All I Want For Christmas

No…I’m not about belt out  a Mariah Carey song! Your ears will thank you!

Apologies for the post coming a day late. The last week has been a whirlwind of emotion and stress and crazy decisions.  But that’s neither here nor there….

Happy Christmakwanzakah to you and yours!

If you’re still shopping around for things to get me (I kid, I kid) there are a few things on my list…

All I Want For Christmas is….

1)   To be closer to my family. – I’ve loved living in Florida. I love what it has meant for my health, for my love, for my worldliness. (Yes…worldliness…if you’ve ever been to Miami, you know what I mean.) What I haven’t loved is the distance between me and my people…My friends…my family…my new family. I miss the impromptu brunches, the holiday celebrations, the birthdays, the Sunday afternoon cookouts. Call me a homebody…call me a wuss…call me whatever you want, but I adore my family in the most amazing way.

I am happy to report that this Christmas wish will be a reality in the next 7 days as we move 8.5 hours north of Tampa. A new start, and new beginning, new jobs, a new home, and much, much closer to the ones we love in a city that both Allen and I adore. Nice going, Mr. Claus!

2)   For Allen to know how much I love him. – I’m not saying that he doesn’t. I’m not saying that I lack affection or act like a frozen hermit crab when we’re together but I have been quite impatient and testy lately. A lot of things had been up in the air with regards to our move and I certainly wasn’t the most peaceful person about it. Allen, as usual, was the ever cool, ever calm, ever collected partner. His stress doesn’t show…his love and his affection, never waivers.

This man has been an incredible gift in my life. One that I will spend the rest of my life cherishing and being in complete and total awe of.  I cannot wait to call him my husband. I cannot wait to be forever bound by the sacrament of marriage.

I am a different person because of the way he is with me. I’m proud of him every day. I proud of the man he is, the woman he makes me, and the life we’ve created together.  He takes my breath away every single day and I am so grateful that he is mine.

My wish is for him to never, for one second, doubt the devotion and the love I feel for him. My best friend…my life partner…my soulmate.

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       Photo courtesy of Hayley Juliet Photography

3)   A new job. – Following my company’s buyout, both Allen and I were laid off in September. Don’t feel pity for us…if it was not for that, we would not be able to complete the number 1 wish on this list. He’s found a amazing opportunity for him to showcase his undeniable skills, but I’m still looking. I’ve had 2 great interviews and hope to know something in the next week or two but nothing solid yet. I want nothing more than to be a financial contributor to my family. Please keep your fingers crossed for good news on the employment front in the near future!

4)   My own food. – We were supposed to move last week…but a few wrenches got thrown in the mix so we got delayed. For some absurd reason, I opted to pack our kitchen stuff first. The pots, the pans, the stuff in the pantry…the fridge was cleaned out and the freezer emptied. All that remains in our culinary mecca is a bulk warehouse sized container of garlic powder, a jar of chow chow, mayo, capers, butter and frozen broccoli. All of which are a little tough to create lunch and dinner out of. So aside from the ham and GF bread we picked up at the store, we’ve been eating out…a lot. Not only is it denting the wallet, but it’s making my insides feel like a war zone. I hate eating out frequently. I hate paying for something that I know I could make 10 times better and 10 times cheaper. I am definitely ready to have my own kitchen again…soon, Han…soon.

5)   For people to stop celeb-obsessing. – Between the Duck Dynasty BS, the Kardashian divorce drama, the McGraw-Hill relationship rumors, Paul Walker’s accident, etc., etc., I am so OVER people posting about it and talking about it and seeing it plastered all over magazines. I can’t stand to watch the news and I despise the entertainment ‘news’ shows for their half-truth speculations. Enough already!

The world has more important problems than the 8 pounds one movie star gained, or the plastic surgery another had, or the divorce filings of the rich and famous. There are starving children, abused animals, crooked politicians…this country has more disgusting, indescribable crimes than a Patricia Cornwell novel. Instead of worrying about making it better for our children and our children’s children, we’re more involved in discussing Miley Cyrus’ twerking or Justin Bieber’s partying habits.  Let’s not indulge these over-paid, under-qualified attention whores and focus on what really matters in the world: our families…our health…the love and well-being of those around us. Let’s take this holiday season to stop fighting about who got the last Xbox or flat-screen TV and take the opportunity to spend time with others instead of playing video games or watching the tube for hours.

