Monday, September 22, 2014

What Does it Mean to be Fearless?

What does it mean to be fearless?
One of my graduation pics from U of Alabama.
In August 2012, I moved to Alabama on my own.
We live in a world that tells us we should never give up - that no matter how hard things may seem, we should keep going.  This world also tells us that we need to overcome our fears in order to live a happier, more fulfilling life.  But what if those things aren't true?  What if it's okay to give up or to still live in fear?  And what if those things do in fact make us better?

I like to think that's the case.

We give up because we're scared.  Maybe we're trying to lose weight and nothing is working, so we go back to our old ways because it's easier that way.  But why did we give up?  Was it because it wasn't working or were we scared that it never would?  It may be a little of both, but in my life, I've noticed that more often than not, I give up because I'm afraid.  I'm terrified of seeing the results if I give it one more day.  So instead, I give up.

We all have fears.  Some people are afraid of heights, small spaces or falling.  Others are afraid of snakes, sharks and even pickles.  We hear all the time that we have to face those fears in order to be happy.  I don't know about you, but I'm perfectly okay with not coming face to face with a shark.  In fact, my life will be perfectly content if I never encounter one.

I believe fear is okay.  Maybe even great.  I believe that fear pushes us to be better and to do more.  However, people let fear consume them instead of drive them.  When we look at fear from a different perspective, it can change the way we live our lives.

When I was in college, I realized that fear wasn't such a bad thing.  So I made a decision to be fearless. Before you say, "Wait, fearless means the absence of fear, but you're saying we should live with fear. What gives?"  Let me explain.

To me, fearless is not the absence of fear.  To be fearless means to do things despite how much they scare you.  I've always believed that the more fear you feel, the more amazing the outcome will be.  When you live your life being fearless, you're committing to go out and do something that scares you every day.  Whether that means making a phone call, moving to a different state or trying something new, being fearless means doing the things that scare you to death.  It's not always easy, and sometimes, even for me, it causes great discomfort and anxiety.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone is terrifying.  But the best things in life happen when you step outside your comfort zone.

So here's my challenge to you: This week, do something that scares you.  Talk to your boss about that raise, share your story on a blog, start a new workout program.  Whatever it is that scares you, do it anyway.

What have you done today that scared you?

Friday, September 12, 2014

We All Have a Story. This is Mine.

We all fight battles that no one else knows about, and we all have a story to tell.  Some of us choose to keep our stories private, while others share them with the world in hopes that our struggles and our recovery will inspire someone else.

For me, I choose to share my stories with the world.  I know the power a story of hope and recovery can have.  For myself, the stories of others has played a significant role in my long journey with depression, anxiety, self-injury and suicide.  I wonder where I would be if I hadn't heard the stories of others.  But then again, I try not to think about it too much.

My story started when I was 13.  I had just moved to Florida, and almost instantly I felt my world falling apart.  On my first day of 8th grade, I was pushed down the stairs just because I was the new girl.  Throughout the year, I was bullied and harassed.  I went home every day just wishing I could end the pain.  I turned to self-injury to try and numb the pain.  I replaced my emotional pain with physical pain and scars.  I tried to escape the bullying, but it just never seemed to end.  Eventually, the year ended.  But the bullying never did.

I started high school hoping for a fresh start and an escape.  I chose to go to Gateway because the school was just opening, and I figured that there was less of a chance I'd be bullied.  Within a month of school starting, cliques had formed, and I somehow found my way right into the hands of the bullies.  When you're being called names are told that you should die, you begin to feel like there's something wrong with you rather than with the people around you.  I once again turned to self-injury, and by Thanksgiving, my entire arm was covered in cuts and scars.

Things continued this way all throughout high school, and when I was a junior, I reached my lowest of lows.  Up until that point, I felt that I had reached rock bottom so many times before.  I guess I never really knew what rock bottom was.

March 23, 2007 was the day I decided my life wasn't worth living.  That the pain I was dealing with was too much to handle.  It was day I attempted suicide.  If you've never sat in the back of a van on the way to the hospital and listened to your sister cry and scream while you thought "I don't want to die this way," then you have no room to judge the decisions that led to that moment.

As much as I try to forget that day and the days that followed, I've never been able to.  Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night crying because I have a nightmare where I re-live the entire thing.  Other times, I find myself wondering what life would be like for everyone if I had died.  The days and weeks that followed were the hardest and most trying days of my entire life.  It felt impossible to keep going when all I wanted to do was to give up.  It felt like I would never be able to smile or laugh again, and I forgot what it was like to be happy.

