Monday, March 9, 2015

Healing

It's no secret that I've had some hard things happen and a lot of things I've struggled with - especially the past 2 years or so. Some of it I have been very blunt about, and some of it I have been very vague about. I will probably continue to do a little of both those things throughout this post. What I want to talk about today is something miraculous that has happened in my life regarding all that emotional pain I've dragged around with me: I am healing.

No, I can't say I'm 100% healed, but I feel...different. I feel lighter. I feel happier. I feel a change in my countenance. One of my biggest struggles in life has been with my self-worth. I love my parents with my whole heart, really I do. But I spent most of my life telling myself I was a burden to them. I told myself I wasn't wanted to begin with and shouldn't expect them to ever really love me. I didn't feel I deserved happiness because I wasn't supposed to be here. I spent most of my life telling myself I was a mistake. After a few years of therapy I changed my perspective and stopped calling myself a mistake.

I share this because it has played a role in the way I handle my trials. Part of me tells myself I deserve hard or bad things to happen to me because I wasn't supposed to even exist. Or I see it as punishment for the emotional pain I caused my parents (especially my mom) when their plans were interrupted and drastically changed due to learning about an unplanned pregnancy. Living that way is exhausting though. Beating yourself up is draining. And hurts.

I've been doing some reflecting over the last few months or so. I've been very determined to improve and become a better version of myself. I can't forget about the hard things that have happened (Trevor's death, family issues, breakups, etc.), but something I've been learning more and more is the power of the Atonement. I used to think for some silly reason the Atonement was applicable to every other person except myself. Why? I really don't know. My logic made no sense. But over these last few months I've started to feel the effects of the Atonement working miracles in my life.

The Atonement covers everything. So on the one hand, the Atonement has helped me cope with and handle my sorrow and grief. I have felt the Savior tutor me through my trials and carry me the times I'm feeling weak. I have been praying more sincerely, frequently, and fervently and it is making all the difference. I can see that He has been reaching his arms toward me, but I wasn't always reaching back. It was as if I'd fallen overboard, drowning in the sea, not willing to look back at the ship where the Savior stood extending his hand to pull me back up. I panicked because I was drowning and spent so much energy trying not to sink that I forgot to call out for help.

The second side of the Atonement is the one that enables us to be clean and pure again. When we repent of our wrongdoings, it is the power of the Christ's Atonement that makes up the difference and helps us be whole again. I didn't think I could ever truly feel clean and pure and whole though. But the miracle is I'm starting to. I don't feel plagued by hopelessness anymore. I don't feel like I've ruined my life. Rather, I am grateful for the chance I have to begin again. And as hard as it was, I think I can honestly say I was grateful for the challenges I faced (and continue to face) and for the mistakes I made. It has given me the gift of greater empathy and understanding for others and I can see how much I've matured and grown from it all.

My heart is so full right now. I'm starting to see myself the way the Savior sees me and the way my Heavenly Father sees me. They see my full potential. They see me as a virtuous woman. A valiant daughter of God. They see me through eyes of love.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eating Disorders

Today I want to talk about eating disorders and specifically the effect eating disorders has had on my life. First I will define the term eating disorder according to the google webs: "Any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits (such as anorexia nervosa)."

I think most people associate eating disorders with one of two things: Anorexia (starving yourself) and Bulimia (binge eating and purging). Being a Human Development major and Sociology minor, I have read about countless cases of eating disorders. I've seen videos, heard stories, and read studies on the causes and effects of eating disorders in individuals lives. Something I rarely talk about though is eating disorders in my own, personal life.

No, I am not anorexic, nor am I bulimic. Yes, I am underweight. Yes, I have let some of my emotional issues effect my eating habits. So I suppose then yes, I have struggled with eating disorders in my life, just not the kind you typically think of.

I haven't always. In fact, I didn't even think about or consider the fact I might have one until I was 15 and in a Health class at school. I overheard some girls in my class gossiping about how I must be anorexic because my BMI was so low. I know words are just words, but they can have a big effect on people. Especially insecure 15 year old girls. A few months later my family moved out of state. As a whole, the experience of moving was a positive one, but at first it was hard for me. I developed a really bad habit of "not being hungry" during lunch time. Many days I just wouldn't bring a lunch. And the reason was this: I was having some serious issues with loving myself and believing I was deserving of good things. To punish myself, I wouldn't eat. I didn't do this because I had an obsession with being thin. I did it because that was the safest way I could think of punishing myself. 

