The shock and the cheese

I want you to think about what is rewarding to you. If you were going to treat yourself, what would it be with? Clothes, food, a night out, a vacation? If you had to describe your “happy place” – what would it be?

My happy place in 2013 was sitting on my couch, incredibly focused on whatever show I was binge-watching at the moment while I stuffed my face with a mountain of fast food I had run out to get myself. I was genuinely happy when I was doing that. I had trained my mind and body that those actions were rewarding. About 30 minutes after I finished my food and the credits started rolling on my show. I would feel absolutely sick. Maybe I’d just keep eating? Maybe I’d follow it up with a cigarette? Maybe I’d go take a nap. I didn’t care, my day was over when I put my butt on that couch.

My happy place now is my walk back from the gym, reflecting on my work out, thinking about my day, on my way to eat a big pile of food in my kitchen that usually consists of eggs, spinach, and hot sauce. I know that once I get back home, take a quick shower, make those eggs, and then start my day, I’m going to be unstoppable. I’m going to start checking things off of my to-do list, I’m going to clean out that pantry that has been daunting me with it’s pile of crap, I’m going to write, I’m going to be active and happy for the rest of the day. The difference in my daily habits then and now are night and day.

That change did not happen overnight, and unlike most things I ramble about, it did not come from mindfulness.

It came from switching the shock and the cheese.

I want you to picture a rat in one of those big white mazes. There are two pieces of cheese in this maze. One of them will shock him whenever he goes to grab it, the other one will fill his belly with cheddar goodness. If he runs this course enough times, he will find the path to the pain-free cheese. He will map that route in his little brain and he will reward himself with his golden prize at the end. Over and over and over.
Does this sound familiar?

tumblr_nl2tr7hctr1u3lidho1_500

Even though you’re human, and your end goal might not be cheese. (I love cheese)
You have done the same exact thing in your life. You have created habits, thought patterns, behavioral patterns, and rewards in your life every single day. You are constantly running away from discomfort, pain, sadness and you’re falling into habits that keep you distracted, complacent, and even though they might feel good in the moment – They’re keeping you from what you want. In my life, obviously sitting on a couch, hating my choices and my body, getting further and further away from my goal wasn’t what I wanted but I didn’t know what to do? How do I stop doing the things I have done for years?

I had to take control of my thoughts, actions, and habits to get me to where I wanted to be and it all started with a simple question. Why? Why am I eating right now? Why am I crying right now? Why am I SO agitated right now? Why don’t I exercise? Why don’t I take more pride in how I look and feel?

I am challenging you to wake up every single day and start questioning your behaviors.
Are you doing things that make you happy?
Are you thinking thoughts that make you happy?
Are you surrounded by people who make you happy?
Do you feel proud with the choices you made and the interactions you had at the end of the day? If your answer is no. You can change that. You are in control.

I can tell you what I eat and what I did to lose 130lbs. I can tell you what music I listen to and how long I sleep at night. Those things might give you information about me and a healthy lifestyle but it’s not going to make you healthy unless you start reflecting on your own life. I will not be there to knock a box of mac and cheese out of your hands, I will not be there to stand in front of you and drag your butt to the gym.
You are going to have to make a choice to do those things. 

This does not just apply to weight loss. This applies to so much more. Maybe you have relationships you want to improve, maybe you want to get out of the 9-5 and try something new, maybe you just want to be a person that you’re proud of. It’s possible.

Among the pile of self-help and behavioral psychology books I’ve been reading this last year, I found an incredible gem. If I could, I would force every human being to read this book. I would make them go through it chapter by chapter and apply it to their own life. It’s an incredible read and it will change your life and daily habits (if you let it).

“Motivation is triggered by making choices
that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control.”
– Charles Duhigg

smarter.jpeg

Charles Duhigg’s book isn’t like other books I’ve read about habit. It’s not just giving you the science side or the emotional side. It’s taking the information he’s learned from successful, motivated people and he’s giving it to you in a way that just makes sense.

Why do we continue to live these lives that upset us so much? Why do we make these poor choices that directly contradict our goals? It’s not because you’re some crappy person that has no control over their life. It’s because you’ve developed habits that are rewarding you in the moment and hurting you in the long haul. Guess what? You can stop doing that.

Once you stop thinking about living a better life as some overhaul or event that’s going to happen, you can start seeing what a slow and magnificent process it really is. Whenever you are presented with choices, take control. The only person who is in charge of your emotions, success, relationships, and life, is you. So why don’t we act like it? We have to start taking responsibility for our well being. Stop making excuses for why your life is the way it is.

