Running, Graduation and More

Standard

Photo credit quotesoftheday.net

Gutsy… I guess this is a term that best describes me. Growing up, I was a kid that people made fun of for singing and acting. Those closest to me ridiculed me and made me feel ashamed of everything that I was and everything I wanted to be. While my mom and her family encouraged me… There were MANY who made me feel like crud if I tried to pursue anything other than what they wanted me to be. In other words, my stepdad and various (not all) people in his family along with various school mates and even teachers. Though my mom loved me, she submitted to my stepfather’s overbearing ways because he was her husband. This left me feeling alone and fighting a battle to find, own, and fight for who I was. You see, words have power, and I didn’t have people telling me “you can do this“ or “you’re talented and beautiful and wonderful and you can put your mind to anything and do it!” I had to learn to tell those things to myself. One thing that echoes in my mind is a period in which I was told “no” when I wanted to go auditions, but another sibling was allowed to. This was the constant case until in my late teens when I started to fight for who I was and who I wanted to be. Since then, this has been what has helped me become a fighter!

Recently I have been very quiet about what I’ve been doing. Why? Because I tend to guard my dreams with everything in me! Now, I’m going to be very open with all of you! In order to do so, I’m taking a break from telling the Journey of how I got to this day and time. I’m giving my mind, body and emotions a break from pulling up all the dirt of my past, and I’m going to involve you, those who have been taking precious time out of your days, to share in my journey! You all have no idea how much this means to me! That being said, I’m going to share with you some major victories that have happened, and where I currently stand in some of my trials! I can only hope that this post will encourage you to keep pressing on the matter what you’re facing!

Now, I started going back to see Dr. Runco for chiropractic appointments just before the fall semester ended. This man has been such an amazing saint and by the grace of God… my body was beginning to heal. No, he’s not seeing me pro bono anymore; however, he deserves to be paid much more than anyone could ever pay him. His heart for his patients, his kindness and encouragement, and the work that he does that has really helped me come back stronger than I thought I would has been such an amazing blessing to me and I’m sure so many others that he has helped! I’m not sure if he’ll ever read this, but Dr. Runco if you are reading this, thank you!

A week after going in for my first appointment, my body began to get the urge to run. I had been going on walks that were between 1 and 2 Miles with very little muscular flare up, and I decided to give it a little go! I jogged a few little spurts, then walked back to where I was parked (still had my car at this time). What a success! I was working on set of a Netflix series during this time and days of work were so much less painful and days I worked at Kmart were less painful too! Yes, there were speed bumps just like any other healing process; however, this time it didn’t seem like they were nearly as bad.

As my final semester at Contra Costa College ended, the stress levels brought my body into a state of needing to rest. At the same time filming for the Netflix production ended, and just prior to all of this… my car broke down. All the highs and lows took their toll on me, and just like every time I’ve left a semester, I ended up in severe pain, this time I had no means to get me out to see Runco unless my mom had time in her schedule. Despite that, I’ve continued to fight!

Over the past few months, I’ve worked through the chaos of work at Kmart, family, financial issues, the list goes on… to regain my strength. Walking and finally…. running… yesss I started FINALLY getting freedom! One morning, as I was praying, I felt prompted to sign up for another marathon. YES, a FULL 26.2 MARATHON, but this is not going to be one that is like any other that I’ve run before. You see, for this event, I’ve decided to set up a pledge board, and for each mile that I complete, people will donate their pledged amount to an organization called “the Glass Slipper foundation” that helps young woman break free from sex trafficking as well as verbal, physical and sexual abuse! I’ll be posting the link my Facebook profile soon. Now, since I took the plunge and signed up for the event, there have been battles and victories. Victories… well I finally built up to RUNNING 7 1/2 miles. This has not been easy by any means! I have had to work my butt off to get to chiropractic appointments and I’m currently facing an unexpected injury that could very well take me out of the event as a whole. You see, last Sunday, I experienced a weird feeling in my hamstring area. I didn’t want to ruin my nephew’s birthday party, so I kept my mouth shut and just kept going with it. Over the week the pain came and went. Then as graduation approached, The pain got even worse! As I was sitting down, waiting for them to call my name and and walk in front of my fellow classmates and MANY professors, faculty and staff that helped me on my journey, my leg began to throb! I sucked it up and decided I was not going to let it ruin my moment! Now, I’m here with uncertainty. I don’t know exactly what happened to my leg. I just know that I’m in pain off and on. I also know that while I’m sure there are many remedies that could help, I don’t have the means to get those remedies. That being said, I choose to do what I’ve continued to do and what has helped make me stronger during times like this. Focus on God, and continue to believe that His ways are higher than mine. Though it seems like yet another dream might be shattered, I know that God always has a better plan. I choose to praise Him during this time and to focus on all that he has done for me. In doing so, I’m going to share some major victories with you all!

