The Obituary.

Have you ever thought about how your obituary will read? How your friends will remember you, what your family will say? Aside from the usual feel-good comments, what will they really say? How will your life be summarized and how many paragraphs will it take?

I figured that, amid all the horrifying political messes facing our country, this was one of those opportunities to search my soul for those pie-in-the-sky answers I’m constantly seeking. You know, the ones you think about when you’re sitting all alone, give a few minutes to, but never address with a full consideration.

So, seriously, what will it say? That you met your annual goals at work for 20 consecutive years? Thatimg_4030 you were stable enough to purchase a new car every two years? That you kept a beautiful yard in front of your show home? That you had the most Facebook followers of any outspoken pundit in the entire region?

I’m not old enough to spend too much time reading the obituary section of the newspaper, but I’ve seen enough of them in my 28 years to know none of the mentioned the things above. Yet, here we are, all just existing and competing and racing.

But racing for what? The finish line? In this game of life, what is the finish line and what happens when we get there?

This morning I had the opportunity to speak with someone that most people would consider one of my competitors. In a conversation that started in a way that I would only describe as “touchy,” I was taken aback when this person told me that while they don’t always agree with me, they respected what I do. More importantly, he said he knew my heart was in the right place.

That’s right. In a professional setting, someone mentioned my heart. Given my work and my political views, I would imagine there are a few dozen people out there who don’t believe I have one, but just like everyone else, I do. So, how did I manage to show my heart and my passion without even trying? How did I manage to set the race aside and use my humanity as my compass? Do I have an honesty about me or is he just giving me the benefit of the doubt? We all have the ability to share out hearts, not our desires, in everything we do.

Of course, as humans we fall short – intentionally and unintentionally. Intentionally when we lose sight of the perfection that is placed at our feet every day. We often bypass the blessing that every day is new. We forget that even the moments of turmoil and grief, we are able to grow and be used for a bigger purpose – that everything that happens “to” us molds us for the next day, for the next person we are to meet. We’re so busy discussing what’s happened to us that we’re not happening to life.

Unintentionally when we close our hearts to protect ourselves and often times when we don’t even realize we’ve done it. In everything we do, there is an end. With that, there is usually both a process and a purpose. We spend so much time on the process that we forget the purpose. It’s just human nature and we choose the easy route, the one that brings us out unscathed, unbruised, and unbattered.

“Oh my darling, it’s true. Beautiful things have dents and scratches too.”

The dents and scratches ARE the purpose. We aren’t supposed to end this life as undamaged porcelain. A mangled mess is the result of being human and offering an open heart in everything we do. In choosing not to show our hearts, we miss opportunities for this world to shape us and prepare us to help ourselves, and, in turn, others. We compartmentalize and weigh accomplishments by tangible “things,” but what it is we take with us when we go?

How we carry ourselves, how we impact others, and what we do in times of tumult are the things people will talk about. Souls, not sales, are what’s engraved on tombstones. Character, not ego, leaves a legacy.

So, are you allowing the world to use you? Or are you using the world??

Are you the tenacious entrepreneur showing you seek to earn respect – not revenge –  through kindness and hard work? Are you the mother who lost a child and spends her time helping other parents who’ve suffered the same loss? Are you the father that’s helping mold an entire little league team into human beings who will console their saddened opponents after a loss? Are you the friend that opens up to people who have nothing to offer you in return, simply to share your experience in hopes of saving a soul? Are you the stranger that does a double take for the struggling person in passing?

We’re here to show others our compassion. We are nothing without personal relationships, and whether it’s seen minimally or massively, it all stems from our hearts.

Her heart was always in the right place.” That sounds much better than ‘hardworking, blonde, white female,’ doesn’t it?

“She was unbreakable. For though they looked at her with scorn, As their tongues pricked her with thorns, she smiled at them with mercy. They say you can’t break a heart that’s not hard. She was unbreakable.”

The Hard Way. 

As humans, we are characters of routine. We like our comfort zones and the safety of our nest. If we didn’t, most everyone would pack up and move to different cities and states more often than we do. But we don’t because we value our roots and the people around us. The sense of community is what builds us to be the people we are.

I am no different.

I’ve always been the type of person to choose quality over quantity when it comes to friends and most of my friendships have been those of longevity. I would rather have a few diamonds than a box full of rocks – the ones where life and busyness don’t get in the way. But your diamonds don’t come along when you pack up and move 200 miles away. When I fled the city and sought asylum in rural Georgia, I knew maybe 10 people. Probably 5 I could call if I needed something. Luckily, I wasn’t intimidated by this because I knew my job would provide for me to meet all kinds of people, often – but that didn’t quite go as planned either. 

