. I love to share my life, story and ideas, but it’s been nice to take a break too. I knew I needed one recently when I couldn’t wrap my head around living my daily life without talking about it here.

I went through a period of almost three months that was stresful and taxing, but I finally feel like I’m standing in the light at the end of the tunnel. There are things happening in my life that make me happy, and I feel a sense of relief that I’ve been craving for weeks. That has allowed me to give some thought to other things that I’ve faced lately.

If we’re connected on Instagram you may have seen a recent post in which I shared my feelings about going to church even though I’m a sinner. Here’s what I said about it:

I’ve taken some flack for being a “church-going sinner” lately, and here’s what I have to say about it: I love God, and I desire a deeper relationship with Him. I seek Him and ask Him to search my heart…to change it…I fall, and He picks me up. I fall again, and He’s still right there…waiting for me to surrender to Him. Even when I turned my back on Him, He never stopped loving me. He’s given me peace and hope, and if you’re reading this, He will do the same thing for you if you ask Him. It’s not easy, and going to church won’t make you holy. Jesus came to heal the sick because they’re the ones who needed a doctor. I don’t go to church to put in heirs about how perfect I am now; I’m not, nor do I pretend to be. I go because I need Jesus, and it’s a place to feel loved and to help me stay accountable to His will. #truth #grace #hope #HisLoveNeverFails #Luke5 #church #christians #disciples #religion #realtalk

The fact is we’re all sinners who fall short of God’s glory. Going to church doesn’t mean that we’re suddenly going to be perfect. Being a part of the worship team doesn’t mean that I’m never going to fall again. That’s not real. It’s not true. I’m weak, but God gives me strength. I sin, and He provides mercy.

Do I use God’s grace as a license to sin? I shouldn’t, but I have. I try not to, but His grace covers that too. He knows my heart. He knows when I’m seeking Him, and He knows when I’m drowning in shame. He loves me regardless.

I desire a real relationship with God, one in which He’s in control of my life and my circumstances. I don’t always act like it because I’m also selfish, and I like to be in control of everything. I love Him, and He loves me even though I often struggle to understand why.  It’s hard to surrender every aspect of my life to Him, but I’m trying (and sometimes failing and trying again.)

If you walk into a church and you can’t find a sinner, then you should probably run the other way. That’s not real. We live in a fallen world, and the the Holy Spirit is the only hope we have as we strive to live Godly lives.

I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. Having a relationship with God doesn’t mean that I’ll never sin again. His grace just gives me hope

 

Nola Loves Charleston

If you know me at all, you know that the folks at NOLA Church are a big part of my life. I could list a lot of reasons for that, but today I’m thankful that I’m part of a community that prays.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that they’re enduring right now at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and we just want them to know that we’re praying for them and standing with them.

God bless, Charleston and every individual who’s been affected by that senseless tragedy.

—–

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Hurting People Hurt People, Or Why Blogging Probably Isn’t The Answer

I feel so much better than I have for the last month or so. After realizing that the contents of my work was bothering me, I was able to address it. I addressed everything else that bothered me as well, and I realized that people really are (mostly) good. 

Some of the feelings I faced were tough to navigate through because I’m insecure, but after some self-reflection and straightforward talk from someone close to me, I realized that I’m pretty lucky. It’s easy to count the times when someone has been mean to my face, but it happens countless times here on my blog. 

I find so much encouragement here, but there’s also a lot of negativity from the trolls who are still obsessed with hating me. There only seems to be a  couple of them, but they are loud and obsessive. It’s insane and a little disturbing that people who don’t know me are willing to waste so much energy obsessively hating me. It’s weird, but it makes me feel so sorry for them. I mean, how much does your life have to suck to be obsessed with spewing judgement and blind hatred on someone else’s? 

When I look around at my life, I see so much validation and fulfillment that didn’t always exist for me. I feel content in who I am and what I’m doing even though I still want to make changes. I think there will always be room for growth and progress, and I don’t think I’ll be a failure unless I give in to the feelings of self-doubt that I experienced last week. 

We all have bad days, and I had several in a row. When I think about the things that other people go through my issues seem pretty insignificant. My issues matter, in as much as I need to face them, but today my heart goes out to the people who are truly suffering – the people I read about at work and the people who are so consumed by hurt and anger that they target me and others like me. 

I love to write, and I love to share my feelings. It helps me grow, but I’m processing and progressing a lot right now outside of the blog. It’s hard to imagine not checking in here regularly, but it’s also not something that sounds appealing right now. 

I won’t make any hard and fast decisions, except to do what’s best for me regardless of what others think about it. 

