Saturday, March 28, 2009

No I did not have Gastric Bypass Surgery

My head has been swimming with the magnitude of the journey I have taken in the past year. This time last year I was 418 lbs and had horribly swollen legs that were oozing and red and raw (and infected although I didn't know that at the time). I had began to mentally shift towards doing "something about it" months before and slowly started prepping myself mentally for what it was gonna take. I knew my (then) plan of "treating" myself with food all the time was not the best plan. I have never seen any kind of health plan that says a 1/2 gallon of ice cream is ok to eat for dinner- or a family KFC dinner is fit for one...but that is where I was.

When I think of my body this time last year my first feeling is.....heavy. That seems like a no brainer. Of course you were heavier- 200 lbs heavier to be exact! What I mean is a more all-encompassing feeling of heavy. I feel now like I was walking underwater where there was a constant drag on me pulling me down. The lymphodema had a lot to do with that and finding out what it was and getting it treated was so huge I really can't even describe. That was one place where denial really didn't work for me. I ignored it for years and it didn't go away and if I hadn't gotten it treated it could have gotten much much worse and dragged my quality of life to near zilch.

I watch some of these TLC shows "Half Ton Mom" and except for the Mom part....that could have been my future. I was certainly headed that way and that embarrasses me to my core. It was on one of those shows I first saw someone with lymphodema- the one where the lady has a giant leg? And I remember switching the show off because it too close to home. Little did I realize it wasn't just close to home, it was in my living room and on my couch with me. But this time last year I would still be over 3 months away from getting diagnosed. All I knew was there was junk leaking from these little water blister like sores and once they popped they kept oozing until my skin was one big open sore on the back of my leg.

But the heaviness was also mental. Its weird that I really feel I have found myself in Phoenix after being here for 6 years because it is when I got here that I think I really let go and my weight really went up fast. I can't verify this as I never ever got on a I mentioned the one at my doc office didn't go high enough to weigh me (red flag? what red flag?). My doctor never bothered me about my weight which I was always thankful for before and then became a little frustrated when I asked for a diet plan and he shoved some meal plans into my hand and said the only formula that works is more calories out than in....he is right but I was looking for someone to throw me a rope and that was a little string. And I did want to do it right and wanted to make sure my doc was onboard so I could be monitored to make sure I was doing it the healthiest way possible.

I was so scared...still am.

I was so scared that I would fail. I was scared I would be judged. I was scared that I wasn't strong enough. I was scared to know the truth and to deal with it. I was scared to be alone. I was scared to do it and be alone anyways. I was scared of what my body would look like after. I was scared to leave everything I knew behind. I was scared to let people know my story. I was scared, I was scared and I am scared. I am scared of not hitting my goal. I am scared of getting to my goal and never looking the way I dream of. I am scared of getting surgery to remove the extra (horrible, ugly, saggy) skin. I am scared one day I will drive through McDonalds and it will wipe out all this work. I am scared the lymphodema will get bad again. I am scared........

So I try not to think about any of that and just focus on today. TODAY I will make a different choice. TODAY I will stick to the plan. TODAY I will work out. TODAY I will "be good".....doesn't have to be forever, but TODAY I can do this.

My sister told me something brilliant last year when I was first starting to walk. She works with the elderly and she told me in any patient care you want to get people moving. She said it doesn't even matter how much you do but just do something.....small steps count she said. That phrase has helped me so much. Especially when you are getting started and have these lofty goals, its soooo easy to get overwhelmed and leave a hole for the fear and doubt to creep in. You don't have to do it all in one day, just do something little that you can build on.

When I first walked into the weight loss center my goal was to lose 100 lbs in a year. I was very clear on setting an attainable goal, especially since I had never done anything like this before. Just 100 lbs in 12 months.....and I have almost doubled that just by being consistent.

I have never ever cheated. Not even close. I am not looking for accolades here but to tell you why I have never cheated.....I am terrified to cheat. It scares me beyond words. In my mind if I ate one cheeseburger I would have to warp back in time and step back into my 418 body and just give up and check out. To me cheating is nothing less than Russian roulette...its possible nothing might happen or it could be...BAM!

I get lots of compliments on my will power but is blind terror of the consequences the same thing as will power? I can't cheat because if I cheat I will die. Not today or maybe not tomorrow but if I convince myself its OK to cheat I will slide on that long slippery slope allllll the way down and this climb was to hard to want to do it all over again.

