One dream postponed = another fulfilled! Part 17 of my Journey

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Hey all! I’m back again and I feel that instead of talking about current life, I should go right on and head into the continuation of my journey. Now, I left off at the end of my fall semester of 2016 which lead into Christmas break. Honestly, this semester was one of the most trying ones I had experienced. My health was in shambles, I had trouble walking more than a mile at a time without having aggravated nerve issues, and one thing I didn’t mention in my last post (probably the most horrific issue of them all) was my coming home after my physiology midterm to find blood all over my appartment. I looked around in terror to find out what it was to find that it was my mom’s cat!!! We had had issues with her acting listless and had taken her to the vet who told us she had a small rodent bone in her stomach, gave her meds to help her pass it, and sent her home. The problem is… she had an abscess growing in her tail because of some unknown trauma that lead to an infection we didn’t know she had. The abscess was what was making her sick and when I came home to blood all over the place I was beyond angry and mortified! Thankfully, we got her into an emergency care (at a different vet) and the vets there went above and beyond to help us apply for emergency pet support to help us afford to have her tail amputated and saved her life.

When Christmas break came… I faced it with a sense of relief that classes were over and a sense of terror that I might have to endure another break in severe physical pain. I worked as much as I could (considering my pain situation). I actually had been promoted towards the end of the fall 2016 semester, so I was learning a new position with lots of new stressors. Then… the Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load and again… no exercise or theatre as an outlet. Now, Part 17 of my journey begins!

Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load! I had Speech, Critical thinking through literature, and government of the United States (Political Science). My course load along with a new position as a Customer Service Rep/ Cashier Supervisor seemed like a great idea at first, buuutttt I found that by the time I would get off work I would have a hard time focusing on my studies. At this point, my body was struggling to get over 106 pounds. I was eating probably around 1700 cal to 1800 cal a day which was not enough to be trying to gain weight AND I was still pretty restrictive with what I was eating. As pressures from classes mounted, midterms approached, and pressure at work increased, I found myself spending my days at home, in bed, in pain, while studying through my chaotic home life and my days at work and school, struggling to make it through each day. On top of it, I had to constantly push aside my battles with PTSD which (at the time) would make chaotic situations seem like they were 3X as bad as they were putting me on edge… I was completely miserable. One morning, as I was eating breakfast about a week before my midterm paper for Poly Sci was due… I felt what seemed like pressure that felt almost like hands push through from my upper back, around on each side towards the front of my chest, and then squeezed my heart! I told my mom what was happening and tried to gather my strength as I clenched my chest. I got up to put my cereal bowl in the sink and… I felt my legs buckle beneath me. My mom rushed me to the ER. There, I weighed just over 106 pounds. No one made mention of the fact I was still under weight, and they shrugged it off like I was just dealing with too much stress. Funny, because I’ve had just as stressful situations more recently and have not had the same pain. Anyhow, as a result of the pain, the doctor advised that I do what I can to avoid stressful situations which meant dropping political science and postponing my transfer to California East Bay. At first, I was so ashamed, I felt like I totally failed! I was going to receive a W as a result of dropping this class. The professor refused to withdraw it despite my medical circumstances. I was completely shattered! My transcripts were tainted and I wasn’t going to transfer in time! At the same time, shortly after I dropped the class, I felt a huge amount of weight being lifted from my shoulders! Political science class was so full of information, and between that and all the reading I had to do for my critical thinking through literature class, all the pressure had me literally laying in bed every free moment that I had. That was no way to live! As a result, I had more downtime, less stress, and I started pushing myself to try to take mini 1/2 mile- 1 mile walks when I would stop at the store between my house and the school. Though it was painful most times, I still did what I could to try to press through.

Meanwhile, I found a new haven in public speaking! All the skills I learned in acting, I got to apply in this class! Also, since I had already been public speaking prior to this course, I was able to use the tools that I acquired while taking the class to help improve my speech writing as well as delivery! What a blessing!!!

Now, as far as my weight goes, one of the chiropractors at the chiropractic chain that I was going to kept nudging me to gain weight! He just wouldn’t let it go! He was like that annoying voice in the back my head constantly telling me I was too frail and thin, but my stubborn mind wouldn’t wrap around it. Finally, after reading a blog post from a well known blogger that goes by “Drops of Jewels” and is also known as “Lord Still Loves Me Julia” made a post about something known as the Minni Maud method. Immediately went to search out what this method was about! In doing so, I found out that according to the method and according to your weight, you are to gradually increase your caloric intake to anywhere from 2,500- 3,000 + calories a day. The person in recovery is not to be restrictive whatsoever. This means candy, ice cream, pizza, cake… yup! Eat it all!

I read about her experience and I continued to study up on the method. I knew I had to do it! I gradually began to increase my calories, and one night as I was getting ready to talk to a friend of mine on the phone, my neighbor offered to purchase my family a pizza. I quickly went and hid in my room and avoided it. Yes, for all of those who’ve been following my blog, I do have gluten allergies. At the same time, my spirit wanted so badly to be free, even for a moment, even if it made my stomach hurt, I just. wanted. freedom! Meanwhile, the eating disorder trapped me in fear! I had a beautiful conversation with my friend, who encouraged me to just do what my gut was telling me and to enjoy the time with my family. I then went and enjoyed not just one piece, but two pieces of pizza along with a big slice of Oreo cheesecake for dinner! On top of it, the excitement from the freedom must’ve totally phased out the side effects of the gluten because I had no stomach issues! That night triggered a whole slew of what I call “freedom eating.“ each and every day I made it my goal to try to increase my calories to a point where I finally was eating 3,000 calories each day. Things like pancakes on my nephews birthday, bagels and cream cheese, Frappuccinos from Starbucks, you name it, I was eating it!

Thennnn severe stomach issues mixed with brain fog, headaches, and inability to focus started to set in which are all symptoms of gluten intolerance. I had to quickly re-think what I was putting into my body and try to find ways to work around the various allergies/ sensitivities in order to get my calories in. Finally, I reached my Doctor’s goal weight of 110, but that didn’t quite feel like enough. I kept on going to a point where I finally felt that it was OK to stop eating the excess and get ready to go into maintenance mode.

As all of this was happening, I was still attending classes and working. I continued to find release in my speech class, and fell in love with my literature course. You see, in speech I found A new level of structure and confidence in my speeches. I was also invited to take part in our school’s annual speech contest for extra credit. There, I got to compete in the dramatic interpretation section (which is pretty much like performing a monologue) and won first place! Along with this came the invitation from my professor and the speech team to join the speech and debate team for the following semester! As far as my literature course went, we were given several texts to read which we were to dissect and pull out any symbolism and possible hidden messages that the author may have left for the readers to pick up. In other words, we had to figure out what the author was saying between lines. We also learned how to compare and contrast different texts and find common hidden meanings in texts that, unless looked at closely, would appear to be completely different. It was absolutely thrilling to find out that I could not only apply this in my every day reading, but I could also apply it in my biblical reading. On top of it, there was an incredible book called The Citizen in which the author speaks from the perspective of an African-American in her daily life. It looked directly through her eyes into the circumstances involving prejudice and straight up ignorance that she and countless others have experienced. That, along with the studies that I did just prior to my dropping political science in regards to the Civil War, I was appalled at the human race and the amount of prejudice that exists even in today’s society! The hatred that this nation has carried since its roots… all I can say is that this semester definitely had a profound impact on my knowledge of racism and the need to cut it up from the roots immediately! Until then, I had no idea how bad everything truly was. I was raised to see people as people. I learned about segregation and prejudice in elementary and High school, but when this semester’s studies set in, the blinders were fully taking off my eyes, and I realized how much hatred humanity has had for one another for ages! It was heartbreaking!

Nowww back to the health issues. My doctor had put in a referral to a new physical therapist. Now, I know physical therapists mean well and they are very well educated, however; for my situation… this form of physical therapy just was not good. My situation requires chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy (psoas release so I can do core and strength training pain free again) and someone to guide me through proper core and balance work. (Due to severe imbalances). The physical therapist gave me muscle energy techniques that are pretty much self adjustments that realign my hips, pelvis and spine (which I have been given time and time again) only to find they didn’t quite do the trick. They also gave me strength training exercises to help strengthen the “week“ muscles. The problem is, no one would listen to me when I would tell them that I had psoas issues and that the exercises they gave me were giving me ITB syndrome that flared up if I walked too far. They swore up-and-down that it had to do with my muscles being weak and that I needed to adjust to the exercises, but the more I did them, the worst I got, and I nearly became debilitated again. When this round of physical therapy ended, they referred me to aqua therapy in hopes that I might find some relief their.

