Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Patience, Little One

For years, I have ached for something that seemed unattainable.

I have cried and yelled and whined and conversed with God for this thing, sometimes feeling hopeful, sometimes feeling utterly hopeless.

I wanted to have a ministry job.

I had a feeling senior year of college that the newspaper world, the corporate world, and the world of "normal" work was not for me. I was studying to be a journalist, but it just never felt right. Sure I loved the communication study and I loved writing, but journalism and I just never really clicked like I saw my peers clicking with it.

I wanted to have a ministry job.

Okay, I told myself, you spent 4 years studying journalism. And besides, what would you even do in ministry? That's okay. There are lots of journalism jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So post-college, I took a job at a newspaper doing copy editing and design.

I spent most of my days hoping it would somehow sort itself out in my head and be what I wanted.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

Okay, I told myself, newspaper life isn't your thing. That's okay. There are lots of corporate jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So I found one.

I started low on the totem pole as a temp at an organization in town and eventually got hired on full-time doing customer service, then eventually worked my way up to actually using my communication degree and doing recruitment and member campaigns at the organization.

I told myself to give it time, that I would learn to love climbing the ladder like this, that I was making good money, using my degree to some extent, working your typical 9 to 5 job that you settle into in your mid-to-late 20's.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

Okay, I told myself, maybe a typical 9 to 5 corporate kind of job isn't your thing. That's okay. There are lots of quirky, non-typical jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So I found one.

I got a job at a bookstore, working a schedule that changed every single week, converting my brain to think about shifts instead of 9-5, fluctuating throughout just about every position in the store, feeling all footloose and fancy free.

I told myself to give it time, that I would learn to love having such a varied worklife, living week to week, never knowing what each week's schedule or day would look like, having a quirky, nerdy job like the quirky, nerdy girl I am.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

So what now? I asked.

There have been times where I have felt and heard things from God so strongly that there is absolutely no way for me to deny that they are from God. But there are also times where it feels like God is incredibly, annoyingly silent.

The past two months have been one of those times.

Back in December, I heard about a ministry position opening up that I knew right away would be perfect for me. I knew right away that it would just click so perfectly and that it would fill the ache beyond my wildest hopes.

I talked to some people about it, I applied, I felt great about it. I did the thing where I said to God, "Not my will but Thine. But You're ridiculous if You don't give me this job. Just, just give me the job."

Then, at the very beginning of January, in the quiet, I heard a faint whisper one morning.

"Patience, little one."

That was it.

One tiny whisper, so quiet I almost wasn't sure I really heard it, couldn't even be sure it was God's voice.

Come again? I asked. Say that once more?


For a month and a half, I didn't hear a peep. I begged and pleaded for an answer, I whined and complained about not knowing, I yelled and cried and stomped my foot a lot.

But all I got back was complete and total silence.

It wasn't until about a week ago that I understood the silence.

A week ago, I was offered and accepted a position at Fellowship Church as Worship Administrator.

And almost immediately after I was offered the position, this position that I had wanted since December, this position that I had wanted really for six years but didn't know it, the silence left and was replaced by beautiful words.

"See," They said. "I wanted you to be patience, little one. I wanted you to know I would take care of you. I wanted you to trust that I have felt your ache these long years just as much as you. I wanted you to believe that I had a way to fill your ache, but you needed to be patient for My perfect timing. Patience, little one. I love you enough to ask you for patience."

I can look back on the last 6 years of confusion and desire and hoping and every other emotion under the sun and say, "That was all worth it. Because I needed it. Because I needed the patience."

I am beyond excited and humbled and grateful for this new journey as a Worship Administrator at Fellowship Church.

The ache has left, and I am dizzy with relief.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day One... Again

As I write, I'm drinking a very successful, Whole30 compliant smoothie.

Yup, that's right.

I'm back on the Whole30 train. Kind of.

The past month not being on the strict Whole30 has been pretty eye-opening for me. Mostly eye-opening in that left to my own desires, I will literally eat like a garbage person every single meal, regardless of how it makes my body feel.

I came out of my 19-day Whole30 stretch feeling invigorated, excited to keep mostly to a Whole30 diet, but allowing myself cheat days, cheat meals, little slides here and there.

And for the first week or two, I actually did pretty well.

And then my husband and I bought a house.

