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introducing: what i noticed for nora.

Moving to a new city is exciting, but the emotions of what you leave behind can definitely cloud your view of your new home. I’ve lived in Naples for fourteen days now, and I’ve absolutely been blinded to the beauty around me by the overwhelming sadness of leaving Tallahassee behind.

A few days ago, I was able to catch up with my good friend Nora on the phone. It was so nice to hear her voice and, for those precious minutes, Tallahassee didn’t seem so far away.

Nora, a Detroit native currently living in Tallahassee but who has lived in countless other places around the globe, is no stranger to this phenomenon and, in order to replace sad feelings with grateful ones, suggested I try to notice — like really notice — at least one beautiful thing a week about my new home and to write about it. I thought that was a good idea.

This week’s WHAT I NOTICED FOR NORA , or WINFN, (if you say it fast, WIN-FIN!) is a bit cheat-y because I actually noticed it before I talked to her. And how could you not?

Along the southwest coast of Florida, the sunsets are to die for. The few I’ve had the pleasure of ogling have left me breathless and thankful.

sunset

 

susnet_porch

[Full disclosure: I did take these pictures with Instagram but no filter! Swearsies! The sunsets here are just THAT pretty. For more sunset pictures (and a thousand pictures of my kid) you should follow me.]

I think this practice is good for anyone. Not just those of us who just moved to a new town and are desperately trying to figure out where/what/how/when/why everything is. Even if you’ve lived in your town for a while, try this. Try to discover something beautiful — even if it’s something small — about where you live and take a picture of it. This will force you to really notice it for all that it is. Creation. Splendor.

A blessing.

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naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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friday favorite: jeans.

Okay so maybe this post is a humble-brag. And maybe by “maybe” I mean “absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it.”

Today I am stoked to say that, at four months postpartum, I officially fit back into all of my pre-pregnancy jeans.

Including, but not limited to, the smallest pair I owned before. WHAT WHAT! Nice to see you again, Pacific Sunwear size 9′s that I wore as a college freshman!

dork

What’s that? You don’t like my dorky bathroom picture? You hate fun, don’t you?

THAT SAID, I’ve got to cover my own butt on my body image blog, here. Some disclaimers:

  • NO I am NOT dieting or even exercising, really. Nor do I advocate that for new moms. I am not, nor have I ever, been trying to lose weight since Dax was born. My husband (and my late-night white-chocolate-covered-Oreo binges) can back me up on this. I have just been really, really, REALLY stinking lucky.
  • The reason this is exciting to me is less about having my “body back” (because I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about that) and more about the fact that I don’t have to spend money I don’t have on new jeans because oh my LORD, you guys, diapers are expensive. (See also: I’M WEARING JEANS I WORE MY FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE. PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY ARE NOT STYLISH. THEY AREN’T CUTE. I KEEP THEM BECAUSE I AM TOO BLOODY PRACTICAL TO BUY NEW CLOTHES. LIKE EVER.)
  • The size of my pants and the number on the scale have nothing to do with how much I appreciate my postpartum body. For proof, please refer back to this post.
  • No number will ever, ever, EVER define me or my happiness. Period. 
  • Except the number of dollars I don’t have to spend on new clothes. That number does, sadly, define a whole heck of a lot of my mood.

Happy Friday, y’all!

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friday favorite: cojones.

That’s right, you guys. I have cojones.

Not literally, of course. The fact that I bore a child almost four months ago attests to that fact.

But figuratively. I’ve got some balls. And that’s my favorite thing about myself this week.

There are certain aspects about our life that Dan and I aren’t content with. I say that vaguely, because for the most part it’s great. But there are certain things about that we feel called to change. So we’ve started exploring some options on how to do that.

One of my ex-coworkers and his wife did things kind of the way we’d like to. So, a couple weeks ago, I called my coworker and then emailed his wife. Today I had lunch with her.

How does that take cojones, you ask?

Well, before our lunch today I’d never met her. Ever.

Takes some pretty big balls to go out to lunch with someone you’ve never met. But had I not reached out to her, I wouldn’t have had a great meeting and gleaned practical knowledge for motherhood.

Good job, self! Way to go!

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friday favorite: not taking myself too seriously.