Bad things happen. The things you love and cherish will leave or change.
That’s reality. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to let every bad thing that has ever happened to you define you and keep you as a person you don’t want to be – or just maybe you give all of those things you’re not in control of the middle finger, and you push yourself to be something unexpected. It’s your choice.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Stay cheerful, stay strong, stay consistent

Dev

Advertisements

The myth about moving forward

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but when I start something new. I love starting with a bang. I’m going to completely overhaul my life and I’m going to make sure everyone is aware of my new journey. Whether that’s weight loss, cleaning, self-improvement, a new job, you name it. I’ve always been a huge fan of the “I’m gonna start Monday” camp. It’s like I’ve always assumed that I would just wake up on that day and be ready to tackle whatever goal I’ve laid out for myself.

tumblr_oj5c4glaxt1s83lk7o1_500

It took me a really long time to realize how
incredibly wrong and counter productive that was.

 

When you want to make a change in your life, it seems like a natural thing to do to have a starting point and an ending point. Isn’t that the point of every cleanse, retreat, diet, or program anyone starts? You have it in your mind that at the end of those 7 days, 30 days, or however long you’ve set, that you’ll be done. You have set your own finish line.

I’m here to tell you that after trying to force dozens of start points and falling off the wagon after many of my finish lines. I was tired of setting myself up to fail. 

One day, while browsing on my phone, like I usually do, I remember coming across an article about habits. I’d never really thought about habits before. I mean I knew there were good habits and bad habits but I didn’t realize how incredibly complicated the human brain is when it comes to setting up these natural points throughout our day.

I want you to think of something you do every day without fail. Do you check your phone when you wake up? Do you wash your hair twice every time your shower? How about your diet? If you have a cheeseburger at Mcdonalds – do you always get the fries with it? (I mean c’mon who wants a fruit cup with a Big Mac.)

I bet there are set behaviors you have that you don’t even notice!

I finally realized that in order to change my life, my way of thinking, my diet, and my relationships with other people. This was something I could not start and finish.

I realized I would have to take this one day a time,
one thought at a time, one meal at a time, one interaction at a time.

tumblr_ojah3jxiem1u3uk9ko1_500

Stop aiming for perfection. It’s ludicrous, harmful and frustrating. Stop telling yourself that tomorrow you’re going to wake up and suddenly not want those chocolate mini muffins for breakfast. I’m here to tell you after years of eating egg whites and oatmeal I STILL want chocolate for breakfast. The crazy thing is, guess what? Sometimes I do!

And that is perfectly okay.

If you’re planning on making a life change or you really want to push yourself to be better in a specific area. I want you to try something, I want you to try and change one simple habit. Maybe you constantly put your keys down and can’t find them? I want you to try to set a place for them and for 10 days. I want you to put your keys there every time. Maybe whenever you go out to eat you ALWAYS eat the bread or tortilla chips. I want you to ask the waiter not to bring them every single time the next 10 times you go out to eat.

You start slow and you move forward. You don’t give up when you fail and you let go of the mind set of “Well I messed up, may as well give up and restart tomorrow.” Stop trying to change overnight. Make incremental changes and after time has passed, you’ll realize the impact of what you are doing.

Whenever you look at your daily habits, your conversations, even your personal thoughts. Shouldn’t you be proud?

Being happy and kind is not something people are just good at.
It’s something they practice.

I was never successful at changing my habits until I started journaling. Now I write down not only what I eat, but my moods, thoughts, and goals. Every day I look back and I can see how I felt after I ate those 4 pieces of pizza or I can go back and experience my happiness when I was journaling after crushing a goal at the gym.

You have to practice being present and I think journaling is a great way to do that.

Our society tells people, both men and women that being selfless and sacrificing their needs and comforts for the needs of others make you a great human being. I’m here today challenging that and saying that they’re wrong.

Your personal well being, your thoughts, your wants, your disappointments, your grief, your happiness. All of that is yours. Unless you take care of yourself physically and mentally, what good are you to the people around you?

Be selfish. Make changes and don’t be hard on yourself when you fail. Push yourself to find out what you want in this life and how you’re going to get it.

Find your happiness in the face of constant disappointment. Make that choice.

tumblr_oitisxor9t1sga7ujo1_500

Stay Cheerful

Dev

A new approach to thinking

After everything that happened to me I knew that I didn’t want to just survive anymore.
I wanted to thrive.

I wanted to change my daily habits, my emotions, and my ability to handle stressful situations. I wanted to stop regretting bad interactions where I lost my temper or got too upset. I wanted to be able to listen better and get a better grasp on my thoughts.

So it started a journey – and that’s how I found what was a key for me to live a better life. Being mindful.

“Mindfulness is simply,
being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes. (which it will)
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way. (which it wont)”
– James Baraz

Mindfulness for me, is putting space between your thoughts and your actions. After dealing with grief, I realized that if I took the time and the effort to realize not only the content of my thoughts but then started to question those thoughts. I could start to have more control over my emotional state. It changed my personality and my life. Some people, of course are naturally good at this. I definitely wasn’t born with the ability to do this. It’s practice

The reason I’m bringing this up and why I thought it was important enough to share is because it can help you maintain better relationships, build better habits and ultimately give you a better quality of life. A lot of people think self-help is silly or arbitrary but in my opinion it should be one of the most celebrated tools in our culture. There are so many options and so many ways you can take easy steps to feeling happy. 

