Heavy Hearted 

This comparison stopped me in my tracks yesterday, and I was saving it for #facetofacefriday on Instagram. Same picture with my beautiful cousin Maria and I…but with a three year difference and what feels like an emotional lifetime apart.

I was excited about this because rarely do I physically get to see the BIG, “100lbs lost” kinds of changes (since I see my dang self every dang day and I still have some dang weight to lose!!) but this NSV was pretty cool for me! The picture taken in 2013 was just after our family reunion that a bunch of us cousins had worked hard on for months to pull together for our huge, Italian family. It was a big deal! There were about 75 people in attendance. As excited as I was to be a part of such a wonderful family event, deep inside my heart I was mortified that all of my family members were seeing me HUGE and out of control and easily around (or slightly over) 400 pounds. 

Even though I hated having my picture taken, I posed happily with my cousin Maria in my living room as we said goodbye…not knowing when we would get the opportunity again.  

This last weekend we did! 
My whole family threw my dad a surprise 60th birthday party, and when the weekend visits and festivities were all said and done, I found myself once again in my living room saying goodbye to my cousin and her family. We took almost the same exact picture and I was curious to see the difference between the two. I dug through the archives of social media and there it was! I was so blessed to see such evidence of change in my face, and more importantly to KNOW how much my life has changed since 2013. I couldn’t wait to make a side by side to post and share the progress with you, my online “fitfam”! 

And yet today…I’ve struggled to post it. Who cares about my “face to face Friday” pic?!  With all of the bad news on the news every single day…it’s hard to imagine any of this matters.  

I’ve not wanted to be disrespectful of current events by going along with my life as if everything is ok, and act like my weight loss pictures are important.  

Nothing is ok.  

The world has gone mad.  

I was awake most of the night, restless.  

Thinking about everything on the news. Like everyone else, I’m sure. 

Awake with fear and wrestling with all the unknowns. Alert with grief for ALL of the families laying awake out there in the world with shattered hearts. Worried about what might be coming up around the next corner for us all. 

Minnesota, Louisiana, Georgia…and still the aftermath settling in Orlando, Florida. And now, what’s unfolded in Dallas, Texas? I imagine so many more people than I can imagine laid wide awake last night.  

With shattered hearts and numbing disbelief. Living a nightmare.  

Loved ones ripped away from their lives and loved ones with violence.  

I know everyone has something to “say” about this today. Everyone is making “statements” about how they feel, and I guess this is mine, and that in some way pouring out our hearts and thoughts out here is ALL we can do right now to somehow try to connect and comprehend what’s happening? I don’t know. 
There’s no way I can possibly understand the depth of the despair and fear that is growing out there. It has only grazed my life from a safe distance each time I watch the news or scroll through my social media feeds…but it is enough to make me shutter and want to board up my family in our house and never come out again.  

I’m sure that’s how a lot of people feel this morning.  

Weary and wary of other people.  

There’s a heaviness laying right on top of all of us, in every city, as we try to go about our day today.  
It’s almost enough to make you wanna give up hope…but my faith (in God who is the ultimate source of perfect LOVE) showed up in my life today in a thousand different tiny ways and restored, at least for a moment, a tiny glimmer of hope that gave me peace.

Love showed up when I kissed my husband goodbye early this morning and was reminded that I still get one more day with the guy. 
Love showed up when I got up to get my day going and realized that our automatic deposits went through over night, and we are able to pay our bills and feed our kids. Always providing for every need. 
Love showed up when I went to my gym to workout and people were still sincerely smiling at me and wishing me a good morning, despite the sadness we were all feeling.  
Love showed up in multiple, beautifully and thoughtfully written posts from friends, standing firm in love and brotherhood regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliations. 
Love is everywhere if you stop and look for it. Even in a random little weight loss post. That’s what I’m choosing to look for today. And so, I’m going to share my “#facetofacefriday” post in name of love, because this is my corner of the world and I’m going to try and live it to the fullest while I still can.

