2014: A Year Of…

Happy New Year, friends!

Hope your new year is off to a brilliant start!  I’m still sitting in my pajamas drinking a delicious mug of coffee so I’d say 2014 is looking up!

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?  If not, my husband has made some for all of us so feel free to read what he’s resolved for the masses.  I’m all for resolutions.  I know that’s not a popular opinion, but I hold to it.  Resolutions can be a good thing.

Last year, I decided to take a new approach to the New Year Resolution and jump on the One Word 365 train.  If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a movement to choose one word that will define your year.  This word guides growth, reading, learning, and thinking.  2013’s word for me was generosity, and it was an awesome year of growth in gratitude and sharing.

Throughout last year, I thought a lot about generosity.  I prayed a lot about the selfish areas of my life.  I was intentional about giving.  I read about generosity.  It was a focused year.

I liked this concept of picking one word so much, that I’m doing it again.  I’m picking one word that will shape and grow me throughout the year.

2014 will be a year of REST.

As I type this, I am fighting every urge to delete that word and fill it with something more awesome, more adventurous, or more productive.  I am an achiever and a do-er.  I am not a rester.  I love being busy.  And the longer I stare at my cursor dancing over that little 4-letter word, the more panicky I become.

I often fight rest.

Instead of rest, I pick checking off one more thing on my to-do list.  Instead of rest, I pack in one more coffee date with someone.  Instead of rest, I multi-task while watching movies.

For a long time, I have felt guilty about ignoring the Sabbath and making it rather unholy with all of the ways that I make it just another day to accomplish.  I know that I need rest, I just fight it.  I know I need Sabbath.  I get stressed out too much.  I get sick too much.  I crash too often.

So enough is enough.  This year, I want to learn how to create rhythms of rest that are lasting.  This year, I want to become a student of the Sabbath.  This year, I want to become healthier spiritually, emotionally, and physically because I am resting regularly.

So as I push publish, know that I am taking a huge gulp, because this means I’m letting you in on this… Which means you get to hold me accountable… Which means this is really happening.

What about you?  

Are you going to pick one word for the year?  

Do you have any resolutions?

Generosity in 2013

I love this thing that my friend, Alece started.  In place of New Year’s Resolutions, we pick one word that will define, grow, challenge, and inspire us for the new year.  Last year was my first year to pick my word, and I loved it.  Unlike resolutions of years passed, this word really was a prescription for growth, behavior, and learning for me.

My word for last year was generosity.

Let me tell you, it has been an amazing year!  I know, I know, I should have been blogging about this all year, sharing my journey of growth in generosity, but it’s tricky to blog about generosity.  How do you blog about sharing and sacrificing without bragging or over-sharing or taking the joy away from being generous in secret?  This year, I felt the tension of not letting my left hand know what my right hand was doing, so I didn’t talk a whole lot about this journey on the blog or outside the blog.  And I’m ok with that, I hope you are, too.

This year, I learned how to give with joy when I knew that there would be no reciprocity.

This year, I learned how to give when prompted by the Holy Spirit without doing budget calculations.

This year, I learned how to open up my home when it was dirty and messy and feel no shame.

This year, I saw God’s provision, that to be honest, was miraculous at times.  Apparently others were learning generosity this year, too, because we were the recipients of a whole lot of generosity.

This year, I became less entitled and more grateful through constant reminders that “my resources” aren’t really mine in the first place.

This year, I learned how to welcome generosity from others and feel grateful, not guilty.

Through generosity, I grew in openness, vulnerability, and joy.  I don’t think I can go back, either.  This year has been a beautiful journey. I’m excited to announce 2014’s word…  but not yet.  I’ll leave you hanging for a bit.  What about you, how was your year?  Have plans for your next year’s One Word?

A Follow-Up Post

I wrote a blog post last week about being married without children.  I thought perhaps my good friends and a few curious facebook friends would click the link, but instead, the post got shared and shared and shared some more.