Life is short…You will not be remembered for your money, your electronics or your cell phones. You won’t be remembered for your luxury automobiles or your gossip magazines and the ability to spout off the most expensive celebrity divorces in history. You won’t be remembered for your designer purses or your red-soled shoes. Your integrity and your legacy is what matters…you WILL be remembered for your love, your kindness, your way with others and your goodness. Enough with the stuff that doesn’t matter…leave a lasting mark on mankind, and the world will be a better place for it.

6)   For others to pay it forward. – I experienced the rush of this for the first time tonight and it was amazing. Allen and I ate an early dinner (out of course) at a nearby steakhouse chain. About halfway through our meal, I noticed an elderly gentleman (approximately 80-85 years old) who came in alone. He was walking with the assistance of a cane and struggled to keep up with the hostess who was hurriedly ushering him to his seat. When she approached the booth she intended to sit him in, he asked to sit at the back where it was quieter. She obliged and seated him in the back at the very last table.

Seeing him made me sad. I absolutely HATE to see people eating alone. Even if they look like they’re just shooting in for a quick lunch break, I hate seeing it. I feel pain for them even though there may not be any pain involved regarding their reason to be eating by themselves.

Something about this man struck me harder than normal and I’m not sure why.  When I got up to use the restroom, I passed his table and watched him as I approached the hallway next to his table. He looked so at peace…eating his meal and enjoying his beer with a grin on his face. For all I know he could be an escaped serial killer but the sight of him there with no one to chat with pulled at my heartstrings, and I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

I approached my waitress afterwards and told her I wanted to pay for his meal. She grabbed the man’s waiter who looked as if I’d just told him that his whole life had been a lie and his biological father was the lochness monster. Clearly no one had ever requested a total stranger’s tab before. “You want to pay for his dinner?” The waiter said. “Yes, all of it. The entire tab,” I replied. “Uhh…do you know him?” the waiter still seemed totally dumbfounded. “Not at all. I just want to do something nice for a complete stranger” I said as I signed the tab.  As I turned to walk away, the waiter asked me what I wanted him to say when the man asked for his tab. “Just tell him Happy Holidays and to return the favor by doing something nice for an unsuspecting stranger.”

As I walked out of the restaurant, a wave of emotion overcame me. Of all the pointless money I’ve spent on things I don’t need…things that I’ve bought to feel good or make me feel better after a stressful day. All this time I should have been doing this. Please…if nothing else this holiday season, try this. I’m not suggesting that you pay for a man’s steak, but do it somehow…You will feel amazing.

7)   To lose 100 pounds. – Last but not least, for Christmas I’d like to reach the century mark. Despite the eating out and the crazy hustle and bustle, Santa only has to deliver on an additional 1.4 pounds!!

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Under 150…I don’t even know what to say! I must admit, I still struggle daily with my self-image. I see that I’m wearing smaller clothes…I know that my size 8’s are too big and the scale number is dropping. I see the shock when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, but I don’t see the change in myself. I still see the wide, flabby overweight girl when I look in the mirror. Maybe it’s all the loose skin that has me disillusioned, maybe it’s that I can’t see what’s really in front of me. I logically know there is a change when I think about having lost 98 pounds now…I’m just ready to really see it. Feel it. Believe it.

Maybe I’ll buy myself a pair of size 20 pants…maybe I should get a cardboard cutout of old me (Add that to the list too!)…or maybe I’ll stop acting absurd and focus less on the physical morphing. I’m still the same blonde, crazy, witty, dog-obsessed, pink loving, makeup zealous, sweet, Southern girl I’ve always been…just in a slightly smaller package this year. And you know what they say…good things…the best things…come in small(er) packages.

Wishing you all the merriest of holidays!

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Victorious!

Happy weekend, my faithful followers!

I have 2 major victories to share…

First victory…I now only have 4 pounds to go to hit my century mark. (Huge relief not to have gained this week.)

