Being Seen Through the Lens of Love

Today, I saw the worst picture of myself. The most unflattering picture ever. I’m so embarrassed by it. And the worst part about the worst picture ever is that it’s from my sister’s wedding, and it’s in the photo album that everyone now has. I can’t believe she kept that one; she should’ve deleted it. The photographer should have deleted it!

Let me tell you what’s wrong with that picture.

First, I’m doing some silly bodybuilder pose. Mind you, I do not resemble a bodybuilder except for the fact that we are both humans. Second, the dress I am wearing was purchased the day before because I couldn’t fit into my bridesmaids dress, so it is not flattering on me and I was very self-conscious for needing a bigger dress. Third, my arms look like someone pumped them full of air. They are huge and disproportionate compared to the rest of my body. I look terrible.

There you go. I said it. I’m actually embarrassed I think this way of myself. It’s a struggle I’ve had for my entire life. I am not good enough, nor will I ever be. My shape and size have never quite fit what I think I should look like. And now, at 29 years old, I don’t even know what that is. I just know that I am too big. I am always too big to be happy with myself.

I remember when I was in eighth grade. I was super skinny. I ran track and danced and played basketball. I was so athletic that you couldn’t even pinch the fat on my inner thigh. And even though I was teenie tiny, I was too fat for me. I’ll see pictures from then and wonder how I ever felt that way about my eighth-grade self, but the feelings and beliefs were real.

I think I’m still struggling with this today. Ok, I know I am still struggling with this. A few days before my sister’s wedding, I was saying something demeaning about my size. My sister stopped me and told me that she thinks I am seeing myself as bigger than I really am. Like the way, I describe myself isn’t exactly how other people see me.

Which takes me back to the picture.

I did not mention that if you look at my face, you can tell I’m having a blast. I am laughing hysterically and smiling so big. I am having fun. I look happy. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how big I am, or how big my arm looks. Am I pretty sure I was thinking something along the lines of “did I pull off the silly Hulk Hogan wrestling move for the entrance? Did people get it? Was it funny?” I might have even thought, “wow this is so much fun!”

If I look at the face in the worst picture ever, it is no longer the worst picture ever. It’s a fantastic memory from a fantastic night. My sister had the most beautiful wedding. It was one of the best nights in my recent history.

So why am I telling myself that I’m too big? Why do I keep telling myself that I look terrible in every single picture of me? I think I need to stop lying to myself and start appreciating myself a little. Maybe if I do that, I won’t just see the pose, or the dress, or the arm in the photo. I’ll see the happiness and love. I’ll stop looking for the negatives and start seeing the beauty that shines out of me from within. I’ll be able to look at myself in this picture and say “oh my gosh! I had so much fun that night!” instead of “ugh, I can’t believe I look like that.”

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Just Chill Out Already!

I’m just getting over the flu. And yes, it is just as bad as people say it is. I don’t remember ever having the flu before, or being this sick, as a matter of fact.

I’ve spent 7 days in bed. That’s a long time to stress out about things I have no control over. I’ve been trying to figure out why I got the flu. Why me? Where did I catch it? How am I going to make up an entire week of my life? As you can imagine, or know from your own experiences, all of these thoughts are extremely anxiety provoking.

Yes, I have been torturing myself for an entire week. I’m sure the fever wasn’t helping me notice these toxic thoughts, but they didn’t just start the day I came down with the flu. I’ve been stressing over life for a while now. However, I think the flu, and its entire 7-day course has helped me realize that I needed to relax.


Until now, I kept saying “no”. Well, I was really just flat out ignoring it.

So my body replied with a vengeance and forced me to chill out, for an entire week. 

One thing I just noticed is how I was doing yoga every morning, but one day it was no longer relaxing or fun. It was a chore, and I really did not enjoy it. You guessed it. That started about 3 days before the flu hit! 

Sign? I think so!

I’m a big believer in listening to our bodies. I just was not practicing what I preach. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle doing exercise every day. But I was forcing myself to exercise sometimes twice each day, and putting a huge stress on myself to start a new business, apply to grad school, keep hating my current situation at my job, lose weight, sleep-less, stress more, the list goes on and on. Although I thought I was pretty good at being mindful, clearly I needed to check in with myself better.

Sometimes our bodies force us to take a step back and reevaluate our lives. Is my job as bad as I was making it? No. Do I need to force myself to exercise too much? No. Do I need to stay in bed until the last moment and then be miserable most of the day? NO!

Life is what we make it. If I want a happy life, I can have a happy life. If I want a successful life, I can have a successful life. If I want to be miserable, you bet I’m going to be miserable.

So take a step back once in a while, and really think about all that you have. Don’t wait until your body shuts down to realize that you are being too hard on yourself and making yourself miserable for no good reason.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Self Sabotage Part 2: The Hand-Me-Downs

My sister is a shopper. She always has the nicest clothes and the latest products for her hair and skin. My favorite times of year are when I visit her and get a box full of her “old” clothes and other things she doesn’t want anymore. And by old, I mean last season, or never worn, or “I have one very similar, so you can have this one”. It always feels like Christmas!

