Friendship is the Best Ship.

This year, and more specifically, since I turned 25 in August (*gasp*), I have found myself reflecting quite a bit more on my life, and the things for which I am most grateful. Perhaps this is what comes with old age, right?

2017 brought a lot of change for the world, most of which I found to be quite negative. Not all, but most (hello, politics). And while I could spend an entire year talking about that, I will refrain here (in person, though, I can’t promise the same). 2017 also brought a lot of change for me personally. And, while at the time some of it felt “not-so-positive,” I’m learning to find the good in all of it, and seeing how it’s all allowed me to grow and learn and come more into my own.

As we are gearing up for Christmas and a whole new year (how?!), I can’t help but want to savor this holiday spirit with each passing second. While I should’ve written this post a week ago, perhaps on Thanksgiving, here I am on my own timeline just giving thanks a few weeks late. Oops. Oh well.

This season of life, I feel an overwhelming need to express my gratitude for my friends. If you know me, you know how much I love my family, as I share photos and scenes from my family life quite often, but I think I less frequently call out the wonderful people in my life who might as well be family.

I feel so grateful to have friends from all stages of my life, spanning from elementary school all the way into my life as a working woman, both in the Northeast and here in Charlotte. For this, I am thankful.

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I am thankful for the friends who know me well enough to know every single one of my quirks, and love me still. They know that when they invite me over for a movie and wine night, that they are also inviting me over for a sleepover, as I will inevitably fall asleep on the couch halfway through. At least now I remember to come prepared with a contact case and phone charger.

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I am thankful for friends who make months of inconsistent texting and talking on the phone seem like nothing, because we pick up right where we left off the next time we talk or see one another (sorry I suck with my phone sometimes…aka a lot of times).

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I am thankful for friends who are quite literally family, and who will put me in my place when necessary as a result.

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I am thankful for friends who making driving and flying hundreds, even thousands, of miles so worthwhile and so, so fun.

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I am thankful for friends, who although no longer with us physically on this Earth, are present in my life daily, and constantly remind me to enjoy and savor every single second of this messy, imperfect, beautiful, only life we are given.

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I am thankful for “work friends” who are real friends that I want to hang out with outside of the office.

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I am thankful for friends who allow me to open up about things I am struggling with, offering an ear to listen and a sense of peace and comfort for me. Whether I vent and we chat for hours nonstop to come to a solution or we drop it to distract ourselves, their presence and support is immeasurable.

I am thankful, thankful, thankful for all of the people I have in my life that make this crazy journey so much more enjoyable. I dedicate this post to each and every single one of you, because I know I don’t say it enough in person. Dare I say, you complete me?

This holiday season, I encourage all of you to relish in the moments with people you love. Life just wouldn’t be the same without them.

XOXO!

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For Me, It *IS* About the Number

Growing up, math was always my favorite subject. It came naturally to me, and I liked that there was always a right or wrong answer. It was black and white. It wasn’t ambiguous or gray. It either was or it wasn’t. Plain as that.
I went on to study business in college, breezing through various statistics, economics and finance courses. Yes, I minored in journalism, but this was more for fun (sorry!) and pleasure, an outlet to express my love of writing. (Yes, I do acknowledge, embrace and love the fact that I am fully fledged nerd. No shame in my game).

Even now, I work in finance. I stare at numbers and spreadsheets all day long, and I feel an utter sense of calm and joy when I find my answer and my numbers tie out. I like to solve problems and I do not like ambiguity. These are facts.

This love of numbers and disdain for chaos and unknown, though, doesn’t just end with my academic and professional life. It’s so deeply ingrained in me that it seeps out of my every pore, and is a part of my very existence. I like answers. I like order. I like structure. I like black and white and nothing in between (although I will say I love gray clothing, but that’s it).

And, I guess, this is either the root of, or an offshoot of, my anxiety. I am a perfectionist to the core, and anything less than perfect (for me) is wrong and stressful. Anything that strays from my routine or plan sends me into a tailspin. There is no calm (again, for me) when there is no order. My solution, then, has been to create order to find calm. But, more often than I’d like, life doesn’t allow me to stick to my plans. And it drives me nuts.

