What do you see... that is still the same today?
What do you see… after nineteen years have flown by?
What do you see… by the dawn's earliest pink light?
What do you see… as we continue our perilous fight?
What do you see… looking down at two holes in the solemn ground?
What do you see… forever searching and maybe still not found?
What do you see… nineteen diligent years later?
What do you see… as you peer into those deep craters?
What do you see… from an airplane’s crash?
What do you see… past all the fire and burned ash?
What do you see… past the smoke and dusty air?
What will you believe… as people begin to not care?
And do you still hear… that valiant band playing through the quiet air?
And will you bear witness… to those fighting still and forever as they must?
As the next round starts... and we have to keep rolling past all the dust.
What do you see… through twilights shining gleam?
What do you see… past all those forces unseen?
What do you see… through those shining bright stars and breathtaking broad stripes?
What do you see… through the horror of all those bombs bursting this very night?
What do you see… through pollution and the reddest of red blood?
What do you see… as free men - and women - stand here in the mud?
What do you see… past Liberty’s smile?
What do you see… from sea to shining sea all those miles?
What do you see… though concealed fighting to be disclosed?
What do you see… as foe’s strike their continual battle blows?
Do you see there is proof?
That our flag is still there?
Oh Say Darling Can You See… her most beautiful story?
As she stands here - proud… in all of her glory?
Yes - I do.
I do see it all.
Yes even in war’s havoc and confusion and nineteen years later.
I even see Heaven on Earth and God our Creator.
I see that reflection shine above all and very tall.
I see Angels in the sky… And God in our hearts as we bawl.
I see reflection bounced off millions of broken chains.
Forever more - unconfined.
I see all those who paved our very way.
With their very lives - they all gave.
Yes, I see those next pages of her remarkable story be flipped.
As her bright blazen stays now - and forever - lit.
And, I STILL see the land of the freest of free… and know that this is God’s Country home, of the very, very brave. ~
~ So Long Summer Sabbatical, Hello Sweet September ~
Remember when you had to learn - or rather, memorize - the dates of seemingly countless historical events, while growing up in school?
I mean - does anyone ever really forget that the U.S. Civil War took place from 1861-1865?
Or that World War I lasted from 1914 until 1918? Added on to that one - y’all know the historical significance of November 11th, right?
And let’s never forget that our country was founded in 1776? July 4th - to be exact.
Throw together just a few more for the heck of it...
How about World War II lasting from 1939 until 1945?
How many of y’all know when we first landed on the Moon?
Or let’s go even farther back here - way back. When was Jesus born? When did He die? And - why did the event of His death have to happen in order for humans to be where they are today in God’s image???
Are any and/or all of those dates burned into your memory at this point in your life? Whether you ever spend a moment thinking about them throughout your daily activities, or not?
They - and an infinite number more days, periods, and good ol’ fashioned chunks of time - helped change the course of human history.
All those dates, and every infinitesimal thing in between - they were, and are, all moments in time. Placeholders in time. Bookmarks in time. Moments of time that were simply one page... of a much grander, and larger, novel.
If you flip to page ninety-nine of a very thick and heavy, weighty and bulky, five hundred and forty page Tom Clancy book… but you read only that single page - you’ll definitely not understand the context of what came before, and will never know what happens later on. Or - even much, much later on. And let’s not forget about those lucrative sequels. What will happen to our beloved hero then?... Once a new book deal is signed.
If Jack Ryan has to jump out of a burning building on page two hundred, but the story doesn’t explain why he’s doing that until you flip to page two hundred one… and all you’ve ever read was page two hundred... You’ll never find out that maybe he was escaping a bomb explosion. A small fire bomb that would be igniting an even larger bomb. Or that he may have been jumping from the first floor - and he’s just fine to continue on with his work after the jump. The spy operation that he being in the middle of - would make no sense to you - the context - having not read earlier chapters.
Context is relevant. To every story. And context is relevant to the entire story of humanity.
So, ohhhhh... with all that being said - Can you believe that Memorial Day weekend was over three months ago now?
I can’t, really. Do you remember that weekend? And the days… weeks, and trials we’ve all had to face, since then?
Memorial Day seems like it is one of those placeholders to me. The unofficial start to summer fun. Just as Labor Day is another placeholder - or bookmark. The unofficial end of summer, and the beginning of the autumnal season and beauty and grandeur of fall. Along with a change of routines, school days, and pumpkin spice and apple cider.
A whole heck of a lot has happened since this last Memorial Day weekend - in this, the grand and mighty year that is, our dearly beloved beast - 2020. This summer was loaded with pages of a massive and thick and complicated novel. We all witnessed a different sort of start to the summer season, we then witnessed a completely different summer altogether, and now we are beginning a different sort of autumn. Yes, it’s been a definite year, and we’re not nearly through with it just yet. I mean - what else can possibly come next?
Yes - my dear friends - Aliens. With all that has happened - I would not be surprised by such a blurb in an upcoming news reel.
So much has changed. And then, quite sadly, so much is still the same. But - the context of the events that are taking place is imperative to the story at this point.
That Memorial Day holiday weekend started out as any other. And, my hubby and I ventured out to a lovely meal during the patriotic and memorable date.
