10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year of Blogging

10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year of Blogging

While I waited, I decided to start my own blog. Overwhelmed by the research and making the “right choice”, I just decided to jump right in. I created a place that I could share my life stories and hopefully encourage and equip women just like me.

Now, one year later, here I am! Looking back, I am shocked that 1) I have actually made it this far (more on that later), and 2) how far I’ve come.

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Top 4 Lessons in 4 Years of Marriage

Top 4 Lessons in 4 Years of Marriage

Let me start this out by saying I am no expert in marriage. Trust me. 4 years does not make anyone an expert. But you don't have to be married 20+ years to have learned a few lessons here and there. Truth be told, you should be learning something new every day!

As David and I celebrated 4 years of marriage (and by celebrated, I mean really we are unpacking our household goods), I wanted to share the top 4 lessons I learned in the last 4 years. 

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Loving My Body in Pregnancy

Loving My Body in Pregnancy

I Am Not Defined By My Weight - Part VII Pregnancy

This piece is Part 7 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

My pregnancy did not meet all of my expectations. I had to stop running mid-way through my pregnancy due to pelvic pain, and I gained way more weight than I wanted (maybe 35-50 lbs.). Even still, I loved the journey I was on.

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Self-Esteem & Weight Issues In The Teen Years: 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known

This is Part 3 of a 9 Part Series inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT - Part III High School

If you read my Intro to the series, then you already know that my hope for these posts are to encourage women, young and wise, to know they are not alone in their past struggles and hurts. 

These stories might not seem like a big deal when you read them, but to me, they had a huge impact on the mother, wife, and woman I have become and I know that through writing, I can find healing.


RECAP

My childhood was shaped by the Puerto Rican culture I was raised in. From an early age, an obsession with weight and appearance developed, making it harder for me to see that my weight did not define me. Rachel Hollis captured that feeling perfectly in her book “Girl, wash your face book”.

My weight was no longer just a part of me like hair or teeth; now it was something that defined me. It was a testament to all the ways I was wrong” (pg. 178).

When you struggle with self-esteem at such a young age, you can only imagine how much more difficult it becomes in the pre-teen and teenage years.

I Am Who You Say I Am

In middle school and high school, I had a best friend who was the epitome of “beautiful”. Small waist, big chest/butt, clothes and makeup always on point. So, of course, the guys always went after her and I became the nerdy sidekick trying not to obsess about how unattracive I was. I have a vivid memory of walking through the metro parks with her and I remember hearing some guys shout out of a vehicle passing by:

Hey beautiful!

I turned to look at them, not really thinking they were talking to me, just caught off guard by the catcalls and the same boy shouted at me:

Not you, the other one. You need to lose some weight

My best friend turned to me and asked me what they said. Too embarrassed to admit to her what I heard, I lied and I told her I couldn't understand them. 

After that, we continued walking as if nothing happened. To her, nothing did happen and I truly believed she didn't hear them, yet my world shattered once again. Here were these strangers confirming my beliefs that I was overweight and not beautiful.

In high school, I focused on school. I didn't date, not because I didn't want to but because I believed no one would want to really be interested in a fat girl. Eventually, people in school thought I was a lesbian because I wouldn't date any of the guys in school.

It's weird how high school students come up with some of their theories. I wasn't interested in girls and I wasn't not interested in guys. I was just "too fat" to think anyone would really want to be with me.

At such a tender age, I associated thin with beautiful. Thin women would find boyfriends and husbands. Thin women would be successful. Thin women would be the best mothers. This idea warped my thinking and eventually shattered any self-worth I had left. By senior year of high school, my worth was tied to how many guys were interested in me. This, in turn, led to stupid actions that I hate to even admit.

 
skinny.jpg
 

My First “Real” Relationship

I officially dated one guy during my senior year of high school. This relationship will demonstrate how low my self-worth was in this season.

For privacy reasons, we will call this boy Paul. Paul and I officially dated for a month-ish during our senior year. We went to different high schools but had met through a mutual friend and really enjoyed spending time together.

Towards the end of the school year, that one big event was quickly approaching…You know what event I am talking about....  Prom.  Most people probably love looking at their prom photos and reminiscing about the “good ‘ole days”?

Well, not me. I deleted every photo I have of that time frame – a bit dramatic, I know.