I can honestly say, while being completely cliché that I learned to love myself. It’s not constant and I’ve had some lows, but in the last 2 years 90% of my days end with me being proud of the progress I’m making into the person I ultimately want to be. That means a better wife for David, a better mother to my children one day, and especially a better daughter, sister, friend, and human. The lower you feel, the higher the climb. 

I had a fear of death so bad after everything happened that I couldn’t breathe or function at the idea of anyone else dying around me. I was killing myself with food and I couldn’t walk 20 feet without feeling winded. I didn’t want to live. I didn’t see a way out. Those feelings of grief, anger, and self-hatred were painful and constant. They would crush me and consume my thoughts. But I beat it, I learned that I could change and that if I hadn’t experienced such grief, I wouldn’t appreciate everyone and everything I do today. 

I do not have control over losing anyone around me or losing my own life.
All I can do is love with everything I have and do my best to be kind.
Every action I have has ripples, it sets things in motion.
One quick unkind, unthinking, act can have powerful consequences.
Your kind acts have even more power.
You can create change. That’s a great power and we all wield it.
I have to be present and account for how fleeting my life can be and I still have to
choose to be grateful.
I have to turn the negative things that have happened to me into knowledge and strength.

Learn to pay attention to your moods. I highly suggest journaling feelings, events AND food together because you start to see patterns. When I have a day where I’m eating a large amount of carbs, meats, and sodium I usually feel not only sluggish and bloated the next day but depressed as well. Bettering yourself isn’t selfish and seeking professional help or guidance through books, videos, medications or friends is NOT crazy or “weak”.

This world is stressful, hard, and messy. You should give yourself the tools to live the best life possible and have healthy relationships with the people around you. Figuring out that there were consequences to my eating habits made it easier for me to change my diet and my life all together. If you take the time to pray every day I suggest adding in some mindfulness exercises and take time to analyze your thoughts and feelings and think about your expectations for your day, yourself, and the situations you’re dealing with.

I don’t want this to come off preachy and I’m not trying to tell someone how to live a perfect life. I just want to get it out there that it’s entirely possible to have more control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions then you do right now. It helped me to better set up boundaries and I learned to have normal expectations for the people around me. It’s easy to be selfish because what you’re thinking and feeling is YOURS but every person on this planet has their own problems, agenda, thoughts and emotions to contend with. You can learn to be a better version of yourself simply by having healthy boundaries, expectations and understanding for everyone around you.

yesss

Imagine the next time you’re arguing with your spouse/friend/family member that instead of falling into the same repetitive negative patterns of screaming or losing your temper, you instead start to see things you didn’t see before. You start having revelations about people you’ve known your whole life because you start to realize why they are the way they are. You start to feel empathy and understanding for the other person and as a result your responses are not only said with confidence and kindness but you’re capable of clearly communicating how you’re thinking and feeling. Your mental health shows in your ability to cope with stressful situations. You have the ability to change how you deal with tough situations. I think one of the greatest quotes to emphasize this is:

“My mind begins to seem like a video game. I can either play it intelligently learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.”

-Sam Harris

That quote brought together everything I’ve been learning not only about myself but other human beings in the last few years. You can be better. You can learn from the things happening to you and create change. Hitting the lows I hit and being able to fill my mind and soul back up with positive and empowering messages have changed my personality and the way I interact with others. Every human being on this planet is struggling not to feel alone, angry, and scared. It is our duty while we are on this earth to minimize the damage we do to others and especially, ourselves. If you’re suffering from a short temper, harmful thoughts, angry and sad feelings. I just want you to know that you can feel better.

Enjoying your thoughts is an incredible thing.
Being happy with your own company is crucial.

Since educating myself through books like the ones below. I have a new respect for myself and every life around me. A lot of people say that it’s amazing how happy I am considering the grief I’ve endured. I didn’t just have the ability to be a more cheerful person. It takes practice. I learned the coping skills I needed through therapy, knowledge, and healthy relationships. No matter what trial is going on in your life I have full confidence that you can not only handle it – but you can learn from it and it can help you be a healthier and more fulfilled person. 

 

It doesn’t matter what kind of childhood you had, how old you are, what religion you practice or who you voted for. We could all strive to be stronger, wiser, more empathetic people. If you can learn to enjoy your own company and be proud of not only the decisions you made, but the words you spoke at the end of the day – Why wouldn’t you?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Stay cheerful

  • Dev

Be careful when you book a flight with United.

 

Earlier today I had to contact United Airlines about an unaccompanied minor situation. My husband and I purchased a direct flight from Tulsa to Denver for my 15 year old nephew to come visit in a couple weeks. I purchased them like I would any other tickets, got the confirmation, and went forward with my week excited about seeing him.