South Georgia communities are small. The number of transplants are far exceeded by the number of people who have lived here their entire lives. The cliques are well established and making room for outsiders is almost unheard of. Outsiders are more than likely welcomed by other outsiders who are now considered insiders but have a memory fresh enough to recall the feeling of an outsider. It’s almost like former outsiders lobby for current outsiders to the insiders. 

Did you follow all that? Hopefully, because it gets more complicated. A simple outsider, someone who marries into a family or takes a beloved job in the community, is more likely to be welcomed than a complex outsider like myself.

It’s like middle school – the worst years of all our lives – all over again. 

I’m a complex outsider because not only am I not from around here, but I also have a job that makes some…cautious. 

I already talked about the people who are scared to speak to someone with a job like mine in public in a previous blog. I came to terms with that a long time ago and it doesn’t bother me much anymore. 

But imagine having to build friendships in reverse. Imagine your starting point is a place where someone doesn’t like you because of what they’ve heard about you. Or because they don’t like where you’re from, or your boss, or they spent too much time in the comment section on an article. They’re related to someone in a town you’ve written about or they just think you aren’t worthy of covering the issue, so they have a preconceived opinion of you before even speaking to you. Or they’re friends with a councilman who’s made it his prerogative to taint any public perception of you. 

I was run out of my last town, I’m sleeping with handfuls of people, I’m getting paid by an enemy to write about an issue, or, my personal favorite, I’m a spy. There are lots of reasons given, but they yield the same result: skepticism.

So do I weigh my personal life versus my professional life. Do I try to avoid certain towns so it’s easier to say no? Do I turn people away because I don’t want to stir the pot where I socialize? 

That’s not my personality. Externally, it would make me a bad friend. Internally, it would make me bad for myself. I would no longer carry the same weight of I worried about what people would think of me before I started looking into any given local government or elected official. 

Instead, I place people in two categories: the ones I can win over and the ones I cannot. I do my job and trust that the people I want to surround myself with will surface. I’ll keep writing, doing my job, and staying true to myself and the people who have the ability to see my character…will. 

After 13 months down here, that is starting to happen. Part of me really didn’t think it would take as long as it has, while the realist in me knew better. Like everything else in life, though, I am not in control of the time table. I’m not in control of much, actually, but none of us are and that’s another blog for another day. 

Anyone can pick up and move to a new town and find people with whom they can socialize. Anyone can build superficial relationships. But it takes time and effort to find a circle where you can rely on and trust, and I’m thankful I’m beginning to build my circle. 

The Second First Night.

Well, here I am again. The first night in my new house. It feels like I just did this, quite possibly because it’s been just over a year since I actually did.

But this time is different.

I want to preface with a disclosure on how darn tired I am. I have done a lot of things in my 28 years – worked multiple jobs, played multiple tennis matches in a day during tournaments, campaigned in the summer heat, but construction work is the hardest. My shoulders hurt from the paint rollers, I don’t smell anything but chemicals anymore, and my knees just ache from trying to keep living through it all. I’ve painted, caulked, cleaned, hauled, smashed, scrubbed, flung, mowed, trimmed…you name it. And I’m just tired.

But it really is different this time.

This time I can throw the boxes away, I can hang the pictures, and I can paint the walls. I’ve picked a place to put down roots, and I have all the choices in the world to make it mine. Sometimes too many choices, but choices nevertheless.

It hasn’t been an easy transition and I certainly have a whole blog’s worth on ‘The Home’ by itself, but the scattered boxes and the cluttered freshness of new paint and new floors have me about as excited as one person can be after 26 trips to Lowe’s.

Last fall, not long after moving here, I wrote about “The Ownership.” I talked about wanting to own my own land, to acquire something tangible – and that’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. I wrote:

What is it about owning something that feels so good? You can’t touch stocks and you can’t feel bonds – unless they’re crashing. You can feel the heck out of that. Your money sits in a bank, but on any given day, it could be gone. You can touch land. You can stand on it. You can do something with it. It isn’t going anywhere. It’s yours.

After almost a dozen moves in rentals, I was tired of it. I was tired of living amongst other people’s stuff, living at their mercy, and hoping my rent wouldn’t be hiked…again. This time last year, I wasn’t sure where I wanted it, or how I would get there, but I knew exactly what I was looking for. So I found it.