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Now for the second…

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have long struggled with a Compulsive Overeating Disorder. The initial stages took hold my junior year in college, and a few episodes have still managed to crop up every few years.

I’ve gotten control over the worst binges and truly believe that having to eat gluten free has assisted with that.  I can no longer indulge in 3 value meals at McD’s and after reading a few articles on the chemicals in microwave popcorn, I no longer eat 6 bags at a time. As many times as I did it and with as much crap as there was in the weird powdery butter (Extra Butter flavor was my poison) I’m surprised I haven’t sprouted an extra limb or suffered from major cognitive impairment. (The popcorn binge is my most vivid memory as it happened over and over again.)

Please don’t get me wrong. I still have my moments, and I most definitely have my triggers.

My ‘episodes’, as I’ll call them, never started out with the intent to eat ridiculous amounts. Typically I’d see a commercial or a sign or smell something that made me think of a particular food I wanted. The second that desire for that food popped into my mind, it became an absolute obsession.  I’d snack on something else, still focused on that original craving…I’d watch TV, still focused on that original craving…I’d go eat a full-fledged meal with others, still focused on that original craving. The only way to make the focus stop was to give in and get whatever it was I couldn’t stop thinking about. And relieving that obsession always turned into an uncontrollable binge.

In the past, I could get away with my calorie marathons because I could hide them. I lived alone or was in the car alone with time to dispose of the evidence. Fortunately, since Allen didn’t travel much for work, and especially since he and I were laid off, we are together 100% of the day which I love for a number of reasons…1) I hate being apart, 2) I’m a worry wart and run thru a myriad of worst-case scenarios when we’re not together (you can thank the driving ineptitude of Florida residents for that), 3) Being together and dining together means I don’t have my binge/hide opportunities.

Sure it sounds childish for me to feel like I have a chaperone on my eating excursions…but I’m not at a point where I totally trust myself.

I boredom eat, I emotional eat, I stress eat, I happy eat, I hungry eat, I looks-like-it’s-close-to-lunchtime-so-I-should-eat eat and I unfortunately still over eat.

The last few weeks have been full of stress. We are moving in 3-4 days and the thought of packing up everything and hauling it and 2 cars 8.5 hours north is doing a number on my anxiety level.  Couple that with moving to a new city (although I couldn’t be more excited about living there), trying to find a new job, Allen trying to find a new job, Christmas-time, trying to find a house, and trying to maintain the weight I’ve lost, and I just about want to declare myself temporarily insane.

So naturally…well, not naturally, but historically speaking, I want to eat. And eat some more.  Thank goodness for my trusty sidekick for keeping me in line.

But this morning…I was alone…in the car…and the thought of Chick-Fil-A fries entered my mind. And I wanted them.

I’d thought about them when I got in the car. Went to get my nails done…with the yelling and whispering of a language I cannot comprehend all around me while I sat their being pampered, I thought about them some more. I decided to make a trip to Home Depot for trash bags, but the smell of sawdust and paint did little to curb my hunger.  All I could do was focus on that waffle-y goodness.

I tried to see if Allen was done with his appointment…called a few people…tried to create some type of diversion, some type of sign that would make me let the urge go. Nothing was working.

I knew I was in trouble…I knew this meant 2 things. That I was giving in to that uncontrollable, suffocating urge that I’ve fought so long to cope with…and that I was getting ready to potentially eat this and act as if I hadn’t, planning to have lunch with my better half soon after. Binging and hiding it…I was headed down a slippery slope.

So I drove 4.5 miles out of the way to give in to my desire. I pulled in the parking lot…it was 11:30, which typically means that Chick-Fil-A is a chaotic mess of soccer moms and hungry workers on their lunch break. I made a silent deal with myself that if the line was long, I would go home…It wasn’t. I think I picked the 4-second window of time in the history of this location that a wrap-around line was not present. Shit…what was I going to do now?

I pulled behind the 2 cars that were waiting and prepared to order something. Damn I was hungry…and my brain proceeded to run a thousand miles a minute: Could I mask the grease smell if I ate them in the car? Would one order be enough? Surely I’d need 2 to make sure the craving was satisfied. What kind of sauce do I want? Will they be salty enough? Is there anything else I need to order? Wait…what was that sound?

