Sadness Abounds, But Love Prevails…

Talk about a week filled with so many emotions. To say I’ve been on a roller coaster is an understatement. And, I’m certain I am not alone in this sentiment.

Last Tuesday, my friends and I faced the loss of a 3rd close friend from high school. At 24 and 25, it’s hard to understand how this could happen – how three people we love so dearly would be taken from us so soon. And, as I said, it’s agonizing to try to look for the reason behind it all. So we grieve, we remember, we celebrate and we move forward, taking their memories and love with us into the future.

Then, just last night, our nation was faced with the reality that Donald J. Trump, media mogul and all around hateful, entitled white man, was elected President of our wonderful country. And we felt the earth crumble beneath us once more.

I am forthright about this – I have long claimed to be a Republican. I grew up in a Catholic home, attended Catholic School K-12 and Republican values were our reality. But this year, this election season, my heart – and my head – were pulled in thousands of different directions.

After a year of so much change in my own life, during which I empowered myself to leave behind an amazing job in an amazing city because I knew it was what I mentally needed, I was flabbergasted by the thought that a man who has zero respect for women (and people in general…) could lead this nation. Completely and utterly shaken and devastated to tell you the truth.

I watched the rise of Hillary Clinton with awe and admiration. That a woman could be a Yale Law School grad, mother, grandmother AND presidential nominee blew me away. Her ascent lifted my spirits. It shattered glass ceilings. It was the reminder we all needed that women can do anything. I watched the campaign closely, with my best friend Katy working tirelessly for Hillary – along with so many. I was led to feel strength through Hillary through my best college gals, Emily, Emily and Kenan, who remind me daily of how amazing women are – and how far we’ve come. I learned so much about what really matters to this nation, to humanity, and I learned #IAmWithHer.

But then, all of this empowerment was so tarnished and sullied by the shocking rise of Donald Trump. A bully, a misogynist and an all around bigot. His fly off the cuff remarks were shocking and disgusting. His complete and utter lack of political intelligence terrifying. The anger and hate that spewed out of him throughout his campaign was enough to send me reeling. If you know me, you know how much anxiety and despair I faced watching this.

I can’t speak for other minorities but I will say, the fact that we elected a man who is unapologetically intolerant of so many – Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, LGBTQ individual, immigrants – is unfathomable. I can say, on behalf of women, the fact that we elected a man who brushed off the act of sexual assault as “locker room talk” is shameful.

We live in a country that has Anti-Bullying organizations, yet we just elected the world’s biggest and most outspoken bully to run our nation. At the highest level. Do we even understand the far-reaching implications of this? Apparently not.

I’m not a mother, but I am an aunt, and while my niece (thankfully) has no idea what’s going on, I am saddened to think that this man will be running the country during her lifetime. I’m saddened for children who have watched the election with utter confusion, and who will not be able to comprehend that despite his election, Trump is not a role model. And to live in a nation where our own President isn’t a role model…that’s scary.

I am at a loss for words. I don’t understand how we got here. I don’t understand how so much hate prevails, lurking under the surface. Our nation is imperfect, but we have made so much progress in the last 8 years to accept people’s differences and to create love and change. I sit here, and cry, at the thought of this progress being halted, and potentially reversed.

Sadly, though, this is our new reality. This is the fate we have to accept. We have to move forward as one, because as Hillary said, we are STRONGER TOGETHER. So while we wake up in a hazy blur of sadness, we must know that united, love can prevail. Love trumps hate. And our love can trump Trump.

When Making Sense Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Loss is unbelievably hard to comprehend. To put it into words would be nearly impossible. It can come at any moment, in any form. It can creep in slowly, looming and impending, or it can appear so incomprehensibly fast that you can hardly process how it’s happened. But, no matter its appearance or its swiftness, it almost always produces a gut-wrenching, “take your breath away” kind of feeling. The wind has been knocked out of you. Your body can no longer support your weight. A pain and a confusion that is so utterly horrible, it mentally and physically drains you. Whether it’s the loss of a pet, friend, parent, grandparent – anyone – it hurts. It forces you to stop and put your own life on pause. To think about how you’re living your day-to-day, and what kind of legacy you’ll be leaving behind when you are called home. It’s raw perspective, more often than not unwanted, into just how luck you are. It’s the tragically painful reminder of how, truly, each and every day you wake up alive is one to be exceptionally grateful for, regardless of work deadlines, mountains of bills and the other countless worldly stressors we all face. At least we are able to face them.