I got countless emails, personal messages, texts, and comments and a lot of them were “me too’s”.  So many people said, “I have felt the same way but didn’t know how to articulate it” or “I thought I was the only one” or “Thank you for putting words to my feelings.”

There is power in knowing that we aren’t alone, isn’t there?  There is relief in knowing there have been, and are. and will be others in similar life seasons.

This week, the online community became a beautiful place of connection, of truth-telling, of encouragement, and of support for me.  When I hit submit on this post, I was bracing myself for some theological debates about having children.  I was nervous that I was opening myself up to the critics about a subject that is so personal but so important.

But instead I was met with love, love, love.

Thank you online community for being grace and love and support this week..

Let’s keep doing that with one another, eh?  Let’s keep celebrating one another as we live out our callings in seasons!

Married With[OUT] Children

I’ve stayed away from this topic on the blog completely – Not out of avoidance – I just haven’t had much to say about it.  But lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of opinions on this subject and thought “hey, I guess I do have some things to say about it.”

Today, let’s talk about being married without children.

When I was a senior in high school, the most frequently asked question to me was “Where are you going to college?”  When I was a senior in college, the most frequently asked question to me was “What are you doing after graduation?”  And since my first or second wedding anniversary, the most frequently asked question to me is, “When are you having kids?”

It’s in our nature to ask questions.  And we have societal norms, so we ask questions that are appropriate based on our perception of normal.  The traditional middle class American life order goes: college –> marriage –> kids… and so on.

I broke the order by getting married while in college, which was taboo enough, and I’ve been married 9.5 years and still don’t have children, so I’m just blowing stereotypes and norms all over the place.  I think my husband and I are bit of a mystery to some – and that’s ok.  After this many years, I’m used to getting asked rather personal questions like, “Can you not get pregnant?”  or “How’s your marriage?  Are you struggling?  Is that the delay in having children?”

Honestly, I don’t get mad about those questions, I know that the motivation behind the asking is making sure that I’m ok and that we’re ok.  I appreciate that people love me and love my husband and want us to be healthy and happy.  For the record, our marriage remains a beautiful partnership, and thanks for asking.  Also on the record, I feel so deeply sad for my friends who want to have children and cannot.  I can’t imagine being questioned when waiting, longing, and sadness are present – you are brave.

The reason that we don’t have children is that we simply haven’t felt called to have children.  It’s as simple as that.  My husband and I believe that parenting is an extremely high calling.  We celebrate and affirm that calling in our friends and family.  At this time, we feel confident that parenting is not our calling.  We believe that some callings are for a lifetime and others for seasons.  We have yet to determine whether this lack of calling is for our lifetime or for this season, but we will be faithful to our calling.

We don’t want to have children because it’s normal or expected, or to fit in with our other married friends, or to give our parents grandkids (sorry guys), or so we have someone to take care of us when we’re old.  We believe children are a gift not an expectation.  We believe that parenting is a calling, not an obligation.

We don’t not have children because we’re being selfish, as many seem to surmise.  We don’t have children because we haven’t felt called to raise them.  There have been a number of articles posted lately from couples who have chosen to not have children, and to be honest, some of the reasons for not having children sound rather selfish.  I would argue, though, that some reasons for having children are rather selfish, too.  We are humans and we are selfish.  Parental status doesn’t inherently negate or encourage selfishness.  Please don’t assume that all DINKS (Double Income No Kids) are inherently selfish.  Please don’t assume that all parents are inherently unselfish.

I have a lot of parent friends who assume my kid-free life is sort of easy and breezy.  I know they imagine me sleeping in wildly late on weekends, going to grown up concerts and movies at my leisure, eating gourmet candlelit dinners, going on extravagant international vacations, and getting to drink an entire cup of coffee while it’s still piping hot without interruption.