The most prominent way my “need for structure” has reared its ugly head is through food. If you know me or if you have dug deep in my blog archives, you know that food and eating are a struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I share recipes here (mostly healthy) that I’ve loved and enjoyed and that make me feel good. And, I feel it important for you to know that I would never share a recipe here that I haven’t eaten or wouldn’t eat (unless it’s an amazing dish I was able to eat pre-celiac that I think needs to be shared with the world). No, the recipes here are all ok in “my world,” but I will say my food world can be a bit whack.

Why is it whack, you ask? I’d say because I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to eat with a routine, to eat within a certain set of parameters that are absolutely made up.

My made up parameters? A daily calorie goal arbitrarily set for myself on the My Fitness Pal app. I don’t have a damn clue as to how my “goal” was calculated, but my God I’d better stick to it OR ELSE. The app, for whatever reason, soothes me. I can log my food and weight and keep myself steady and afloat. There’s no unknown. Everything I’ve consumed is “in writing.” It’s black and white. There are no questions.  My eating is not a guessing game and I don’t have to wonder.

The problem, though, arises for me when I stray from this “goal” or my “food plan” for the day. Again, in reality these goals and plans are completely arbitrary, but in my routine loving, control freak mind, they are virtually law, and breaking them would lead to utter havoc.

So, I find that on days where I eat an unexpected treat,or grab a fun size snickers at the office, or go to a party and eat some chips after I’ve already reached my “goal,” I feel I’ve failed. My black and white brain tells me I’m done, and my day is shot. I go to my all or nothing mode, which is “well I’ve already eaten one terrible thing, so I might as well eat all the terrible things in the world.” Which, inevitably leads to a binging and purging episode. Which, makes me feel fat (and typically gain weight), which makes me feel terrible about myself. And on and on this vicious cycle continues…

What’s crazy about bulimia is that it really does make you (or me at least) gain weight. Try as I might to right myself of my “mistakes,” it never fully works, and on the pounds come. It’s quite the paradox considering the primal fear that even led to my eating disorder struggles was/is the fear of gaining weight. This crazy dichotomy alone is why eating disorders are so hard to make sense of or understand for people who don’t have them. Hell, they’re even hard to understand for people who do have them! My rationale is that they just don’t make sense, and they probably never will. They’re completely irrational and they’re a full blown disease. They are not caused or kept by choice. No one would choose this lifestyle (at least in their right, rational mind).


So I revert back to my love of math and numbers here when I say, for me it is about the number. I so often read that for people on a health journey, it’s not about the number it’s about how they feel and how their clothes fit. I’m here to say truthfully that for me it’s about those things…and the number. If I am being frank.

It’s about the number of calories I consume and the number of pounds I weight. It’s about these numbers because these numbers are symbolic of my routine and structure, and ensuring that I stay steady to this structure keeps me calm. The numbers are an evaluation of sorts. They tell me how closely I’ve stuck to my plan. The control behind all of this keeps me calm and brings me peace.

But, it’s wrong. It’s totally wrong. And it’s a totally sick and unhealthy and irrational way to live. Hell, it’s not even a way to live. Because real life is full of unknowns and interruptions and craziness that will hinder plans and inhibit routines all the time. That is life. And it’s how we react to these changes and curveballs that matters, and for me (clearly) I don’t react well and am sent into a tizzy. And that’s no way to live because it’ll drive me batty (and it does).

You might ask why I’m writing this. Selfishly, airing my feelings makes me more aware of them and reminds me that they’re just that, feelings. They’re not facts or the end of the world as I perceive them to be. They’re silly little thoughts that creep in and that I ruminate on unnecessarily and can’t get rid of. Writing them or saying them aloud helps me feel that I have power over them, and that I’ve tossed them aside.

Writing here, too, is a reminder of the many things I need to work on and work through, both in my daily life and with my therapist. And, TBH, it’s 2017. Don’t be ashamed if you have a therapist. And, if you feel like you might need one, don’t be afraid to seek one out. They’re trained professionals who don’t judge and can help you work through your feelings. They’re basically magical wizards and they’re awesome.

Most importantly, though, I am sharing this because I know I can’t be the only one who feels and thinks like this. Often it seems I must be, but I hate the thought that anyone else might feel isolated in this similar anguish. You are not alone. I am here. I get you. There is help. There is hope.

