A Moving Sale, a Chinese Buffet, and a Scary E-mail

I've had a busier than usual weekend.

Friday morning, I went over to Anna's house to help her out with her 2-day moving sale. Since she's moving all the way to Texas (so far northwest she'll practically be in New Mexico), she's having to severely condense her belongings to as few things as possible.

When I saw how much cash she was making off of old junk she was going to throw away or donate to the thrift store, I asked if I could bring some of my own things the next day. I figured it'd be good for both of us, since the more things we had sitting around, the more "impressive" the sale would look, and the more people would stop. So I spent Friday afternoon and evening rummaging through closets and drawers, looking for anything I could sell.

Saturday, I went back to Anna's at 5:30 AM and started setting up. Jessica and my mom had also contributed some things, so there was a good bit to unload. Here are some pictures of our junk after we'd already sold several items:

Anna ended up making well over $200 on both days combined, and I made about $100. On junk. (Seriously, I almost felt bad for selling some items to people.) But I really need that extra money, so I was thrilled!

Sunday, I went back to the church we visited last week, but this time, I went alone. And it was so much more crowded this week! I had to ride around forever to find a parking spot, and when I did find one, it was in a third parking lot waaaay away from the church. So far that they have a little shuttle to take people to the front door. Normally, I would have refused the shuttle and just walked, because a ride alone with a complete stranger has awkward written all over it. But I didn't. I hopped in and made small-talk all the way to the door.

I didn't enjoy the service as much as last time. Of course (eyeroll). They didn't have a real worship service or a sermon; they just recapped their week-long Bible school and did a baby dedication ceremony. So, I hate to say it, but I kind of felt like I'd wasted my time. BUT I'M NOT GIVING UP. I'm so sick of going to a church once, really liking it, then going back a second time and judgmentally picking it all apart. I will give this church another try.

After church, I did something I've never done before. I was craving Chinese, so I went to a popular Chinese buffet. Alone. Now, let me remind you that, here in Alabama at least, Sunday after church is just as busy and popular of a public social time as Friday night. I mean, the wait at Cracker Barrel gets to be like 2 hours long. So at this buffet, there were tons of couples, groups of friends, families, and even a youth group, all dining together in their Sunday best. And there was me. Alone.

I felt really awkward, but I didn't leave. I didn't even play with my phone or pretend to text. I just ate and tried to feel comfortable in my solitude. But truthfully, I just felt very sad. And maybe it was just me being paranoid, but I felt like some of the people with whom I made eye contact were looking at me a little sympathetically, almost like they felt sorry for me. I dunno. When you're scared, your mind can do some reality-warping, I suppose.

In other news, I faced another fear and joined the local running club!

Sorry it's blurry.
I've been wanting to join, because they have group runs, group social outings, lots of cool ways to meet people with similar interests. Plus, the membership card has several restaurant discounts on the back, and a special code to use when you register for races that knocks a few dollars off of the price! The only thing that has kept me from joining is that negative voice in my head that kept saying, "Those people will judge you. You're still overweight. You can barely run a mile in 10 minutes, and after that, you have to take walking breaks. What kind of 'runner' is that?"

Well, I finally just told that voice to shut up, and I joined.

For today's scary thing, I did something very frightening. Really, I'm pretty surprised I did it.

Our community UCP center does an annual telethon to raise money for children and adults with developmental disabilities. This telethon lasts for two days, airs on our local cable station, and features hours of local entertainment. I found the contact info and sent an e-mail to the event coordinator. I told her I sing and play guitar, and that I'm interested in participating in the entertainment.


No response yet. I'm secretly hoping she'll say, "Thank you for your interest, but I am sorry to inform you that all performance slots have been filled." This was one of those why am I doing this? Why? WHY? things that I brought entirely on myself. Oh well. Too late now!

How about you? Did you do any scary or uncomfortable new things this weekend? Or do you have any plans like that for this upcoming week?

11- Shared My Story With a Guy

Today's fear was an entirely different kind of scary.

Remember the dating site I joined? I've been talking with a few different guys I've met on there, just introducing myself and asking basic get-to-know-you type questions. And of course, that requires me to answer their questions.

Until I began setting up my profile, I hadn't realized how reluctant I am to talk about my weight loss journey with cute guys I don't know. I was careful to upload only my most flattering, skinny-looking pictures. I listed that I run and do yoga and swim and try to eat healthy. I posted pictures from my most recent 5K. I made it look like I'm just the fun, active girl.

Not the girl who tries to be active because she is fighting an ongoing battle against obesity.

See, I'm starting fresh with these men. They haven't seen my before pics. They don't remember a 240 pound version of Jennifer. And I like that. I don't want them to know about the old me. Because if they find out I used to be morbidly obese, they might judge me.

