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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Defining Myself

Since reaching my weight loss goal (and leaving my husband), I have been taking time to discover who I really am. I have spent so many years molding and shaping my likes and dislikes around others that I lost track of myself. I always felt like I had to like what others liked or they wouldn't accept me.

When I look back, it sickens me that I gave up so much of me for the sake of someone else who, in the end, was never worth the sacrifice. I didn't realize just how much I gave up until I started spending time alone with myself.

It is natural for our tastes to change over time but the core of us typically remains in tact. I allowed my core to be buried because I was made to believe that what I liked was wrong if it didn't align with others.

If I really dig deep, I probably convinced myself of this belief when I was a young girl.

I wanted to fit in.

I wanted people to look beyond my weight.

Something in me has finally changed and I will no longer defend anything that helps define who I am. People can either accept me or reject me but I refuse to change for anyone again...ever. Period.

As of today, the following (in complete random order) is what I know, love, and, more importantly, accept about myself.
  • I believe in God
  • I have sinned...a lot
  • I know I am saved
  • When I see an ambulance or fire truck racing past me, I pray for the people they are going to help
  • I am a tomboy at heart but I am always a lady
  • I will put a dress on for work but you will find me wearing jeans and an old t-shirt or jersey on the weekends
  • I do not have to put on a ton of make-up and dress up to impress anyone when I go grocery shopping
  • I have high heeled shoes but I prefer to wear flats
  • I love my Converse chucks
  • I love my flip flops more
  • I don't have to drink in order to have a good time
  • I like Malibu Rum and Pineapple juice or shots of ice cold Patron when I choose to drink
  • I don't like beer (but I like apple ale or root beer, beer)
  • I am a coffee snob
  • I love to people watch
  • I love to laugh...a lot...
  • I prefer the window seat on a plane
  • A single, hand-picked flower will get you farther with me than the most expensive bouquet
  • I tear up and/or cry when watching anything that tugs at my heartstrings
  • I love to watch sports (especially football) and I yell at the TV when I watch it
  • I sing along to the music in my car but I do not do it well
  • I can sit outside at night next to a bonfire and gaze up at the stars for hours
  • I love the smell of the air after it rains
  • I love how the earth becomes silent when the snow falls
  • I prefer to watch the snow fall at night
  • I love music
  • I believe music can bring people closer together
  • My iPod does not discriminate and I have genres ranging from Christian to Rap
  • My heart has a hankerin' for southern country rock
  • I say things like "hankerin'", "eh" and "neat, neat toilet seat"
  • My favorite saying is "that's funny"
  • A man playing the fiddle makes me weak in the knees
  • A man playing the guitar makes me weak in the heart
  • I am a sucker for hot chocolate
  • I am an even bigger sucker for popcorn
  • I love to cook for others but won't cook for myself
  • When I drank soda, I was a Coke girl
  • I grew up saying 'pop' but for some reason, I now say 'soda'
  • I like onions
  • I love onion rings
  • When I want to taste something that I shouldn't eat, like onion rings, I have been known to take a bite, chew it up really good and then spit it out (don't judge me...it takes more will power to spit it out after you start chewing)
  • I am a weener when it comes to spicy food
  • I have taken more than one swig right out of the milk jug
  • I don't need a doctor to tell me I have A.D.D....
  • Oh, look! A chicken...
  • I don't like big parties (unless it is family)
  • I have voted for both political parties
  • Don't ask me to talk politics
  • I own a Smith & Wesson M&P Compact .40 caliber pistol
  • I like to go to the gun range
  • I can hit my target
  • My favorite movie of all time is "At Close Range"
  • I will call or message a friend just to say hi
  • I love it when people call or message me to say hi
  • I read the entire Twilight series in five days (Team Edward)
  • I read the 50 Shades series in four (Laters baby)
  • I love to read
  • I love to write
  • I am writing a book
  • It is my hope to inspire others with my story
Until next time my friends...live your life as you want to live it. Don't live a lie. Be honest - with yourself and with others. Be outspoken. Embrace yourself. Embrace others. Don't let go...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tell Another Lie

I haven't written for several months and I apologize to my readers for that. With everything I have been going through since filing for my divorce, things have been a little (ok...you got me...a lot) crazy but life is finally beginning to settle down and I can see the light again.

In a very quick recap of the last 4.5 months...and if you read this really quickly without breathing, you will have an idea of how I have been feeling since all of this started...
  1. I left my husband
  2. I filed for a restraining order
  3. I filed for a divorce
  4. I filed default divorce papers after husband didn't respond to initial papers
  5. Default divorce papers were rejected because I didn't white out one stinkin' line (grrrrr)
  6. Husband filed a response after my default papers were rejected (double grrrrrr)
  7. Husband violated restraining order (triple grrrrrrr)
  8. Had husband arrested (yaaayyy)
  9. Husband didn't file a declaration and divorce could not proceed without it (quadruple grrrrrrr)
  10. Filed a motion to have the declaration waved (seriously...had to pay $40 to file three pieces of paper asking the court to wave one piece...whatever comes after quadruple grrrrrr)
  11. Served husband in jail with motion request (ahahahahah)
  12. Husband got out of jail...
  13. I bought a gun (S&W M&P compact .40 cal)
  14. I moved...
  15. Went to court and motion was granted. Informed judge that husband didn't serve me with a copy of his divorce papers. Asked judge to toss his response. Judge orders husband to serve me properly within so many says and then she would toss it.
  16. Serve husband with judges orders.
  17. Husband doesn't respond...woo hoo
  18. Filed default papers again.
  19. Default papers rejected because two of the forms were outdated (have lost count of the grrrrrr's)
  20. I correct the papers and refile...again...
  21. Judge accepts and signs default papers (finally...)
  22. My divorce will be finalized on 12/3/12.
And in the middle of all of this...I had to surrender my family dog of seven years because of her violent behavior toward others, I still had to work full-time which included starting the new position I was promoted to, I had to take three business trips, plan and execute a client party (praise Jesus for my planning committee), and I had to perform an utterly, emotionally exhausting audit. No wonder I have mentally checked out of writing.