As the semester came closer to an end, I continue to try to go for walks and did the best that I could, but my body just kept acting up. Finally, finals rolled around, yes… the Lord gave me victories over my classes with straight A’s again, and it was off to summer break and some hope!

You see, I kept telling a sweet friend of mine that I consider a sister that we need to get serious about our dreams of becoming actors. Toward the end of May, she sent me a link to a casting call for 13 Reasons Why extras that was going to take place on the 4th of June. She commented “said you wanted to get serious.“ She was totally calling me out! On June 4, I got up early, packed some food, she and a friend picked me up, and we headed to the casting call! As we waited in the long line, I looked back and it continued to just grow! As we got closer and closer to the building they were having the casting call in, the line had gotten so long that they decided to create a cut off point and sent everyone behind that point home. They informed them of how they could go online and register to work on set as an extra. For those of us who hung around, we were given business cards and the option to go home and apply online or hang out and wait to be let inside for our group meeting. The three of us were determined to get inside, so we waited. When we got in we got the information we needed, had our pictures taken, I registered my profile online, and off we went to go spend some time at a mall, then went back to my house and celebrated my 34th birthday with my family! What an amazing birthday celebration! Not only did I get to go and make steps towards my dream career, but I got to spend it with some of my nearest and dearest friends including my godmother and her husband!

Every day, I checked for postings to see if they had any work up and as soon as they did, I began to apply! Then, about a week after my first submissions for work, I was going for a walk in an attempt to alleviate some pain and… I RECEIVED A BOOKING REQUEST!!! I automatically responded and confirmed that I could work, called my mom crying tears of joy and headed back to my car! Ok… yeah, I know, some people might think that I’m only a “background actor.“ The fact of the matter is background actors actually play a major role in helping each scene come together. Not only that, but this was something that I had dreamed of doing my whole life! I was SO overjoyed! I tried to carefully read through all of the pre-information that they sent me, and prepared myself as best as I could mentally and physically for my first day on set.

The morning I first set foot at home base, has filled with so much excitement! As I was standing around after check in, I looked over and Dylan Minnete crossed over right in front of me to go get some coffee. Now, of course I binge watched the series so I would know what was going on and how I might need to hold myself in scenes in order to properly contribute. During my binge watch, I was so amazed at how well each actor performed! Seeing Dylan in person was really cool! So cool in fact, that I completely forgot that the pre-information had clearly stated that we are not supposed to go and speak to any of the actors because they are there to work and not be distracted, annnndd like and overly excited little kid, I blurted out, “ oh my gosh! You did an excellent job in the show!” He kindly smiled, and humbly said, “thank you.” At that point I realized exactly what I just done, so I pulled myself back and hoped to God nobody caught me speaking to him. So, if any of you readers out there end up on a set as an extra, just take a little caution to read documents that they send you to make sure that you don’t go crossing any lines! Anyhow, on set, I learned that it’s a lot of sit around and wait. I waited with about 100 or so other people for them to choose the people they needed as background actors for each scene until they decided to choose me. Though season two has already been released and I have posted pictures of myself and the scenes that they captured me in, due to the legal documents that I have signed, I’m not allowed to expose the dates, times, and or locations at which filming was done. What I will say is that and my first day on set was amazing! While waiting, they consistently make sure that we had fruit and snacks to munch on. Unknowingly, I packed a lunch only to find out that they were actually providing lunch FOR us. I kept my lunch set aside just in case due to the food allergies, but little did I know, they were providing a full catered lunch full of options for pretty much everyone! I was thrilled to find that I could easily pick out items that I can eat without having stomach issues. I couldn’t believe this! Here I was, the girl that had been yelled at half my life, always told that I was not allowed to be or do anything that I ever wanted to, the one who was physically and verbally abused for the majority of my life, the one who worked countless jobs that were physically and emotionally taxing, currently works as a supervisor in a place where people completely disrespect my coworkers as well as myself… I mean literally to a point bringing me to tears a few times… and this one day… I walked onto set as an extra, what most people view as the low-end of the totem pole, and it was like being in a totally different universe. Yes, I had to sit around and wait, but hey… it gives me plenty of time to read! Yes, I got hungry, but I didn’t have to wait for my line to go down or the customer to stop yelling in my face before I could step away and take a bite of an apple. I could keep a snack in my pocket and take bites between takes, eat in extras holding, talk to new and interesting people who actually treated me with kindness, watch a Netflix production being made… what in the world just happened to me?

I went back on that evening and the excitement from the day kept me on a total emotional high! This is it! This is what I wanted to do! All the standing around and waiting, walking up and down the street in the background of a shot where probably never got seen, the 12 hour shift, it was all worth it, not only because of the way I was treated, but because I was doing something that aimed towards what I’ve wanted to do since I can remember! For the first time in my life, I was really attempting to reach toward my dream of becoming a professional actor! My whole life, everyone told me what they wanted me to be, and yes, people tried to put me in the “runner box” like I wasn’t allowed to be anything else… At the same time, here I was, for the first moment in my life, and I took what I love to do for fun in community theatre and began to work toward doing it as a career. It was just so freeing!

As the summer kept going, the casting calls kept coming! I worked primarily in the quart room scenes and worked in several others as well. During the hours spent on set over the summer, I met so many incredible people! A few of the people, have actually become very dear friends of mine!

Now, as I’ve stated time and time again in this blog, I found that throughout my life God has his reasons for things. I kept questioning why life had to be in such a chaotic mess that I would have to drop my political science course and postpone my transfer to start my classes at California East Bay, but God knew what was up. He knew what he was doing all along! You see, had I started classes at East Bay, I never would have had the time to even attempt to work on set!

As fall classes approached, I face them with gratitude, knowing that this would be my final semester at CCC annnddd… I would, Lord willing, I would get to be working on set a bit more!

Wow… so, this post was super long and I apologize for that y’all! However, I believe that I’ll have one more post after this and I’ll be done! For those of you who have followed me on this journey so far, thank you so, so much! I am so thrilled and excited to be able to share with you all my trials and tribulations and to help remind you that no matter what you were going through, God is there, there is a reason for everything, and don’t you ever lose hope! Until next time, God bless!

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Part 16 of my journey: The A’s and a little magic. Finding relief in trying times

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Hey all I am back again and I’m going to go ahead and plummet myself right back into my journey. Just a quick update on life… things have been really chaotic lately. The retail company I work for is closing as of December 9, I’ve been searching for a new job, trying to apply for classes for next fall, working on set a bit and really just trying to get my grounding all while still trying to regain my health and my strength. Time and time again I keep getting knocked back down, but I keep praying and believing that God is working.

Now, I left off last post at the end of my visit with my family during which we attended my grandmother’s memorial and returned to the Bay Area to spent the day touring San Francisco. After everything that had gone down over that last year combined with the PTSD episode caused from the stress of wondering if my dad was going to show up at my grandma’s memorial… I was pretty much an emotional wreck when I came back. It was wonderful to see my family, but my body and emotions had totally had enough! I spent a few days resting and trying to regain my strength, and I headed right back into a semester of summer classes. Over the spring semester, my tablet had fallen and broke. This happened just before the end of classes and I had to frantically pull together all my homework that I had emailed to myself to keep as back up so I could turn it in. Going into the summer semester, I spent most my time at the school using their computers because I had no other way to do my schoolwork. Thankfully, I only had library studies, yoga, and swim… yes, (upon approval from my Dr. And Chiropractor) I made another attempt at trying to re-balance myself and keep my cardio up so that I could eventually return to running and racing again.

With the start of my summer semester came a huge blessing! A sister in the Lord who has seen many of the situations I had been through I had been secretly saving for a car for me. When she told her employer a little bit of my story and what she was doing, her employer told her that they had an extra car in their garage that they didn’t use and that they would actually be happy to give it to me! On July 24, 2016… she came out for surprise visit at my home. She kept acting kind of funny and was asking me how I had been getting around. I told her that I was catching rides from my mom, friends, taking the bus, etc. to get to and from places. Mind you, we live in an area that is semi remote. It’s a tiny town that has one convenience store and one gas station. The nearest full sized grocer is about 5 miles away. In order to get to them, you have to either take the bus or drive being that the roads getting to the other cities are freeways and back roads that are really curvy and unsafe for people to walk down. In other words, there were days when I could only afford groceries and was not able to afford bus fare, so I would have to stay home and just wait to see if my mom could take me to the grocery store at another time. Getting to and from places meant that I had to be a burden on other people and their schedules, or that I would end up spending several hours taking buses. I was by no means ungrateful for the transportation that was available to me, however it was definitely draining for me to get to and from places especially battling the bodily pain that I had been battling for so long. She just looked at me and smiled real big, and pretty much informed me of what she and her employer had done AND that husband had spent time fixing up the car as well… I. Just. Fell. APPART!!! There I was, getting ready to start a new semester, and I finally had freedom to get to and from school without being a burden on anyone else!