Today, as I, along with so many others, face the loss of a good friend, I’m hit with the sobering reality of life’s utter preciousness. Yes, while this should be a daily thought, I know I don’t go about constantly thinking that today could be my last. And, I’m not implying we should fill our minds with perpetual fear and distress, but I hate that it takes such a shocking slap in the face for me to remember to remind myself how truly blessed I am. Life isn’t always easy, and some days I feel completely and totally spent. But, holy cow, I’m grateful that I even have the opportunity to feel stressed and spent, to feel anything.

Life will never always be sunshine and daisies, that’s for sure. But in our moments of dark and despair, at least we can call to our bright moments. At least we can move forward knowing there will be sunshine. At least we have moments at all.

Trying to comprehend loss, or figure out its meaning, can be a dark hole, because it’s just so agonizing. For me, putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) at least helps me unload some of my thoughts – to try to unjumble what seems to be a completely tangled web. I am not here to act as if I know another’s pain or suffering, just to process what exists in my own mind.

I guess, in my pain and confusion, I am drawn to remind myself (and any of you who arrived at this corner of the Internet) to be grateful for your life – to appreciate every wonderful and rotten moment you are granted. Appreciate the lives of those you love. Appreciate the world and its beauty. Bring the world beauty! Take a day off for no reason at all. Call your grandparents. Hug your dog. Take your family out to dinner. Go on a hike. Do whatever it is that makes you happy. And love – hard – because life can change, and be gone, in an instant.

Rest in peace, Kyle. Your energy, humor and spirit will never, ever, ever be forgotten. You are truly one of a kind, and I am so lucky to call you my friend. XOXO.

Queen City Quirks : Carolina Thread Trail

Welcome to the first edition of Queen City Quirks: a (hopefully) regular series where I share some of my favorite things – ranging from outdoor adventures to foodie finds – about Charlotte. Lord knows I take enough pictures and can ramble on long enough about things I enjoy!

While I may not come across this way in my everyday life, I am one who quite enjoy being outdoors and being active! While I’m no wilderness woman, nor am I an Olympic athlete (or, quite frankly, an amateur athlete #nocoordination), I have found a variety of activities that I enjoy partaking in – that require little (to no) skill.

This past Tuesday, my mom invited me to go on a bike tour sponsored by Carolina Thread Trail. Carolina Thread Trail is “a regional trail network that will ultimately reach 15 counties and more than 2.3 million people.” The trail network prides itself on being more than just a spot to be active, but on being an area to preserve the abundant nature and history of the Carolinas.


Truthfully, I had never heard of the Carolina Thread Trail, but I am huge fan of the Four Mile Creek Greenway in South Charlotte, and I love hearing that the area will be expanding its paths! According to our tour guide on Tuesday, Mary Ann, the trail system will eventually span about 1500 miles – unbelievable! But, like me, very few others have heard of the incredible work that the Carolina Thread Trail is doing, so the organization has been offering free, yes FREE, hiking, biking and paddling events led by their amazing team members!


My mom and I participated in the group’s monthly Queen City Joyride – where a guide leads you along one of the area’s existing greenway paths, stopping along the way to discuss the area, as well as its history. This past Tuesday, the ride was held at Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which will eventually link over 19 miles of trails.

We started the ride at the Metropolitan shopping center, where we picked up our free B-Cycles to use for the ride. In case you’re wondering B-Cycle is, it’s an urban bike sharing system located in Charlotte, with over 200 bikes parked near Center City. All are available for public use, with a small fee. It’s a great way to get active and try something new, without a full purchase commitment.


We then rode from the Metropolitan all the way down through Freedom Park, eventually making our way to Park Road Shopping Center. We stopped along the way for small snippets of trail knowledge, and history lessons, and were able to bike at whatever pace we pleased. It was great to connect with fellow Charlotteans we didn’t know, but who, like us, also wanted to learn more about the city they call home. While the Greenway did have some sharp turns along the way, the views of Uptown Charlotte, as well as the bustling Sugar Creek, were spectacular. It was a peaceful ride during which we passed many smiling faces of walkers and runners, all itching to take advantage of this beautifully restored pathway.


I really can’t say enough about this event, and not just because I am a broke twenty-something. I honestly could not believe it was completely and utterly FREE, but because it was a great communal activity. I enjoyed meeting fellow “neighbors” and taking in the brisk fall air as we explored Charlotte’s lesser known attractions. I can’t recommend enough that you all check out the Carolina Thread Trail events calendar (see link here) and partake in one of their many free activities! Because with word spreading, I’m sure a deal like this won’t last forever. Enjoy!