Today I moved in. Just 45 minutes after the finished the floors, the movers were backing the truck up to my front porch to dump all of my junk in rooms not corresponding to the labels on the boxes. I went from ‘Look how fresh and clean!’ to ‘Start a fire, I don’t want any of this stuff.’ in just a few short minutes of unloading the truck.

I’ve tried not to be selfish, vain, or materialistic about it all, but being reunited with my things – after taking only a few suitcases to Atlanta anticipating a week or two at the most and was there for nearly 8 weeks – was like Christmas morning all over again.

I scurried around this evening trying to make some rooms somewhat livable among the chaos and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with my reasons to be thankful. Thankful for my job, for the people who helped me, for the people who didn’t help me and forced me to work harder (especially the ones who thought I couldn’t make it down here or those that figured some elected official would run me off)….my cup runneth over.

It was long after dark before I closed my front door this evening and even the blinds stayed open much longer than they should have. I just couldn’t stop looking, I’m almost in disbelief. This is what I wanted and this is what I’ve worked for.

It’s quiet out here, and maybe tomorrow I’ll have enough energy to be a little concerned about the stillness and the pitch black, but for tonight, I’m tired enough to sleep in the yard.

The Bottom.

The bottom…

…of a bottle, where you might find all of the answers.
…of the ocean, where there is more unseen than seen.
…of the barrel, where the pickins’ are slim.

The bottom is different for everyone and while we seem to reserve the term for alcoholics and drug addicts, we all have a bottom. It doesn’t mean we’re on the verge of death or suicide – no – the bottom is just the point at which you know you’ve hit every limb on the way down the dark hole and you’re alone. You’ve tumbled down what seems to be an endless flight of stairs. You have no more “bounce” and your options include laying there forever or picking yourself back up.

You can hit the bottom for a number of reasons – work, relationships, family, a lack of any of those three. The bottom knows no bounds and no one is too good for it.

I know all of these things for certain as I recently hit my own bottom.

While this cheerful blog is certainly not the place for the details of my internal demise, it’s safe to say I found myself in a place where most everyone else has been (- and the ones who claim they haven’t are either lying to themselves or lying to everyone else.) I’ve made no secret of the fact that I moved to South Georgia last year to abandon some of my problems and distance myself from a few of my mistakes. 365 days later, I can tell you that didn’t go over too well.

Not only did it not work, it actually made it worse. Like an infection on the tip of your finger that spreads down your hand and up your arm, a failure to address mistakes, missteps, and misfortunes will consume you and eat you alive. While it destroys you on the inside, everyone can see it on the outside. As you try to “manage” it all on your own, you slowly drift away from your anchor and the qualities that once made you great.

And unless you’re as lucky as the guy who carried his secrets to his grave only to leave his wife and his mistress unknowingly posting competing obituaries, your secrets and your demons will come out. They always do. And when they do, you’ll fight it, it will hurt like hell, and the despair will be unreal. You’ll feel embarrassed, you’ll want to run away…again…and then someone will metaphorically slap you across the face and remind you this would all be a lot easier if you would just look in the mirror, acknowledge what you don’t like, and fix it.

That’s the bottom…or at least you think it is, until you see the disappointment in the eyes of those you love and adore, that’s the bottom.

“When you decide to hit rock bottom, humiliation is part of the deal.”

The bottom is the point at which you decide you can no longer carry on as you have been. That you’re tired of hurting those around you, and you want to get to the point where you pull people closer instead of push them away.

The bottom also isn’t forever. The bottom is dark, but jessica onionswhen it’s darkest, it’s easier to see the light. The bottom is great even if only for the sole fact that the only place you can go…is up. You know none of these things, though, until you are actually there.

Our daily lives on this Earth are mere Jenga puzzles, teetering and unstable. Our goal is to stay in tact and our hope is that our foundation is solid enough to keep us afloat until the next day. Far worse than an unstable foundation, however, is our own refusal to acknowledge when the foundation needs rebuilding.

My job – and, begrudgingly I admit, my personality – probably exacerbated the problem simply because I always feel as if I have to be “on,” and willing and able to take someone to battle. I felt I always had to be presenting something, if you will, to keep my work on the forefront. I took minimal time for myself mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

What a mistake that was.

What good is good work when you can’t see past your problems? What pride can you feel when you only see your own negatives?

