A Potential Move

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Christian, the super cute rockstar boyfriend, and I have been talking about Nashville a lot within the last year. The more serious we have gotten as a couple, the more we have talked about where we want to raise a family and where we want to move to next.

Nashville keeps being brought up in both of our lives. For me, it all started over a year ago hearing about an organization that exists in Nashville. When I heard about this organization my heart leaped. It centers around teenage women that need rescuing. From that, I heard about this girl moving from California to Nashville, and followed her journey along the way. I couldn’t get away.

This holiday season I went home to Ohio for a month (more to come soon!!) and Christian came to join for two weeks. With “all this time” on that side of the country, we had to take advantage. (I put quote around “all this time” because we definitely did NOT have a ton of time, even though on paper it seemed like we did).

Despite our long trips, we did not want to take away any time from family time. We began planning a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.

We drove to Nashville early one morning. The drive was magical. There is something special about road trips and open hearts. I am so thankful to have had this drive with my boy. On the drive, our excitement continued to rise to new heights. We tried to talk about what we were looking for in a new hometown. The list was fairly short…

  • People with our style & style inspiration. We wanted to find people that we could fit in with: tattoos + vans. But, we wanted to find people that inspired us in the realm of style.
  • We wanted genuine warmth & friendliness. We wanted to feel warm in the city and friendliness with the people. We did not want the people to be too nice to the point of being fake.
  • We wanted small homey vibes mixed with the risk of a city. We wanted the beautiful vibe of a small-town, but the opportunity of a big city.
  • And the thing we were afraid of was that the city would be too flashy and would be filled with people hiding behind masks.

With our short list, we drove over the hill to see the cityscape of Nashville.

We squealed. Like, legitimately squealed.

We went to this area called The Gulch and got some brunch at a place called Biscuit Love. We were smacked upside the head with the sweetness of the south. A heaping plate of biscuits and gravy, a tall glass of sweet tea, and kindness in the eyes of the people around us. If I am honest, I was hooked from that moment.

After our delicious food, we explored the city. We walked and drove and felt our hearts continue to come alive. We saw the beautiful houses, the shiny lights of downtown, and heard the sounds of the country music. We went downtown, down music row, and explored the hills just outside the city.

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We found our people at a coffee shop called The Frothy Monkey.

After hours of exploring, we went to lunch at a cute little cafe and the headed to our Airbnb.

This Airbnb was THE CUTEST thing I have ever seen. We took a nap. We freshened up. And then we headed back onto the town. Our goal was to go to The Bluebird Cafe, but that was everyone else’s goal, too. The Bluebird is this bar that has reached its height in popularity from the show Nashville, but the cafe got it’s true name from its hidden stage for new songs and it’s safety for the stars. The line was super long and so we didn’t get in, but the history of this cafe as exactly what we were hoping to find in Nashville.

We ended up at a restaurant/bar called The Row. Apparently, this place’s reputation is far less sparkly and cool as The Bluebird Cafe. It was a fairly cheesy place decked out in famous country music starts and a menu filled with BBQ and burgers. We decided to go here because there was supposed to be live music. Unfortunately, we ate dinner in the restaurant and not in the bar with the live music. But, after we finished out food we went to the bar and honestly, were pleasantly surprised. Our hopes were not high about the quality of music, considering how our night was going. But the music was great and seeing the camaraderie between artists, audience, and friends.

The next morning I had the opportunity to meet with my upline at Young Living. We chatted about the business and about making the most of this opportunity. I felt like this coffee date was an incredible representation of what Nashville could offer for us: new opportunities.

We ended the trip with another brunch at a place called Milk & Honey.

We were amazed by the beauty of this city.

It stole our hearts.

I do not know what the future will hold, but I must admit…

Nashville looked good on us.

XO,

M

ShameFree

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So, let me be honest.

Each blog post I have written so far has been fairly easy for me to write. The amount of transparency and vulnerability has been easy to swallow. But, today I want to write about something that is actually a challenge.

I have tried starting this post about 7 times and I keep having the faces of my sweet family roll through my mind. Isn’t it funny how it is easy to be transparent with strangers, but it is far more difficult to be vulnerable with those that matter? (I promise family, this story ends on a good note!)