Oh.....and for anyone who has joined me along the way and has not read the archives I did not do gastric bypass surgery. It is a great option for millions of people but it was not the right option for me. I checked it out a long time ago and it was so scary and drastic I couldn't deal with it. I ran away and never ever told anyone I ever even thought about it until I wrote about it here.

So you can chose that option or you can chose another option which made more sense for me and might make sense for you....only you can decide.

So NO, I did not have surgery....thanks for asking. Someone the other day made me show them my stomach to prove there were no surgery scars. Wtf??

Btw.....if there are any questions anyone has please feel to ask me and I can expound on it. You can FB me or use the comments but I am happy to answer anything anyone wants to ask.....this has been your journey to in a way ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's never too late to turn it around

So you guys know I have been doing this lifestyle change thing for awhile now. I say lifestyle change instead of diet because it really is so much more than pounds. Really everything about my life has changed in the last year starting with my brother's death up to today and things keep on changing. It has been nearly a year since I started this journey and it has been crazy. In some ways it has been much easier than I ever thought and in some ways sooo much harder.

Specific to the weight loss I think the hardest part is deciding to commit to doing something about it. I was never a yo-yo dieter. I knew enough about myself to know that unless I was 1000% "in" there was really no point in trying anything so besides a few lame, forced efforts in the past (where I was doing it to please someone else and not for myself) this is really my first attempt at weight loss. It is ONLY because it was my decision made it my own time and for my own reasons that has worked and I will never go backwards. I can't, I gave away all my size 28 clothes! Speaking of clothes btw, I have to say I got a fantastic pair of size 16 pants that make me look great- yay me!

There are a million reasons why I decided to do it last year,why I took the first steps that have lead me here and none of them is any more or less important because it took the sum of all of them to get me here. My brother dying is the obvious huge reason, not wanting to put my family through losing another family member but honestly just as important,but in a very different way, cleaning up my credit was just as important as a step.

Taking a look at how bad my credit was- throwing open that closet door and looking for the first time at how messy and bad it had got was a huge step for me. Then the process of laying it out, seeing what was there and then the clean up process was such a learning experience. I lived in denial for so long- I knew it was bad but as long as I didn't know how bad it was I could live in ignorant bliss (not unlike never getting on a scale- lucky for me my doc had an old school scale that didn't go up high enough to capture my true weigh- blissful ignorance again). But once I knew how bad it was and TOOK CONTROL of it then started putting together a plan to knock it down and executed the plan to bring me where I am today....before: credit score: 589 after: credit score 706! That gave me so much confidence in the fact that I could DO something about the scary stuff,even if it is scary and ugly that shock wears off and then you begin to see the pile for what is it and then you can start sorting and organizing and putting things in their place.

An interesting side effect of this whole process is I have become very OCD- I have a new compulsion to sort and organize and have things in their homes at all times. My sense of control is on steroids now and thinks it can do anything....maybe it is right!

Anyways, my point is -and what hit me on the treadmill (the treadmill?? this time last year I had NEVER been on a treadmill, now I run home from work to get on it and LIKE it!!) is that no matter how big and scary an issue is...and for me the 2 bigs were my weight and credit....its never too late to step up, own the problem (yes, I did that, can't blame anyone but myself. That is my fault and starting today -cuz I can't do anything to change the past- I am going to start making it better) ....and start chipping away at it.

Neither "projects" are complete- I still have some things on my credit to clean up and lord know I have a ways to go to hit my weight loss goal but I STARTED somewhere and I have made a huge dent in both. A dent which didn't start with a sledgehammer, it started with a very soft nudge and built from there....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dead On

This was my horoscope for today and it was so dead on I had to post....

You are in a long-term phase when influential people are in your life and the changes they go through will slowly force you to go through your own metamorphosis. Now, however, you also may be take a hit in the pocketbook, which places you under additional pressure. Even if this isn't an easy transition, don't waste your energy on attempting to suppress the process. Letting go of old habits is required before you can begin to develop healthier ones.

Also I want to thank Mary, Charlotte, Karen and Toni (extra props for being first btw- told ya I'd give you props inmy blog) for ordering off my website. As I told them seeing orders makes me squeal like a little girl and when I saw the first one I peed a little....TMI??

So far the sugar scrub is the big favorite- which I am a fan of followed closely by the Rhodiola I recommend for workouts which I LOVE (like crack without the fear of being toothless).

