Surviving Anorexia

Most people wouldn’t know this from meeting me today, but I am a recovering anorexic. I am by no means proud in anyway to say that. It’s actually the opposite, I am disgusted and saddened that it was an illness that consumed my mind for many years. I even hesitated using that word “anorexia” in the title for this confession but I figured that it would capture the most people’s attention. It’s true, it’s honest, it’s real and it’s part of my story.

My hopes and goals in writing about this today are to inspire some of you who may be struggling with whatever you are going through, whether that is an eating disorder, being insecure in who you are or any other battle you are dealing with in your life, we all have them. I also want to clear up any possible misconceptions you have heard about eating disorders. My other personal goal is to truly confess and free myself as a sort of healing process. I have never written fully about my experience or confessed publicly that this is something I battled. Today, I woke up and felt it necessary to do this in order to free myself and move forward in my life. I had always known I wanted to write about my experience but never felt it was the right time until this moment.

I have come a long way, and I can honestly say that I am really proud that I have survived what I went through to get to where I am at now.

Let’s start from the beginning. I first started feeling insecure about my body in middle school. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. I was very athletic, and fit… I was always in wonderful shape because I played a ton of sports and had a very sporty and popular group of friends. Looking back, I had absolutely NOTHING to be insecure about. I remember I started getting comments as I got into puberty from boys about my “GB”, ghetto booty. Ha-ha. It’s funny thinking back and looking at pictures because I really didn’t have much of anything… I guess I was just more hourglass shaped than maybe some of the other girls, and always tended to have a little extra in the “booty” department. I have more of a pear shape, and any extra goes to my hips and butt. :) Anyway, to make a long story short… I think that is where it began. I started feeling insecure.

From there, I started getting interested in fitness and health around 7th or 8th grade…(I was 13). I read a ton about nutrition, and fitness and started eating really clean and healthy and cut out a lot of sugar and processed foods out of my diet. I worked out like normal, but because I made these changes I started losing some weight and getting really trim. I would get comments constantly from peers and by 9th grade, my first year of high school, I looked really thin and loved all the attention I was getting. It was then that what had started as a way to just get healthy became my everyday obsession and consumed my mind at all times.

In the beginning, it was not that I felt like I needed to lose weight. I just wanted to be healthy and I was fascinated by nutrition and even started thinking about being a nutritionist when I grew up. But, I think once I realized that being really thin and looking the way I did got me attention, I become obsessed. And, I was in HIGH SCHOOL. That is often the time everyone is the most insecure and trying to figure out who they are. I felt on top of the world for a while. I had a ton of attention from boys, and all the girls would ask me about what I ate, my clothes, hair and makeup…it all became about my physical appearance. I knew I was pretty (I was always told that), but I didn’t BELIEVE I was beautiful. I started to identify myself based on my physical appearance instead of the person I was inside.

Naturally, my parents saw what was going on and they started to get concerned in my 9th grade year. I was 15. I remember going for a walk with my mom one day, and her telling me that they were going to admit me into Methodist Hospital into the “EDU” Eating Disorder Unit. Side note, at this time, this was the same floor that they kept the mentally ill patients on, the ones who were suicidal. But now looking back, I understand why they put the two together…both are disorders of the mind.

When my mom told me the news, as sick and twisted as this sounds, I remember feeling happy in a way, naïve of what would actually come. I didn’t think I had a problem because I felt like I was in control of it. I just looked at it as a vacation from high school for a while, and I liked the idea of that. But, I had NO idea what was to come and the long journey this would lead to and the devastation and confusion it caused for my friends and family. I was so selfish at this time, it was ALL about me and I didn’t consider how this could affect others around me.