1.) after nearly 4 years of not being able to run and race, which is part of what makes me feel like I’m truly doing exactly what I was created to do, I finally built up to 7 1/2 miles. Despite my current predicament, I refuse to give up on believing that I will run and race again!

2.) I FINALLY get to share with you all what I was working on with Netflix! Last summer, a friend/ sister in Christ named Irena had been talking with me. I told her that I wanted to get serious about acting, and shortly after that, she sent me a link to a casting call for extras to work on the set of “13 Reasons Why.” The weekend just after my birthday, we spent several hours waiting in line determined to get in even though they sent half the line home. We got in, did our paperwork, got set up on the website they told us to go to, and went home to celebrate my birthday! Within a week, I was called in and began working as an extra and even a stand in for their show! This was my first paid acting gig and one that I will never forget! The storyline of the show has been extremely controversial, but I will say this, despite the criticism this show has received, I saw so much of my childhood and teen years in this series, so much of Hannah and her story in my own life and in those around me that I refuse to let the critics bother me! The show confronted many serious issues that need to be brought to the table today and that so many people are afraid to speak out and do something about! I can only pray that young lives are changed, and people are given hope to continue to live instead of letting the tortures of life bring them down.

Coming home from working on set, I felt so alive like I have not felt in years! For those of you who have kept up with my blog, y’all know how much I enjoy the performing arts! I finally found the career path that makes me feel 100% me. After all the years of being told who I am and who I should be according to other people’s perspectives, I. Am. Finally. Being. Me! On top of it, upon the premiere of the show, I kept seeing my face and the faces of my new friends pop up everywhere through various episodes! What an honor and a privilege to see the hours and hours of being on set really pay off! To be honest though, the best part of it all was the friendships and the people that I met along the way! I’ve never been treated so respectfully on a job. Though I was only working as an extra, the cast and crew were incredibly kind and gracious! I made friends and connections that I believe will last a lifetime!

Upon the end of the filming season, I fell apart like a blubbering baby! I can only hope and dream that this was just the beginning of many amazing acting adventures for not only myself but my friends that were all involved!

3.) I FREAKING GRADUATED!!! OK, so graduation is a very big deal for anybody that does it whether it’s high school diploma, AA degree, bachelors, etc. for each person, the journey to get their degree has so many challenges! For me, this marked the first time I ever walked for any graduation ceremony. You see, I was supposed to graduate from high school in 2001, I ended up graduating summer of 2002 because I went back to school to get my diploma. I missed the graduation ceremony because I had to work at Costco, and back then, I didn’t realize how important such an event was. I didn’t even actually receive my physical proof of diploma until just before I reentered college spring of 2015.

Also, upon entering college, I had lost my ability to run and was nearly unable to walk. My first week I spent shuffling around praying to God I would make it through each class. I’ll get into more detail in my actual story when I continue sharing it, but I will say this… My first semester, I signed onto 14 units. This included a performance in a show called “All in the Timing” in which I played several different characters.

Throughout the semester, I went through several different physical therapists and doctors just trying to regain my strength. My family and I battled severe financial struggles which left us nearly unable to feed ourselves at times. Thank God for His grace! I started working out at the school gym, and had hopes of running again. I also started a new job at Kmart and life seemed to be getting better. Just before summer classes, my body failed me again. Apparently the stress of everything took it’s toll and I ended up nearly unable to walk once more. In bed for three days just before summer biology, I was determined not to give up! I spent my summer working my butt off through physical pain, doing housesits, working at Kmart 1 to 2 days a week, working past the crash of my computer and doing my best to hold on to Christ and persevere. Thankfully, I did!

