Sunday, September 18, 2016

Re-Defining Rachel

It's been a while since I've written anything. I've not been so moved. Life has been a whirlwind this past year and many things have changed. That's the beauty of my life. We have a saying in Texas..."Don't like the weather? Give it five minutes and it'll change!" (Except for the hot part...that doesn't seem to ever change.) That's what I've come to expect in my life...nothing ever stays the exact same. While somethings will never change (I love attention; I love to fix things; I love to be right; I am flawed)...other parts of my life have been an ever turning kaleidoscope (where I live; what I look like; my confidence; who I love and much more).

When I was a young lady (term used loosely since I've never really seemed to embody the qualities of "lady") I had severe issues with self confidence. I mean I had NONE. This is evidenced by my clear lack of a mirror (I point you to my last post and the picture of my 24-year-old-self wearing a sweater vest, shiny shirt and pleated chinos.) I mean seriously...what WAS I thinking?

As a small kiddo I had few friends. As a teen I had even fewer. I didn't think I had any worth and no one would ever love me. Early in my adulthood I turned to alcohol to be my friend for a very short time. It didn't take me long to figure out that change was necessary (6 months to be exact). Then I decided that the only person who would love me would be the first man to show me any sort of attention. I married him and found out very shortly thereafter that my mother was right about all the warning bells she was hearing. He was an alcoholic who was gearing up to be physically abusive. Thankfully I abhor pain and left before he could prove how good his aim was.

Then like a blessing from heaven, Eddie came into my life. He loved me in that ugly sweater vest. He loved me with my nerdy wire rimmed glasses and bad bangs. He loved me so much he asked me to marry him so we moved in together and started our lives...yet another chapter that brought a significant change to my life. You see, we lived in Nashville. Me...the girl with no confidence or belief in herself...I moved to another state to start a life. That might be exactly when my real life started. It was either sink or swim and I discovered I had a pretty strong survival streak. Then in June 2002 we decided to move to Texas. Yet again, I was able to reinvent myself and start fresh.

Over the years, I have grown and adapted to different circumstances. Some times the growth was ugly and painful. Sometimes I hurt the people I loved and sometimes I just hurt myself. But through the fire was forged something that is stronger today after all the tests of the past. Now I am almost halfway through year 40 and I can still see where there is more work for me to do. I am not afraid of it; I will not deny myself the chance to make further positive changes.

I am a mother to a young lady who is so much like me...she's sassy, loves to sing and is a touch dramatic and oversensitive. The title I didn't think I'd ever heavy sometimes when she asks me why she doesn't look like the other girls (why is she fat; or why are her eyes not blue; or why does she have brown hair and not blonde - girls can seem shallow sometimes but these are real issues!). While I try to teach her to love herself just as she is (she is not fat; she has the prettiest brown eyes and her hair is the loveliest shade and is so thick!), I hope she is also picking up on the lesson I am trying to teach by example. If you don't like something about's ok. You don't have to continue to be the person you were yesterday. You have the power to change and adapt and grow. It may be painful sometimes but in the end the sun always shines.

I'd be willing to bet that many of the people I went to grade school and high school with would not even know it was me if we were in the same room together. My own nephew Justin didn't recognize me this past spring when he saw me for the first time in almost 15 years. And it's not just the physical, which is pretty dang different...but also in the way I carry myself. I no longer shy away from eye contact. I don't slouch as much. I am usually the one to state my opinions without hesitancy or filter (don't believe me, just ask me).

These are all things that I would have never done "back in the day". While many believe they lived their best days in the past, I feel like my best days are yet to come. Every year I feel stronger and more myself. I consistently seek to change and grow...but mostly I just strive to learn something new every day and the change happens without me realizing it. I truly hope that this shines through and is apparent.

Note: This past spring, I took part in a photo shoot that I set up as a goal during my first full year of physical fitness training and weight loss. Casey Withers of C. Withers Media Group worked very hard to get me out of my shell to enjoy the shoot and to believe that I actually deserved to be in front of his see he normally shoots athletes and models who are professionals. The image below made me feel strong and I was actually really shocked when I saw the image. I think I even said, "Is that me?" I'll be back in front of his camera again this spring and I can't wait to see what changes occur in me in a year's time!

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