I don't know about you, but moving is probably the most annoying thing in my First-World-Problems life.

Mainly because I start out packing strong, then by like day 3 of packing, I just start throwing things in boxes with no regard to organization.

Oh, and I don't want to grocery shop with the moving mentality.

My husband wasn't keen on grocery shopping when we're packing and living in a crazy apartment for a week and a half either, so we just didn't.

We just didn't buy groceries.

Which means that for literally every meal for almost two weeks, we ate out.

And I had just come off of the strictest diet I have ever done in my life.

And we just spent hella lot of money on a house.

So it's fair to say that we didn't choose well during those two weeks of eating out.

There was a lot of Papa John's delivery, Burger King, Arby's, and whatever else we had a coupon for ie lots of fast food places.

There were some meals where I tried to be "good". We went to Whole Foods a few times and I got a salad... and a slice of pizza.

Moving and doing an adult thing like buying a house are just really stressful things for my brain. And when I get stressed, I just want to eat junk.

So a lot of junk has been consumed over the past two weeks.

Which is why I am back on the Whole30 train.

I'm trying to be smarter about it this time than I was at the beginning of last time.

I planned out realistic menu options that I can make whilst unpacking.

I went easy on myself and picked recipes with easy ingredients that I can get at Kroger so I don't have to have another meltdown at the store (if you need a refresher on my grocery store meltdown...)

Like these Egg "Muffins" with egg, sausage, green pepper, mushroom, and seasonings that actually turned out pretty great.

I acknowledged to myself right off the bat that some small cheats might happen, and that's okay. I don't need to beat myself up for putting low-sugar low-salt spaghetti sauce on my veggies and beef when I can't find a better solution that's under $30.

So today is actually day two, and so far, well, yeah, I've cheated twice.

Once with the above-mentioned spaghetti sauce, and once when I truly forgot that I was doing Whole30 and grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and stuffed them into my face. #movingbrain

But even though my "spaghetti" had a little cheat with it, it's a far better dinner than the countless burgers and fries I consumed the past two weeks...

My "spaghetti" was zucchini, red peppers, and mushrooms topped with ground chuck with the spaghetti sauce.

I'm excited to do this right and to not feel like such a garbage person. Smoothie away!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Day Somethingrather: A New Way Of Thinking

Here's what you need to know first: I am still doing Whole30.

Sort of.

My pal Delaney and I are doing a Whole30-inspired diet through the end of the year.

Emphasis on the word inspired.

I made it 17 days on a strict Whole30. I only cheated 4 times.

I know 4 sounds like a lot, especially when we're only talking about 17 days, but truly I was proud of myself by the end of those 17 days.

I lost 9 pounds.

I learned what I can endure food-wise, I learned what steps I need to take and continue to take to get where I need to be, and I learned to better deal with a food addiction.

1. What I Can Endure Food-Wise

Whole30 is not easy. Especially when you're used to eating out 3+ times a week like I was. I think I was prepared for the physical food cravings, but I'm not sure I was prepared for the mental and emotional cravings.

I cried over cheese.

Not a sentence I thought I would ever say, but whatever. It happened. The lack of not having cheese got to me, and around day 13, I found myself tearing up over not being able to eat cheese.

I craved EVERYTHING. I felt like a pregnant woman because I wanted bread covered in oreos, cheese, and spaghetti sauce.

I discovered some things I was okay with not eating, and honestly didn't even miss. I was pretty okay without pasta, most desserts, and dairy (minus the cheese).

I realized that I didn't need a big dessert, but I did want just a bite of something sweet after dinner. I had a small cheat where one night after dinner I had 2 Starbursts, and amazingly, that was all I needed.

One of the ways Delaney and I are now doing the Whole30 inspired diet is we get to pick a cheat food or two we can have during the week. Mine this week was a low-carb tortilla wrap and yes, cheese.

But even as much as I missed cheese, I discovered this week that the craving is satisfied with us half a piece of cheese on my lunch wrap.

So I'm learning the cheat things that my body really craves, and how to not give in fully to the craving, but how to eat cheat things in moderation.

2. Steps

In keeping that moderation in mind, I learned over Whole30 that cheats are okay sometimes.

I think because I've had a negative relationship with food for so many years, I sometimes go through an emotional rollercoaster with food. In the past, when I would get way too much at a fast food place, I would beat myself up internally and feel enormous amounts of guilt. Which would only make me want to eat more, because food is such a comfort. So I was often caught in a catch-22 with eating poorly.

