Wild One

I had lunch with a girlfriend today and barely let her talk because I was venting. At the end of my lunch “therapy” session, she said, “you sound tired and burnt out.” Whew, was she right.

I know I have talked about being exhausted, stressed, and anxiety ridden in previous blog posts. But I feel like someone (and myself) needs to talk about it again.

I’ve discovered a great source of stress, exhaustion, and even depression is when I say yes to too many things. I take on too many good things, which causes me to miss my best things. It’s so hard to say no and let go of opportunities that come my way. But if I don’t learn the gift of release, I’ll wrestle with a lack of peace. I think sometimes I’m resistant to release because I fear disappointing someone.

Release brings with it the gift of peace. There are some opportunities I need to decline today. There are some things I need to say no to in this current season. There are good things I need to let go of so I can make room for the best things. When we release in peace, we signal we’re now ready to receive.

There have been many nights where I feel I can’t take much more. When I say, “God help me. It’s all too much. I’m tired and frustrated and so very worn out.” But I remember Psalm 142:3, “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.”

I don’t know what you have to release right now. But I suspect you know.  In the violent struggle of trying to balance it all, we will miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.

So let’s release. With release comes more peace. I see that now. I believe that now. And soon, I pray you will too.

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High High Hopes

If you didn’t know already, I love a solid black outfit. One that can be worn to work, dinner with the girls, or just on a casual shopping day. I typically don’t think I look great in a peplum style top, but this one from Rent the Runway, is super comfortable and flattering. Seriously – the fabric is stretchy but sucks you ALL in! It is great for every day wear and can be easily dressed up.

This week I ventured out to the this civil rights mural depicting Bloody Sunday and the civil rights marches in Selma beginning at the corner of Lee and Montgomery Streets. (Mural painted by Sunny Paulk.)

Sometimes in my day-to-day life in Montgomery, I forget how rich the history is running through these streets. I will run out to grab lunch and see tourists walking around downtown and I am instantly reminded of the stories and places that gave rise to a movement and created change.

Standing in front of this mural, I couldn’t help but think how great change can come from peace and hope and that the world still needs a lot of people bringing about peace and equality for all. I am inspired by the stories of those who came before me and the courage and sacrifices of each of them.

This theme of hope is rampant in our lives daily. We constantly speak in what I call “hope language”:

  • I hope I am healed.
  • I hope she isn’t mad at me.
  • I hope my prayers are answered.
  • I hope I can pay my bills this month.

The issue isn’t whether you hope, but what holds your hope. Remember these things as your attach your security, your sense of peace and rest to something every day.

  • Your hope is in something – What are you placing your hope in right now?
  • Hope is a lifestyle – You always live your hope in some way, it isn’t just something you do with your mind.
  • Most of our hopes disappoint us – When our hopes disappoint us, it is a sign we’ve put our hopes in the wrong thing.
  • There are only two places to look for hope –You rest your hope in the hands of the Creator or look to the world for hope.
  • Hope in God is sure hope – Hope placed in God is well placed and will never disappoint.

I hope this blog post inspires you as enter into a new week. Let me know you keep your hope well placed by commenting below!

To The Girls…

 

As I write this, I sit in awe of what is going on in the world around us. Women everywhere are being told they don’t matter. How they feel, does not matter. Your body does not matter. Their basic human rights, do not matter.

As a young adult, I sit and think about how I would have viewed all that is happening if I was still a young girl.

There are little girls watching the news alongside their parents in the family room. Little girls who hear a clip on the radio on the way to school. Little girls who overhear adults talking at soccer practice. Little girls who are confused and curious. After all, don’t we teach them that their bodies are precious and belong to only them from a very young age?

So what kind of message are we sending when we say you don’t matter? The decisions regarding your body are to be made by others and outside of your control.

Are we creating strong, empowered, independent, confident women when they aren’t even in control of the choices they make? Or are we creating women who will have self- esteem issues, low self-confidence, and self-hatred?

The right for women to be able to make their own decisions and control their own life paths is what is at stake. The ability of women to be accepted for who they are and plan their lives the way they want to plan their lives. Their dignity respected, their autonomy respected, their ability to make decisions for themselves about what they’re going to do but their bodies and with their futures and with their lives, and that is what is at stake and that is what was being affirmed.

This isn’t political, it’s fundamental to your dignity, to be able to decide to make decisions for yourself.

So to the little girls like me circa many years ago, who may be sitting around hearing what others are saying. Who are scolded and chastised for asking questions. Who are taught that talking about your body and the things it can do is taboo. This is for you. I hope you listen to the little voice in your head and if you can’t speak out on it now, I hope it grows into a loud and powerful roar that enables you to speak up on anything you believe in.

 

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two months

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Abnormal, painful, heavy and/or irregular menstruation.

Intense abdominal pain and cramping outside of period.

Fatigue, bloating, nausea.

