The Best Unexpected

Inspiration, laughter, and a tiny cheese obsession.

It is not about the weight….

July 22, 2014
christina

selfconfidence

For the past few months I have transformed.  Shedding my skin in tiny, cleansing ways.  At first, it was about losing weight, and fitting into a pair of jeans that didn’t have elastic on the waist (yes, I owned those. Don’t judge!).  But, for the past month my transformation has become more than just my jean size.  I have started to care for myself again.  I have been able to look in the mirror and smirk back at my reflection.  When someone has said I look good, I have said “thank you” instead of making a crack about my appearance.  I have finally began to enjoy all my wobbly bits and jiggly parts…because they are apart of me.  Because hating my body, and hiding myself under baggy clothes was exhausting.  There is such a tremendous amount of joy that comes with being comfortable in your own skin.  What a profound lesson….I have begun to love myself.  Who knew?! When I mentioned to my best friend that I wore a bikini the other week and was looking forward to the beach this summer, she seemed shocked and huffed “but you never do that. you hate that”.  She was right, the thought of being in front of others in a bikini or shorts used to terrify me.   So, you may ask, what has changed?  Well, here is the answer…I no longer base my self-acceptance on anyone else.  After so much loss, I refuse to lose any more memories or potential adventures because I am afraid of a strangers glare or condemnation.  One of my current mantras is: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys”.  Meaning, the craziness and mindless judgements of the crowd is not my problem.

This past week I got to enjoy the company of women who adored themselves, and joyfully embraced their muffin tops, and mommy bodies.  It was an amazing.  They were more focused on being good mothers, and honoring their friendships, rather than berating themselves over the extra 10 pounds or lack of perfect wardrobe. I had the honor of sitting with one of my closest friends, and basked in the glow of her newfound mommydom.  She shared with me how she too is transitioning and realised that she is a bit “hippie”.  She has never been more beautiful to me.  Her complete contentment with her choices, and her path was…for lack of a better word….completely awesome.  Then, there was another mother who laughed about her muffin top, and calmly stated that she “had better things to do than worry about my belly.  My husband thinks I am hot, so who else am I worried about”.  What a blazingly good statement!  And why has it taken me 36 years to love my belly? Well, ok… I may not completely love my belly….but I am trying.  We need to start treating eachother with respect, and stop the self hatred.  Maybe if we started telling ourselves “I am beautiful, I am funny, and freaking fantastic”  instead of “I am fat, I am lazy, and I am miserable” than things would change.  I know things have changed for me.  I may not look the best in shorts, but I am happy to stop hiding under my extra large sundresses.

So, this summer I will be at the beach in a bathing suit with my belly and my fair skin on full display…. and I can guarantee you I will be having a blast.   Continue Reading

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us-that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect”.

Growing up and Moving Forward

July 11, 2014
christina

timetogrowquote

 

Here is the rub…no matter how much you love someone, you can not force them to try. You can not force them to move forward toward healing or helping themselves.  It the most blindingly frustrating thing.  So frustrating that it hurts.  Standing by the sidelines and watching someone continue to hurt themselves emotionally, spiritually, or even physically is a drain on your soul. You want to force them to care; to take their vitamins, drink green juices, practice the downward dog, go to therapy, and be willing to move forward with their life.  You want to get down on your hands and knees and plead.  Plead that they will stop.  Stop being indignant, depressed, reactive, angry, and stubborn.  You want to plead with them to try.  No more excuses. Get their ass up and do something!  Anything……please.

The reason I haven’t written much is because my heart and mind have been focused elsewhere.  I have watched a few of the people I love take nose dives into a space where I can’t reach them.  I know that I can’t help, because I too, have been in that black hole before.  I know that nobody could have helped me during my grief, and I now see how much it must have hurt those around me.  The truth is that you can’t force anyone to care.  They have to find that within themselves.  You can give advice, and plead for them to be open… but you can bet that same advice will fall upon deaf, or defensive ears.  Sometimes, your pleads for them to change will only sound like pompous berating.  When the person you love is hurting, the last thing they want to talk about is yoga or therapy.