When Delaney and I first set the ground rules for our new diet, we decided that on the weekends, we can eat how we want, in moderation of course. So the first day on the new diet, my husband and I went to Sonic. And because I hadn't had that kind of food in 18 days, I went crazy.

And I felt horrible for two days.

Eating like I did at Sonic made me grumpy, moody in general, feel physically ill afterwards, and just a huge bundle of emotions for two days.

3. How To Deal With A Food Addiction

I'm glad now that we did that though because it showed me how negatively eating like that affects every part of my body and mind, not just the scale.

So while I can eat diet-free on the weekends, I can keep those two days in the front of my mind to remind me how to eat, even when splurging or cheating.

I'm not going to be perfect with my diet and food, but I'm learning to accept that.

I'm also learning to accept that I'm not 17 anymore and I can't treat my body like garbage with no repercussions.

I'm learning that homemade smoothies are a great snack that not only my tastebuds but also my stomach likes.

I'm learning that yes you can eat out and find healthy things on most menus, and I'm learning to order those instead of the loaded fries and burger that I really want.

Here's to learning.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Day Nine: I Got This. But I'd Still Like An Oreo.

So the blogging every 3 days thing hasn't quite worked out like I thought.

I just finished day nine, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Lesson #8: It's okay to start small and easy, and work up to the more complicated meals.

My very first day, I decided for my second Whole30 meal that I would make this somewhat complicated salad, which not only involved cooking meat a specific way with specific ingredients, but it also meant making my own salad dressing.

That meal ended up in the garbage because it was so disgusting.

I stood in my kitchen after throwing what was probably $14 of food into the garbage and considered having another meltdown like the one in Kroger a few days before. (If you've forgotten about that, you can read about it here.)

Instead, I sniffed and pushed back the tears, and prepped a much easier lunch:

Granted this lunch wasn't elaborate (it contained grapes, a banana, a tomato with pepper, walnuts, and proscuitto), but it was tasty enough to hold me over till dinner.

I have since tried more complicated recipes with some success (and some not so great meals that I plugged my nose and ate because I already threw $14 into the trash and I ain't about that life), but in my 8 days of Whole30, I have learned to enjoy the simplistic meals like the one on the left. I've learned that meals like this one give me some of the food groups and vitamins that I need, and leaves me feeling satisfied. And some days, that's just plenty.

But, to prove that I have tried some more complicated recipes with success, here are a few other things I've made, 100% Whole30 compliant:

 (Left: Spaghetti Squash with Buffalo Chicken and Green Onion, drizzled in Homemade Ranch Dressing)

(Right: Italian Sausage and Shrimp with Zucchini, Squash, Red Pepper, Dairy-Free Cheese, and Cajun Spices)

(Left: My version of pizza: Potato with Pepperoni and Dairy-Free cheese with a side of Organic Chips and Salsa)

(Right: Grilled Italian Spice-filled Sausage, Apples with Cinnamon, and Baked Sweet Potato Rounds)

Lesson #9: It's okay to cheat just a little.

On day 4, my husband and I went back to Trader Joe's to do a second round of shopping (and a day later, I went to EarthFare to finish my grocery list). He was once again extremely patient as I spent a good hour in Trader Joe's, trying to read the ingredients listed on back of products I wanted.

While this list proved to be a life saver, I still wanted to look at a few other products not listed on that list.

What I found is that a lot of things seem totally Whole30 compliant until you get to the "Contains less than 2% of the following" list. I was getting frustrated because so many things I needed had things in that less than 2% list that were against Whole30. I finally just gave up and put a few of these things in my cart, telling my husband that if it was in a list that comprised less than 2% of the makeup of the product, I was still going to get it.

This rule has proved to be an extremely crafty one, even if it means I'm technically not following the Whole30 approved diet 100% of the time.

I think what I've learned in the last 8 days is that you have to pick your battles in everything in life, including your food.

But it's also important to do everything in moderation, including your cheats. Besides this 2% deal, I have cheated a few other times when I've taken a bite of my husband's ridiculously good-looking pizza, had a small handful of Goldfish on my way out the door, and, probably the most radical, allowed myself to put croutons in my salad tonight because I was dying for something crunchy and bad.