After experiencing all of this, I can tell you one thing for sure...you really do find out who your friends are. The ones who are true to you and stand by your side no matter what. I am not gonna lie...I know I have lost a few along the way. I could be sad about that but I have to take the time to remember that God puts people in our lives for a purpose and sometimes their purpose is only temporary. The ones who walked away easily are the temporary ones. I know that other friendships will be repaired in time.
________________________________________________
 
To get back on topic of the purpose of my blog...my weight loss journey...

I have lost 170 pounds to date and am currently wearing a size 10. It is still crazy to me. I feel amazing and have tons of energy and confidence but there are times when I am walking down the middle of the mall and I still feel like the biggest girl. No matter how much weight you lose, this is a hard thing to get out of your head. I have to look at myself in passing mirrors to realize that I am no longer that girl I was just two short years ago.

I am also starting to discover who I really am. I mean, now that I don't have anyone to take care of or look after other than my cat...I can finally focus on myself. I have to rediscover what I like and don't like. Seriously...we get so accustomed to liking certain things because our spouses or kids like them that we forget what WE actually like. For instance - I like to go places that are not Disney related and do not involve a slot machine. For a while there, I was beginning to think such places didn't exist.

One of my good friends and I like to ride our bikes so one weekend, we packed them up in her boyfriend's truck and drove over to the coast to ride them on the beach. Yes...actually on the beach. We went to Morrow Bay and rode them around Morrow Rock, through downtown, and interrupted a flock of pelicans in the park. Then we headed down to Pismo Beach where we rode them on the beach, through the water, and under the pier. I missed my Sunday football game but it was well worth it.



Pismo 1
Riding under the pier at Pismo
















Pismo 2
Riding my bike on the beach at Pismo...





















The following weekend, my best friend flew down from Washington to spend the weekend with me. I picked her up in LA and we spent Friday night down there. On Saturday, we drove the 101 to Pismo Beach, hit the outlet mall, and then made our way downtown to hit Harry's (a must see dive bar in Pismo).

It was there at Harry's that I met a man who forever changed my life. I know that sounds corny but he did. We talked for several hours about various things and we had a great time. After the bar closed, we continued our conversation under the pier until 4am. It wasn't until we were walking back up to the car (holding hands) when he stopped, pulled me near, looked at me and said "tell me what to do" (stay with me or go back). I turned my head and looked down as I said "I don't give orders, I take them". He leaned in, grasped my chin, looked me dead in the eyes and said "Not anymore darlin', you are free from all that now". I stood there with chills running up my spine thinking to myself "who is this guy?"...but there I was...standing in silence...blushing, looking him straight in his blue eyes, with a smile on my lips and a light of hope in my eyes...and for the first time, I was rendered speechless...then he kissed me...tenderly, sweetly, all the while cupping my cheeks in his hands.

His kiss wasn't what changed me though. It was his words. "Not any more darlin', you are free from all that now". It has been nearly a month since that incredible night but his words are still echoing in my head. Yes, I am free from all that. I am free from the lies. The lies I was being told and the lies I was living. They no longer had a hold of me and I have to thank God for placing that man in my life to pass on His message. I am free from orders and control. I can do whatever I want including making the decision of who I allow in my heart....and I have an angel named Garnet (who rides a Harley) to thank for that.

Here are a few pictures to catch you up on my progress:


Mammas New Gun
Mamma's got a new toy...

Garnets Harley
Me on Garnet's Harley.





Current Pic
My current pic...

 

 



New Leathers
Sportin' some new leather pants...
New Shoes
Feelin' my girly self in these shoes...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week in Review in Pictures

This has been one crazy week for me. I can best sum it up in pictures...

I reached my major weight loss goal this week and I celebrated with a few purchases. A new dress, some new bling jeans, and a new pair of cowboy boots.

Dress

Friday

I then decided that I needed to learn how to protect myself. I figured the best way to get over my fear of guns was to take the bull by the horns and learn how to shoot one. I have to tell you...it was AMAZING. I enjoyed it so much, I am purchasing one of the guns I shot with. I shot a 9mm, a .40, and a 357. I won't tell you which one I am purchasing but if anyone tries to break in or harm me again...rest assured they will find out!

9mm

40-1

9mm-2

Not to shabby

My friend who took me to the shooting range said I may have missed my calling because I did so well for my first time ever shooting a gun. Even though another friend told me that my shots should be in tighter groupings in the chest...I don't think this "guy" is getting up any time soon.

Target

Even though I have reached my goal weight, my journey is far from over. I am working on building a hard body (or something close to it) so I started jogging and am now working out with a personal trainer. Who would have thought I was capable of that?

Trainer

I also started tanning...something I have never been good at...Not sure about you but I think 8 minutes was too long for this white girl...

Ouch

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I DID IT!

I will write more later...for now, I just want to shout at the top of my lungs...I DID IT!! I surpassed my goal this morning and have lost 161.5 pounds.

I have been crying for 10 minutes now and the tears are not stopping.When I started this journey, I honestly never imagined I would achieve such a lofty goal. I am at a loss of words at the moment...but trust me...it won't take long for me to find them.