Charlotte’s Got A Lot

There’s nothing like a long car ride (or shower for that matter…) to really get you thinking. This past weekend, I had the pleasure (seriously) of babysitting my adorably wonderful niece, Avery. During my 2-hour journey home, my mind wandered, as it so often does.

I thought about how absolutely flipping grateful I was to be able to drive not too far to be able to spend the weekend with Avery. How down to my core, I could not be more thankful to be a car ride away from all of my favorite human beings. Seriously! I’ve got my parents and one sister (and her fiancée!) in Charlotte, and another sister, her husband and their sweet angel baby just down the interstate. I’ve got my closest friends around the corner (or quite literally, in my apartment). Life is pretty dang good.


I had been thinking, as well, about my blog and how I haven’t written here in quite some time. I mentioned this to my girlfriend, Kenan, and she suggested it’s because I’ve been too busy enjoying and living my life to want to sit down and document it. And admittedly, I think that’s exactly the reason. I find it easier to express myself in written word when I am down, and perhaps I don’t even find any need to express myself when “up!” I know I appreciate these “ups” because of all my “downs,” but I think it fair to myself to document the highs as well.

I won’t say that getting to this point of sheer gratitude and overall happiness has been a walk in the park because it certainly hasn’t. For those of you who know me, or perhaps have even just had the slightest of interaction with me, you know that I tend to be an anxious individual. And by “tend to be anxious individual” I mean I am probably one of the most anxious people you’ve ever had the joy of encountering. So, for me, being content and having a true sense of peace may look a little different than others, but gosh it’s a welcome frame of mind…that’s taken work to get to.

After college, I had an incredible job with Comcast/NBCUniversal. I lived in two incredible cities and made countless incredible friends. In addition, I had a plethora of incredible opportunities at my fingertips from this job. On all logical accounts, I had it made and I was set. But, I found it next to impossible to connect this logic with my emotion. At every turn, with every new and exciting development, my heart was still pulling me far away from this incredible job in these incredible cities. Once my emotions took hold of me, my mental health suffered, my eating disorder crept back and my heart felt as if it were shattered. I no longer even felt like myself.

Truth be told, and again from a logical standpoint, it makes NO sense. Even to me. How could I be unhappy with all that I had? I was not without – not without employment, shelter, food, love, friendship, etc. I had it all, but something about it was not right. But in order to make things right, I had to make a difficult choice – to leave the incredible job in the incredible cities with the incredible people. Let me tell you, it hurt. It stung like hell. I’m an overly self-critical person, and this was a blow to my pride. I had given up. I was weak. I was stupid. I had let go of the greatest opportunity I’d ever been give because, plain and simple, I was a frickin’ baby. Or, at least that’s how I felt.


When I arrived in Charlotte, I was unemployed and felt life had beaten me at the ripe old age of 23. Wonderful. I managed to pull myself up by the boot straps (barely) and set out interviewing and found a new job that was just as incredible, with equally as incredible people. I still judged myself, though. This wasn’t Comcast/NBC, and Charlotte isn’t NYC or Philly. I let self-doubt creep in. I worried others must be thinking the same – what a loser that girl Katherine is. Blah, blah, blah, on and on and on.

I don’t know when it hit me though – when it hit me that #1 no one gives rat’s behind what you’re doing, Katherine and #2 you don’t give a rat’s behind what other people think about what you’re doing – but whenever those 2 things clicked inside me, I felt pure contentment. So content, in fact, that I didn’t even realize just how content I was…know what I’m sayin’?

I made, in my opinion, some pretty tough choices and took, for me (aka one of the most risk averse humans to walk this planet), some pretty big risks to get to this point. I worked hard to settle back into Charlotte, to reintroduce myself to my beloved hometown and to get involved with people I loved so dearly, but hadn’t regularly interacted with in person in years. While making these decisions and doing these things wasn’t always easy because of my self-doubt and quite frankly, self-pity, doing them is what got me out of my rut, and got me to believing in myself.

And, even though I keep telling people “I just moved back to Charlotte,” I’m coming to the realization that it’s almost been an entire year. An entire year for which I am utterly, unabashedly grateful and have become utterly, unabashedly happy.

Charlotte, you’ve really got a lot, and for that, I am thankful.

