Let your sweat shine!

Is it me or is this gym extra-shiny? Not sure if it’s the warmer than normal weather, or the new years resolution’s, but the gym has been pretty busy lately. With the extra bodies comes the extra sweat. Many of the regular gym-goers aren’t that happy to be waiting for equipment that ends up being a little stickier than usual. If this is your first time at the gym, or your first time in a long time, you may be embarrassed at just how much sweat is poring out of your pores. But don’t sweat it! Literally.

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Whenever we begin something new, we have to learn (or re-learn) how to become proficient at it. This applies to our bodies as well. Think of it this way, the first time you rode a bike were you doing wheelies? Likely not. Instead you were likely trying to stay balanced on 4 wheels (thankful for training wheels over here!) while also trying to actually move forward. Fast forward to now, you don’t even have to think when riding a bike. It’s second nature.

Our bodies are similar, but unfortunately unlike riding a bike we lose our conditioning when we put the activity away for awhile. Like a runner who stops running for a few years. They can’t just up and run a marathon out of the blue, they have to train and condition themselves to get back to 26.2 miles. And that doesn’t happen overnight. Our bodies are the same way when it comes to sweating. At first, when we’re out of shape and out of breath, we are sweating profusely. It’s our bodies way of regulating our temperature. And since we haven’t worked out in (XX) number of days, weeks, months or years, our bodies are just trying their best to stay alive. “For what reason do you torture me?” – Sincerely, your body.

But the more you exercise, the more adjusted your body becomes. And with that, the less you’ll sweat. So until then, shine on with your sweaty-ass self! And don’t be ashamed, since everyone starts somewhere. Sweaty and all.

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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?

 

 

Relationships and compromise

Because without compromise no relationship would ever work out, today we are going to talk about how much of yourself you truly have to give up to make that “perfect” or (in reality) not so perfect relationship actually work. This is a perk of my always-thinking (read: overthinking) mind and also has been inspired by other people in my life who have opened up to me in regards to their relationships.

Self Love

A lot of us, as humans, are selfish. At the end of the day, we only have ourselves to rely on and love. And self-love is very important! Actually, if you don’t love yourself you won’t be able to properly love someone else. It is nearly impossible. So the very first thing you must learn to do is love and respect yourself. Without that, the relationship will consume you. You know, that “perfect” relationship with the “perfect” guy or girl. It will chew you up and spit you back out. It will destroy you, if you let it. But defend yourself with the proper mindset and it will help you grow and become a better version of yourself.

But on the other side of the same token, if you’re too selfish and focused on yourself that relationship will shrivel up and die. And you’ll be left with just yourself again, wondering what went wrong since you seemed to be doing fine the entire time.

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You have to find the right balance between yourself and your significant other. You have to compromise the right amount, and spend the right amount of time together (growing together) but also still have time for yourself and your hobbies/passions. And sometimes those passions and hobbies will overlap, but you still have to have your own interests so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the other person. As humans, it is important that we feel a few things as listed below.

  • Unique. We want to feel special, like there is no one else like us.
  • Loved. We want to feel wanted by others, their love validates us that we are lovable.
  • Strong/Independent. We don’t want to feel weak or that we have to depend on someone else to live our lives the way we want to.

But what about me?

With all this in mind, there will be sacrifices and compromises that we will have to make to be with someone. While the idea of there being “the one” perfect person for us is nice, it isn’t true. Instead of hoping/waiting for the perfect person to fit ever so perfectly into your life, you should create a list or two to help narrow down your choices (plenty of fish) so that you can find someone to work towards having a healthy relationship with. The lists that I created that have helped me are the two below:

  1. A list of ten deal-breakers. If the guy I’m dating doesn’t meet all ten, I move on.
  2. A list of red flags. Everyone has luggage, no one is perfect, but after going through my marriage, my husband cheating/living a double life, and my divorce I learned which red flags I won’t accept. If these pop up, bye felicia.

Are you in a healthy relationship? One that helps you be a better person? If not, perhaps you should make these lists and re-assess that relationship and what you’re looking for in a significant other. Feel free to comment below your deal breakers or any red flags that make you leave. And let me know if you’d be interested in my lists I’ve created for my next relationship.

Orange you glad I met ya?

Writings from the other side

I’ve been dealing with a few thoughts lately that have been coming at me from the other side. Bear with me.

“No offense Jen, but I’d never marry someone who’s divorced.”

How I remain unoffended is another story for another time, but what about being divorced makes someone undesirable? Why is it an instant red flag situation? And if this is true, why did I marry a divorced person? Where were you 4 years ago as I was tying the knot with the devil himself?

I guess if I had that mindset, then I would’ve never gotten married in the first place and I would have less baggage. A less red red flag. Or maybe I’d have more. Who knows. A part of me thinks the marriage kept me out of trouble though. And it taught me a lot.