OH HAPPY DAY!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spreading My Wings...Part II

I got a call from my brother this morning and the first word out of his mouth was "Congratulations". I had just posted on Facebook that I was only four pounds away from reaching my weight loss goal and was about to begin body building so I assumed his call was in response to my post but I couldn't help myself...so I chuckled and said "thank-you, is that for my weight loss or my divorce?". We both laughed and he said "both". Oh, I love my brother.

It has been a month since I officially left my husband and I am not sad at all. People keep asking me how I am doing and to their surprise, I feel amazing. I feel like an incredible weight has been lifted and I can breathe again. No one should have to live the way.

Because of my husband’s unpredictable behavior, I knew I would have to have a solid plan in place before I filed for a divorce. The last time divorce was mentioned (which was a year ago), I found myself pinned down on the bed with a gun pointed to my temple and he said, "I will give the cops a reason to kill me tonight". Those words did the trick he intended and I pretended I was happy. I knew when I was going to make my move that I would have to have a plan that would keep me safe.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and I was waiting for my husband to push me off. Whether good or bad, God puts  us in places and situations for a purpose to learn a lesson. I am a praying woman and despite the fact that divorce goes against the Bible, I knew that God would not want me to be tortured or treated like that. The events that took place the night I left my husband were put into motion almost effortlessly on my part and took it as a sign that the time was right.

I was at my friend's house, which was just two doors down from mine. It was a Friday night and we were celebrating the fact that we had just survived a near death experience (we came "this" close to being crushed in a head on collision). We were pretty shaken by the ordeal so we each took a shot of alcohol to calm our nerves. I had invited my husband over to celebrate with us. He did not come over. Instead, he left. I saw him come and go from our house several times that night.

Not too long after the last time I saw him leave, I received a phone call from my son. He was quite shaken and yelling at me to stay away from my husband and to not go home. The tone in his voice was filled with panic so I knew to trust his words. He was at work and apparently my husband went down there and caused a scene telling my son that he was going to "beat my ass." The reason for this "beating" was because I had withheld some information from him regarding my recent promotion. I did not tell him that I would have to eventually relocate to Texas within two years. In my own defense, I chose not to tell him because I knew I was going to leave him before my relocation even happened. I also knew that if I told him about it, he would not have let me accept the offer.

My friends and neighbors overheard this conversation between my son and me. They escorted me to my house so I could pack an overnight bag because they did not want me to be there either. I quickly packed a few things, grabbed my purse, and my briefcase. I went back to my neighbors and had no intention on returning that night.

Within 30 minutes of talking to my son, my husband showed up at the neighbors. He was trying to convince me to go home with him. My friends kept telling him that I was having a good time and to leave me be but he would not. Knowing my husband was a ticking time bomb my friends kept me in their line of sight. At one point, my husband noticed my bag in the corner of the living room and snatched it up, including my purse and briefcase. He ran out of the house and took it home. My friend, who is a big guy and not afraid of anyone or anything, looked at me and said "well, I guess this is happening tonight." and he followed my husband back to our house with two other
friends and myself in tow. I was shaking in my boots.

I do not know what words were said in the beginning but when the shouting began, I started shaking. It all happened so quickly. My husband was trying to keep us from entering the house and at one point he went for a butcher knife. When my big friend welcomed this gesture, my husband went to release my dog (who is a VERY protective pit bull) from the garage. I slammed the door before she could enter the house though. My friend kept telling my husband that I did not want to be here anymore and I did not want to be with him anymore. He told him to let me get my things and to let me go but he was refusing. Both of these guys are big but my friend was bigger. In the end, he had to restrain him so I could get the bags I had packed earlier. I ran out of the house and never looked back.

That took place on the Friday before Memorial Day. He refused to leave the house after nearly begging him to leave so I stayed with my friend for four nights. I left everything there. I left my dog, my cat, my cars, my elliptical...my scale. I was done. I could no longer live like that. I could no longer feel like a prisoner in my own home.

I filed for a domestic violence restraining order and a move-out order on Tuesday, picked up the temporary orders on Wednesday, had him served with the orders on Thursday, filed for a divorce on Friday, and served him with divorce papers on Saturday. I was spreading my wings and taking my life back.

In order to make the restraining order permanent, I had to go to court and testify. I had to show proof of abuse, which I had. I also brought my son with me to testify as a witness to the abuse. I knew this would be hard on him but he was there to support me. I was hoping my husband would not even appear for the hearing but when I stepped off the escalator he sitting there right in front of me.


In the two weeks that has passed since I initially left, I had been stress free and my body learned to relax. When I saw him sitting there, all of those negative feelings and tensions that I used to have when I was around him filled my body immediately and I could not stand it.

We had to testify in an open and public courtroom and I was nervous. I am not great at public speaking and I knew I would get emotional. We had to testify for two separate judges because the first one knew my son and it was a conflict of interest. Apparently, this judge likes to frequent the fast food restaurant where my son worked quite often so they had gotten to know one another. My son had no idea he was a judge. The judge was very polite about it. After I had called my son as my witness, the judge looked at me and said, "I am very sorry but I can no longer here this case. I know your son. I know him quite well. He is a good boy". In light of everything, I was experiencing that day, my heart lifted with his comments.

I chalked the first testimony up as practice because it gave me the confidence I needed to get through the second. During the recess, I composed myself and carefully wrote down the questions I would have to ask my son on the stand.


