Hold On…

I used to think that suicide was an act of cowardice and selfishness. I used to think that those who committed such acts were weak and couldn’t handle life. I used to stand in judgment of their choices and not feel an iota of empathy…until the day my own mother tried to kill herself.

I was forced to look at the issue with new eyes.

Yes, there are those who struggle with mental illness and choose to take their own lives.

Yes, there are those who choose suicide as a way to escape prosecution for horrific crimes/circumstances that they have committed or been involved in.

And then there are those who are simply just tired.

Those normal, everyday people who are tired of struggling with this thing called life. Tired of feeling unworthy. Tired of feeling unloved. Tired of working hard and getting nothing. Tired of feeling left out. Tired of feeling empty. Tired of struggling. Tired of being the underdog. Tired of being tired. And they just want out. They want life to be over so that they can have some semblance of peace. And until my mother tried to check out, I didn’t understand this.

For years, my mother poured all of her love and attention on my brother and me…because she wanted to ensure that we had no doubt that we were loved. She never let a day go by where she didn’t tell us that we were loved. She prayed over us daily. Kissed and hugged us daily. Doted on us daily. All the while, nursing a broken heart. Living with rejection from her mother and from her ex-husband. Fighting demons of depression because she felt like she wasn’t worthy of love. Wondering how she was going to take care of her children as a single mother. Asking why she wasn’t worthy of being loved in spite of her flaws. Crying herself to sleep at night because of the void that encompassed her life. And while my brother and I loved our mother immensely, it wasn’t enough to fill her. It wasn’t enough to keep her from trying to take her own life.

I got the call from MPD that my mother was being transported to the hospital. My heart dropped to my feet. I prayed in desperation that my mother would live and not die. I prayed for her relief from her struggles. I prayed that her circumstances would change…that she would recognize those whom God had placed in her life as friends and “family”…those who loved her no matter what. I prayed that her void would be filled. And God answered those prayers. My mom lived…she survived…and went on to become a breast cancer warrior and inspire others to choose life.

To those who struggle with thoughts of suicide, I say to you HOLD ON. The circumstances in which you find yourself are temporary. In this life, there is balance. Ying/yang, black/white, up/down…etc. And while your circumstance may look bleak at this moment, that pendulum MUST swing back to the other side…to happiness, to prosperity, to success, to acceptance, to fullness…if you just HOLD ON. To everything, there is a season…and your season may be lean at this time…but I have learned that even in the lean times, if you would trust and lean on God, HE will make provisions and get you through…if you just HOLD ON. Understand that each season has a beginning and an ending time. And it may seem as if you have stayed past your expiration date in your winter. But know that God will provide the warmth that you need to get through the cold months if you just HOLD ON. There is a song that says “trouble don’t last always.” And the only way to know that it doesn’t last is to HOLD ON, wait on the Lord and have faith that He will work things out for you. But, you have to HOLD ON!

Please do not make a permanent decision based on a temporary situation. Know that this too shall pass…if you just HOLD ON.

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The Skin I’m In

Last weekend this time I was in the midst of a mini-vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now we all know that if one is in Myrtle BEACH in JULY, then a swimsuit is the outfit of the day. BUT what if the swimsuits that used to make you look like a Victoria’s Secret model is now making you look like a pork tenderloin wrapped in twine?

*sigh*

That was my dilemma. So, here I am, Lisa…also known as FitGirl…known for competing in Figure and Physique…known for teaching INSANITY and ZUMBA and Kick boxing…known for being a personal trainer…known for being a Sports Nutrition Consultant…here I am looking like I am auditioning to be a stunt double for Miss Piggy. And it is all my fault.

So…earlier this year, I was amped. I was ready. I was going to kick booty on stage this year! I was going to dive head first into my diet. I was going to throw those weights up in the gym. I was going to make those mirrors sweat with my posing routine. I had it all laid out: the perfect plan. And then came life.

I had gone back to work in law enforcement, not realizing the commitment on my time and the restrictions on when I would be able to eat throughout the day. The freedom that I had experienced in my first 20 years of policing was not present with my re-entry into the world of gun & badge. On top of that, my sons had activities that required travel all over the continental US (or at least it seemed that way) which meant plenty of drive time for momma bear. And then there was the helping with the family business of owning a martial arts school. And if it keep it totally 100 with you, there were also Cracker Barrel pancakes. And therein lay my downfall.

