The Lent Letter Journey

This year I wanted to observe Lent but in my own way. As a Christian, I wanted to say a little of my love and faith with others, so I sent 40 letters to people who had touched my life in some way. The 40th and the final letter I decided to share. It’s a letter to myself and a reflection of the journey itself.

Dear Kristi,

What an amazing journey you have been on for the last 40 days. Though you fell behind a few times, you managed to persevere, get it together and accomplish quite a goal. There is no doubt that God put this journey in your heart. I think it’s obvious now, as to why he did so.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life, the busyness, the chaos, and the stress of life. Sometimes we get so consumed and caught up in our own lives, we fail to reach out to the people in our lives that genuinely love and care about us. This journey was chosen specifically for you. In the execution of writing these letters, you could give a little of God’s love back to another person. You gave each recipient the ability to see themselves as someone who loves them would see them. Sometimes we get lost and fail to see ourselves in the best possible light. These letters were a gift to each person, to see the love that they themselves have inside and may have forgotten about.

The forty people you chose, they are the forty people who have made a big impact on your life, or helped shape and mold you into the woman you are. Each recipient no matter how big or small of a role they had in your life, made a difference. God placed those people in your path for a reason, to make you the person he created you to be.

Through the last year, you have started what you thought was merely a weight loss journey, but the truth is, it’s so much more than that. The little-known fact about weight loss is that it is so much more than just eating healthier and exercising, it’s an emotional and mental journey as well. When you look in the mirror the reflection staring back is not always the person you know yourself to be.  The girl you see may still be the one you were when the journey first started not necessarily the woman you are now. You still see the insecurities, the flaws, and the general dislike for the excess weight. BUT that is no longer you, Kristi. The reflection staring back at you in so much more than a girl worried about her insecurities, flaws or her weight.

The new reflection I see in the mirror is that of a beautiful girl. A girl that may have scars, wrinkles, or stretch marks, but a girl who owns those flaws and refuses to let them define her any longer. A girl that has a kind, caring heart that loves her family and her friends fiercely. A girl that sees the best in people and refuses to judge by exterior appearances. A girl that gives people many chances, because she chooses to continue to search for the good in people. A girl that cares deeply, loves hard and falls often. A girl that no matter what life throws at her, she pauses, reflects and tackles each obstacle head on. A girl that has an unwavering Faith in God, and sharing that love and faith with others.

Kristi, you have grown so much in the past year. Continue to surround yourself with people who love and inspire you. Continue to open yourself up to others, but wisely. Love often. Laugh often. Always be you! And most importantly, always praise God for every single thing. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

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Rough Patches

This week has been pretty darn emotional. It seems as if at every turn someone delivers a new punch. Two direct hits have knocked the wind out of me this week, BUT I’m still standing! On Wednesday I found out some news regarding my job, then Thursday I found out I need to have a double biopsy on two of my five thyroid nodules.
Maybe the shock of those two things hasn’t really worn off because I continue to try and process those two situations and what they mean. I’m no stranger to things happening in bunches, I can take a direct hit or two or five. My process is this…
  • Access the situation
    Fully process what the news means emotionally, physically and mentally
    Come up with possible “fixes” or ways to tackle each issue
    Pray for guidance
    Hand it over to God once it becomes too much for me to bear.
The medical wake up call I needed was that of the biopsy. I personally am not that concerned with the outcome whether they are benign or not. I place it in Gods’ hands. If its part of my battle, so be it, if not then we’ll move on.  I admit I have taken my health for granted, I think we all do at some point in our lives. But this has really re-awoken the need to get back into getting healthy and living life to its fullest.
Unfortunately, my worry-free approach to the biopsy is not shared by others. Two such examples I experienced yesterday. When I told one person, their response, “Shit, Kristi. I am so sorry, so they think it’s cancer?” Biopsy does not always mean you have cancer. Biopsies are used to rule out cancer. My Doctor told me, she herself has had a biopsy done on her own nodules. And if she were betting, she’d say they are benign…My thoughts on my nodules, God brought me to it, he’ll bring me through it.
Life is short. We are supposed to live our lives to the fullest. Live with no regrets. No “I wish I had done…” “I wish I would have said…” Don’t wait, do those things now! Don’t forget to tell people what they mean to you. Say, I love you…and mean it. Tell people how important they are to you. Take risks. Be adventurous. Laugh until you cry, then laugh some more. Hug tightly. Love with all your heart.

“Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die “

– The Once and Future Carpenter, The Avett Brothers

Let it Go…

“One comes of it, love it, love it
Let go of it, love comes from it”

Those words are from one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs, Life. That song has become my heart and my soul lately. So many changes emotionally and mentally in my life. And the biggest change of all has been, letting go. I finally have started letting go of the past and everything in it. You can not expect to move ahead if you still cling to the past. The past is the past for a reason, you can’t go back and change anything so stop dwelling on it.