I still ate breakfast and dinner, so I wasn't putting my health in any serious danger. But what I had done, that I didn't realize till later, was develop bad thinking habits that followed me and haunted me for years. When I became a freshman in college, these bad thinking habits came back and hit me with full force. I will be blunt - I struggled big time. I was experiencing my first real heartbreak, I was experiencing a wave of depression that I could hardly handle, I was experiencing feelings of inadequacy, I was experiencing what it's like to fail at the one thing you thought you were actually good at (school), I was feeling lower than low and I was desperate.

When I become overwhelmed, I close up and shut down. I am pretty good at putting on a happy face for others or putting on the charade that everything is fine. Inside though, I was hurting very badly. I didn't know how to cope with the pain I felt so I reverted back to what I'd done in high school - punish myself by not eating. My freshman year in college was worse than my experience in high school though because I didn't have anybody to monitor my eating. After I'd gone 3 straight days without eating I'd realized something - this was something I was actually succeeding at. The physical pain of hunger was more tolerable than all the emotional pain I had felt. And where I had failed at so many other things in my life, I was not failing at skipping meals. It soon became a dangerous game I played with myself. How long could I go without eating? 

I knew things were getting bad and I was heading down a road I didn't want to be on. I found the courage to meet with a therapist, which really helped me to work through my problems. I starting making a greater effort to eat consistently again. I knew skipping meals was an unhealthy game and I needed to stop. Things legitimately got better.

If I am being honest though, I didn't ever heal completely. Those bad thinking habits still exist. When I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed or upset with myself, I still punish myself by skipping meals. Or if it is a busy day at work, I don't make it a priority to eat something. I tell myself, "Oh well. You have too much to do; you don't deserve to eat anyway." Sometimes I will "accidentally" forget to pack a lunch. Typically these are days when I'm feeling depressed about something and "forgetting a lunch" is a way I can punish myself. I know it's terrible, but it is a thinking process so deeply rooted that I can't shake it completely.

There are other things have have contributed to my disordered eating. I'd be lying if I said I hate being thin. It's secretly one of the few things I actually like about myself physically. I have fallen into the trap that many women in today's society fall victim of. I care about my appearance more than I should. I am often insecure. I often don't think I'm pretty. I hear the compliments other women get and beat myself up inside because I compare myself to them. I could write a list for hours of things I hate about myself, but I know that's not healthy. I know it won't make me happy. I suppose my point in bringing this up is that many people think that they will be happier or people will think they're prettier if they are thin. It doesn't matter if you are overweight or already skinny though. I am sometimes so obsessed with the idea that "being thin is the only thing I have going for me", that I develop a fear of hitting triple digits on the scale. I panic if my size 00 jeans are too snug. I panic if my stomach isn't flat and my shirt is too tight. I panic if I have to loosen the belt around my waist. I try not to obsess about thinness too often, but it is something society reminds me of on a daily basis. So though I overhear women say "I wish I had Kristy's figure", I don't think they realize that the insecurities are still there for me too. 

Many different times throughout my life I've had people ask if I eat. Most of these people don't ask me directly, but I still find out about it. I find it slightly offensive that people assume just because I'm thin it means I have an eating disorder. But I am a people pleaser. I hate making people feel bad or proving them wrong. There have been times I've justified my terrible eating habits by saying "Well they think I'm anorexic anyway, so it doesn't matter if I skip meals." That's just another example to prove that people's opinions have a grave effect on me.  I hate that I let it effect me as much as it does. 

The point of this was not to seek pity. It was not to seek reassurance that I'm fine just the way I am. The point was to be honest and explain something that I've really struggled with. I am the type that typically keeps a lot of my struggles to myself and I decided that talking about them could do 1 of 3 things: 1. reassure others that they're not alone in their struggles, 2. help me get these feelings off my chest, 3. show others that trials come in all shapes and sizes. Yeah, maybe I'm more vulnerable now, but what's the point of going through trials if you're not willing to grow from them or share your experiences with others? If there is one person that benefits from reading my story, then writing about this all was totally worth it to me. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scavenger Hunts at Walmart

Have you ever done a scavenger hunt at Walmart? It has the potential to be a really fun activity to do for a double date. I've done it a couple times. You and your date grab 5-10 items off the shelves of Walmart. Meet up with the other team and switch items. See which team can return the items to their proper place and prove it with a picture. Last time I played this game on a date I played with someone who had 0 enthusiasm and it was quite clear he was not interested in me in the least bit (was texting and taking phone calls during our date, left early, didn't bother trying to get to know me, etc.) Anyway, my last several trips to Walmart I've had items on my grocery list that have been incredibly difficult for me to find! And I keep making mental note of where they are located so that the next time I play the Walmart scavenger hunt game, I'll have a few really great items.