Being in the hospital for an eating disorder was one of the scariest and worst experiences I have ever been through. It was not as I thought, it was 100 times worse. It was terrifying as a 15-year-old girl. I kept a journal while I was there and wrote about how lonely and scary it was being away from my parents for the first time. I felt like I was with a bunch of sick and crazy people and thought I was the only person without a problem because I still felt like I was IN CONTROL. But, I wasn’t and everyone else knew this except me. We had to eat 6 times a day and were watched intently at each meal, unable to leave until you had finished everything. And, they didn’t care what you liked and didn’t like, you had to eat what you were given. As a child and still to this day, I hardly ever eat meat…and I remember days that seemed like torture when I had to eat a beef chimichanga, a hamburger, or a tuna fish sandwich; I thought I was going to die. Ha-ha. I was picked and prodded several times a day to check my blood, and heart rate. A nurse would stand outside the shower to make sure you didn’t harm yourself and we were watched like hawks when we slept too. A nurse would come in a couple times during the night to make sure we were all still breathing. And, I remember trying to drink gallons of water before my weigh-ins to make it look like I had gained weight. I could write a whole book on my experience in the EDU. I have crazy stories.

Soon my inpatient treatment became outpatient treatment and my mom would have to drive me to the hospital everyday like a day care and drop me off and then pick me back up after dinner. I saw psychiatrists and psychologists and wasn’t allowed anything but very moderate exercise. We would have weigh-ins daily…and everything was calculated and monitored by a doctor. But, I still didn’t think I had a problem and actually picked up silly tricks and tips on how to cut and burn calories from other girls and boys in the unit. Finally, I think my parents gave up on the hospital treatment, and I came back home and got a tutor instead of going back to high school because of the shame and embarrassment I felt.

At this point, I had lost a lot of contact with all my friends; I had no social life…I was just trying to get through each day. Mealtimes were hard, homework was hard, physical activity was hard; everything except sleep was difficult for me. It all was just a stupid game at the time. I didn’t KNOW I had a serious problem. But, it controlled my entire life and had robbed me of all the joys that high school can bring and those precious years with friends. I never went to prom, and I don’t remember going to any parties, I stayed at home a lot of the time. I quit all my sports, stopped playing the piano, which had always been a natural talent but since I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t do it.

When I was 16, I started modeling. I joined agencies in Minneapolis and started booking jobs and making my own money. It was also around this time that I started realizing I wanted to be in New York City. I had taken a trip out there and fell in LOVE with it. It became my goal and dream to live in New York. So, I made it my mission to get out there after I finished high school. I did post secondary and took college classes, graduated, and moved to New York when I was 18 and immediately started modeling with an agency there. It was a very exciting time in my life. I was SO motivated and driven and New York City had captured my heart. I was so in love with the energy it gave me, and the drive and determination I felt when I was there. I did some really incredible things at a young age, modeled for book covers, print ads, fashion shows, showrooms, was in a few movies, and had TV appearances. It was all really exciting.

But, what I haven’t mentioned is that I was still crazy obsessed with my body image and how I looked and being in the modeling industry wasn’t helping me. I should rewind and mention that when I was 17, almost all my hair fell out…I had to cut off my long hair and start over so it didn’t look so thin. Some of the other things that were happening to my body at this time was I was developing osteoporosis, the doctors told me I HAD to start eating more or I would have major bone loss. I had lost my period and was told that it may never come back and I may never be able to have children. There were several other disturbing and gross complications that come along with an eating disorder that I will not go into at this time. But, even after EVERYTHING I had been through at this point, I did not feel like I wanted to get better. I was on a high and I didn’t want to lose that; after all it was how I identified myself, it was WHO I felt like I was at that time. I loved being known for the way I looked and would get comments from people daily. It was sick and terrible. The days I wouldn’t get compliments on my appearance I felt I had no value because I was so used to hearing it everyday. Most people that knew me in my modeling years didn’t know how bad it really was. They might have been suspicious being that I hardly ever ate anything, couldn’t concentrate longer than 2 minutes, was always freezing cold, would collapse in the middle of the street for no apparent reason and had no social life.

