Mid July 2022

Over 300 posts since Sept 2009, wow! I was scrolling through to see when I started and glanced at some of the topics, which I used to do instead of the date. I’ve covered A LOT of topics! Weight loss, health, depression, mission trips, Scripture, music, books, school, family, relationships… makes me wonder who I’ve reached over the years. I mean, the reason I started sharing “Being Real” was to express myself and not hide the struggles in hopes of freeing myself and others. Guess I’ll never know the impact on this side of Heaven…

In 2009 I was 30. So much has changed and I had no idea then where I’d be now. At least, I’m not where I imagined I’d be! But God has been amazing and has directed all my steps. Well, maybe I made my own paths a few (dozen) times, but He’s still my GPS and He guides me through wrong turns.

I’m not sure where the nostalgia vibe originated today! But thanks for joining 🙂

What’s been going on… in May I went on a service trip to Hamtramck, MI which is just outside Detroit. Met some wonderful people of different backgrounds in the town whose tagline is “The whole world in 2 square miles.” We cleaned, gardened, organized, ate, and encouraged. Not an international trip this year, but definitely outside my culture.

Came home with COVID. Yuck! It was a mild case, but still kick my butt.

In June I went to Colorado to visit some friends. Thankfully the COVID recovery was going well!! I’ve known J & M since 1999 and their daughters A & N since they were born. The family moved a few years ago and I was able to visit in Jan 2021 for a long, birthday weekend. This time I was there for 11 days!! Daughter A graduated high school and it was important to me to celebrate with them. It was super relaxing! I stayed in a timeshare 30 min from their home so I had some alone time. Which was perfectly fine with me! Between the beauty of Colorado and the refreshing time with long-time friends, I came home recharged. I met with my psychiatrist a little after I got back and he commented that my depression score was lower, making me realize just how much I needed that time away. I mean, I get away a lot and I live alone, but I usually get away for mission/service trips and when at home there are always so many things on the to-do list. Plus, the temps and scenery were much more enjoyable there! I did miss my cats A LOT though. LOL

For pictures of MI and CO, check out my other site: braggingonthelord.com

End of April 2022

It wasn’t planned or intentional, but apparently I needed a break. I don’t know if this is just a drop by or if I’m back to writing, but time will tell.

‘They’ say this comes with getting older, but the concept of time has changed so much in the past 2 years. I get to the end of the business day on Friday and think, “Wasn’t it just Monday? Where did the week go?” Heck, where did the first trimester of 2022 go?

MS news: during my annual check up with my neurologist, I might some answers about the pain I’ve been in for so long. There may be a lesion in a pain center. Yay, answer… bo, not much can be done. But, God. My MRI’s haven’t changed since 2016 – Praise the Lord! There are still residual lesions and complications, but no new activity. That’s so amazing y’all! For the pain (mostly sciatic like in my right leg and then general muscle pains), I’ll continue with physical therapy, massage, chiropractor/acupressure, stretching, etc., etc.

Related to that, I am off a couple of medications prescribed to help with RLS and pain. Neither helped, so out of the 7 pills I was on, I’m down to 1 every other night. No meds seem to work so far, which is part of why I’m pro-legalizing marijuana, but that’s a topic for another day.

I’m seeing a new doctor next week, this one for weight management. The HCG lost last year was nice, but I gained a lot of it back. A friend recommended this doctor because her daughter-in-law had amazing success with him 5 or so years ago and lost 100+ and has kept it off. Part of me wonders if he’ll have anything I haven’t attempted in my 30+ years of trying to lose weight. But it’s worth checking out. I won’t do surgery, I know this is mental and hormonal.

In other news, I leave in a week for a domestic mission trip! Going with a small team to Hamtramck, MI to help with community outreach. We’ll be there for almost a week and will be a part of church services, urban gardening, ESL classes, and learning from the culture. The population is mostly Muslim immigrants, so while I won’t leave the country, I will leave my culture a little.

Also going to CO in June to celebrate my friends’ daughter’s HS graduation. We’ve been friends since 1999 and they moved a few years ago. I’m excited to celebrate with them and get a 10-day vacation in the mountains!!