Fall classes came with quite a big load! I had human physiology, English 1A, English tutoring session, and drama 125 lined up. For the first time in my college career, I had opted out of PE courses in order to get my body in line. At the beginning of the semester, I found that just in walking down to Drama, my sciatic nerve on my right side had become so compacted that a cause severe pain in my calf as I tried to get down to the theater. On top of it, the class took place directly after physiology which was when my professor had open lab and study time available to anyone who needed to finish homework and lab work. This time was incredibly crucial to my success in the class, so, I had to let go of the Drama course and my two stress reliefs were deleted from my schedule. No fitness and no Theatre… my heart sank. Also, the battle for my health had only just begun.

As classes started, I started a new round of bloodwork with my new doctor. In that process, she found that my white blood cell count was extremely low and my kidney enzymes were low as well. On top of it, I tested positive for hepatitis C antibody‘s. Thankfully, there was no presence of actual hepatitis C in my body, the presence of antibodies just showed that my body had contracted it at one point in my life and fought it off. I was furious! I never used needles when I was using drugs, though I was actually active, I did TRY to be careful. As a result, I had to go back and get tested and retested it to make sure that I didn’t have it. By the grace of God, I don’t! I’m healed of it!

As for the low white blood cell count and the low kidney enzymes, well, along with the pressures of classes and going from different chiropractors and physical therapists, working, housesits and volunteer work, I was being screened for cancer and various auto immune diseases. I began to numb myself with school. As someone who has suffered sexual abuse and physical abuse throughout my life, being continuously poked and prodded by doctors with needles along with the chiropractic and physical therapy that was actually making things worse… I was traumatized and I began find refuge in my studies and also refound my ability to draw!

In the midst of all the chaos, God provided some relief! The organization called the Glasslipper foundation that the Lord placed on my heart to help raise money for was going to be out in the Oaland area to attend an A’s game at which Reverend Donnie Moore was having a faith and family night.

During this night night the two teams would play and Donnie Moore and his team would get up in front of the crowd that stayed after with warship and showed everyone superhuman strength! After that, players from both teams began to share their experiences with God. The best part of this night was getting to meet with all of the young woman that the Glasslipper was helping at that time along with several of their volunteers. The head coordinator was such a sweet and amazing woman! I got to hear her story behind why she wanted to help abused and trafficked women and also got to share my story behind why am so passionate about the cause.

At the end of the night, we went about our separate ways and I begin to drive home when something inside me reminded me that I had seen the Oakland Greyhound station on my drive out towards the stadium. I made it a point to MapQuest my way there and stood in front of the station where, at that point, I had stood nearly 10 years prior with my mom, got into her truck and started my new life of freedom from homelessness and drug addiction.

I sat there and began to weep. I asked God why he wouldn’t let me run anymore! I promised him that if he would just let me run again that I would tell the world about how he took drug addict I made her an ultra marathon runner! I drove back to the house at that I was staying at and continued with my homework packed up and went home.

Another moment of relief came in the form of one of my favorite performers. Alex Ramon, the magician who had come just after I originally nearly lost my ability to walk was coming to Hilltop again to perform for the harvest festival! Like a little kid, I was so excited! I volunteered to work the door that year and greet the kids as they came in to give them their bags. I got the blessed with opportunity to meet up with Alex‘s mom and direct her to her seat and even chat with her a bit. What a sweet, sweet woman! Once everyone was seated, I got to sit down and enjoy the show with my little nephew! You see, with all the chaos of classes, work, etc., I was barely able to spend time with my family. This was such a blessed time of enjoying that cute little smile on my nephew space while getting to witness Alex do an underwater escape! On top of it, his magician’s assistant during that time (miss Meghan Doyle) blessed me with huge basket of goodies and a beautiful card that encouraged me to keep going! I was so overwhelmed by their kindness!

Then… it was back home to face reality.

Soon, a woman who is a very precious part of our choir and had been reportedly very ill had died. My heart sank as I remembered the time I held her hand and prayed with her for miracle. I was almost angry at God! Just a few weeks prior to her death, I had made a drawing for her, but wasn’t able to give it to her so I gave it to her caretakers. Through this precious woman‘s death, a gift was given to me. I was given the honor of singing at her funeral and bidding my precious friend farewell. The sacrifices she continuously made right up until she could no longer make them for choir and for the church as a whole have left a legacy in my heart and mind that will last me a lifetime! Alice Romero… you will forever hold a special place my heart!

Back at school and work… Despite my struggle to walk, I continued to press on! Thankfully, the disabled students office helped me get to and from classes when it was too hard for me to walk up to physio from my English course. Also, after multiple trips to the ER due to allergic reactions to medication and severe colds/ flus that I caught throughout the semester, answers begin to come! As it turns out, I’m severely allergic to all NSAIDs, and was tested negative for cancer and autoimmune diseases! Apparently my body had just taken a total beating from the years of malnutrition. By the end of the semester, my white blood cell count had increased just a little bit, but enough to know that my body was moving in a positive direction.

In the mix of it all came possibility of transferring to California East Bay to receive my bachelors degree in their wellness program. Upon talking to a counselor I found out that I was just a few classes shy of receiving two AA degrees and a STEM certificate! Upon completion of my scheduled courses for the spring, I would be graduating with honors and headed to another school! I got right on it, began my paperwork and… was accepted! All the excitement from this gave me so much strength and energy to keep focused!

Finally, this semester drew nearer to an end and I started to see what all my trials had been for! You see, my term paper for physiology was on eating disorders and their effects on the body. Instead of doing one long term paper, my professor actually had us do several short papers throughout the semester and had us do one major presentation that took highlights from each of those papers into our final projects. Throughout the semester, a light started to shine on all that I had done to myself on physiological level through malnourishment. It all really struck a chord with me! Again, while I was trying to eat more (between 1600 and 1800 cal), I still wasn’t eating enough for the weight gain that needed to be done (between 2500 and 3000+ cal), but at least I was gaining a little weight. I was also tackling major food fears (which also helped me recognize which foods I’m actually allergic to sensitive to and which ones I can actually enjoy without a problem). In the presentation I was able to pull out what is done on the psychological and physiological level in someone with an eating disorder, and, I got share my “why” in choosing that topic. The whole class got to see me on a whole new personal level. Most of the class already knew that I was recovering, for some reason I’ve always just been really open about it, however; this gave me the opportunity to explain the devastation that let up to my lack of self-worth. I also got to see a lot of the progress that I had made despite the trials that I have faced. Most of them knew that I always declared that it was by the power of God!

The best part out of the entire final project was getting to see everyone else present theirs! Countless times I was brought to tears seeing so much passion rise in each and everyone of my classmates and seeing whole new side of each of them!

As finals approached, a sense of bittersweetness came over me. I was so glad that classes were going to be over, BUT I was really going to miss Dr. Ellen Coatney (physiology professor), Dr. Eiknerlynch (my English professor), my lab partners, the student aids, my sweet friend Victor that was such an encouragement to me and gave me the opportunity to help him his English course (and I even pointed him the direction of the Theatre arts on campus) and the many, many more people that I came in contact with that fall. While I looked forward to having the pressures of classes taken off and the hopes of being able to regain my strength so I could, Lord willing, walk and run again, I dreaded the idea of the possibility that I could very well end up in bed again.

That year, just before classes ended, I got to sing in the singing Christmas tree, but had to sit off to the side of it because of the severe pressure on my back and legs. This was a nightmare for me, someone who loves to be active, to nearly have the ability to walk being taken away from me… yet it was such a blessing to be part of such a beautiful production!

The semester ended, grades came in, and yes, straight A’s again! I guess to me, this made all the work and the pain worth it! All the hours of studying, being shut away in my room away from my family, The pain I endured as I spent hours sitting down at a computer trying to do my homework and finish writing papers, the struggles of dealing with pain as I tried to walk from class to class, the pain I endured at work while often times being treated improperly by customers, having little to no social life, living in constant pain, yes, those A’s definitely made it worthwhile! Though know we’re not supposed to put our value in our grades or anything else… to know that I was actually seeing results from the sacrifices made somehow seemed to ease the pain.