There’s so much more I want to write about in regards to New York but I’ll save that for another time. With as many amazing things that happened there, it was still really hard for me. After 3 years, and moving 8 times, I came to the realization that if I didn’t leave the city, try to start again somewhere new, remove myself from modeling, I couldn’t fully recover or heal. I was drained, exhausted and wanted more out of life. So, I came back to Minnesota (where my family was) and went back to school, stopped modeling and made it my mission to try to discover more about who I was and focus less on the way I looked. I just got to a point where I had “had enough”. I was too tired to keep “trying to be perfect”; I had spent 6 or 7 years of my life in this bubble of trying live up to a certain ideal; and I was just exhausted.

I knew at that point that I had an eating disorder, and I knew I needed help. But, it took that long to admit that to myself. I didn’t know how to get over it; I just knew that leaving New York and modeling at that time was the best thing for me. And, truthfully…I was scared. There were several days that I remember praying to God asking him to please help me get through the day, to please wake me up in the morning, hoping I wouldn’t die in my sleep without my family close by. My hair was falling out, I was really weak and tired all the time, and I STILL didn’t have my period. After about 5 years of not getting my period, I started worrying that I would NEVER be able to have my own kids. I knew what was going on with my body wasn’t healthy, and I knew I had no choice but to get better. I was not going to let it defeat me; I was only 21 and I knew that I had a lot of amazing things ahead of me.

My life changed drastically after that point. I came home and started reading my bible daily, working out, eating healthy, praying a lot, asking God to help me discover what was my next chapter and my faith really grew. I went back to work as a makeup artist, grew and developed that passion for artistic expression. I kept a journal, started a blog and did many other artsy types of things including painting and photography, and started developing more of my passions.

It has been several years now, and a lot has happened… I went through a divorce last year, which has forced me to become more independent and self-reliant. I have been traveling a lot in the past 6 months. I’ve been back to New York, Chicago and Mexico for work; Hawaii for vacation and the most incredible doors have opened up for me through makeup artistry and I am still very passionate about what I do. It allows me to still be involved in beauty but stay open to other things and not be fixated on MY personal appearance but connect with other people and try to “lift them up”, bring light and love to their life, and try to help them discover beauty within themselves through the gift of artistic expression.

I can honestly say that at this point in my life I feel the best I ever have both mentally and physically. I have recently started doing hip hop dancing and boxing…and even though I know I’m not perfect, I’m content with knowing I’m never going to be. Now, I can say to myself, “that’s totally alright”. I try to focus more on being healthy and less on being perfect. I’ve learned more about LOVE than ever before in the past 7 months , both in loving others and loving yourself. I have taken more risks and let go of more fears in the past 7 months than I have in the past 7 years!  There are still difficult days, many of them …and at times I still struggle with body image thoughts and concerns but it doesn’t consume my life anymore.

This has been something I’ve wanted to share for a long time, and always hesitated. I was concerned with letting this go, something I have held onto for years. I was scared that no man would ever want to be with me knowing I had struggled with this. But, I don’t care anymore because I respect myself enough to know that whoever I end up with should love me for me and not judge me based on my past. I am really proud of who I’ve become and what I’ve had to go through to get here. I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not of experienced these things I did. I just keep telling myself, I’ve come a LONG way and I have a LOT to be thankful for.

I don’t know what the future holds; a big city has been on my mind, New York in particular. I think I left a piece of myself there when I had to leave in order to find healing. For now, I am putting my trust in God, and what he has designed for my life. I am going to keep doing me. And, I know that everything is going to be ok.

 

Sam Smith Music : Current Favorite

Hey Guys!

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been finding a lot of therapy in music lately. My favorite singer recently is an artist named Sam Smith. If you haven’t heard about him, he’s a british singer songwriter who’s 22 years old and has an incredible voice!! His album hasn’t been released yet but you can find some of his music on iTunes, and I’ve been listening to all of his music on Youtube.