Oh, and in case you haven't heard yet....I HAVE LOST 190 POUNDS BITCHES!!!!!! YEAH!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Blessings......we over look them far to often especially when things are going bad. I just got back from yoga class and I am so grateful that I have such a wonderful place to go once a week (just a mile from my house) and spend some time honoring my body and my mind for all that it has given me.

Btw....just because that sounds all new-age hippy zen crap doesn't make it any less true for all you non-believers :)

So yeah, things are very tough right now. I found out this week that even though I have been the only one who has been producing and keeping the doors open for the last year, as of last monday I am now making half as much draw (I work 100% commission, always have). Oh and that is for twice the work you have to do right now to get half as far.

That sucks, big time.

So I have been working on consolidating my bills. Yay, I now qualify for a "hardship" re-fi on my auto loan. :::sigh::: but its a good option right now and I am having my buddy Ryan look into what is the best mortgage option. I like my condo and wish not to leave it....My other bills are a bit harder to condense but I am looking at things to trim: cable, tivo....eating.

So where is the good news? Well first off is I bought the yoga package before I knew I was getting my take home cut- otherwise I probably would not have bought it and it gives me back so much more than I pay for it.

Next is the business I have bought into....I promise I will not make this blog an ongoing commercial for my website BUT this is about my life and right now my life HAS to be about getting this side business launched and getting me some residual income. This is as much much job right now as what I do from 7:30-5pm (did I mention that since there are only 2 of us now- had to fire my admin- and my other guy is outside sales I am alone in the office most days- fun). My goal for this biz is to have 2-3k coming in a month by the end of the year so I need all my friends and family to start buying the stuff they would buy anyways (dish soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, skin care, shampoo....not to mention the fitness stuff and vitamins) from me instead of buying it form the store (I know you love me more than you like going to Wal-Mart). Again, that is not a commercial for you guys it is simply what I have to do to get this thing rolling.

A couple of people have asked me why I got into this and it really is simple- as an entrepreneur you think you will get "the great idea" and it will be something everyone needs and no one has thought of....yeah right. Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel. I would rather hitch my wagon to a company that has been around for over 50 years, has world class products so I can believe in them and be confident that I am promoting something great to my friends and family and other people I know. Oh and I LIKE the products and they are helping me hit my goals in life: fitness/health, being more green in the products I use, and financial independence.

I am excited about this and just so anxious to get it rolling. I have a few friends who are interested in doing this biz with me too which rocks. Most of you know I am a lead/mentor by nature and if I can help someone else get what they want out of life through this business that is awesome and so cool to be a part of!! My life mantra is the Zig Ziglar quote "You can get everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want." I live that everyday and I really believe this business will help me do that.....

So that is why I am in it and I hope its something that makes sense for you guys to check out, if not that is totally cool all I ask is if you are curious at all, try a few products to see if you dig em. If so I am happy to have you buy them on my site and maybe even tell a few friends/family members about it if not that is cool too and thanks for taking a look.

I am pinning my future to this so it has to work....if nothing else you can think of it as the "Help Tracey get her Plastic Surgery" fund... :)

and help me eat and pay the bills....

So that is a blessing as is my sister and brother in law coming out to see me next month. I am so excited! They will be the first of my fam to see me since I started the diet. And I am going to be home(in Boone) from July 9-14th and plan to have a big bash on my bday July 10th. Again, grateful I bought that ticket before the floor fell out. I will need a break by then for sure.

Then I am blessed to have some great friends with similar mind sets and goals and we are talking about future plans that could be huge and lots of fun.

Things are tough and tight and life just isn't getting any easier but I know how strong I am and nothing in this world is powerful enough to hold ME back- you can count on that!

Now go buy something on my website :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pink is a twisted bitch

....and I DIG that about her. Note to self- the next time I feel like punishing myself and just throwing myself head first into the icy curve that life throws me have Pink blaring in the background. She is just so perfectly flawed and broken. She makes the same mistakes over and over and for all the same reasons and write 1000kick ass songs about how fucked up she is....and which became the whip I snapped across my own back as I hit the treadmill tonight.

Ahhhh but let me back up....

First my day started with several very doom and gloom "the end is near" type emails from my boss the upshot of is that I am probably going to be making far less money soon. For those of you not in sales I won't bore you but make a note to never ever be 100% commission. Just sayin... so I had to deal with that and closely related to that convo was having to call my best client and possibly ruin a very profitable relationship with them over a 16k invoice. Great.