I want to start off with a disclaimer: this is simply my expereince. In no way am I trying to push a belief system or be the moral police for any of you. Be the best version of you, whatever you think that that is. But I do feel led to share my story.

WELL, here goes…

About a week ago I was sitting in a room with a group of spiritual leaders that I trust. We were talking about sexuality (and all things related). A question got presented about pornography and it was referred to as a man issue. I was instantly irate. Because pornography does not just affect men and I think that needs to be talked about more.

It affects women. It affects people. It affects me.

I think I was about 11 or 12 when I began watching porn. I think it started from curiosity, turned into fascination, and remained an addiction. It was about 7 years before I got any freedom.

For me, watching pornography and masturbating was a terrible act that reiterated all the self-hatred that I had been cultivating inside me for most of my life (see my blog post all about my story to know more about that). It became a form of punishment and self-absue.

Now, this is where I remind you all of the disclaimer above…you can obviously make your own decisions about your own purity. But for me, watching pornography was horrible. I felt terrible after, I had to hide a major part of my life from the people that love me, and I felt violated seeing those images. The experience for me was one of shame.

Overtime I became numb. I struggled to make true, vulnerable friends. I put up a wall with my family. My identity became solidified that I am worthless and I deserve shame.

I was like two people: the good christian girl to the public eye and the shame-ridden worthless monster behind my bedroom door. I hated living like this, but it felt like exactly what I deserved. I tried so hard to “be a better person.” And nothing I would do made me quit (or like myself anymore).

Long story short, I applied to go to a christian ministry school and was asked to attend their discipleship school instead. When I got that news I was devastated. I told my parents and they did not understand why I didn’t get in. They attempted to learn more both about the discipleship school and the reasons behind why I didn’t get approved to go to the ministry school.

I was terrified that my parents would learn about my battle with pornography from someone else. I knew I had to admit to this problem. I sat my mom down and with big ol’ tears streaming down my face (just kidding. that sounds too put together…I was a blubbering mess) I told my mom my pains, shame, and problem with pornography. I asked her if she still loved me, to which she replied “Yes. Of course.”

Okay, I know this sounds absolutely insane…But I swear…after talking to my mom I was set free. The act of bringing something to the light, having accountability with someone close to me, and receiving love within the darkest parts of who I am…it changed everything.

This is really the heart of this post: get vulnerable and bring things into the light! Let trust worthy people see into you. Let them see the pretty parts and the yucky parts of you, your life, your thoughts. Regardless of what you have done, or what has been done to you, or who you think you are…YOU DESERVE LOVE. YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE. 

It will be terrifying. It will be difficult.

but it is worth it.

Regardless of what your thoughts are about pornography…take away this: all of you deserves to be seen by trustworthy people. Even the parts you think are too ugly.

Being vulnerable, having emotional intimacy, changes lives. Allow yourself to be seen, heard, and loved.

After about six months, or so, of freedom from watching pornography, I began to struggle again. I fought off and on for some time. Vulnerability isn’t the cure-all fix to any problem. I had to make powerful choices about what I wanted in my life and who I wanted to be. I began to see that I deserved a pure love and deserved authentic intimacy. I decided that watching porn and masturbating was no longer an option in my life.

Because of love and because of powerful choices, I have freedom.

 

I will end with this…

My view on pornography is not just based on my faith. It has a lot to do with the fruit that it caused in my life. Everything that came from both porn and masturbating was bad. It pushed me to keep secrets. It pushed me to cultivate shame. It kept me from relationships. It reiterated the lie that “I didn’t deserve love.” So, I would say that it is really important to look at the fruit happening in your life. Surround yourself with things that bring truly good fruit into your life.

Thank you for reading and letting me share. Feel free to send me any questions or comment below!

XO,

M

The Power of Me (Guest Post: Destiny Story)

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One thing I want to use this social platform for is to promote and celebrate the people around me. I am someone that searches for lessons & inspiration from those around me and I want to share those stunning people with you all!

This first guest post is by a woman that is dear to my heart. She has been in my life for almost two years and I am deeply blessed by her:

Destiny Story EFC06971-A31D-486D-A638-69E09A6FAE27.JPG

When I think about who Destiny is I think of one word: brave. She is a woman that looks at life, her challenges, her fears, her dreams and responds to them bravely. Destiny has bravely stood in the wilderness of life and come out to the other side. She has stood, alone and scared, and yet she has not turned away.