See, Paul had recently broken up with his ex-girlfriend when we started dating. When the subject of prom came up he confided in me that he had already promised to take his ex to prom. She had bought a dress, so he would feel horrible backing out on his commitment. To 17 year old me, that made a lot of sense. I admired him for his commitment and naïvely believed him. At one point, our mutual friend who introduced us, told me that Paul wasn’t telling the truth; he never actually broke up with his ex.

I thought he was just jealous. I went to prom with my chemistry lab partner and Paul went to prom with his ex-girlfriend. Come to find out Paul had never broken up with her and had lied to me the entire time.  GASP! At this point, you would cut ties and go about your merry way, right?

Well, fool me twice.

Yes, I was pissed with him, but somehow he managed to weasel his way back into my life. Worthless Cynthia thought it was better to maintain that emotional attachment even though he had another girl friend. He just felt really bad for her and didn’t think she was stable enough to handle a break up. At least now he was finally honest with me. I was the one who won in this situation (insert sarcasm).

Things I Wish I Would Have Known

> Just because he was honest with you, doesn’t make it right. Cheating is always wrong.

> No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER find fulfillment in another human. They will always let you down. Instead, look to the heavenly father. When you give your heart tos God, He will fulfill your every need.

> Weight is a descriptor, it does not define you.

> The goal should be strong, not skinny.

> Going to prom with a significant other is not a necessity. I allowed the fact that I “had” to go with a friend ruin any chance of fun I could have had.

> Comparison is a trap. Just because someone else is pretty doesn’t mean you can’t be pretty. Just because someone is skinnier than you, doesn’t mean they are healthier.


Next up – College, yay!

OSU Newcomers.jpg

Next, we enter the college years. Despite the difficulties I experienced, I learned so much. I am not talking about the lessons I learned during the school day, but the life lessons I learned trying to navigate what being a woman meant. This was the time I was free to explore the world around me.

I’m talking sex, drugs…the whole nine-yards.

HA! Just kidding – my story isn’t that juicy.  But I will cover identity, relationships, ROTC, and spirituality. Four years might not seem like a long time, but there was a lot of growing to be done.

6 things I wish I would have known about weight issues in my teen years

3 Things I Learned From My Childhood Weight Issues

I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT - Part II Childhood 

This piece is Part 2 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face". 

If you have read my intro to the series, then you already know I have struggled with weight my entire life.  I can trace it back to my childhood when I remember not wanting to get undressed for the doctors. I didn’t want them to see me unclothed. I also hated wearing bathing suits that showed off my stomach or thighs and absolutely HATED taking any kind of pictures.

I don't remember expressing these feelings vocally, but I do remember the dreaded belief that I was the fattest kid in the birthday photo.

Now, I look back at most of my childhood photos and I realize how delusional I was.

 
Yes... I was a chubby baby! But look how cute I was!

Yes... I was a chubby baby! But look how cute I was!

 

Cultural Significance

I don't remember the exact origins of these feelings, but growing up in a Puerto Rican family surely didn't help. Puerto Ricans, actually most Hispanics, focus a lot on physical descriptions.  That's why you will hear nicknames like "La Gorda”, “La Flaquita”, “Blanquita”, “Negra", "Gringa” etc… Can you imagine your family calling you “the fat one”, “the skinny one”, “the white girl”, “the dark girl”, etc...?

That sticks with you.

To top it off, it wasn’t unusual to go to a family function and have relatives comment on your weight/appearance.

This story isn't uniquely mine. If you talk to enough people, you will probably learn that it's pretty normal. By no means am I blaming my culture nor am I saying I had a horrible family. I love my family and know that no family is perfect. It's just that this constant discussion of weight and appearance created this obsession with being a perfect size, the perfect color, and just perfect in general.

So as I grew up, I always focused on it. If I had gained weight, I had to prepare myself in advance for any family functions knowing that someone would make a comment about me gaining weight. Or if I lost weight, someone would make a comment that I wasn’t eating enough and getting too skinny (blasphemy for a Puerto Rican).

You could not escape someone pinpointing that you gained a few pounds since the last time they saw you. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that they meant any harm by it, it was just how my family operated.

Culture vs. Media

It’s important to note that at no point in my life have I ever been too skinny, at least according to US standards for BMI, in which I have always been considered “overweight” or “obese”. Yet, there were minor occasions when some family members thought I was getting too skinny. I was living in a world where the media glorified a size 0 with an hour-glass figure, but my community glorified a well endowed and curvy woman.

Talk about confusion!