Well I received an email about 3 days after I booked his ticket saying that any children ages 5-15 are unaccompanied minors and we have to pay an additional fee of $300 round-trip to even allow him to get on the plane. It’s funny that I received the email 3 days later, well after the 24 hour grace period for canceling a ticket.

The fee is to make sure he gets on the plane safely, has help putting away his bags, give him snacks, and basically keep any eye on him. Why is it a 15 year old can get his learner’s permit and drive a car but he can’t be an unattended passenger on a plane?  Now I appreciate this service for younger children and I appreciate it for any parents that feel like their child might need some help during travel. Especially during flights that are not non-stop. However, my nephew is fully capable of traveling alone and has done so before. How is this service not optional?

Now when I called United to figure out what was going on and how we could fix this, I got to talk to two people who were about as helpful and kind as an agitated grizzly. Immediately defensive they callously informed me that it was my mistake that I put 1 adult instead of using the drop down menu to select 1 child. A drop down menu that is pre-selected to 1 adult. In my past experience of booking 100+ flights I’ve never had to select anything else. I don’t have children and I’ve never booked for one before. Instead of waiting 3 days to tell me you think they could’ve let me know that the birthdate I entered on his passenger information was invalid and that there would an additional $300 fee for a 15 year old to travel alone. I really want to be clear about this, the fee to supervise my nephew costs MORE than his round-trip flight.

They were not willing to work with us in any way, shape, or form. They said if I did not pay the additional $300 my nephew would not be allowed on the flight. They told me I could apply for a refund, that sounded great. Oh except the refunds aren’t guaranteed and he informed me that their policy is clear and they don’t bend the rules for any customer. Essentially telling me to get stuffed. I was pretty much in tears after this exchange.

$300 is a lot of money for any family. It’s not enough that I give you my money willingly when I want to use your services?  You have to charge me for a service that I don’t want and wasn’t even aware of?  The airline with the most complaints per customer and an annual income of 4.5 BILLION dollars. A company that could’ve easily let me pay a fee to change the ticket, let me use it as a credit, or possibly understand that my 15 year old nephew does not need a babysitter on a non-stop flight. It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around this whole thing. I hate confrontation, I hate being at someone else’s mercy. I hate being bullied. It seems like that is exactly what America stands for now. Stomp on the little people and cash in on your extra million. I’m just so tired of it. I know I made a mistake but I can’t believe how much United is actually making me pay for it.

-Dev

 

 

Image courtesy of Bloomberg.com

& these are just a few of my favorite things!

Just wing it. Life, eyeliner, everything. 
Words to live by. But I like a little prep & tutorial (;

 

I LOVE trying new products. I love the smell of Sephora and I love getting home and opening my bag. I’m always just dying to try new primers, eyeliner, mascara, and of course any of those tiny little test tubes that they put there just for people who like me will decide that yes, I do need 3 different kinds of travel primers and a blending sponge for $14.99.

So I decided to throw down some of my absolute ULTIMATE favorites. I did not take pictures of my products because my 10yr old make-up bag immediately turns most of my bottles a fun beige color. I’ll post where I got them, how much they are and why I 100% recommend you run out, buy them and tell me how much you love them.

 

I am not getting paid to promote these in any way, shape, or form. These are things I tried on my own and now are apart of my every day routine!

5fc99ebe00a53d3256482da9d68a8ad7

Givenchy Beauty Women’s Acti’Mine Color Correcting Primer –
Sephora – $41
I cannot say enough how much this has changed my make-up routine. I of course suffer from oily skin, redness, and breakouts from time to time. This stuff is amazing. After I put this primer on my skin already looks great before I even put on my foundation and concealer. It is also surprisingly light and doesn’t weight me down. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants to get rid of some redness and uneven skin tone!

 

makeupblog

Benefit’s Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Brightening Makeup
Sephora – $36

This magical foundation has quickly become one of my favorite discoveries. I decided to purchase it randomly when I saw it was almost sold-out and figured it had to be good! Man I LOVE this stuff. Keeps my face from getting that gross 2:00pm sheen I’m so accustomed to. Also minimizes my pores and keeps my skin nice and soft! A must try!

