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.

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Top benefits of massage and giveaway

Do you like massages?

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and integrative medicine. It’s usually offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found the massage is helpful for:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Headaches

Even more interesting, massage helps expectant mothers deal with many side effects of pregnancy. Prenatal Massage has indicated in studies that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains,  and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. The massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage. –Americanpregnancy.org

Giveaway!

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I’m excited to announce that my company, Holistic Theory, is giving away free 30 minute massages in and around Chicago. This includes suburbs of Chicago. If you’re not local to Chicago, I apologize but we will be coming to a major city near you in the future.

Sign up here!

Resources for expectant mothers

After being the only expectant mother who showed up alone for the hospital tour, I realized that it would be beneficial to share resources for others going through the same or similar situation as me. This whole single parent thing isn’t easy, but these resources have helped me cope and prepare for what’s to come.

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Obama Care/Medicare

Without insurance, having a baby can easily cost at least 10k. And as a single mom, that can be detrimental. But insurance can also get pricey. Thankfully, there are programs out there that cut the cost for insurance. Don’t get me wrong, though. Those medical bills will still pile up, but at least they won’t amount to $10,000!

Aid for Women

I already wrote an entire post about this amazing resource in Chicago. If you’re not in Chicago, I would urge you to find something similar. I entered in free pregnancy test clinic near me in google to find this place.

Free Breast Pump

With insurance, a breast pump costs $0. And after doing some research and talking to some other mom’s, I found the best of the best breast pump to get. Medela pump is the way to go is what I found.

Community Support

I’ve found an amazing supportive community at my local church Free Church. I attend church services, small groups, and church events. I also am part of the host team which is basically the greeting team that welcomes newcomers to the church. Outside of church, I’m also a part of the wonderful running community in Oak Park. Whatever works for you, I would recommend finding some local group to support you. I have heard great things in regards to local mom groups as well that I plan on joining once baby is here.

Meditation

While finances are definitely tight, stress can easily increase. Getting your mind and spirit right is important. Your baby can feel what you feel. So having positive thoughts and a calm mind is ideal. I found a local Buddhist center where they welcome newcomers and drop ins on a weekly basis to sit in and learn meditation techniques and to meditate. My recommendation here is to find a place you feel welcomed and comfortable at. Doesn’t have to be associated with any religion if you’re not into that.

What resources have you used as a single parent?

 

 

Radiating love and kindness

So today I’m supposed to write about someone who has helped me and influenced my life. It’s hard to think about anyone else other than my mother. Both of my parents have influenced me and helped me so much. My father is a close second, but today I feel like reminiscing about my mom.

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My mom was one of those people who could talk to anyone. She always had a story to share but also an ear to listen to those with their own stories. Where-ever she went, she had a smile on her face and a kindness unmatched. But she was even better with those she loved and cared for. Not only was she there for her immediate family, my brother and I, but also her siblings, parents, uncles, aunts and in-laws. She was that person who would give the shirt off her back to help out someone in need.

Countless times she would help out her brother who was struggling financially. Even going so far as giving him a car. When her mom was sick, she was there for her as much as possible. Trying to make her as comfortable as possible. And later on, same thing for her dad. She was always there for my brother and me growing up, even at our lowest of our lows and highest of our highs. She was the glue that kept our family together. What did that look like? Daily dinners where all four of us sat down and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal. But more than that, she kept her extended families in touch. With her willingness and love for talking, she would keep up frequent communication with her family members. We would see our cousins, aunts and uncles more than just the holidays. And family was always a big part of our lives growing up.

But more than that, she was my best friend. Of course, she was also my parent so she laid the ground rules and enforced them when needed. But growing up, she was always there to lend me her time, love and encouragement. And even when I messed up, she still loved me. She was one of those people who demonstrated unconditional love to me. And I’m very blessed, since most people don’t get to experience this type of love first-hand. I grew up with faith and religion, and was taught about the love that Jesus and God has for me. But to experience it in person, from my own parent, was magical. And I am oh so glad for it.

What I wish someone told me

In light of all the New Year’s Resolutions, I felt like the topic of fitness, exercise and health was an important one to write about today. As most of you know, I grew up generally disliking exercise and absolutely hated running. I also didn’t have the best diet, my favorite food usually consisted of some sort of fried or processed food. And for most of my early life, I got away with my unhealthy habits and still was skinny. Or skinny-fat, which if you don’t know what that means click that link to learn more.

But half-way through college, the donut holes caught up to me. I was eating too much and just not working out. I didn’t know where to begin, but my mom insisted I take some sort of self-defense class to protect myself, and my boyfriend was a little too concerned over my new-found chub. With these wonderful people in mind, I enrolled in once weekly Tae Kwon Do and started pushing myself to go to the gym 2-3 times a week. Nothing crazy. I also started eating less processed foods and more veggies and protein in order to feel full for longer. But the biggest struggle I experienced was my lack of knowledge at the gym. I would show up with no idea what or how to do anything right. I would run on the track some 30 plus laps until I was sweaty and then be like now what?