These are the vague symptoms you will find if you Google endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium tissue lining the uterus is found around the organs, pelvis and other areas of the body instead of being shed during monthly menses. This causes scar tissue, chronic debilitating pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, infertility, body image issues just to name a few symptoms.  No one brings up night sweats, blood clots, or nausea. How about chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and dizziness. I bet you didn’t know that knee pain, back pain, certain food intolerances, and vitamin deficiencies are also associated with endometriosis.

Many women (including myself) suffer in silence and the usual timeframe for diagnosis is 10 years, as it is difficult to detect. Endometriosis is incurable. 

No one tells you how it happens, about the days you will cry because you are in intense pain or how many times you will have to call in “sick” to work with no real explanation of what the heck is going on with you. I am constantly faced with physical pains that I can’t control even with the strongest painkillers.

I can date my symptoms back ten years ago.  I was only thirteen and had to make an appointment with a gynecologist. While I won’t mention this well-known doctor’s name, she brushed it off saying, “It was just a part of becoming a woman.”‘ Uh, yikes ok. 

So I went on accepting this as my truth. Accepting the days of sitting in class pretending I felt okay that extended well into my working years. Calling in sick makes me feel guilty because my boss or co-workers don’t always understand what I’m going through and I often think I’m letting them down.

As the years went by, sometimes I would mention it here and there to doctors and they would act nonchalant as if living with this pain and discomfort was something I could get by with.

The final straw was when my previous doctor told me I was ovulating and it would pass. When I insisted differently, she suggested we change my birth control. Not only would this wreak hormonal havoc on my body, but I also knew it wasn’t the answer. So I stood up for myself. I said no.

I kicked her to the curb and demanded she refer me elsewhere.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

So after countless dollars spent on wasted doctor’s appointments, I saw a leading physician specializing in endometriosis. She suggested I have a laparoscopic procedure because she was sure I had endo.

I was overwhelmed. After I stopped ugly crying, I realized I was relieved. Finally. Vindication. Confirmation. I am believed.

I told a select few people.

What will you do? Make sure you do it. Are you going to do it? I don’t think you’ll do it. Please do it. Have you tried yoga? Have you considered meditation? Have you tried not eating dairy? How about nutrition? Medication is bad for the body and you’re an addict. All those chemicals. You can’t take that. What are you going to take instead? Can you have babies? Are you infertile? You should have a baby. You should start having babies. Why aren’t you having babies? Are you better? We can’t wait for you to feel better —to get back to normal.

Normal is now tiredness. Exhaustion. It’s being slow. It’s feeling slow. Withdrawn. Feeling sick. I am sick. Always keeping it secret. F. Feeling small. Thinking about it. Thinking about pain. Always thinking about my body. Your body. Assessing every twinge, every tug, every pull, every ache. Waiting. Holding your breath and counting. Waiting for it to stop. To get worse. To come back again.

Two months ago today, I was first diagnosed and had a laparoscopy. My endo is so severe it caused organs to shift and tilt.

I am now faced with the harsh truth that the physical pain is paired with the emotional pain of the possibility of not being able to carry a child, my first surgery will probably not be my last and I am on a medication that has kicked my body into early menopause.

While the road ahead is difficult, I know had I not been an advocate for myself while sitting in a small cold exam room with nothing but a gown the quality of a cheap paper towel, I would still be suffering in silence.

Fortunately, I have learned the capacity of my strength and fortitude due to this disease.

If you’re a woman suffering from chronic, mystery pain that doctors are just shrugging their shoulders at, I hope you are inspired to be an advocate for yourself as well.

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Cry Pretty

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I’m a crier. Oh lawd, I am being so serious.

Everyone shows emotions differently, but that’s okay. You may call your best friend when you’re stressed. You may hit the gym for a good sweat session. You might pour your favorite glass of Cabernet and grab the container of Ben & Jerry’s out of the freezer while carefully trying not to spill either on your white couch (this is a talent ok, trust me). You might eat Hot Cheetos knowing how terrible they are for you. You might do all of the above (guilty).

You may cry. There’s really no wrong or right way to do it.

But hold on.

Why am I even talking about this?

I’ve been feeling like a basket case of emotions lately and I’m seriously considering investing in a good waterproof mascara. I’m a crier. I feel better when I cry! I don’t always have a meltdown or anything.  Just a frustrated tear after feeling defeated, a happy glisten at my eyes because I heard some fantastic news, or a hysterical, tears streaming down the cheeks because I’m laughing with the person I love at our favorite television show.

Now sometimes I do have a breakdown. Like full-on, ugly tears, expensive mascara running breakdown. If I feel comfortable enough to do this around you, you’re stuck with me for life!

Heck, I cry at weddings. At funerals. At baptisms even. Then I look around and realize no one else is crying. I’ve even apologized for crying before! Used to, I figured okay Ang, you’ll grow out of this. You’ll be an adult.  Younger Ang didn’t know what being an adult was like.

In essence, a whole lot of stuff where the tears are justified. And so are the glasses of wine.

