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.

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…

Mr./Ms. Conscious Posters

I love social media. I love the fact that I can meet folks from around the world in a blink of an eye. I can catch up with long lost childhood friends. I can keep up with the happenings of nieces and nephews. I can stay connected with life.

What I don’t like is the onslaught of personal opinions, uninformed diatribes, anti-everything rants, overrated bouts of self importance and most importantly: cyber bullying.

You know what really gets my goat? When a person posts a pic or a thought and folks are commenting and having a good time on the thread and then there is that one person who believes that he/she is the conscience of the people who just has to go against the grain and type what they believe is a thought provoking question or statement. Hence, steering the conversation away from the intended, original post to what Mr./Ms. Conscience wants to talk about. How manipulative, controlling and self serving is THAT? And when the person is called on the carpet for trying to steer the conversation in another direction, that person counters with stating that the other posters are uninformed or unenlightened. Why? Because they do not want to change the tide of the conversation? Because they don’t want to follow the lead of Mr./Ms. Conscience?

Has it ever been considered that with all of the shit that is going on in the world today, many folks get on social media as a way to unwind and relax? They don’t want to debate politics or race relations. They don’t want to get into online battles of words. They don’t want to be judged and criticized by social media “experts” and “pundits”. They simply want the luxury of surfing their fav social sites and being able to comment on the threads that they like without someone judging or badgering and trying to force negative engagement.

So what that some folks feel that social media is the platform for awareness and debate. That’s cool…just do it on YOUR OWN PAGE. Why jump from your page to someone else’s page trying to incite a riot and then get offended when no one jumps on the “superior” band wagon? Why does it matter what folks choose to or not to comment on? I would think that if most people put as much effort into joining philanthropic organizations and actually working for change as they did preaching and proselytizing to the masses on social media, there would be a lot less negative images and stories on the news. And the arrogance of some of these “conscious” people is astounding. They not only want to manage their own social media pages, they want to dictate what others do on their pages…they want to manage who posts/comments on what. To those people I say GET OVER YOURSELF!

At the end of the day, each person has the freedom to choose how he or she uses social media…and that freedom should be respected. If a person wants to comment on Sponge Bob threads all day long while the KKK stands on the steps of a South Carolina courthouse, then so be it. If a person wants to post anti-police propaganda, then so be it. If a person has decided to comment on threads about baby pandas instead of commenting on orange on pink on green on purple crime, then so be it. LEAVE FOLKS ALONE! Allow folks the same room to live and breathe that you would want for yourself. And if you want to be the conscious type and promote all things political, racial, educational or whatever, do it on your own page and leave others’ alone.

In the meantime, I will be over on my own page posting unicorns farting glitter rainbows cuz that’s what makes me happy.

Sometimes You Gotta Cut the Rope

I have always taken the word “friendship” seriously. Okay…well…I didn’t really take it seriously until I had lost a childhood friend when I was in my early 20’s due to immature behavior. When I lost that friendship, I had to take a step back and take a REALLY good look at myself as a person. I always thought that I was a good person and a great friend. I was funny, endearing, thoughtful, kind and considerate. I was loyal…or so I thought…and I was also an asshole. And that last point desperately needed to change.

So the first step in making a change is realizing that I needed to change, right? So that is what I did. I decided that the next time I had a good girlfriend, a BFF, a sister/friend, I would do right by her at all times, I would remain loyal and I would always have her back. And I have stuck to that mantra for the past twenty one years. But…

What if the person to whom I have been loyal is a toxic Debbie Downer? Do I stay in that relationship? Do I push forward and continue to have her back? Do I give her my time and my energy? How do I handle this??? After all, I definitely am not trying to revert to asshole behavior BUT I am also not trying to hang with a pessimist who always sees the glass half empty.

So there I was, five years into the friendship. Things started off great. We hung out together. Did lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast. Went shopping, lost hours on the phone talking about any and everything. Our children played together. Everything was kosher. There were days where we would chat and days when there would only be a text or two…and sometimes, there would be days where there was no communication at all. Yet, no matter what, I knew that whether we talked or not, I was secure in our friendship and that whenever we reconnected, we would pick up from where we left off and keep things moving. After all, that is how true friendship works, right?

I was wrong in my guesstimation.

So…life began to get hectic as it does when you are a working wife and mother with children in a zillion activities at the farthest reaches on the globe. I tried to maintain contact, but honestly, sometimes, a week would go by before I would send a text or make a phone call. And a week would go by before I would receive the same. Yet, I understand that life brings change and we roll with the punches. As time went on, the dinner meet ups became fewer, the lunches were nonexistent. The shopping trips stopped because the money was now going to the children’s athletic activity funds. The phone calls became fewer and the text messages dwindled down to the sporadic “Hey Girl”. We did do the obligatory birthday and anniversary phone calls and text messages but the thriving friendship that we previously had was in hiatus mode. I wasn’t too worried about it though, because I thought that we had a great foundation and that when life let up a bit, we would reconnect, update one another on our lives and move on. Imagine my surprise when I checked my social media account to find that I not only had been unfriended but that I had been blocked. WTF???