There were some updates on life. Here’s a spiritual lesson I’m learning

Many years ago, a friend of mine cautioned that I’m a chameleon. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he was just giving me a glimpse into why I do some things and to encourage me to be mindful of who I spend my time around. Another way to put that is being an empath. I take on the vibe of a room or a conversation, and absorb the feelings of those around me. I can be energized at a party or drained in stressful meetings. I can be in one mood alone and then a totally different one depending on the atmosphere of a person or group. This happens with movies and books too. While this trait is wonderful when walking with someone in their life, it can be detrimental as well. I can take the negative as well as the positive. The ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ becomes mine and I want to help, but it’s most likely not my burden or problem to deal with. I’ve been in relationships with narcissistic people and been gaslit. I could be in a healthy conversation with someone who cares about me and acknowledge that I needed to end the bad relationship, only to be 2 minutes into the conversation and think there’s nothing wrong with the person and that my friends and family were mean and that I was crazy. Ugh, wasted years! But God has turned a lot of those bad decisions for my good; I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for His grace.

Mirroring others’ emotions can be good too. It helps me be a good friend or minister. The biggest lesson out of all this that I’m learning right now is finding who I am when no one is around. If I mirror who I’m around, what happens when I spend a lot of time alone? I can feel numb and lose track of time. But, I’m not alone! God is always with me! If I want to be more like Jesus, I can use the empathy He designed me with to take on His personality. Being an empath is a blessing when used wisely. My assignment at the moment is to determine my values and boundaries so I do not lose myself and who He made me to be.

Mid-January 2022

How is it the middle of January already?!?

It is 8:30pm, I’m drinking coffee and baking. Does tell you my state of mind?

It’s more like the state of my body, I guess. I’m grateful for the job I currently have on days like this! I don’t clock in and out but still am available during normal working hours. But tomorrow evening when I’m trying to get my rhythm closer to ‘normal’ I can catch up on things that I won’t mentally be apt to during the day. We had a three-day weekend, and I haven’t caught my rhythm since the holidays. Happens all the time because most of the holidays are in Nov-Jan. Then none until May. This year I notice it more because it’s the first not being an hourly employee in a long time.

Baking orange-cranberry-oatmeal-white chocolate chip muffins, BTW. Thinking applesauce-cinnamon-oatmeal next, probably with the last of the cranberries and chips. I have a surplus of certain ingredients and I’m tired of throwing things away because I forget about them, and they go bad.

Y’all, can I be honest with you? The Christmas season was rough this year! I never caught ‘the spirit’ and it never ‘felt like’ Christmas. Ya know? 2 years ago, my dad passed away. Christmas was his favorite and he died on Dec 26. That was 2019. We had his memorial in February of 2020, and I went to Africa early in March. Then pandemic. I recap all of that to explain how things haven’t been ‘normal’ in a long time. We’ve all experienced that lack of normal over the last 20+ months.

‘They’ say part of the grieving process is discovering your new normals. Well… very few normals are normal anymore. It’s difficult to establish new traditions when things and protocols keep changing. I can’t say we’ve done things all that different as a family the past 2 years as far as the actual family dinner on Christmas Eve, but everything around it seems off. Shopping, decorating, plays, movies, looking at lights…

Life, right? Constant series of changes that feel like constant seasons of grief.

But

God

We are created by God for eternity. Through Jesus that eternity can be spent with Him in Heaven. Knowing that brings hope. This place, this world, this body, and these grief periods are temporary and minuscule in light of that hope. It doesn’t take the immediate pain away. It doesn’t make us not mourn or not hurt or not sob. It makes me yearn for that vail to be lifted and to step into that other side.

I think I’ve said something like that in an earlier post. Either way, I don’t mean it in a suicidal sense. But when I take my eyes and my focus off myself and turn them to God, to Jesus, to Heaven, to Love, and to Hope, things here don’t seem quite as bad.

Yeah, I’m 99.99% sure I’ve written all that before in some way or another. I don’t go back and read past posts. I feel like through writing, I get a chance to get these thoughts out, and then I can move on. Well, not move on as in not still think the same or battle the same wars, but it helps me process the current moments.

Make sense?

Also, on the topic of ‘normals’: I think at times we rely on them far too much. I’m thinking in the terms of religion. I heard recently that we need to be careful that yesterday’s revivals don’t become tomorrow’s religion. Religion in the terms of rituals and rules. If we hold on too tightly to the way things are ‘supposed’ to happen, we can miss what good IS happening. When we think church has to be XYZ every time but God is doing JKL, we miss Him and church/religion/ritual becomes our idol. Don’t put Him in box, He doesn’t fit.

Those first muffins turned out fabulous! I’d share the recipe, but I don’t really follow them well enough. I make delicious things, but it can be hard to replicate them this way. Makes everything new and interesting though!