 

But This Wasn’t The Plan…

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a nice, long drive alone to fully immerse yourself in your thoughts. So, today, as I drove home from visiting Megan + Rusty + Avery in Greenville (well, technically Taylors), I was flooded with thoughts – and suddenly flooded with tears.

As I drove down I-85, I let the tears fall freely. Certainly I was sad to be leaving their cute little family after a great weekend, but I realized these tears were representative of so much more. And one word kept resounding in my head: GRATITUDE. Unspeakable, unfathomable, overwhelming gratitude.

 

The majestic Queen City #704

My move back to Charlotte in December wasn’t planned. I was a part of a (wonderful) two-year rotational program with Comcast/NBCUniversal. I had completed my first rotation (a year in NYC) and was about to finish my second (6 months in Philadelphia), and head off to my third. I would move back to New York for my third rotation, and finish off the program at NBCU, where I would then transition into a full-time role. That was the plan.

But, my heart was hurting. And as a result of my heart hurting, my health (both mental and physical) was suffering terribly. My anxiety had peaked, and my eating disorder had me strangled in its grips. Every thought of mine was filled with paranoia – from work to relationships to food. I worried I wasn’t performing at my job, I worried people were mad at me, I worried (and obsessed) over every calorie that entered my body.

With the flare in my anxiety, and with the constant thoughts about food (and the, more often than not, daily bulimic episodes), I slowly felt myself losing it. I was sleeping 11+ hours a night and yet, unable to get out of bed. I was mopey and sad and hurting. And worst of all, I was scared.

I was scared as I witnessed my eating disorder creep fully back into my life. It had overtaken me – every bite, lick, taste and thought was consumed with terrible eating disorder behavior. I tried to brush this aside, I tried to quietly take control of things on my own, but with each day, I was further gone.

I knew that if I didn’t make some kind of a change that this would destroy me. So, I resigned.

I left behind my first job out of college, in the middle of the prestigious program I was a part of (and had become a part of me), with an amazing company (and amazing people). It was terrifying, but I knew I had to, because truly, my life depended on it.

I needed my support system, and I needed them at my side. That’s not to say I didn’t have a support system in NYC or Philly (I did – and I love them all!), but I needed my family. I needed my very closest friends. And, I needed my doctors. I needed the people who knew me down to my core, because I was drowning.

Nick Nick Nick Nick


Kat & Cat


To tell your employer and your coworkers that you are resigning is probably the scariest thing ever (especially when you don’t have another job lined up). And it wasn’t the plan. This was going against everything my Type-A, perfectionist self stood for. How could I leave a job, mid-commitment? How could I let down this company? How could I let down all of my fellow program mates (who had become my closest friends)? As a person who has high standards for herself (and who is very hard on herself…), I struggled, but the voice inside my head, and every fiber of my gut, told me I had to do this. I had to do this, but doing so meant going against “the” plan.

The plan I had worked hard for – late nights at the college library, interview prep, 2 big city moves. I had planned my life around this plan (for lack of better words), and suddenly I was going astray. And I was scared.

But, as I sat today on I-85 in tears, it hit me – I had gone against my plan, but I had listened to, followed and trusted in God’s plan. Of course! Why hadn’t I realized that sooner?

Gal Pals!


Avery is everything.

 While it wasn’t my plan to leave my job, God knew that this move was just what I needed, and he planted the idea in my head and lead me to act on this. He was the voice inside my head telling me to return home, because He knew that it was what I needed. And, He gave me the strength to talk to my employers about all of this. He redirected my plan so that I could follow His.

Family.


Since moving back, I have made strides in my health – first in freely discussing it, but second in gaining control back from my eating disorder. I’m not perfect (and never will be), but I am making progress, and that’s all I can ask for.

Most importantly, though, I’ve been reunited with my people. And, while I knew I missed them when in NYC and Philly (hello FOMO all the time), being back has made me realize how much I must’ve missed them, and how many milestones I would have missed had I not come back. Kelley & Matt’s engagement, Megan & Rusty moving into a new house, Panther tailgates with my parents, every second of Avery’s life – all things I wouldn’t have been able to actively participate in had I been home. In addition, I’ve been reunited with some of my best friends from high school and college (and found a job I enjoy!) – what more could I ask for?

Just missing Rusty and Avery😦


A huge, huge part of me felt like I was letting so many people down by moving (namely, my employers/coworkers…and myself). I was embarrassed. I felt like I was being judged. I felt like a failure for not sticking to the plan.