I giggle as I type this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

I have a lot of friends who assume that I don’t like children because I don’t have children and that I don’t respect the hardness of the job of parenting because I haven’t applied for that job.  They imagine that I don’t want to hang out with them + kids, or that I don’t want to hold their child, don’t know how to change a diaper correctly, or don’t want to hear about their battles over veggies.

I’m raising my eyebrows at this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

I have a lot of parent friends who assume that I am missing out on the deepest joy or that my life is sort of empty.  They imagine that I don’t know about selflessness, sacrifice, and mothering.  They can’t fathom me understanding the depths of the Father’s Love sans children.

I shake my head as I type this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

My life is rooted in contentment in this season.  I know what I am called to, and I find deep joy in living out my calling.  My life is brimming with relationships.  I am mentored and I mentor others.  I have sweet friendships.  My home is full more than it is empty and often the decibel level is over the top with laughter.  I know well how to cook for masses, sweep crumb-filled floors without complaining, soothe a crying soul, and give when I’m on empty.  I view this season of life without children as an opportunity that I am choosing to seize with intention.

I love this season of my life because I am living out my calling.  I celebrate with my friends who are in similar seasons and different seasons who are living out their callings with joy.  Together, let’s celebrate that we all have gifts and callings that we are sharing with others.  And let’s stop the assuming.  Let’s stop the fantasizing about the life we don’t have.  Let’s stop imagining our season to be the hardest or most noble or most fulfilling.  Let’s stop projecting our desires and dreams onto others.  Let’s instead celebrate our friends who are living out their callings in seasons.

Taking a Deep Breath

I refuse to write a “Dear Diary, I’m sorry I haven’t written much, life has been so busy” – esque post regarding the quiet on the blog.

Life has been busy.  I started a new position in August and my learning curve is steep.  And I haven’t been feeling completely myself for the last month or two.  To be perfectly, honest, I’ve been wiped out, and haven’t had time to think about the deep things of life, or world injustices.  I haven’t had much energy to get sassy, even on a Friday.

Yesterday was the first day that I had nothing on the calendar in a long time.  I started several loads of laundry and then took a mug of coffee, my Bible, journal, and a few books out on the back patio ready to process life with God.

I opened my journal and embarked on a rather long prayer to God, analyzing why I assumed I felt so busy, so tired, so drained, so dry.  I told God that I needed to rest, and then made a long list of excuses as to why that seems an impossible task in this season.  And then in the middle of my long whiney prayer, this big gust of wind came and blew through the big trees in our backyard, and made this loud, “shhhhhhh” noise.

I stopped writing, and in that moment, I was sure that God himself was shushing me.

I got quiet and looked up at the trees blowing in the wind and the perfectly blue sky and I listened for the first time in a long time.

photo

Yesterday, on the first day of fall, on my back deck, I communed with God.

It was so refreshing, so sweet, so good.

And then I opened up my Bible to Hebrews and read this:

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.”

I left my back deck feeling like I had breathed for the first time in nearly two months.

And mid-way through a Monday I still feel like I’m breathing.

And this – this feeling of breathing -must be why God instituted the Sabbath.

Moving to Nashville

St. LouisLabor Day marked our two year anniversary of living in Nashville.  Some days, I can’t believe it’s only been two years and other days, it feels like we’ve only been here a few weeks.

I took some time to read through the last two years of blogs, and I was reminded that moving to Nashville has been so good and so hard.  And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Two years ago, we packed up our house in St. Louis, said goodbye to dear friends, and set out on a journey of faith.  Adam had been hired at a missions organization, but was in the process of raising his own salary, and the pledged amount for his monthly salary was terrifying .  I didn’t have a job lined up or even a single prospect  We didn’t have a home.

Things didn’t miraculously get easier once we arrived.  Nashville has been sort of hard on us.

I didn’t find a job for five months.

We lived with family for those months of joblessness.

We then moved into a little house in the ghetto, and subsequently got robbed… TWICE.

We took care of my grandmother for several months while she rehabbed from a fall.