I LOVE my life, however long I’ll get to live it, and this picture shows how hard I’ve worked to say that and really mean it. 

In the tiniest way, I hope that putting this out here in the world counteracts some of the negative…as we sift through all this bad news. May God have mercy and lead us all in a better way.  

Practicing the art of living in the moment


This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
-Psalm 118:24 (NLT)

Be alive this first and holy day! Because order has been created out of the chaos, light out of the dark so that you can see, touch, taste, and smell and tell this day that you have never seen before, because it has never been before…that this is the day you will never see again.”

-Fredrick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

What is is about music that captures something in sound waves that sometimes you just can’t express in words? I read recently in Anne Lammots book, Traveling Mercies, that, “Maybe it’s because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat: your essential sound, the breath. We’re talking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way.”

Last night I got see the Dave Matthews Band in concert with a friend of mine. Her and I have wanted to go to a live DMB concert for close to 10 years. What’s funny is that I was hardly looking forward to it.

My mind and heart have been full and rapidly filling with worry. Things in my control and things clearly out of my control. Nonetheless, when you’re in active recovery,( or more like, just an active human) you have to guard your heart against whatever may rob you of your serenity so that you don’t give yourself an excuse to engage in your negative behaviors. I am called to be endlessly self-aware. Sometimes that just sucks. Ignorance seems like such bliss sometimes.

As easy as it is to go to God, my creator, with whom I can share my struggles and anxieties with, it seems just as easy to go ahead and pick them all off the floor on my way out the door.
I will feel peace and rest because I can trust God with the outcomes of all things, but like a slow leak in a tire…I always seem to allow my trust and faith to deflate. I scurry to grab all of my concerns and stuff them back into my hands and pockets. Squashing my peace and taking steps backwards. The great news is, God doesn’t let us stay there for very long if we are committed to following his lead out of the mazes and traps.

I headed into the concert with a heavy heart I was trying to conceal and ignore, but I left feeling revived.

Being removed from all of your “stuff”, if only for a few hours is good for the soul.

Being reminded of the beauty of it ALL.

The beauty of music played with heart and passion. The beauty of people, strangers, being nice and kind to each other. The beauty of long lasting friendships. The beauty of certain music being in the background soundtrack of my life. The beauty of God orchestrating all that I see and experience just for me. Specifically for me, that I might see His goodness in ALL things.

I pray that I wouldn’t squander a thing.

Not. One. Thing.

“Oh well, celebrate we will
Ooh cause life is short but sweet for certain
Hey, we’re climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
Things we cannot change

Change, why would I want to change it?”

Dave Matthews Band, “Two Step”


What, me worry?

I live in the present and enjoy every moment in the life God has given me.

At least this is what I tell myself in the morning. Enjoying each moment…finding joy in each moment…this the goal and art of life. I’m trying to learn it and practice it like a habit. Choosing to set my mind on the positive even when worry is crouching at my door ready to pounce.

I think this is why I’m obsessed slightly with Disneyland. It’s all about wonder and magic and capturing moments. We have been to a few other “establishments” and nothing even comes close to comparing to Disney because they spend so much time on the details. The ambiance that is created is what makes everything so special. Each flower, each cobweb, carefully placed on purpose. I read an article about Disney imagineers that said they skim each surface over and over to make sure that every place a guests eye may rest they will have something to look at. The details are endless.

I’m learning the same is true in life. God has created each of us with care and detail. Our surroundings are filled with wonder and beauty. Despite what the conditions are in our lives, I think if we skim through and really LOOK, we can still find moments of magic. Gods fingerprints in the details of our lives.

The sweet breath of my daughter snuggled up in my arms to tell me good morning. The freckles peppered upon my sons nose that crinkles when he laughs. The dependable way my husband will always answer when I call, even when he is busy.
Blessings everywhere. They aren’t guaranteed to be there tomorrow. Who knows what awaits us then. Tomorrow will have trouble enough of its own…
So for today, I will just breathe it all in and say, “thank you.”

Mandi Holden

Believe. Begin. Persist

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