Looking back on the semester, yes… there were car trouble, yes… there were issues with my health, yes… my chest began hurt at times and scared me that I might end up in the ER again with chest pain, BUT through it all YES!!!! MY GOD WAS THERE FOR ME!

As winter break came, my body had had it once again. No, this time I didn’t end up in bed, but I kept attempting to walk and it was still a struggle. I was so ready to throw in the towel. Despite the pain, I chose to enjoy Christmas with my family along with my mom’s birthday, did the best I could to get more hours at work, and prepared myself to face what I thought would be my final semester at CCC.

Sooo I guess it’s time to leave off here! I was hoping to cover a lot more in this post, but I realize that it would be a bit too lengthy. Thank you all for joining me as I continue to share my story, looks like I’m almost done though! As always, whatever you’re going through, I can’t state it enough… God. Is. There! Keep pressing on!

When Death Comes Knocking… Part 15 of My Journey

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(Image from abcnews.com)

Sitting in bed this morning, my mind and senses took me back to a moment in Tahoe when I was just a kid. I was hanging out in Myers which is a town just outside of South Shore at my friends’ house (two gals my mom cared for) and the rain had just ended. We all enjoyed some cream of wheat and the fresh smell of the after rain air! The grey sky, the mist that remained in the air over the greenery that surrounded the area, the warm and sweet taste of delicious cream of wheat… (deep breath) I can almost feel, smell, and taste everything about that moment! There’s something so healing and beautiful about this memory! How my spirit longs for those times when things seemed so simple, when eating disorders didn’t exist, when all that mattered was that sweet and fragrant air and that big bowl of warm goodness covered in butter, sugar and milk, when my stomach could actually handle those things without cramping up until I nearly curl over in pain, and when my body was free to run, hike, sled and ride bikes all over the Lake Tahoe area. I was always an active kid until my move to Las Vegas and sexual abuse started over, making me so depressed and not really want to do anything. In that moment in Tahoe, I was safe. No predators, just good friends, good food, and the sweet after rain air! Today, I’m definitely battling pain. I’ve gone from being able to run anywhere from 2 to 14 miles and training for what was supposed to be my first marathon back from forced retirement to finding it hard to walk and run again; However, I found out why oatmeal tends to be my staple food. It’s the closest thing to that warm and comforting bowl of cream of wheat that my stomach can handle and it brings me back to one of my most cherished memories and one of the few that I have that were free of emotional and physical pain. It also brings me back to the days when I was running and racing as it was my choice fuel each morning. Anyhow, I’m going to take advantage of this time, attempt to go on a walk (run if my body allows) and continue to share my journey with you!

Now, I left off in my last post as I had just finished my summer semester biology course with and was struggling to walk again. Now… on to part 15 of my journey.

My Journey Part 15

Now, I never intended for it to take this long to share my journey! To those who have been reading so far, thank you so much! I will try to keep details as minimal as possible and get through the rest of this as quickly and painlessly as possible!

Fall semester of 2015 definitely had its battles! Classes started only a few weeks after summer classes had ended, however those few weeks were a much needed break during which worked extra hours at Kmart and got a little surprise! As I mentioned before in my last post my sister was pregnant again and was just about to have another baby. Apparently she had cleaned up and, this time around, it looked much more hopeful being that the babies father really had his life together. The problem is, she had her baby on July 10, and because of the circumstances surrounding her firstborn son and my mother having custody of him, I was unable to see the baby. Shut out, from the beginning. As much as it affected my family and me, I had to press on and move on!

I was originally signed up for a full course load of, I believe 13 units, however due to the pain I had to take care of me, cut back to working 2 days at Kmart (doing housesits to make up for the lack of hours) and drop a class. My fall class lineup included experimental analysis biology, intro to probability and statistics, Gym, beginning swimming (as I was released to do balance and water workouts), and comparative religion (philosophy). I absolutely LOVED philosophy as it gave me such a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast other faiths with my own and really see and connect the truth of God using it as a basis for all of my coursework. In essence, I was ministering to everyone who read it! What an honor!

(Evening swim where I enjoyed working off the stress from classes despite pain)

I was approved by medi-Cal for another round of treatment from the same physical therapist which was a relief. However, I was still battling a lot of the same aches and pains. Her treatment continued through the first month, but then… due to my coverage, had to come to an end. There I was, just barely through the first portion of my fall semester, and I had to use the tools that all my physical therapists had given me over time to do what are known as “self adjustments.“ With these adjustments, I had to learn how to use muscle energy to move my hips and spine back into place. However, these only worked for so long and I ended up in even more pain. During this time, I had become friends with a very kind lady who referred me to her chiropractor in El Cerrito. Meanwhile, in our visits together, she did make note of how thin I was. I took her comments as attacks assuming that she was just jealous. Yeahhh I was prideful! At the same time, I couldn’t understand why SHE would be jealous of ME because she is so beautiful! I used some of my grant money to go to a couple visits with the chiropractor she recommended and things begin to somewhat look up. He encouraged me to just ice and keep moving as it was the only way I could properly heal. Move and let the body adapt to being in alignment. That made sense! After a few visits with him, I continued to use my muscle energy exercises and combined that with his treatment in order to help me make it through the semester.

In the month of October, the pressure from classes, finances, not knowing what was going on with my sister and the new baby, and anorexia Athletica took their toll on me!

After spending several hours a week at the gym and in the pool along with all the studies and running around I had to do in order to get things done being that I didn’t have a car….. I became exhausted, depressed, and nearly lifeless. I was staying at a housesit, caring for the dog, studying till I couldn’t think straight, and on October 11, 2015, I was so exhausted from everything that I stayed home from church for the first time in a very long time. My mom came to pick me up and I was just sobbing telling her I just needed to be left alone. Even though I was dressed, I went upstairs, fell asleep, and cried when I woke up. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to live, but I ate anyway and spent the day resting. That evening, my godmother gave me a call and invited me to go swimming with her at her gym since the following day was a holiday and we both thought that my swimming class would not be meeting. (As it turned out it was meeting but thankfully my professor let it slide).I accepted her offer and met up with her the following morning. There. I spent over an hour in the pool and got out. Afterwords, I showered and met up with her in the main part of the locker room where she said, “I think I’m going to go and weigh myself.” “ yeah,“ I said, “I like to stay OFF of the scale, it can be a danger zone for me.“ The thing is, the Holy Spirit was using her to coax me onto that scale! After she got on, I felt the urge to get on and found out that soaking wet, after eating a huge breakfast and swimming, I weighed just over 84 pounds! NO WONDER I FELT SO LIFELESS! That evening, after she dropped me off, I started an Instagram page right away to log my journey. I decided I was not going to allow 84 pounds to kill me. Little did I know, the battle for my life was only beginning.

(I originally took photos w/ out my face showing to keep myself anonymous)

Though I was stepping into, my eating patterns were still out of whack! I still ate very few fats and was still eating way below the caloric intake that I needed to. At the same time, I was being a little more open about what I included in my diet. I started eating more grains and proteins from fish, eggs and even chicken (I later found out I’m allergic to chicken). At the same time, I drenched everything and Stevia, salt, and lemon juice or vinegar.

Meanwhile, I continue to drive every bit of energy that I had into classes, jumping from housesit to housesit, counseling appointments, doctors appointments, chiropractic appointments, constant issues with illness and all dealing with financial issues and my moms car having some issues as well.

Thankfully, I made it through and finished once again with straight A’s! It seemed like the only thing going for me with school! Though during the semester I was given the opportunity to take part in filming by doing some narrative in the school orientation video, outside of that, I didn’t really get to act. Physical exercise was painful, but I did anyway and really didn’t enjoy as much. However, it definitely helped clear my mind from all the craziness that was going on!

That year, just before classes ended I was singing in the choir in the annual “Singing Christmas tree.” Once classes and the show were over, I found myself having hard time walking again! I sucked it up, enjoyed the little time of Christmas break that I had and prepare to head straight into my Spring 2016 semester. During the break, my godmother got married and at her wedding, I sang “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters. Still thin and frail, I had no idea how closely resembling my life and Karen Carpenter’s had quickly become (thankfully… I’m not dead).

As my spring semester started, I found myself plunging completely into classes.

