A hair above the rest

Growing up, I was cute but cuteness only went so far in school. I had my parent’s genetics to deal with. Some things you just can’t control, like crooked teeth or bad eyesight. I was born blind but my parents didn’t notice until I was in Kindergarten. I blame that on my smartness, I just faked it till I made it, or at least until I could no longer make it. Like when my mom asked me what time it was and I admitted that I couldn’t read the clock. Glasses it is!

Just looking at my dad, you could tell my teeth were doomed after seeing that I got his flat brown hair and poo-colored eyes. Braces were inevitable, but even metal mouth and extra large glasses were bearable compared to… my hair.

My hair was an oil pit. Especially once I entered middle school. It was that type of hair that literally would hit 24 hours after washing and turn into grease city. I’m talking did you pour a bottle of olive oil on your head and expect to make friends? Quite the opposite happened. I got made fun of all the time. To the point where my lazy 7th grader self was forced to wash my hair every day or suffer the consequences.

It was 50/50. And a part of me kept thinking maybe I could train my hair to last longer than 24 hours. Ain’t nobody got time to be washing and drying long stringy brown hair everyday. As I got older, I ended up caving in and washing as often as possible, sometimes twice a day. Throughout high school and college, I struggled to try and extend my hair life beyond the 24 hours it typically lasted. Even with advice from wiser women who would go DAYS, and I mean like 3-5 days without washing their hair, I still struggled. I finally discovered dry shampoo, but even that only gave me another day or two. At least I was improving, but it just wasn’t enough.

It likely didn’t help that I lived an active lifestyle full of jogging, martial arts, and other forms of torturous cardio/strength training activities. As recent as a few months ago, I was working out 5-6 times a week and still ended up washing my hair every 2-3 days. Still too often, and my hair still wasn’t at it’s prime since I was going through dry shampoo like water.

PicsArt_01-15-03.10.38.jpgThat’s when I discovered Monat. My friend gave me a bunch of samples and I put it to the test. From the first wash, my hair was beautiful for 4 days. On the 4th day, my lazy bum self used dry shampoo and made it to day 5. Not only did it look good, it felt and smelled even better. If I had a boyfriend, no doubt he would have his nose in my hair. But instead I just couldn’t stop touching my hair. I was beyond excited and actually looked forward to washing my hair again. Because of how long my hair went, the samples lasted me weeks. Which is unheard of. I was sold after going to a Monat hair washing and brunch event, where they transformed my hair in just one washing. While the shampoo isn’t the cheapest, it easily lasts 3-4 months if not longer. I purchased my first bottle back in November and have barely made a dent. I expect it to last yet another 3 months from now.PicsArt_01-15-03.16.08.jpg

And trust me, I’ve spent the same amount if not more on shampoo that lasted half that time. And normally I don’t spoil myself. Actually, I’m still sometimes in that college-kid mindset where the idea of spending any money on myself outside of food and gas is instantly rejected. But I will say that the dollars spent on Monat were well worth it. Every week, when I wash my hair once or maybe twice, I feel a change in my hair for the better. I get excited when I see other people’s hair improving as well. And the stories are endless. But don’t just take it from me, give it a shot. We all wash our hair anyways, why not try a sample and see if it’s for you?

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The struggle to love unconditionally

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Love as the media shows it is not true love. It’s the love where you are happy and showered with all the feels, until it gets hard. Then it’s time to break up and move on to the next. This illusion of plenty of fish in the sea, and maybe the lie of that perfect person for us keeps us unsatisfied until we end up alone and grumpy wondering where we went wrong.

Most of my life, I have struggled to learn and apply unconditional love in all of my relationships. I’m talking family, friends and most importantly romantic relationships. And the biggest struggle I face is unconditionally loving people who can’t love me back.

Both historically (my exes) and currently, there are and have been people in my life that I have and still love wholeheartedly who don’t have the capacity love me back. I won’t drop names, but there is someone in my life right now where I have to sit and meditate, take several deep breaths, before composing myself to respond to him in the most loving way I can.

But he already rejected me months ago, and even without that I know he doesn’t have the ability to love me back. At least, not the way I love him. And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where I just feel like crying. But each day gets better, because God gives me the strength to continue loving him the way Jesus loves me. And I pray that one day, he too will know and understand that type of love. The one where there are no limits. Without conditions. The way love is supposed to be.