 

makeupblog1

Bobbi Brown’s Bronzing Powder
Sephora – $42

Man have I gone through about a billion bronzers. I use mine to bronze up, hide double chin, and occasionally shade my brows. This one right here is my repeat purchase. Lasts forever, doesn’t break me out, and gives me that lovely bronze.

tarteblissful

Tarte’s Cheek Stain in Blissful
Sephora – $16

This blush saved me from about 10 years of applying to much loose pink powder on my face and looking like a clown. Thank goodness. Lol. I promise if you give this a shot, you won’t go back to your regular blush. This stuff looks wonderful and gives you that mermaid dewey glow you know you’ve always wanted!

makeupblog2

Flower’s Forever Wear Liner in Onyx
Wal-Mart $6.98

I know, I know, with my light blue eyes I should branch out to some more brown and orange tones with eyeliners. But I don’t. I love love love this line. It’s not expensive and it’s incredibly long lasting. The color is bright and the quality is A+. I’d encourage everyone to try ANY Flower products. Thanks Drew!

makeupblogfacecleans

First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser
Ulta – 5oz – $20

I said before, I have breakouts. When I say breakouts, it can last weeks. It seems like my skin and go weeks looking and feeling wonderful then the first time I break down and cry, get stressed, or stand in the sun longer than 3 minutes. Boom. Painful zits and blackheads. This stuff keeps my skin so healthy.

It’s simple, it’s gentle and it removes ALL of my make-up. I do pair this with my Mia Clarisonic from time to time to get my exfoliate on but most days I just use this in the morning and at night. I use to be all about the 3-5 product systems, now I know better. I was seriously drying out my skin and being over aggressive. Try something simpler with your skin regimen if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You won’t regret it!

exgloBliss Triple Oxygen ex-‘glow’-sion Vitabead-Infused Moisturizer
Kohl’s – 1.7oz – $64

I did say I lived in Colorado right? So D-R-Y. My skin flakes, it gets red, it breaks out. I saw this in Kohl’s and honestly? I loved the packaging. I brought it home and I’ve bought it about 6x since. I won’t go to a different moisturizer. It is great. I wished it lasted a bit longer, but it probably would for me if I didn’t use so much. It just feels euphoric applying it after washing my face and a long day out in the elements. My skin has never felt better!

eyecream

Origins GinZing Eye Cream
Sephora – $30

Yes, this stuff is expensive for a small amount, but I promise – it lasts FOREVER. I barely use a fingertip of it on each eye before bed and when I wake up in the morning. I never have tired eyes and dark bags. I noticed about a year ago I started looking.. older around my eyes. Cringing. But this stuff has really helped me get a grip and look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning!

makeupblog3

Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Sephora – $26

I have tried 50+ eyeshadow primers in my lifetime. This one doesn’t crease, doesn’t grease, lasts all day and is easy to apply. Plus, it lasts FOREVER. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

 

makeupblogfacemasks

Innisfree Skin Care Masks 
Amazon – $16.69 for 50

I had the pleasure of winning some of these in a giveaway and they are AMAZING. They go on like creepy little face mask sheets that smell and feel wonderful. So refreshing! You leave them on 20 minutes, pull them off and you DON’T rinse your face. It leaves this nice moisturizing glow for hours after you remove it. Try them all!

  • 1. GreenTea 2. Cucumber 3. Bamboo 4. Aloe 5. Manuka honey 6. Kiwi 7. Shea butter 8. mugwort 9. pomegranate 10. black berry 11. tea tree 12. bija 13. lime 14. strawberry 15. rose

tartelette.jpg

Tarte’s Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette
Sephora – $45

I haven’t needed to purchase any other eyeshadow since I’ve had this. It’s the only thing I use every day and always pack in my luggage. The colors are wonderful and go on smooth. All the range a blue-eyed girl could ask for!

blinc.jpg

Blinc Black Lash Primer
Sephora – $26

I never thought I’d see the day that I hardly wear mascara anymore, but I don’t! The weather here in Colorado and my general routine with my lashes was causing them to break and fall out. I was actually crying to my husband about it one day. I always loved having healthy eyelashes and didn’t know what to do. One wonderful lady in Sephora directed me to Blinc and now I am a believer! My eyelashes are better than they’ve ever been. Strong, long, and dramatic! Sometimes if it’s a hot date night or an event I’ll put on Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascare to give them some pump but Blinc is definitely something you need to try. Plus, you can wear it TO BED. Think of the possibilities!

neutrogena

Neutrogena’s Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation
Wal-Mart – $12

This is always in my purse. I’ve bought the most expensive powder, the least expensive, and everything in between. This keeps my shine at bay, lasts a long time, has great color and keeps me confident. I would suggest this for anyone who likes to lay some powder down before they go out for the day!

 

Well I think that’s a long enough list! Never be afraid to try new stuff. ALWAYS keep your eyes open for good deals and pay attention to your skin!! You’d be amazed how a little TLC goes a long way to feeling good without make-up.

Love yourself and stay cheerful!! 

makeupblog

– Dev

 

For my Father

Thank you for being both my anchor and my sail.

When I was a kid I remember watching a lot of different fathers on television. Growing Pains, 7th Heaven, Boy Meets World, The Simpsons. Those are all shows that showed me what a modern suburban dad was. Coffee and a newspaper in the morning, 9-5 job, crack a joke, play with the kids, kiss the wife, start over. From a very young age, I knew my Dad was very different.