His song, “Stay with me” was the first one that I heard.  I traveled a lot in April; I was in Hawaii for 10 days and New York for 5 days; I listened to the song, Stay with me and Lay me down almost everyday of the month and I still love them! Here are the videos so you can also check them out.

 

This month (May), my favorite songs of his are: “I told you now” and ” Not in that Way”.

 

 

There isn’t one song of his that I’ve heard that I don’t like. :) It is rare that I am so in love with an artists voice that I like every single one of their songs; so I had to share these videos on my blog!

 

Love,

Lauren

 

Oceans~ Where Feet May Fail

Sometimes a song hits your heart at the right moment. Today , I heard this song on the radio for the first time and it gave me so much encouragement. The song is called, Oceans (where feet may fail) by Hillsong. If you’ve never heard it, I hope you will listen to it. I’m linking a video of it with the lyrics. I think this woman’s voice is absolutely stunningly beautiful. :)

Often, things in our head get foggy, they get clouded, or unclear. We seek clarity because  life can get confusing and too much “stuff” can complicate our lives. Many times, the best thing for me to do is to try to stop thinking so much, to just shut my brain off-so to speak. (It’s much easier said than done.) I often know the right thing to do, I often know the right thing to say, but I let the thoughts in my head get in the way of what I know to be truth in my heart. Truth brings things to light. This song reminded me to just, relax.

I hope all of you who are reading this are having an amazing day. I hope you feel loved, empowered, and encouraged today!

Love,

Lauren

About Time- Thoughts Inspired by a Movie

The other night I watched the movie, “About Time”. This movie had a big impact on me because recent events in my life have given me a lot of clarity about the importance of the decisions we make and how life can change in an instant. You have to make the most of each second.

The main character is able to use time travel to go back and re-do things he wishes he’d have done differently to get a different outcome. He can ultimately use it to make life a little more like he’d wish it to be.

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that time is the best gift you can give someone. Our time is so valuable. Recently, I’ve been telling myself is to take every opportunity and chance I have available! In the past few months I have traveled to Mexico, New York, Chicago and in a few weeks I will be in Hawaii. One of my favorite things to do in life is travel, explore and discover new beautiful things, places and people. If it is something that is on my heart or in my mind to do, I’m going to do it, because those chances may never be available again! Fear is always what stops us. And, fear is not a real thing…it is a choice we make when we choose to worry about what COULD happen in the future. In the past I’ve let the fear of finances stop me from taking risks and doing things I love, but… somehow I’ve been letting go of that and realizing that I can make it work, I will be ok.

Unlike the main character in this movie, we cannot travel back in time and re-do anything from our past. Many times I think we wish there are things we could un-say, or un-do in order to change the outcome, but the fact is that we make choices in those moments and they cannot be un-done. Many times we feel we made mistakes. The best we can do with that is to make the best out of the situation, forgive, move on and choose to be wiser next time. Live in the moment; not the past, or the future…make each moment of your life so amazing that you never think about or wish you could travel back in time.

Change goes hand in hand with time. The more time goes on, the more things change. Sometimes, ONE decision we make can change the entire course of your life. Change is a good thing most of the time, it forces us to grow, learn and move forward. This is definitely a season of HUGE changes for me. Most days, I’m totally ok, happy and accepting of the changes and determined to move forward, but other days… it hits me like a ton of bricks how drastically different my world is from just a short time ago. It’s those moments that I realize my strength, that I can get through it; choosing to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life, and knowing that things are going to be ok. They’re going to be more than ok, they’re going to be great!

In the words of my brother , “life’s happening”. So, I’m just going to let life happen, accept the changes, try to make the best decisions, make the most of the moments, and trust that things will fall into place.

My final thoughts leave me with a question-one that I ask myself. At what point do I choose to once again follow my heart and put distance between myself and the people that mean most to me ? Is it worth moving away from those I love the most to seek new challenges , experiences and dreams?

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Til’ my next post!