Destiny Story is a brave woman.

In this post she has written, she shares about some of her wilderness. She shares about a process that I’ve had the privilege to watch her walk through. And as a witness to this time in her life, I can safely say that she has a lot of wisdom & inspiration on the things she shares. So, let her sweet words inspire you!

XO,

M

Ps: You can check out D’s blog here: https://destinystoryblog.wordpress.com

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My whole life I’ve felt like I wasn’t enough, or honestly, that I was just too much. I’ve felt not skinny enough, not talented enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not good enough. I’ve felt too loud, too tall, too fat, too opinionated, too passive, too emotional, too sensitive, too different.

I’ve always felt like I was different and I’ve spent most of my life just trying to decide if what made me different was good or bad. But I think somewhere around 7th grade I subconsciously decided that it was a bad thing, a really bad thing, that would forever keep me separated from those around me. I thought I would never be able to connect with people because it felt as if people never wanted to connect to me (my parents and friends) or that I was always “too much, not enough” for the people around me to connect with. I felt creative but was never shown it was okay to be creative in ways that didn’t quite make sense and I was never shown it was okay for it not to be perfect. I buried myself in perfectionism because it seemed all the amazing people were, and the sad part was that people around me wouldn’t have known because it was all in my internal world! It revealed itself in my self talk and my constant attempts to “fix” myself that only led to me feeling suicidal.

Even after I became a Christian, it only intensified. Except this time thankfully I was healed enough to not feel suicidal, but I did feel like the weight and the pressure of always doing things perfectly would eventually break me. I had somewhere, along my journey in life, picked up this idea that the real me was too messy and would never be good enough so I needed to make up for it with perfect actions. Ha! Funny, huh? I mean this was definitely not something I would consciously know I was doing! It would look like me trying really hard, being praised for my actions, and then making a mistake and beating myself up for it for days and thinking “what else could I have done? I’m doing everything I can and it’s still not enough!” and then eventually trying to make up for it by pretending like it didn’t happen and continue doing more things that would look perfect.

But the problem with this is that I had equated being “enough” to things that were unattainable, like never making a mistake or never hurting anyone’s feelings. Anybody ever been through something like this? Ever try to perform for love? I’m guessing that I’m probably not alone in this. I’ve noticed as a human race, generally we have more grace for others than we do ourselves.

But sometime last year I decided this thing that made me different may not have actually ever been a bad thing! What if my imperfections made me beautiful? What if my emotions made things fun and are natural? What if my sensitivity wasn’t a weakness, but a strength? What if my chubby body could be enough for me and eventually someone else? What if making mistakes only made me human? Could I still be loved if someone saw them? If I were fully me, mistakes and all, would I be enough?

These were the questions running through my head and I made the decision that I was going to try being seen. I decided to show people that I was different. I decided to try allowing myself to be loved through my mistakes. Because when I try to be “perfect” I still don’t feel like I’m enough, and I never get to be truly authentic. And that life wasn’t working for me.

I went to Oregon last year on a missions trip and after days of barely sleeping and not being able to control a single thing, I could feel my emotions starting to rise. And as they got closer to the surface I could feel them starting to bubble over into my actions. I was short with people and I was crying uncontrollably. I felt embarrassed but free. I knew that these people doing life with me would see a side of me I was afraid of showing to people that hadn’t been in my life for an extended period of time. But I couldn’t care anymore. I decided to take a risk and be vulnerable and see how they responded.

And to my freaking surprise they still loved me!

And not only that, they complemented me! They asked me what I needed, they encouraged me, and they loved me through it. And not just once, but repetitively. I was UNDONE. This was not a way of life that I was familiar with! But I knew I could never turn back.

I’m coming up on a year since that trip and as I reflect I see that my journey of accepting myself and being vulnerably me, has not been a fun or pretty journey. I have hid, I have made some of the most painful mistakes I’ve ever made this past year and I’ve been the most myself I’ve ever been in my whole life. I’ve never been as open with those close to me quiet like I have in this past year. I’m loving who Destiny is more than I thought possible and I know there’s only so much more!