  1. Have you ever heard "Mr. Smith" make a verbal threat against me?
  2. When was the most recent threat?
  3. What was the threat made?
  4. Have you ever witnessed "Mr. Smith" get violent with me?
  5. What have you witnessed?
  6. Have you ever called the police on "Mr. Smith"?
  7. Have you ever filed a restraining order on "Mr. Smith?'
  8. Why did you file?
  9. Do you feel threatened or intimidated by "Mr. Smith?"
  10. Do you feel he will harm me?
Now, I knew the answers to all of these questions but what I didn't know was the details he would give. I had no idea my son had witnessed so much violence over the years. He was there for the most violent of acts, which I knew, but I didn't know he had seen all the other stuff. I thought I had protected him from it. Turns out I was wrong.

I broke down in tears when he responded to question number five, "what have you witnessed?". It is gut and heart wrenching to hear your son talk about how he had seen his mom get choke slammed, choked while being pinned up against the wall, had things thrown at her, and watched in horror as a gun was held directly to my head as he told my son that he was going to blow my brains out. I listened as he described being threatened himself, which I didn't know about but explains the real reason why he filed his own restraining order the previous year. I praise Jesus that there was a sheriff in the courtroom or else I would have leaped across that table and beat the crap out of my husband right then and there. No one messes with my baby.

Before we could do closing arguments, the judge decided to immediately grant my permanent restraining order and she even included my son under the protection order as well.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I feel like an incredible weight has been lifted. I am now free. Everything that night happened in a way that kept me safe from harm and was enough to file for a domestic violence restraining order and escape the torture.

God put me at the edge of a cliff for a reason. I thought I was going to be pushed off to my death but it turns out that God put me there to learn a lesson and I most certainly did. I learned that when push came to shove on the edge of a cliff, God would either catch me as I fell or He would teach me to fly. In this case, He gave me wings and turned me into a butterfly...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Me...In Pictures...

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid photographer. I have been taking pictures since I was about 10 years old. I loved being the one behind the camera because I never liked being in front of it. Long ago, my subconscious decided that if I did not see myself in a picture then I could not see the damage I was doing to myself...essentially I lived in denial. If I was in a picture, I would Photoshop the heck out of it to remove rolls, shrink my cheeks and neck, shave 20 pounds off my thighs, etc. Photoshop and I have an excellent relationship.

Over the last few months, I decided that I really do like having my picture taken. I find myself giving my camera to others to take pictures of me. My inner butterfly wants to be released. I do not share many pictures of myself so I thought it would be fun to include a few recent celebrations. And...these have NOT been Photoshopped.

This is a comparison picture of me and my dear friend Michelle. The image on the left is us in 2008 and the image on the right is us in May of this year.













This is me...in a dress. Every year, my company has a three-day conference and the last night is an awards gala. This is the first time I wore a dress and WANTED to wear it. The best part?? I only paid $11 for it at Ross.















This is me...155 pounds lighter...






















And...for the grand finale...

The butterfly is a representation of transformation and rebirth. Setting and reaching goals are part of change and I will always be changing. So...in celebration of this constant metamorphosis, I was recently inked with my signature phrase "Butterfly in training".



 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Spreading My Wings...Part I

It is amazing the tolerances we allow ourselves to have when our self-esteem is low and/or null. Over the years, with those five little words echoing in my head, I have allowed myself to be taken advantage of, walked on, stabbed in the back, cheated on, lied to, and humiliated all because I thought I would get love and respect in return.

It started when I was in high school with baking cookies. My cookies actually became quite the commodity for the boys in the neighborhood. They would come by late at night when having their midnight cravings and I would get up and bake chocolate chip cookies...from scratch. I loved the feeling it gave me knowing it made them happy.

I was the girl who was always the biggest in class and was told that I had pretty eyes, a pretty face, or had a great personality. I knew I was big and I could not hide it...no matter what I wore. I loved the attention I got from the boys when I made them cookies. It made me feel wanted and being a big girl, this meant a lot to me.

As time went by, I started offering more than just cookies. We got older and hormones started raging. I became quite promiscuous because I thought that was how I could get a boyfriend. As sad as it is, I felt that boys really liked me because of it. Even after I heard the heart crushing words "don't tell anyone" (because those words are the tell tale sign that he was embarrassed and did not want anything to do with me outside of sex), I continued to allow myself to be taken advantage of because I felt wanted.

This behavior continued and only became worse. I thought that if sex wasn't working then I could buy them things. I met my son's father when I was 19. He was not from my small town so he did not know anything about me. When he discovered that I worked, had my own car, had credit cards, etc. he became my buddy. I could drive him places and buy him things. He had been kicked out of his house and I felt sorry for him. He saw an opening of my weakness and took full advantage of it. I ran up my credit cards buying him clothes and shoes. We bought matching pagers (yes, pagers) and I let him use my car when I went to work. This guy was different. He did not just want sex from me so in my mind I thought he must really like me. We were good friends. Good friends…with benefits.

Just a month after I met him, I was kicked out of my dad's house because of him and we stayed in sleazy hotels for over a month. I liked him more than just a friend so I footed the entire bill for him and three of his friends. I became pregnant not too long after I was kicked out and I thought for sure he would all of a sudden grow up and become responsible but because I had this delusion and I had no more self-esteem, I tolerated it and continued to do so until after the birth of our son.

He was never violent with me but he was verbally abusive which for me is much harder to overcome. I could no longer be his friend so we parted ways and I tried to only speak to him when it came to anything related to our son. I knew he did not have much family in the area and because I still had a heart, I always tried to include him on holidays and family gatherings.