We chose a local German restaurant - the German Schnitzel Haus, located at 13475 Atlantic Boulevard, in Jax. And, just because… well - for no reason other than because I wanted to, I went ahead and vlogged the experience for you.
We ended up enjoying our meal, the entire patio outside to ourselves, grabbing some monstrously sized dessert afterward at Whataburger, and then made our way over to what I call The Bridge.
Jacksonville is a city by the water. Ocean, rivers, creeks, swamps, intercoastal, etc. - so bridges are everywhere throughout town, and I absolutely love them all. And really, I just seem to call every bridge and any bridge in town - the bridge.
I’m quite a huge fan of bridges - by whatever name they happen to go by though. They absolutely fascinate me. Their structure, color, height, curvature, where and what and whom they are branching together in their arch, and then, even what happens to be hanging out underneath them... it’s all equally exciting and thrilling to me.
So we went to The Bridge after we ate. And we just - hung out. Utilizing the shade from the structure, we relaxed. We watched all the activity taking place beneath the massive structure. And I captured a bit of this and a little bit of that, on video, for you.
But since that fateful weekend, America has not been settled. She is very sick right now. She is broken-hearted. And my heart breaks - for her - and with her.
Sure, I saw many, countless precursors to the actions that are currently taking place. I read, and understand the context of the previous pages. But I believe it was that weekend - Memorial Day Weekend - 2020, that helped ignite a flashpoint.
I’ve previously discussed this event with you. I’ve even questioned if we are a world at war with one another?
But when one is at war - the actual name of it is actually quite irrelevant at the time. After all, are we at war today? Does anyone know the answer? Many say yes - and many say no. Are we at war today if people deny it?
Some say it's a cultural war. Some say a revolution? My brain is trying to tell me that all wars are unique. They all have a different appearance. They all have their own reasoning and context. And with any war - there will be those who it doesn’t affect as much as others. Could our national heartache and upset actually be such a fight? Taking place, right now? I really don’t know.
But I do believe wherever we are - that we are at a tipping point. I do believe we’ve been in a lead up to THIS for a very long time, though. This - being whatever THIS is. And I’m talking years here - not days, weeks, or even months. I’ve seen the writing on the wall, and I’ve read the pages.
And, sadly, yes... I do believe we may be currently living on the razor’s edge. I believe we are about to cross the event horizon line of a black hole. And we may be about to go past the point of no return.
And just like a real black hole, way out there in outer space…
It’s size, shape, power, grasp, and gravity…
Some will never see it.
Some will never understand it.
And many - will never even read the books written about it later.
But whether the books are written and read, or not, may be irrelevant to whom and when it is actually taking place. Because, when you’re being sucked into a black hole, your most likely only concern at that point is for your own survival. And as happens with every single thing that is sucked into a black hole - there comes a time, just before reaching the event horizon line, that one can still escape from its force. It’s that moment I am referencing here. With an extreme and heightened awareness of one’s immediate surroundings and what is happening. But it also may be very confusing. As such a force is so powerful and vast, that up close and personal, things may appear quite strange.
Kinda like right now...
What’s happening all around us - is literally and actually happening all around us.
But - What’s been done is done. And we have to figure out how to continue onward.
And it’s up to people to choose to see it. Or not.
And people can definitely turn a blind eye.
And people can deny all they want.
And far into the future, many will just remember the numbers: 2020. And maybe not the significance of all that has occurred in that time period and during this exact time.
And the event horizon line I’m talking about here is FORGIVENESS.
Remember how I asked you earlier WHY Jesus rose from the dead?
It seems there is currently a vast lack of forgiveness taking place in this world right now. We left forgiveness outside the black hole - if we did indeed cross the event horizon line. It didn’t join us on the next pages of our journey. We need to find forgiveness in our hearts - once again.
And it is this lack of forgiveness that makes me question this relationship we have with one another.
Once forgiveness is lost, there’s not much left to keep us tethered together. As a People. As a Nation. As a community. As global sovereign states and neighbors. And as a civil society. As peaceful patrons inside a grocery store.
When someone does something or someone wrong, we have a very civil way of handling the situation. It’s pretty basic… and it’s called an apology.
And after the person who wronged another apologized, this very basic and very humane thing usually occurs. And it happens on the opposing side… The other side of the wronged - by the person or persons who were wronged.
This is where Forgiveness always factors in. On the side of the wronged is where forgiveness always matters the most.
And forgiveness is sometimes, and most of the time, the more important part of the transaction amongst two beings.
And if it happened today - right now - would that be a miracle? Because, is it forgiveness that has been lost?
I see the anger. I feel the sadness. And heartache. But to top it all off - everyone wants everything in the entire world fixed overnight. Seemingly and literally.
But real and lasting change doesn’t work that way. Who can solve such complex issues?
Only you can bring about real change. Yes, that WHO - is YOU.
You - hold all the power.
You - hold the answers deep in your heart.
You - have to understand context and reality.
And - You - HAVE to give… You have to forGIVE. And that’s the only way out, and that’s the only way forward. Forgiveness.
But, beyond forgiveness, there is something much bigger, larger, grander, than any one human - of which you also have to give. And yes, you have the power to give it.
You have the power to give... the gift of Time.