Love, Lauren

Lit from Within: The Reason I Write

Many different life occurrences have led up to this post. I’ve had several ideas on what I wanted to write about next,  but not sure how to string them all together to make one organized piece of writing.

I have this innate desire to write. I’ve known this for a very long time now because it’s been something I’ve loved to do from a very young age.  I have recognized that writing is something that helps me personally work through and understand the thoughts running through my head. Yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts that one of  the reasons I write is that it helps me understand visually what I am thinking. I am a visual learner, so putting my thoughts down on paper-or in this case on a computer screen, helps me see what I am thinking about.

The other part of my epiphany about writing is very personal and I will explain in just a moment. I contemplated writing about it, but an amazing friend encouraged me to continue to speak openly and write honestly. And, I needed that extra push.

When I lived in New York I wrote almost everyday and kept a journal. It helped get me through the ups and downs,  and calmed me down when I felt lonely or confused. I remember feeling so many emotions at that time; I had so much passion for life, and was filled with fire inside of me that kept me motivated to chase my dreams. Writing always helped me process the things going on in my life and move forward. When I moved home from New York , I went back to school (for writing) and finished with my bachelors degree with hopes and dreams of someday writing books, continuing with blogging, and other writing projects.  But, somewhere along the way I stopped writing and for the last 3 or 4 years, I have hardly written anything that is truly personal. It’s as if I didn’t want to confront my honest emotions. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that for a while I had sort of lost myself, and had grown numb to feelings. It’s a hard thing to explain unless you have felt it before. But, now that I am feeling things so strongly; love, joy, passion, pain, excitement, disappointment, enthusiasm, compassion….all of these things I’ve felt in the past few months I realized I had grown numb to for a while.

It’s no ones fault that I had suppressed my emotions and I am in no way blaming the people who were in my life for the past few years. But, once I started being honest with myself  and opening up to people closest to me in my life, all of these feelings have started flooding back and now I am filled with a strong innate desire to write again. I am feeling “lit from within” so to speak… I feel like I suddenly have that strong fire inside of me , that courage, and motivation and energy I once felt before, and it is SUCH a great feeling!

Today, when meeting a friend, one of the first things she encouraged me to do was to keep writing, to keep being transparent and allow myself to write openly about my thoughts. As difficult as it is sometimes because I worry about what others may think, I know that it may help someone else reading it, and I certainly find therapy in writing.

When I left the coffee shop today, Alicia Keys’ song “girl on fire” was on the radio. Now, previously…I have always thought this song was kinda “cheesy-overplayed-melodramatic” but not today!!  Today, it was just what I needed to hear! Because , I truly feel like I am on fire…like I am lit from within, and I am unstoppable. I am so motivated and encouraged to continue moving in the direction my life is going. And, I hope that this encourages you to continue following the desires that have been placed on YOUR heart. Nothing can stop you but your own fear and insecurity.

So, in closing this post I will leave you with a photo from my “coffee date” today with a very amazing friend who gave me this inspiring quote, and of course…Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire” Video. :) The words touched my heart today.

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Love,

Lauren

Positivity and Social Media

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, pure, lovely,  admirable, anything excellent and praiseworthy, think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

What I’m about to say may seem a little dark to some of you, maybe a little weird or creepy. But it’s the truth and I’ll explain my thoughts behind it. Many times when I’m on Facebook,  I have this thought running through my mind before I post,  “what would I want people to remember me by? If I was suddenly gone tomorrow… would I want this to be my last post? The last thing people read that I wrote.”  MOST of the time-this thought stops me from posting anything negative.

Just as a disclaimer, I am not writing this to make any of you feel bad who post negative or offensive things on social media; everyone does it! And, I’m also NOT saying I’ve never posted anything negative or heartbreaking, I HAVE.  A lot of times when we’re going through something difficult or even just having a bad day, instead of keeping it bottled up inside, we turn to social media (like Facebook or twitter) and post about it for everyone out there to read!! We do this because it helps release some of that pain or frustration by voicing it. Back in the day  you had to talk to someone face to face about your problems, or see a counselor, now we can use social media to talk about our issues.