Fall classes came, and my body was starting to allow me to do some physical activity again. Another plate full of classes along with the family stress and my inability to do what I love to do the most (act and run) anorexia begin to overcome me. Though I was eating, I was not eating nearly enough to sustain all the activity I was doing. October 12th, my godmother got me on the scale, something that no one else could ever get me to do, and we found that I was just over 84 pounds after eating and being soaking wet from pool running. I knew something had to change. Between classes, family stress, and everything else, I had a new battle to fight, one for my life! I continued to press on through each semester, slowly regaining my strength and my health. Along with this, came 2 episodes in the ER due to heart problems, several other episodes in the ER due to various health problems connected to stress levels and low weight, consistently being poked and prodded by doctors, physical therapist, chiropractors, the list goes on all while facing several family car losses, loss of my grandmother and a dear friend from church… I was screened for cancer and autoimmune diseases both of which I have none (thank God), and FINALLY, upon my finishing of my final semester… I was officially weight restored. In other words bodily functions were going properly (TMI I know). People kept telling me to back down, to take semester off, but I’ve refused to give up! What do I have to show for it? A testimony of God‘s goodness and grace! Despite the trials and tribulations, God help me obtain two AA degrees 1.) Liberal Arts: Math and Sciences 2.) Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities and a certificate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) . On top of it, I graduated as what is known as a “president’s scholar!” Me, the kid who was told I couldn’t be or do anything, that my dreams weren’t good enough, that my grades were never good enough, yes!!!! THIS WOMAN GRADUATED and achieved everything I set my mind to do and MORE!

Through it all, one thing remains…. there is only one being who can truly take credit for any of this that is Jesus Christ Himself! I ended my graduation evening by speaking to and sharing time with some of my nearest friends and family. Despite the pain I was in, they made it all better! I could not of asked for better celebration!

Now… as I get ready to end this post, I want to let you all know that no matter what dreams you’ve seen shatter before your eyes, God can turn everything around in a heartbeat! Will I have her run again? Faith tells me “yes!” In the meantime, while I’m waiting, I choose to praise God for everything He’s done of my life knowing that He will continue to do miracles again and again! As for my acting career… anything that I have in life truly belongs first to God. If it is His will, He will open the right doors in His time! I’ll just continue to walk through open doors He provides in faith knowing that He’ll lead the way! Again, as I wait, I choose to celebrate the moments that I have gotten to spend on set of various projects (2 of which I’ll reveal when given the OK). Until my next post, be encouraged, know that God is with you, He will move every mountain in your life if you just believe!

Before I go I’m going to share a recipe for savory lunchtime waffles that I came up with recently! I hope you all enjoy!

Savory Lunchtime Waffles

-1/4 cup brown rice flour (you can make it by processing brown rice in a blender)

-1/2-1/3 cup shredded red cabbage or grated cauliflower

-A pinch of baking soda

-A pinch of baking powder

-1 egg

-1 tablespoon of water or milk of choice

-sea salt and rosemary to taste

-1/2 tablespoon of all of oil or olive oil spray

Coat your waffle iron with the all of oil or the all of oil spray and let it preheat. Put all of your ingredients in A blender. Blend until creamy without any lumps. Put mix on the iron and let it cook all the way through. These taste excellent with eggs and turkey meat! You can also serve them with a side salad and canned salmon! If you try this recipe me know what you think in the comments!

Made with cauliflower

Made with red cabbage

Advertisements

Let The Races Begin: Part 12 of My Journey and Stovetop Baked Oats!