It taught me that just because I know how to love unconditionally and trust someone doesn’t mean everyone knows this. Also, while I saw a glimmer of hope and felt loved by my ex, it was fleeting as once things got hard, he ran away. But only partially. I learned that some people can literally live on lies, and create two separate lives based on these lies. A part of me wonders if there’s an app for that: keep track of all your lies app.

I also learned how to love myself. By being discarded, I found myself and finally see how much I truly am worth. I found not only my legs, but my entire body, mind, and soul all came in sync with each other. Enough to not just run my first marathon, but also to start a whole new life that I never thought I’d have. Finally, I am happy to be on my own. I am getting comfortable in my independence and freedom in this new world.

But there’s that nagging voice inside my head. What about my future husband, if there is one? Another marriage? I mean, if I can find a guy willing to roll the dice on me (since I’m so unwanted). Please note the tone of sarcasm in this last sentence. But for real, if and when I do decide to potentially marry again, what does this mean for me? And for the man I decide to take a chance on?

There will be demons that I will have to fight. I’m actually already fighting them now, way before even considering marrying again.

Am I good enough? Will I be good enough for someone to marry? Will someone love me the way I deserve to be loved? Unconditionally and until death? The way marriage is supposed to be. Will I be able to trust someone enough to take the plunge again, after everything I’ve been through? They say better to have loved and lost than to never have loved. I find comfort in that and I agree with it. Which is really hard to say because I was really hurt, for a very long time. Longer than I’d like to admit. Some days I still hurt a little over it, but everyday is getting better as I find my strength and courage to push forward and move on, one step at a time.

One thing I have learned is that until I am completely over what happened to me, and completely happy with myself, I won’t be ready to even entertain the idea of marriage. I know this time is the time that I need to focus on myself and my relationship with the Lord. My strength and courage come from Him. He has opened so many doors in my life it’s overwhelming. He has answered all of my prayers, and has given me more than I could ever even imagine asking for. One year ago he freed me from the hell I was living in, and he answered my prayer by having my friend invite me to her church, which is now my church. And that was just the beginning.

IMG_20170923_104230I’m not perfect. I will likely always have doubts and those voices in my head that I must battle. But I know what I deserve, and I strive to be the best person I can be. I know my ability to love, deeply and unconditionally. And I feel that same love from Jesus, so at the end of the day even if I end up being alone (and with 30 cats) I will be just as happy as I would be with someone. I don’t find my worth or happiness in others (if I did then that comment above would affect me way more). Instead, I find my happiness within me and my joy in God. He brings me everything I need and even the things I don’t realize I need. He goes above and beyond to show His love to me. And it’s indescribable.

So to my future husband, if you exist, if you’re reading this then you can see that I’m a work in progress. But aren’t we all? All I ask from you is patience and love. If you choose to love me, I will choose to love you. Everyday. For the rest of our lives.

But until then, I’m going to enjoy the shit out of life with my fur babies, my friends, and my family. I’m going to run marathons, or maybe just half-marathons (they’re much easier!). I’m going to lift weights and practice yoga. I’m going to not only attend but also provide help at my church. I’m going to spend time in God’s word and grow with Him. I’m going to enjoy my alone time as much as my time with others. And I’m going to heal myself. I choose myself everyday, which may seem selfish, but I know it’s necessary during this season in my life.

All I can say is I’m worth it. We’re worth it. And with God anything is possible. Always and forever.

With love.

Jen

Dating in 2017 – a mental shift

Dating is dead, or so they say. In my opinion, it’s not completely dead, it has just changed into something very different compared to when I started dating many years ago. Back in the day, guys used to try. I remember my first date like it was yesterday. The nerves, the effort, the flowers (kinda), the missed first kiss, the sweaty palms. Wait, am I talking about a date or a sporting event? Oh, that’s right, this was when I was a teenager and dating in high school. Pretty sure I was way too nervous to even talk to boys at that point. So let’s fast forward to college.

In college, I was still weird (actually this never changed) so after a short but sweet long distance relationship, I turned to what was a new way of meeting people: dating websites. Even though I met people unconventionally, I still got to know them the organic way: through phone calls and dates/hanging out. And they still tried their best to impress me, or at least create a good time. Going on dates was fun. At one point, I met three different guys in the span of a week. Despite feeling like I had endless options (plenty of fish, anyone?), I settled on one of the three and ended up in a long term relationship with him.

Fast forward through even more awkward dates, some guys I met face to face, others also through the magical internet, I always appreciated the effort when a guy would try to actually court me. Not just bring me to Starbucks, but to actually plan something out like a nice dinner, or a local musical or concert. When they paid attention to what I like and executed a successful date based on similar interests we shared meant a lot to me. I actually have developed a similar skill where once I start to get to know someone, I pay attention to what their interests are and try to plan dates and events that would interest them.