They might think to themselves:
"She used to be fat. She could easily slip back into her old ways and be fat again." 
"She used to be fat. She probably has lots of gross, saggy, excess skin." 
"She used to be fat. She obviously has some emotional baggage that made her that way in the first place."
That's what my mind goes to. Not:
"She used to be fat. Look at how far she has come."
"She used to be fat. She must be such a determined, strong, persevering individual."
"She used to be fat. You'd never know it by looking at how beautiful she is now."
No, I don't ever think those last three things, because I clearly have some residual self-esteem issues. So even though I share all the intimate details of my journey on this blog for the whole world to see, I tried to keep it a secret on my dating profile.

But tonight, I was responding to an e-mail from one guy, Ryan, whom I've connected with a good bit more than some of the others. He asked me this question:

Looking back on your life, what are you most proud of?

I sat there and stared at the screen, at the blinking cursor, trying to think of my answer. None came to me immediately, but I felt it had something to do with my music. Maybe the time I made the Alabama All-State Youth Choir? Or when I won that Buccaneer Icon talent competition in Florida? Or the talent portion of the Miss Gadsden State Pageant?

I am proud of those things, but they aren't what I'm most proud of.

Then it hit me.

I am proud that I stopped making excuses. That I got up off the couch. That I started moving. That I started eating the clean, healthy foods that my body was created to eat. That I found, through God, the will and strength and determination to get up and change my entire life. That I went from being bogged down in such a miserable, hopeless, unhealthy existence, to a life filled with hope and peace and joy.

And I wrote that guy back, with tears in my eyes, just like they're in my eyes as I'm typing this now. I opened up and I told him how I used to be severely overweight. I told him about the dark world I used to exist in, and how the Lord found me in that darkness. How He renewed my spirit, gave me energy, and began bringing me back into His light.

And I ended my answer with this:
"I began to immerse myself in the Word. I started eating healthy. I started running. I did my first 5K, which thrilled me and led to more races. I'm not quite finished yet, but so far, I've lost almost 60 pounds. And in doing so, the way I live my life has completely changed. I give God the credit. He gave me the strength to do it all. But I am proud of myself for getting up and working hard to change things instead of giving up."
I don't know how he'll respond. Really, it doesn't matter. Because doing this, telling him the things that I feared sharing, was for no one but me. I needed to stop and think about how far I've come. About why I'm doing this. Why I have to keep fighting.

I needed to remember.

10- Writing Like Rowling

It is a well-known fact that I love Harry Potter. And although she's a famous person whom I have never met, I love J.K. Rowling. The story of how she went from being a single mom on welfare to becoming the first person to become a billionaire by writing books is so incredible and inspiring.

I've always been so intrigued hearing her describe in interviews how she wrote whenever she could on whatever paper she could find, and how she did most of her writing in a busy coffee shop in Edinburgh. The Elephant House.

Well, it planted a seed in me. I've since had the dream of taking my laptop to a coffee house and writing away the afternoon. Buuut I've never been brave enough to do it.

Why, I'm not sure. What's so scary about it? Am I afraid someone at the next table over is going to creepily read what I'm writing over my shoulder? ...Yes. Do I worry that I'll get kicked out for taking up a table for too long? A little.

I decided to get over all that in the spirit of The Month of No Fear. So I put on a writerly cardigan, packed my laptop in my cool vintagey laptop bag that's never been used, grabbed my black-rimmed reading glasses, and headed to Starbucks.

I couldn't believe how nervous I was when I got there. It was really crowded for one in the afternoon. Lots of businessmen with laptops and smartphones. I scanned the shop and immediately noticed all the tables and big comfy chairs next to electrical outlets were full, so I started panicking. My laptop battery lasts for about 30 minutes, then it dies. I went ahead and placed my order- a grande Mocha Light Frappiccino, only 130 calories. I was so nervous that when the barista handed it to me, I dropped it on the counter... Luckily, I turned it upright before anything spilled out, but I still felt like a lamo.

I picked a table that was uncomfortably close to a young man who sat alone reading his Bible. I might have subconsciously done this on purpose, secretly hoping one of us would make a move. I mean, it's not every day you see a nice looking guy reading First Timothy in the middle of Starbucks. Buuut he never looked at me. Typical. Anyway, I pulled out my laptop and my glasses and got settled in.

My laptop was dead. Completely dead. And no outlet in sight.

Except for one that a cute guy across the shop was already using. There was a free tiny table right behind him. So, I faced yet another fear and moved all my stuff to that table. He was lost in whatever project he was working on on his own laptop, so I said "Excuse me" like 3 times before he looked up. I asked if I could plug in my computer, and he very politely plugged it in for me.