I have the same kind of memories a lot of people probably have from their childhood. My Dad napping on our couch with the remote in his hand watching the game. My Dad teaching me to throw a ball, ride a bike, or tie a knot. Those are pretty normal lessons every kid learns, but in my world. That was only one side of our lives. The other side was my father whisking us off on a plane to something spectacular.

I have memories of my father sailing a huge catamaran across the ocean with me sitting on his lap. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower when I was 5, in the same city he had lived many years earlier when he was in college. My father is a doctor by trade, but if anyone asked me to describe my father, that wouldn’t even be the first thing I’d say.

He’s an adventurer, a captain, a loyal friend and a fierce foe. He is a man who made something of himself, who fought for what he had. He’s incredibly successful, and incredibly generous. He taught me that memories mean more than anything I could purchase. He told to have pride in what I do and stand up for what I believe in. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but in any argument we had, I learned something.

If you’re lucky enough to be sitting at a bar, a coffee shop, or anywhere with my dad, you should listen. That man has led the life of 100 men. Constantly going out into the world and making his stamp on it. I am in awe of the tenacity and hard work he puts into anything. I will never forget what he told me constantly as a child, “If you say you’re going to do something. You do it.” I’ve carried that with me into my adult life and took for granted what it really meant. In a world of people that will let you down, lie to you, or manipulate you he was telling me that words without actions were worthless. My dad worked harder in his life than anyone I’ve ever known. He missed out on a lot with his family because he was building a better life for us. I truly hope he knows how grateful I am for everything he provided for me.

My Dad is larger than life in every way. A man who fought to succeed in this world, traveled it, soaked it in. He didn’t tell me about the world, he showed me. I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked him enough for the knowledge and humility traveling gave me at such a young age, by the time I was 10, he had shown me the world. My father is retired now and travels the world with his best friend and my step-mother. I’m thankful every day he has her.

If you’re lucky enough to have a father in your life hug his neck and appreciate him.
There will be a day when all you will have is memories.

My journey with grief

This is not the most cheerful post, I promise almost all of my other posts will not be like this. But this story is what made me who I am and a big part of what drove me towards a life of positivity and wellness.
Thank you. – 

griefblog

In November 2013 I was furniture shopping in Tulsa, OK with my then boyfriend, now husband, David. We were having a good time, laughing with each other as we argued about a recliner with a loud floral print. I loved it, he didn’t. I was excited to be picking out furniture with him and to learn what he liked and disliked. Soon I’d be moving into a new apartment and living on my own for the first time. I’d have my own space and I could make it into whatever I wanted. But the momentary escape from my grief was ending. The pit in my stomach returned, before turning into the kind of full blown dread you can feel in the back of your throat. It was time to go back to the hospital. My father, brother, sister-in-law, and extended family would all be there, waiting for my mother to die.

My mother had been sick with rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and the heartbreak of losing her second child. Her “sweet boy” as she had called him over and over again. My big brother Matthew had died in a car accident 3 months earlier. One reckless stranger, one split second decision later–he was gone. The 16 year old driver of the mini van had hit Matthew head on and ended his life. My brother died that day along with several children from the minivan, who hadn’t been buckled into car seats. Matthew was 30 years old, attending radiology school, and had only been married for two years. He would have been a wonderful father. Every wonderful memory from my childhood has my brother’s radiant smile and warm presence. The world was a better place with him in it. 

The day Matthew died was the day my mother started slipping into her own grave. I couldn’t get her to eat or take her medications. Sometime in October she started having severe neck pain. Doctors stuck her with injections, put her on medications, and told her the arthritis was slowly crippling her. I remember one day in particular, where the pain got so bad that she told me she didn’t want to live anymore if the pain didn’t stop. I went to bed that night and thought: “God wouldn’t do this to me. I barely survived losing Matt. He couldn’t take my mother, he wouldn’t.” But I felt no comfort.

One morning in early November, I awoke to my mother’s screams. My 12 year old nephew was staying with us. I didn’t want him to be scared so I told him to stay in his room as I dialed 911. I tried everything to keep her calm but she was delirious, screaming “help me” over and over. I didn’t know what to do or what was hurting her. I remember feeling numb and helpless. Not knowing what else to do, I gathered her medications so the doctors would know what she was taking and how much. But when the paramedics arrived, they took one look at her pile of medications and the delirious state she was in, and dismissed it as an overdose. I remember the tone of contempt in his voice. The lack of urgency and lack of compassion. But they were wrong. I tried to tell them, but they brushed me off and assumed I was trying to save her embarrassment. For several weeks prior, I had been giving my mother her medications. I had timers set for the different pain and arthritis pills and wrote down every time she took a dose. I kept her medications in a drawer in the bathroom–somewhere my mother couldn’t have crawled to on her own in her weakened condition. At the time I just wanted them to help her, but my cheeks still flush with anger when I think about how ready they were to jump to the wrong conclusion.