My favorite thing about myself this week is that I don’t take myself too seriously. Life’s too short for that nonsense. I’m never too proud to make others laugh at my own expense. Case in point: this video I shot for an upcoming event at my church:

E3 X Factor Promo Video from Jermadem on Vimeo.

Disclaimer: I’m not that tone deaf. Only a little tone deaf. 

Tallahasseeans: I better see you at E3 on October 26th at 7PM! Some amazing singers will be battling for the winning title and I’m in the band, tickling some ivories and dropping some mad BGVs (no solo performances for me, thankfully).

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it isn’t easy being green. with envy.

I’ve been dealing with some stuff.

That’s what I told a couple of my girlfriends in an email last week. Only I didn’t say “stuff”. I said something else. Something much more fitting to describe exactly what it is I’m going through.

Yesterday, I got an email from NaNoWriMo. When it hit my inbox it felt like a sack of pumpkins to the face. Oh yes. It’s October, which means that next month is November. National Novel Writing Month.  Has it really been a year since I touched my novel?

Let me give you a little bit of insight as to how my life looked a year ago:

I’d just gotten surgery to repair my ACL, an injury I sustained during an awesome dance class at an incredible studio. I was writing like it was my job (which, okay, it is my job but youknowwhatimean), my blog was getting roughly a bazillion hits a day (roughly), and I was taking on my biggest writing challenge ever — fashioning a novel (albeit a complete crap one) in a month. All the while, I was involved in four ministries, one of which I led, at my church.

I was doing it all, basically. I was the it-girl.

And then bam. On November 16th, I took a positive pregnancy test. A figurative slam on the brakes of life, if you will. A happy gear shift, for sure, but a gear shift none the less. I went from being completely focused on my life and my goals to turning down everything (including beer, dang it) that I wanted in order to put someone else — someone so precious and special — first.

I was thrown head-first into a season of rapid life-changes, both physically and otherwise. As I watched my body grow, I also watched important things in my life grow distant. It was almost as if I was taking up too much space to allow for anything else. A painfully obvious metaphor, of sorts. I stepped down. From a lot of things. I put writing on the back burner. I surrendered the ministries in which I volunteered (one of which I’d run for five years — that was pretty hard to let go). I removed myself from all of the “good” things in my life in order to make room for the “best” thing.

Make no mistake. When I saw his little face on July 19th at 1:34 AM, I could see why he was, indeed, the “best” thing. He was (and is) absolutely perfect. He is my whole world. 

That should be enough for me. It should. But guess what?

I’m human. I’m broken. So sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, like right now, for instance, it’s not.

This year looks  a lot different than last year. I’m not dancing. I’m not writing as much. I’m most certainly not writing another novel, or even editing the one I did write, and I’m watching as all the ministries in which I served move on without me. Moreover, they’re moving on with other people. People who, by my account, are better and more lovable than me. My brokenness begs me to cling to the public affirmation associated with being involved in and doing everything, and so now, since I don’t have any of that, I don’t feel as though I am worthy of love. It’s especially hard because the only person for whom I’m “doing” things, the only person from whom I can receive affirmation, can’t speak. Can’t audibly affirm me. (Unless you count coos and the occasional but oh-so lifesaving smiles.)

To make matters worse, I had to go back to work. And my milk supply consequently dropped. So now I sit in my cubicle, praying that the one thing I — and only I — can do doesn’t slip away, too, making me (in my mind) completely and utterly useless. It feels like this thing — breastfeeding my child — is the only thing keeping me from being obsolete and unloved. As each pumping session shrinks just a little smaller than the last, I begin to panic.

Enter: envy. Pure, immature, annoying, soul-crushing envy.

I find myself envious (and bitter, to boot) of everyone these days. Stay-at-home moms who can answer the demand of their nursing infants and, therefore, don’t have to worry about a diminishing milk supply. Published writers who, because they’re published, are better at it than I. Singers, because dear GOD don’t ask me to sing. Songwriters. Artists. Friends. Not friends. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes.

The list is endless.

Chances are, if I know you, I’m probably envious of something you have that I don’t. Even though what I have — a beautiful and perfect baby boy — is something you can’t ever have. Sure, you can have a baby boy at some point. But he’ll never be my baby boy. He’ll never be the perfect little angel I wake up to every morning.