So I settled into this new table. Now plugged into the wall, my computer came to life. Thank the Lord! I pulled up the most recent chapter of the story I've been working on and got to work.

I also managed to get a picture. I feel so creepy snapping pictures in public places like this, because my phone makes a loud camera noise when it takes a photo. And you can't turn it off!!! Oh well. Month of No Fear.

I ended up writing there for over three hours! (And although I feel like people were reading over my shoulder, I just decided to give them a good read.)

Also in the human contact department: a nice man at a table across from me asked me to watch his laptop while he went to the restroom. When he got back, I asked him to do the same for me. Crazy, right???

So, all in all, a great writerly experience, and I spoke to like three guys (including the cashier...) I didn't know. What a time! I definitely would love to do that again.

9 - The Terror of the Shorts

I told you I bought some shorts and wore them out for my scary thing one day last week? And I was too scared to face my own picture, so I didn't take one?

Well. I wore shorts again today, and I faced my fear and let Jessica take a photo. Now I'll face yet another fear and post it right here:

Thigh dimples, shin bruise, mosquito bites, and all. But not quite as horrible as I was expecting.

And look! I took a picture of the tag so you could see the proof of the size:

This is so exciting for me, because guess what size and brand my biggest "fat pants" are?

*enthusiastic David Tennant-ish voice* OH, YES!

 (Well, just...here:

Anyway. One of these days, I'm gonna have to show you just how big they are on me now. I just wanna wait until I'm closer to goal so the impact will be greater!

July So Far

I kicked off The Month of No Fear with some pretty sorry attempts at being fearless, and some other not so sorry ones. Not sure what I was thinking, setting the goal of doing something scary every day. I've learned going out and doing scary things costs more money than you would think, and right now, I just don't have it to spend on random scary escapades.

I will now share the slightly embarrassing scary/uncomfortable things I've done so far.

July 1. Cooked a new and slightly questionable recipe for a guest.

This one's pretty sad because it was just Anna, and I kind of do this every time she comes over to eat with me. Still, she is a guest, and I'd never tried any of the things I made for us (baked feta-crusted salmon, steamed wild rice and quinoa, and roasted vegetables with carrots), so it made me quite nervous.

July 2. Went to Elevation.

This one's legit; very outside my comfort zone. Elevation is an event that a local church does for youth/young adults. It's a little different from a normal worship service. More like the conferences our youth minister used to take us to, with a worship band, some videos, and a guest speaker. Jessica and I went together, which was a good thing, because neither of us knew anyone there. But it was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot and even met 3 new people.

July 3. Wore shorts.

This sounds so pathetic, but I promise, this was scary for me. I haven't worn shorts out in public since....I don't know. I've never really done shorts. I didn't like the way they looked on me even when I was a skinny 14-year-old, and of course, when I got over 200 pounds, shorts were out of the question.

But it's gotten really hot and humid as it does in July in Alabama, and I just didn't feel like wearing jeans. So I went to Old Navy, bought 3 pairs of size tens, and wore them. Out. In public. I went out to eat, went shopping at the mall, went to Target...

But I didn't take a picture. Having the confidence to wear them is one thing. Being able to face how they look in a photograph is another. I was afraid if I saw how I actually looked in the shorts, I would never wear them again. Kinda sad.

July 4. Ran on a slippery track.

I'm realizing how sad these all sound, but seriously. This is me we're talking about.

Okay, I needed to get in a second run for the week, but it was pouring down rain outside and the gym was closed (Independence Day). I went on to the park, thinking it might let up by the time I got there.

It did not.

In addition to the falling rain, the paved walking track looked slick with rainwater. I stepped onto it carefully and my shoes slid a little. That's when I said, "Okay. I'm the person who managed to cut myself on a toothbrush once. I could die here. Let's go home." But I didn't go home. I put in my headphones and ran anyway.

And I didn't die. I didn't even fall or slide into the splits or anything.

July 5. Went out on a Friday night.

You may have noticed I'm an introverted 74-year-old woman with hermit tendencies. I avoid other people, especially crowds, as much as possible. And especially on a Friday night. All the steakhouses have ridiculous waits. The mall becomes a nightmare. I prefer to stay home and do my outside-the-house business on other nights. Like Tuesdays. Tuesdays are cool.

But in light of this challenge, I told my sister to get dressed, put on makeup, fix hair...we're hittin' the town! And that's what we did.

We didn't want to spend money out at a restaurant, though, so we ate at home first. Then we headed to Books-A-Million, a local Friday night hot-spot (Again, small town). Something drew me immediately to the Doctor Who merch table, where I posed with this nice pair of TARDIS knee socks. (...why?)