Four categories of consciousness

Have you heard of the Hawkins scale of consciousness? It is a scale that goes from 0 to 1000: 0 being death and 1000 being Lord Jesus, Buddha, Krishna level. While there are many levels, you can split them into four categories where it’s safe to say if you aren’t with someone within your category, the likelihood of your relationship working out is very low unless one of you evolves or de-evolves to be more similar.

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Here are the four categories as I see them:

0-200

If you fall into this category, you are considered powerless. The highest level you can achieve in this category is pride, which may seem positive but it actually just feels good in contrast to the other, lower levels. These levels are vulnerable since they rely on outside forces. Growth is blocked in these levels, and to be honest you shouldn’t even consider dragging anyone else into your world until you evolve.

200-500

Level 200 is when you leave behind being powerless and start seeing life as exciting, challenging and stimulating. As you move up and evolve in this category, there is a high potential of growth. You also no longer let outside forces control how you feel and see things. You begin to rely on yourself to be happy and no one else can take away your happiness. The highest you can get to in this category is the level of reason, which is the level of science, medicine, and of generally increased capacity for conceptualization and comprehension. This is the level of Nobel Prize winners, great statesmen, and Supreme Court justices. It’s usually where we all strive to be but many fall short.

500-700

The 500 level is characterized by the development of a love that is unconditional, unchanging, and permanent. It doesn’t fluctuate – its source isn’t dependent on external factors. Loving is a state of being. It’s a forgiving, nurturing, and supportive way of relating to the world. Love isn’t intellectual and doesn’t proceed from the mind; Love emanates from the heart. This is the level of true happiness. It’s considered very rare to reach level 500, with only 0.4% of the world’s population reaching it.

As you evolve from love, you reach levels of joy (saints, spiritual healers) and then peace. Peace is associated with the experience designated by such terms as transcendence, self-realization, and God-consciousness. It’s extremely rare, attained by only 1 in 10 million people.

700 and above

Enlightenment. This is the level of the Great Ones of history who originated the spiritual patterns that countless people have followed throughout the ages. This is the level of powerful inspiration; these beings set in place attractor energy fields that influence all of mankind. At this level there is no longer the experience of an individual personal self separate from others; rather, there is an identification of Self with Consciousness and Divinity.

The weirdest part about all of this is that I’m at level 500, the level of unconditional love. But I keep falling for and trying to evolve people who are below level 200. I literally feel like a martyr trying to pull these guys up from the trenches. The most noticeable being my ex-husband, but this also applies to the people currently in my life now. And from the years of unconditionally loving the wrong people, I’m burned out. The idea of even liking someone right now is exhausting. I’m literally stacking up every piece of energy to love on my baby girl coming in a few months, and to be honest I’m getting used to the idea of being single for the majority of my life, if not for the rest of it.

Having this ability is both a blessing and a curse. Will I ever find another on my level?

Lively Athletics

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Growing up, I strived to fit in. I was made fun of most of elementary and middle school, I felt accepted in high school, and then I attended one of the largest US universities where I felt like I was drowning the first year. Once I was out on my own, I felt alone in a big city of Chicago. For about 6 years, I felt connected through a small Kung Fu school in Ravenswood.

But a mixture of life circumstances and the owner not caring about me and my welfare led me to moving away and leaving the school. When moving to a brand new area, I was scared that once again I wouldn’t fit in. Just about a month after moving, I entered a local running store named Lively Athletics for a marathon training run that was put together by World Vision and my church. And I saw a chalkboard with a cute sign that said weekly co-ed beer runs every Wednesday night 6:30pm. What I didn’t realize was just how much this little beer run would change my life.

I went to check it out that very Wednesday and instantly fell in love with the runners, store, and running route. Beer was a bonus. I actually went 12 weeks in a row to get a T shirt at 6 weeks and a beer glass at 12. That’s dedication. But through all the sweaty runs, I made friends. And I felt like I fit in with my new community.