These are big Asks. They are monumental. But wars and revolutions and cultural change and new ways of living are never won easily. And not without great sacrifice.
And you have to do ALL THAT - while having the strength and will power and patience and diligence to sit through the five hundred and forty page novel... And keep reading. While you’re tired. And when you don’t want to. And even when it gets really boring. And really, really sad.
The gift of TIME is a powerful thing. Of all the aspects in our technologically advanced society we are now home to here on Earth - Time is something we have yet to master. It is something that our infinite universe even doesn’t have the power to ultimately control. And it wants to - really bad.
As space and time unite in other worlds, and time itself is bent around curvatures of distant planets and stars and galaxies. Time is still there. It just flows differently. We may not recognize it there if we stumble across it way out there. But it is there. And it never ends. Time is in itself indestructible.
And TIME - holds many - and ALL the answers to this here little problem we are facing today.
So as the summer season began this year, in this year - 2020... And I beared-witness to sadness and heartache throughout the world with my own eyes and ears… I decided to give to myself - and you - something very special.
I gave Time.
I gave myself Time. I watched Time pass. I let Time flow all around me. I blew a wish into Time. I cursed in the face of Time. I yelled at Time. And I cried many tears - over Time.
But I also relished Time. I took advantage of Time. I used Time. I made deals with Time, and I placed bets with Time. I bargained with Time. And I even tried to manipulate Time to my advantage. I talked to Time. I listened to Time. I willed Time. I pleaded with Time. And ultimately, I let Time take over all five of my senses.
And I let come what may.
All through the passage of Time almighty.
Yes, it was because of both national and global events that seemingly ignited over that holiday and the days immediately afterward, that I stepped back from my online presence in the world for a while. A lot of people have asked when I’d be writing once again. As it has now been three months since my last publication to y’all.
I guess you could say I sorta closed up shop for a bit.
And I enjoyed a Splendid Summer Sabbatical.
Away. Away from publication. Away from deadlines. Away from technology in a sense.
Sure, I’ve been on social media. Yes, I’ve been perusing the internet - probably the same as most others in the world. Of course, I’ve been checking the news. I’ve been chatting with friends and family on Facebook. But it’s all been very brief. And as I escaped from technology on one hand, I delved deep into my new YouTube channel with my other. I gave my very own website a little break. And for some strange and unknown reason that God understands, I now crave the art of filmmaking. Of pasting together clips, to summarize a story. To show viewers the beauty that lies on the other end of my camera.
But for the most part, I lived entirely and exclusively OFF-line for a chunk of time.
I worked. On myself.
Yes, I still wrote. I still planned, and plotted. I filmed. I painted - and I painted with intention. And passion. And I painted purple. I painted “Blooms of Wartime” the nights of national and international heartache. The paint and color pouring onto the canvas. My reprieve from sadness overflowing in our world.
I prayed. I exercised. I sweated. I read.
Lots and lots and lots of books. Books of all sorts. Books made from paper - printed on wood from a tree. I read - not by the light of a Kindle. I flipped the pages and smelled the scent of ink and paper. And I rested my eyes far less on the blue screen, and more so on the invisible air around me.
I’ve done this all before. And I’ll do it all again. I’m not sorry in the least for stepping back. Because - Sometimes, you just need to go a different way. To regroup. Refocus. Reset the internal compass… to True North.
I lived my real and true Summer Sabbatical.
And I watched everything taking place around me.
And I highly recommend it.
In fact, I stayed so far away from the online world that I literally let my Macbook Air sit in a corner on a bookshelf and collect dust for quite some time. It sat there, for weeks upon weeks. It powered down. It lost all its energy and strength. I touched it not once.
It literally gathered wispy dust bunnies on top itself. As if a magnetic force. Trying desperately to maintain its power in this world, and to suck life out of the room, and life back into its own body. Dust pooled on top the shiny gold and reflective apple.
Yes - my precious and trusty laptop gathered as much dust as she could reasonably handle… until one day -
She finally screamed at me.
And I picked her up. Like a piece of sunken treasure.
And I plugged her into the wall.
And I breathed life back into her body. And began writing, once again.
So... yeah, while months ago I said goodbye to the online written word... And for someone who runs a website in 2020 - the internet is a very crucial thing to be nestled safely amidst. It was definitely risky to say goodbye to all that. But I love risk. And I loved saying goodbye for a while to the daily digital grind… of website maintenance.
I said goodbye to that oh-so-fancy, and lucrative, techy word - engagement.
I followed no statistical numbers on how my website was doing. I didn’t check my likes, my hearts, my comments, for quite some time.
And while I said goodbye to all of that and then some - I gave myself something in return. Something huge. Something as powerful as a black hole. I gave myself that funny thing called: TIME. The gift of Time.
I personally needed to process everything that was taking place in the world. In my own way. In my own Time. In my own head.
And none of that abides by a publication schedule. So, what the heck... I said goodbye to that while I was at it, too.
I know, I know, you’re saying that as a blogger I need to publish according to schedule. But - just because I wasn't on a publication schedule, with normal posting dates and times, doesn’t mean I couldn’t write. And didn’t mean I could no longer publish. It simply meant I put the ball even more so in my court than it was before. I won!
Yes, I won myself over, and I do win here, in a way. And I’m winning - while America is currently losing. And she’s losing - real bad.
