A year ago I decided to share my story and journey to becoming a real woman in a fake world. I swallowed my pride and opened myself up to sharing intimate details about my life with the world. At the time I did not know if my world would just be my mom and my husband, but in just a year it has grown more than I could ever have imagined. I hope you’ll keep reading as I share a little about how my life has changed since then. Though it was not an easy one, this has been one of the best years of my life.
Over the past year my life has changed for the better! I am still a “crazy” homeschool mom to two very interesting boys and one sweet dog, and I am still a wife to an amazing and supportive husband, but now I am also an active mom. I am going to amusement parks with my family, and instead of waddling from bench to bench enjoying them through the lens of a camera, I am right out there with my husband and my boys! I can go on rides and walk all day long without pain. I laugh and smile for real, without having to hide how much my body hurt. I’m no longer always watching to see who is staring at me and being grossed out. We go on more field trips and exercise together. My bond with my husband is even stronger. I can help him in ways I couldn't before; I help him shovel snow, weed the garden, and do more around the house. Friends even tease that we act like newlyweds! I know that I’ve always been beautiful in my husband’s eyes, but there is definitely a new sparkle in them when he sees me now. We are more openly affectionate—to the chagrin of my boys and family. He likes that he can buy me clothes (just not too much!) He loves the changes he sees in me, including my growing confidence. I feel more like a partner in our marriage, instead of like a burden to be taken care of.
My parents have also been very supportive, and I always want to show them how much I love and appreciate them. This past year I was able to help plan a party for my dad without being exhausted afterward. I spent time around his work and church friends without feeling like I was an embarrassment to my parents. My parents have never made me feel that way, but for the first time I wasn’t struggling under my own negative assumptions. I even gave a speech honoring my dad and did not feel too awkward. My mom shares all of my posts and goes with me to events for my new business telling everyone how proud she is of me. She has no idea how much those things mean to me.
This is the area that I think has changed the most over this past year. I have launched the 3 B’s—Blog, Business and Book! The first thing I did was to start blogging. It’s been such a blessing to write out my feelings and thoughts. I truly found a passion I never knew I had, and seeing your responses has been so uplifting! Every comment and view confirms that I did the right thing by stepping out and opening up my life to you. It was not easy. Many of the things you read were written through tears. Many times I wrote things that I never said out loud before. I remember being in the living room, writing with my ear buds on so I could focus. I did not even realize I was crying until my husband's arms wrapped around me. Thank you all for sharing your lives with me this year.
The “Unmasked” book is based on the blog and will come out at the end of May! I am so excited about this new endeavor! Though it’s based on the blog, it will also include new information and stories in a journal format. I hope the book will encourage others to face their insecurities and shed whatever masks have them hiding from life.
On the business side, I’ve found a love for social media marketing and I’m now the social media manager for a multi-media entertainment company. Most of my work is done at home, and since the internet never sleeps I can work around my homeschooling schedule. I must say that the best part of my new business opportunity is working with my boss. She is so creative and encourages me to think outside the box. I would not trade the friendship I have with her for anything. We are more like family than friends, and that makes for an awesome work environment.
I also started my own company, "Unveiled Spa," to sell a line of all-natural bath and body products that I created. I have loved coming up with new products using pure essential oils and natural ingredients for nourishing the skin. From making recipes, designing labels, and creating sales & marketing campaigns, building Unveiled Spa has been a true adventure! I am so excited to grow my business in the years to come.
My Friends and Church
I have learned the importance of saying the word no this year. I’ve stopped just agreeing to do things out of fear of rejection or feeling unloved. I have found out who my real friends are, and I’ve made some new ones along the way. You’ve all been such a support to me and I thank you. I do want to mention one woman in particular—you will know who you are. We’ve been acquaintances for several years, but this year we have become coworkers and friends. She does not realize this, but she was one of the first people outside of my close inner circle to ever hear about my internal struggles. Her acceptance and understanding was one of the things that convinced me, finally, to write. I’m thankful for her steady presence in my life as a loving, no-nonsense person who I can trust to give me honest critiques when I need them.
At church I realize now that doing something just to say you are doing it doesn’t make anyone a better Christian. I re-evaluated my commitments and removed myself from areas where I felt God was no longer calling me to serve. I’ve found I am freer when I go to church to focus on God instead of what needs to be done. My relationship with Christ has grown exponentially, and I can finally really hear Him and understand what He has to say to me.
My Heath and Fitness
My weight. The thing that started it all. Since starting the blog I have lost more weight, but it has been slow going on the scale. I have lost inches and built muscle. I can feel the changes in my clothes and—gasp—I have needed to do more shopping! Beyond the scale and inches, I also have a new attitude toward food. I am appalled at how much food I used to eat! I’ve even been grossed out seeing the serving sizes at restaurants and realizing that I would have eaten that plus an app and dessert! I strictly limit artificial colors and processed foods, and I am more careful about what goes into our bodies. I have gone from about an 80/20 split of processed versus fresh foods in our diet to the compete reverse. I still let my boys have fast food now and then, and I eat it too, but I choose the healthiest option available. I’ll even run through two drive-thrus to get what’s most healthy. My treats have gone from a huge bowl of ice cream, Mc Donald's burgers with chips and dip, to green smoothies, vegan scones and pistachios.
I also kinda like to exercise now, lol. I guess not being in pain has helped a lot in that area. I love trying new workout videos, and if there is some kind of dance element involved, I am all over it! I have about five workouts that I rotate through so I do not get bored, and I join challenges on FB for accountability. I like taking family walks and when the weather gets warmer I will be memorizing scripture while walking with ladies from church. I see exercise now as not a chore, but as a way for me to maintain what I have worked so hard for.
So that’s my world since I started Unmasked last year! What an amazing journey so far! For a woman who wasn't sure if more that two people would read her blog, I actually broke 3,000 views in one month last month— it is so awesome! For bloggers who have thousands a day, that may not seem like much, but I’ve been blessed so far beyond the numbers. I have been able to encourage others who have had weight-loss surgery this past year, including a family member and a friend. I know I could not have helped either of them much at my old weight, or in my old frame of mind. Being able to share my experience and knowledge to help others has added a wonderful dimension to my life. I hope you will keep going on this journey with me. Thank you. Here’s to another year of growing and sharing together!