And, I want you to know that while I struggle with and wrestle with anxiety, I am extremely happy. I have a great life. I have great family and friends, a great job, and so much joy. I want you to know, too, that being riddled with anxiety and being happy are not mutually exclusive. You can be both. But, I am pretty darn certain you (and I) will be even happier as we further conquer our anxiety. It will be a lifelong battle, but opening up and being vulnerable gives me strength. It reminds me that my voice is bigger and more powerful than my anxiety, and it helps me put these thoughts at bay.

So if you, like me, struggle with a need for constant need for control, you are not alone. Together we can overcome.

XOXO

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I should really title this post “My Diet Starts on Monday (& Other Lies We Tell Ourselves).”

While I don’t believe in dieting, I’m all for making healthier choices and positive lifestyle changes. This cauliflower pizza crust is no expception…if you can ignore the entire bag of shredded mozzarella cheese I put on top. That’s NOT the point, friends. 

The point is, I made pizza crust sans flour, and whether you have celiac or want to reduce your carb intake or just like veggies, this is the perfect pizza crust aka justification for ALL.THE.CHEESE.


It’s basically a salad.

Pizza and I have grown apart since my celiac diagnosis, and it’s truly heartbreaking. Recently, though, I’ve found some good local pizza places with GF crust (hello, Blaze). However, nothing can top this cauliflower crust (well, except cheese. Excuse the dad joke).

I made this on a Charlotte “snow day,” otherwise known as the day it snowed half an inch and I refused to leave my apartment lest I lose my life in the treacherous weather. Safety first / any excuse to watch excessive amounts of TV and eat snacks all day. Ahem.

This recipe comes from Damn Delicious and let me say, it’s damn good. My boyfriend and I were obsessed, and pretty amazed at how good it was. We expected to like it, but to love a crust made of veggies? We weren’t going that far. 

We were wrong.

This pizza crust isn’t necessarily as crispy crunchy as normal pizza crust but it’s GOOD. It’s seasoned and flavorful and the perfect vechile for all.the.toppings. Go crazy, my friends.

I baked my crust slightly longer than the original recipe, but my gage was just to ensure the edges were brown. Yum.

We topped our pizza with red sauce, cheese cheese cheese, mushrooms, chicken and spinach. I’m drooling at the thought.


Make this for yourself, and don’t be shocked when there are no leftovers. Too. Dang. Good.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Recipe via Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  2. To make the cauliflower crust, add cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground, yielding about 2-3 cups.
  3. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover loosely and place into microwave for 4-5 minutes, or until softened; let cool.
  4. Using a clean dish towel or cheese cloth, drain cauliflower completely, removing as much water as possible.
  5. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Stir in eggs, mozzarella, Parmesan and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Spread cauliflower mixture into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle onto the prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.
  7. Top with any and all desire toppings. Place into oven and bake until the cheese has melted and edges have browned, about 5-10 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

New Year, New Me, right? ‘Tis the season I suppose! I vowed to myself that I would cook more (and blog more!) in 2017, so here’s my debut. I know you’ve all been waiting on bated breath.


Not quite a year ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and while the transition to the gluten free life has been easier than I suspected, it has been a transition nonetheless. It requires me to be more mindful of what I’m putting in my body, and definitely requires a bit of preparation and thinking ahead. So, my goal has been to cook more – which I hope I’ll achieve better in 2017…

My hope in sharing gluten free recipes is that it’s a realization that gluten free does not mean nasty and tasteless! Nowadays, there are so many gluten free subsititues (thankfully!), so virtually anything can be modified to suit my celiac needs.

I found this recipe for 4-Ingredient Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats from The Wholesome Dish on Pinterest, and let’s just say, they did not disappoint!


Easy to put together, and full of flavor, this is a healthy weeknight meal that comes together quickly and deliciously – and it won’t break the bank (also important). Full of chicken and cheese, with the added bonus of veggies (!!!) this was a hit, and the leftovers were just as tasty. This will definitely be making a regular appearance in this new year.

Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

Recipe via The Wholesome Dish

Serves 4

Ingredients :

  • 4 small-medium zucchini (about 1¾ pounds)
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ½ cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (not regular hot sauce)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 7-9 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the buffalo wing sauce.
  4. As the chicken cooks, cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and center out of each zucchini half, leaving a ¼ inch thick zucchini boat. Place the zucchini in the baking dish cut-side up.
  5. Spoon the chicken mixture into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the zucchini evenly with the cheese.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese is browned and melted.

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