This past hand-me-down exchange was again full of some really nice pieces. My mother was also cleaning out her room and added a bunch of t-shirts that I figured I could wear to work or around the house. You can never have enough t-shirts, right? While trying on all of my newly acquired items, my husband said “Why don’t you just get rid of everything you own and buy a new wardrobe?” A perfectly harmless comment. But my automatic response was “I can’t, we don’t have money”.


When I said this, I didn’t realize that I believe this statement. I believe it so much, that I have let it run my life. Of course I don’t have money to buy a new wardrobe. I also don’t have money to get my hair cut, or get my nails done, or go to that show I wanted to see, or go to the festival I’ve been wanting to go to for the past few years but never had money for.

I have been telling myself I don’t have money for so long that I actually don’t have any money.

Self sabotage can take many forms. Mine is negative self talk. I am finally able to see what it does to my self-esteem and my all around well-being. This whole time I had no idea that what I believed to be a modest comment was setting the stage for every aspect of my life. Believing this statement was holding me back from being successful in my financial life, and the worst part is that I just thought I was doomed to be broke my whole life.

My challenge to everyone is to be more self-aware. Are you self sabotaging? Is there something in your life you feel is just out of your reach? Like you get close to achieving it and then it slips away? I challenge anyone in this situation to take a step back and listen to your automatic responses and self talk. Are you being kind to yourself? Are you giving yourself the love and encouragement you need to succeed in life?

We all deserve to live the life we imagine. The life in which we achieve all of our dreams and desires. The life where we are genuinely happy. The first thing you can do to begin this journey is start believing it can happen!

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Self Sabotage Part 1

I have noticed for some time that I can’t follow through with my goals and intentions, and that I always seem to ruin good things before they get really good. So today I looked up the meaning of self sabotage. Self sabotaging is when your negative thoughts get in the way of you reaching your goals. I learned the most common ways are procrastination, comfort eating, and self medicating with drugs or alcohol. It is an umbrella term for self destructive behavior. I also learned that I am not alone in my struggle.

I am so good at self sabotage that my New Year’s resolution for the past few years has been to follow through on something. Anything! It isn’t to get in shape or eat better or accomplish a specific goal. It is just to accomplish one of the many goals I set for myself but end up never reaching. We are pretty much 35 weeks into this year, and I have probably said 30 times that my diet will start on Monday. Every couple of weeks I make an exercise schedule that ends after 3 or 4 days. I don’t quit because I don’t like what I’m doing, I actually really enjoy exercising. I also don’t quit my diets because I don’t like eating healthy food, I love healthy food! The list of things I quit is never ending, I really can’t tell you the last time I finished something I started. Let me clarify, I always keep my word to other people, it is only my own goals that I can’t seem to accomplish.

In my brief research of self sabotage, I learned that most of the negative thoughts or actions are ingrained in us from childhood. It may be that we were told by a parental figure that we would never amount to anything because we are too lazy, for example. It can also be from witnessing a parental figure be negative towards themselves in regards to body image issues or money problems to name a few.

I consider myself very successful. I graduated high school and college, I have a really good job that pays the bills, I have a family that is supportive of me. So why am I doing this to myself? I honestly ask myself this question over and over but never seem to find an answer. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Maybe I needed to take this step of searching Google for “what does it mean to self sabotage?”

One of my most stressful issues is money. Not that I don’t make enough of it, because I do if you look at my tax return. It’s the fact that I never seem to have any. I get raises and pay off bills, and still end up feeling like I’m struggling. For example, I got completely out of credit card debt and then back into credit card debt within the same year. It’s like I can’t handle being in control of my finances. I have to ruin all of my hard work and make my money situation stressful for myself.

After thinking about my multitude of self sabotaging habits and which areas of my life they impact, I came up with this list: money, interpersonal relationships with friends and coworkers, losing weight and exercising. I have spent the entire day thinking about these things and what the reasons are that I can’t seem to accomplish even the tiniest goal related to any of these topics.

Money, as I explained above, has always been an issue for me. But what I keep forgetting is that money has always been an issue for my parents and their families as well. The more I thought about this, I remembered my father saying that no one in his family (except for one of his sisters) has ever or will ever have money. They can pay their bills and everything, but they will never be able to reap the benefits of saving up for a big vacation or retiring early or buying a fancy house. Hold on a minute. Did I just say that a comment my father made 20 years ago is still effecting how I live my life? That answer is yes.

Interpersonal relationships is another one of my sabotaged areas. I have a hard time forgiving people, and have completely ended friendships because of something that was said or done. I also have a problem of not thinking before I speak, and this has gotten me into uncomfortable situations. I can hurt someone’s feelings so easily, and I don’t ever intend to. I still get scolded by my mother for how I speak to her. Let me just say that woman is a saint for raising me, I can’t imagine how difficult it was. Another example happened just the other day. I made a comment at work to management that I never should have said. I did apologize to my manager, and she reminded me that I need to think before I speak. It made me stressed for days, and I even started thinking that I should not be in my field, and I shouldn’t try to pursue a position in management one day. Seriously? I am really good at my job, and I have always been a leader, so why in the world am I thinking these things?!