As I was close to my time to order, I heard a weird noise. A strange metal dragging on the ground noise. Was it my car? Crap. What should I do? Fear ran through my whole body…what if I break down in the drive-thru line…at CFA…at lunch hour! How would I explain to Allen that I was sitting there deciding between BBQ and Polynesian sauce when the automobile crapped-out.  (Turns out it was the bizarre music choice of the car behind me that was causing my panic.)

And it was at that moment that I felt like I woke up from a dream. Like the hypnosis had worn off and I was ‘present’ again.

What the hell was I doing in the drive-thru lane? Two orders of French fries aren’t going to get me to my 100-lb weight loss goal by the end of the year and giving in to the worst part of myself was not the way to overcome my most embarrassing struggle.

So I simply drove away and the fanatical desire ceased….completely.

With no French fries came no guilt…no disgust…no sadness…no anger at myself for giving in…no standing in the mirror crying because I knew I’d certainly gain weight after eating 2 lunches (though claiming to have had 1)…no hiding…no binging…no embarrassment.

It may have been a struggle…it may have been fought till the 11th hour (thank goodness for overly loud dubstep)…but a win in the final minute is still a win.

I finally had a ‘W’ in my win column. I emerged victorious over the ‘obsessive thoughts lead to binge’ battle for the first time EVER… And while I know many battles make up a war, I am incredibly proud of my buzzer beater.

 

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” ~ Margaret Thatcher

Size Matters

Or does it?…..

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What a joy it was to re-launch the blog last week. I really had forgotten how much I enjoy pecking away at the computer and posting my mental ramblings for all to read!

I funny thought crossed my mind this week regarding my memory…

When it comes to my ability to remember things…eh…I give myself a C. I suffer from can’t remember what I had for breakfast and can’t remember why I walked in the kitchen syndrome. My mental notes should be renamed “you’re going to forget it in 5 minutes so write it down now” notes.

I’m the queen of forgetting I have clothes in the dryer (Ugh…I hate washing the same load twice because I forget!) and the master at heating something up in the microwave only to find it two days later because I open the door to heat something else up.

However…aside from my lackluster ability to recall most things in my daily life with perfect recollection, there are 2 things that I have no issue forgetting…

1)    I have the psycho ability to recall numbers and numerical data like Rain Man…my first phone number was 845-1424…the Wifi password to the first Wifi card I ever had (circa 2006) was 833846904…My high school locker combination was 17-28-13.  Want to know my address as a 3rd grader? I can tell you that too. Want to know my great grandmother’s phone number? I’ve also got that stored in my noggin. When it comes to numbers, I’m weird.

2)    If I think about a time in my life or an age I was, I can tell you EXACTLY what size clothing I was wearing.  No…I’m not exaggerating. And not only do I remember what size I was wearing, I can tell you outfits I had during those years that were those sizes.

Yes, of course I can recall the details of many events in my life or periods of time. I recall the emotions and the experience, but the very first thought I have when I need to recall a certain time period is my size. It’s like a weird robotic, involuntary reflex….

“So Hannah…tell me something about…”

  • 6th Grade…Shirt size was Large…Went to space camp on a class trip.
  • 8th Grade…Shirt size was Large…Did a dance to ‘Sugarpie Honey Bunch’ in front of my homeroom with 3 other friends. (Ummm….)
  • The day I graduated from high school…Size 14…What a fun party that was.
  • Beginning of sophomore year of college…Size 12…oh that school kickoff party!
  • End of sophomore year of college…Size 18…My gallbladder hurt and I was so lost.
  • Junior year of college…Size 20…What a sad person I had started to become.
  • January 2011…Size 20, XXL…Start to this blog thing.
  • Thanksgiving 2011…Size 18…Started to feel different, but why did I still look so swollen?!
  • March 2012…Size 12…Glad I can now comfortably shop without having to worry about whether or not the store carries plus sizes.
  • The day I got engaged…Size 10…Most incredible day of my life thus far.
  • April 2013…Size 12, Large…Failure. Have to buy a larger size pants because my 10’s don’t fit anymore.
  • November 2013…Size 8…Whoa. Smallest I’ve been in my adult life.