I look back at my pictures and wish I saw then what I see now. Sure, I had some extra fluff, but not to the point that doctors needed to be concerned. I look back at those pictures and I pray that my baby girl wont go through the same issues I went through. I know that she will go through her stages, but I hope that I can help her see the beauty in her that I couldn't see in myself.

What the devil used for destruction, God used for a purpose.

Every stage of my life has had a unique impact on my self-worth. There isn't an exact moment that helped me love or hate my body, instead it was a journey through years of believing lies rather than truth. I hope that through my story, you can identify your own lies and start believing the truth that you are not defined by your weight.


3 Things I Learned

  1. Character qualities far exceed physical qualities, yet the compliments that come out of my mouth almost always center around physicality. Instead,  intentionally praise your children for their confidence, intelligence, curiousty, courage, and kindness.

  2. Strong is beautiful. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, encourage children to be active (and lead by example). Strength is more important than what number is shown on the scale. Weight loss is the unintended outcome when a healthy lifestyle is the goal.

  3. Despite the pain caused from my sufferings, God used all those opportunities to mold me.  Teach your children to embrace the trials and know that God has a purpose for their life. Easier said than done, I know. But the effort will not be in vain. As we pour into our children, God will cultivate it in their heart.

"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

 

Deployment - Take 2

This piece is Part 2 in a 4 Part Deployment Series covering my 4 deployment taskings in my Air Force Career.


Although unexpected, the second deployment tasking was a dream deployment. It was the same location as the first tasking, but this time, the job was everything I had ever wanted. It was like a glorified party planner meets executive assistant for the Air Force, also known as Protocol.

Although the deployment was a few months away, I needed to leave right away for a training back in the states and was set to depart two months later.

 
Protocol.jpg
 

On my last day of training, I notice something seemed off so I took a pregnancy test and lo and behold two little pink lines showed up on a pregnancy test (more like 15 pregnancy tests).

 
Pregnancy tests.jpg
 

Y'all, I was in shock. You would think I would be excited, especially since I miscarried less than two months prior, but the first thing that went through my mind was heartache and confusion.

Why would God give me a dream deployment and then take it away in a matter of weeks?Especially, when two months prior, He called my first baby home... Why now? Why would He call my first baby home? 

I was angry. Not at the fact that I was pregnant, but at the fact that I would have to go home and tell everyone that I could no longer deploy.

I am going to take a bunny trail here and say that in the military, there’s a stigma that some women get out of deployments by getting pregnant. Right before I left for training, I foolishly told people that “I would never be one of "those people” and now I was one of “those people”.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted - Matthew 23:12 ESV

A Humbling Experience

The bible clearly tells us that when we exalt ourselves (glorify ourselves) we will be humbled. That, my friends is what God was doing. He saw me placing myself on a pedalstool. Rising above all the other ladies who have gotten out of deployments and reminded me who was in charge.

The month following the miscarriage, we did everything we could to get pregnant again. Not to toot my own horn, but everything was timed perfectly yet, nothing happened. The following month, we found out I was deploying, so no more "trying" to make a baby.

Again, God had other plans. All the charting or temping (check out the Fertility Awareness Method) couldn't get us pregnant when we wanted to and apparently, didn't help us when we decided to stop trying.

David and I were intentionally trying not to get pregnant and God decided it was time.

Are you picking up what im throwing down? We try for a baby, and nothing happens. We try for no baby and BAM two little lines on 15 different pregnancy tests remind me that the Big Man upstairs is in control.

In shock, I made my way back to England and tried to gather the courage to tell my husband, my commander and everyone else that I would not be deploying due to an unplanned/unexpected pregnancy.  Thankfully, the news was well received and the girl who went in my place was extremely excited to deploy.

Funny story - poor David was on an emotional roller coaster. One minute he is prepping for me to leave. The next minute (13 days later) I tell him hes going to be a dad!

His respone "You need to quit messing with my emotions".... romantic right?

Now, we fast forward to present day... Baby girl is 1.5 months shy of turning one and I get notified that the Air Force wants me to deploy again. Deployment tasking #3.

Lessons Learned

1) There is very little that you can actually control in your life. Realize it and embrace it. 

2) There is no good in pride. I was so prideful about who I was professionally that I allowed it to steal my joy when I found out I was pregnant. 

3) You might never understand the why. I don't know why I had to miscarry my first baby, nor why God blessed me with our baby when i finally had a job I wanted, but I know that all these pieces will fall into place and the picture will be revealed on the other side of heaven.