What happens when this intersects with your own personal moments of trying to heal? Do you have to crawl back into the darkness?  This year I have grown significantly, and find peace in working to get healthier (both physically, and mentally).  Yet, I have had a hard time sharing these moments with the people closest to me.  I have been silent about my accomplishments, and they are just that….accomplishments.  It took every ounce of courage inside me to shed my old habits and skin.  To let go of the bad eating, the negative self talk, the fear of abandonment, and the grief that had surrounded me like a warm blanket.  I know how much easier it is to give in, and say “I can’t do anything about it. You don’t understand”.  Defensive tactics at best.  I work on trying to heal those old wounds every day.  Getting my 36-year-old self to an exercise class is reason for a parade! Learning to practice gratitude and patience, even when my go-to response is an anxiety attack….I think that deserves a happy dance!  Everyday I choose happiness and my health is an accomplishment.  It is a choice.  It is a choice I am making to survive.

But, how do you continue to love friends and family, as they stay stagnant and you are desperate to move forward?  Trying to break patterns, and find new ways to communicate is the only way.  It hurts.  It takes time, and is not guaranteed.  These are my struggles my friends.  How do you take care of yourself without causing a great divide between those closest to you?   Continue Reading

Learning Patience

June 12, 2014
christina

yourgiftquote

For the past two weeks I have helped take care of my father as he recovers from knee replacement surgery (yes, the Farrell clan has had a crazy, surgery filled year!). During the time, life and business was put on the back burner, and my usual frantic “check off the to-do list” self was forced to take a breather. I had hoped to hit the ground running after my own recovery….but, life always has other plans.

I have realised that sometimes my biggest mistake is tackling  too many things at once, and then feeling defeated if I don’t accomplish everything in the time frame I allotted myself.  This new obsession with making every day a race of rapid productivity is exhausting.  The thing that I have fought with the most is the feeling that days are wasted if I am not accomplishing every little damn thing on my list.  Well hooey!  Why can’t I be proud of myself if I am able to check off one or two things on the list?!

The thing I have tried to practice these past few weeks is patience. With myself. With my family. With my career.  It will all fall into place….somehow.  It always does.  Last week I was able to listen to a conversation with Marlo Thomas, and her advice has repeated in my head all week.  Let me share some of these amazing morsels of wisdom:

“Everyday do one small thing to get you closer to your dream. Dream big but start small to avoid burnout”

“I take my confidence from working with what I have right now, not what I used to have”

“Put those words into your vocabulary….I need, I want, I love it, I insist. You have every right to your dream”

So, this week I have tried to focus on the tiny accomplishments.  Emails answered? Check!  Dishes done? Check! Articles finished? Check!

I am trying not to gloss over the little things that create the day. In truth, we should be proud of the little everyday accomplishments, as they are just as important as the big shiny goals.  Dreams and goals take time.  The tortoise wins the race, right?   So, this week let’s try to be patient with ourselves. Let’s try to give cheers for the baby steps and tiny victories. They are what create the journey.

Continue Reading

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”
Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

May 28, 2014
christina

When I woke up this morning and heard the news of Maya Angelou’s passing, my heart dropped. My mother has been reading her poetry to me since I was a young girl, and like so many others, her words had a tremendous influence on my life. I still recite her wisdom in my subconscious on a daily basis. “When some one shows you who they are, believe them”, or ” You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’
Today I am grateful for her life, her wisdom, and the warmth and strength her words brought to me during so many hard times.

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise”

Maya Angelou
Continue Reading

Setbacks and Babysteps

May 23, 2014
christina

smallsteps It has been almost a month. It has seemed like a decade. I wish I could gush about how easy the recovery has been, and how I have bounced back with ease.  But, that would be a ridiculous exaggeration.  In truth, it has been a very slow climb back to feeling healthy, or even somewhat normal.  The surgery and its intensity was abit more than my body could stand.  So, like any good obstacle, I was thrown against some very sharp setbacks.

  •  First, there was the infection at all four incision sites. This caused four days of “I want to rip my skin off” itching.  Mike threatened to tape  pot holders to my hands to keep me from scratching.  I begged to be knocked out.  The moment of true desperation occurred when Mike went to hug me, and I tried to rub up against him like a rabid dog to relieve the itching. Ahh….a moment for the scrapbooks!
  • Than, there was the double dose of hard core antibiotics that threw my belly into a permanent state of nausea.  Even the look of food sent me into a queasy state of misery.  Silver lining….10 pounds lost.
  • And last, but never least, the aching and often excruciating pain from the surgery.  Or, as my doctors like to say “Your body is just putting itself back together.  Give it time, and take some Percocet”.    Thanks.

Patience is not my strong point, and this has been the ultimate test.  Yet, I am so glad that I can sit here, 5 weeks later, and say that I am slowly but surely finding my way back.  I started work again this week, and the time off has given me a new verve that I was missing.  Ideas are flying out of me, and I feel hope again.  Hope.  I feel hope.