PS I’m trying Thrive Market so I can get some new and interesting ingredients sent to my home. Here’s a link to check them out! When you sign up, you get a huge discount and I could get stuff in return, so yay! click here: THRIVE MARKET

Late November 2021

Since my exciting news in my last post 3 months ago, I have gained back half of what I lost. I try to look on the bright side that I’m still down and clothes fit better or are too big. The truth is I really enjoy food. I admit that it is a coping mechanism for anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. But just because I know that doesn’t make change easy, or even possible at the moment.

I was contemplating this along with other facets of life that I don’t feel in control of currently. Besides weight/eating, there’s also finances and spirituality. There are many things that branch off from these, so what’s the root?

I can say affirmations like that I’m healthy and make wise food choices, or that I’m satisfied with what I have in life and don’t need to spend money, or that I’m a person who prays constantly and frequently meditates on God. I can and do say these things to myself, all the time. Usually right before I do the opposite: eat extra calories, buy a new gadget or craft supply, or binge a TV show or 10. The point is who I want to be and who I am haven’t been the same woman in a long time.

How does one change?

The only answer is Jesus. Note I didn’t say spirituality. I can do all the religious disciplines, which aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves; however, all of that is me attempting to earn grace. His grace and His anointing break the binds of the stuff that hold me down. Those are free gifts from Him, I just have to accept them. I accept them by accepting Him and spending time with Him.

The root, then, seems to me to be cultivating my relationship with Him (seek His Kingdom, aka Him, first Matthew 6:33). Not going through the acts, but making efforts to acknowledge Him throughout my day. Maybe I don’t do that well, but I gotta start somewhere.

I’ve been listening to a podcast and one of the recent subjects has been Simon versus Peter. How it’s the same man, but two different aspects of his life. When he meets Jesus, he’s Simon. As he spends time with Jesus and gets to know Who He is, Jesus renames him Peter. It doesn’t mean that all of the ‘Simon’ is gone. There are times when he is addressed as one and then other. This morning the one that got me was that when he was denying Jesus and the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked at him and he was called Peter (Luke 22:61). I would have thought that’d been a Simon moment, but it’s like Jesus saw the Peter that would stand up in Acts 2 and testify of Him before thousands. He would later be crucified for his preaching of the Gospel.

Amazing what the power of a witnessing a Resurrection and filling of the Holy Spirit can do for a person.

Yeah, for me too! And you!

Egeria (Aug 2021)

I read about this lady a little while back and made a note to find out more about her. Disclaimer: I’m hesitant to use the word ‘research’ after my experiences in college, so heads up that this is not a scholarly report!! LOL

Egeria (AKA Etheria) lived around the end of the fourth century. She was a nun who traveled to the Holy Land from Spain and wrote to her sisters about her 3-year travels. She reported back all that she saw, learned, and experienced so the ladies back home could have a glimpse as well. She traveled to Egypt, Israel, and Syria and visited places like Constantinople, Mt. Sinai, Mt. Nebo, Job’s tomb, and many of the sites the disciples wrote about. She also described some of the religious practices of the early church.

I won’t get on a rant about how skewed those practices were, I’m sure they thought they had good intentions. Just very Law and earn your salvation based. Effectively negating Jesus’ sacrifice… but I digress.

What intrigued me about Egeria is how much I can relate to her. While I’m not a nun (not Catholic and haven’t taken a vow of chastity, contrary to some belief), I am single, Christian, travel, and report back what I’ve experienced and seen. I feel like a modern Egeria! I learned about her after I started my photojournalism blog, which I might have named after her somehow.

I enjoy learning about women who made advances for the Kingdom, in the early church or otherwise. Maybe I’ll write about others… Men have done amazing things too, but don’t we hear enough about them? Jesus didn’t see women as 2nd class, nor other cultures. OK, I’m about to fall into a rant so I’ll stop here (for now!).

Late/Mid Aug 2021

I’m sitting in our Vrbo in Denver, CO (more on that in a future post, but if you ever need a place to chill in the area, I recommend this place… probably not if with littles though) and should probably be headed to bed, but had a Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk with dinner. It was really yummy, but I’m slightly wired!!

Yep, I did say sweetened condensed milk! That and rice, wedding cake, enchiladas, wine… so many yummy things I haven’t eaten in 2 months! (if you haven’t yet, check out my previous post for more info on why). I expect the scale to have a higher number when I get home from vaca, but I’ll deal. More calories also means more energy, which means more movement/exercise! I rocked an adorable dress for the wedding I went to yesterday (pics below) and felt great the whole day (except my feet, reminder to self that I don’t wear heels!)