The more I learned about Lively, the more I fell in love with it. It’s a sister-owned local running store that caters to women and children. Sorry, guys, but you already know women are taking over. And the owners are amazing. Kate, mother of two beautiful girls, cranking out marathons left and right. And Anne, mother of two as well, a power-lifter and cross-fitter. Together, they’ve created not just another running store, but a welcoming running community for runners of all ages, sizes and paces.

Every time I lace up on a Wednesday, I know that I won’t feel judged or left behind. Even now that I skip the beer afterwards, the gathering of sweaty runners afterwards is something I look forward to. It feels like I belong here, and that I belong in Oak Park thanks to Lively Athletics. And if you’re a runner looking for anything running (or tennis!) related, hit up this local gem. You won’t be disappointed.

The beginning of the end

The year was 2016. Everything in my life was changing, and not in a good way. My Dad was engaged and about to marry a raging alcoholic. I was still grieving the recent loss of my mother and there were few things that felt solid in my life: my marriage and my therapist were the top two. Kung Fu helped me vent, as well. But all through everything else falling apart, I felt like I could count on my husband and my therapist.

Even when my husband was frustrated over my grieving and stress about my Dad, I still felt like we were solid. Even when he spent more and more time away from home, I just wrote it off as his way of dealing with things. I felt like my stress may have been overflowing onto him, so tried my best to give him everything he needed, including many “massages” and other activities where he didn’t invite me to. It felt like I had blinders on until he blew up at me. What seemed like overnight, he started sleeping on the couch and stopped talking to me. All the love and warmth was sucked out of the room when we were home. My world was officially falling apart, not just everywhere else but also at home.

And the only solid thing I could cling onto was my therapist. And God. I started praying daily from the first day I felt a rift in my marriage, which was about two months before my husband left the house. I prayed for someone to go to church with me, since it was pretty clear my husband wasn’t going to go anymore. I prayed not just for someone to invite me but for me to find a community where I belonged. And God answered my prayers.

My co-worker Elizabeth who I didn’t know very well invited me to her church. I could tell she was nervous to ask me, but I couldn’t say no. Especially since it was exactly what I needed, at the right time. I started attending Free Church right after my husband left the house. Right around that time, I finally realized just how many lies my husband had told me. It spiraled out of control and I ended up in the middle of a panic attack late at night. It felt like the entire house was spinning all around me and my life was falling apart. I started hyperventilating and felt dizzy. I considered driving myself to the ER or calling 911 if I didn’t move in the next few moments.

As tears started rolling down my face, I started talking to God. I couldn’t say anything other than I’m sorry. I apologized, over and over again, because here I was losing my shit over a person. A human being. A shitty, awful one but at the end of the day just a creature. And in the midst of all my tears and apologies, I heard God tell me “It’s ok, I have someone better for you.” And all of a sudden, I’m calm. My tears dry up, and I feel a sense of warmth and relief. And I fall asleep.

That was the beginning of the end of my marriage. But that was also the year I learned that just because one thing ends doesn’t mean that everything is over. Actually, it usually means a new, different opportunity will present itself. And in the end, as long as you trust in God, he will take you where you’re supposed to go.

What should I register for?

As a new mom, everything is so exciting for me. But oftentimes, I find myself overwhelmed. Between the hospital bills piling up and the scale only increasing every week, it’s hard to remain calm in the middle of the baby storm. I also pretend to know everything I can about babies by reading every article and book I can get my hands on (thanks Oak Park Library!). I absolutely adore reading and learning as much as I can. And I absolutely can’t wait to meet my baby girl.

But in reality, I know nothing. Just like Jon Snow. So, I turn to you, my amazing readers, for help.

What should I register for? Obviously, I got the big stuff on the list: a crib, a stroller, a playard, and a changing table. Also diapers and tons of them! But what am I missing? What items have been necessary or life-saving when raising a baby? And what’s the best place to get them?

I’m currently registered on Amazon and at Target. Check out my lists and let me know what else I should add! Thank you!

Why this baby is a miracle

I was a late bloomer. I didn’t get my period for the first time until I was 16. Maybe because I was too skinny, or didn’t consume enough dairy. Well, when it came it was like a hurricane. Or a wrecking ball. Mother Nature was confused. There were times that I was bleeding every two weeks. Then, other times, it wouldn’t make it’s appearance for months on end. By age 19, I was on birth control to control Aunt Flow. An ultrasound showed cysts on my ovaries, and the Doctor told me that I had what they call Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Long story short, Doc told me if/when I had kids one day it wouldn’t be easy.