I was confused. What had I done? What had happened? And so I picked up the phone to call. And did I get an earful!!! I was told that I was a poor friend and that I had not phoned or texted the way she felt that I should have. That we never get together to eat, shop, connect, get the kids together and she felt hurt and left out of my life. She felt that I was not a good friend and she shut down and decided that I did not deserve to be in her life. I did take the time to point out to her that I had not received any calls or texts from her either…to which she responded that she didn’t call or text me because I hadn’t called or texted her. (insert WTH face here) I didn’t bother to argue with her or point out the fact that her reasoning was simple as H-E-double hockey sticks! I simply owned the fact that I had allowed the busyness of life to get in the way of our friendship and I offered her an apology. I mean, after all, I had made a vow to be a good friend and to be loyal. And with that apology, I made it my business to text every other day and to call at least once a week.

*Sigh*

So, my every other day texts were met with half responses. My phone calls were always sent to voicemail. And when she did call me, her side of the conversation was always filled with complaints about how life is sooooo hard and how folks have done her wrong. Now, the first few conversations, I entertained the “woe is me” vibe she was giving off because I felt that she needed an ear, a shoulder and a good friend. But as we continued to do the phone call thing, I noticed the complaint pattern continuing. And it was always someone else’s fault. And no matter what, the glass was always half empty. Now, when I see a glass 50% full…wow!!!! See that right there? I said that the glass is 50% FULL!!! And that is my point right there. Our viewpoints.

The more we talked, the more I realized that she enjoyed playing the victim. She enjoyed the “woe is me” song. She enjoyed focusing on how tough life is. She enjoyed complaining. And when I offered an alternative viewpoint, I always got a “but” followed by more complaining. I also realized that she also liked to throw in how she felt soooo left out when I was distant from her for a spell…like she was trying to guilt me into staying in this pseudo-friendship with her. And because I allowed her to guilt me, I spent another year of my life trying to motivate, encourage, support and help her see that if the glass is half empty, then it could be half full. I pretty much wasted my damned time…

I had to think long and hard on this friendship. It was draining me. I dreaded texting or calling because I knew that all I would get from her was complaints. I had to darn near light candles, burn incense and pray to the patron saints to get my mind right to deal with her. I would hope that my calls would go to voicemail when I rang her line because I truly did not want to deal with her negative energy anymore. She was draining me. She was killing my spirit. And something had to be done.

But…I promised to be a loyal friend…

But at what cost?

I thought long and hard. And I thought some more. And then I thought some more. And I came to a conclusion: She had to go.

Yes, we had a thriving friendship at one point. Yes we had loads of fun together and our kids had fun together too. But we are working wives and mothers and life has a way of getting in the way of the things we want to be free to do and hitting us with those things that we MUST do and sometimes, those things don’t work in concert with one another. Sometimes, we have to rearrange our wants to handle our needs…and that’s okay…because the one thing that I have learned in life is that all situations are temporary situations. Nothing is forever. Its all in how we handle them. So when our lives took us in separate directions, I never doubted that we would reconnect. I never doubted our friendship. I never doubted the loyalty…until I was unfriended and blocked and then subjected to a year of negative energy.

I had to tell myself that in my apology and extension of myself in trying to revive the friendship, I had proven my loyalty. I had proven my commitment to the friendship. That in her constant complaining and blame placing, she had proven her commitment to being stuck in past perceived wrongs and wanting me to pay for the hurts she feels she has suffered. I realized that our friendship had run its course and that her negative energy and refusal to move on was stagnating any hope for a return to happier times or true reconnection. I realized that time and time again, I had opened myself up only to have her stab me with words of accusation and anger over and over again. I realized that she was happy living in her angry bubble and was so used to being a Negative Nancy and a Debbie Downer, it had become her new normal and she didn’t want anything different. So the positive outs that I offered her would never be received. My reality: She was dead weight on my life line and I had to cut the rope.

So often, we stay in relationships that have run their course due to an ill-conceived sense of loyalty and commitment when in reality, we should get the hell outta dodge! We see the signs early on, but feel a sense of obligation to try to “help” the other person. We feel that we are less than a true friend if we walk away and so we subject ourselves to mental and emotional damage from a person who is angry, bitter and manipulative. We must recognize when it is time to let go and move on…then let go and move on…without guilt. We must recognize our own self worth and know that when someone–even our closest friends–treats us in a manner that is unwarranted, unnecessary, unkind and with disregard for our feelings and friendship, there is NO friendship and its time to move on. Staying in a toxic relationship will only create tension, stress and negative energy. Nothing good will come out of it. Its like planting rotten fruit and expecting a great harvest. Rotten fruit cannot produce anything but the death of itself. The same is with a rotten relationship.