You see, perfectionism tells you that until you do everything right, you aren’t enough. But a life of freedom looks like vulnerability. It looks like showing the world who you truly are and not wavering in the truth that,

you are enough. No questions asked.

A life of freedom consists of making mistakes and allowing the people who are close to you into them because you do not deserve to be alone during it. A life of freedom looks like you being confident in what you enjoy doing and wearing. A life of freedom looks like creating without comparison.

Being vulnerably you will set you free from perfectionism or performance. There’s nothing quiet like when you allow yourself to be who you’ve always been in the inside. And I promise dear friends, there are people who are dying to love you as you. All your unique characteristics, all the things you’ve thought were too much, all of the parts of you that you thought weren’t enough, they are worthy of love. Because we all have them, let’s be honest. None of us have it all together. But none of us have to pretend like we do anymore. I’m starting to see that the people I admire the most are people who are unashamedly them. Unwavering to the opinions of others, they stand tall in who they are and they let themselves show. This is strength. This is vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength. And this is who I want to be. I am deciding that I will no longer look at people on social media, the models on tv or Pinterest, or even the people around me and think “I wish I were like them”, but instead I will say

“I’m thankful that I am ME. Because no one can be ME.”

So dear ones, will you join me in living a life of being vulnerably us? Will you join me in leaving perfectionism and comparison behind?? Let us celebrate who we are and what we create and what we do well, because we were always designed to do it the way only we can do it.

Xoxo

Destiny Story

#MoreSelfLove

Dirty Humanity

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One of my all-time favorite things about me is that I am a human. That might be an odd thing to say, but I absolutely adore being a human. Being human is the hardest thing that anyone will ever do. Humanity is messy. It is dirty. It is a whole lot of spills, shattered glass, and broken hearts. It is selfish, offended, disappointed. Humanity is difficult, for everyone. Did you grasp that?

Humanity is difficult, for everyone.

The journey of being a human is a long, over-stretched process of each person simply learning how to human better. Regardless of who they are, or how well their name is known, no human ever conquers humanity (other than Jesus Christ, I guess. Lol). Each day each human is faced with a new set of difficult human challenges. I mean, “I am human” is the ultimate excuse. Each day we have more human choices to make on what kind of human we will be.

A huge perk of being human is that we are surrounded by other humans trying to be humans. We are all fumbling along trying to figure this whole thing out.

We aren’t alone in the mess and difficulty of humanity.

If you feel like you are struggling or have been having a really hard time recently, I just want to say that you’re not alone. Human-ing isn’t easy! Insecurity, comparison, and offense are popping up! But that does not mean we have to partner with those things.

Recently, I have been feeling super offended. I hate that, but when I am feeling those feelings I get to choose if I am going to align myself with those feelings. Am I going to align myself with that? Or am I going to rise? Am I going to examine the situation deeper and find the true root or am I going to stay in the shallow end of offense?

Remember, you are simply learning to human better. So, be gracious to yourself as you learn. Do not get angry at yourself for getting a bit of dirt on your hands. Life is messy. and it takes time. So, take your time & get messy

Mess does not always have to be a bad thing. When I look back at my life and I see all of the heart-break, chaos, emotions, and adventures I have been on I am extremely thankful. Each pile of mud I have stepped on has taught me. Each handful of dirt I have picked up has strengthened me. Each shoe, covered in dust from adventure, has shown me new perspectives. Sometimes our mess requires a different attitude. No longer will I view my mess or the messy situations I am facing as failure, instead…I will rise to the occasion and embrace the mess. I will joyfully allow myself to be covered in the mess, accepting it all, and then learn to grow from it.

Just like a flower blooming requires some dirt, you require some dirt to bloom, too.

Having the heart to grow, regardless of how messy it gets, is what is important. Growing and developing as a human, becoming better at human things, is what keeps us moving and stops us from being stagnant. So, regardless of where you are…if you feel like you are a storm raging or if you feel like you are an empty field, it is okay. Just begin to pick up your pieces and build yourself again.

Here is a poem by Pavana that I thought went nicely with this post…

somedays,
i am the flower
somedays,
i am the rain.