Nine months ago, my life was a lot different. I had a different job, lived in a completely different city, had different friends, and so much more.

Fast forward to now and things are like day and night kind of different. Between then and now I’ve cried plenty of tears (and gained a few pounds).

One day at my current job, I broke the streak. I cried over something that happened that I felt was going to be the end of the world.

One day I sat on my bathroom floor crying until I made myself sick. It felt like the end of the world.

One day I let myself be vulnerable and ugly cry in front of someone I love deeply. It felt like the end of the world.

Spoiler alert! It wasn’t the end of the world.

It’s ok to be a real, functioning human who had some pretty heavy stuff happening.

Lock ‘em up is what many of us do. We press them down, stifle our feelings, suppress any emotional expression. We tell our friends to do the same. Chill. Relax. Put on your game face. Try to be cool no matter what is happening in your life.

Many of us have the impression that emotions are bad. Some were raised in families where people didn’t express much emotion. No one ever said it was wrong to cry or to get too excited about something. But then again, no one ever did.

When we suppress our emotions, it weighs us down. It’s as if we are lugging around a heavy bag with us wherever we go. We all know what happens if we have to carry that bag for an extended period of time: The longer we carry it, the heavier it feels.

So it is with an overwhelmed soul. The longer we bear it, the heavier it feels.

Friends, let it go today. Call a friend, make time for a workout, pour your favorite glass.

Have emotions and don’t ever be ashamed of them.

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I Hope I Call You

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This day holds a different gravity for all. I was in Birmingham waiting for my grandmother who was receiving chemotherapy at the time. Just a child who didn’t understand the impact of what I was watching on the television. The majority of us can recall where we were sitting when we heard.

Regardless of where we were that day, the resounding truth remains the same – in one single moment, your life may never be the same. 

What a day it is to honor those who lived and loved and fight for our freedom. My heart hurts at those still affected by the tragedies of this day. But what also hurts is the fact that sometimes, almost always, it takes a tragedy like this to remind us to cherish and enjoy every single moment. To really take in the air running through my lungs as I write this. To remind me to take a harder look at the smile lines on the face of the person I love, because it might be the last time I ever see them light up with laughter again. To cherish a kiss, to bask in the feeling as I snuggle with my nieces or to close my eyes and taste the warmth of my favorite cup of coffee.

The photo I included in this post, gets me every single time. Chills. I hope and pray Brian loved and prized Jules every second up until this moment. That the life they lived together with their family was full of nothing but precious memories for her to remember after he was gone. That they lived a life so full that it gave hope to everyone around them.

I sit back and think, am I taking even one second of my life for granted? Of course I am. We all do.

Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I love?”

If not, something has to give. It’s difficult to realize you aren’t living the best life possible. But boy, does it feel good when you take the steps to turn that around. When you take the steps to find your spark again and shine like you were meant to. It feels great when you sit back and soak in the moments and the people around you like never before because it feels like life couldn’t get any better.

Today and every day moving forward, I have to remember to make the best decisions based on my heart and what makes my cup full. I want to live my life to the fullest with the ones I treasure as long as I am here in the flesh.

Make that call. Send that text. Let them know how important they are to you.

You never know what tomorrow brings.

 

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Don’t Ya Wanna Be Happy?

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As I realize we are already almost in August, I sit back and think about the days of the past few months. Sometimes we have really amazing days, most days seem to be just okay and of course, we have those days where nothing seems to be in our favor.

I’ve had a TON of those days lately. Even when I try to proclaim the day and change my mindset, it seems I just can’t change the pattern of my days lately.

I got tired of being the same. Of things not changing. So instead of staying stuck in how I feel, I have decided to get out of the WAY for the next 6 months. To allow Jesus to move in my life and take me down the roads I need to be on.  But I know this will only truly work if deep down I WANT to be happy and joyful.

Some people are satisfied with constantly having mediocre days and be consistently pessimistic. You KNOW those people. Someone is coming to your mind right now. Once I caught on to the fact that nothing could change until I understood I had to step out of the way and allow Him to do the work.

A few things I need to remember as I embark on my next 6 months that I thought you might find helpful as well:

  1. You are NEVER too far away. Stop listening to the voice that says you’re too far gone because that is a lie. The Lord wants nothing more than for you to come running to him!
  2. Invite others in. Having a group of girls who know you and can consistently push you towards Christ is the biggest blessing and a crucial part of one’s walk.
  3. This sounds elementary and maybe old school and boring, but I’ve seen it in my own life and countless others. The main way to grow in your faith is to study the word of God daily. Not just a devotional. The actual bible. It is life-giving, transformative, and so much more than a collection of old stories you’ve grown up knowing by heart. I’m working on Without Rival by Lisa Bevere and the Unshakeable devotional currently.

 

A BIG part of this journey is remembering that every single day won’t be PEACHY. That there are days that will still get the best of me. But that’s okay. Because I will be fine in the end.

 

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