Here are a few items that are trickier to locate than you might think:
Parmesan cheese (Not the kind in the refrigerated section. The kind in the green container)
Ricotta cheese
Seasoned bread crumbs
French fried onions
Peanut oil

Speaking of other things that are hard to find, my last 3 Walmart trips I've been trying to keep my eye out for Crockpot liners. I've bought them once before so I know where they're located, but either they sell out super fast, or someone decided to hide the stash of them in a different location than they should be. All I know is I'm bummed that they were sold out AGAIN, because I plan on using my Crockpot this week and am not looking forward to having to clean it out by hand. Does that make me lazy? haha

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vaccinating 50 Shades of Leggings

I was super motivated to be a better blogger, really I was. I felt I did a pretty good job writing last month and then before I knew it I looked at the calendar and February was half way over. It's absolutely nuts! I've been thinking about what I want to talk about and I decided today's post is going to be a little bit of a vent session. Here goes:

Dearest Facebook friend,

Please stop posting articles and opinions on the following topics: vaccinations, 50 Shades of Grey, and leggings. Frankly, I am sick of my entire Newsfeed being filled with these things constantly.

Sincerely,

Me.

PS I know your baby is cute, but I also don't need to see 50 new pictures of said baby every day.

Now I guess maybe I will enter the hypocritical part of this post where I will actually say my opinion on those topics I'm sick of hearing about. I'll keep it brief because I'm sure that I'm not the only one sick of these topics. Also, I'm sure if my future self stumbles upon this old post I will still be sick of these topics.

Vaccinations:
In a single sentence summary - I think it's stupid to not vaccinate your children. The end.

50 Shades of Grey:
Am I upset about it? Sure. But I've read 0 articles about this, haven't watched the trailer, didn't read the book or see the movie, and frankly I forget about it until I log onto Facebook. If it's upsetting you, then stop talking about it and sparking other people's curiosity about what the hype is all about. That's how pornography problems typically begin - with curiosity. Yes, the world is turning into a scary place. Yes, I'm sad about the morals of society. But it is what it is.

Leggings:
I don't care what people decide to wear. Do I wear leggings? Yes, I do. Am I going to stop? No. Do I think leggings can be a substitute for pants? No. But here's what I do think. I think leggings provide a way to help with modesty. I don't see anything wrong with wearing them if you wear them with a long tunic top, or a baggy sweatshirt, or a short dress. I love leggings because they help make my outfits modest when a skirt might be a little too short for work. Stop bashing on leggings because of the "wrong" or "bad" uses of them. Leggings aren't inherently evil. You could pick any article of clothing -- backless dresses, cropped shirts, low neckline tops, etc. Why are we focusing on leggings? Shouldn't it just be modesty in general? There will always be some complaint out there, and I'm kind of tired of all the picking on each other and bashing on other women for what they decide to wear. And I hate that people feel the need to defend themselves for their choices too. We all are going to have different opinions on what is considered appropriate. That's not going to change, no matter how convincing of an argument you give.

Vent session over.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Livening Up the Walls!

So this is my second year living in my current apartment. My first year I didn't do a whole lot of decorating in my room, but this second year I decided to spice things up a bit and actually decorate. I don't know what it is, but I have this trend of waiting forever after I move into a place to actually decorate...haha Also, I am pleased to announce that all of these ideas were original - no Pinterest help at all! 

#1: Necklace Display. 

I used to have each of these necklaces in their own individual sandwich bag (to keep the necklaces from tangling together). I had all the little sandwich bags together in the pocket of an over-sized makeup bag. The problem was I kept forgetting what necklaces I owned. So I decided to do something about it. 