We have struggled through the continual awkwardness of raising a salary.

And most recently, I was attacked by a dog and have been working hard at healing.

We were hanging out with some friends recently, recapping all of the weird, bizarre, and downright awful things that have happened since we moved here, and they encouraged us to write a funny book called “Moving to Nashville.”  We just might do that one day – Because really, it’s been an adventure.

But mixed in with all of the difficult has been a lot of beauty.

Nashville has been so good to us in a lot of ways:

I got a job in an organization that I love with a team I respect and a boss I adore.

We bought the cutest little house you’ve ever seen and it’s always full of friends and laughter and honest conversations.

We lead a college group at our church that’s full of the most amazing, hilarious, interesting students you’ve ever met.  Each semester that we’ve been in Nashville, we’ve met more and more students who challenge us to engage our own faith and others’ faith.

We have the greatest friends here.  We spend a lot of nights sitting on our friends’ porches and couches, talking about honest, hard, funny things.  We have friends who are family.

We have family here.  We love living near our nieces and getting to watch them grow up.  We are thankful that we have friends who are family and family all in the same city.

The beauty of this crazy move to Nashville, and the subsequent hardships and gifts has been growth.  I trust Jesus more today than I did two years ago when we packed up our U-Haul for this adventure.  Even though life has been unpredictable, hard, and uncertain, God is healing my anxiety through his continued faithfulness.  Nashville has brought us closer to Jesus and closer to each other, and that’s a gift.

So Nashville, Happy Anniversary.  We like you.  

We think we’ll stick around and make this thing work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Are Healing”

I’ve been learning a lot about pain, wounds, and healing this month.

One of my biggest takeaways is that healing is exhausting.

The last few weeks have been a blur of exhaustion.  Work has taken every ounce of energy that healing hasn’t taken.  I’ve been grossed out at my body, tired of seeing medical professionals, and hopeless that my arm will ever function normally.  Nerve damage is painful.  Oozing wounds are disgusting.  Anxiety is debilitating.

I was explaining my medical overwhelm to a doctor this week, and she stopped writing, came over to me, and took my face in her hands.   She looked me in the eyes and said “You are healing.  You really are!”

At that statement, I felt release from:

Some of the worry.
Some of the disgust.
Some of the anger.

And I also felt a surge of hope.

In the midst of pain, open wounds, and sleepless worry-filled nights it’s hard to keep perspective.

Sometimes in the thick of it, we need someone who knows us or who knows what healing looks like to say “You are healing, I promise.”

To me, my wounds still looked oozy and red and hopeless, but to the one who knows healing, they looked ok.

And in the midst of darkness, ok sounds like a glimmer of hope.

Surely you know someone in your life who is wounded – our world is full of heartache and pain.  Reach out to them, take their face in your hands and offer them the hope that they are healing, because they probably don’t feel like they are.

Hope is the best balm for deep wounds.

Last Week Was Completely Awful (and a Teensy Bit Wonderful)

I got attacked by a dog last Sunday.

I agonized over the verb.  “Mauled” sounds really dramatic – probably a bit too dramatic.  “Beat up” underplays what happened.  “Attacked” sounds about right.

I could tell you all the details, but to be honest, I’ve told them enough times this week to EMTs and doctors and animal control and family, and I’m tired of sharing them.  The details don’t really matter. The biggest detail that does matter is that the dog wasn’t a stray and we know that the dog was up on his shots so, I don’t have rabies.

Here are a few more details that I’ll share:

I got to ride in an ambulance for the first time (Although I thought I was riding in a firetruck because that’s the only emergency vehicle I saw pull up to the house between the blood and closed eyes.  I was a little disappointed when I found out it was just an ambulance).

I got stitches for the first time.  Stiches aren’t so bad.  Shots in the face are really terrible.

I got my nose broken for the first time.  I have a new compassion for people being punched in the face in movies – and in real life.

I got Percocet for the first time.  I’m not addicted.  It makes me feel weird in all the wrong ways.