Then I had 3 meetings set up 2 of which canceled and one I had to cancel.Why did I have to cancel you ask? Oh because of FUCKING UPS is why....I am seeing a VERY important friend/client tomorrow and she lives pretty far away.What she ordered from me is IN the UPS box which was delivered Thursday, not home- Friday- not I get a notice saying it would be delivered after 5pm today. OK fine, I cancel my meeting for 5:30 and leave work early to race home because it is critical I have this delivery tomorrow right? Right. So I get home at 5 pm ON THE NOSE and there is that FUCKING tag on my door. I flip.

I run inside and track the mother fucker and now I must ask you- in what part of the world is 4:55 AFTER 5PM?? AND I missed them by less than 5 mins? Are you KIDDING me? So I call the UPS location 5 TIMES so I can make sure someone is gonna be there before I hauled ass to get out there and even though their hours are 8-6 NO ONE ANSWERS THE FUCKING PHONE!! Sooooo guess who has to be LATE to work tomorrow (you remember work? the place that wants to pay me less for more work?) so I can get this FUCKING box that I should have had today if the FUCKING UPS driver knew how to tell time. I just pray that poor bastard got home in time to watch Dancing with the Stars of whatever else was so FUCKING important he couldn't wait 5 mins.

Oh....and who wants to be a fly on the wall when I get to the UPS location tomorrow. Yeah, me too.

THEN I decide FUCK IT- time to workout and OF COURSE someone is on the good treadmill and OF COURSE the other one is broken- again. And the torturous Elliptical machine is a no go cuz my knees are still fucked up from 90 mins of yoga floor work on saturday so I leave and call my friend Tom who is usually great to be grumpy with but he was too hung over from weekend St Pattycaking festivities so no go there so I head BACK over to the gym defying the gods to have someone else be on MY machine....luckily there was not so that is when I decided on the Queen of the Fucked up Princess's to be my poison of the night and I punished myself on the treadmill like I used to eat a gallon of ice cream for dinner when I knew it was killing me. Same mentality- different results.

Why is it when we are already down we seek out ways to hurt ourselves more? Why is it that when we -I- bleed I just want to rip it open and let it pour?

You want dark and fucked up...there it is. Enjoy...Pink would understand what I mean.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Dark Day

So I can't shake the dream I had last night. I woke up feeling groggy and uneasy and that feeling has stayed with me all day. I got up at 9 only because I could feel myself on the edge and if I didn't get up just then I knew I would sleep all day and be trapped in limbo, listless and accomplish nothing.

Not that I have accomplished anything today.

I have been having a reoccurring dream that is always different but always has the same feeling to it. There is some type of action movie type adventure where there is a search and a hunt and clues to be figured out and trail to be followed and at the end I find my brother Troy hiding out somewhere. When I find him he is not surprised even though I am shocked, cuz when you find someone who is dead and is standing there in front of you as if they were waiting all along- it is a shock. And even though I have searched and am so happy to find him I also feel so betrayed and hurt that he left us. That he chose to hide himself away and not be a part of our lives. It makes me so damn mad that I am working my ass off everyday to hit my goals and be who I am meant to be and he punked out and just left the game. I want to hug him and punch him at the same time.

That's the dream and I have had it about 6-7 times now since Troy's death. I guess you don't have to be Freud to figure out the meaning but I was surprised by my reaction I have to say. I was never ok with the fact he killed himself but I never judged him for it and understood that it was the only choice he felt like he could make. I guess my own struggle this year has just really fueled some kind of fire in me that while I am working so hard to pull myself up to a better place- he gave up. I guess what is really in my heart is I am mad at him for not believing we were worth fighting for, that he felt like his own issues were more important than his love for his family. And maybe I feel like if I had done all this before maybe I could have showed him that you can overcome challenges that seem like they are too big to conquer. Maybe I could have inspired him and ultimately saved him.


Then my little dark cloud has lingered and been my halo today. I am hating my body today. I feel like I am melting and my skin is just hanging off me in sheets. I hate it. I hate my arms. I hate my thighs. My skin suit is as big on me as my clothes were before I got rid of them but I can't get rid of my skin and it doesn't seem fair that with all this hard work I still have to deal with that before I can really reap the rewards of what I have lost- weight wise that is. I even gave myself a sugar scrub spa treatment today but as I scrubbed away it just caused me to focus even more on what I hate about my body right now. Even my neck is all saggy and it makes me feel so ugly. I always had a glimmer of hope that when I hit my goal I would be widely considered attractive but perhaps not....maybe this is as good as it gets and it ain't that great.