-pavana

I hope you enjoyed! Let me know in the comments your human thoughts! Also, would love to hear what you’d like to hear from me, let me know! Thank you for giving me your time and reading my sweet simple words. It is such an honor to have your attention.

XO,

M

 

 

Dreams in the Flesh

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One of my New Years resolutions, as mentioned, is to take myself a bit more seriously. Not just letting each dream pass me by, but stopping and examining each & every one and allowing the true dreams to take root within my heart. Taking my dreams more seriously means giving them bones, meat, flesh. It means having a dream, protecting it in my heart, and then taking steps in order to see that dream come true. The wild thing is that I am actually seeing it happen and seeing flesh coming to my dreams!

But this does not just have to be for me. It isn’t just about me and my dreams coming true. Every person I talk to I feel like there is a grace for their dreams. Yesterday I heard of a friend who dreams of doing fashion and a local botique told her that they would buy her creations. That does not happen! Today I heard of a local artist getting the opportunity to do what makes their heart come alive. There is a grace. right now. Dreams of creativity, dreams of business, dreams of influence. I feel like the time is now!

I want to tell you why dreaming is important and hopefully inspire you to dream a little bit bigger.

Dreaming brings hope. When you dream for a different tomorrow or a different circumstance (or even the same!), you are hoping. You are wanting and believing for something. Hope requires trust. Trust in yourself, trust in the greater good. Hope is a muscle. It forces your to practice and become resilient to disappointment. Hope is required for dreaming. Hope says that there is more available to you. A life without hope and dreams is stagnant.

Dreaming creates an adventurous life (even if your dreams aren’t wild like jumping out of planes). Whatever it is that you want in life can happen and make your life the adventure that you want. If you want to own a business, or be a really good employee, than pursuing that desire would lead you to living a full life. It would lead you to living the life you want. Life can be anything that you want, but you have to allow yourself the courage to dream of what you want.

Another thing that happens when you dream is dreaming brings contentment within your now. There is something super special about the between season, the season of dreaming before the dream has fully blossomed. There is something special about the waiting. It’s like how Christmas Eve is kind of the best part of Christmas because you are awaiting the excitement. That happens with dreams, too. When you dream you can be content within the waiting.

Dreaming requires motion. It requires you to take bold steps forward. Dreaming is more than just accomplishing goals, it is a beautiful combination of goals mixed into one daring act.

One downside of dreaming is that it definitely challenges your belief in yourself. Can you believe that you deserve to dream? Can you risk in order to dream? Can you risk in order to see your dreams come true? Having a self is a right that each and every human has. What does your self dream of?

I went out to coffee with one of my greatest inspirations this week. We talked about dreaming and how people don’t have the courage to dream because they don’t have the courage or self-love to allow themselves to. We talked about how people do not know what they want because they haven’t given themselves permission to allow dreams to even taken root.

So, here I am…just an imperfect human aiming to have a wholehearted and full life. A woman that is simply learning life’s possibilities and I am telling you that dreaming is possible. I am telling you that you deserve permission to dream. You deserve permission to live a full life. I urge you to take the risk and imagine the best life you could think of. Dream with me.

What are your big dreams? What dreams make your stomach do flips just thinking about the possibility? Let me know in the comments! I am excited to hear & believe with you!

XO,

M

 

Hello Twenty-eighteen

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With the start of a new year it is a time to be fresh, new, and reinvent yourself a bit. (I have a tendency to jump on any opportunity like that…lol). I wanted to take this opportunity for all that it is worth…saying goodbye to 2017 and welcoming in 2018.

This year as I reflected back to all of 2017’s adventures, I was flooded with all of the things this year held. They were definitely not all good, like the week spent concerned that my boyfriend’s dad might die from a torn aorta (although I am super thankful for the time to get to know his family) or the difficulty of a full-time college course load (including online biology). But, despite 2017’s difficult things I am so thankful for all that 2017 taught me. I learned to be strong and endure whatever I am facing. 2017 taught me to be a woman that is steadfast. No matter the problem, or who created it, I faced each mountain head-on. 2017 taught me that I am a whole lot more capable than I once thought. I realized that I have skills, abilities, & I deserve to trust myself a bit more. 2017, also, taught me that I still have a ways to go. I have more mountains to climb. But after spending this time looking back and paying the deserved appreciation to 2017, I feel ready to say goodbye & start fresh.