You can only be your own worst enemy if you’re also willing to be your biggest advocate. Being an advocate for yourself means refusing denial. More importantly, it means showing mercy for yourself, acknowledging that though you may make mistakes, you can grow, heal, and move on from them. Advocating for yourself means identifying the forgiving people around you – those that will acknowledge that while their mistakes may be different from yours, they still made mistakes.

The most dangerous thing we can do is pretend we can handle it all alone. The second most dangerous thing we can do is pretend everything is okay. How are we supposed to believe others have forgiven us when we won’t forgive ourselves?

Besides, that endless flight of stairs that got you to the bottom is exactly what will get you back to the top.

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling

*Video lyrics not to be taken literally*


The Transition.

I don’t like instability. I like structure, schedules, and organization. I am the poster child for Type A personalities. Transitions and disorder make me not only uncomfortable, but sometimes unable to function. I can’t stand limbo.

That’s how I ended up in South Georgia in the first place…I fled the city where I’d dissolved my life into chaos and confusion thinking if I just packed up and moved to a brand new place, the instability wouldn’t follow. That’s true to a point, and I eventually found a place of manageable, organized chaos after some time, but reaching stability is like growing a garden: It takes time and it’s seasonal.

And seasons end.

I functioned in this ‘manageable, organized chaos’ for a good while, working to put down roots and dedicating 16-18 hours a day to work…until my lease was up. When you work from home, and you don’t have a home, you suddenly have no office. Take away both those things at the same time and you feel like a newborn caterpillar trying to weather a tornado. Now, everything is in storage, I’m back living like an 17-year-old at my moms, and I’m commuting occasionally to work in rural Georgia from the northern ‘burbs of Atlanta.

I’m trying to buy a house, but that’s proved more difficult than I originally thought, so here I am on day 18 of transition. It’s a mess and it feels like I’m right back to where I started a year ago. If I let my mind think sit and wonder about it all, I can have myself so worked up that I’m convinced I’ll be living here until I’m 40, everything I’ve worked for will go down the drain, and even the dogs will resent me.

But worry is a terrible thing. It blinds us from optimism.

Aside from having mismatched shoes because some are in storage and longing for some of my ‘personal effects,’ transition has made me step back, slow down, and recharge. I was in a cycle of work in South Georgia that had me at “all work. no play.” Is motivation and commitment a good thing? Sure. But I had friends I hadn’t seen since I left Atlanta a year ago, people who were once an important component of my every day life that I managed to put second for work, and a compartmentalized life of “this” and “that.” I don’t regret that decision because I’m proud of what’s happened over the last 12 months, but it’s made me recognize the considerable imbalance.

I thought the stability I had established over the last year was part of my 5 or 10 year plan, and perhaps it is…but when someone asks, “Where are you going with all this?” or “How do you plan to get there?” and all you can offer them is a blank stare, you’re no longer on track. Also, “work harder” isn’t a plan.

I left the city because I felt like I was lacking a purpose. Making money to pay my bills, socializing to say I did, and climbing a ladder that had no top rung wasn’t cutting it for me and I blamed that on my physical address. But that can happen anywhere. They say that goals without a plan are just wishes. That’s what is true. We get into a groove, think we have it all figured out, but in searching for and maintaining stability, we can lose our focus.

This transition is stressful. It’s the first time I’ve been back in Atlanta for more than 4 days. I realize how much I miss some of “my people” and I’ve reconsidered what there is to appreciate about metro Atlanta. That’s a good thing – because I’d grown bitter about the very place I called home for 24 years all because of a few things that happened. At the same time, I long for the peacefulness of my home on a road hardly anyone travels and the smell of freshly cut grass. Part of me can’t wait to get back and watch the sunsets on the porch with my pups while planning my next small town coup.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last twelve months, it’s that few things in this life are forever. Each day is an opportunity for a transition, a new direction, or an improvement, and if we don’t see it as such, we will sink. We don’t have to keep relocating to keep from sinking, but, like your Internet browser, we do have to keep refreshing.

Aren’t we supposed to ask ourselves, “What do I want out of this day?” every single day?

And the answer every day should be “all of it.” Everything this life has to offer every time the world is offering it. A to Z. 1 to Infinity. No excuses. Every morning that we open our eyes, we have an opportunity. Any day we don’t seize those opportunities is a complete waste. It’s just up to us to decide where we want those worldly opportunities to take us – and that’s what transition is for. It isn’t limbo, it’s just a fork in the road.

I’m a work in progress -and I can try to plan out what’s next all I want -but I have no doubt the targets will keep changing and I’ll keep adding to the list of things I need to work on. Besides, if you want to make God laugh…plan.