I found it was a sanctuary away from my home life. It was a place where I could study and be away from the chaos at home. I found myself preferring to be at school drowning myself in studies rather than staying at home and facing my reality. My spring class lineup of 13.5 units included human anatomy, pre-calculus, acting on film and television, lab, assisted tutoring, swim, and Pilates. At the get go, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to take better care of myself. You see, in anatomy we had to look at cadavers throughout most of the semester. One of the cadavers just happened to have died from cancer that triggered anorexia nervosa. Her main cause of death was anorexia.

At the beginning of the semester, I began to get sick… repeatedly. I continued on with my classes. Despite the injury, I continued to do what I could to just keep pressing through. I started seeing a different chiropractor in El Sobrante. He was Very first one I had ever seen. While his treatments did help a little, I found myself still in a lot of pain. Medi-Cal was supposed to cover one visit a month and I found out later that he wasn’t taking Medi-Cal, so a bill was piling up. I was misinformed by his secretary, so unknowingly, I racked up a relatively large debt. Meanwhile chaos hit in my personal life!

You see, just as suspicions had arose, my sister had been using drugs again! As a result, she ended up in a situation that put both her and her new baby in danger and my mom and I ended up having him in our care for three days. Though this was an answered prayer because I hadn’t even met my new nephew yet, at the same time, it was me who had to stay home and inside with a traumatize child yet again!

I did the best I could to look past how the situation effected me, did what I could to emotionally hold it together, do my schoolwork, and be as loving to little guy is possible even though I was in pain. After all, it wasn’t about me, it was about my nephew who just really needed a lot of love. Soon, the little guy’s dad came to pick them up and he was taken from us once again. My heart broke! This was just another reason for me to dive even deeper into my studies and unknowingly into bad eating patterns. After all, though I was including new foods, I was not getting enough calories for all the energy that I was putting out.

Shortly after the situation with my sister and the baby, my mom’s car broke down which meant I had to take the bus to and from school and pretty much anywhere else I needed to go. It wasn’t so bad considering that I could spend the hour or so that I spent waiting for or on the bus to do my studies without interruption. The problem was that I was already putting out a lot of energy with studies and gym classes and was not eating enough to even maintain that let alone walking (carefully) to and from the bus stop and putting out more energy going from stop to stop. Along with that came trying to just maintain my health and not get hurt again. All the running around just increased the pain that I was in. To make matters worse, nearly 3/4 of the way through the semester, I received news that my grandmother on my dad side who I was not able to see and barely able to talk to over the previous two years due to the restraining order that I had on him and the fact that he lived with her had passed away! Not only that, but upon calling my Aunt D… I found out that she had suffered from severe abuse from some family members (Who I’ll keep nameless) until just a few months prior to her death. I had just gotten out of class, had been studying all day and received the original news of her death via Facebook! FACEBOOK OF ALL PLACES! No one had called me to let me know that her health was deteriorating, no one informed me of anything despite the fact that I was still in contact with some of my relatives on that side, I had to find out through Facebook of all places! I completely fell apart so much so that I ended up missing my swim class.

The next day, I Called my professor for swim and explained to him the situation with my grandmother passing and he totally understood!

(Empty pool all to myself was just what I needed to relieve the stress)

He allowed me to go to the pool and make up my class. The pool was empty, and I pretty much had it to myself that day. I think maybe one other person was there which was a total godsend! After my swim, I stood in the shower, half lifeless again, and began to weep hysterically. I then pulled my things together, finished up the little homework that I had left to do at the transfer station on campus, then caught the bus and went on with my day.

Throughout the semester, I found so much joy in learning anatomy! Professor Coatney had so much life and passion for what she did! Along with that, my acting in film and television course (taught by the amazing professor Mccarty-Shwab) gave me such an incredible outlet! I was acting, working out, and learning… I was pretty much doing everything that I loved to do! On top of it, I was just granted some help financially with getting started on my dream which is a clothing and jewelry line called “Messenger Gear” that help spread awareness and raise funds to stop human trafficking. The only problem was, my self-worth was in the toilet! The devastation from everything going on around me between my mom’s car breaking down, barely being able to afford to eat at times, the battle with the eating disorder and the death of my grandmother had finally taken their toll on my body and the Friday before finals… I was rushed to the emergency room with severe chest pain.

The ER team let me in immediately and I was placed on the scale to find that I weighed only 190 pounds. At 5 foot 4 1/2 inches, though I had gained 6 pounds over the semester, I was still not carrying nearly enough weight especially considering everything I was doing. As I sat there waiting for the doctor to come in, I obsessively went over my flash card cards for my Anatomy final exam. Then, a dear friend of mine that I had worked for as his personal assistant came in and saw the mess that I was! I was completely embarrassed!

(Yeaaahh I thought I was fat)

The doctor told me that I needed to be at 118 pounds so that my body can heal. My mind did not even want to wrap itself around the idea of gaining nearly 30 lbs. to me, 110 (which was recommended by my general practitioner) was OK, but one 118 was completely out of the question! Yep, I was definitely sick!

Finals week came and went and I came out victoriously by the hand of God with, he straight A’s again! Only by the grace of God was I able to even accomplish these things! Yes, I put in the hard work and the hours of study, but it’s only by His grace that I was able to achieve anything at all!

Summer break came and along with it came the invitation to go to my grandmothers memorial service with my cousins! This was such a bittersweet moment! My father had apparently moved back to Hawaii making it possible for me to go to the event.

(My beautiful cousin Natalie)

While there, I stayed at my grandmothers home and the PTSD set in more than I could’ve ever imagined! I repeatedly kept asking my relatives if they were sure that my dad was not coming. Around every corner of the house and everywhere I went, I watched cautiously, I panicked as my uncle took me from place to place in his car, and at the memorial I had a mini face off with my Aunt V who grabbed me by my wrist and made me feel like crap for staying in my grandmothers home while visiting. Despite what I felt in connection to the confrontation with this person, I decided to enjoy the time that I did have with my family.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful! The thing is, the eating disorder reared its ugly head again! Though I tried to gain weight, I wasn’t eating enough again. I was very guarded about what I ate the entire time I was there! I didn’t let anybody in! I tried to work out, but my body just flared up again!

On the way home, my cousins wanted to go out to San Francisco which is just about a half hour to 45 minutes from where I live. So, in an effort to redeem the mess that my birthday was, they took me out for a day on the town!

(My cousins Josh, Brianna and me enjoying SF)

It was so refreshing to have sushi and to walk all over the city with my amazing family that I had really not even gotten to get to know until that day! Honestly, I wish I could do it all over again! That day, I experienced a lot of food freedom that I didn’t have before and was even able to do a nice long hike with them!

Then, at the end of the hike, my body acted up once again! All the sitting from traveling and the hiking up and down hills had taken it’s toll on me. Just prior to my visit out there, I had began to go to a place called the joint chiropractor in Pinole. After my cousins dropped me off at home, I rested for the evening. The next day, I tried to go for a walk and my body locked up on me. I quickly went to the chiropractor and they helped me figure out a way to help me recover. There I was again.. at ground zero, about to start summer classes and in pain. On top of it, as loving as the majority of my family was at the memorial, the whole visit caused a severe psychological set back. My being in the same area where a lot of the traumatization happened with my dad just really messed with my head! At the same time, I tried to hold onto any sign of hope that I possibly could which meant facing summer classes regardless of how I felt!

For now, I will have to leave off here! What I will say is that to give you an idea of what I’ve had to face in the healing process, it’s not just that I’ve had to go from practitioner to practitioner to practitioner, but if you all understand the fact that I’ve been traumatized by abuse repeatedly throughout the course of my life… to have to face different health practitioners who are supposed to help me only to have my health go down the toilet once again has been, to me, emotionally like being abused repeatedly. While I’m 100% sure that they all mean well and are doing the best they can by me (for which I’m eternally grateful)… Different hands touching my body, sometimes in places that aren’t quite comfortable in order to get the healing process to go through and being told by each practitioner that I will most definitely will be able to run and race again only to be left time and time again struggling to walk, crying out to God for help… I’ve just come to my wits end with the whole situation. Again, I’m at Ground Zero trying to figure out just what to do. Also, if I can be brutally honest with you all, throughout the semester even though I was doing things that I like to do, I was completely miserable! So much so that there were even times that I nearly checked myself into a mental hospital. The pressure, the pain, the trauma, emotionally and physically I just had enough! It’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t check in and that I am where I’m at today! Do know that whatever you’re facing, that God is with you! If you ever need help, don’t be afraid to reach out! I’m so grateful for my counselor and my mother that have been there throughout this time. Without them, I don’t think I’d be alive today. Until next post.. God bless and stay strong!