Here's how I made it: I bought a small little cork board from Walmart. Then I cut out a rectangle shape from on old red sheet I never use. I used a hot glue gun to hold it down. Then I took a strip of turquoise ribbon, as well as a strip of white ribbon lace and used the hot glue gun to position them. It was super easy and literally the only thing I needed to buy was the little cork board. Then I just put some push pins in and hung my necklaces from there! I love this. It makes it so much easier to see which necklaces I have (which means I'm more likely to wear them). Also, they don't get tangled up this way! 



#2: Earring Display.

My earrings used to all be piled together in a little square bracelet box. It worked okay, but just like my necklaces, I often forgot what I owned and was therefore less likely to wear certain earrings. 

I got pretty creative with this display. I took the lid to a shoe box (a shoe box for some boots) -- that's the black border you see. I didn't want the ugly cardboard to show, so I took some turquoise tissue paper I had, folded it a couple of times, and glued that down. Then I took different type of lace and glued it to the back (technically the top) of the lid. This allowed for some space for the earrings to dangle. I simple hung the earrings through the lace and it worked wonderfully! The haven't fallen off ever either, which is great! Then I stuck a random bow at the top to help fill the awkward blank space. 


#3: Quote Display

I actually wrote out/decorated these quote things for my last apartment (I talked about it here). It looked pretty boring so what do I do? I randomly hang a strip of ribbon on the side and then tie a bow with zebra ribbon.haha can you tell I like using ribbon? 



#4: More quotes

I also make these for my last apartment. I just laid them out a little differently in this apartment.



#5: Family Pictures

Rooms are more lively if you have PICTURES! I got these little itty-bitty frames from Walmart, printed out some family pictures and stuck those inside. Of course I put a random ribbon. Again.haha



Here's a view from the corner of my room so you can see the zebra ribbon wasn't completely random -- it matches my bed spread.

Anyway....These projects were put together back in August but I've just kept forgetting to post them until now. If there is one thing you take away from this all, I would recommend it be to make a necklace and earring display of your own. I love them!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Songs From Layton

The summer after my freshman year of high school, my family up and moved from Folsom, California to Layton, Utah. I remember when my parents told me we were moving I thought, "I'm fine with change. But PLEASE anywhere but Utah." And ironically enough, of all the places to go to, Utah was where we headed.

I was excited for change and for a chance to be whoever I wanted. Nobody in Layton knew me. Little did I know, a lot of growing, maturing, and discovering who I am would happen while we were there. Not long after living in Layton, I found myself hating life. Nobody in Layton knew me, alright. This also meant I didn't know anyone. I had no friends. I would wander around the halls at lunchtime to avoid the embarrassment of eating in the cafeteria alone. I cried in a bathroom stall. I came home miserable. I begged to go back to Folsom.

Something happened though over the course of my time in Layton (a little under 2 years). I remember  the beginning of it all - I was in my room, practicing for the Sacramento Temple Dedication Jubilee (which I had been practicing for before our move to Layton and had the opportunity to go back to California to participate in the event.) I was listening to one of the songs that we'd be singing, and I had this overpowering feeling of love and reassurance that I was a child of God. I wasn't forgotten. Heavenly Father knew me and was aware of me.

I had been wearing heavy makeup to hide behind. And it was in that moment I realized that's exactly what I was doing - hiding. I wasn't happy with the person I was. I decided to make a change. I lightened the amount of make up I wore. I committed to listening to more uplifting music in the mornings when I'd get ready. I made Personal Progress a higher priority. I started gaining more confidence.

One Sunday I remember all of the Young Women were practicing singing for a number we'd be performing in Sacrament meeting. One of the girls a little younger than me (her name is Riley, and I'm not even going to change her name because to this day I am grateful for her) did something that changed my life. She was standing next to me while we practiced singing and after the song she said, "Kristy, you're a really good alto!" I didn't actually believe this compliment because I never, ever sang for people. Sure I did the Jubilee and I did a couple of Stake choir performances, but I knew I wasn't the greatest singer. Riley told one of our YW leaders, who then eventually asked me if I'd be willing to sing a solo for New Beginnings. Somehow I mustered enough courage to say yes and go through with it.

Here's the song: True To You
I was also asked to sing this song: Where You Stand

They are Jenny Phillips songs, and very YWesque. But as cheesy as these songs may sound, they have a significant impact on my life. I have the piano music for both these songs, and I sit down and play them from time to time. I am fondly reminded of that period of my life where I was starting to gain confidence in myself because I was seeing myself the way God sees me. I still admit I'm not the best singer. I know that. But it's more than just me being asked to sing a solo number in front of people. It was about me taking the lyrics of these songs to heart. Looking past the cheesy aspect. Not caring if it was uncool to listen to this kind of music when I got ready in the mornings.