I ache for what is happening in our beautiful and breathtaking and magnificent country. The country I write about. The air I breathe in. And the magnificent melting pot of people who live here under the flag of freedom.
I don’t have any answers to any of America’s problems right now. But I know one thing we can give her…. And we can give her this graciously…. Time. She needs Time.
Have you ever wondered why the Civil War did end up lasting from 1861 to 1865? Why did the war have to last that many years?
Wars are not won overnight - you say?
It took from 1861 until 1865 because the world needed from 1861 until 1865. Period.
What was solvable in 1865 had no context in 1861.
And as I mentioned way back at the beginning - context is crucial to any story. We don’t even know if we should be rooting for Jack Ryan - as he jumps out of the burning building - or not - unless we read the whole story. Is he the hero - or the villain - at that time? Is he jumping from the 98th floor, or from the 1st floor?
There is no magic wand that puts ideas into heads of the past. Thereby granting them the magical power of hindsight - to solve their worldly problems overnight, instead over the course of years.
But today - living in this digital, instant, speed-of-light lifestyle that humanity has enveloped itself in and gladly swallowed whole without checking for side effects first, there’s not a whole lot of room for TIME to actually do its thing, at the same time - no pun intended. Its - almighty and ever-powerful - thing - that may ultimately help - something. Anything.
We need time. Yes, and we need patience. We need MORE patience. We need to respect the virtue of patience more. And the only way to learn that is to give - yourself - time.
There’s an old saying that you may have heard in one form or another…
Fast change leads to no change. Or - Fast change is not lasting change.
In other words…the other old saying...
Slow change is the best change. Or - The only good and lasting change... is slow change.
And I’m not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with those sentiments in some way. I’m just saying those sayings are old because they themselves have withstood the test of their time.
And I am saying a new way of thinking is required to get past all of this heartache. I am saying risk and change are both good. But I am also saying that by stepping back for a few months - I respected that chunk of time. What I am writing to you today, I could not have written to you in the middle of the night, crying myself to sleep, three months ago.
After only one night grieving for our nation… no ideas were in my head to solve any of our problems that we continue to face.
But after three months of grieving for our nation… I have now - new - perspective. I have hindsight. I have reflection. I have brainstormed. I have contemplated. I have lived. And I have new thoughts. And ultimately, I have new ideas - only because of that precious and miraculous gift of time.
If you check my YouTube channel information page, you’ll see the date of release of my channel was just before all this sadness began in 2020. After the beginning of the pandemic - but just before our further national upsets that have triggered so much heartache across the world. And if there is one thing at all that 2020 has taught me, as well as my amazing life in Florida - that is to never give up. So, Memorial Day weekend came and went - my channel had just started publication - and then I punched out for that lucrative Summer Sabbatical.
BUT - I did NOT close up shop.
I did NOT delete everything I worked for. No…. No…. And that’s definitely something the old Christine would have done. I would have given up. And I would have hit the delete button. But, I have since learned of the power of perseverance. The power of patience. And most imperatively, that forgiving power of TIME.
So I did not hit DELETE. And I did NOT give up on my dreams.
I merely put the oxygen mask on myself first. And then simply breathed for a while as my airplane found a safer flying zone - so to speak.
Yes - I’m in this for the long haul. My website and branding and channels and social engagement is all still alive and there and breathing. And I respect the time and patience my dreams need in order to grow. Just as I value time itself. I value my very new and very small channel and my precious eight subscribers on YouTube. I am in no rush here. Nor would I want to be. I value where I am at presently, as much as I value life itself. And I will continue to give myself the gift of time. All. The. Time.
And I’ll do it again any day, and twice on Sunday.
Even if it's risky to my business. Even if I risk everything.
Because TIME is imperative.
And because, ultimately, my personal and business goal and my real DREAM of Christine’s Floridian Dreams - is to help you in any way to make your very own dreams come true. To kick you in the behind with some soft, yet, tough love, and persuade you to get off your couch. To pull off the covers… and get out of bed. Well before you want to. To: March Before You Feel Like It. And take your own action in this world. To live your very best life. Each and every single day. - And, yeah, twice on Sunday - just for the heck of it.
So, after three months of my summer sabbatical coming to a close, and after three months of thought and reflection and glancing into outer space... Dreaming of black holes that lead to other magical and distant worlds. I look out toward the sky and ponder…
There may be no better gift in the entire world for us to give to one another… as that seemingly magical gift of time.
So it is my hope for America today - that we all will grant her some time. That we all can exude the patience of saints. As wheels turn and flowers bloom. And as we sprinkle pumpkin spice on top of our latte foam.
America needs time to process everything, just as we all do. And just as I couldn’t do it all on night one, neither can the rest of the world do it in a few months. Everyone will have all their own ideas, at their very own pace, and at their own time.
We all have to make sense of things. We all have to process. We all have to give.
You may not see much giving in front of your own eyeballs right now, but know it’s there. Just as I know that black holes exist but I cannot see them for myself - I do know there is more goodness in this world than bad. More love than hate. And more forgiveness than we think we have within us to give.
So go ahead and give yourself some time. Shut down that iPhone. Say goodbye to your blog subscribers if need be. Say hello to a new way of doing business.
