So let’s get into the story i.e. the story behind the Instagram post that can make things look like they happened “overnight.” Although I know this transformation has been YEARS in the making – and I’m talking like 15 – I can give you the last few breaking points that brought me to face my demons and uncover the best version of myself.
2020 made life easy on absolutely nobody. I would venture to say though that 2021 was even worse for me, on a personal note. I’ve also talked with many family members and friends who agree. It was full of curveballs for our family, and I was meeting every one of them head on, determined to conquer them. I enjoyed (but secretly survived) the summer of 2021, and when August arrived I was committed to making some changes. This was, after all, the very first time since Lottie’s birth that I would see what life was like with both children in school for a full day. I couldn’t imagine such time on my hands, and it wasn’t going to go to waste. This was MY TIME! I was going to really get in shape, and advance James Dean Lane. With few options in our area for exercise, I decided to go with one that works for so many: CrossFit. I loved the CrossFit community and made great friends. I loved the challenge. I would finish a workout not quite believing what I had accomplished, but sometimes wondering if what I was doing was correct form, weight, and so on. I was literally guessing, watching those around me and praying I didn’t hurt myself in the process. BUT – I stayed the course.
I also decided at this time to open my online embroidery shop. As I type this, I cannot believe I took on all of the commitments that I did, fully knowing I am first a mother and wife to my family, which I promise you is a full time job and keeps me very busy. I also have babysitters for date nights, appointments, etc., but I have never had full time help. I decided this was my job. In lieu of working and earning a salary, David and I decided that I would take on the role as stay-at-home mom. Nobody else was to do that job except me.
As all approaches, I find myself in the thick of it. I’m hosting paint nights as a collaboration of James Dean Lane and Chellas on Main (a store owned by my childhood friend, Jessica) combined with the embroidery shop, and everyday demands of extracurriculars and life. We found ourselves quarantined twice due to Covid exposure, and a school shut down meant I became my children’s teacher again. Still, I made time for CrossFit and literally kicked my own ass every single workout. I thought I had to be getting stronger, but I saw and felt little change. Still, none of this prepared me for the real experience that changed me.
After Halloween, Lottie got very sick. It was about an 8 week period of some very scary moments, tons of uncertainty and lots of fatigue and tears. Trying to manage exercise, her being home and ill, and fulfilling embroidery orders became more than I could handle. Still, I pushed through. I can remember so vividly standing in the shower one day and crying. The tears fell as quickly and powerfully as the water from the faucet over my head. I told David through the shower door that I was struggling to even function in my daily life. It seemed as if nothing mattered outside of getting Lottie better, yet I was still doing all of those things as if I were in auto-pilot. It was the weirdest, most heavy feeling. He said to me that day out of pure wisdom, as one who lost their mother to cancer, “Mary, when you have a family member who is sick, nothing outside of that matters. When you have your health, you truly have everything.”
I pulled off the holiday season, surviving Nutcracker, hosting three more paint nights with Jessica, the third of which resulted in a speeding ticket on the way home! I felt overwhelmed though and like I was doing things up until the very last minute. I didn’t feel at all like I had the chance to embrace my children and the magic of the holiday. I literally felt no different than a hamster on a wheel. It was evident to me that I was drowning, and things needed to change. I committed to entering 2022 in a completely different way and even then I didn’t know what that meant.
It is really strange to look back on your own life and accomplishments, only to realize it very unfulfilling. I had to ask myself why I was really doing all of these things? It almost made me feel like I didn’t even know myself. Did I really even LIKE embroidery? When we take on too much, our joys quickly become burdens. This was true for so many things. LIKE NEVER BEFORE I was faced with the truth of what brings true contentment. No matter how much you have – be it material items, Instagram “Likes,” home improvements, trips and more, unless you fix what it is that is truly causing you heartache you will never be content.
Just like the pop of champagne bottle sounds on New Year’s Eve, my “AHA Moment” arrived. Our pastor spoke about “potential” and if you were to leave the world today, what would people say about you and your life. Were you a person who lived in a state of “potential?” Would people say, “Wow, she had so much potential.” Or would they say “Wow, she really lived her life to the fullest.” I realized at that moment I was not reaching my full potential spiritually or physically. Therefore, mentally I was also falling short. Life’s demands weren’t going to change and the necessary needs would still be there. So, in order to carve out time for the physical and spiritual, I had to shed things from my plate. I decided first and foremost it would be my embroidery shop and blog. Because blogging is so intertwined now with social media, I knew it was one place I couldn’t be spending too much time. I also had to cut down time on the phone with family and friends and time “fluffing” my home the way I normally love doing. Every hour of my day needed to be more intentional. Once I mastered that, the fluffing and chatting could return. The social media could return. At the end of the day, I knew it would be there.
I would be lying if I said body shaming wasn’t a part of what led me to where I am today. Shaming from myself and from others. I don’t plan to make it the focus of this article, but it’s also not something I’ll skirt around. There was a certain amount of self-sabotaging I was doing because I knew I didn’t look or feel my best. That has been a process for me to overcome, and I’m still working on it. I was also once referred to as “skinny-fat” which was a phrase that haunted me for a while. As I raise my girls, I will do so with caution to their feelings and teaching them the importance of not only loving themselves but being kind to and loving others – no matter what their outward appearance may be.
I decided to walk into a gym I had never stepped foot in, and sign up for a personal trainer. I knew I needed to invest in a human being that would hold me accountable and teach me how to work my way through a gym – something I’ve never known how to do. I have always been active. I have always exercised. My friends used to refer to me as a cardio queen, and I didn’t disagree. Whatever I did, I did my best, but I never felt like there was a plan. It was random. Random exercise yields very random results. I also have always enjoyed nutrition and healthy cooking. This was not a foreign concept to me. I had had so many years of practice on exercise and nutrition but was never seeing the results I truly wanted to see. However, I know part of my success in the last year is a result of all the years and years of skills I’ve mastered along the way. They finally all came together in the perfect way.
Before I share details of workout styles, what I eat and more – I felt it just as important to share the journey that brought me to the point where I knew I wanted to change my life. I don’t say that lightly either. I changed my life. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope this gives you comfort knowing that you aren’t alone. It may not be fitness that is the key to “fixing” you. It can be something different for everyone. I can say now that everything in my life feels less “heavy.” This has led to something so much bigger than weight loss and muscle gain. I’m eager to dive into those topics in this space over time. I’ve never lost sight of my blessings, but remind myself of them less often now. They are crystal clear! I see everything through a different lens. I don’t wake up with the heaviness of my physical health not being where I want it to be. The background noise that existed because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin is GONE. Yes, stress is still there and the endless to-do lists, but it all feels less overwhelming.
***When I first wrote this article, I had every intention of posting it about a month or more ago. I hadn’t experienced what I can now say is life altering event. On February 2, my father suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury as a result from a fall during a seizure. This happened as he was walking the indoor track in our local YMCA. It has turned our lives upside down as we navigate very unknown territory. As my family still processes this, I look at my journey in 2022 with even more gratitude. I told my Sister-In-Law, Lura Beth, that God was working through me all year, and preparing me for this moment. The old me would have struggled greatly to manage my feelings and life through this. The new me is ready without hesitation. I’m strong enough to carry myself and my family through this and do what it takes to help my parents, without missing a beat in my own life.***