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle

Goodbye, Dixie.

11 months ago, I packed up my life on a whim and moved to South Georgia. Unfamiliar with the area, I picked Brooklet in Bulloch County. I picked the first house available, pretty much site unseen, and dove in head first to what I imagined would be a nice little adventure. The house I rented was a quaint old home just off of “downtown” with just the right size yard. At the top of my rent budget, the house was bigger than I needed, but it was where I wanted to be. It’s suited me just fine for nearly a year, but the lease on that quaint little home has expired. So, it’s time to say goodbye to Dixie…

…Street, that is. Yes, I moved from the big city to Dixie Street – like something straight out of a movie.

When I moved down here, I wasn’t sure if it would be temporary or not. I had lived south of the gnat line, but that was for a campaign, and life can be different when you’re on the trail. You don’t see things the same way and I did have worry in the back of my mind that I would regret my decision. But when I chose to leave the city, I did so with the idea in mind that this was a journey and I could come back at any time I wanted.

In the mean time, I made the house Dixie Streetmy home, but never hung pictures, didn’t spend much time “customizing,” and circumvented the part about becoming attached to a home. Luckily, I wasn’t home enough to realize that everything wasn’t up to my OCD standards, either.

So, I didn’t think I would be sad to ditch this house when the clock ran out. The house that has cracks under the doors that allow the bugs to waltz in and has zero insulation. The house that costs so much to cool that I can’t turn the AC on upstairs in the summer. The house that pretty much only dispenses warm water, never cold. The house that now has a vine growing out of the ceiling that I’ve been tracking with day-by-day photos – (gallery below) – and I’m pretty sure has some level of mold in it. And in the entire time I’ve lived here, I still haven’t gone in the shed out back.

But I am sad. As I’ve struggled to maintain my sanity in the chaos of moving, I’ve found myself a little sentimental about the house on Dixie Street.

I love my neighbors. The ones who watched my home for me, whether I was home or not, the ones who brought me cookies and holiday treats, the one who greeted every worker or utility person in my yard to question them on why they were there (for my own safety), and, of course, the one who works at the Sheriff’s Office and probably spent the last 11 months cutting at least 2 feet of my lawn on one side because I never knew where the property line started or stopped. Knowing they were around made the quiet, solitary property seem cozy and it felt good knowing I had people I could go to if something went wrong.

Brooklet has been a wonderful place to live. It’s quaint and friendly. It’s safe and the police have been wonderful to me. I wasn’t usually scared to be out with the dogs late at night and coming home alone didn’t worry me. I locked my doors because I’m from the city, but I know plenty of people who don’t. The people who work in the town have been beyond gracious and helpful and I even like most the city council members. (Did the world just explode?)

Besides, Brooklet has been the laboratory for so many of my lessons. It’s where I learned to mow the lawn, where I learned to squash almost all types of bugs on my own, regardless of how that took place, and where I learned how to get oversized furniture up and down the stairs by myself because I’m too stubborn to ask for help. I also learned how to breathe without inhaling gnats.

But more importantly, I learned a lot about me. My move to South Georgia was about so much more than a house or a small town, or a simple relocation. It happened under the guise of a job, but I did it to escape things I couldn’t handle or refused to address in Atlanta. Of course, that didn’t work, and I learned that rather quickly, but the country was the comfort my pain and the peace to my chaos. I faced my issues head on and found solace in my work.

I saw ups and downs with that too – my work – but I’ve progressed tremendously – despite, and because of, the haters. I’ve found a purpose and a niche. I know what I’m good at, yet I’ve found a place in my own life to examine my mistakes and my shortcomings, and I’ve see the benefit in doing so. I know where I’m content and where I want to grow.

It hasn’t all been roses and rainbows – after all, nothing is. I’ve seen cliques and mean girls (and mean boys!), death threats for stories, friendships dissolve, and an all out exile. I’ve watched how fast gossip and half-truths spread and I’ve seen how people work to protect their own, no matter how wrong that may be. I’ve felt stupid for leaving, alone in the universe, and just incompetent in general.

But all of those things are grossly outweighed by the good. Luckily, I’ve strengthened my faith, and by way of that, myself. I’ve been welcomed by people who know little about me and felt others treat me like family when they have no incentive to do so. I’ve been loved by others who open doors for me and allow me to learn from them daily. I now know that people can’t help you if you don’t tell them how and you can’t build relationships if you don’t let them trust you.