I want 2018 to be a year where I accomplish a few things…

  1. I want to slow down and savor each moment. I want to live in a state of perfect peace, regardless of if there is tension, stress, or pressure around me. This is a habit I have begun to cultivate in the last few months…replacing performance for adequacy. When I decide to live in peace and with an attitude of adequacy I am able to enjoy each moment that I exist in.
  2. I want to plant seeds of love instead of fear. Love is inviting. Love is forgiving. Love is the ultimate force. Fear hinders connection. Fear is all about self preservation. I want to forgo my protection and instead I want to embrace the freedom within reckless, unending love.
  3. I want to nurture my body more. I have struggled with my body my whole life (check out the post all about it!) and I am tired of ignoring my body. I am an advocate for both the self love and body positive movement, but I want to press in even more. I want to give my body the nurturing it needs…good food, movement, relaxation, water, vitamins. I want more baths and more fun. I want more adventure and more breath in my lungs. I want a constant flow of good things going into my body.
  4. I want to grow my dreams and see them blossom. I really feel the inspiration to pursue my dreams and to believe in them. I want to spend time really looking at my dreams, discovering them, and then putting in the time and energy needed in order to grow them. I want my dreams to come true and am determined to see that happen this year.

One of the resolutions for the year that I wrote in my journal was that I want to take myself more seriously. (This doesn’t meant too seriously). I want to actually believe in myself. I want to believe that the things listed above truly can happen. I have decided that in 2018 I am simply going to believe it is possible. So, with that in mind…I am settled on carrying out everything I want for this year.

I am thankful for what is to come & for the new-ness of this year. This photo is of a sunrise from inside CVG (Cincinnati airport). It represents fresh, new, and the hope within this new year. I am believing for the good things of 2018 and hope you are, too. This is our year; make it exactly what you want.

How was 2017 for you? What are you wanting to accomplish in 2018? Do you have resolutions? Leave your thoughts & answers in the comments found on the left hand-side (on desktop) or down below (on phone or tablet!)

XO,

M

A New Day

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For now, I want my main posting day to be Wednesdays. My thought behind this is that I feel like Wednesday’s could use some more lovin’ and because it seems like everyone needs a pick-me-up on Wednesdays.  But, the idea of being confined to just posting once a week sounds far too restrictive. So, be prepared for weekly Wednesday posts but also, some weeks you might get a little extra lucky and hear from me twice in one week.

I am sure most of you, if not all, have seen the wave of responses to Oprah Winfrey’s 2018 Golden Globe speech or the #TimesUp hashtags. (Warning: this post is about that, too!) She became the first African American woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Award. During her acceptance speech she mentioned racial injustice, freedom of speech, sexual harassment, and the women that have fought for their lives & rights. I have listened to Oprah’s speech multiple times and each time I am moved to tears. Her eloquent, yet simple, word choices mixed with the depth within her voice expresses the intensity of her messages. (Does anyone else want Oprah to read them bedtime stories?! or is that just me….)

I do not know what it is like to be an African American, or to experience such an impactful moment for my race, but I can recognize this as one of those moments. I am moved by the honor it is to witness one of these moments.

More than this being a speech that has racial impact, this speech (and the attire color of the Golden Globes) has major gender equality impact. Everyone in attendance decided to wear black to support the #TimesUp hashtag. The black attire was to draw attention to the gender inequality and sexism that this world is, and has, experienced.

I recognize that I haven’t given either of these topics (race, or gender equality) the time they deserved. I don’t mention these deep topics to make light of them,  but to shine light on what was talked about. But also, I want to point out the fact that I am a privileged white woman. I know that because of that fact I can never know the experiences of someone that is not like me.

But, I can recognize when I see a moment that changes the course of history.

This speech created a wave that will, hopefully, change the current way of doing things. I cannot listen to this speech without feeling the impact of the women, people, and leaders that have walked before me. I cannot listen to this speech without feeling a change within my own heart. I cannot listen to this speech without an overwhelming sense of pride in being a woman.