After that, we went to the Exchange, an outdoor shopping mall that is another gathering place for locals. We just wandered around aimlessly, wondering how to meet strangers in such a setting. Didn't figure it out.

We ended up at Los Mex for dessert, where I had the guts to try something I've been wanting to try there for a long time. Churros.

They weren't as great as I'd hoped, especially considering how many calories they probably contained. Anyway, after that, we went back home, confused as to why so many people feel the need to go out into that every weekend.

July 6.  Joined a dating site.

Huge, for multiple reasons: 1) This site is not Plenty of Fish, the free one with all the internet predators. This site costs a good bit of money, 2) Dating is about as socially uncomfortable as it gets for me, 3) I haven't been confident enough to truly consider dating in a very long time. And of course, 4) You never know who you might meet on such a site. More creepers, some okay guys I don't click with, or, possibly, "The One".

I know people will judge, but I just don't know any single guys. I really don't! And no one else seems to either, because when people ask me, "Why are you still single?", I always reply, "Do you know anyone?" And they always stop, think, then say, with sudden realization, "No. I sure don't."

And the guys I have talked to in recent times have shared little to none of my interests, dreams, or goals. They like to hunt, fish, and watch Duck Dynasty. Or they like to show off their diamond earrings, listen to Tupac, and "kick it in the 'hood." (True story.)

So, I figured a reputable site that introduces you to people who match your answers could be a great idea. So far, so good.

July 7. Visited a new church.

I've recently shared my struggles with finding a church. I'm still searching for a place to call home.

This week, I decided to go to the church that hosted the Elevation event on Tuesday. Jessica and I were both so impressed by how friendly everyone was and how genuine the atmosphere of worship felt, so we wanted to try one of their Sunday morning services. I got up, got ready, and dragged her with me.

And it was another great experience! So many people welcomed us and introduced themselves. They made us feel right at home, even more than the people at the church I grew up in did. The pastor gave a very applicable, inspiring sermon on dealing with depression. I'm definitely planning to go back there.

July 8. Sent an e-mail to a possible suitor.

Not sure anyone still uses "suitor", but I don't know what else to say. I sent an e-mail to one of the guys I've been communicating with on the dating site I joined last week. Just regular get-to-know-you stuff. The plot thickens.

That's it so far. I'm having trouble thinking of things that don't cost money. Any ideas?

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

2013: The Halfway Mark

I can hardly believe it, but the first six months of 2013 have already come and gone. It seems like I was sitting down to think up my new year's goals just yesterday. So now that we're at the halfway point, I think it's time to revisit the goals I made on January 1 and conduct a proper self-assessment.

My number one goal for this year is to reach my goal weight.

I'm 5'6". For my height, the highest weight that is still considered "normal" on the BMI chart is 155. Every three months, I do a quarterly measurement update with a tape measure to monitor inches and an extra weigh-in. I did that today. Here's how my weight and BMI have changed since January 1, 2013.

181.7. I lost another 1.3 pounds since my Friday weigh-in!!! Yay! So this year, I've lost a total of 14 pounds and 9 inches. I'm not exactly where I thought I would be in July, but that's some obvious progress.

And now, I'm now only 26 pounds away from my goal weight! If I persevere, I can absolutely get there by December 31!

I know I've also mentioned my second goal for the year, completing The Twelve Monthly Challenges:

1. January: The Month of No Desserts
2. February: The Month of Yoga
3. March: The Month of No Bread
4. April: The Month of Physical Training
5. May: The Month of No Spending
6. June: The Month of Swimming

I've done these first six, and today, I begin #7.

I may have gone slightly crazy, but I've decided to make July The Month of No Fear. What exactly does this entail? Like the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, I have to do one thing that scares me or makes me uncomfortable every day.

Most of these things will likely include social interaction/human contact. That is my biggest problem. And it's holding me back so much in life! One of my goals for 2013 is to do something social every week, and lately I've been counting the small talk I make with the cashier at Publix... I just really need help here. I want to meet new people, make friends, make new connections.

I pretty much live in fear of failure. I'm a perfectionist. I'm a worrier, big time. I've let my own fears and anxieties ruin countless opportunities I've been given over the years. That's why this idea intrigues me so much. Living without fear...the boldness of it. The things you could accomplish.

I think this really goes along with the whole message of my blog. Life is For Living. Stop making excuses, stop being too scared, just get out and live life.

The Month of No Fear doesn't mean I won't have fear. I will definitely experience fear. The point is for me to act in spite of the fear.

I'll be sharing some of my experiences on here soon. I hope some of you will be inspired to step outside of your own comfort zones along with me this month! Are there any goals you have for July that you'd like to share?