I lived so much of my life living in the past, and I never fully realized just how much I was missing out on. I was just existing, not really living. Late November, Early December I got the reality check I needed. I was clued in to how I carried myself and how it was perceived by others. And it was then I decided the self-destructive path I had been on needed to stop. Not only was I hurting myself with my words of self-doubt, I was casting that same hurt onto others. That was a painful pill to swallow. When you have self-doubt, you think you are only hurting yourself, but little do you realize you hurt others as well, that is when you discover who your friends are. They will call you out and say “STOP”. Though my heart was broken, I am thankful for it.

letitgo I went through a cleaning purge yesterday. Any negative messages, exchanges I’ve had with anyone in the past is gone. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking all together to see some of the things said and the reality of how those words can affect others and your relationships with them. One recipient of said messages, WOW…all I can say is I’m sorry not only to you, but to me as well! The strain that must have put on not only our friendship, but you personally…I’m truly sorry and thankful that you called me on it and made me think. (F*…All of our messages and exchanges, they are all gone, that girl…she has been shut down. I chose to delete them to no longer be associated with her nor the past.) So I prayed for forgiveness, to be shown new direction. The ever so present constant in my life is my love and faith for God. He is truly there for me no matter what, that is true love!

Yesterday at work I was told by 3 different co-workers that I looked awesome and I looked much happier. Those compliments were God’s reassurance that I was on the right path! While I am still not where I want to be, I am much closer than I was yesterday! I just want to be the best possible version of myself I can be 🙂

Friendship

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” That statement is so true. Through all my adversities in life, I have been fortunate enough to have a friend(s) to turn to. I’m a firm believer that God gives us the people we need in life. He has blessed me beyond measure with some pretty awesome friends.

I keep a close circle of friends, quality over quantity. I want people in my life who I know truly have my best interests at heart. Friends who are supportive at all times, and are truthful with me. Friends, I know I can go to when my world seems to be falling down around me, whom I know can listen attentively and offer the words I need to hear.

I have lost my fair share of “friends” over the years, I now realize those “friends” were actually just acquaintances. They were placed in my life to teach me a lesson, mostly the lesson was learning how to let go. I used to question myself after losing each friendship. “What did I do wrong? Was I not a good enough friend?” I have grown to realize  I did nothing wrong, sometimes people aren’t meant to stay in our lives forever, just for a season or two.

Friendship is one of the most important things in my life. I sometimes expect too much from them, I know. (Sorry y’all for being a needy friend) I like knowing about my friends, so I ask TONS of questions. My INFJ personality comes through in full force sometimes. I love learning about the people I invite into my life. By doing so it helps me know different ways I can be a more supportive friend.

I’m also the kind of friend who sends random cards, letters, or gifts. I’m not trying to buy your friendship. I can just see something that reminds me of my friend and want them to know, someone thought of them and that their friendship is appreciated. I’m a random texter too…I love getting texts, so I love sharing things whether it be a, “Just wanted to check in on you” or “I hope you have a great day” text.

The only thing I ask from my friends in return is honesty, respect, and communication. If something is bothering you that I have done, tell me. Please do not tell me one thing, then do another. I let you into my life because I want you there, do not lie to me, play games with me or talk about me in my absence. I know first hand that friends will stab you in the back and break your heart just as quick as anyone else. All I ask is that if I allow you into my circle, respect it and respect me.

A work in Progress.

I will be the first to admit that I am a work in progress. I am not a perfect girl, I have many flaws and imperfections. Unfortunately, self-doubt and lack of confidence are two of my biggest flaws that sometimes tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

When I first started my weight loss journey, I never imagined exactly what the journey would entail. It’s not just about losing weight, eating right and exercise….its about becoming more in tune with yourself and learning things about yourself you never knew existed or just forgot existed. Fifty pounds are gone, but I still see the fifty pounds when I look in the mirror. Behind that extra weight, I found comfort in food and the “safeness” of not being seen. The self-doubt tells me that people still see the bigger Kris, not the healthier version. My battle currently in an emotional battle, feeling secure in my own skin.

heyyouOccasionally I will turn in Negative Nellie and totally become my own worst enemy, and I can absolutely assure you that “my worst enemy” is a nasty, vile bitch. I’m used to her and her comments, but others not so much. Recently, a new friend got to see Negative Nellie at her best. While of course it’s embarrassing personally for someone to see, let alone someone new and of the opposite sex, it was pretty dang humiliating. But being the gentleman he is, he proceeded to call me on my actions and pretty much put Negative Nellie in her place. It was then I realized why our paths had crossed…God knew I needed someone in my life to call me on my whining and BS and tell me exactly how I am putting the negativity out front and center for everyone to see. Negativity that instead of drawing people in, is instead pushing people away. Setting my progress back. Message received, F*. As painful as the words were to read, the actual sinking in hurt far worse. But a good kind of hurt. The kind of hurt that actually hit the nail on the proverbial head and made me realize I need to put that kind of negativity and self-doubt outside of my thinking.