Standard

Healing, it comes in many forms. For some, it’s a healing touch, comforting word, expressions of art or even a time of getting away from it all to clear one’s head. For others, such as myself, it’s not that easy. I’ve had to learn to heal as I go from one stressful and traumatizing situation to the next. I’m sure you all wonder if I’ve ever wanted my life to be any different. Of course I have! At the same time, more recently, I have learned that these trials are what have made me into who I am today. Without the stress, without the trauma, without the chaos, without everything that has happened in my life to bring me pain and to tear me down, I would not be nearly as strong as I am let alone have the knowledge and understanding of who God is in my life as I am and do today. No, I’m not saying that I’m in anyway shape or form perfect. I have SO far to go; however, I’m starting to see maturity birth in me as I have been more and more willing to except my circumstances, do what I can do to change them, press into God, find His strength through it all, and stop wishing my life was any different. My life is an example of how touch can cause pain instead of healing, words can tear one down to a point of feeling complete self worthlessness, and how the various forms of art that you use to heal can be torn down by others making you feel like you have no right to enjoy those things. The abuse that I suffered growing up physically, verbally, and the like along with being ridiculed and bullied as a child for liking to sing, act and dance… brought me pain in ways I can’t even begin to express. I guess you can kind of laugh with me and just call me the female version of the “Diary of Wimpy Kid.” What’s great about this is that it’s usually the wimpy kid to end up rising above by the power of God and changing the world for the better! I can only hope that my life has a powerful impact on at least a few people that I encounter during this brief moment in eternity. The main lesson I can learn from all of this is that when everything in life turns to pain, when every dream I have seems to just crumble and fall, there is one and only ONE source that I can rely on and that is Christ Himself.

Now, I left off in my journey last time where I had just had to leave my job due to lack of transportation and a severe injury. It was now time for God to strip away every bit of pride, selfishness, bitterness, everything that was not Him, and begin to build new strengths and characteristics I never thought I would ever have. Here goes with part 12 of my journey.

My Journey Part 12

So, there I was, jobless, fighting to regain my strength, and not sure of what the next day was going to hold. Each day, I forced myself to get up, get out of bed, pray and read the word, and yes … rebuild my ability to run again. One thing I witnessed during the season is God‘s providence! He always knows what we need when we need it! You see, just before leaving the grocery store, I had received a call from someone I did routine housesits for. She asked me to watch her home while she was out of town for a little over a week and then do another one for nearly a month right around Christmas. The second housesit for her would become the longest one I had ever done for anyone! The problem with this is, I would have to request time off right around Thanksgiving in order to do so because doing the job would require my not being away from the home for more than four hours at a time. I trusted God and excepted the job right away! After all, this woman had become very dear to me and so were her critters. I really didn’t want to see anyone else that she didn’t know he put in charge seeing is that she trusted me. Wow… this woman… a judge… trusted ME?! An ex drug addict… me? Yes! Truly God CAN redeem all things! Now, upon my leaving the job at the grocery store, it turned out I definitely had time to make sure that I was there for that entire housesit instead of having someone else take care of it. The first and shorter one was so refreshing! I spent most my time running and relaxing with the pup. Then I returned home and it was back to regular life where everything was a struggle. In the middle of it, my little sister reached out and helped mom and me. My sister… someone who had a kid of her own and barely had enough to take care of her self was helping us! I felt so awful! I felt like somehow I failed her! At the same time it was help… A few weeks passed and I was off to enter my next and longest housesit. This one took place over the Christmas season. Though I was very alone during this season, it was much needed time away from the craziness of life.

December 14, 2013 I FINALLY got to race again! I went to an event called “the Dam jingle bells” race hosted by a local family that has held a very special place in my heart! The feelings of being out on the race track again were incredible!

The energy of the people, the excitement of walking up to the start line, the quick push of my foot as I took the first step racing towards the finish, each moment of that beautiful course with views of the water as the clean crisp air filled my lungs all while adrenaline rushed through me like a wild fire… My spirit sang and soared! I was doing exactly what I was born to do! By the grace of God, I crossed the finish line and came in 1st in my age group! Fast… still… even though I hadn’t been racing for a while, God’s grace was on me!

On Christmas Day I went off with my mom, sister and nephew to enjoy one of my most treasured races! It was a gold rush five miler held in the Richmond hilltop area. When I arrived, I saw Big Al who automatically greeted me with a hug and a smile! I had called my godmother a few days prior and she said that she would be there, but come race day she was nowhere to be found! An anxiousness grew in my spirit. SOMETHING was off! I tried calling her a couple times, but there was no answer. I left a few messages, and prayed that she was OK. Meanwhile, the race had to go on! I stepped up to the start line, Big Al did countdown and… OFFFFFF I flew! Every step was such a blessing! The wind flowing through my hair, the pavement under my feet, my heart racing as I flew around each corner and up each hill all the way to the finish line to come in first place Female!!!! My first Christmas with my new nephew, and he got to see me finish what I love to do the most! “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” said Al! “You won!!!” “But my competition wasn’t here,” I said (meaning my godmother and a woman named Erica). “You STILL won!!!” He said! Then he continued to remark on how fast I came in for the 5 miles! It felt good, but at the same time everything just felt off without my godmother and godfather there.