The  point I want to make is when we post something negative it only makes ourselves feel better, not the other people out there reading it. Most people reading it are either:  1. not going to care, 2. feel sad about it and feel bad for you or 3. it’s going to add to the negativity they already feel with whatever other issues they are facing at that time. We all have a lot of “tough stuff” to deal with day-to-day.

A few years ago, a childhood friend of mine passed away and I remember how weird it was to see that she had posted on Facebook just the night before she was gone. THAT incident was what made me start to think in this way, ” what would I want my last post on Facebook to say?” I know for me, I’d want it to be something, positive , encouraging, uplifting, inspiring or even just showing my passion for what I do and people I love and care about. Believe me when I say, there are SO many times I am on Facebook and I want to post a huge rant about something or how crappy the weather is, or how disappointed , sad or frustrated I am about something. But, then I try to ask myself, who is that helping?

Can you even imagine being on Facebook and seeing a bunch of positive, uplifting, inspiring posts from people before you start your day , or before you go to bed? Positivity is contagious. Beauty is inspiring. It would be amazing to only see things like that. (I know it’s not realistic, but it sure would be super cool.)

I am also NOT saying , fake your happiness online even though you feel crappy. My life is far from perfect.. and I’m not positive and happy all the time, I just have made a choice to try to refrain from posting when I’m not in a “positive mood” because that’s not how I would want people to remember me by. The funny thing about that is, that’s sort of why I have my blog and why I’ve always loved writing in the past. It’s a place where I can have the freedom to write down my true thoughts and people can CHOOSE to read it or not. Writing has always been a great creative outlet for me. I understand things better by writing them down, and it always makes me feel better. So, unlike a blog, if you’re on  Facebook and post something, people really don’t have a choice but to see it. :)

So, if you REALLY want to know how I think and feel-subscribe and read my blog. Lol.. kidding. But seriously; this post was just meant to get you all thinking about social media and what you put out there. We all need more positivity in our lives, so consider this when you post, “would I want this to be my last one?”

I also wanted to mention-if you’re still interested in my “beauty blog” , about all things beauty related, that is going to be over on my website: http://www.laurenolearybeauty.com

Til’ my next post!

Love,

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Things that 2013 Taught Me…

Quite honestly, 2013 felt like a slap in the face. It was my toughest year yet. But, like many of you know, after you go through a difficult time things always get brighter, and when things turn around it reminds you how grateful you should be. I’ve been thinking a lot and I needed to put a list together of the things that the toughest year taught me. Many of these things I am going to mention are probably things I already “knew” but hadn’t really experienced something difficult enough to make them apply to my life so richly.

So, let’s just begin…

1. You can turn your life around at any moment , at any age, at any time. If you don’t like the direction you are headed, the worst thing you can do is sit back and do nothing. As tough as it may seem to change the path of your life, or the direction it is going, I promise you…it is worth it in the end. There were many times that I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the little things, and obstacles I would have to overcome to make a change, but if you get caught up in worry or fear you will never overcome anything and NOTHING will change.

2. Don’t let anyone tell you that YOUR own happiness is not important. Being happy is VERY important. It’s essential! Sometimes you have to be a little selfish otherwise the people around you will suffer. I struggled with this one a lot because some people will tell you that it’s “not about you” and having the faith that I do, I know as a Christian I was created by God, to live out His will for my life. But-I also know, he wants me…and he wants US to be happy. And , the fact that anyone could tell me that I shouldn’t be so selfish and want to be happy is absurd to me. Because, life is not worth living if you’re going to be miserable. You CREATE your own happiness. No one else can do that for you. YOU need to choose to be happy, and live out your life in order to do so.