F*, thank you for being honest with me and telling me an unbiased view of me and my behavior. You are a Godsend and a breath of fresh air that I desperately needed, and didn’t know I was missing in my life. While I can’t promise I won’t whine or complain anymore, I will promise that I will work on getting rid of Negative Nellie, because I know you two don’t get along!

After some soul-searching last night, I remember the graphic posted above. The graphic contains the words that I need to remember and embed in my thoughts daily. I plan on displaying those same words on a canvas and placed where I can read them daily and remind myself of them.

No one is perfect, but no one should be as self condemning as I have been to myself. I have been told before that my words can cut deeper than any knife. Little did I know the recipient of the harshest, most hurtful words, was myself.

In the words of my beloved Avett Brothers, “Kill the doubt that strangles my self worth.” Those words, those lyrics..I get it, man do I get it.

 

 

 

Finding the Christmas Spirit

I have always been a Christmas girl. Being born five days after Christmas, and being named after it…kind of makes my love of Christmas a given. The past few years I have found myself struggling to regain that spirit that I am so afraid of losing. I think my spirit started fading in 2014 after the stress and weight of the world I began carrying when my Mother was violently sick and in and out of hospitals, rehab facilities, and finally back home after almost nine months away.

2014, signified a year of changes in my life. The year I had to grow up so to speak. That was the first truly tough year I had experienced and realized just how tough and challenging life can truly be. At the same time, I discovered how I step up when faced with tough decisions and how hard I can fight when the odds are against me. That same year I lost my best friend, which I knew was coming because our friendship wasn’t the same…the emotional distance was just to great. I also lost my job, which I had been at for almost 12 years, via text message and because of the before mentioned friendship dissolving another friendship was lost as well.

That same year I found out which friends were truly there for me and my bond with my parents strengthened. Sadly though the bond between myself and one of my brothers was broken and I’m not sure if that can ever be mended back to its original state. But back to Christmas spirit….I think I equate Christmas spirit with the genuine childlike spirit and excitement of Christmas.

I think perhaps I think I must go all out for Christmas, or it won’t be considered special enough. Also, my overactive brain that is constantly working overtime is creeping future Christmas thoughts into my thinking. Meaning that I know my Christmases with my parents are limited, it’s the cycle of life, I know. My brothers are what I have left. Between the three of them, they can never coexist to be able to have a family dinner together. So where does that leave me. Maybe that is the part that I have the hardest time with…What does my Christmas future hold. Is my Christmas spirit tied with traditions, family, or does it exist elsewhere. And that is my problem.

Last weekend, after a particular hard morning filled with self-doubt and angst towards Christmas, my dear sweet friend Karen was the ever so needed voice of reason. She helped me realize that the spirit is held within me and that wherever I am, whatever I do the Christmas spirit is always there. (Karen (my Christmas twin), thank you for reminding me of that.

Enjoy what Christmas I have now, and worry about the rest later. Make new traditions. Christmas doesn’t always have to be a big elaborate affair. Simple is just as beautiful! This year Christmas will be special. I’m reverting to the decorating style of my younger days. The decorations will be simple. It will be a cozy kind of Christmas and I’m excited to share it with my family.

 

 

 

Caregiver

LIVEI am a caregiver. I take care of both my parents. My Mom has Pulmonary Hypertension, a cruel debilitating disease that is currently incurable. Imagine having to breath through a straw while holding your nose….that is how life with PH is for a patient. Mom is also a dialysis patient, meaning she has a kidney disease that limits her kidney function. As if those two diseases weren’t enough she also has Heart Failure (thanks to her PH), diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and is she is still recovering from having broke her hip and right should last summer.

In early 2014, Mom was having issues breathing and admitted to the hospital. Two hospitals, and three rehabilitation centers and two short life expectancies later she is home and adjusting to her “new norm”. Her “new norm” consisted of Dialysis treatments 3 days a week, sessions lasting between 3-4 hours long. Being confined to wearing oxygen 24/7. Learning how to strengthen her legs to be able to walk again. Learning how to use a cane/walker. And so many other things.

My father has been in pretty good health most of his life, which is great considering he has been a smoker for 60 plus years. But in 2014 when Mom was hospitalized, Dad underwent a surgery to remove a spot from his lung. The same exact day that Mom was put on a ventilator Dad went in and had a third of his right lung removed. I think of March 16, 2014 as the day that my world pretty changed and caregiving became my new normal.

I have grown so much since then. If you knew me before then, I can promise you I am not that same girl I was before. I’m older, wiser, and maybe a little quieter. My mind constantly works in overdrive thinking of things, it never stops. I lost a few friends because I simply can’t drop everything to go out. But then at the same time said friends never really were friends if that sentiment has to be explained.

This is my life. God chose me for this role because he knew I could handle it, though sometimes I wonder if he may have gotten my strength confused with someone else. For the simple fact that at times I feel so very weak and helpless. But I take a deep breath and care on, because I have two wonderful, amazing people relying on me and I can’t let them down.

To those who do not understand what it is like to be a caregiver, I feel for you. Though it’s the hardest job I have ever had, it’s also the most rewarding one I’ve ever had.