My cousin got married yesterday! My brother, sister-in-law, and I came to Denver to celebrate with her! She’s been with her beau for years and I had the pleasure of meeting him a long time ago and staying with them a few years ago for a week. He’s a great guy and I’m so happy for her! It was also fun to reconnect with some family 💕

We drove out (from St. Louis, BTW) Friday morning and we’ll head home on Tuesday. Today we took a train up to Pike’s Peak and tomorrow we might check out the aquarium. I’m super intrigued about that because in addition to fish, there are tigers and birds. Should at least make for some cool pics.

Speaking of pics! I’m wanting to grow my photography business. Pop over to my photojournalism blog (braggingonthelord.com) to see some of what I’ve done and check out the photo shoot info page for more info. If I’ve done work with or for you, please leave a comment/review! Leave one if you like what I’ve done for others too! ☺️

Alright, I’m at least going to go lay in bed and try reading to fall asleep now! I’ll talk to you again soon!

Below – left is me looking & feeling good in a gorgeous dress and right is our train parked at the summit of Pike’s Peak

Late July 2021

It feels unreal, but I weigh less than my driver’s license says! Really battling the mental side of all this. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds in 6 weeks! While I’m super excited and impressed on one hand, the other hand is the emotional self-identity that doesn’t believe anything has changed. Or if it has, will I be able to keep this off and stay healthy? I’ve bought some healthy foods to replace things that I want/need to cut back on, but I legit crave some good mac & cheese (like Chik-fil-a good) with a chocolate covered, gooey butter infused, thick and creamy cheesecake for dessert! Oh, and some frozen custard with Reese’s Pieces… Ugh! I know, I know, moderation! oh, and donuts, chimichangas, and fried chicken!

I digress

If you’ve never struggled with your body image, it’s hard to explain. There’s a fancy psychological term body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). mayoclinic.org says, “Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others…” bddfoundation.org describes it as, “As well as excessive self-consciousness, individuals with BDD often feel defined by their flaw. They often experience an image of their perceived defect associated with memories, emotions and bodily sensations – as if seeing the flaw through the eyes of an onlooker, even though what they ‘see’ may be very different to their appearance observed by others.” BDD is closely related to eating disorders. bddfoundation.org explains, “The main difference between eating disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is someone with an eating disorder is worried about their body weight and shape, which lead to behaviours that are aimed at trying to lose or control weight.” A combination of the two is not unheard of and there’s not really a “cure” per se. Therapy is really the only way to work through it, be it with a LPC, pastor, talking with supportive friends, journaling, prayer, or a good combination of all the above. Depression is more of a symptom rather than a cause, but treatment for depression is not something to dismiss. Not only do I overthink the appearance of fat, but I’ve binged & purged and had anorexic tendencies.

All of that to attempt to explain what I’m dealing with. I know who I am in Christ, that this body is temporary, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” etc. Get down to it, I don’t think I’m unattractive. It’s more of a feeling of shame – shame of the perceived laziness it takes to become obese. Is this cause the only truth? God no! My intellect knows there are sooooooo many factors, but… my experiences and emotions are really good at overriding that knowledge. In summary, I identify as a morbidly obese person, even though I’m not. And this is an issue I’ve struggled with for most of my life, even as a child.

I hope all of this makes some kind of sense (if it does, maybe you should explain it back to me?!?).

Transparency in the shame realm: I feel this in other areas of my life as well. One that comes quickly to mind is finances. I’ve been debt of some sort since I was 18. This isn’t something I learned from my parents, BTW. 20+ years later, it’s only gotten worse. I’ve had short periods of time when it’s been lower than average, but in general it’s well in the thousands. Student loans are the majority, but I own my car and rent my apartment so all the rest is unsecured. I’m trying to shave off costs, which is a constant process because expenses come up and others fall off. (PS yes, I have most likely read whatever book or looked into whatever resource you’re thinking of suggesting).

Back to the original topic. I am filling my Pinterest boards with recipes that are lower calorie versions of what I like. (Suggestions are welcome – but I do not like fish, mushrooms, eggs, & artificial sweeteners. User name is tammyk7777 – note the 4 7’s). Some of which I am excited to try starting Monday! I start the next phase of the HCG protocol then, which means no more shots, more calories, larger list of foods, and I can exercise! Too much physical activity right now leaves me lightheaded, lack of calories will do that to a person! Difficult to believe it has already been 45 days on this journey, maybe the brain fog has been beneficial?!?

Before and after pics coming in a few days!!