Why?! What the hell is that thought process about?!

I am saddened that I have had such a warped way of reviewing and reflecting on my life. Why are the moments in my life so defined by the number on the label in my freaking pants?

Why is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the day I graduated from HS the size of the black ruffled dress I was wearing and not what a great accomplishment it was to walk across that stage with honors and the 6th highest GPA in my class?

I don’t want my sizes (past and present) to define me. Size shouldn’t be important. My life and the way I’m living it should be what matters. Thus we have uncovered my current struggle…

I’d love to say that size no longer matters…but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. Especially when I started to creep back up the sizing scale earlier this year. I’m still struggling with feeling like I look exactly the same in an 8 as I did in 16.

I have this weird meltdown when I buy things that fit because in my warped mind, fit means that they’re tight and tight means that I’m fat.  My brain thinks that loose equals skinny despite the fact that there’s twice as much material. Away from the mirror, I logically know that clothing that fits means that it sits close to my body (as it should!) versus rocking the saggy, diaper booty that I seem to sport when I wear pants a size or two too large, and that if the size is smaller, I’m obviously smaller. But, thus my backwards brain thinks otherwise.

Is it my psyche? The media? Photoshop? What has made size so important? Will the focus stop when I reach my destination? I guess only time will tell….

I am now 1 size…1 flipping size!!!…from the goal I set for myself when I weighed 248 pounds. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted the scale to say…but I did say that my ultimate stretch goal was to be in a size 6.  What do I do if when I get there?

Speaking of goals… I am 12…yes you read that correctly, 12 pounds from having lost 100 pounds. 100. 1-0-0.

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I have a feeling this will be the slowest, most drawn out 12 pounds EVER….especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. I can do it…I can do it…I can do it…I can…who am I kidding…I’ve already done it!

A triple digit loss is just gravy on the accomplishment train…a very healthy, vibrant, beautiful (low cal) gravy…

Have a great weekend, all!

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands!

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last few weeks. A few trips out of town, furniture market and preparation for my sister’s wedding in a few days had my brain in a million different directions.

After all this travel, I had a frightful reunion with the scale. But I did not fret…I did not panic. I didn’t decide to eat merely a tablespoon of lettuce for the rest of my life or vow to wear a trash bag around the house to sweat out the extra weight. I didn’t do ANY of the things I normally do.

Who is this girl and what the hell did she do with her old self?

I decided to take a deep breath and get back on track. Oddly enough…not stressing got me back on track much, much faster than I expected and even managed to drop some more….

 

 

Reflecting on my newfound reaction to adversity I realized something. I am changed. I am positive. I am happy.

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. – Groucho Marx

Happiness is often defined in different ways, which of course creates a fuzzy picture on what happiness actually is. There is no set standard for happiness. There is no specific explanation. I know what happiness is for me….

The sound of the ocean…the smell of honeysuckle in the spring…holding my love’s hand…cooking dinner for my family…the excitement in my dog’s eyes when I come home…Oyster Roasts with the family…my sister’s crazy laugh… my mom’s okra…my niece’s sweet smile…liking myself in a bathing suit…my Poppy Doc’s stories…my daddy’s 4-hour meal preparation…Fripp Island…the smell of hickory-smoked barbeque…feeling healthier than I ever have in my life…being in love…learning how to trust again…finally being proud of myself…believing in my ability… loving who I see in the mirror…these are some of the things that make up my happiness.

Don’t get me wrong…my mood isn’t always happy but knowing that I’m striving to live an incredible life with supportive, positive people around me keeps me in a state of pure exhilaration.  I am taking life one day at a time, and it is paying off.

I have discovered the life I always dreamed of having…and it really, truly has nothing to do with my dress size. I am eternally grateful for the people in my life, especially the ones that supported me when I was too weak to do it myself. I am grateful for the long journey I have been on, for if it weren’t for the hurdles I’ve been forced to face, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.

I am grateful for the lessons…I am grateful for the encouragement…I am grateful to be me.

 

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Love Is A Four Letter Word

I’ve done a lot of reflecting this week…on where I am, where I’ve been….where I have yet to go.