Yes - close your laptop - a very needed tool in our dearly beloved 2020. Close it up and let it gather a bunch of dust bunnies if need be.
Stop receiving - stop Receiving texts and likes and hearts and follows and tweets… and Give instead. Give to others in the format of real life. And NOT with the Like button.
How? In your own way.
Give… to yourself. And Give… to America. And the world.
And after a new chunk of time - time far into the future from right now and today - I can only hope that we will all look back upon this time period. And we will have that new perspective. A perspective unavailable today due to the vast and mighty power of time. And it is my sincere hope that I have been all wrong here. That we are NOT really at war with one another, or on the verge of. That the shot heard round the world of today has not been released from its trigger. And that war was not in our future together. And that instead we all came together. And we saved burning forests and trees and buildings. We salvaged all the plastic in the oceans and the baby sea turtles thanked us by swimming freely into the ocean. We breathed clean and non-suffocating air. We made true and lasting and realistic reforms to challenges that we are currently facing. That school children twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now will study the numbers 2020 in mesmerization of what we SOLVED - together… Oh so very long ago. And we all walked down the street hand in hand. And not gun to gun. Weapon to weapon. Evil to Evil. Hate to Hate.
Heck - I’ll still welcome those aliens I mentioned earlier, with wide open arms. Besides, those aliens... they do come in peace. Duh!
No it’s Love to Love that I’m rooting for inside my brain.
But, as an old adage and quite familiar saying so goes… Only time will tell, my friends. Yes - Only time will tell. So give her some time, why don’t ya? Just give all of it and then some - Time. ~
Remember when it was somebody’s birthday? Ohhhh, so very, very long ago…
Candles would be lit. A song would be sung. And the birthday boy, or birthday girl, would take in a big breath - with their lungs - and blow out all the candles.
And then everybody would clap.
The cake would be sliced. Every piece passed around - a plate of deliciousness for all at the party. Everybody sharing, in an act of celebration. Another person a year older - another piece of cake to commemorate the occasion.
A fork in one hand. A plate of frosted, sugary goodness in the other.
And without giving it a second thought, everyone would bite into their slice of dessert, even though somebody had just previously breathed upon said cake?
Those moments are now gone.
But a girl can dream - right?
No one will look at a birthday cake the same way again now.
Because, while we all still may eat the cake, the sentiment just isn’t the same. And while we all still may sing a song… and candles can still be blown out… the world has once again changed.
And I miss that corresponding sentiment.
I miss a whole lot more than just that though.
I miss it all...
I miss coffee shops.
I miss restaurants.
I miss saying, “Table for two.” - Instead of “Two dinners to go, please.”
I miss smiles on unhidden faces.
I miss laughter.
I miss jokes.
I miss friends.
I miss family.
I miss parties.
I miss the library.
I miss fairs, carnivals, rides, cotton candy, and sno cones.
I miss Art Shows, Art Walks, Art Festivals, craft shows, and concerts.
And I still don’t miss nfl football.
I miss my once a year and very boring visit to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department. Otherwise known as the FLHSMV. In fact, I miss that a whole heck of a lot more than football.
And I missed out on the opportunity to see Hamilton - right here in Jacksonville, back in March. My tickets - sadly, refunded to my credit card.
I miss the smell of a book, just picked up from the library, as I crack open the spine.
I miss handshakes.
I miss milk shakes.
I miss hugs.
I miss kisses on the cheek.
I miss the darn dentist.
I miss joy and good cheer.
I miss good will to all people.
I miss Christmas.
I miss Walt Disney World.
I miss All-You-Can-Eat Buffets.
I miss unlimited scoops of ice cream, from large tubs, on the dessert line of the above-mentioned buffet. Where I can pick up my own cup, take the cold steel scoop, push it with my own hands into the milky cream, releasing chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry into my own cup. My very own ice cream mountain - as high as I want to make it.
I miss simple get togethers - large and small. I miss people’s faces when I communicate with them. I miss the act of meeting up with those fellow humans - in person. In real life.
I miss being able to hear that fellow human being, clearly, when they speak to me - their unmuffled voice carrying into my ears, and the sound of it not being blocked by a cloth mask.
I miss people treating one another as fellow human beings - and not treating others as the walking plague.
I miss closeness.
I miss happiness all around us.
I miss people leaving their house like it was just another day.
I miss life… I miss seeing other people living their lives.
I miss faith over fear.
But just because I miss all these very simple things, doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing them, and living them, myself.
In fact, I’ve been the busiest in my entire life - during the long and drawn out and quite dramatic duration of this entire, never-ending plague.
Regardless of life outside my own front door. I am breathing. I am communicating. I am celebrating. I am being responsible for myself. I am making my own life decisions. I am sucking it up. I am dealing. I am not only surviving. I am proud and happy to be fully alive. I am living.
I am reading. I am planning. I am dreaming. I am pursuing. I am working hard. I am exercising. I am writing. I am painting. I am utilizing this time to become stronger. To learn. To grow. To try new things.
And most importantly, I am persevering.
And I am coming home from work - and I’m stepping right in the shower, washing the invisible and mysterious and confusing plague off me each night.
And, I’ve learned a lot. And I’ve learned what I already always knew - how imperative each breath we take really is.