Fast forward ten years later. I’m married, in love, and ready to have a baby. So I go off the pill (finally) and things are once again whacked out. But this time I take every measure I can to try and regulate myself naturally. Weekly acupuncture, daily chinese herbs, working out regularly, and watching my diet. Things take time, but they begin shaping up about 8 months into it. Which is also right around the time my husband noticeably stops sleeping with me. I’m dressing in lingerie and giving out lap dances but he would rather poke me with a ten foot pole. I’m tracking my ovulations daily, and I’m not ovulating. We get close, Aunt Flow starts coming semi-regularly. I.e. every 45 days. But it’s a start. And I get really excited.

Then my husband explodes. He gets mad out of nowhere and literally stops sleeping with me. On the couch every night. Weeks go by and it feels like everything around me crumbles. The life we built, the baby we wanted, turns into dust. I’ll never forget the worse lie he told me, “I still want a family, just not with you.” But the strangest thing happened. I ovulate days after he leaves the house. Then Aunt Flow becomes regular. Like every 35 days regular. And I become normal. Happy and normal, after years of battling cysts. They’re even smaller than normal on ultrasound. But of course my Doc still thinks having a baby won’t be easy. “No problem, Doc. I’m not even trying anymore.”

But my heart was broken. I was ready to start a family. The idea of starting over scared me. Actually, the very next guy I dated seemed to get way too serious way too fast so I dumped him after only a few weeks. I decided that I just wanted to date without any ties or commitment. Fast forward a year and a half and I notice my normally somewhat regular (every 35-40 days) period is late. I don’t even blink since it seems like I have all the regular period-like symptoms but I pee on a stick just to clear my mind.

When it comes back positive, I try another one. Determined the two tests weren’t right due to them being expired, I go out and buy new tests and try again the next day. Four positive pregnancy tests later, I’m in shock. How could this be? After trying with no avail, here I am miraculously pregnant. Well, not like Virgin Mary miracle, but close in my mind. Never in all my years did I think I could get pregnant easily. Without effort. My first thought is that it’s a miracle. God spared me from having a baby with the wrong person. But all along He knew I would have a baby. Just not quite the way I thought.

I’m so thankful for this miracle that God gave me. The ability to have a baby after my journey is so exciting. I can’t wait to meet my mini-me and already love him or her with all my heart.

 

Pregnancy and body image

Women struggle with body image from the day they’re born. Ok, maybe not that early, but it seems that way sometimes. Once you get your first Barbie doll, you start noticing your own figure and clothes. Not just toys, but social media has a big affect on girls of all ages. The desire to be skinny and sexy starts at a young age and never really goes away.

Fast forward a few years or decades and you’re having a baby. The most wonderful, joyous time of any mother’s life. The feeling of a growing baby in your belly is next to none. But with that comes a changing body. Most women gain anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and often feel and look overweight. A woman sacrificing her body for nine months is worth the lifetime of happiness, but sometimes it affects her in a negative way. She starts seeing just the negatives: the stretchmarks, the large belly, and the number on the scale. All of these things shouldn’t matter, but it is hard with the pressures of society to see a large body as beautiful.

And it’s hard to sacrifice ourselves for someone else. Even if that someone else is our adorable mini-me. Even if the sacrifice results in having a beautiful child. I think it’s important to focus on the more important things in life. Yeah, having a healthy body is important but we don’t have to downgrade how we see ourselves when pregnant. Pregnancy is a gift from God. Not everyone has the ability and blessing to have a baby. So, if you’re lucky enough to be pregnant, embrace it.

Love your body and love your baby.

How expecting a baby raised my standards

Pregnant and dating: not two words commonly seen together.

But that’s me. You’re not so common pregnant chick. And don’t get me wrong, I am focused almost exclusively on my baby and me. But just about two years ago, God told me that He has someone better for me (in the context of my heart breaking over my ex). And the past two years, I’ve managed to carve my own path. I made a list of deal-breakers, and then promptly didn’t follow them. I dated all the wrong guys.