A lot has happened in a year. I’m very much the same as I was when I left, but sometimes not really at all.

I love where I’ve been because it’s a great place to be, but most of all, I love what’s happened on Dixie Street, because the house is just a place on the map. And now I’m lucky to know that the things I learned at this place on the map can travel with me wherever I go from here.

So will I stay or will I go? I’m planning on staying, I just don’t know where…yet. Much is to be determined, so stay tuned and check back…

The Weight.

I used to be overweight. Before you go searching the Internet for evidence, I will tell you right now that you won’t find anything. Facebook wasn’t a thing and the friends from high school still in my life have been sworn to secrecy for fear of retribution. Seriously.

My dad passed away when I was 14 and a series of things following that event led to weight gain. Serious weight gain.

Luckily for me, I didn’t attend a high school where there was a whole lot of bullying or meanness, so I spent most of time I was overweight generally unaware I was any different…until I would see pictures. Growing up very healthy, active, and a tennis player, it was really difficult for me.

When I turned 19, I decided that I was ready to make serious changes. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m stubborn and a perfectionist, so I won’t stop until everything is the way I want it. That’s not always a good thing.

I dropped a significant amount of weight the healthy way. I exercised, had a personal trainer, and ate a healthy diet that never deprived me. I dropped to a healthy size, but when I started dating a real loser, it just got worse. His terribleness had me stressed all the time and I dropped even lower – a size 0 everything was easy for me and I could wear anything I wanted. Inside, I still faced demons though. I saw my clothes sizes as different, but in the mirror I was still the girl who was 65 lbs heavier. I never felt “small.”

My life took a lot of “wrong” turns between my family, my boyfriend, and, of course, the regular pieces of life. Everything was out of control…except my weight. When everything was spiraling, I could go to the gym, go home, get on the scale, and know I was in charge. I never wanted anyone to know what I was really dealing with and if they were asking about my weight, it was a good cover.

A shield. A mechanism of control. My weight was my everything.

Time moved on, as it always does, and I shed my life of the wickedness and surrounded myself with good. I was Healthy, humble, and happy. My weight became secondary and I was enjoying everything. Life was perfect.

In 2013, fit hit the shan. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a thyroid problem. If you’ve ever had one, you know that it makes it impossible to lose weight -or to control gaining weight. (Of course I didn’t get HYPERthyroidism – which causes your body to overwork.) It was bad and nothing was good. Every pound was a complete defeat…an inch closer to who I used to be. I was embarrassed to see anyone I knew for fear that when I left they would say, “Wow! What happened to her?”

I cried all the time and never wanted to leave the house. It became so bad that I was angry at people who would ask me to go out to eat or do anything social. Friends, family, my boyfriend. It destroyed my relationships because I couldn’t relax enough to eat and I hated them for making me consume food. I would choose snack size of chips over an apple -if I ate anything at all – because the net weight was less. All of this just made everything worse. It was absolute madness and a terrible way to live. Everyone around me suffered for it for a very long time and I didn’t even realize it.

When I moved to South Georgia, I promised myself that I would work on things I didn’t like about myself and this has quite honestly been one of the biggest things. Not the weight – but the ability for my weight to control me. Part of me hoped not knowing anyone would just “fix” it all, but when does that ever happen? Being down here has been helpful in that sense. I struggle, but image isn’t the same focus as it was in Atlanta. The vanity is trumped by so much more and while people  may love you or hate you down here, it usually isn’t for anything physical. [And let’s be honest – my writing gives them 100 other reasons]. The time I’ve had a self-reflection has allowed me to corner the things that defeat me and challenge myself to change them.

Every day I have to talk myself into a normal state of mind with regard to my weight. I’m no where close, but I have to ask myself…Is the plate of nachos and time with someone I adore worth it? The answer is always yes. Will I regret not seeing my friends or my family if I choose to lock myself away instead? Yes. Do I wish we could do a lap around the park instead of eat hot dogs? Yes. But it isn’t always about me. And if someone is asking me to have dinner, it’s because they want to spend time with me, not because they want to force feed me. It sounds like a much smaller lesson than it is.

I am responsible for my own demons. No one made me this way and no one caused it. It was simply a consequence of several circumstances. But people often don’t know the battles that control us. We don’t know the internal conflicts of others. All we can do is encourage others to seek refuge in places conducive to their needs – where they can grow.

And as for the weight we carry, the heavy burdens, this is a prime example that it is often more mental than physical.