Another song that is dear to me is this one: Become Like Him. At a combined YW activity (not New Beginnings, I just can't remember the name of it. Maybe it was called YW in Excellence? It's been too long) I heard this song for the first time. My YW leaders sang this for all the girls. None of them were exceptional singers either, but they sang from their heart and I could feel their love (and the Savior's love) through that song. I have the music for this one as well and love it.

In summary, these songs fill me with nostalgia. They remind me of the confidence I gained in Layton not only in myself, but in the truth that God loves me. The closer I allow myself to be to Him, the happier I am.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Good Enough.

I received my Patriarchal Blessing when I was 17. I remember that I wanted to be prepared to receive it, but I wasn't sure what that meant or how I could become more prepared. I was a little stressed out about it, to be honest. I remember we were driving over to the Stake Patriarch's and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to receive my blessing because he could sense I wasn't ready or something. I over-think things. I remember when the patriarch placed his hands on my head I said a silent prayer asking that I'd be receptive. One of the very first things the patriarch said in the blessing was "I am grateful for the preparation you have made and for your desire to receive a blessing." Now, for all I know, there are thousands of people who's Patriarchal Blessing begins this way. But for me it felt like an immediate answer to a prayer. I felt very calm all of the sudden and I felt peace. It was as if Heavenly Father KNEW I needed that reassurance. It seems like such a small thing, but it really strengthened my testimony of prayer and that I have a Father in Heaven who is mindful of me.

An on-going battle I've had with myself my entire life is feeling like I am good enough. That I've done enough. Like I mentioned, I over-think things. I over-analyze. Those things coupled with anxiety don't help either. It's a natural reaction that I'm not a fan of. Just a silly example to express what I mean -- I remember a time I was 12. I was at church in Young Womens and our lesson was about service. The teacher asked us to each share an example of ways we can give service. Knowing all eyes would be on me and I'd have to answer, I could feel the blood drain from my face. I started feeling shaky. Then frozen. When it came to my turn I scrambled to find an example. My response, "I guess service doesn't have to be a really big thing. It could be like babysitting for free when a family is struggling financially." It got quiet and I suddenly felt like I said something wrong. The teacher replied, "I think that's a really big thing actually" she laughed. In retrospect I understand that she simply meant that was a very generous act of service. At the time I thought she was laughing because my answer was stupid, and I was dumb for not knowing how to answer the simple question of "what ways can we give service." Classic example of Kristy feeling like her thoughts/opinions aren't good enough.

It's more than just feeling like my thoughts/opinions aren't good enough though. In high school it was a lot of feeling I didn't look good enough. I can't say I've ever been one who is obsessed with fashion and being in style. Nor can I say I've ever been one who feels they need to have the trendy hairstyle or have top name brand things. My parents didn't raise me like that. My problem was I'd try to put an outfit together the night before, try on maybe 9 or 10 different outfits, and end up crying because I hated the way I looked. My legs were too long. My shoulders too bony. My nose too crooked. My chest too flat. My hipbones too prominent. The list could go on and on. I legitimately didn't think I was attractive. I didn't get complimented the way other girls did. It took me a very, very, very long time to believe that I was pretty. Sometimes I still don't feel like I am, but most days I have a much healthier outlook and perspective. There is a difference between looking at my reflection in the mirror and reminding myself I'm a daughter of God, and looking at my reflection with critical eyes focusing on everything about me I wish was different.

If you think about it, it's kind of scary how much of an influence Satan can have. He whispers all these things making you feel inadequate and it's hard not to let them get to you. I think a reason why it's so important to keep the scriptures and prayer part of your life each day is so you can have the Spirit with you and so you have the strength to shove the lies Satan tells aside. It is no easy feat, that's for sure! Satan tries sooo hard to drag us down and make us miserable like himself. And when we are weak, when we sin, when we make mistakes, he attacks. Plagued with guilt, paralyzed by hopelessness, he does everything he can to keep us from progressing. But I know that if we at least have a desire to improve and be better, that's all it takes to get back on the right path. A path of optimism, and happy thoughts, and confidence. I'm sure that my tendency to over-think will travel with me throughout my life. I don't think my anxiety will every completely subside. But what I do know is this: "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)