I was down for the count for the week.  I had a bum arm that was in a lot of pain, and a face that hurt to move.  Also my nose was twice it’s size – which is saying something – and I didn’t want to take the schnoz in public.  I took the week of work to heal and sleep and watch rom coms.

The week was terrible.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  I felt incredibly helpless, weak, nauseous, and fearful.  I was angry at times, too.  It was a pretty terrible week to miss work.

BUT

(Thank God there’s a but)

God’s love was so very evident this week through people.  And these are the details I’m up for sharing:

1.  I have the most amazing husband.  If you ever plan a crisis, invite Adam.  He was there when the attack happened and he took charge.  He knew just what to do.  He said all the right things.  Even lying when necessary (telling me that my face was still beautiful when it was rather gross).  He waited on me hand and foot, getting up for middle of the night meds, dressing my wounds, and staying in the room while I dry-heaved.  He even slept on the floor so he could be close but not bump my arm.  He did every dish this week and even cooked a few nights without a single inconvenienced huff.  The man has been holding out on me in the cooking department (but don’t tell him I said that or he’ll start cooking and then I’ll start having to do dishes).  Thank you, Goose.  You are the best gift God ever gave me!

2.  I have the most caring family.  I was overwhelmed by texts, cards, emails, niece videos, and ice cream deliveries from my family who was freaking out from a distance.  I’m so blessed to have a family that loves me so much.  Love you guys!

3.  I have the greatest non-family family – We didn’t share about the incident very publicly – it was so unexpected and traumatic that we were pretty quiet.  We kept this news off social media, and we only really shared with the people we see weekly (either because we weren’t going to see them or they saw me and had a few questions).  Turns out we see a lot of people weekly.  Those that we told flooded us with love. We had meals brought to our home, gluten free dessert drop offs, care packages complete with celeb gossip magazines, flowers, cards, chick flick stash loaners, doctor appointment drivers…  just to name a few.  We were literally blown away by our people.  So thank you dear friends for caring for us so well!

This week’s takeaways: Trauma sucks.  Pain sucks.  Having people to care for you and love you in the midst of trauma and pain makes it slightly more bearable.

Gluten-Free Confession

I haven’t blogged about it yet, maybe because I am still processing it a little, maybe because I’m still downplaying it a little, or probably mostly because I don’t want to be a pain in the butt…  but I’m gluten free now.  Have been for a over month.

And I’m feeling so much better.

My stomach has been uncooperative for years, and I noticed that anytime I did a no-carb diet, my belly was quite happy.  So me and the doc started talking about a year ago and turns out, I’ve got a gluten allergy.

I hem-hawed around the implications of cutting all gluten out of my diet,  and I wavered.  I would cut it mostly out, but then cave for a cookie or a bowl of pasta and I would get sick.  Every time.

So after one fabulous night of bruschetta on Italian loaf and breaded chicken on our vibey patio, and two full days of sickness to follow, I decided it was time.

I’ve done enough no-carb/low-carb/detoxes that it’s not absolutely terrible.  But really is a whole lifestyle change for both me and Adam.

The hardest parts are (not necessarily in any particular order):

1. Inconveniencing Others: Going to friends’ homes for dinner and either picking around a meal because I didn’t tell them my restrictions, or feeling like a pain for pre-telling and asking them to accommodate.  There is something so holy about “breaking bread” (ah the irony of that phrase in this post) with others.  I love the community that takes place around a shared meal.  I love being invited into others’ homes and learning about their cultures and dishes.  I feel like this impacts that, for sure, and I hate that.

2.  Others’ Reactions: Telling people and having them act like you’re on a trendy new diet.  I know a lot of people are going gluten-free now, but there’s a reason: A lot of us have bad bellies.  Gluten-free is not a diet, it’s an intolerance or allergy (or even more, if celiac is involved, a serious auto-immune issue).  I had less compassion before I became gluten-free, so I get it.  For all of you with gluten-free friends, though, don’t make light of it, and please don’t act like your friends are being a pain.  They hate it, too.