Running, Graduation and More

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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

Valentines Day and Part 7 of My Journey… the Tornado Spins

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Yay.. valentine’s Day is tomorrow! I’ll be honest, it’s been kind of hard for me to face this holiday. I think I’ve just come to point where like many other people, I do feel that I too want my happily ever after. That being said, I’m trying my best not to hang around sulking and wishing that I had some amazing day all set up with a special someone. I’ve been single for quite some time now, and while there have been a couple of people that have sparked my interest… (those of you who know me personally know that I rarely ever crush so this is a miracle for me) I’m truly waiting on God and letting Him show me what He wants me to do with my life and who He wants me to spend it with. As for life as it is currently, I’m continuing to remain very vague on this topic. I’ll post in detail when victory shows itself. In the meantime, I’m facing my current trails with faith knowing that God has already won the battle.

Now, this next portion of my story is quite a bit heavy for me. To be quite frank, I’ve been avoiding writing this for the past few days. Why? Well, the season that I’m about to dive into and share with you all is season that was probably one of most trying times that I’ve ever dealt with. What’s crazy is, I never expected to go into this much detail, however I feel that sharing my story with you all will hopefully bring about some sort of reminder to you in your life that God will see you through no matter what you’re dealing with! This portion of my journey is written in what I’ll described as a tornado of words. This was the best way I could write it and I feel it best expresses what I was going through.

Before I start, I wanted to encourage you all to go to my friend Emily‘s blog and read her post on helping people during suffering. I was given the opportunity to speak on the podcast which is linked in this post and I would love for you all to be able to hear what the Lord placed on our hearts to share with you! Also, I encourage you to continue reading her blog as it is such a blessing and an inspiration to me and many others! ANYWHO… here goes!

Part 7 of My Journey

* trigger warning! If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are easily triggered, take caution because some of the pictures that I’m posting are of me at a pretty low weight and can be triggering*

Home, you never know how sweet that word really is until the very existence of that factor becomes an inconsistency in your life. For those of you who are just joining and reading my story, I encourage you to go back and start from part one of my journey. For those of you who have stuck along so far, thank you and I hope that you continue to join me.

I left off in my last post with my mom and I finally each finding separate places to live. I was set to move in with a woman for whom I was working, taking care of her home and critters while she worked out of town and came home on the weekends. Upon my arrival there, I got ready to start my fall classes. This time they were online at DVC. I continue to look for more paid work so that I could afford food and basic essentials outside of my rent expenses and actually found a job as a nanny picking up a little girl in Berkeley and taking her to school in Napa several times a week. In the crossover from my restaurant job to my new nanny job, I found myself missing a day of work at the restaurant and having to ask them to forgive me. I explained to them my situation and why I had not shown up. They graciously understood, and I served at that restaurant for the last few days that it was opened. It was so heartbreaking to see someone’s dreams shattered before my eyes. People who invested to build a restaurant that they loved so much to watch it completely sink. Meanwhile, my own life was falling apart and I was trying everything I could to pull it together.

As classes started, and I started my new job, family and life begin to get hectic! First off, the new nanny job promised me a certain weekly wage during my interview, however because it was not in writing they decided to change it to an hourly wage which completely affected my weekly income. Gullibly, I still signed on not realizing how much of a pay cut I was actually taking.

During my first two weeks of courses, issues with my troubled loved one arose. Finally, one evening as I was doing my algebra homework I received a phone call from her saying that she was stranded, and she felt she was ready to go to Teen Challenge. She was crying hysterically, terrified and riding a bus. I previously had promised her that the moment she was ready to get clean I would be right by her side. Holding true to my promise, I dropped everything I was doing, got in my car, called the number she called me from to find out it was the bus driver’s phone, and went to find her on the street that he last left her.

As I drove down Appian Way toward El Sobrante, I saw her walking fast with her head down and tears streaming down her face. I quickly pulled over, had her get the car. “thank you!“She said. “I made a promise to you, you’re serious about this right?!“ “YES!” She said.

Tears streaming down my face with gratitude to God, I drove off and decided to take her to a shelter for the evening so we could figure out and arrange a way for her to get to Teen Challenge the following day. I immediately called Pastor Port Wilburn who, from his own recovery bed told me to come over to his home and he would give me some ideas as far as resources and places that we could take her. On our way to his house, I was faced with a serious demon from my past. My loved one pulled a ball of white mess wrapped up in plastic out of her bra. I knew exactly what that was! It was meth! “I should probably get rid of this since were going to a shelter right?” She asked. “WHAT? Get that out of my car!” I screamed. She quickly threw it out the window, then pull the pipe out of her bra as well and said, “I should probably get rid of this too then right?” “Of course! I can’t believe you brought that with you!” I yelled! She then threw it out the window as well.

We arrived at Pastor Port’s house, and he was recovering from a serious surgery. Out of the kindness of his heart, despite his own trials, he gave me information regarding a couple of shelters in Richmond that could possibly help my her out. The first shelter, was packed and couldn’t take her. The second shelter, was the Bay Area Rescue Mission. By the grace of God despite the fact that she had already burned her bridges with them, they let her stay the evening. The problem is, the next day I found out that there was a paperwork process that she had to go through in order to get into the program at Teen Challenge. The delay lead to her getting antsy, and she headed back out to the streets to do her dirt. I was angry and quickly cut contact with her.

• Quick sidenote, the order of events with this gets really jumbled in my head because of the PTSD that I still suffer from due to these events. So, please bear with me.

About a week and a half later my mother called me to inform me that Teen Challenge was ready to start the process! Having a bad attitude at first, I grumbled my way through it. The next day we headed to Bakersfield. More than halfway there… OK by now it’s obvious that my troubled loved one is my sister, so I’m going to be real here! My sister began to freak out, we had to call the highway patrol to help us get her under control and we were forced to turn right back around and go all the way home. My heart grew cold, and I told her I would not help her until she was absolutely serious again.

Soon, with stresses that built up over time, I was completely unable focus on school, and dropped my classes… Pressure came in, with body in pain and the nanny job (which required a lot of driving) while still barely making ends meet…. I started driving, selfishly into training. It was no longer for the Kingdom nor as an example of a transformed life. It was a place of refuge when, instead, I should have sought God first to be my refuge.

Then, A glimmer of what I thought was hope appeared! The kitty lady and I talked about the possibility of my becoming a personal trainer, and I agreed to clean the mold out of the walls of her bathroom, in exchange for her paying for my training course… Seeing that I found a gym that would agree to hire me. 24 hour fitness interviewed and agreed to hire me, and I was quickly signed up for the “training is fun” course. Meanwhile, the kitty lady was preparing to have her bathroom remodeled thus causing me to have to leave and stay with my mom off and on throughout the rest my time living there. I literally ran around looking like a hot mess from all the pressure I was under. Within one week of receiving my course packet, I was off to Fairfield to take my test which, thankfully, I passed with flying colors!

Training,  going back-and-forth from the kitty house to my moms house, taking a crash course in personal training, and starting a new job where I worked early mornings and had the stress of trying to gain new clients, plus getting ready to leave my nanny job, stressed with the worries of my sister, and…. Then…. I get the call. As I was finishing a training run with my friend Katrina, I received a phone call from my grandmother. My grandfather’s condition had worsened, and the cancer spread to his brain. Was this whirlwind going to end? Within a few days my mom and I packed up a few things and headed out to see my grandfather. Wow… With a quickness, he went from rosey-cheeked & smiling at the sight of me to, lying in bed shriveled up and almost lifeless. I wept and wept and wept! nooooo… After all these years! Why? I prayed and begged God to do a miracle!

Right in the middle of this, I started having to see a chiropractor for the first time in my life. Pain… every area of my life was just. so. painful!!! So much all at once!

I worked one of my final days as a nanny the following day, mom and I had to leave. Then, just after work the next day… My grandmother called, crying. Grandpa had passed. So, as I continued to train, in the back of my mind I kept thinking “I’ll do this for you grandpa! I’ll do this for you!” And the whirlwind kept going… Like they say “first comes the promise, then comes the hurricane! ” I continued to press on! I was emotional, broken, still going back-and-forth between the kitty house and my mom’s house, dealing with the stress of not getting clients at work, I felt like a failure. I decided to add more onto my plate and joined the church choir at Hilltop. Niiiice!!! It was as if I was trying to earn some merit or trying to get someone’s approval. Why all the stressing and striving to do all these things? When really, all God told me to do in the first place, was to love him, and to run the race physically and spiritually for Him. ?! I had lost my site. I was so self consumed and so busy trying to please the world around me that I had fallen out of the Word of God. My foundation was crumbling,  and so was my life!