I feel like crawling into bed and sobbing. That is what I want to do. What I will do instead is go get on the treadmill and keep crawling forward because what else is there? (somedays you sprint, others your is a crawling day)

Just know that every time I spout some high level inspirational thinking that is a messy gooey fucked up center to that tootsie pop....for what its worth.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

To Think is to Create

This week has been a mixed bag for me....I have swung wildly between being vry excited about some new projects in my world and being flat out paniced about things as well.

Let's get the not so great stuff out of the is scary. Unfortunately anyone in any kind of consulting role will tell you things are tough for us right now because our clients typically pay us a fee to do things they CAN do for themselves but either can't do them well or don't have the time to do them.Well right now they don't have a choice and things are bleak and scary and I just don't know what's gonna happen. I am keeping a positive attitude because failure is never an option and even if I did want to bail (which I don't) there aren't a ton of sexy offers out there and I think if I moved it would be the same problem just different geography. So there is big insights or words of wisdom. I just don't want fear to win.

In my other world things are brighter. Since Jan when I went onto maintenance I have lost 30 lbs so roughly that is 15 lbs a month. I am 87 lbs away from my goal so by that math I should hit my goal of 145 in Aug. A little delayed but I am ok with that. I was talking to a friend yesterday who thinks I am insane to be shooting for 145. My blessing (if you want to call it that) was even at 418 no one would have guessed I weighed that number so it it may very well be that I get to 160 and look fabulous. I told him I am not at all stuck on a number but rather where I am healthy and fit and feel good. If that is 160 so be it. But there is also the skin you all know I am looking into surgery for that. Hopefully Oprah will get my letter (yes I emailed Oprah, can't hurt right??)

And of course my new biz venture ties right into my weight loss. I apologize in advance if I start sounding like a commercial for my biz. Please know that I in no way expect anyone to drop everything and order stuff off my site just cuz I talk about it. That being said I would love to help people get to where I am trying to get and make fewer mistakes than I did. I tried and liked these products so well I decided to buy them and then decided to buy them from myself instead of someone else. And the fact that we sell "green products" which I have been striving to do more of in my life just sealed the deal for me (those are found on the "other" tab on the website btw) again, I might mentioned these products and my website but no expectations. Cool?

I did get my first order which I have to say I was all giddy about. Granted it was my sister but still....pretty cool. And I know she would rather pay me than WalMart so win win right? :)

Building this business will be a challenge but I strongly believe that every household needs multiple streams of revenue coming in and I have been considering many different business ventures for a long long time. This business is something I have been looking at for 3 years. It was when my lifestyle changed that it finally made sense to me to do it.

Ok, now I am feeling guilty for sounding like an informercial when you read this to be entertained. Dance monkey dance!!

I went back to yoga class today after my hiatus. I never meant to stop going but somehow it fell off the schedule but I got my ass up for the 8am class and am sooo glad I did. I can tell a huge difference from the last time I went. I was able to do some poses today that there was no way I was able to do the last round. I recall my inner dialogue going something like this during some of the more challenging poses last time..."you have to be FUCKING kidding me" and "you want me to grab what and hold??" but this time I was able to do them no problem. Hellllllo downward dog- woof. Who's your bitch now?? (get it, female dog is a bitch....yes? no....anyways) AND I bought a package of 10 classes so I have to go back. Yay me.

I even went above and beyond and still worked out on the treadmill even though I did yoga this morning. And then of course I did the thing I always worry that I am going to do (perfect example of "to think is to create" btw, I thought about it happening and it did). I locked my keys in the fitness room. The door has an autolock and I left my keys in the cupholder thingy on the treadmill. FUCK!! I stood outside for a minute and asked some random neighbors for their keys with no luck. Then I knocked on my neighbor's door (the only neighbor who's name I know- matt) and no go. So then I decided to go door to door. I walked to the next door and there it was, the very key I needed sticking out of the door's lock. They had left their keys in the door! I knocked and knocked and no one was home. I had a quick ethics review in my head and decided there was nothing wrong with taking the keys, going to fetch MY keys back then returning the neighbor's keys right where I left them. So I did....I gotta think that was karma working somehow. Doncha think?