What I know now is that my best days are ahead, and that this is not the end of my story.  I know now that I'm not alone and that people need other people.  I know that I'm loved more than I'll ever know.  I know that hope exists and that hope is real.

I still suffer from depression and anxiety, even though I try to convince myself that I'm better.  Even on the worst of days, I remind myself of where I've been and where I am now.  My struggles, my pain and my rock bottoms have all led me to this moment.  Sitting here on my couch writing this blog for you.  Suddenly, it all seems to have a purpose.

No one else can play my part because only I know where I've been and where I want to go.  No one can be a better version of me than me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No One Else Can Play Your Part

Yesterday, a husband and wife were found dead in their trailer in Fort Myers, Florida.  They were apparently the victims of a murder-suicide.  A call was made by the male stating that he and his wife "could no longer stand the pain and that they were leaving."  What led them to this point?  What dreams did they have that they never accomplished?  Who are they leaving behind?  What stories do they have that will never be shared?

I don't know this couple, but their deaths happened where I live.  They are unknown to me, and yet they both faced a struggle I know all too well.  It's a struggle that I faced for many years, and one that will follow me throughout my life.

On Monday, To Write Love on Her Arms launched their campaign, No One Else Can Play Your Part, for National Suicide Prevention Week.  The couple who died on Monday in Fort Myers represents thousands of others who die by suicide each year and the millions of others who suffer from depression.

We live in a world where we're told to play it off like everything's okay.  We're told to "fake it 'til you make it" and that if you try hard enough, everything will get better.  We're led to believe that depression and mental illness are something to be ashamed of.  We're constantly told that we shouldn't be unhappy because there's someone else out there who has it worse than you do.  But those are all lies.  Here's the truth: You matter.  Your story matters.  The pain you're feeling is real and it's validated by the things you've been through.  Your struggles are nothing to be ashamed of, and they're all part of your story.

The pain of your past is not an indication of what tomorrow looks like.  Your pain is only part of your story, but there's so much more to you than that.

This week, I'm joining thousands of people around the world to talk about depression, suicide and mental illness.  These issues are very real to me, and anyone who has read through my blog knows that.  If there's anything I've learned from my struggles and my journey, it's that I am important, and that no one else can play my part.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

July/August 2014 Beauty Favorites

July and August have been "slow" months in terms of trying out new makeup.  I used a lot of the same products in July and August, so I figured it was easier to combine this blog into one post rather than two.  Here are my 6 favorite beauty favorites from July & August!

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara ($22 at Sephora)
I got this as a sample from Urban Decay prior to the product being released, but I wasn't really all that excited about it.  Truth is, I own a few other high end mascara brands and I just don't find them to be that special.  I also know that what really makes a mascara awesome is the brush.  When I first used this mascara I looked at the brush and thought, "no thanks!"  I decided to use it anyway, and I was amazed at how well it lengthened my lashes and added volume.  A lot of mascaras make your lashes feel stiff, but what I love about UD Perversion is that it doesn't have that effect.  I'll definitely be purchasing the full-sized version once my sample runs out!

Bare Minerals Matte Foundation - shade: Medium Beige ($27 at Sephora)
Last month, I LOVED the Revlon Colorstay Foundation.  As it gets hotter and hotter this summer, I've found that liquid foundation just won't work for me because of how much I sweat (gross, I know).  What I love about the Bare Minerals matte foundation is that it doesn't break me out, it doesn't feel heavy and it looks natural.  I think of it as "my face but better."  Plus, a little goes a long way.  I don't wear foundation often, but this is my summer staple for the days I do.

Makeup Geek Eyeshadow ($5.99 per eyeshadow pan at
I've learned to do my makeup by watching YouTube videos, and Makeup Geek eyeshadows are a favorite among many beauty bloggers, including Jaclyn Hill.  From all of the reviews I've read, people say that they're similar in quality to MAC eyeshadows but at a fraction of the cost.  I don't own any MAC eyeshadows, so I can't speak to that.  However, I do know that these shadows are so pigmented, they go on smooth and they blend well.  I still plan on trying out MAC eyeshadows some day, but for now, I'm in love with my Makeup Geek shadows.