I would say he was a good lesson learned but I allowed myself to be involved with several more relationships that were just as destructive. I started thinking I could fix these boys. I could be their savior and they would love me for it. I tolerated drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, restraining orders, jail, prison, and a whole lot of heartache. All in the name of "love”, because I thought I could fix what was broken in them. Not even realizing that what was broken was within me.

Just before I met my husband I was getting out of a long relationship with a man who could have been my soul mate. He knew everything about me and could tell what I was thinking just by looking at my face. We enjoyed the same music, movies, games, and we both ate popcorn and strawberry soda together. He told me how beautiful I was and could carry on a conversation that was not about him. He was not ashamed of me and introduced me to his family and friends. I was so caught up in this new feeling that I allowed myself to overlook all of the horrible things about him. He was a criminal, was a drug dealer and liked to smoke a lot of weed, he spent five years in prison for pistol whipping another man (and I happily traveled across the state to visit him on a regular basis), and he had four kids with four different mothers.

I found out he was cheating on me when he ended up in jail again and his car (that I was the primary owner of) was left at her house. She wasn't going to give me the keys to it so...as the primary owner, I took myself down to the Lexus dealership, gave them the VIN number of the car, showed them proof of ownership, and they ordered me a key to the car. Two days later, I went to this girls house, walked into her garage (which was left wide open with the car sticking out...shows how bright she was) and drove off (well ok, it wasn't that easy - very loud words were exchanged and fists were almost thrown). I took the darn thing back to the dealer, handed the sales guy the keys and told them to have it back. They laughed and happily took it off my hands. Who on God's green earth would tolerate that crap? THIS girl did. Why? Because I felt wanted.

Like I said, when I met my husband, I was just getting out of that relationship. We met at a concert I was photographing. I was backstage waiting for the artists to arrive. He and his friends wormed their way back there and acted as if they owned the place. I tried to be friendly but all he did was give me dirty looks. He was wearing a red suit and had a cockiness about him that caught my eye. I was wearing jeans, a hoodie, and tennis shoes. I smiled and complemented him on his suit. He did not even acknowledge me. He must not have noticed my multiple cameras around my neck because he really thought he was upstaging me. I laughed to myself because he had no clue that I was about to go onstage with the artists and I relished in the fact that I was going to upstage him.

After the show was over and I returned backstage he pulled me aside and we started talking. I shot a few pictures of him and his friends with one of the artists. We exchanged email addresses and I promised to email him the pictures I took.

I was going to be shooting another concert the following month so we decided to connect again. We became friends. We talked all night long when he was supposed to be working his graveyard security job. When he said he did not want sex from me, I thought he was gay. I did not think you could just be friends with a guy. As our friendship grew over the next few months, I thought that things were finally turning around for me. This guy was different than all the others. He had a job, went to church, he had his own car that I didn't pay for, he had his own place, and he got a kick out of watching me onstage taking pictures.

It wasn't until I let him move in with me four months later that I realized I was once again, wanting to fix what was broken within him. He was struggling to keep up his end of the bills with his roommate so I let him move in with me. His cell phone was going to get cut off so I added it to my plan. He had to give his car back to his friend so I let him drive mine while I was at work. I could take care of him and I felt wanted. If I knew then what I would have to endure over the next seven years, I would have ignored him backstage that first night.

The pain I endured, both physical and mental, over these last seven years was more than anyone should experience in a lifetime. How many people do you know who would tolerate being held at knifepoint because you refused to answer a question? How many people do you know who would tolerate being held at gunpoint with the tip of the gun digging into the back of your head so hard and because it was still hot from just having been fired you have a burn mark behind your ear all because you were talking to another man?



Or worse...being held at gunpoint in front of your child after they were told I was going to have my brains blown out in front of them? How many people do you know would then marry this person and allow this type of behavior to continue for three more years? If you are reading this...you know at least one. Why did I tolerate this? Because I did not think I could do any better. I didn't think I was worthy enough. I thought he was the best I could do for myself so I stayed.

DISCLAIMER: I can't sit here and say all bad things though because we did have some great times together. You do not spend that many years with someone if you could not have something positive to reflect on. My posting here is not to bash him or cause harm to him. I did not write anything that is not a matter of public record either. It is to simply express the state of mind I was in and why I tolerated it for so long.

After losing 155 pounds, my self-esteem and self-confidence returned in full force. It took a two-week business trip for me to realize that I no longer needed to continue to endure the pain. I no longer needed to fix him. I needed to fix me. When I walked off that plane after being gone for two weeks and I looked into his eyes, I knew my marriage was over. I was done. I could no longer live in fear and I was not going to allow myself to be in a cocoon anymore. I filed for a divorce two days ago. I have taken pride in calling myself a butterfly in training for the past year and regardless of hitting my goal or not, it is time I spread my beautiful wings and fly on my own...

...click here for Part II...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Towels and Gyms and Dancing, Oh My

I recently returned from a two-week road trip for work. This trip was similar in nature to the one I took last year where I left my pants in Ottawa. There was no stomping of pants in the trashcan this year but there were a few weight loss milestones that made me giggle and smile.

For my first road trip milestone, I actually found myself surprised after I had done it and that was going to the gym at the hotel. Not only did I want to go, I purposely made room in my schedule for it. I mean, who goes to a resort (not just a hotel but a paradise resort) in Orlando and wakes up at 6am to go to the gym...on purpose? This girl does! I did it while in Canada before I went to Orlando but I worked out in the evening and it was snowing so it really was just another day at the gym. It felt like a bigger deal in Orlando.