Hindsight is 20/20, though, and while I didn’t stick to my plan, I listened to God’s voice in me and rewrote my plan, according to His direction. And for that, and so many other things, I am grateful.

XOXO

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Sure They’re Gluten Free

Admittedly, I have had this title in my head for a couple of weeks since I first heard I might have Celiac Disease. Two weeks later, I am writing with an official diagnosis .

So, I guess this means I’m now that girl. That girl who can’t eat gluten and requests a special menu and refuses to eat your (delicious and tempting) pizza. Curse you, gluten!

Back in December, I had some routine bloodwork done which showed heightened liver enzymes. Given my history of eating disorders, I felt it necessary to look into this, as my behavior certainly has internal (and unseen) consequences.

In January I had a liver ultrasound which showed that my liver was normal (thank goodness!), so my doctor thought it wise to see a gastroenterologist to get to the bottom of things. After a few more vials of blood were drawn, they told me my bloodwork tested positive for Celiac antibodies. Excuse me?!

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Well, gluten…

This was such a shock as I felt totally fine (I feel very lucky about that!), and I know that often people who find out about their gluten intolerance feel utterly awful. But, I marched on and today had an endoscopy/biopsy of my small intestine which showed that I have Celiac Disease.

It’s crazy to find out such a thing at 23 years old, as you wonder how long this has been going on/how it just developed. And it’s also crazy that even though I felt fine, internally my body was struggling. I’m SO grateful for the medical care I received, including the encouragement and insistence that I look into the issues found in my bloodwork.

Now, I know this all seems kind of odd considering my eating disorder history, but I was told the Celiac Disease is likely unrelated. And, I know that people will say things like “well now you have an excuse to be more restrictive,” but reality is, I have to avoid gluten for my health, and I am not purposefully doing this to “cut carbs.” Like anyone, I want to do what’s best for my body and for me, that means cutting out gluten (per doctor’s orders).

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So, while this will be a major lifestyle change for me, I’ve tried to thing of a few pros (and some cons) of this diagnosis:

PROS:

  • I HATE beer (always have), and now have a legit excuse as to why I refuse to drink it!
  • Gluten free pizza dough is available at so many yummy places (lookin’ at you Mellow Mushroom & Papa Murphy’s)
  • I prefer corn tortillas to flour – long live my Mexican food addiction
  • I truly love fresh, natural and whole foods – fruits, veggies, meat, etc.
  • One of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats, is now exclusively gluten-free after author Kristin was diagnosed with Celiac (“later” in life like me!)

CONS:

  • I will have to become an avid label reader (not totally bad, but may slow down my grocery trips)
  • I will have to be very vigilant when out to eat/at social events
  • Biggest of all, I love baking and will have to learn how to whip up some gluten free goodies (although, I did see that Pillsbury makes gluten-free Funfetti mix – PRAISE!)

All in all, I feel content about this diagnosis. While it is definitely not ideal, it is not a death sentence and it is doable. I am grateful that we live in a world that has adapted so much and now has so many gluten-free options. And, most of all, I am grateful to know what was causing the crazy results of my bloodwork because it is never fun to drive yourself insane and wonder what’s wrong with you!

So, now I must begin my gluten-free journey! I have to educate myself on all the dos and don’t’s, and all of the gluten-free options out there. My hope is that I can find some delicious recipes and restaurants with gluten-free offerings and share them with you all! And, if you have any advice or tidbits you’d like to share with me on Celiac Disease or gluten-free diets, please let me know!

XOXO

What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

While this post has very little to do with the upcoming holiday centered around luck (hello, St. Patrick’s Day!), I’ll pretend that I’m posting it in honor of my Irish heritage.

I will flat out say that I have terrible luck. Really and truly. That’s not to say I have a terrible life, it’s just that I often find myself facing circumstances or events that make me think “why me?” Luckily (!), though, after a small pity party, I can usually laugh these things off.

I’d like to give you a brief sample of some of the “unlucky” things that have happened to me over the years.