One of the things that I have always valued most about myself is my perseverance.  I keep trying. I keep fighting. I look a failure in the face and say “Thank you for playing. Now we move on”.   Yet, this past month has tested every ounce of my fight.  The nausea, the pain, and the exhaustion have at times become the monster I couldn’t fight.  Until last week.  May 16th.  The anniversary of my daughters passing.  I was reminded that I had fought the biggest monster of them all.  I had survived my daughter, and grown from it.  She inspired me.  She taught me what it meant to be a woman, and to be a partner.  Mike and I are here together, loving eachother.  Three years later I am still here.  Three years later and I love the life I have built.  I battled the biggest monster of my life and won.  So, these setbacks?  Yeah, I got this.

I have overcome, and will continue to overcome.  Stronger. Wiser. Braver.

And, 10 pounds lighter……

All the answers and then some….

April 25, 2014
christina

healingquotes

6 doctors, 5 months of questions, and a 4 hour surgery that solved it all.

Stress.  That is what 3 out of the 6 doctors told me was wrong.  ”Stress” was causing my pain.  Then they would brush me off, prescribe me medications, or refer me to another doctor.  For 5 months Mike and my family watched me suffer, and watched me fight with doctors who treated me with indifference.  To say this has been a valuable lesson in perseverance is the understatement of the year. The only “stress” involved was trying to find someone who would help!  It seemed like an eternity, but I finally found a doctor who listened to me, and last Thursday he helped me solve my painful body puzzle.

During the surgery they found scar tissue and endometriosis that had spread throughout my system.  I am sharing what they discovered to help solidify my point that I had to listen to my instincts and fight for a diagnosis. If I had listened to the doctors who told me it was “just stress”, or that I “needed more fiber” (yes, that happened!), than I would have never known the truth.

  • The scar tissue was wrapped around my uterus, and filled my right fallopian tube.
  • He found a couple fibroids inside my uterus and ovaries,which he removed.
  • My right ovary was covered with the scar tissue and endometriosis, and was pulled out-of-place.  Yes, you read that right.  My doctor literally said to me “we put you ovary back in its rightful spot!”.
  • The surgery was more extensive and exhaustive than the doctor  had assumed.
  • The damage that done was caught in time.  It did not cause infertility.
  • We are still waiting on the biopsy results, but the doctor felt confident that the results will be negative.

The results shocked everyone. Stress, huh?  It was a lot more serious than “needing to add Benefiber to my morning juice.” Bastards.

The most surprising thing for me was what happened to me after surgery.  As I started to come out of my anesthesia coma, the first words I uttered were “can I have babies”.  I asked everyone.  The nurse, the doctor, Mike, and even my mom.  It will be three years on May 16th since we lost our daughter when I was 20 weeks along, and I had been terrified to ask that very question. I haven’t wanted to hear the answer. Yet, under the courage of anesthesia, the question came rushing out…..and everyone reassured me that yes, I can still have babies.  I will be able to try again.  I have repeated it silently to myself like a mantra “I can have babies”.

The recovery process has been rough, to say the least.  But, the pain from the recovery has been beautifully balanced by the tremendous amount of love and laughter surrounding me.  I had to give up all pride, and allow Mike and my family to take care of me.  I have never felt so vulnerable, or completely exposed. For the first 5 days I was totally dependent on other people to help me with the most basic of functions. Mike was there to help me walk, to help me get in and out of bed, and to help me sit up when I could barely move. It is a profound bonding experience to have your partner care for you in such a way.  It is the ultimate trust test.

I learned so much about myself during the last few months.  This past week has been the culmination of so many lessons, and the fact that I have transformed from someone scared, to someone steady in their growth.  I am just now beginning to heal on every level. I am allowing myself to grow,  and fight my stubborn urges.

Healing requires more than stitches and prescription pills. True and lasting healing  requires a combination of physical, emotional and spiritual. I love the quote that says:  ”One day you will look in the mirror and realize that you walked through a one-way door with no way to return to your old life. You may come to know yourself better. You may make a promise to live your life differently. You may quickly realize that all we have is to embrace the present moment. You may heal on many levels. You may find a deeper sense of meaning; connecting to and finding real purpose and joy in your life.”

It has been a week, and I can finally walk on my own, and am slowly but surely getting off the pain medication.  I now look forward to getting back to exercising, and finding new adventures to tackle.  My bucket list is burning, and I am ready to tackle it.

This is just the beginning.   Continue Reading