I followed the ambulance to the hospital. The doctor quickly realized this wasn’t an overdose. The sense of urgency that I was feeling was finally shared by the medical staff. Realizing their error, the paramedics wouldn’t even look at me one their way out. I sat in a tiny plastic chair outside her room in the ICU for hours. Nurse after nurse and doctor after doctor went into her room. After awhile, my mother stopped screaming. They had given her pain medication and stabilized her. I like to think from that point on until the second she died, at least she wasn’t in pain anymore.

The source of her excruciating pain was an infection in her neck that had gone on too long and spread into her bloodstream. She was septic. The doctors did everything they could but nothing worked. After weeks in the hospital watching her slowly becoming paralyzed the doctors finally looked me in the eye and told me that my mother would die. I spent day after day with her in the hospital. She smiled when I walked in the room and laughed when I made jokes about needing a margarita. My beautiful radiant mother was trapped in a body that was failing. The last days of my mother’s life she was on a morphine drip surrounded by family, friends, and nurses whose only goal was keeping her as comfortable and as happy as they could.

 The night before she died I made a spontaneous decision to go back up the hospital in the early hours of the morning. I knew she’d probably be asleep but I just felt like I needed to sit with her awhile before we went back to the house. When I walked in I was so surprised. She was more alert then she had been in days. She smiled ear to ear when David and I sat down next to her bed. She didn’t seem scared, but I think she knew what was happening. At this point she was paralyzed from the neck down, she could only whisper a few words if I put my ear to her mouth. There was an urgency to her saying how much she loved me, she couldn’t hug me but I could feel the affection coming off her in waves. She was saying goodbye. I whispered in her ear that I would be okay and that it was okay to let go. I told her how much I loved her and what an amazing mother she was to me. David held me as I cried for hours that night. I felt like I would never be happy again.

The next morning my father, brother and his family were already at the hospital when I woke up. I called to check on her and they said she was unconscious. My dad said it would be anytime now. There was that dread again. I remember the panic I felt at the idea of watching her die. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to see her take her last breath. I was scared.

When David and I walked out of that furniture store and reached my car, my heart dropped. I looked at the sunset in the beautiful Oklahoma sky and I realized my mother would never see another one. When we were two minutes away from the hospital, my dad called. I was driving so David answered it. I knew right then. I knew it in my chest before my brain told me what had happened. David tried to keep an even tone, too even. He said “Alright, we’ll be there in a second.” I just had to park the car, I just had to stay calm, I just had to breathe. I couldn’t. By the time I turned off the engine I was losing it. “She’s dead, is she dead? She’s dead.” I cried, I wailed. The pain I felt was something I had never felt before. It was the kind of feeling that makes you feel like you’re drowning, like the air around you can’t keep you alive one more second. The fuzzy warmth in your ears and the coldness that numbs your toes. I had built my life around that woman. A woman who loved me fiercely, a woman who left a hole in my world when she left. I am an incredibly lucky girl to have had a mother and a brother who taught me what true compassion, love, and humor add to this world. A part of me died the day my mother did, but a larger part of me learned how to survive. I remember when I walked into that room and I saw her laying there that I thought I could wake her up. I kneeled by her bedside and I was shattered. I didn’t know what was left of me after they were gone. I was angry at the world, I was angry at myself, I was angry at everything.

The months after my mother’s death it seemed like I was walking a tight rope. With a smile plastered on my face and a gaping hole inside myself I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let this kill me. Whenever you lose someone people like to talk to you like there is some formula for grief. Everyone thinks they understand and everyone wants to help. It took me awhile to figure out how I could deal with the grief. It never goes away and it never gets easier. It hides under your bed like the monster from your childhood. One minute you’re in the present and thinking about groceries, or the weather. The next minute you’re curled up in a ball in the restroom with your arms around your knees falling apart. 

I wouldn’t have made it without my husband, my father, my brother, my friends. But especially my step-mother. A woman who patiently waited to be apart of my life stepped forward and gave me every ounce of her love without expecting anything in return. I am lucky to say I have been given two incredible mothers in my life.

I wanted to share this because I want people with pain and grief to understand that it does not define you. There are going to be good days and bad days, but the truth is most days are filled with both. You can lose someone you love but still find a moment of happiness in a furniture store. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Life is short and fleeting and so many of us spend all of our time stuck in the past or obsessing over the future. That’s when time runs away. After I lost my brother and my mother I still had to get on a scale and face the fact that I had ballooned up to 275lbs. When I think back to being at my largest after losing everything. It was because of those dark moments that I found the light. Me, my happiness, and everything I put into this world is that light.

Grief is a very lonely journey. No matter how much someone could empathize with me, my loss was my own. Matthew and my Mother aren’t here anymore. I can’t call them to tell them about my day. They didn’t see me get married and they will never meet my children. Those parts are hard. But it’s not as hard as coming to terms with the fact that their love is gone. The love I had for them remains but their love that surrounded me vanished.