It’s the nature of the sin. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t God-honoring. It’s wrong and stupid and awful. And yet, here I sit, stewing in envy. The painful thorn in my side.

One of my favorite writers touched on this earlier this week when she lamented about the solitary nature of book-writing. The way she explained her feelings echoed mine. It’s as if I’m a duck floating atop a pond. Quiet and inconspicuously still above the surface, but furiously paddling my feet beneath, unseen and unappreciated by all.

Barf. Whatever.

Because this terrible ulcer in my heart wouldn’t stop festering, I had no choice but to open up about it to a couple friends. (In two completely unrelated lunch meetings, both over sushi, which I found to be adorably ironic.) I sat across the table from these two friends, friends I’ve known for years, friends who have seen me at my absolute worst, and I let them have it. I let them know that, yep, I’m still messed up. I compare myself to others and get really freaking jealous and it really sucks.

And they listened. And they challenged me to think differently. To be proactive and to make changes.

But change is hard and I hate it. 

This past weekend I took a short, 24-hour trip to my hometown to see my best friend’s little brother get married. It’s a four-hour drive, and since I had to take Dax with me, I had to drive at night. I hate driving at night, but Dax sleeps through the night now and also conks out during car rides so there was no way I was going to drive during the day if it meant my son would revert back to a nocturnal disposition.

My least favorite part of the drive, probably because of the low speed limit and lack of passing lanes, is driving east on highway 40 through the Ocala National Forest. As soon as I get on 40, I start counting the minutes until I can finally turn right onto 17 and get the hell off of 40.

But this time, it was different. I wanted to stay on 40 forever.

In the dead of night, the Ocala National Forest should have, by all accounts, been pitch black. My Camry and I should have been shrouded in complete darkness. But we weren’t.

The moon was full, and so it poured buckets of silvery moonlight across the land, transforming the forest completely. The trees were a mass of dark, almost-black-but-just-not hunter green against a slate sky and clouds disguised as clumps of charcoal. It was devastatingly beautiful — a type of beauty that could only be seen in the dark of night. As much as the sun could try during the day, that type of allure was only achievable with the overwhelming glow of the full moon. (I tried to take a picture of it with my iPhone but none of the photos did it justice. So hopefully my words will.)

It reminded me of me. And what I’m going through in this time. Though I am, indeed, walking through a “dark” period, a night which has gone on way too long with the hope of dawn too far off in the distance, there is hope. There is truth. There is light.

There is light in the truth my friends bring me through honest, raw, desperate conversation. There is the reality that, though I am broken and have weak moments, I am loved and valued, even if I am not publicly esteemed as such right now. And though I’m currently wrestling with this beast of a sin, I can beat it because I am a daughter of the Most High. A princess.

A broken princess. A messy princess. But a princess, none the less, bathed in the sweet, soft moonlight of grace.

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friday favorite: my eyes.

Welcome to the first installment of an indefinitely long self-love blog series called friday favorites. Each Friday, I’ll post a blog highlighting something about myself I really dig as an act of self-love discipline.

And so, without further ado, this week’s favorite is my eyes. 

Pretty much everyone on my mom’s side of the family has blue eyes. Blonde hair, too. There’s no denying the European influence in our genes. But our eyes, and I guess mine for the sake of this blog, are especially rad. Not only are they cool because they’re a pretty color (not unlike the sky or ocean!) but they’re recessive. So that means that, eventually, they won’t exist anymore. People with eyes like mine will be just as mythical as unicorns. I love that! (By the way, I’m working off of the assumption that unicorns DID exist at one point, so don’t try to refute that with your “facts” and “science”.)

I’m practically a unicorn!

While I was pregnant, Dan kept praying that our son would get my eyes. Because of their unicorn-like tendencies, and Dan’s dominant brown eyes, I was skeptical. All babies are born with blue eyes, so for the time being, Dan’s prayer has  been answered. So that’s another reason I love my eyes — because I can see them in my son.

However, a good friend of ours was so bold as to say that, based on the shade of blue they are now, she thinks Dax’s eyes will stay blue like mine! What do you think?

Gotta be honest. I hope so!

Okay, now here’s the part where you chime in. Because I’m not doing this alone, y’all. What’s your favorite thing about yourself this week? Comment and tell me!

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