Sometimes I feel like I can be a little aggressive though, and sometimes this backfires on me. There are many guys I’ve scared off due to my straight-forward, no-nonsense personality. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that if a guy can’t handle me, it’s his loss.

But with the new age dating, and the popularity of dating apps, dating has turned into more of a game. With the endless swiping you can do, it definitely feels like there’s an abundance of eligible single people out there. Some days I feel like I can swipe for ages, but never actually find anyone or anything interesting. It makes me yearn for the older days of simple dating. I just want to get to know someone. Someone who’s willing to get to know me, and try to court me as I try to court them. Make it a more even playing field, guys don’t always have to take the lead. But once in awhile, it’s nice to not have to wear the pants all the time. 🙂

What are your thoughts on the current dating scene? Are you dating or just laying low? Are you in a relationship? Or married?  Also, this image sums me up pretty well:

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This is 31

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Last year I did an entire This is Thirty series where I looked back at my past and took you through the process of my life pre-marriage and eventually to where I was, or where I thought I was. Looking back over the past year has me seeing double. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and I’m only getting started.

It feels like where I was at 30 is a completely different world and different life than where I am now. The crazy part is I thought I was in control of my life and thought I was mature. Thought my mom passing away and my dad starting a new family helped me grow, but little did I know I had no control and my marriage was already falling apart.

Today, as a single and independent woman, I am no longer in that fake-happy world I was stuck in. I’ve grown up and out of the “American dream” and I’ve found my own dreams. I not only was thoughtful, but also methodological in my choices and actions over the past 9 months. Moving to Oak Park wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was a no-brainer for me for several reasons. Reasons relating to my job, my friends, my sense of community, my safety, and my lifestyle. Above all, though, I feel like God called me here. And I listened.

In the middle of the storm of my previous life, I grew quiet and listened to God. He told me several things that still ring true today. He told me “He’s just a person” “I have someone better for you” and “I have something better for you.” I believe that something better was and is Oak Park, Free Church, and the community I’ve found here. I’ve moved on from the person who tried to control me, and find it surprising when people ask me about that old, long ago time and place.

I’m still growing and I’m still maturing. There won’t be a time where I will say I’m mature and I’ve grown, because there is always room to grow more. I learned that even when you think you’re in control, you never really are. And I’m learning to let go of that need to control and to let God. So far, he’s steered me into this new, wonderful life that I would’ve never imagined on my own. And I’m savoring every moment.

When to walk away

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Do you feel emotionally drained and don’t know why? Do you doubt yourself after talking to your partner? There are 5 things that every emotional manipulator does to confuse and drain you.

  1. They will persistently dismiss your emotions. If you ever tell your significant other about something they did or said that hurt you, they will turn it around and say you’re making it a bigger deal than it really is, disregarding your feelings. Their apathetic attitude will eventually make you start doubting yourself, so you introspectively gather your thoughts and start believing it’s your fault. You lose motivation to pursue the issue any further.
  2. They play “tit for tat” pretty well. If you ever become confident to approach them with what you think they are lacking in terms of affection or intimacy or emotional support, they  will respond by listing all the things they find lacking in you. They might try and throw it back at you and once again blame you for the reason there’s even an issue in the first place. If you’re like me, this will just make you crawl into your shell further.
  3. They are completely different people when no one else is around. You’re with your friends having a great time, everyone’s laughing. But then at the end of the night when no one else is around, your partner starts a fight saying how terrible you are with his friends and how mean you are to him in front of his friends. He can make fun of you but you can’t make fun of him back. Sometimes it feels like he just wants to fight.
  4. They try to convince you that everyone else is on their side. We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake and you’re with an emotional manipulator, one thing to look out for is if they try and point out to you the error of your ways and tell you that everyone else is in agreement that you’re wrong. These supposed phantom alliances that allegedly conspire against you leave you feeling left out and insecure. If you inquire as to who’s saying this, you probably won’t receive an answer or they will just lie to your face.
  5. To them you are not intelligent enough to understand their reasoning. An emotional manipulator is not prone to explaining their own actions to you when asked, their reason will be that it’s too complex for you to understand. Their goal is to put themselves above you by pointing out to you your lack of intelligence. If your partner continues to withhold information from you, you will never know when you do something right or wrong. This puts you in a terrible, vulnerable place to be attacked over the smallest things.

Speaking from experience, if your significant other is doing these things, it’s time to leave. There’s no reasoning with someone who’s unwilling to be reasonable. And no one deserves to be manipulated like that anyways. We are all our own people and we all have a right to our feelings and emotions.

Defend yourself from these types of people. Raise your tail feathers and quills. Don’t let manipulators get to you.