But getting pregnant has helped me to open my eyes and see everything that I was doing wrong. I was chasing that fleeting feeling. You know, the one where a cute guy kisses you and you just imagine the selfies because he is that good looking. Or the one where you feel his abs and think to yourself that you can overlook his personality flaws. Abs tho…

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That brings me to present day. The pregnant chick who couldn’t even make it work with the baby daddy. Trust me, I still get a lot of people wondering what’s wrong with me. I couldn’t keep a husband, and here I am about to be a single mom. But no where along the way have I lowered my standards. Actually, becoming pregnant raised them.

Now I have a screening process. I won’t even talk to a guy on the phone or meet him in person without him knowing my story. Yes, I am literally telling strangers my story. Similar to you reading my blog posts, I am laying it all out there. Married and divorced, pregnant and single. And yeah, I’m not the easiest to love due to these and other situations I’ve been through. But I know I’m worth it.

And even if I don’t find that someone better. Even if I’m single for the rest of my life. I would rather be single and happy than taken and depressed. Been there, done that. Now’s the time that I find that someone better. Or maybe not right now, but in God’s timing.

And yes there are guys willing to date me and take a chance. Just because one guy can’t see it doesn’t mean there isn’t another out there who can.

Special Announcement

IMG_20181029_174540_860In case you somehow haven’t heard, I’m having a baby. While I’m beyond excited and blessed to be experiencing this amazing new Mom thing, my story isn’t the typical one. Then again, it’s 2018 and who goes by the book anymore anyways?

I’m single and jobless. While the first is a choice, the second wasn’t. I normally wouldn’t worry, other than I hear kids are expensive and right now money is already tight with no income. Of course, I gave it all over to God and I had a third interview today. But you never know, and the new Mom in me is already a worry-wart. While my friends are busy congratulating me, beyond excited for my new bundle of joy, I am counting the dollars in my head to figure out just how long can I make it without a job?

I haven’t been jobless in over 14 years. I legitimately can’t remember not working. But I digress. This post isn’t about money or jobs. It’s actually about how people reacted to the news: single and expecting. Most people just said Wow! Congrats! with a few You go girl! Single parenthood is easier than ever these days. But I did get a limited few asking me if I was going to date/marry the father of the baby. Obviously, I expect this from the older generations, but when friends my age asked me that I was taken aback. I guess, ideally, a child should be raised by both parents in the same environment. I get that, I was married before so I totally understand. But when I choose to have a baby while also choosing to be single, it kinda surprised me. Here I am reading up the best way to raise a baby by myself, miss independent style. And my Dad’s like when’s the wedding?

It’s cool though, I guess there’s that hopeless romantic part of me that was secretly hoping it’d work out like a fairy tale. But then reality hit like a semi-truck. Left me alone to change the kitty litter boxes by myself (don’t worry, I’m taking the necessary precautions). While I am and will be alone during this growing a baby process, I’m actually not alone.

I have the most amazing friends and family. My church and running community here in Oak Park has already gone above and beyond for me. Walking my dog, planning a gender reveal, and already talking about baby showers. My Dad and his Fiancee have been helping me rearrange and clean out my condo. My best friend in Chicago has helped me get rid of about 50% of the clutter in my condo, mostly to make room to breathe and eventually for my mini-me. The hoarder in me isn’t happy, but man is it nice to actually be able to move easily in my condo and not feel trapped by my past. Let go and live on.

I guess my point is, just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you have to do this alone. It takes a village. Even if the other parent isn’t in the picture, the most important thing to focus on is providing an excellent environment for growth. I’ve met with many elders who are wise beyond my years, and the most solid advice I’ve been given was that my happiness and joy will be apparent to my little one. If I’m not happy, they will sense that. So everyday I strive to wipe away the tears and find the joy in my surroundings. This isn’t hard to do when you have so much to be thankful for. I’m truly blessed, not just with the baby but also with everyone and everything in my life. I have the ability to workout, to run, to walk. To be healthy. To eat well. And to live life to it’s fullest.

I feel closer than ever to God through this situation and can only imagine how much my faith will grow through this new season of life. I hope my story helps bring encouragement and strength to those who are also going through similar struggles.