  • I tried out for the middle school and high school cheerleading squad 3 years in a row and was cut every.single.year. #LOL
  • I went to the doctor in the summer of 2012 thinking I had a cold, and ended up learning I had to have surgery to get a cyst in my neck removed. #likewhat
  • I went on a business trip (my first!) in December of 2014 to LA, and American Airlines lost my luggage…and never found it. #stillmissthoseclothes
  • During the time I lived in Philly + NYC, I was on a total of 4 Amtrak trains that completely broke down. #whataretheodds
  • And, lastly and most recently (and looking back the event I laugh at most…yet went full-blown panic mode about when it happened), I spent the last 5 years with a suspended driver’s license WITHOUT.EVEN.KNOWING. #nojoke

Let me take a quick second to explain that last one because now it is fully hilarious to recount.

Like most, I got my license when I turned 16 (summer of 2008). I was a good driver, or as good as any 16-year-old can be, but then one day in the spring of 2010 I got pulled over. Can you imagine?! I really had no idea why I got pulled over as I was obeying all laws, and needless to say I was annoyed. Turns out, my registration was expired (which I will 100% blame on my parents who constantly reminded me the car I was using belonged to them) and I got a ticket.

Fast forward to August of 2010, I went on my 18th birthday to the county courthouse alongside my best friend Nick to expunge the ticket. As I was told by the county clerk, all I had to do was provide them with my updated registration and boom, ticket would be cleared. So I did just that, and followed it up with lunch at Nothing But Noodles (thanks for the great memory on that lunch date, Nick). Happy birthday, clear record.

Fast forward to January 2016, I had just moved back home and needed to get a new license in order to properly register the car I bought. I went to the DMV feeling confident and ready to go, when I was suddenly halted (after waiting in that hellish line) and told that my current license was suspended. Um, perdoname?!

My mind raced, but I knew the only time I have ever been pulled over was after that registration scare in 2010. I thought surely this could not be related. I wondered if I had done something and not known! Or, if my identity had been stolen! These are the thoughts were going through my emotionally hysterical, always anxious head. Because I am rational and all that jazz.

So, I called the county clerk. And, she tells me that sure enough, my license had been suspended back in 2010 as a result of this registration incident, despite having gone to the courthouse to clear my record (and my name! and my glory! and my honor!). Still crazy to me because, in the meantime, I was issued a new license on August 13, 2010 (2 days after my birthday), I had rented a car in Philadelphia and I had purchased a car when I moved home. How does all of that happen with a suspended license?! And how does someone not know their license has been suspended for that long?!

I may never know, but I lived it. And, now that my shortness of breath/tears are gone, I can laugh about this.

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What’s this got to do with anything? Honestly, not much. But, sometimes I will sit around and wonder why I have to deal with so much BS when it seems like everyone around me just breezes by. Why do I have this horrible luck? Why do I have an eating disorder? Why, why, WHY?

But, no sooner do I let myself slip into these thoughts do I remember that every last living person on this planet has SOMETHING they have to deal with that they absolutely hate. No one of us is perfect or living these phenomenal lives 24/7. Life has its ups and downs for everyone. And everyone has some sort of struggle, whether you see it or know about it.

I think a lot of this pity party mentality is brought about because of social media. We see posts of people doing all these wonderful things, and look up to find ourselves in a windowless cubicle knowing the most exciting part of our day might really be the fact that the Real Housewives comes on that night. All too often, though, we forget that social media is a one second snapshot of someone’s life, often bogged down with 19 filters from 3 different photo-editing apps.

I’m not saying you can’t sometimes feel sorry for yourself, I do it! But, just remember, everyone struggles and falls and feels helpless at times. What matters is working hard each day to pick yourself up, and reminding yourself of the things in life that you are grateful for. I’ve found that focusing on these positives, even if it is as silly as looking forward to the #RHOBH, make getting past these pity parties more manageable.

Everybody’s got something, and there’s always someone who’s got it worse than you do. So, pick yourself up, and someone else who might be struggling!, and keep moving forward because, while life can be pretty sucky at times, there’s usual a bright spot at the end of the tunnel (a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?).

XOXO

**PS: The county clerk ended up clearing my record as they realized they had made a mistake, and I now have a fully active license. Phew!

A Week Not for the Weak

It’s midnight on a Wednesday and I have to be up at 6am, but I can’t sleep. It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week, and I feel compelled to write. So many thoughts swim in my head (daily) and this week seemed like the perfect time to put pen to paper (well, finger to keyboard) and let them out. Yes, I know I’ve already discussed my struggle, but one blog post doesn’t encapsulate a years long battle (that I’ve been fighting since 2007).

