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Happiness is Found Beyond the Box

Happiness is Found Beyond the Box

In 2014, I experienced something that changed my life forever. I had a sleeve gastrectomy (weight loss surgery.) Before the surgery I had no confidence, often felt depressed, and my body hurt.  I couldn’t even tie my shoes! I knew I needed to make a change in my life. I decided, after researching and talking with patients who had received the procedure, to go ahead with the surgery.

I lost 140 lbs. The first year! As my confidence increased, I knew I made the right decision. My body felt great, and I could move. I was able to reach my feet and fit in a restaurant booth. In 2015 I met Mark. Mark was the next big thing to happen in my life. We knew after the first date that we were meant for each other.

Newfound Confidence

I was fired up about the changes that were occurring and realized that positive things happen with a positive attitude. I once read the quote, “If it doesn’t scare you, you are not growing,” so I decided to scare myself, A LOT. I decided that if I step outside of the box exciting things might happen.

I began speaking at seminars for the surgeon that did my procedure, and as a guest speaker at a local college graduation. Mark wanted to give me a scare too and sent a video of me singing to America’s Got Talent. Shortly after, they invited me to audition. They emailed us tickets, and in November I stood before a judge and sang my heart out.

I had always wanted to audition for a national talent show, and I realized I just marked something off my bucket list.  Although I didn’t make it to the next round, I did it!!! I was pumped. I stepped out of the box and received a reward; it was the reward of newfound confidence.

Beyond the box

Since then, Kelby King of our local television station WMFD, contacted me and invited me to be on her first episode of “Sitting Down with Kelby King.” It was a great experience and led to being asked to speak at a Kiwanis event, booked to sing at Kingwood center for their summer concert series in July, and singing at several locations around the area. And, I met the wonderful ladies at Mind Body Align who asked me to do this fun blog.

My pursuit of happiness all began with finding and uncovering my true self. I learned to love myself again and now realize I have more to offer than I was allowing myself to see. It could be any small or big change that makes the difference, be willing to step out of the box and become a better you!!!

Create Your Tribe: Be Vulnerable

Create Your Tribe: Be Vulnerable

I’m not sure if I chose my tribe or if my tribe chose me, but I’m certain it was a bit of both. I really couldn’t be more fortunate to have the people in my life that I do right now, while also knowing how quickly it can change. Creating my tribe has been the single most important dynamic in my life to date. Of course, I didn’t know this when it was happening, but I do know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without each and every one of them.

As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a psychologist and so… I didn’t do that! But I did earn my bachelors degree in psychology and worked in mental health for ten years. I mostly wanted to help people, and in my early twenties I heard, for the first time, that I had what was called a “servant’s heart”. This is what I’ve found to be the common thread among my tribe members. Most of us serve in some fashion; some in direct care, others in community-building and organizing, and some by taking care of their families.

Fulfillment, self-care, and vulnerability

I’ve determined three essential practices in finding and creating my tribe. When I say it’s come by trial and error, I mean it! So, I’ve narrowed it down to this:

I acknowledge that each person has something different to offer, as I do to them.

I’ve learned that no one friend, or my husband, can be everything I need or fulfill all my wants. Wouldn’t that be a mighty huge task to assign to any one single human being?!

Choose self-care and your tribe will support it.

This is a huge one for me! Some of the earliest and strongest connections I made were with women who, gracefully, showed me self-care. It has taken about 15 years for this concept to settle in, and most of my circle know when to nudge me in the right direction when I’m struggling. One important lesson I’ve learned is to create time whether it be with my children, husband, or friends, and I now know that I can’t give “quality time” until I’ve made sure my soul is. And, perhaps the most beautiful, of the lessons I’ve learned, is the power of ‘No’. I’ve learned when, (not always eloquently) and how, to say no.

This leads me to my humble pie; be a work in progress!

While this seems obvious, it requires a scary amount of vulnerability, which can make it difficult to attempt all the time. And, for anyone that’s ever been burned while practicing such an effort, you know how difficult this is to do. But it’s so important! I really believe that when we stop learning and growing, we begin dying. When you find the right tribe—as with my tribe—you may be able to trust and let your guard down. I want to continue to be a work in progress. When I allow myself to be vulnerable to my tribe, I have access to their wisdom, experience, and knowledge, and just maybe, at the ripe old age of 39, I’m beginning to learn vicariously… maybe.

My career, much like my tribe, has shifted over the years and I now have the privilege of continuing to fulfill my servant’s heart as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Coincidentally, my psychology degree serves me far better in this career than that of a social worker! My tribe has grown, I am incredibly thankful and humbled, and my heart and soul are replenished every day while doing what I love!

I’m looking forward to the many years of finding more tribe members. And, I hope to have the opportunity to give back as much as I’ve received! I deeply believe that we can move mountains; together we can change each other’s world.

“Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won’t understand it. Some will outright reject it, but many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, ‘Me, too.’ And your tribe will gather. And you will never feel alone again.”
—L.R. Knost