3.  Impact on my Spouse: Don’t get me wrong, Adam can eat whatever he wants, I’m not a food-dictator, but I don’t cook 2 separate meals when we’re eating at home, which means some of his faves either don’t get made anymore, or they are modified. (pesto over rice pasta ain’t the same as pesto over whole wheat pasta – and that’s the truth).  Where we go out to eat has been altered, as well.  Chinese food makes me sick consistently, and I watched Adam’s face the other night and he disappointingly ate gluten free pizza.  He hasn’t once complained, mind you, mostly because he’s amazing and a doll, but I know this has been an adjustment for him.

4.  Convenience:  Being gluten-free takes intention and planning.  We are usually really intentional and planful about food over here at Casa Buzard, but there are nights when I work super late or weekends that we didn’t get around to grocery shopping or road trips to be taken, and it’s just plain difficult with restrictions.  It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.

5.  Snacking: My coworkers bring in food for each other a lot. And it’s good stuff; like cookies and donuts.  No more grazing.  No more “how did I eat 3 cookies today?” for me.  This one isn’t a bad one for me, as snacking has been the arch-enemy of weight loss for me for years.  But once in a blue moon, I want a cookie.  I can have one, but I have to make it myself or brave the traffic to get to Whole Foods.

6.  Love of Cooking: I love love love love love to cook.  Sometimes I make yummy food, too, if I do say so myself.  This whole food restriction thing has put a bit of a damper on my love of cooking.  It’s been harder to embrace permanent changes in my cooking.  I think that the low-carb diets were fun to embrace because I knew they were for a season, but since this is for the long-haul, I feel a little like someone punched my love of cooking square in the gut.  This week, I feel a little spring in my knives, so maybe I’m turning a corner.

7. Budget: It’s more expensive to eat gluten-free.  Even if we aren’t buying the gluten-free substitutes for carby-things, veggies, fruits, and meats almost exclusively gets pricey.  Since this has forced us to eat out differently, the food costs are probably evening out, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the financial impact this has, as well.

This post feels totally selfish, probably because it is.  It’s all about me and how food changes are affecting me.  As someone who cares deeply about justice and the environment and my brothers and sisters around the world, this seems a totally small thing.  And it really is.

I know it’s all about perspective.

1. I only have a gluten allergy, I don’t have celiac.  If I eat gluten, all I get is a really angry tummy and maybe a sick day.  I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and I can eat out at most restaurants.  It could be so much worse.

2.  There are people in other countries that don’t have enough food to worry whether they have a food allergy.  I really do get that.  (By the way “thank you” to that person who pointed this out to me when I told you about my allergy – But my reality is that I do have food choices and I don’t like my stomach hurting.)  I’m grateful to live in a country that has lots of food and medical care, and the ability to eat in such a way that I am well.

3.  I have options.  So many food distributors and restaurants are being sensitive to the gluten-free world.  With a little investigating and a little more cash, I can still eat most everything I’m craving.

At the end of the day, life is not bad, I am ok, and best of all, I’m feeling so much better.  I guess I just thought it was time to confess.  So, if you’re planning to ask me over for dinner, please know that I come with baggage. You know I’m always happy to help with cooking. Mostly, I just want to hang out with you, I care much more about the company than the food, but I just can’t eat some things anymore.

Power Struggles and the Little Black Dress

dress one

My mom spotted it first – this darling, t-length little black dress. It wasn’t “in style” at the time, but it was classic, so it wasn’t out of style either. It fit me perfectly, hugging me where I want hugged and giving slack where Lord knew I needed slack. It was my junior year of high school homecoming dress and I felt like Audrey Hepburn.

The dress is timeless, and apparently really good quality, because I’ve gotten dozens of wears out of that $39.99 investment.