Another milestone occurred after my first gym excursion in Edmonton. Despite the fact that the gym itself did not faze me, the part that occurred afterward did. For those readers who are not overweight, you have probably never experienced the dreaded "hotel towel". The one that is just slightly larger than the hand towel. I had grown so accustomed to not being able to wrap the damn thing around me that I stopped trying years ago. Prior to surgery, the only time I have ever had a good experience with hotel towels was on a trip to Hawaii and they were so ginourmous, I stole four of them.

After my first trip to the gym in Canada, I showered and was able to wrap that towel around me AND tuck it in so it stayed all by itself. I was so excited about this I pranced around my room dancing in it and I wore nothing but the towel for at least an hour. After I put my pajamas on and was getting myself ready for bed, I just stared at myself in the mirror, smiled and thought "I have come a long way baby". That moment created a completely new Dawn and I held my head up high for the rest of my trip.

After I returned home, one of my co-workers told me that my confidence and personality far outshined my 148-pound weight loss and that meant the world to me. Who knew that a towel and the gym could do that to a girl...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Holy 12's, Batman!

Today, I took a trip to Costco (a.k.a. the $100 store) to pick up some things we needed for the house. I browsed through the clothing section and saw some Kenneth Cole dress pants on sale for $19.99 and a nice 3/4 sleeve (try to cover the tattoo while at work) wrinkle-free dress shirt for $16.99. With those great prices, I decided to pick something up smaller so I can wear it in late spring, early summer. I have been wearing 14's comfortably now for a few months so I picked up a size 12.

Anyone who shops at Costco knows they don't have fitting rooms so I tossed them in my cart and made my way through the store to pick up the actual items I was there to get...and maybe a few others that weren't on my list...like the new Starbucks Cafe Verona K-Cups that just came out. Yum-O!!

I got home, unloaded everything, put all my goodies away, and put my new "summer" outfit in the bedroom. I stared at it for a minute wondering how far away I was from fitting into it. I figured the shirt would be snug and decided that I would not be able to button or zip the pants (I tell myself these things so I am not disappointed when they do not fit).

You can imagine my surprise when I put everything on and both the shirt and the pants FIT! I was shocked. I thought for sure I missed a button or there was something wrong with the waistline. After double-checking to ensure I did not rip anything or bust a seam, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement. Apparently, this will be my new spring outfit which I can rock in Orlando in a few weeks.

This time last year, I was squeezing into a 22 and today, I am in a 12. I am still shaking my head in disbelief. I have NEVER been able to wear a 12. I know every designer is different and I may not be able to fit a 12 in everything but I am going to celebrate anyway.

Cheers!

April 2012 April 2012-1

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I am living proof...

...that persistence and hard work really can pay off!

This past year has been full of changes for me and not all of them have been directly related to the scale...although, some may argue that the scale might have had an indirect impact. Either way you look at it, my persistence and hard work is paying off.

While the weight loss has been a huge change, the biggest change has been the way I carry myself. My self-confidence has grown tremendously and this has done great things for me, both personally and professionally.

Personally

I no longer feel weak. I know I can drive past a former favorite fast food restaurant and not feel the urge to make a u-turn. I can walk into Starbucks, order a short, non-fat, no whip, sugar-free, upside-down, caramel macchiato, and not feel deprived of taste.

I love shopping for clothes now. I love all of the choices I have in styles, colors, STORES, etc. I am even considering dresses and...gasp...high-heeled shoes. I have gained enough confidence in myself to wear clothes (and shoes) that I never imagined I would (or could).

I take more time in getting myself ready. Meaning, I apply more than just the basic make-up. I take more time when fixing my hair. I take better care of my skin. I want to look as good on the outside as I feel on the inside.

Professionally

I am fortunate to work for an AMAZING company. I have been with this company for nearly 13 years and cannot imagine working anywhere else. I have always had the confidence to do my job well and have feel that I have always been professionally rewarded properly.

For the past four years, I have been pursuing (some would say "pushing for" is a more accurate phrase) an expanded career path for my role in the company. I am happy to announce that my perseverance has paid off because I was recently offered a promotion (which I happily accepted).

I have been very excited about this opportunity since it was first presented to me despite the fact that some have suggested that this promotion only came because I have lost nearly 150 pounds. We can refer to these people as “haters” but I’m not gonna lie…before surgery there were times when I felt I was overlooked for certain promotions because of my weight but this time is different. This time, I know I was offered the promotion because I earned it the old-fashioned way…through persistence and hard work.

Why do I think that? My self-confidence told me so.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Food...Yuck!

I know I have talked about this before but one of the beauties of the VSG, is I don't get hunger pangs (having the part of your stomach where the hormone Ghrelin is produced removes the signal to your brain that you are hungry). Since I do not get this signal, I have to eat on a set schedule. For the past year, this has not been a problem for me because, despite my tiny tummy, food still tasted and smelled good. Until now...

Here I am - one year out and for whatever reason, over the past week, food has been extremely unappealing to me. I do not want to look at it. I do not want to taste it. I do not even want to smell it. I felt this way one other time in my life, which was during the first trimester when I was pregnant with son. Now, unless my body grew another uterus since I had it removed 10 years ago, this is not the reason.

I am sure most people would be excited to have this feeling but I am not exactly thrilled. Why? For one, I need to fuel my body properly or else it will burn the muscle I have been working on building instead of my fat. I brought ricotta cheese with sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup for breakfast this morning and I struggled with getting it all down. I did not even want to touch my all-time favorite lunch (my Mexican fiesta of hot shredded chicken with melted cheese and topped with light sour cream and fresh salsa). Instead, I forced down a Chocolate Brownie Quest Protein Bar (I knew the protein and fiber would be good for me).