I worked, drove, worked some more, drove some more and ate whatever whenever in between. And over time, my body began to tell the tale. I knew that I could get back into “fighting shape” if my diet and workouts were on point, but I did not see that happening any time soon. And so, life went on with me working, driving, eating, working, driving, eating. And then came summer…vacation…swimsuits…

Now, I have never been a one piece swimsuit kind of gal. So of course, I have an arsenal of two piece swimsuits in every color and pattern imaginable…except argyle. Argyle I save strictly for sweaters and socks. Anyhoo, there I was packing swimsuits for my family trip to Myrtle Beach…wondering what I would look like with the suits on but not daring to try any of them on before stowing them in my suitcase. We make the drive down to the sunny, perfect beach with stops for Icees, Slurpees and fried chicken along the way. Of course, I indulged because I am a team player and I can’t let the team down by not partaking in fun, fattening food, right? Right…

We check into the resort and of course, my sons want to go where? Of course, to the beach. *Sigh* Really??? After Icees, Slurpees and fried chicken wings? I trudged into the bedroom and pulled out a jumble of swimsuits, tossing each aside until I settled on a patriotic themed suit. I figured that the flag pattern on the suit would distract from my bloated midrift and thunder thighs. I pulled on a black cover up (in mourning for the body I used to have) and headed to the sun, sand and cool water.

As I self-consciously walked across the sand, dragging blankets, towels and beach umbrellas, I silently wondered if people could see my extra bulk through my cover up. I wondered if I would look crazy going into the ocean with the cover up on. I wondered if my discomfort was obvious. I silently beat myself up for allowing my body to get this out of control. I blamed my schedule and responsibilities for my wayward eating habits. I made myself feel guilty for not being able to fit into even my largest size shorts this summer…all because I would not give up pancakes, waffles or any of the other crap food I ate on the run.

I wearily laid out the blankets and towels as my children kicked off their sandals, pulled t-shirts over their heads and ran carefree into the ocean. *Sigh* Last summer, I would have been hightailing it darned near naked across the sand too. Last summer…when I was thin…when I didn’t eat so much…when I trained seriously. But…that was then, this is now. I plopped down onto the towel, prepared to be semi-depressed, picked up a book and attempted to read. My eyes roamed the pages but did not really pick up any words. Zero reading. Zero comprehension. Too much laughter.

I looked up. Too much laughter? Yep…too much laughter. And it was coming from a lady. In a bikini. Who was having the time of her life with her children. Who was also twice my size. TWICE MY SIZE!!! Hold up…this woman who was twice my size was rocking a two piece while running into the water with her children and not giving a damn who sees her…and obviously comfortable in the skin she is in. And there I was sitting on the blanket moping because I was one size larger than my largest size stored in my closet but by society’s standards, still on the slim side.  WHAT was wrong with this picture? Or more importantly, what was wrong with ME?

I put the book down and slowly stood up. Without looking around, I pulled that that cover up off and trotted across the sand to the water. And as I ran across the sand, I threw off insecurities…I threw off guilt…I threw off blame…I threw off dissatisfaction with self…AND I ACCEPTED ME 100%.

I understood that no, I am not the woman that I was last year or three years ago or five years ago. But I also know that the woman that I am in this moment is not the woman that I will be three years from now or five years from now. In this life, nothing is permanent and we are always changing–ever evolving. And while my body may not be where I want it to be, it doesn’t have to stay the way that it is. I have the power to create change. And I also have the power to create a healthy mindset about myself in the process. It is imperative that I love myself and the skin that I am in whether I am skinny, fat, short, tall, light, dark…because I am one of a kind–unique–and there is no one like me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and the last thing that He wants is for me to think that I am less than when I am truly great. Our self-perspective can make or break us. It can determine our success or failure. And real talk, many times, the way that we view ourselves is harsher than the reality. Many times, we are our own worst enemies. We must learn to love, accept and appreciate ourselves in EVERY stage in which we find ourselves in life. We must have the mindset that we are AWESOME no matter what. And then walk in that awesomeness. Live in that awesomeness. BE that awesomeness…