But you know what? If having a few croutons in my salad is the definition of being bad right now, I'll take it. It's better than my old $15 of Taco Bell trips.

Lesson #10: Listening to your body is kind of wonderful.

I'll be honest, I don't remember the last time I listened to my body before Whole30.

One of my husband and I's favorite pastimes is going to Cook Out and each getting the Trays (which comes with a hamburger and two sides) and splitting a milkshake. We even have an Official Eating Cook Out Parking Spot in a parking lot across the street from the Cook Out.

Clearly from this story, you can see that I don't listen to my body very well when it comes to eating.

But for the past 8 days, I have been listening to my body.

A prime example of this is today at lunch. For lunch, I packed a potato with dairy-free cheese and salsa, two boiled eggs, and an afternoon snack of some organic sweet potato chips. At lunch, I ate the potato with the not-cheese and salsa, and as I was reaching for the eggs, I thought, "Wait. Why am I reaching for these eggs? Am I about to eat them because I am still hungry? Or am I eating them because they are here?" I sat listening to my body for a few seconds and realized I was actually pretty satisfied and didn't need the eggs. During my afternoon break at work, I grabbed the chips and did the same thing, which resulted in me only eating half of the packed chips.

I think that's what they call Portion Control.

Whole30, you're not half bad.

But I'd still really like an Oreo now, please. With a side of greasy fries. And a burrito or six.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Day 1: The First Seven Lessons I Learned

First day down.

29 to go.

Yeah, I'm already counting down the days...

If you missed my last blog (read it here) I started Whole30 today.

But let me back up and tell you about my breakdown in the grocery store a few days ago.

My husband (who's being supportive and giving up certain things but not completely doing Whole30) and I went to the grocery store on Sunday to buy groceries for the week. I had made a list, but was honestly not 100% sure about certain meals I had picked out to eat for the week, and didn't truly decide what recipes to make for the week until we pulled into the Kroger parking lot.

Lesson #1: Always know exactly what you will be eating and what you will be buying for your Whole30 week way before getting to the store.

Lesson #2: Don't try to do the bulk of your shopping at Kroger.

We did pretty well in the produce section. You can have a lot of fruits and vegetables on Whole30, so even though my list wasn't complete, I knew I would find a use for everything I bought in the produce section.

The breakdown started in the health food section.

Lesson #3: Don't plan for elaborate recipes the first three or four days into Whole30.

Lesson #4: Really understand what the products are that are on your grocery list if you do make somewhat elaborate recipes.

I was not prepared for this grocery trip. I had things like beef tallow and date syrup and Whole30-approved mayo on my list, things that either were super vague, like how the recipe just said "find a mayo that's Whole30 approved", or just things that I wasn't even sure what it was (yes I had to later google beef tallow to know).

Lesson #5: Maybe don't choose recipes that are vague, or say to just find a product like mayo that is Whole30 approved. Do your research and find a brand that is approved before going to the store.

Because if you don't, you will tear up and almost lose it in the health aisle of Kroger and have to have your patient husband rub your back and calm you down and tell you that you can do this.

Lesson #6: Trader Joe's is a wonderful store and you should profusely apologize for the years you spent dissing them.

I still hold that TJ is racist (I mean, come on, Trader Giotto? Trader Ming? Really guys?) but I gotta give it to them, they have great Whole30 approved foods.

I also found this blog that has already proven to be a godsend and tells me exactly what is Whole30 approved at TJ's so I can shop with ease and not have to have another breakdown whilst at the grocery store.

So with my newly bought groceries, today's been a relatively successful first day (minus the salad that I tried to make for lunch that I threw away that we won't discuss here...)

For breakfast, I had eggs and tomatoes, and while I did miss having my cheesy scrambled eggs, plain eggs are still eggs, and I do love me some eggs.

For lunch, after the salad fiasco, I had prosciutto and walnuts with tomatoes, grapes, and a banana, which left me feeling full for over 5 hours, which is amazeballs to me. Normally I have to have a snack between lunch and dinner, but today I was actually fine to wait till dinner.

Lesson #7: Whole30 is going to teach me to eat the foods that are filling and healthy and good for me and in the food groups that I need instead of just the foods my taste buds tell me I want.

And for dinner, I made a Whole30 version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, which turned out pretty tasty if I do say so for myself.