There were these strength machines that I would just use like in a loop, the same machines every time. And I didn’t really see much in ways of toning up or getting stronger. Not to say I didn’t feel better, I definitely did, but I was just lost. So lost that after dumping said boyfriend and graduating, I went back to my sedentary life of which I was all too familiar with. Pounds started piling on and about two years later, new boyfriend same situation. This time, I knew I had to do something differently. Going to the gym was just too over-whelming for me. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to do more than just run around like a hamster or sit on some random arm machine and pretend to work on my biceps.

This boyfriend was the evolved version of previous boyfriend and he too didn’t understand gym equipment as was apparent by his severely lacking muscle tone and way too skinny ass. But, I digress. Lucky for me, he had half a brain to suggest an alternative to the gym. One that I had already done before, but rather than just once a week actually push myself to practice martial arts more often, closer to 4+ times a week. We found and enrolled in a local Kung Fu school and the rest is history.

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Kung Fu led to me starting to run which also led to me wanting to learn said confusing gym equipment and proper exercises. Many years and Kung Fu belts later, I become a certified personal trainer and finally know how to go to the gym with an exercise plan that I can successfully execute and build upon. Where was this knowledge years ago when I was sitting on a leg curl machine next to my ex wondering what was the purpose of building this one muscle in my leg when my belly was the issue?

So my one piece of advice for those of you looking to get started, or restart your fitness journey is this. Do something you love AND are comfortable with. Or at least comfortable being pushed to learn something new. Having a teacher or coach is invaluable. Over the 6 years that I practiced Kung Fu, I dropped easily well over $8,000 that I didn’t even have. And every dollar was well spent. I distinctly remember one day I literally took every dollar I made from tutoring that week from one of my clients just to pay for Kung Fu for that month.

My point is, don’t do this journey alone. Find something you’re passionate about and if you have no idea what you’re doing, get with someone who can show and teach you. Their knowledge will help you grow and achieve your fitness goals. I wish you the best of luck in your journey, grasshopper.

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.

January blog challenge

I signed up a day late, but making up for it by combining yesterday’s and today’s blog posts. This January 2019, I’m taking a part of a daily blog challenge. Every day I’ll be given a prompt that I’ll have to write about on that day. This is the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and to be honest it’s been years since I’ve written every day. Let alone for a month straight! This will be interesting..

I also wanted to share with you a little bit about my history. I’ve almost always been a writer. I’ve had some sort of journal or diary since as early as elementary school, although my first writings were pretty primitive. Over time, I’ve developed a voice and passion for a variety of subjects ranging from love, fitness, education, science, and faith/spirituality. My niche isn’t well-defined on this blog, since I’ve written stories about myself, trending stories, and even poetry. I really just go with the flow, and to be honest I see the most views when I’m vulnerable. What does that mean? That means I get to share my scariest and sometimes saddest stories, and you all love to read them.

What I love about blogging and writing is that I get to face my fears, and I get to help others face theirs. I have told a half-joke before that my life is a lot like a soap opera. So much drama, and unreal situations, that should one tune in they would laugh, cry and possibly become addicted for more. I hope you all enjoy my daily posts over the next 30 days. And let me know if there’s anything you’d like to read about.

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.

Aid for Women

I’m actually working on a bigger, longer and more helpful post about resources for soon to be single Moms but I just had to write this first.

Aid for Women was there for me before anyone even knew I was having (and keeping) a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I told the Baby Daddy and a close friend after I took four positive pregnancy tests. But neither of these guys could say much more than “Are you keeping it?” I felt cornered, and needed to find a place that would be on my side but also help me know all my options. Also, I had just started a self-employment gig and was still waiting to get onto Obamacare for health insurance. Without insurance or a plan, I started a search on google for resources.

That’s how I came across Aid for Women. Conveniently located in Cicero (with other locations in Chicago and Des Plaines), a mere 12 minute drive from me, I scheduled for the earliest available appointment I could get. A free pregnancy test and a free ultrasound later, I was definitely, absolutely pregnant. And I was definitely, absolutely keeping the baby. I was happy to be at the Aid for Women clinic. They weren’t there to convince me to get an abortion or to keep the baby. They went over all my options and even offered me additional educational resources.

But the best part was they were as excited as I was. Despite the circumstances, the women working there were so warm and happy for me. And beyond just the initial pregnancy test and ultrasound, they offer a program called Earn while you Learn. Basically, you can go once a week to watch a short video about 20-40 minutes long and fill out a worksheet based on the video. All the videos are educational in regards to pregnancy, birth, and raising a baby. And the best part is that every time you go and watch a video, you earn points. The points add up, and you can redeem them for baby supplies. If you earn enough points (15 visits worth) you can get a stroller or a crib. All for going and learning about pregnancy and babies.

They even threw a cute Christmas party with Santa and games for the kids. In addition to free food, they gave out gifts which included a Target gift card. I spent all of the generous gift card on baby clothes. Once I saw the superhero themed little baby clothes, I couldn’t help myself.

What resources have you used while pregnant and preparing for your baby?