3. We all make mistakes, we all deserve forgiveness and sometimes you can’t UN-DO or FIX a problem without owning up to what you did, learning from the mistake, and moving on. Sometimes the best solution to a problem, is to own up to it…ask for forgiveness, and move on. That’s it. No matter how hard you try to fix a problem, or problems-sometimes they can’t be fixed, and in that case you need to accept it, own up to the mistake that got you there in the first place and grow from it.

4. You don’t need to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself. This is also a toughie for me. I struggle with this one a lot. I want everyone to understand why I do what I do, when I do what I do. Make sense? haha… Many times other people aren’t going to understand a choice you make. And, you can’t MAKE them understand. YOU just have to be at peace with your decision or choice…and in my case, be at peace with it between me and God, and that’s all that matters.

5. Family and close Friends are irreplaceable. If you have family, and a few close friends..you are BEYOND lucky. MOST people in our lives come and go. But-if you have family that you know loves and cares about you, or close friends that do, make sure you treat them like gold. They are irreplaceable. When life is going good sometimes we forget to treat the few people that we know are going to be there for us through thick and thin with unending love. Make sure they know how valuable they are in your life- you’re going to need them.

6. TIME is the most precious gift of anything in the world. This one is huge for me and I can’t stress it enough. Material things are so silly. We LOVE things and I admit, I’m totally addicted to my iphone.  But, honestly I know that I would rather sit with someone, laugh with someone, have them give me their time and attention more than anything else in the whole world. A good talk or conversations shows that someone cares about you…it is so much more valuable than any other material thing we could ever own.  And, I am SO SO grateful to any of you that are reading this that have given me your time and your listening ear recently, it means so much to me I can’t love you enough for it.

7. Love is the best thing to fight for. I’m going to try to say what I mean here and I hope it comes across correctly. Love is the number one reason why we’re here, and the most important action. Loving others and feeling and knowing you are loved back is worth the fight.  We ALL deserve to have more of it in our life. Be a more loving person and know that YOU are worthy of the same kind of Love as everyone else. On a second note- Life is WAY too short to spend anytime being cold, hateful, judgmental, jealous, angry, or any of those negative things. I feel like a hippy when I say, “LOVE EVERYONE”. It’s hard sometimes, but the more loving you are, the more love you get in return.

8. Know what you want, set goals and make it happen. Only YOU can bring your dreams to a reality. This should go without saying but no one is going to walk up to you and say here you go, here’s your dream job or here’s that vacation you always wanted to go on.  YOU are responsible for making that happen. If you can imagine yourself doing something-and you have an idea, go for it…you’re always going to fail if you never try, and there should be nothing stopping you from going after what you want. Fear is the number one thing that keeps us from trying something new or going after a huge dream, but that’s so silly because your life could be gone tomorrow. It also helps  to KNOW what you want. If you don’t know, then try to figure it out, and then set actual goals so that you can accomplish it, check it off your list, and move on to the next thing!

9. Strength is not measured by how much you can fight, but how much courage you have to face the difficulty, rise above it and move on.  This year taught me that I have the inner strength to get me through anything and everything. Most of the time it’s easier to hang on to something than it is to accept that you need to face it and move on. Strength is also- not letting the things of your past dictate the direction of your future. This year there was a point that I cried everyday. Sad, but true. As soon as I started confronting the issues, talking about them and having the courage to face them..I became stronger. And, now I can say..I have never smiled and laughed so much in my life.

10. I don’t have time for distractions. This last one is sorta funny… but I had to talk about it. Games, lies, negativity, gossip. I need to stay clear of these things… I just don’t have time for them. I have direction, I have passion, I know the things that I want, and the things that I need, and I’m not 18 anymore.  I’m not saying I’m perfect…I’m far from it, but some of the things that were once seemed so important a few years ago aren’t anymore, and now that I know what I want, I don’t want any distractions.

I’m sure there were many more things from the year that I learned, but these were 10 things that came to mind when I sat down to summarize my thoughts.

Til’ my next post.

Love, Lauren