This is such an odd feeling because for nearly my entire life, I used to turn to food for reasons other than hunger. I was bored. I was depressed. I wanted to reward myself. It did not matter. It was for all the wrong reasons. In all honesty, back then food was my frenemy (one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy). I now know that food is not the source of all evil when eaten properly. My problem now is I just do not want it.

This is all just somewhat funny to me and, I mean funny in a HA HA, LOL, ROFLMAO kind of way. I mean...how funny is it that I am actually worried about food sounding yucky? How many times have you had to "worry" about this? I do not want to go back to drinking protein shakes or other supplements to stay healthy so I hope this passes.

Stay tuned for the outcome...[she said in her 'to be continued' voice].

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Little Buddy...All Grown Up!

At exactly 4:31 a.m. on March 16, 1994, my son was born and even though it was 18 years ago, it seems like yesterday. The Italian in him was very dominate in his features with his long, jet-black hair (that the nurses had to comb over to the side because it was so long), his dark complexion and he had the most beautiful blue eyes.

I had to have a c-section and my mom was with me during surgery. All I could see during the operation was her face as she stood by my side. I watched her facial expressions as they opened me up. It entertained me. She was the first to see him when they pulled him out. She had wanted me to have a girl so badly and when she frowned (for just a quick second) after he was pulled out, I knew I had a boy.

I had been contemplating names and couldn't decide between two. After they cleaned him up and let me get a good look at him, the doctor asked me what his name was. I immediately said, "Taylor".

I was a single parent until he was nearly 15, which is when I married my husband but for the first 11 years of Taylors life it was just me and him. I took him to tons of baseball and hockey games (despite the arm rests of the chairs cutting into my thighs). We went to the movies at least twice a month. We visited my parents and would spend weekends with my grandma in Eastern Washington. We popped popcorn and curled up on the couch to watch his favorite Disney cartoon movies. We went to McDonald's...a lot.

Since I didn't have anyone to watch him when he was small, he would sometimes have to come to work with me when I was working on a big project. He would help me assemble proposals and put the binders together. He would three-hole punch documents, run between printers and photocopiers to get stacks of papers, and sometimes he would curl up in a chair and watch a movie in the conference room.

One day he was in my supply closet and was being just a bit too quiet for any parent to stand. I walked in on him organizing the soda bottles that we kept for a special client. I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was just making sure they were all lined up. He then pulled out a handful of caps from his pocket and said, "Look, Mom. I won". There was a contest from this particular soda and you could win a free soda if you had a winning cap. This little bundle of joy of mine had opened EVERY SINGLE bottle to look for the winners. He put the five winning caps in his pocket, tossed the soda, put losing caps back on, and lined them all up. Little boys are so much fun [insert sarcasm with a half-smile and a wink here]. I still have the apology letter Taylor wrote to my boss (even though my boss thought it was hilarious). I carry it in my wallet.

Despite that little soda incident, Taylor was (and is) such a good kid. Always respectful, always there to give you a hug, always there with a smile on his face, always there to help. He was my little buddy.

When I decided to have weight loss surgery, I had to update my will. He was old enough then to ask what items of mine he wanted. At first, he said none. After I told him that he was already getting my car he started listing all kinds of things, which turned out to be very sentimental. In addition to my laptop, cell phone, iPad, iPod, etc., his list included the Christmas decorations (we have been decorating the house together since he was old enough to place an ornament on the tree), all my cookbooks, my rings so he could wear them around his neck, all of the family pictures, the cat, and a recording of my voice so he could play it every day [insert weepy eyes and a sniff, sniff here].

Taylor loves to play sports. He played soccer for five years and he started playing football his freshman year of high school. His soccer years were awesome. Every Saturday morning in the fall, we were up early to get to his games and we would always stop at Starbucks for a hot chocolate (they have the best) and a Chai Tea Latte. As he grew older, I grew more self-conscious about my size. The first three years of him playing football, I hid in the stands and hoped that his friends weren't snickering at him because of my size. I hid from his friends because I feared he was embarrassed by me. He always told me that he didn't care what anyone said or thought and that I shouldn't either. Even though he said it didn't bother him, it bothered me. In a way, I excluded myself from a lot of activities that involved people from his school and I feel awful that I did.

After I had lost nearly 100 pounds, Taylor gave me the courage to volunteer to be the varsity team photographer for his last year of football. It was his senior year and I wanted it to be memorable for us both so I did it. I was a nervous wreck the first night because I was no longer hiding in the stands. I was no longer hiding from his friends. I was upfront, on the field, dead smack in the middle of the action (literally). One Friday night, I was so focused on getting my shot that I didn't realize two players were running directly at me like a flippin' freight train. I took the hit well and even made Hit of the Week on the local news (my favorite part of the commentary was when he referred to me as a "young lady").

video

I like to take credit for how well-mannered Taylor is today but I do have to give credit to many others who have been a part of his life, as well as his dad. Taylor has grown into a very respectful young man with good manners, who makes straight A's, has an excellent work ethic and today, he is an adult. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Happy Birthday Buddy! I love you VERY much. Thank you for being a major motivator in my own journey and I look forward to the next chapter in your life.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weight Loss Tips from the 'Wizard of Oz'

As you go through your own journey of weight loss, remember these important basics with help from these infamous characters.

There are TONS of websites and blogs out there (including this one) that talk about weight loss, weight loss surgery, nutrition, fitness, etc. and it is easy to get overwhelmed about what works and doesn't.

While only you can actually decipher what works best in your life, let Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion inspire you and keep you motivated:

Dorothy: Keep trying to lead yourself "home". Dorothy's goal was to get home and she spent her entire time in Oz trying to get there.