In that void, I had to step up and start loving myself. I had to love myself enough to stop binge eating, I had to love myself so I could be a better wife for David, I had to love myself because they would’ve wanted me to. I know how strong I am now. I know what I am capable of. I know that whatever life throws at me, it’ll have to put me in the ground before I ever quit. I will be on this earth treasuring every moment I had with those two amazing people and being thankful that I got to call them my brother and my mother.

I’m still here and I’m still cheerful.

Dev

Weight loss transformation –

the 1st weight loss vlog

I am not a doctor or a health care professional.
I lost over 100 pounds over about 20 months. My start weight was about 278

 

1) Do not take it day by day, take it meal by meal. Just because you wake up and eat a crap breakfast. Don’t call it a day! I was a huge fan of the “I’ll start Monday” camp. It didn’t do me any good. It kept me from making progress, and honestly it made me feel like a failure. Try to make every meal count towards your goal, but if you mess up. Whatever. Just make the next one better. Don’t give up.

 

2) Write down everything you put in your mouth. Yes EVERYTHING. This does not work if you cheat yourself on it. Write down the good, the bad, and the absolutely horrific. I use the internet or an app on my phone to not only calculate the calories, but the fat, protein, and carbs. I write that down next to it. This not only keeps me accountable, but it gave me so much knowledge about food. Just because it says “low fat” or “low carb” it can still be NO BUENO. Don’t be afraid to look! It could inspire you to pick a better option for your meal! I always look back at it to see how I failed, what triggered it, and what I can do next time to make sure I don’t do it again. It also helps me keep track of tasty recipes!

 

3) Healthy food does not have to be disgusting. You do not have to eat what everyone else does. Build your own menu! Do you like fried chicken? There’s a healthy recipe for that. What about pizza? That too! And with my diet, I can even indulge from time to time without planning ahead of time. I really like to eat Jello with a low cal whipped topping at night. Is that the healthiest option? No! But it keeps my butt away from my husband’s Oreos in the snack cabinet.

 

4) Telling other people about my plans was causing me to fail. Have you ever heard about that crazy thing where humans actually get satisfaction from telling someone they’re going to “go work out” or “pick up a salad”. I was doing that 100%. I would tell my husband about my big health plans for the day, get his praise, and then I would TOTALLY FLAKE. I finally had to stop doing that. I kept my mouth shut, worked out, ate my kale salad (I can only do it with a fatty poppyseed dressing) and then come home and cook us a nutritious meal. THEN I would brag about it! To him, to facebook, to instagram. Wherever! I just had to stop counting my chicken breasts before I ate them.

 

5) Exercise is not punishment I remember stepping on the treadmill at 278 pounds. I can actually make myself cry if i think about it long enough. I couldn’t breath, I felt sick and hopeless. But more than that. I hated myself. I had been an athlete in my teens and sometimes at night I could still dream about what my body had been capable of when I was healthy. I started walking for 30 minutes on a treadmill or working on a stationary bike for 30 minutes. Then my husband introduced some light weights into the mix. After about 50 pounds I was brave enough to try yoga and I found out that I LOVED it. It was exactly what I needed. A little peaceful moment in my day to make me feel centered. You have to find your own groove and what works for you. Like dancing? Do it in your living room. Like to run? Put on some music and run somewhere beautiful. Just find what doesn’t make you miserable. Find what brings you peace. Don’t let anyone tell you the right way or wrong way (unless you’re hurting yourself). You’re an individual! Try a thousand different things and hate 999 of them. But you’ll find something. – – I hope this helps somebody, anybody else. Because I felt really alone when I was doing it. If it wasn’t for my husband’s support. I’d still be binge eating and hating what I was doing to myself. It took me a really long time, too long actually to understand that this journey isn’t about getting skinny, or being able to wear that bikini, or even making people like me more. It’s about being the strongest version of yourself inside and out so you can face whatever life throws at you.

 

EDIT:

1) – Portion control is such a huge part, I actually bought small side plates about 1/2 the size of our normal ones to help eat smaller portions of things. It worked for me!

 

2) – I never used shakes or herbalife just because I wanted to have a diet that I could follow anywhere. Scratch that, not even a diet. Anything like those shakes 3x a day or pills or wraps will stop working once you’re off of them. You will gain weight back. Try to do something that doesn’t feel like a diet, do something that feels like a lifestyle. I’m not saying those things don’t work – I’m just saying you don’t need to spend money or spend more money to eat healthy and work out. Don’t let people tell you that you need to pay for programs or shakes or whatever the hot new trend is! I love you guys!!! Send me questions, stories, whatever!

 

If you’re feeling like you need some support, encouragement, or a daily dose of butt kicking to hit a goal, please reach out to me. Either on here or on FB. Find the weight loss group I created, Fight Chub. It’s a group of really great people posting their failures, success, and daily grind for health and fitness.