If I think back to my childhood, and what could be the reason for this, I can only think of how my parents argued all of the time. I remember them yelling at each other constantly. Even though they have been divorced for over 10 years now, nothing has changed between them. Is this what has impacted my ability to interact with others in a way that will form lasting relationships? Is this the reason I have a hard time getting to know people and letting myself be vulnerable so that people can know who I really am? I am not my mother, and I am not in the situation of being in a marriage with someone who I don’t get along with, so why can’t I have successful, life long relationships? I deserve to.

I will combine losing weight and exercising into one category. Body image. I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I was never skinny enough or pretty enough, no matter what others said to me. There was a short period of time in college when I did think I fit my definition of skinny and pretty, but I did not get there in a healthy way, and that is an entirely different blog post.

All of my life, I was involved in activities like ballet, tap and jazz dancing, hip hop dancing, basketball, softball, track and field and cross country. I even tried my hand at soccer and tennis, but didn’t have the time to commit to them. I was an athlete. I worked my butt off at everything I did, and I was pretty good at everything I tried. So why am I having such a hard time getting back into exercising? I’m not talking boot camps and doing things I hate. I am taking ballet classes and my husband is a boxing instructor, and I truly don’t mind running and doing yoga. I just can’t get through an entire week doing what I had planned for myself.

Are you ready for this? When I was a senior in high school, I was told that I would not be starting on the basketball team, and instead of me, the daughter of the men’s team coach would be taking my position. I, to this day, believe this was the wrong decision for the success of our team. To make a long story short, we lost games we shouldn’t have and weren’t the best we could’ve been. And I sat on the sidelines watching the entire time, knowing that when I was allowed to play, we did a lot better than when I was on the bench. So I ended up quitting the team before the season ended, because I just couldn’t handle watching everyone else play. I even watched a whole lot more during practice because I wasn’t considered a key player, and for that, my endurance and skills suffered. I guess I am a quitter now? Why am I letting this one bad experience ruin all of the experiences that have come after it? This happened 11 years ago.

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!

Being valued for being you.

I remember being young and wishing my classmates liked my ideas. I was not a popular girl, but I was smart. I was also shy, so when I had an idea to share, it was a big deal for me to open my mouth and let it out. My mother once told my sixth grade teacher about this, and he responded by saying that all of the students liked my ideas, and I always shared good ones. So why was my perception of myself so different?

Fast forward about eighteen years.

At my current job, I started off working on second shift. Soon after I completed my training, I ended up in a leadership position because I was more experienced than the other people working my shift. I was the person to whom the newer employees asked all of their questions. I was the person they found when there was a technical issue, or someone made a mistake and needed help correcting it. I was the person who had the confidence and experience to answer questions that can change someone’s life. I took that responsibility on with great pride. I am a leader at heart, and I am always up for a challenge. However, I didn’t really think much about the fact that I was making a difference in my workplace.

I started working on day shift about three months ago. I was expecting to be treated like the new person, but to my surprise I was treated the complete opposite. Everyone was helpful and patient while I readjusted to my new hours and duties. It was during this transition when I realized I can be true to myself and still be successful. I can be quirky and silly, but still professional. I am valued for being me. For my entire life, I never really knew what I was capable of by simply doing what I enjoy and what comes naturally.

I have been in my field for four years now. Even though I do not consider myself very experienced, others treat me like I am. I have been invited to go to conferences and work on special projects. An experienced coworker even asked for my opinion on something she has expert knowledge of. In that moment, I realized I am being treated as an equal among my peers, my opinion is valued and my ideas are liked. I felt like I earned a place I never even imagined. And on the inside I was shouting, “ME! She asked ME!”

Self confidence is a hard thing to grasp sometimes. As humans, we are usually humble in our view of ourselves. I think more of us should shout out “I did it!” “I made it!” Or “look at me, I’m awesome!” Holding back on who we are will only hold us back in life. We must be true to ourselves and keep moving forward. The realization that others value my opinion and ideas is truly a milestone for me. I feel like this is a new beginning, so there is an unfinished end to this post. But I wanted to write about it because it is uncomfortable and new. This is a perfect example of a transition in life, and I’m sort of in the “wow, this is really happening” stage. I think it is amazing how much I have grown as a human that I am able to recognize that something in my life is changing. I just have no idea where it will go from here!

Her dream job is to be a princess, but for now, she sticks with being a scientist who has a big imagination. Melissa is from Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently calls Nashville, Tennessee her home. Her family is her life. She loves her dog, Jodi, and her cat, Johnny Bear. Oh, and she is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and she thinks they are amazing!