Clock ticked down to race day, and I finished my final long run for California international Marathon. I completed it surprisingly fast. To my surprise, Sharlet (my Godmother) and Johnny (my Godfather) ware there!!!!! We were all exhilarated!  We actually thought there was a possibility I could qualify for the trials!

As the clock ticked down even further….  More back-and-forth between home, my moms house, and choir. The night before it was time to leave for the event, While staying in my mom’s apartment, my entire body was in pain. All through training for this marathon, I was fighting an internal battle with under eating. A few times my mom had actually prayed privately because of how skeletal I looked… The self-hatred, the stress, pushing through just to prove to who? I lost sight of God, I lost sight of the only  reason I even take a single step let alone a single breath!

Finally, the event came. We stayed it in a hotel (Complements of the kitty lady) I Met up with someone who gave me confirmation of what I believe (yes even today) to be what God has called me to do… run ultramarathons. I then went and ate my prerace dinner, and we headed to sleep so I could be up and ready to race. As I showed up at the start line… I was completely unprepared for how cold it was! I felt like I was swimming in a pool of freezing water my muscles couldn’t move!

As I push through my body hurt… I crossed the finish line limping, to see Sharlet and the family and Bob McNair (Brother in the Lord who helped me get the job at the restaurant and supported me through many dark times) waiting to congratulate me for at least finishing… Yeah… I didn’t even qualify for Boston at this one. I was SO focused on my failure that I missed the blessing of the very people that were there for me! Shortly after meeting them I was off to the medical tent, where I received ice, and talked to Bob on the phone about seeing another doctor (cue the amazing Dr. Runco). Then, ahhhh mom to the rescue with a huge glass of White chocolate nonfat milk from Starbucks!!!! Recovery! Aunt Cheri came along with her and we all walked through Sacramento  on a mission to find a steak house! Not finding anything by foot, we opted to get into the car and found a red lobster.

As we ate, Cheri looked at me with deep concern. My dear Aunt,  My main running inspiration. She asked me what was going on. Reluctantly, I let her know. Between her and my aunt Wendy…. All I can say, is I’m blessed to have such amazing aunts! We headed back to the parking lot of the hotel and soon parted ways… Then, it was back home to face the stress of a sinking job and again uncertainty in my living space. How could I go back home? I felt like such a fool telling everyone that I was trying to qualify for the Olympic trials only to come home broken and empty-handed.

As the end of the year came, my heart grew more and more cold. Stress at home, stress at work, trying to regain my health… Meanwhile, I kept hearing God in the back of my mind. He kept calling me to pick that project up that I left a year before. The fundraiser race I had held with Katrina while everything was originally shaking down. It was inspired by the events that transpired with my sister. I tucked in the back my mind again and just drudged through life.

As things continued to go downhill at 24 hour I met a friend, who originally asked me out for a coffee date, however I had declined being that he was not a believer. This began an awkwardly platonic  friendship. My neediness for friendship at that point, Left me wandering to an older man without faith base that would have been wise me to stay away from. Though he and his family were incredibly Kind to me, I was still trying to fill that daddy void with a friend (seriously, friendship was as far as it went).

In the midst of this I began getting into new age using the excuse that I was a “spiritual” Christian with an “open mind”…uhhh… I needed to open it back up to Jesus! Needing to find some financial stability, I applied to work for a local coffeehouse and got the job. At this point I was completely unwilling to spend all day working at 24 hour fitness and work at the coffee house all while taking care of day to day tasks for the kitty lady, so, Another change of job. The coffee house it was!

As things continue to go on, a friend of mine offered to pay for the race fee for my next marathon, the San Francisco Marathon. Training began again in my will and my time.

Shortly after this I received a phone call from my grandmother… “Jamie,” She said…”You’ll never believe who called…”The only answer that came to mind, was…. “MY DAD!!!!!!!” “Yes,” she said… I’d been waiting for so long, prayed so many nights, just wanting to forget the past and have an opportunity to get to know my dad! Wow! Believe in miracles!

Despite an undertone of warning in her voice I asked for his number, and I made the call. Ring…. Ring…. Ring… “hello?” “hi! Is this (I’ll call him Maui for the sake of keeping his name private)” “Yes…. Who’s this?” “This is Jamie Barnhart, but you would have known me as Raven Frost (my birth name). I’m your daughter!” A sudden pause… “Hello?” I said. “yeah…” He said with a cracked voice…”I’m here” that night, we talked about where he’d been living and how he was so happy I’d called! wow! My dad, after all this time… What a blessing, or so I thought!

Believe it or not, this was just the beginning of many Trumatic events. Again, I am going to have to leave it here for now. I hope that my story is not boring you all in anyway but that it’s encouraging you to face your battles with courage! Know that God is with you. No matter where you are in life, whether things are good or bad, God is there and calling you by name! Until next time, God bless and keep pressing on!

Refreshing times with good company as my journey continues with part 2 of my story

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Well, it’s been an odd yet blessed week to say the least. I’ve continued to press through each day regardless of physical ailments and just keep hoping. The wonderful thing is, there’s often blessings in the storm! This last semester was my final one CCC. Upon my exit of this fall term, I have fulfilled the requirements to receive not just one AA, but two AA’s and a STEM certificate and biological studies! This is a journey I’ll cover in better detail as I review my story. As a celebration of this success, my godmother invited my dear friend and sister in the Lord, and me to share a day at a very prestigious spa called Burke Williams in San Francisco! Honestly, I have never been so pampered in my life! Time in the Jacuzzi, sauna, 50 minute massage, all the provisions that were there… ugggh it was like heaven on earth!!! We then headed out for some sushi and window shopping! I got to explore Tiffany and co, where I found their new scent. (Just FYI, don’t smell it on the paper tester… You HAVE to smell it on skin)! It’s so wonderful! After all the fun, we all headed toward the BART and then went off to face our responsibilities for the remainder of the day. I closed my day with some time with my beloved counselor who I see more as a mentor/ trusted friend that I get to see every week. Then, I headed home and enjoyed dinner and some dark chocolate and almonds, which has become my new favorite dessert! The whole day was like a day of refreshing after sharing the first part of my testimony with you all of which was also probably one of the hardest parts for me to unwrap. Now, it’s time to continue where I left off. To those of you who have read the first portion, thank you for sharing in my journey! To those of you just joining me, feel free to look at my previous post to see how my journey ties together. One thing I will say before I begin is that I don’t want you all to feel sorry for me or pity me one bit. The fact of the matter is, life. brings. trials. Plain and simple. What I want you to do is to look at it and be encouraged to see how many times God has brought me through! My trials have given me strength and character that I would’ve developed no other way! They have brought me to points where I’ve been near the end of myself at times; however, I wouldn’t trade them for the world! I am who I am today because of them and because of Christ in me! Now… my journey continues…

My Journey Part 2

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/php.3.13-14.nkjv

I love how the Bible uses pressing on, persevering, and running towards a goal or prize to display a point of releasing the past and embracing all that God has for you! What I love even more-so is how true this is in my own life! It seems that so many times I’ve had to let go of what I thought I wanted and press on towards what God wants for my life.

Now, I left off in my journey with the phone call that I made to my mom and the ticket that she sent me to get on the greyhound bus and head toward Oakland, Ca to meet her. Just prior to my call, a friend of mine asked me what my New Year’s resolution was. I told them half heartedly that I wanted a roof over my head, to get clean, and a cat of my own. January 10, 2007 I got high one last time and was soon after dropped off at the Greyhound bus station in San Diego with just a couple of dollars in my pocket and a suitcase with one carry-on that held the scarce remains of the 23 & 1/2 years I had lived. My mind I kept thinking that this was a temporary visit. I wanted to believe so badly that I would end up returning to San Diego to wallow in the addiction that nearly killed me several times, BUT God had other plans!

As I got on the bus, a slight chill ran over me. I sat down next to the window and I stared coldly at the world outside, trying my best to choke back tears as thoughts of everything I’d been through ran through my head. “I’ll return… I’ll make some money and come right back,” I thought. Then, like a moment in a movie, the bus driver turned on the bus, the radio came along with it. That moment, the song “I’m coming home“ by Daughtry played. My gut sank, and my spirit knew that this trip was not temporary. It was permanent. It amazes me how life circulates and such familiar patterns. Here I am in another transition in my life, exiting the community college level, and the anniversary of my exit into freedom from drug addiction is just a few short days from now.