First day of Whole30 complete pain-free.

What you got for me, 29 days?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 0: When I Decided

Oh boy.

Well, here goes.

I have been scared of dieting for long enough I think. 

I have never had a good relationship with food (if you need a reminder or proof, read it here). And I don't know if Whole30 will magically fix that Whole30 won't magically fix that. 

But I'm tired of being scared of diets and longing to have a healthy relationship with food. 

I'm doing this by myself for myself. I've read that it's massively easier to do it with friends and have support, but I suppose I just want to prove something to myself. So I'm doing it alone. 

Not completely alone. My man is giving up certain foods with me for the 30 days like a trooper. And I plan to blog about this. 

You're welcome to read along and virtually join me, or you're welcome to skip the next 30 days of my blog, I won't be offended. But I've learned over the years that I grow through writing it out, so I plan to write a blog about my experiences every 3 days (10 blogs total) while eating this way. 

In all seriousness, pray for me. I have never done anything this extreme with food ever, and I've gotten use to a lifestyle of fast food at least once a week, not including a glass of wine or a beer a few times a week, so I know this will stretch me pretty thin. 




Here it goes. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

When The Moments Become Paramount

I remember the exact moment I decided I wanted to be a journalist. 
I watched Blood Diamond as an extra credit assignment as a freshman in college and felt like I would explode if I didn’t also get to be like Jennifer Connelly’s character Maddy and educate the world through my award-winning news coverage.
I don’t know how I didn’t smell the cliché dripping from the moment.
I also remember the exact moment I decided I could never be a journalist. 
I was a senior in college writing a news piece on something I don’t even remember and was bored out of my mind with the interview I was conducting, and then my interviewee said something about how our campus’ trolley driver had been driving the trolley for years, and I perked up because I was way more interested in a random trolley driver’s life story than whatever important news story I was covering. 
I found the trolley driver the next day, befriended him, wrote a lifestyle piece on him because he was so interesting, barely convinced my editor to print the piece (not because it was a poorly written piece but because he kept saying, “Is this really newsworthy?”), then went home and wrote three short stories based on random snippets of the trolley driver’s life and bits of advice he threw in that inspired me. 
I was happy with the piece I wrote about him for the paper, but I was really proud of the three short stories I wrote. 
I felt like I would explode if I didn’t get to people watch and get inspired by their lives and write my own stories.
I remember the moment I decided to cave and take a job with a newspaper even though I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. 
But it seemed like I had to start out with a paper because that’s what my degree was in. 
I remember the moment I decided it didn’t matter how much money I was making. 
Or how my “career path” was going because I was miserable and just wanted to come home. 
I remember the moment I had a meltdown because I had been jobless for 7 months. 
And I didn’t know if anyone would ever hire me ever because I couldn’t sell myself well enough in an interview because I had no idea what I should be doing with my life.
I remember the moment I was offered a temp position with CUPA-HR. 
I was sitting in the parking lot of the library after having just checked out four new books to try and distract me from the fact that I was jobless for the eighth month in a row. My first day was covered in me being bright eyed and full of determination, thinking that if I could just get this company to love me and hire me full time, I would never ever leave them.
I remember the first time I ever cried at the thought of being at my job for the rest of my life. 
Not because it was the worst job in existence, not even the worst job I had ever had. But because it was a terrible fit for me. I could feel that this was not what I was supposed to be doing with my life. It didn't matter how good of a boss my boss was or how many friends I made at work or how they had a free gym for me to use. They could give me all the best health benefits or perks in the world (and believe me, they give their employees really really REALLY good benefits) I would still go home each night with feelings of craving, even if I wasn't sure what the craving was for. 
I remember the moment I knew Barnes and Noble would offer me the job. 
And the same moment when I knew I would take it, regardless of the massive pay cut or how it would look to others that I left a good job with a good company making good money and getting good benefits to take a part-time job at a bookstore making exactly half what I was making, all the while taking a pretty grand leap into thinking I could be my own boss and manage a freelance and writing career.
(Yes, that is my employee badge at the top, and I have been there now for three weeks and it feels like home more than any job I've ever had.) 
I remember the moment I let my cares about what people would think of my job path dissolve.
I remember the moment that I saw how everything was connecting and could connect, and how I was maybe taking steps to do what I was created to do.