Shortly after his congratulating me, Al took me aside, sat me down in his car and explained his concern to me about how I was doing. He was concerned that I left my job at the grocery store. He was just worried about me as a whole. I explained to him everything that had happened with my dad and the grocery store, and he encouraged me, like a dad, to find a way to pick up the pieces of my life and put it back together before it was too late! “get back into school,” He said, “ get another job, just don’t give up!” Those words, as encouraging as they were meant to be were better sweet to my ears! I didn’t want to do anything else but run! I was so tired of doing what everybody else wanted me to that I just felt like I needed a break from pushing myself. And looking back, I can see that his words were probably the wisest words I could’ve heard at that time. I’ll forever cherish that man and the impact that had on my life!

After the race, I went back to spend some time at the housesit with the dog, then it was out to my house to open presents and enjoy Christmas dinner with my family and a neighbor.

Just as I was sitting down for dinner, I received a call… it was my godmother. She explained to me that my godfather was in the hospital and that it would be best if I saw him as soon as possible. I knew that he had cancer, but I didn’t know how bad it was. For some reason, I didn’t realize how bad it was! I also knew that this call was serious because she had never asked me to see in the hospital before. Though we were close, she never called me unless it was important. That’s something I’ve always respected about her. I informed my mom about the situation, and we all dropped everything and went out to see them!

Upon arriving at the hospital, my godmother officially adopted me as her goddaughter. She told the staff that I was family and from that day on I have been called her goddaughter. For me, this is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I saw my godfather, they were preparing him to get to an actual hospital room. As I talked to him, he started talking running and told me my godmother was in her peak season for racing! Hahaha it was adorable how even in one of his most painful moments, all he could think about was my godmother and how much he admired her ability to run! I held his hand and talked to him a bit, and the walked out into the waiting room to spend some time with my God Grammy while my godmother and godfather got prepared to get him into a room. Once they had him settled in, my family and I went up to see him. We tried to talk as best as possible, but as it got late, we had to leave. Wow… the man who introduced me to my best friend and godmother, the man who watched over me at races, who would sacrifice his personal food preferences so that I could enjoy allergen free meals with them, who told wonderful stories of planes and cars and of his childhood, the man who cheered me on and coached me on my stride during races… the man who was like a father to me…. was dying! I didn’t know how to fully process it, so I stuffed my feelings in the back of my mind until I later found a moment alone to cry. I then went and said good night to my godmother and God Grammy, and I headed back to the house to get some rest.

The next few days and began to wind down and get ready to leave that housesit. I also beganto pray to the Lord because I didn’t know what I was going to do next about finances, and I really didn’t want to go home yet. Just two days before that job ended, I received a knock at the door. It was my dear friend and old landlord that had me caring for her husband before he passed! Apparently, her and her family were going on vacation and needed me to watch their property while they were away. The job would start immediately after I left the house sit that I was already doing! God heard my prayer! So… I gladly excepted knowing that God truly had my future in His hands!

Now, I’m going to leave off here for this week! BEFORE I go though, I’m going to give a recipe for simple stove top baked oats that I recently came up with! This is super simple and incredibly tasty. Also, since mother’s Day is tomorrow, it might be something you could make for mom for breakfast!

Stovetop baked oats

Oats

-1/2 plus 1 tsp rolled oats

-1 pinch baking soda

-1 pinch baking powder

-1/2 plus 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk OR water

-1/4 tbsp olive oil

Topping

-1/2 individual container Oikos triple zero vanilla yogurt

-1/2 Apple

-1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

Put oats, water/milk, baking soda, and baking powder into a blender and blend until smooth. Put Oil into a mini egg frying pan that has a lid I’ll put the link for the one that I have right here. Cook with lid on, on medium temp until baked all the way through. Flip the pan over to release oats onto a plate, top with the yogurt and fruit and serve!

In closing, I just want to say that I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Here’s to my mom who has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and who stood by me when most people wouldn’t dare be there for me! She’s my best friend, my rock, my everything!!!