Five years ago I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle. In that time I learned that my body is capable of so much more than I had ever believed. I learned how to eat healthier and how to have a new mindset when it came to food. Exercise, once alien to me became near second nature. Dropping the weight was exciting, scary and hard. Hard not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.
On my walk/run the other day I began to think about my journey. Five years ago, I was in the best physical health of my entire life. Mentally and spiritually however I was a mess. So much of the why I was doing it had to do with my desire for approval from others. Deep in my heart I believed that being loved and accepted meant meeting other peoples idea of who I should be. That by not meeting those ideas, I was a failure.
Losing weight revealed a lot of things that God wanted to shake me free from. It has been more than learning how to care for my body in a better way. It also been letting go of so much that I held onto over the years. Food and being overweight hid so much I hoped to keep hidden. Losing weight, being left without a place to hide left me vulnerable.
I got down to what was supposed to be my optimal weight but I was also miserable. For the most part I did not feel as if my body belonged to me. Today, I’m not at that optimal weight and I am so much happier. I am happy with my eating habits ( some days are better than others) and exercise routine. It has taken me these five years to get here too.
There were and are places I needed to grow, to learn, to be cared for in order to get to this place I’m at now. A much healthier place, physically, spiritually and mentally. I’m still a bit of a mess, but I know in the mess, God is there with me. Losing weight has long term consequences, not only what can be seen but what happens internally. Happiness does not come from the numbers on a scale, or a label size but where one is at on the journey. This is a journey I will be on for the rest of my life.
Birthdays can be weird. Well I can feel weird about celebrating my birthday. All kinds of unexpected emotions can come to the forefront on this day for me. Things that I can’t quite place my finger on or fully understand. Funny how that can happen. In all other respects the day of ones birth is a regular day for everyone else.
Birthdays were magic when I was a kid. It was a day or even a few days of food, fun and gifts. Classroom parties with cupcakes and a family dinner of my choosing. One year I wanted to be “fancy” and asked to go to McDonalds for dinner. I was also five or six at the time. They required no effort on my part for people to acknowledge it. It was just a great day of people wishing me a happy birthday. I felt cared for and loved.
As an adult though, it has lost some of its magic. It has become an obligatory thing with Facebook notifications telling me when it’s someone’s birthday. These notifications have become so routine that it can be easy to scroll past them. It feels forced, this reminder of someones birthday as can the response to it. At least from me it does.
Birthdays have made me selfish. As a teenager I wanted more of everything, more attention, more fun and food. I wanted the biggest bouquet of balloons to walk obnoxiously through the school hallways. Remember when those balloons were the thing? Are those still something highschoolers do?
As an adult part of the magic is gone because I am the one who has to plan it. Which feeds into my people pleasing aspect of myself. Will people want to come? Will my invite be ignored? I worry if people will have a good time. I have found too that some years I want to tell everyone its my birthday. Other years I welcome my close friends and family wishing a happy birthday but really don’t desire the attention from so many people at the same time.
Neither are wrong or right. The key to having a magical birthday as an adult is to let go and allow the day to unfold as it will. Enjoy the well wishes from friends and family. Celebrate however you see fit, because this is the day of your birth ( along with a few thousand others). This year I did a little of both, allowing the day to be what it was. It was a series of good times with my amazing family and friends. For this I am grateful and my heart is full.
A year ago, I said goodbye to my Hershey boy. It was a strange moment for me, losing him. Part of me had expected that the be the end result of our visit to the pet emergency room ( which I chose only because my friend worked there at the time) which was comforting for me. Part of me was also hopeful that day, that all he would need was some medicine and he would be just fine.
But the poor little guy was not fine. He was old, losing weight due to not being able to eat or keep much food down. He was in much pain and discomfort and so I had to make the hard choice. I asked the vet if doing further blood tests would do him any good. In her gentle way she told myself and my sister no, no it wouldn’t. I didn’t want Hershey to spent a few days scared and alone in the hospital, though well cared for by the compassionate vets and vet techs. Especially since in the end the result would have been the same. I had to say goodbye.
That night when I got home, I threw out his food, litter box and favorite toy. I was dealing with the loss by being practical. I didn’t need these things anymore after all. Might as well get rid of it all. I have kept his bed though. That I washed and placed inside my closet. It is still sitting in there as I write this post.
Those first few nights of falling asleep were hard without him. Hershey had been such a cuddle bug, I held my pillow tight to my body that night and for a few nights afterwards. Coming home with his mewing chastising me for being away was a tough adjustment. I had friends ask me about adopting another pet and I was not sure about doing so just yet.
Until one day while scrolling through Instagram I came across a post asking for someone to take in their cat. At first I scrolled past it, then back again, then past it again. I exited the app and then went back in. Looking at the photo of the cat, I knew she was mine. I messaged her mommy, a mutual acquaintance about taking in the cat. By the end of the week I was meeting Nala and taking her home after an hour or so.
Poor cat had no idea what was happening, meowing the entire drive home, finding various hiding places at the house. I knew to be patient as she adjusted to the change, there were a few hissing incidents during the times I overstepped her boundaries. But, as time went on she became comfortable, allowing me to pet her and even sleeping on the bed with me.
I put out Hershey’s bed for her but she never used it. Perhaps she could smell Hershey’s scent despite all the times it had been washed. She preferred instead the couch in the living room or my bed to sleep. Still I kept the bed, even though it is not being used.
Nala is different from Hershey, more independent at times. She likes her alone time wheras Hershey could not be alone for too long. I wonder though how the two of them would of gotten along, how long it would of taken for them to learn to live with each other companionably. I still miss my Hershey boy but I also love my Nalalulu too.
That is what grieving does. I have lost family members and I remember when our beagle Pumpkin was gone. But she really was not my dog. Pets are an important part of our lives, we care for them and love them and they care for us too. Not only because we feed them either, though that is a big part of it.
It is learning that it is alright to miss the ones we have lost while having new joy and love in our lives. Learning to care through pain. That has been the biggest lesson in this year for me.