Carrying Emotional Weight

I’ve been doing a lot of self-evalations lately because I’m trying to figure out how I got to the point of disdain that I’ve been at for the last two weeks, and I think I found one of the big sources of heaviness that I’ve been overlooking. 

Right now I’m working on a project that requires me to go into the office daily, and I’ve seen some positive changes as a result. I’ve formed some good habits, including going to bed a decent hour and waking up rested each morning and thinking about what I’m going to eat throughout the day. Those are huge wins for me, especially the sleep thing beccause I’ve never been good at resting enough until now. 

The downside is that the content of the work is really hard to look at. I can’t go into detail, but it’s depressing…really depressing. I hate being privy to it, but I hate that people go through these things. Some of it is awful, and I’m definitely not cut out for this kind of work. (The work itself is great, but the content is weighing on me heavily.) 

Almost every Thursday since I started I go home and cry. That’s not like me. I’m usually pretty upbeat even when life presents challenges. I’ve also noticed a hightened sense of loneliness. I mean, I feel it from time to time, but it’s been really rough over the last few months. I’ve also noticed that I feel angry at times, and I’m not spending nearly as much time with God as I was before I took this position. 

I was looking over a report yesterday when my emotions hit me like a ton of bricks. Life isn’t fair, but I wasn’t sad about my life. I was devastated by the experiences that the subject of the report had to endure. It hit me hard, and at that moment, I realized that these reports are a huge part of the burden I’ve been feeling lately. I’m not angry that I have to do the work; I enjoy tedious tasks more than the average person. I’m just angry that we live in a world that is so full of hurt, and it breaks my heart into pieces to think that so many people walking around my community feel so hurt and hopeless. 

I’m going to finish out the contract that I signed, but I need some strength as I do it. I know that I can pray for these faceless people, and I know that’s all I can do. I just wish I coud take their hurt away. I wish they could feel peace. 

If you know me, you probably know that I’m emotional. Knowing that people feel pain makes me feel pain, and even though it sucks, it explains a lot. I’m relieved to have recognized this, and now I need to figure out how to dela with it. Days like yesterday make it easier to handle, so I’ll probably start by making an even bigger effort to do things that are good for me. 

I am so thankful for this job and for the opportunity to do something in this field, and I think I’ll leave stronger than I was when I got here. I just need to be very aware, and I really need to be wrapped up in God’s love just like each of the people I’ve just mentioned. 

If You Don’t Like It, Change It

Monte shared a message about discernment at NOLA Church Sunday morning, and while there was so much food for thought, the biggest takeaway for me was when he said, “If you don’t like your relationship with God, change it.” This isn’t going to be a post about that even though that’s really important, but the statement can apply to practically anything in our lives. 

I’ve been feeling down a lot lately, and today I decided to do some things to change it. Last night I spent some time singing and playing piano (if you can call what I did playing) just to break through some of the nervousness that I feel when I think of playing in front of people. I did it a lot growing up because my parents made me, but now I’d like to because I enjoy it. I’m passionate about singing, so maybe at some point I could feel the same way about keys. if not, it will still be fun to do it from time to time.

  

I changed up my lunch routine a bit today too. I went to Whole Foods and ate a healthy, hearty lunch, then I picked up a spa water (okay, two) to bring back to the office with me. I drank my fruit infused water instead of coffee, and it made me feel healthy and a little fancy. (It doens’t take much. Ha.) 

  

I also spent some time on my rooftop after work today. Having a snack and drink in your bed is gross and depressing, but do it by the pool, and it’s awesome. I had a couple of friends over too, and while we were up there a nice guy offered us some of the steaks he grilled. I had a few bites, but I grilled some stuff as well. 

After that I hit the gym with my aforementioned friends. Two out of three of us didn’t feel like it, but thankfully, the one who did convinced us to do it too. I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill, which feels a lot better than nothing. 

  

I also signed up to do a 5k with another friend on May 30th. She’ll reach the finish line before I do, but I’m fine with that. We’ll both leave with finisher metals anyway, and there will be someone waiting to take a picture of me. (Ah, the perks of being slower.) 

I can’t say that I feel 100% better and completely amazing yet, but I can honestly say that I feel so much better than I did yesterday. 

Now I’m going to curl up under my blankets, spend a few minutes reading the Bible, then have a good night’s sleep and pray that I can stay focused and empowered again tomorrow. (That may not be easy because I have to have a conversation that I’d rather not have tomorrow, but I’ll worry about that later.) 

I’m here, and I’m trying to jump out of my comfort zone to change what I don’t like while rediscovering my worth, which I seemed to forget for a while. Overall, I’d say I’m on my way back to the right track.