At some point I wised up and got rid of the spaghetti straps which earned me some more time before it looked antiquated. I wore it to formals in college, to countless weddings, to formal dinners on cruises, and to banquets.

There have been some occasions when I’ve wanted to wear the LBD (little black dress), but I couldn’t squeeze into it. Tears and subsequent ridiculous diets ensued. There were other occasions when the dress zipped with ease and I felt pretty darn good about myself, thinking, “Who can wear the same dress for 14 years? This girl.”

dress 3Last week I tried on the dress in preparation for a banquet for my husbands’ work. My suspicions were confirmed. While I could zip the dress all the way up (applause, please) I couldn’t take a breath, let alone a deep breath. I hurriedly unzipped the dress and when I could breathe again, I let out a sob, and then a few more sobs. Ladies, most of you know the spiral: I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’ll never be skinny, where’s the chocolate?

I’ve been insecure of my rear and thighs since middle school when I started noticing that others had chicken legs and I had cellulite. I’ve battled with tying my self-worth to my size for years. I went through phases where I compulsively weighed myself, until a few years ago when I said, “enough” and threw away my scale. I swore off basing my feelings on a number, and did my best to look away on the scales in the doctor’s office.

sassy dressBut two weeks ago, I went to the doctor for an ear infection and despite my darting eyes, the nurse decided to announce my weight to me and everyone else in the hall. Thanks, lady, can I reciprocate and share your weight with the world? But that number… ugh. It confirmed what I feared; that the winter had not been good to my waistline. I tried to get the number out of my head, reminding myself that I eat lots of healthy food and I workout regularly. I did positive self-talk, reminding crazy Allison that sane Allison is healthy, if not skinny, and that healthy is important.

But I was still devastated. I promptly declared to my husband that I was going on another restrictive eating binge. And then I panicked thinking about the banquet. I had banked on wearing that 15 year-old dress. I still held onto hope that the LBD would fit. The dress is forgiving where I often struggle.

But it can only forgive so much.

And it couldn’t forgive this winter’s extra layer of comfort food.

As it turns out, the dress isn’t the only one struggling with unforgiveness. I struggle to forgive myself when I splurge on a cookie or lack self-control with snack food, or reset my alarm for a reasonable hour over the gym. I hold myself to impossible standards in my mind, and when I fail, I can’t forgive myself, and I feel shame. I feel shame at my weight. Shame at my flabby legs. Shame that I can’t fit into a dress that I fit into when I was a teenager.

And why? Why do I give the scale, or that cookie, or that mirror, or that blasted little black dress that power? Why do I allow a number to dictate my feelings? I’m pleasant as a peach when I’m having a “thin day” but on “fat days”, you better watch out, because I’m closed off, judgmental, short-tempered, and oh so sensitive.

I’m tired of giving my weight power over my joy.

So I’m not going to let it. I’m choosing perspective (I may very well fit in the dress in a month or two, because every year I gain some weight in the winter and every spring I lose it again). I’m choosing grace (It’s pretty awesome that I could zip that bad boy up all the way after 15 years, and even if last year was the last year that worked, we had a great run). And I’m choosing joy (a 15-year old dress doesn’t get to rob me of a great evening tonight at the banquet, or a great week, or a great year).

I also bought a new little black dress, and it’s tan. Take that! And I feel good in it. And it fits me so well that I don’t need to wear spanx underneath (yeah, judge me all you want, but those have their place in a woman’s wardrobe).

As I scanned old photo albums for pictures of the little black dress over the decades, I noticed something. While 16-year-old me weighed less than current me, she was weighted down with so much more insecurity. She was awkward, unsure of herself, and desired more than anything to blend in. Current Allison may weigh a few pounds more, but she is confident, strong, and ok with making ripples.

Aging is happening. I gain weight faster and loose it slower. But I’m also getting wiser a little more comfortable in my skin – and my shape with each year. I still have a long way to go, but I’m growing, and growth is power. So LBD, who has the power now?