Ok....parting thoughts.

FEAR....everyone is scared right now about something so now is the time to have a little COURAGE and for me, the definition of courage is: being afraid....but doing it anyway.


Think about what you want to happen not what you are afraid might happen. Thoughts create reality- to think IS to create. Might as well create a great world....and always have a spare key


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shameless plug for my own business

Hi guys-

Most of you have probably seen me post a link about my new website....if not here is the link:

As you know I am no longer doing the cookie diet so this is what I have switched to and I liked the products so much I started selling them myself (and buying them -from- myself to be more specific). One of my long time contacts gave me some of these products to try and as I said, I liked them all. The brand is calle Nutrilite and they are literally the company that invented vitamins. I am taking the DoubleX vitamins and for my workouts I have been taking Rhodiola...which if you have never heard of it, google now. It is GREAT I took some and was wired for 3 hours with no crash afterwards. All natural stuff....

For the food products I am drinking the protein shakes with whey protein (which anyone who works out will tell ya that is the best) and we have 100 calorie snack bars, 200 calorie meal replacement bars and energy drinks with no carbs and no sugars (but lots of B vitamins).

And that's not all....

I have also been making an effort to be more green and we carry and entire line of organic, bio-degradeable cleaning products including surface cleansers, dish soap, laundry detergent...etc. Now you may notice a higher pric point but this is concentrated stuff and it lasts forever.

So those are the reasons I decided to buy the products and why I decided to start selling them- mainly to myself- but now offer them to you guys.

Feel free to browse and if you have any questions let me know. This isn't a sales pitch just letting ya know what I thought and why I am doing what I am doing. will now be returned to the normal blogging channel......

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back on track

Ok, I did officially decide to do the rest of this diet thing on my own. I just can't see paying the big bucks for the Dr. Siegel cookies online when it is a 1200 calorie diet which I was already doing on my own. Between the switching and getting back on my own new schedule my diet did a few loop de loo's but I am now back at 235lbs and ready to start the climb down. It is a bummer that I won't hit my goal as quickly as I planned but there is nothing saying I can't enjoy this body I have now-which is far smaller than I have been since.....couldn't even tell you when. Probably high school. Sad but true.

So my new goal is to hit my goal weight of 145 (and 24 BMI) by the end of the year. I have 90 lbs to go and I am just not sure if I can do 10lbs a month steady (hope to, plan to but we will see). I am getting my new diet together still. I am super excited because I have just started my own i-commerce biz and one of the products we sell is Nutrilite and there all kinds of stuff I am going to incorporate into my diet.Protein shakes, meal bars, 100 calorie snack bars and energy drinks. Very cool. I'll let you know how that goes.

I am sticking to 35mins a day on the treadmill. I now start at level 6 (incline) and go up .5 every 5 mins. I was gonna start yoga again this week but I had a conflict so maybe next week. Then I also want to start with a trainer at some point in the next few weeks.

On the boy front things are going well actually. He did make a personal appearance and I can understand now where some of the craziness was coming from. It is so much more helpful once you have a real convo. We are going to hang out and see what happens. Neither of us want any big commitment, we both just want someone cool to hang out with and that is what we are going for...did I mention how sexy he is :) ??

Ok, I think that is all the updates for now....peace out y'all.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Your Life is a Reflection of your Mind

It's been 6 years since I moved to Phoenix.

It's weird how sometimes you have to go so far away from where you started to find yourself. I am proud to be from Iowa and love that my roots are there but I always knew in my heart that I wouldn't be there forever. When I moved to Chicago I thought that was it. I would be in the big city (and by city I mean the suburbs) forever. It was close enough to home where I could hop in the car and be there in a flash but far enough away that I could be on my own.

Chicago was where I began to grow up. I knew no one and moved directly into an apartment that I had never seen (eventually it became one big crack house -story for another day- remind me to tell you about the time I came home to find "die bitch" written on my door). Details...