NYX Slide On Eye Pencil ($7.99 at Ulta)
I haven't been using a lot of eyeliner pencils lately, especially since it's summer.  Usually eyeliner pencils melt right off, but not this one!  It stands up to the heat and is truly waterproof.  Proof: One day at work I had a major meltdown and cried my eyes out for a few hours (sorry boss!).  I expected to go into the bathroom and see my eyeliner all over my face...but it didn't move.  All of my eyeliner (and mascara) was still there.  I couldn't believe it!

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Tube Pencil ($18 at Birchbox)
I got this lip pencil as a sample in my July Birchbox.  They sent me the purple shade, and at first, I was like, "Purple?! Oh hell no! They have me all wrong."  I tried it one day after work because my curiosity got the best of me, and I was in love from the moment I put it on.  The color is completely buildable and doesn't go on harsh or overwhelming.  It has a minty taste and slight tingle when you first put it on, which I loved!  I've used it a few times since then, and each time I fall in love a little more.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette ($29 at Sephora)
There's not much to say about these shadows except that they're matte and are great for those days when you want to wear makeup but still want it to look natural.  The shadows aren't chalky and they blend beautifully.  This palette has been a favorite of mine lately!

Are there any beauty products that you've been loving lately?  If so, let me know!  I'm always looking for new products to try!

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

don't often write about the death of a celebrity. In fact, I don't think I ever have. But tonight, my heart is heavy with the death of Robin Williams.

Depression is a very real and dark struggle. My heart aches for his family. I can't imagine the pain his family must be going through. I think about all of the unanswered questions they have and the memories that will never happen.

I think about the millions of lives that Robin Williams impacted and the joy he brought to so many people. He made people laugh and smile in ways that most people can't. Although I can't say this for sure, I can only imagine that he saved so many lives.

I don't believe that suicide is selfish. It must be one of the hardest decisions that anyone could ever make. And it breaks my heart that someone felt like their pain was too much to handle. They say that the people who bring great joy also know great pain.  For Robin Williams, this must've been true.  The world lost a talented, hilarious soul today. The world is grieving. Our hearts are heavy. 

Robin Williams' death is a reminder that people need people. No matter what you're going through, you are not alone. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. There's someone on the other line waiting to help. You are worth it. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

From Couch to Tough Mudder

At my heaviest weight in August 2012 right before I moved to Alabama
I'm running a Tough Mudder on November 9, 2014.

There, I said it.  I signed up for the race at the end of June.  Up until now, it's mainly been a secret to most people (minus my boyfriend, sister, best friend and coworkers).  To be honest, I've kept it a secret because I was scared that I'd fail.

For as long as I can I remember, I've been saying that I was going to lose weight and get into shape.  But it never happened.  Every time I try to lose weight, I gain it back.  Every time I try to get into shape, I quit after a month.  So this time, I thought it would be best not to say anything.  But then I told my boyfriend.  And my sister.  And my coworkers.  And when my boss asked me to set goals for myself after my 90-day review, one of them was "To complete a Tough Mudder."  This time, I will not fail.  And I have other people helping me and encouraging me to make sure that I don't.

It's been hard getting back into working out.  On most days, I don't have any motivation to go on a run or press play on Turbo Fire.  But I do it anyway.  On most days, I don't see the results of all of my hard work.  But some days, I try on clothes that haven't fit in over a year and I realize that it's working.  Most days, I feel tired and sore.  And quite frankly, I want to give up.  But I don't...because I signed up for this Tough Mudder, and I'm going to conquer this thing.

Up until this point, my training has mainly consisted of running (I'm using the Couch to 5k app).  I added in Turbo Fire a few days ago, and next month I'll be adding in strength training.  On my first day of C25K, the intervals were run 1 minute and walk 90 seconds.  I could barely get through it and my legs ached.  Tonight, the intervals were run 5 minutes and walk 3 minutes.  And you know what?  I made that workout my bitch.  I was running at a pace that felt impossible to me that first day, and I kept the same pace the entire time.  I was exhausted when I was done, but it felt incredible to complete that run.

At my lowest weight since junior year at FGCU.
Taken on August 9, 2014
With all of this training, the weight has started to come off.  It's been a slow journey, and for a few weeks, I was gaining weight instead of losing it.  Since March, I've lost 17 pounds.  However, I didn't start seeing results until a few weeks ago.  After losing 10 pounds, my clothes still fit the same, and I was starting to get frustrated.  It wasn't until I had lost 15 pounds that I started seeing results.  Now, my clothes are looser, and I'm more comfortable wearing shorts and fitted shirts.  But what's really been amazing is watching my confidence grow.  I'm still not where I want to be, but I feel amazing!  I wear compression shorts when I run, tank tops to work and shorts on the weekends - and I don't give a damn what people say about it.  When you feel amazing, nothing can stop you from working toward your goals.