My weight is continuing to drop (I can’t believe it’s this low…when was the last time I weighed this much?!) and so is my clothing size.

I am by far in the healthiest place mentally that I’ve ever been in. I have conquered many demons and learned to love the one person that I seemed to have the hardest time having an ounce of respect for: myself.

Now that I have learned to love myself unconditionally…can I truly love another the same way?  Years and years of a detrimental self-image also lead to years and years of looking to another to fill the holes that I had created in myself.  Looking elsewhere for fulfillment I should have been getting myself only created bigger voids and more confusion on what it was I really truly wanted.

While thinking this week about all the things I may have done right or wrong in past relationships…I kept asking myself:  What is true love? Does everyone really have a soul mate?

I certainly think this to be true. I yearn for it to be true for me.  I choose to believe that there are 2 people that are created with the other in mind.  I also feel like many of us go through life trying to force the wrong person into that mold…or never finding it at all.

My sister found it.  She found the one made with her in mind.

Her wedding is going to be a blast, and enormously emotional all at the same time….my baby sister…married. The girl who crawled in my bed when she was little because she was scared of the dark…the girl who refused to leave the house without her infamous stuffed animal, a lamb named Stuffy Puffy…The girl who I’ve seen grow from a precious pigtailed girl to a beautiful, talented, brilliant woman.

She found what I and so many others have searched for their entire lives…her soul mate.

If I had been given the task of crafting the most perfect man for her, I could not have asked for more than Dan. He is her perfection. He flawlessly balances her quirkiness, and is patient with her sensitivity. He loves her without question, as she loves him the same.  They are amazing together.

Sarah and Dan...the soon to be newlyweds!

Watching her this weekend at the wedding shower being thrown for her, it was evident, even without him present how excited she was to be marrying her best friend.  Not just about the guests, not just about the presents or the dress…she is truly 100% excited about meeting him at that altar to begin the rest of their lives together.

I’ve certainly searched for that one special person that would make my life complete. Plenty of times I thought I had found it.  Society (and Nicholas Sparks) has made it hard for people to live up to the expectations of the fairytale relationship…the fairytale like my sister and Dan have…the fairytale my Grandmommy and Poppy Doc have.

I am grateful that I am starting to uncover this fairytale…that I am learning that my perfect person may truly exist after all. But I think this notion that finding my true soul mate is possible has more to do with me than it has to do with ‘him.’

As I’m sure it’s obvious to you now, I’ve had a strong inability to find the perfect relationship.

During a counseling session a year or so ago, my therapist asked me to write down what my ‘ideal’ relationship looked like and to describe my perfect partner. I don’t remember what I wrote specifically, but I do know one thing was very clear regarding my perception of what a healthy relationship is…it was a lot about me and what I was demanding from a partner.  I believed and required that someone make me happy…without any effort on my part. My ‘ideal’ was all about what I needed, not about what I can offer.

And trust me, figuring out what I have to offer hasn’t exactly been easy.  I was only able to do so in finding out who I really am.  Finding who this person is was scary initially. I struggled with the constant fear that I might hate who the real me actually was.  It’s hard to take a good look at yourself when you’ve been running from it for so long.

As I discovered the real me and started to find peace in myself, I realized that I had often times felt uneasy in nourishing, communicative and emotionally involved relationships because I had NO IDEA how to be in one. (Obviously given my track record.)  My confusion in myself was evident in the relationships I was attracted to. If we’re unable to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, how can we expect to have one with someone else?

I truly believe that I have finally found my true self.  The self that wakes up happy and goes to bed with a smile on her face….the self that doesn’t look to validate herself by the actions of others…the self that can finally, after many years and many rocky relationships, say that she knows what it means to be fulfilled.

And while not every relationship was devoid of love and happiness, without being able to accept what it was supposed to feel like, I couldn’t experience true unconditional love… complete acceptance…total devoutness and trust.

But that was then…

I am starting to experience true happiness and give it in return. I am starting to understand what it means to trust 100%. I am discovering I have a lot to offer…I am discovering what this so-called life is supposed to be about…

I am starting to write the pages of my fairytale…and it is certainly time for my happily ever after.

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.  But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”  ~Thomas Szasz