Your "home" is your ultimate goal. Before you choose to eat something or head into a workout, think about how it will affect your goal and the results you are expecting. If you are expecting to drop 10 sizes while constantly eating or snacking on handfuls of carbs, fats, and/or sugars, you may as well stay locked in the Wicked Witch's tower because you will never get "home".

Remember, your goal is to get heck out of "Oz".

Scarecrow: Share the knowledge you have. Scarecrow thought he needed the Wizard to give him a brain, but he realized (with the Wizard's help) that he had one all along.

You, like Scarecrow, have knowledge too. You might think you don't but you really do know what is right and wrong with your own diet and fitness habits. If you avoid those subjects, you are essentially setting yourself up for failure. Educate yourself on the basics and then share the knowledge with those who surround you.

Embrace your brain and you will become an expert for yourself and others.

Tin Man: Have a heart (and carry an oilcan in case of emergency). Just as the Tin Man showed that he had a heart, so should you. It is OK to feel good about yourself. As you accomplish your goals, share your emotion with the world and be proud of your achievements.

If you have an off day and get a little "rusty" in your diet or fitness routine, have a friend (or other motivational tool) nearby to "oil the squeaks" and keep pressing on. Just don't let yourself get so rusty that you can no longer move.

Cowardly Lion: Don't be afraid. Don't hold yourself back because you are afraid to take a step forward. Making a decision that takes confidence to stick with it, such as changing your lifestyle (including eating and exercise habits), can be a scary thing.

BUT - just as the Cowardly Lion discovered his own confidence and realized he was the king of his own forest, you can too. In other words (Henry David Thoreau's to be exact- and yes, I know they aren't related to the Wizard of Oz but this is my post...), “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined".

______________________________________

Disclaimer - I cannot take full credit for relating the Wizard of Oz to weight loss. I was inspired by an article I read the other day about Social Media sites and the Wizard of Oz, so I borrowed that concept and translated it into my own goal of "getting rid" of excess weight. I recently started saying "getting rid of" rather than "losing" because typically when you lose something there is a chance you can find it again...and I don't want to find the 137 pounds I have worked so hard to...get rid of.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's a ONEderful day in ONEderland

It's official...as of this morning, I can officially say that I weigh one hundred and something pounds! I have not been able to say that since I was 14 or 15 years old.

Words cannot begin to describe how I feel right now but I can express this feeling through a good "Carlton" dance...



I just wanted to share this ONEderful news!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flirting with ONEderland

The last time I could say I weigh one hundred and something pounds was when I was in the 9th grade. Well, just one year after being sleeved, I am less than one pound from being able to say it again. I have been flirting with ONEderland for more than a week now and it is driving me crazy. I think the anticipation of this major milestone is hanging on to that pound for dear life.

I celebrated my one-year "surgiversary" on February 24. It is hard to believe it has been a year since I started this journey. From everything I have learned, to the results I see and feel, these past twelve months have been truly amazing. As of today, I have lost 136 pounds (an average of 13.6 pounds a month), more than 40% of my excess body fat, and I only have 25.5 pounds to go before I reach my goal.

According to those incredibly stupid BMI charts, I would still be considered overweight when I do reach my goal weight but I want to be realistic with my weight loss (BMI charts are misleading anyway). However, it goes without saying, that if I lose more, you will not hear any complaints from me. I just want to achieve my goal and I know I will.

Don't Stop, Don't Give Up!
Every now and again I need a little motivator to keep me going. My mother MADE me watch this when I went home for Christmas and it stuck with me. This little girl ALWAYS gives me that extra push when I need it. Her little voice echoes in my head while exercising or working on a difficult or time-sensitive project. I guarantee you will be repeating it at some point too.




Photo Update
Costco Card ComparisonI searched for two good before and after (current) photos and, in my eyes, these were the most dramatic. The image on the left is me in 2009 at probably my highest weight and the one on the right was taken this month after an employee at Costco questioned the validity of my card. After checking my ID (which looks similar to the picture in question, they took a new photo let me keep the old card as a "souvenir". I wonder if I am going to have this same problem in six months when I renew my license.


It's Game Time
Since surgery, I have been focused on losing the fat but now is the time to step up my game and start building muscle. The added muscle will help me lose body fat quicker. In case you did not know, muscle burns fat three times faster than fat does alone. At rest, a pound of muscle can burn approximately 6 calories per day all by itself (if you add resistance training you can increase that number to 7). For example - if your exercise program does not include resistance training and your muscle/body mass weighs approximately 100 pounds, it will burn 600 calories a day all by itself. If you add resistance training, you could increase this to 700.

Now, I am not going for a body building physique here. I just want to be in a healthy body fat range. I am getting there. I need to drop about 12% before I can be considered in a healthy body fat range.

Exercise, fitness, shoot even just plain old P.E. have never been my strong points. I remember in Junior High we had to do the 20-minute walk/run every now and again. The intent was to either walk or run a mile within 20 minutes (which I could NEVER do). Well...two weeks ago I bought an elliptical and just three nights after I got the machine, I ran 1.2 miles on it in the same time it took me to do 1/2 a mile in Junior High. For all you pessimistic haters out there, yes, that equates to what it would have taken me back then had I ran the damn thing. For all you optimistic ones, that simply means that today I have twice the energy despite being twice as old. I know 1.2 miles in 20 minutes is not much to brag about but considering where I was a year ago, I would say that this Butterfly is spreading her wings and beginning to fly...

Listen to R Kelly's words in "I Believe I Can Fly" and you will experience how I am feeling right now.
 
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