Looking back on my life there it was very lonely. I did date alot (oh yeah, I was a dirty dirty ho)but as anyone who is single can tell you nothing makes you feel more alone than dating a series of random people. And they were- random I mean. I dated everyone from a Hugo Boss model (seriously) to a basement dwelling porn addict....and guess who I was more attracted to? ::sigh::

It was good alone time though and I think I really needed that time to figure out who I was as my own person. Not Karen's daughter or Cory's sister or anyone else I was in Boone and in Ames all of my college friends had scattered and I felt the need to spread my wings as well. I got my chance to do that in Chicago and loved the feeling of walking around the city gave me. Its like I was invisible and that was great for me. I don't know if I can explain why that is so great but after living so long in a place where I couldn't turn the corner without seeing someone who knew far to much about me it was nice to be in a place where no one knew me at all. It was liberating and for whatever reason it was what I needed to break those small town ties.

The good thing about my time in Chicago was I did find my career path there. I don't know where I would be or -who- I would be if I hadn't found and fell in love with recruiting. It is a great thing what I get to do and I won't go into a whole rah-rah thing about my job, except that its more than my job. Being a recruiter is who I am and even when I did step away from it during my time at Jobing I was still a recruiter who was doing something else for awhile.

I never ever thought I would live in Phoenix. It never even entered my mind. I always thought I would end up on the east coast. Dunno why that is just what I always kind of thought would happen in the back of my mind. One of my college friends had moved to Phoenix and one day she told me I should move here. Things in my industry were dying and it was January in Chicago and I happened to have just got a good commision check, although it was going to be the last for a long time. She told me how much she liked it in AZ and that I could do great here. I thought about it for a minute and said "sure." I threw my stuff in the back of a truck and my stepdad and I drove out. The whole saga of getting here is again, a story for another day but suffice to say it was 5 days of HELL. I was sick as a dog and we had very bad weather- very bad. But I made it here and now here it is 6 years later.

When I think about who I was when I got here compared to now it is incredible. The personal journey I have been on is incredible even to me. Chicago is where I grew up but Phoenix is where I found myself.

I have a line that is close to my heart that I have referenced before and it is "your life is a reflection of your mind." It hit me so hard the first time I ever heard it because it struck me that my life was NOT a reflection of my mind. I did not feel that the life I was leading was a true reflection or representation of who I am in my soul. That drove me crazy and really got me focused on becoming who I was meant to be, to really live up to my own potential.

During my time here in Phoenix I have fought and won so many battles with and endless horde of demons. At times it seemed they were winning and they did win some battles. My life is has been a war and I have fought and fought but I have come out ontop....eventually. I struggle and stumble and I fail horribly. In fact I was just talking to my niece (and by talking I mean IMing in Facebook) and in her beautiful 20 year old logic she was telling me she was afraid of failing and letting people down. That broke my heart to hear and I wanted to shake her and point to the few years of my life as Exhibit A of how to fail before an audience. That has always been my big block. To be "together barbie" was soooooo important to me. I HAD to be ontop of everything and look in control and knowledgable. I succeed because if I was at the front of the pack no one looked to closely at what you were doing.

It wasn't until I did get broke down in a pretty dramatic way in front of a big group of people where I had to really face my fears and take that long look into the mirror that I feel my life really began to move forward. We all have our blocks and those things that just jam us up -and its not until you embrace those flaws as a part of the whole that is you, can you become the person you were meant to be. I am sure everyone has heard of that quote "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us...." (if not, you just did) It is so true. The dark is good, you can get comfortable in the dark. You can hide in the dark. If you stay in the dark you never ever have to see what your life really is and denial is a very safe safe place to live. But stepping out, taking risks, letting people into your cave and showing them the dark places.....THAT is scary and uncomfortable. The crazy thing is that people love flaws. We love people with flaws because it makes us think that maybe, just maybe we aren't so weird. That we aren't alone. And that is comforting.

I think the single greatest thing I have done in my life is lowered my guard and let people see the flaws. Truth is everyone was already looking at them but I was in such denial I couldn't accept that. Once I revealed my dark stuff I found such a freedom and peace in admitting to myself what everyone else knew all along.

I really feel in the past few months even that I am finally coming into my own. I feel like I have a strong grip on some of the larger demons that have been torturing me all my life and I have overcome MAJOR challenges. I have closed the door on some heartache and let my heart be healed with the help of my brother (who is close to me and will always protect me). I have opened my heart to the possibility of new things happening and taken on some big exciting new challenges.

I will still struggle and fall. I will still fail fabulously. I will still grow and learn and I will do it with everyone watching because I know its better to live my life in the light than to hide in the dark.

My life IS now a reflection of my mind and while I might not always be right I have that balance of knowing who I am on the inside is what you see on the outside. Love me or leave me, I am who I am.