So let’s all inhale.
Breathe in - In the face of fear.
Exhale - and keep going, my friends. Exhale and continue onward. Exhale and push forward. Exhale and persevere.
And if it happens to be your birthday, go ahead and exhale a big breath straight onto your very own birthday cake candles...
Yes, I know that’s exactly what we will be doing this weekend.
As we celebrate my hubby’s birthday, we will dine out, along the water’s edge, for our First Supper since the plague began. We will sit at tables, amongst other human beings. All partaking in the common and essential act of breathing, and eating.
And I will pick up the special cupcake creations I ordered from Cinotti’s Bakery. And I will slap some candles on top of the frosted red velvety goodness. I will light the flame.
And I will sing “Happy Birthday!”
And my furry baby will probably sing a lot louder than me.
And most importantly, my hubby will then inhale with his own set of two lungs, and exhale hard on top of all the frosting, extinguishing that flame. And then we will eat all the darn sugar. ~
*How have you been living through this plague? Are you persevering? Are you experimenting with new ideas? Are you at home brewing up new talents? Are you getting fresh air? I’d so love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
Also, if you’re enjoying my Floridian daydreams, then check out some of my others, right here:
71] My 69 Week Break From Social Media ~ Why I Left & Why I Came Back
68] A Sunday Stroll
65] The Sea Life ~ Happy Easter
64] Stay-At-Home Sunday ~ Palm Sunday
63] Mercy & Comfort
62] PERSPECTIVE @ Seaside Sculpture Park
61] Bean’s Idea List ~ 15 Daily Activities For Well Beyond 15 Days
59] REACTION ~ To World War 19
55] The Shamrock
51] Life Is Full Of Pasta-Bilities ~ Bean’s Red Sauce Recipe
49] A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ~ Happy Valentine’s Day, World
44] Nothing Finer Than Coffee In The Keys ~ The Coffee Plantation Cafe
42] Where Does The Chicken Cross The Road?
39] The Very Official & Quite Serious Donut Debate Of 2020
18] Sea & Sky Jax Weekend ~ Fun In The Florida Sun, Sea, Sky & Sand
9/13/2019 0 Comments
Well I never thought I would have a weight loss “before and after” — but here I am with my very own story to tell. Including the photos that I am now plastering onto the internet, with no shame, no remorse, no guilt, and no regrets. I share it with the hope that it reaches even one other individual who may benefit from my journey in some positive way.
I never thought this would be me at 38 years of age, having a personal weight loss success story, mostly because when I was younger I was always very athletic during my entire early and young adult life. I was a runner, and played lots of different sports in school and all the way into college with two-a-day practices. Weight was nothing I ever, and I mean never, ever, needed to worry about. I did not gain what they then called the ‘freshman fifteen’ at college. And I ate ice cream every darn day in the university dining hall. Sprinkles ALWAYS included.
After college I started working, and still my weight was just fine. Then, at about thirty years old, everything changed. I fought the change hard, and even tried to run through it, literally. My entire life had changed, slowly by the day, and yet, overnight as well. Running came to a dead halt - in fact, I honestly thought I would never run another step in my entire lifetime. I had some extremely complicated health issues come up; and I no longer felt in control of my own life. And on top of it all, I started to gain weight.
The weight slowly crept up and up for most of my early thirties. I watched all of this change happening to me and felt truly and completely helpless to it all. It wasn’t a good life change. It was bad change. And change is the singular reason I gained weight. I could be ashamed of it and regret it and hate myself for it… but I’m not ashamed, and I don’t regret it, and I definitely don’t hate myself for it. ZERO shame, ZERO regrets. And ZERO embarrassment either. Because if I did I wouldn’t be able to get past it all and change my life for the better. No regrets, because if I didn’t live through what I lived through I wouldn’t be living my very best life — right here, right now.
Below = Me - Before (at my heaviest):
Weight gain and weight loss is as simple and as complex as any and all change really. It can happen fast; it can happen slow. And how an individual responds to any change can help develop their character... Their character that can continue to mold and change and grow a person further into who they are meant to be.
In August of 2018, my family in Chicago came to visit me and my husband down in Florida. They took the long two day drive down, and with that drive came their car stocked full of supplies for the road, including a cooler and snacks of course. On the first full day they were down here, we all went on a wonderful mini road trip up north to Amelia Island for the day. And not getting to see my nephew very much, since our move away from Illinois had occurred just before he was born, I embraced riding in their car with them for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my newest family member; every time my nephew said ‘hi’ over and over again on repeat, and ‘big truck’ for every large vehicle he saw on the road, I laughed.
While enroute to Amelia Island and taking the car onto the auto ferry and out across the St. Johns River, my brother-in-law was kind enough to offer me a can of Lime Bubly to drink that they had stocked in the car. This one pure and simple act of kindness and generosity really can ripple effect and change someone’s life forever. I had never found a sparkling water brand that I liked. And I LOVED Coke. I always knew if I wanted to be really and truly healthy I needed to say goodbye to Coke and soft drinks from my life. I gladly took the Bubly from him and embraced trying this different brand of carbonated water for the first time.
