It’s that time of year again — time for me to reflect on all that’s happened over the past twelve months. I’ve been dreading this post, actually. Which probably seems odd. But it means that this year is over. That it’s gone, folded into the pages of memory, and I’m not quite ready to let it go just yet. It was incredibly perfect. Everything I’ve been dreaming of since I launched this humble endeavor, and decided, once and for all to chase headlong into the chasm of dreaming-so-big-it’s-scary. This year has been – has meant – everything.
But much to my chagrin, and despite my resistance, the year is coming to a close. So it’s time to savor each and every moment I was able to spend with all of you. A walk down the aisle. A new baby. Friendship. Family. Joy. Your stories are my why, and every single time you step in front of my camera, with your heart full of trust and your eyes wide, I am thankful. I am humbled. I am amazed and awed and filled with overused adjectives that spill forth in a effort to express how I am so incessantly and constantly overwhelmed by how wonderful it is that I get to do this every day. That I get to stand alongside you as you etch your names onto the pages of your stories, your laugh lines and tears punctuating each paragraph, my photographs stuck in chapters, creased, but not worn. Steady. Timeless.
Thank you. Forever and always and more than these tiny words on a screen will ever be able to express. For your trust, and love, and kindness, and friendship. Most of all, thank you for extending the invitation to witness your stories unfold, and allowing me the opportunity to capture them – to document the beauty and imperfection and laughter and minutia – as authentically and honestly and beautifully as I can.
For those of you who follow me in on Instagram, you know that I’ve been sharing some photos of my hand lettering work. It’s something I’ve sort of always dabbled in, and I finally decided that my insane insecurity of imperfection was, well, insane. I realized it was time to be honest about this part of me, imperfections and all, and share it with the world. Your support and encouragement has been absolutely overwhelming and I’m so thankful for your kindness. Many of you have asked if I’m going to open a print shop, and the truth is that I don’t think I will at this time. Right now hand lettering is my creative outlet, it’s something I do to de-stress (since I’m not currently drinking wine and don’t have time to quilt or sew) and I’m not ready for that to change quite yet. But don’t worry, I’ll still be offering pieces for sale and hosting giveaways, and making things for to send out at random intervals. Because that’s how I roll.
And for now, you can download your own copy of this brand new, made-by-me, desktop wallpaper and have one of my most favorite pieces so far staring back at you as you
waste time on Facebook/pinterest/instagram work.
Four months ago I stood in front of my mirror and sobbed. Shoulder bobbing, chest heaving, nose running, cried. I couldn’t stand my reflection, the girl I had let myself become. My clothes didn’t fit, I didn’t feel good, and I had spent the better part of a year convincing myself that I was happy with how I looked. That I didn’t care if I was carrying around 5 extra pounds (okay ten) because my body had done amazing things (hello, wombfruits!) and I would carry those scars with pride. Stretch marks. Sagging skin. A jiggly midsection. Big thighs. I told myself those things were beautiful. I screamed it to myself and forced myself to believe it. I threw the words “self-acceptance” and “love” at myself like a knife, over and over again until it finally hit the mark.
Some days the knife-throwing didn’t work. Some days, no matter how ingrained my “you are beautiful” mindset was, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow my own line of bullshit. So I’d take a different approach. I’d remind myself that life is about enjoyment, not exclusion. Indulgence not sacrifice. Too short to skip dessert, I would drink wine and eat cake and life live to its fullest. I was emphatic that I was wholeheartedly embracing my existence instead of passively accepting a tedious monotony.
Until I woke up one morning and saw my reflection and didn’t recognize myself. Until my attempts at forcing myself to be happy – to love the woman I was – stopped working. Until I came to the realization that they had never fully worked to begin with.
So I took a risk. I hired a trainer and asked you, my darling friends and clients and readers, to support me. To cheer me on. To hold me accountable and not let me quit. No matter how badly I wanted to. And you did. (thank you. no. really. THANK YOU.)
It’s been twelve weeks (plus two) since I embarked on my fitness journey. To say that this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done would be an understatement. It is absolutely, incredibly, without-a-doubt difficult, and I have to motivate myself several times every. single. day. To keep going. To get up and do. To step away from the chocolate. But I keep reminding myself that it’s not forever. (The stepping away from the chocolate part, especially!) That I’m training incredibly hard right now so that I can put my body to work for me – not against me – and live the life I want. The one in which I can run up stairs without getting winded, or pick up both my girls and put them in bed. The one in which I can come home from work, and run a quick two miles so that I can indulge in a glass of wine and not feel guilty about it. Or add another 10 pounds to the barbell in BodyPump just to see if I can.
Little things – things I never noticed before about my body – are starting to emerge as the fat migrates off my body, and I’m loving the discoveries. I see muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles. My arms don’t jiggle when I wave. I can actually (sort of) see the outline of my achilles tendon. Most of the cellulite on my thighs is gone (so is, much to my chagrin, and entire cup size off my chest). My body is getting stronger, and even though I still struggle to love my reflection as a whole, I’m starting to fall madly in love with so many parts of it.
For a girl who has spent the past two years helping women love themselves and discover their own beauty, my newfound appreciation for the girl in the photo at the top of this page is profound. There are always going to be things I don’t like about myself, but I’m not going to hide behind the things that I cannot change as a reason to not tackle the things I can change. I’m going to fight like hell to be the change I want to see. To stop dreaming about it and continue doing it. Every single day. Because it’s not about perfection, it’s simply about progress. I aim for it – and nothing more – every single morning when the alarm goes off and the gym shoes go on.
And then I aim for coffee.
(photo credit: Jen Woodruff)