The bus took off and all I could think about was how to get a hold of some more drugs. During one of the pitstops, I asked the guy was sitting next to me if he had anything. Apparently, he had just finished his. Then, another man that overheard me said that if I got off on the next stop with him that we could make an arrangement. I automatically knew what he was talking about, but I was hoping that he would just take a trade for some items.

The next stop came, I got off the bus, and the man and I headed to a motel in Los Angeles. When we checked into his room, he made it clear that he was wanting something sexual from me. I begged him to let me trade him my cell phone for some drugs, but he refused. He started getting aggressive, and I panicked and began to cry and beg him to let me go back to the bus and go home. He gave me five dollars for a taxi and told me that I could just use my greyhound ticket to get back on the next bus going to San Diego so I could complete my journey. I quickly took the money, grabbed my bags and headed out the door.

The front desk called a cab for me. After they picked me up, we headed towards the bus station, and the toll meter showed that the cost of the ride was going to be more than what was given to me. I told the driver that I really needed to get back to the Greyhound station and he so graciously took the five dollars and let me off to catch my bus. Obviously Satan try to grab a hold of me again, but God’s grace came to the rescue!

On the bus, I encountered a few people who were kind and shared their food with me. The next morning, after staying awake all night, I arrived at the Oakland bus station earlier then my scheduled arrival (believe it or not), and called my mom so I could meet up with her. My mom showed up and there I was… smelling like trash and coming down from my last meth high. She just gave me a big hug! Truly, I was home.

During the ride to El Sobrante, we talked about life and what we both had been up to. I was honest with her and told her about the severity of my situation. That evening I asked if we go for a walk, and she invited me to walk up to a place called Kennedy Grove. During this four mile journey, I ran ahead of her about a half block and then ran back. I then reflected on my evening jogs in high school and how much I loved to run when I lived in San Diego before I became a drug addict. I then told my mom that I wanted to run marathons! It’s something I had always wanted to do when I ran in San Diego. I had talked about it a lot and just never did it. She let off a slight laugh, I look her and said that I wanted to at least become able to run up and down each hill that we passed as we walked. She smiled.

Those walks became our evening moments of stress relief. Each night, I would walk with her and sometimes my little brother would come too. I would run ahead a little bit and run back. One block of running became two, one mile became two miles and so on… then… One hill, became two hills and then countless others… I would lose myself in prayer and worship as I journeyed by foot through the streets, hills, and trails of El Sobrante and the many surrounding areas! Then, one day as I was running along side of the road, I came across a man named “Big Al” Who hosted races in the area. Thanksgiving day of 2008, I ran my first 4 mile race and came in second place female. From that point on, I began to run more races ranging in distances from the 100 on the track to a 50 K race in 2014. My journey in running quickly became a metaphor for my recovery. One day clean became two, then one month, a year and so on. Life‘s battles came at me like the mountains I climbed each day when I ran. One by one, by the power of God, I was able to face each giant.

(Picture on left is the very first straight of road that I ran on. Photo on the right bottom is me at my first race. Photo right top is me with”Big Al” at my first half marathon.)

Slowly my life began to come together. Within my first year of living in El Sobrante, I had been gifted a kitten for my birthday that I bottle fed raised, had a consistent place to live, had my first job in my new clean life at Hometown buffet in Pinole California and started making friends (two of which later adopted me as their Goddaughter). My New Year’s resolution had come to pass and then some! I began almost immediately to attend church as well as Celebrate Recovery meetings where I found the love and support from so many people that really helped me grow and become strong in my faith. Soon, I started attending college and dove immediately into the performing arts. It seemed that my life was allll coming together; However, my family life began to take a down hill turn.

A troubled family member of mine Who had already had a Trumatic visit with us prior came to live with us. Along with her came temperament issues as well as severe issues with addiction. Though I tried to rebuild a relationship with her, her lifestyle lead to major conflicts between us. These conflicts as well as her severe addictions lead to several police involved situations. Finally, her actions lead to her owing the wrong people money. She went missing for several days and… my mom received a call that is every mom’s worst nightmare… the police had received a call from my troubled loved one’s friend in New Mexico saying that my troubled loved one had been kidnapped… upon hearing the news… my gut sank and I fell apart. Through some careful questioning of her friends, my mom found out that she had been forced into sex trafficking in San Francisco in order repay a debt. The details of her situation I will keep very minimal as this is not my story to tell.

I used my anguish over the situation to push myself on my daily runs. I purposely ran around areas I knew that she frequented hoping for a sign of her. Family members from New Mexico came out to see if there was anything they could do to help find her, but it all seemed hopeless.

Finally, one morning it was dark and gloomy. I headed out for my morning run and it started raining. I pushed myself to the top of one of my favorite hills in a neighborhood and fell to my knees weeping, asking God why… begging Him to bring her home. Thankfully within a day, she showed up on the porch at my landlord’s house. Just one day before her 16th birthday, she had escaped. She was home. The problem is… what we thought was the end of that trial, was the beginning of a whole new realm of trials we never expected in our wildest dreams.

Now, this post has just gotten a bit lengthy and I feel that it’s a good place to leave off before I continue to share my journey with you. Again, I hope that in sharing my trails with you, you are beautiful to see God‘s hand moving intricately through my life. Though the journey has been dark at times, He has never failed me and never will. If there is anything that I have learned through all of this, it’s that just like the apostle Paul said, I have to let go of what lies behiynd and press on towards the fresh, new beginning’s they God has called me to. I hope you all have a great week, until next post… God bless and Happy New Year!

photo credit: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f9/25/8c/f9258cc4961be5763e60b81fed00892e.jpg

from trials to many victories… recap of my final semester at CCC

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Achieve… as humans, this is something that we are born and created to do. We were made to create, and to inspire. The problem is that so often many of us get far too caught up in achieving rather than just living and enjoying our lives. I am definitely guilty of this! Those that know me know that I tend to go overboard in this area. Thankfully, this semester I learned a bit about balance.
If you read my last post, y’all would know that I went into the semester not knowing how I was going to make it through. My body was in pain, I was struggling to make it through 8-14 hour days on set (as an extra on a tv show)… I went back to the chiropractor that was helping me while I was racing competitively, Dr. Runco. After my first visit with him, my body was recovering from all of the improper work that had been done to it prior to my visit with him. I was in the kind of pain but I don’t wish on my worst enemy. As the days went on, my body began to heal. With weekly visits, I found I was able to walk more and be more physically active than I’ve been in over a year. What a blessing!!! Days on set and at school became easier for me to face. I even started running a little bit here and there.

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As the semester went on, I ended up working more on set than I was at my job at Kmart. I was also given the opportunity to spend three days on the set of a movie as an extra. My childhood dream to be an actor was coming to life! The problem is, in the middle of it I started to get overly concerned with whether or not I would ever get a SAG voucher or become a member of the union. I stopped focusing on the blessing that was right in front of me. Rather than doing it because I loved it, I began to do it to get something out of it. When I realized this, I quickly adjusted my attitude and continued to enjoy my days on set despite the fact that I didn’t get a voucher. Besides, I was getting treated like a princess! I got to work on set, got free catered breakfast, worked my butt off, met amazing people, got free catered lunch, free snacks all day, got to be a part of a huge production, and went home feeling like I could still do more! I knew this is the job I wanted! For now, due to disclosures I have signed, I’m not at liberty to say which productions I was working on. If and when I am released to do so, I’ll let you all know!

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Now, shortly before the semester ended, my car broke down and ended up being irreparable….. when I started to freak out about this, I began to look back on the many times that God has brought me through. I pressed on, finish the semester, and then finally I am now a college graduate with two AA’s and a STEM certificate in biological studies! Closing the semester off with a bang, I was given the blessing of playing one of the lead roles in my church’s Christmas show, AND was given four tickets (from Alex Ramon) to see him perform at the Lesher performing arts center. I was able to take my godmother, her new husband/my new godfather, and my sweet sister in Christ Irena! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate such an amazing year!😊😊😊

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Now, I face a semester of no classes! I’ve decided to take some time back and recover, rejuvenate my spirit, and hopefully focus on family, friendships, and enjoying life! People have asked me why I’ve decided to do this, and my answer is that I want to be an actor… also, I want to be able to have friendships and possibly a relationship. While I’m in classes, I don’t have time to focus too much on my nephew and my mom and those who mean the most to me! 2018 is the year that I want to spend giving as much love to the people that I care about as I possibly can. So, I plan to do just that! I hope you all have a merry Christmas! Remember, no matter what you’re facing, you can get through this! My life is testimony of it!

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