If you find yourself in the ocean of life and your friend is pulling your lifeline down with negative energy, a negative disposition, a pessimistic view…it is time to cut the rope and let that friend go. Do not allow a person who means you no good to drown you in the sorrows of THEIR life…do not allow yourself to be drowned in THEIR negativity. Choose life and cut the rope.

When the Fitgirl Doesn’t Feel So Fit

I have always prided myself on being fit. After all, I AM Fitgirl! With a name like that, its a MUST that I stay fit, right?

Well…these days, its not working out so well. I mean…I could make excuses like life got in the way or my children and their activities are holding me up or my cat’s feedings are cutting into my gym time. But if I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that the reason why I am not so fit these days is because I love food.

I love looking at food. Smelling food. Touching food. Eating food. And not just any food. I am talking about the foods that everyone says is sooooo bad for you. I love funnel cakes found at carnivals. French fries with Old Bay and Malt Vinegar. Onion petals and horseradish sauce. Pancakes topped with warm apples, syrup and whipped cream. Banana pudding milkshakes with little bits of vanilla wafers mixed in. I love all the stuff that wreaks havoc on my mid section and thighs. And where I was able to eat as much of this stuff as I wanted when I was in my 20’s and even in my 30’s, these days, simply LOOKING at these items causes belly bulge! And I have to confess that I have indulged, partook, ate and ENJOYED all of the above listed items. And the Fitgirl became the Not So Fit Girl!

I stuffed my face and watched the numbers on the scale go up. I got frustrated as the numbers went up and I ate some more. I watched my fit friends post pictures of their pre-show lean and mean bodies as I popped dill flavored Lay’s chips in my mouth. I kept telling myself that tomorrow I am going to stop eating everything that is causing my waistline to expand and start back to eating more fruits and veggies. But first, I am going to have this last plate of pancakes.

The icing on the cake for me? Well…that came when I went into my closet to find a pair of shorts to wear while going out with my sons. I tried on the first pair and I couldn’t get them to budge past my thighs. Okay…fine…that’s only the first pair. I pulled out a second pair. I got them over my thighs but I had a terrible wedgy and couldn’t begin to get the zipper up. *sigh* Okay…third pair…got them over my thighs but they were so tight I looked like I was auditioning for porn queen…sooooo inappropriate for an outing with children! So on to pair number four. Like the first pair, my thighs were not having it! I took a breather…looked down at the discarded pool of shorts at my feet and wondered if it was worth going on. Do I keep humiliating myself by trying on pairs of shorts that were too big last summer but seem to be screaming when I pulled them on this summer? Hmmm…I’m thinking that there is NO way that ALL of my shorts are too small! Like, I know that I have been reckless with the eating, but the pancakes and milkshakes really hadn’t done THAT much damage had they? So what the numbers on the scale had gone up by 20 lbs within the last three months. So I soldiered on and pulled out shorts number five. I stuck one leg in…then the second. Got them up over the thighs AND I got them to zip and button close…BUT…I couldn’t breathe nor could I walk. And sitting down was definitely out of the question. UGHHHHH!!! Not giving up hope, I picked up pair number six. I looked at the shorts with hope in my heart and started to put them on when I noticed the size on the tag. I didn’t bother to put them on because I knew that they would NEVER make it up my thighs–let alone close. Frustrated, I sank to the floor amidst the discarded shorts and mentally replayed every cake, pie, cookie, bag of chips, pancake, milkshake, etc etc etc…and I began to feel bad for myself. Am I to be resigned to mumus and capes this summer? WHYYYYY did I let this happen?

So…now that I cannot fit my clothes, now that I am feeling sorry for myself, now that I realize that my reckless eating has not so good consequences…NOW WHAT?

The first thing is acknowledging that something has to change. And the very first thing that has to change is what I am allowing myself to eat. I have always been strict with my clients about clean and healthy eating…but now my closet eating has made itself public in a major way. I also have to recognize the fact that while the weight was put on rather quickly, it WILL take some time to come off but it WILL come off if I am committed to cleaning up my act. So with those thoughts in mind, I picked myself up off the floor determined to come up with a game plan to take these extra pounds off.

The lesson in all of this: We sometimes make poor eating choices for extended periods of time. BUT its never too late to stop the trajectory of the direction in which we are going and make a U-turn. U-Turns are okay…especially when that turn leads to better decisions, healthier choices and a closet full of clothes that fit.