Later that weekend at the grocery store I stocked up my cart with Lime Bubly. I devoted an entire shelf in my refrigerator to those bright green and happy looking cans. The cans have the words ‘oh hi’ printed on their cap… I thought of my nephew… oh ‘hi’ on repeat. Every time I wanted pop or that distinct feel of carbonation and bubbles in my mouth I took out a Lime Bubly. I stopped buying pop. I promised myself that much… that I could stop drinking pop. Even if nothing else changed regarding my health, I was going to be healthier for that one singular change.
And with that one act, between August and into September, I lost seven pounds. I was utterly and truly amazed! I was absolutely fascinated that I could lose weight — even if it was just a few pounds in the bigger picture — without pills or any other strange and unnatural concoctions. I was truly shocked with each pound that had come off... And with that initial accomplishment, the thought then entered my mind that maybe I could actually lose the weight I had gained during this tumultuous past decade of my life...
I became determined. I had given myself the momentum I needed, and was ready to take massive action. You see, momentum doesn’t just occur, or happen on its own, it has to be propelled by your very own initial movements. And once momentum is gained, it then becomes ever and increasingly difficult to stop once you’ve taken off and started the ride. I had the keys in my hand, I had started the engine, and now I had just hit the gas.
I accelerated… it had just taken me a very long while to know that I was the one who was sitting in the driver’s seat all along.
Being a very visual person, I knew if I stood any chance of success that I would need a way to track my progress, and track my food. I needed a way to see those seven pounds and the unknown number of future pounds in a graph format. I wanted to see the speed and rate of pounds lost. I needed to see it written down or visualed somehow to grasp the concept of the weight lost. And most importantly, I needed to understand how much energy (calories) to take in every day for success with both weight loss and weight maintenance. I had started traveling down the road; I now needed to know what lane was best for me to get into for safe travels on the journey.
Being a runner, while growing up I had counted and logged every mile I ran throughout high school. I logged so many darn miles run that when I graduated my parents put that crazy number on my graduation cake written into the frosting: 2,551 miles run in high school alone. If I can track thousands of miles run over the course of my early life, without the internet, then I can track the calories I ingest every day, today, with all the technology of the world at my fingertips, no problem.
I remembered my dear friend talking about MyFitnessPal a couple years ago. My perception was that she really embraced the use of that app and had molded it into her lifestyle very nicely to help her track her calorie intake, accurately, and with great success. In the back of my mind and in the front of my mind I knew whatever I was going to do from there on was going to have to be a lifestyle change. Not a short stint. No 21 Day Fixes for me. I needed routine and craved routine and needed to make gradual lifestyle changes, nothing abrupt.
So on September 12, 2018, and seven pounds down, I went ahead and downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. For the first time ever I typed my own weight into a digital database. It was NOT a good feeling. But I fought the horrible feeling and continued onward. I followed all the prompts. I read all the articles. I read all the notifications. I did what it said for me to do, and in my own way.
I wanted MyFitnessPal to be a tool, and not in any way for it to ever become a necessity or a hindrance in my life. And by this I mean I wanted to utilize MFP and other such tools to help me reach my goals, but for these tools to not become something I depended on for the rest of my life.
Unless I really wanted to, I didn’t want to need the app to be successful in my journey. I didn’t want to become addicted to it for the physical changes to happen or stay with me. If the Internet ever went down, I wanted to still be able to know how to eat and intake a healthy amount of fuel each day. I told myself whatever change I made had to be a change I could do every day no matter the circumstance. No matter what technology provides us in the future, and no matter what food inventory was being sold at the grocery store on any given day. I never once told myself that I needed the app or that I would gain a ton of weight without access to that app. Thus, I chose to remain on the free version of the MFP, and still have never once enrolled and paid for premium access. The only thing I truly needed - was me… Me, and my knowledge, and experience, and the correct use of tools, to appropriately help me get where I wanted to be.
I logged everything into MyFitnessPal for one single, solitary day. The next day the app suggested I take a picture of myself. Aghhhh!! The picture, it emphasized, would be to show my progress. At this stage I was absolutely mortified of a starting picture. Or a ‘before’ picture. Before WHAT??? I thought. Before. What. What is going to happen to me that I would progress from that point? I was honestly scared. The thought was almost too much to handle. I nearly quit the app right then and there. I could barely even stomach the thought of telling my husband that I had joined what I thought was a calorie-counting app, let alone take a photo of myself at the beginning of this - whatever ‘this’ was.
So I was about to log out of the app and not take the photo. Go ahead Christine! - Delete your newest online account. Unsubscribe. I had horrific, fearful thoughts of not succeeding in any way. It would kill me, I thought, to not succeed at such a large and monumental task. I was on the verge and ready to give up. As I was contemplating these actions, I remembered that I had already given what I deemed at the time the most important of important information into the app the day before. I had already told MFP my current weight! If I could do that, then I could take a picture of myself, right?
Movement. Action. Momentum. Action. Massive action.
So, before going any further in either direction, I decided to do some initial and brief reading on weight loss before and after photos. I was absolutely and positively mesmerized! Wow! People took photos of their weight loss journeys and posted them online?! It was shocking and very motivational. There’s an entire online industry of weight loss and health and fitness individuals who inspire people to change their own lives! This is a big, and I mean BIG, industry! I just didn’t know how big, and was never even aware of it, because I was never needing to even be aware of it before then in my life. So after some initial perusing online, I said, omg, what the heck, I’ll take the photos. Go ahead Christine, follow the prompts. Take the darn photo.