I’ll tell you straight up, just because I’m willing to talk about my eating disorder, doesn’t mean I’m “cured.” And, quite frankly, I’m tired of this notion that I will be “cured.” That’s not to say I feel that this battle is hopeless and I’ll never overcome, it’s just acknowledging that like any addict, once I reach “sober,” I’ll forever be in recovery. Some days will be harder than others. Some days I will want to slip back to bad habits, but my hope is that I’ll be able to use different coping mechanisms and techniques to get by.

2007
2007: Dropped to my lowest weight of 88 lbs. I hid from the world and completely lost myself.

So, like I said, I still struggle. A lot. Some of the most difficult aspects of this disease are that it is often unseen. Of course, when I was severely anorexic both in high school and college that was noticeable, which made people more sympathetic or understanding of my plight. As I sit here with this newly morphed eating disorder (manifesting itself as bulimia), I’m faced with the troubling reality that I look fine. Truly, I do. You’d never know by looking at me that I obsessively think about/panic over every morsel of food that I eat. You’d never know that it takes every ounce of my being not to try to count every calorie that enters and exits my body. You’d never know that I arbitrarily label foods as “good” and “bad,” and that the second I eat something “bad” I through all caution to the wind and eat everything “bad” in sight, just to get rid of it all later. I can’t even bring myself to say the word purge without feeling utterly ashamed and disgusted.

2013
2013: Hovering around 100 lbs.

And that’s just it, eating disorders breed so much shame because they’re so wildly misunderstood. We see them depicted on TV as a mere choice a person makes, as if an eating disorder is like a light switch I can turn off and on as I please. Dare I quote Cher Horowitz and say “as if!”

What person would ever choose to live a life such as this?! That’s not to say eating disorders don’t sometimes begin with a choice to lose weight, but what person would really choose to try to lose weight by completely starving themselves or by binging just to purge? That’s just not how it works.

Now, I’m going to sound cocky here, but bear with me. Why would I choose to have an eating disorder? I grew up in a middle class family, living in the suburbs with my married parents, two sisters and a dog. I went to Catholic school. I got a great education, graduated top 10 in my high school class and went on to study at the best university in the country (in my eyes at least – #GDTBATH). I had a post-grad job before I even began my senior year of college. I have amazing friends and have been enriched by many life experiences. Why would I choose the kind of pain that an eating disorder causes? WHY?

Answer: I wouldn’t. Every person is wired differently, and you know what, I was wired in such a way that I have a mental illness. I suffer with gripping anxiety, and it manifests itself through this eating disorder, this need to control something and to be “perfect.”

Let’s quickly pause for a minute here. Can I ask, who the hell decided how we as a society define “perfect?” Because I’d like to have a word with said person. I’m sick of this notion that you’re only perfect if you look and act a certain way. Newsflash: there’s over 7 billion people on this earth. Do you really expect 7 billion people to look like the celebrities we see in magazines? Do we expect every girl & woman to have a thigh gap, big boobs and a flat stomach? Do we expect every boy & man to have a chiseled jaw line and a six-pack? We must be out of our GD minds. But, reality is, it’s everywhere around us. We are perpetuating these toxic beliefs. And every day, women and men are belittled and bullied to believe that unless they look and act a certain way, they are not good enough. I mention men here, too, because newsflash part two, men can (and do!) have eating disorders. There’s no gender discrimination here.

So, I’m wired in such a way that I have an eating disorder. Many people are like me, and often, just like me, you can’t tell just by looking at them. Doesn’t make their problems any less real just because they’re not visible. It’s almost scarier because it makes us easy to hide, easy to get away with not getting help. “Certainly I don’t need to seek treatment if no one even notices I’ve lost weight or have abnormal behavior.” << that is an eating disorder thought, and it’s pure danger.

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The scary truth.

Another dangerous belief? Thinking this is all about will-power. People think that if you have enough “will-power” to starve yourself or to binge and purge, then certainly all it takes is will-power to stop doing these things. Ha! If only it were that easy. Many addicts know they have problems yet can’t stop on their own. We know the behavior is damaging, yet we continue to do it. It’s not that we lack will-power it’s just that we are sick. We are sick and we need help.

I struggle knowing that my addiction to food is a bit different than an addiction to alcohol or drugs. See, I’m addicted to something my body needs to survive. I can’t just cut food out of my life. That’s not to say my struggle is harder than other addicts (not at all!), it just requires different treatment to tackle. I’ll never be able to go without food, but my god, I long for a day where every my other thought isn’t about the dang stuff and how I look as a result of that dang stuff!