This journey is far from over.  There's still 90 days until Tough Mudder, and I have so much work to do before then.  But I believe in myself, and there are other people who believe in me too.  There are days when my legs are sore, and I'm tired beyond belief.  There are days when I finish a workout and all I want to do is cry because I didn't do as well as I could've.  There are days when I think, "if I didn't give up last year, this wouldn't be so hard."  But the love and encouragement from my boyfriend, family and coworkers is what keeps me going when all I want to do is quit.  I refuse to let them down.

The best things in life aren't given.  They're earned.  
I Will What I Want - Under Armour Women

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What it REALLY Means to be an ISFJ

Yesterday at work, we all somehow got on the topic of personality types.  It made me think, "this would make an AWESOME blog post!"  So here it is.

I first took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality type test back in 2011.  I was just elected as Student Government Senate Secretary, and we were getting ready to go on our annual Student Government retreat.  Before we went, we were all sent a link to the MBTI personality type test and were told to take it and email the SG coordinator a screenshot of our results.  So I took the test, and at the end it showed me my Myers-Briggs personality type: Introversion, Sensing, Judging, Feeling - otherwise known as ISFJ.

I remember seeing the word "introversion" and thinking "Oh hell no. There's no way I'm an introvert."  So I took the test again.  And you know what the result was?  The same exact thing...except this time, I my numbers leaned even more towards introversion.  So why was I so upset to see that I was an introvert?  Because my whole life, I only heard the word "introvert" used in a negative way.  I heard that introverts were shy, anti-social and cold.  I never saw "introvert" being used in a way that was positive.

When I read more about my personality type, I realized that it wasn't bad to be an introvert and that there was a reason behind who I was.  It all started to make sense.  Suddenly, I didn't feel so different or weird.  I had a deeper understanding of myself, and in turn, I felt like I had a purpose.

Here's a breakdown of what each part means:

Introversion: Get energy from within, quiet, reserved, humble, thoughtful and calm 
Sensing: Concrete information rather than abstract theories, practical, traditional, observant and factual
Feeling: Devoted, caring, kind and principled 
Judging: Organized, methodical, dedicate and persistant 

Being an ISFJ

Being an ISFJ is unique.  Our qualities often defy what it means to be each individual trait.  Although we're introverts (I), we have well-developed people skills.  Although we have the Feeling (F) trait, we're also highly analytical.  We're Judgers (J), but we're also receptive to new ideas and change.  We're more than the sum of our parts, and it's part of what makes us so unique.

ISFJs are kind, sometimes to a fault.  We're enthusiastic about the things we love.  ISFJ's are humble, and we hate being the center of attention.  We'd rather be rewarded by seeing the true impact of our work.  Sometimes we underplay our accomplishments because of this.  

We are perfectionists but sometimes procrastinators.  However, you can always rely on us to get the job done on time.  We take pride in our work and take our responsibilities seriously - we go above and beyond what's expected of us to make other happy.  

ISFJs have a crazy good memory - not to retain data, but to remember people and details about their lives.  We remember things like birthdays, what you like, your hobbies and specific events that impacted us.  Some people think it's weird how we can remember so many little details, but that's part of being an ISFJ.

We are very aware of our feelings as well as the feelings of others.  However, we don't usually express our feelings, especially if they're negative.  ISFJs tend to bottle up their feelings instead of telling people how they feel.

We take pride in our work, but home is where the heart is for us.  We love being around people we care about, and we love being able to care for people and spoiling them.  We're selfless and rarely take time to think about our wants and needs.

Famous ISFJs

  • Rosa Parks
  • Robert E. Lee
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Mother Teresa 
  • Kate Middleton
  • Laura Bush
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Tiger Woods
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Mitt Romney
  • Halle Berry
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Nancy Reagan 
  • Naomi Watts
  • Bruce Willis
  • Christopher Walken
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Christopher Walken
It's been over 3 years since I took the MBTI test, and I've taken it several times since then.  My result is always the same: I'm an ISFJ.  It took me some time to come to terms with what all of it meant, and for awhile I tried to hide the fact that I'm an introvert.  Only recently have I realized that it's not something to be embarassed about and that I should be proud of who I am.  Now, when I tell people that I'm an ISFJ, I say it with confidence.  I'm no longer ashamed of being an introvert, and I've truly learned to love who I am.