My God in Heaven, what in the world was I doing? What was I getting myself into?!
One photo can help change your life. Take that photo. Do it. Embrace it.
On September 13, 2018, one solid day into MyFitnessPal online, I took what would become my official ‘before’ photo.
And that initial photo now stands in contrast with me, present day, September 13, 2019. And a loss of 77 pounds. My very own “Before & After” weight loss success photo.
How did I lose those 77 pounds? Through much patience, discipline, routine, and logging. I also got over my fear of even talking about the process and told my husband right away when I got started. For some reason I thought he would be mad at my attempt - but he wasn’t. Quite the contrary - he has been immensely and extremely supportive. And this entire past year of the process he has been with me and encouraging me every step of the way.
I also lost the weight through the use of great tools. I successfully molded MyFitnessPal into my newly embraced ‘Lime Bubly Lifestyle.’ The cool green cans and the app were great TOOLS for me. Tools I could utilize, but tools I made sure I never NEEDED to survive. I would go days or weeks WITHOUT the Lime Bubly just to prove to myself I didn’t need it to lose weight. But gosh, the weight was falling off me. I tracked my calorie intake with MFP and ate the amount of calories it told me to eat.
And yes, I made plenty of mistakes. I just didn’t let those mistakes derail me or my progress. I embraced each mistake and learned from it. This made my drive and determination and motivation grow even further to succeed. I read. I watched videos. I listened to podcasts. Lots and lots of podcasts. Some of my favorite online health and fitness humans are Corinne Crabtree of ‘Phit & Phat’ on podcast, and John Glaude of ‘Obese To Beast’ and Alan Roberts of ‘Every Damn Day Fitness’ on YouTube. I really resonate with these three amazing individuals the most, and highly recommend listening to them or watching them or following them if you want to lose weight for real, for good, and to help you change your life for the better. They are as real and as raw as me and my story. They are honest and truthful. They can act as that extra ‘push’ you might need every day to keep going.
With the help of those weight loss rockstars, and many others, I really educated myself on the process of losing weight. I came to understand that weight loss is math. It’s mathematics - and it’s science - and it’s physics. Weight loss is simply eating less fuel than your body needs to maintain its current weight each day. So with MFP helping me add up the daily math, and my grasping and understanding of that simple scientific concept, nothing could stop me from succeeding. I lived and breathed and ate and logged and ate and logged. Repeatedly. Repetition. Routine. And now today I have reached a one year milestone achievement of this newly embraced, and most welcome, healthier lifestyle.
It’s all real. It’s untouched. And it is my sincere hope that this story, and with associated visuals to coincide, may help you, or someone you know… Someone who may be in the initial stages of weight loss; someone you know who is well into their weight loss journey but isn’t finished yet, or someone so lost and so far back behind the starting line that they’ve never even seen the internet world of “Before & After” yet - someone just like I was a year ago when I didn’t really know that there was a whole world out there of people who struggled with weight gain just like I did.
The weight has been coming off for over a solid year now, falling strategically and healthily into a range I am so very happy with. I loved myself before, but I love myself more now. It’s not because I look different; I love who I have become and am so very happy with ME. The physical pounds coming off my body have changed my life both physically and mentally. I have made lots and lots of life changes since I moved across the country a few years ago, but so very many of them have grown and magnified and developed into a life all their own during this past year of weight loss. My confidence is intact and strong and growing stronger every day. I spend money differently now, and am very strategic and responsible with every penny I spend (and I had kept a budget for years before this change too). Plus, I’ve really embraced minimalism, even more so now than when I started seeking a minimalist lifestyle a few years back.
Below = Me - During ~~~ Enjoying the ride...
And finally, I’ve joined the 5am Club. Yes, that dreaded nightmare of a club, where I wake up every day at five o’clock. And by doing it every day, I am an official card-carrying member. I recommend it highly — Do it. Join it. It may just be the single best card you carry in your wallet. And yet, gosh, I tell you, it’s not an easy club to join. And the membership fee is pretty steep. But if you join, it will change your life in ways you never dreamed of.
In this past year of journeying through seventy seven pounds leaving my body, and waking before the sun rises, I am happy to report that my health is improved, I published my website, started my very own Etsy Shop, make tee-shirt designs, have a fully functioning art studio in my home, and am writing my own lifestyle blog. But joining the 5am Club gets a big bold bullet point of emphasis all its own. Waking that early - on purpose - and even many days before five in the morning, is literally the swift kick in the BE-Hind that I have always needed to push myself beyond my limits. And at 38 years of age, I love that push, I embrace that push, and I love who I have become because of that push. I love challenging myself every day, and I wouldn’t change a thing… Although I do fully embrace any change coming my way.
And yes, I still do eat ice cream — sprinkles included — just not every day.
So with all that being said, I do hope by sharing with you the story of my journey, that any one part of it may have resonated with you in a change you have made or are looking to make in your life? Please let me know in the comments down below your thoughts, and what steps you are taking daily to improve your own life? But most importantly, let me know if you also like a nice, cool green, icy cold can of delicious Lime Bubly.
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