I know this is an overwhelming amount of text. For some people, not only is it too long to read, but the content is too touchy or too personal, and it’s something they can’t relate to. And for those of you who can’t related, I think that’s great because it likely means you yourself don’t have an eating disorder. But, this isn’t something that you can turn a blind eye to just because you’re not personally affected. So many people struggle and never get the help they need and deserve. Some cases are more extreme than others. But most often, people struggle in the darkness, afraid to let go of this control they’ve long sought after. Afraid that getting healthy means admitting defeat and getting fat. For someone with an eating disorder, getting help can be just as scary as dealing with the disease every day.

Most people don’t want to (and won’t) touch mental illnesses with a ten foot pole. We prefer to ignore mental illnesses, because they’re “not that big of a deal” and “just a bunch of crazy people who make their own problems.” Trust me, I’ve heard it all. But mental illnesses, and eating disorders in particular, are no joke. This is not some BS to get attention. This is a disease with a laundry list of health complications and long-term damage (which I’m having to come to terms with myself).

So, I beg of you, don’t pretend that mental illnesses don’t exist. Don’t pretend that eating disorders don’t exist. These are real illnesses and they deserve real attention.

My advice? Seek help. Offer help. Pray for those struggling. Change the conversation about body image. Hell, stop talking about looks altogether! Start the conversation about mental illness and eating disorders. And, most importantly, work hard every day to love yourself because gosh darn it you are WORTH IT.

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A beautiful reminder that your soul & spirit define you, not your looks. Thanks to my gal, Kenan, for sharing!

No one can fight this battle for you, but by no means does that imply that you have to fight it alone. Let this National Eating Disorders Awareness Week be the start to taking back your health and your happiness. Rally for yourself and others knowing that you are never alone.

XOXO

Leeky Shrimp Zoodles

Zoodles are all the rage these days, and it’s safe to say I’ve jumped on the zoodle bandwagon! Having a spiralizer at my disposal has been incredible (thanks, mom and dad!) as it’s so easy to substitute veggie “noodles” for pasta!

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This Leeky Shrimp Zoodles is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe for Leeky Shrimp Linguine (originally found in her magazine – I don’t have the exact recipe anymore!). This has been a staple with my family for times when my dad, and his poor shellfish allergies, are out of town. While we used to make this with pasta (which is equally as delicious), we have recently been subbing in zucchini noodles – delish!

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Enjoy this for a quick, yummy and healthy dinner!

Leeky Shrimp Zoodles

*serves 2-4*

(adapted from Rachael Ray’s Leeky Shrimp Linguine)

  • 1 lb. shrimp (I used peeled, deveined tail-off cooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 leeks (the white part!) – cleaned, cut length-wise, then sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4-5 zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, garlic, lemon zest (+ an optional squeeze of lemon!), pepper flakes and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to a deep skillet, add zoodles (spiralized zucchini) and toss while cooking on medium heat to desired tenderness. (I slice my zoodles smaller prior to cooking). Turn to simmer.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to another deep skillet and heat to medium. Add sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly brown-edged. Add shrimp mixture and heat through. Add wine, cook down slightly, then combine with zoodles.
  4. Enjoy!

Happy zoodling! XOXO!

 

*Christmas* Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Merry Christmas Eve, all! I hope you all are ready for the big holiday and not running around crazy with a million things to do. With just hours left before the celebrations begin, I hope you can take this time to relax and spend time with family. That’s my plan! That, and eating a zillion cookies and drinking a glass (or ten) of wine. Yahoo!

  
I thought it would be nice to share a fun cookie recipe for the holiday. It’s super easy, and from one of my favorite bloggers Sally’s Baking Addiction and her fabulous cookbook, Sally’s Baking Addiction (available on Amazon!).

I took Sally’s Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and Christmasified (DEFINITELY a word) them. I rolled them in green and red sugar before baking and used only white chocolate chips – yum! The original recipe is just as delish. Hope you all enjoy! XO!

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow or white boxed dry cake mix
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • colorful sugar sprinkles to roll the cookies

Steps

  1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, cake mix and baking soda together. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl on medium speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed. Using the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not overmix. With a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold the white chocolate chips into the dough. Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days).
  3. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Place sugar sprinkles into small bowls.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Roll the cookie dough balls to be taller rather than wide. Roll the cookie dough balls into the sugared sprinkles, coating all sides with sugar. Place the cookie dough balls 3in apart onto each cookie sheet and bake each batch for 10-13 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.