Oprah said that “a new day is on the horizon” and I am deciding to walk within that new day. I am believing for racial equality. I am believing for gender equality. I am believing for a better tomorrow. So, I urge you to rise up and walk within the light of this new day.

This post isn’t my commentary on the topics she mentioned, but it is my response to this wave and new day. I could not let this moment pass without responding. I refuse to look back at this moment and have not responded.

Have you watched her speech? How are you going to respond to this moment? Let me know in the comments!

XO

M

History

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I have spent my life bound within the prison of this body. Trapped tightly by each layer of my skin. My internal reality cloaked in darkness, despair, and disdain. I felt fire in my toes, highlighting the truths I clung to: you’re unwanted, you can’t do it, you’re ugly, you’re too fat. Everyday I experienced the burns from my lies. The pain I felt was all I had known and all I expected to ever know.

I was born & raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was a blessed little girl. I had parents that really believed in my dreams. They allowed me to chase after them, regardless of how odd they seemed. At 8 years old I was convinced I wanted to be a missionary. I dreamt of living in dung huts and being covered in babies that needed love. I chased after that dream for quite a while; it took me all over the world. I went to Mexico multiple times, South Africa, Tanzania, and Brazil. Missions, serving people, and loving on those that seemed to need it most was the only thing that I really knew I was good at. It was the only thing that made me feel slightly important.

Of course, I had moments that told me something beyond my common reality. I sometimes had fleeting thoughts of being a nice person, of being a kind woman. But, those thoughts never stayed very present. I was more satisfied by the pain inside. Instead, I could rely on my consistency to buckle under the pressure of my inner demons. Those demons hung around, day by day, moment by moment. I was never alone.

As a little girl I held onto my baby weight. I was always a little rounder in the face and stomach than a lot of the petite people in my life. At a very young age I became aware of my body and understood the societal truth that my weight mattersI have control over my weight. There are stories and memories of me lost under the pressure to be skinny. I don’t know when or how I decided that I was too fat and that I didn’t matter but I believed these things to the core of my being.

I was branded by the weight I owned. My own body had betrayed me. It believed the lies, too. Marks of stretching across my stomach, chest, and thighs. I couldn’t escape these chains.

Church was my sanctuary. Hearing of a loving God, one that believed in me and sacrificed for me, it showed me that there had to be something within me worthy. I couldn’t deny the powerful things I had seen from Him.

Battle scarred and doubtful, I discovered hope.

Those two things shaped me into the woman I am today: love & self-hate. I knew love existed and I knew that it was a ferocious force that deserved to be pursued. I knew that love existed because of my moms relentless acceptance of me. I knew love existed because of the sacrifice I had seen from sweet Jesus. I, also, knew that my personal life was laced with self-inflicted internal pain. This pain did not come from parents that did not love me, or a violator taking advantage of me, it was something I simply picked up along the way. At some point in high school I decided to forego the traditional paths after high school and instead, my life’s mission would be to pursue all of the love this world had to offer until I experienced it within my inner prison. With adventure in my heart (and a mission to replace this self-hate) I moved across the country to Northern California. I attended a school that centered around the truth of a loving God and I began to face my beloved demons.

I seemed to have found a key. A skeleton key that might possibly unlock me from my misery. With cold, deprived hands I fumbled at the locks that had become my chosen royal garments.

For the next three years I spent my time captivated by the possibility of love. I explored the ins and outs, the ups and downs. I experienced heart break and I experienced self-love for the first time.

With the bravery of the stars, I began to look at my body without those judgmental eyes. I saw the thankful things that existed too. I began to cultivate the garden of happy, of thankful, and beauty. What if all I had known had been a perfectly crafted lie? What if I didn’t deserve darkness, but was actually made for the light?

Now, I work at the school that saved me & showed me the truth about myself and the truth that I, too, deserve love. Regardless of what I have done, what I will do, or how much I weigh… I deserve to be loved. My mission is to deliver those keys to the world, to others like me. I am determined to show the world that our bodies and selves deserve love. I haven’t completely overcome it all, sometimes I still find myself stuck in my cage, but I now know that I deserve to live in freedomlove.

Have you ever struggled with self-hate? What is your greatest self battle? Comment below & lets get the conversation started about the struggles of being a human.

XO,

M