These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…About My Body

So sassy. Love it! P.S. Shortly after this picture was taken, I lost this black scarf forever. I think I might have accidentally thrown it away. True story.

So sassy. Love it!
P.S. Shortly after this picture was taken, I lost this black scarf forever. I think I might have accidentally thrown it away. True story.

Hello lovelies! I hope all of you had a lovely Labor Day! Hopefully most of you either a. enjoyed the day off from work or b. excitedly/dreadfully anticipated the start of a new school year (for those of you who don’t know, in Central Virginia, most public schools start the day after Labor Day). To everyone, I wish you all the best of luck in your own personal starts of something new, whatever they may be!

And now, for some business before pleasure: Please continue to be kind/patient as I ease myself into posting on a regular basis, and eventually revamp the blog itself. As I have noted before, I am new to this whole process, and this will definitely take some getting used to. However, as I mentioned in my previous posts, I am looking forward to challenge and sheer discipline this will take. Work does a body good, you know. 🙂

So let’s begin. Shall we? 😉

I want to jump by listing the things I actually love about my body, which in of itself is a HUGE mark of progress, since a few years ago I would probably say I loved NOTHING about my body. I think any weight loss journey should begin by listing and praising the things you like/love, because even as things change, there are things that you will always come back to. I also think it reminds myself/will continue to remind me to be kind to myself, even when things get hard.

Enough jabbering, more listing! Here be the list!

1. My Eyes, Lips, and Nose (a.k.a., my Face)

IMG_0767

True story, I have had to ask my eye doctor (Hi Dr. T!) a couple of times what my eye color is. (His answer/the truth? Hazel. YAY! Love that!) Anyway, my eyes are very expressive, and are (along with the rest of my features) from my mother and my grandfather. Whilst I do have to wear glasses to help me, like, not be like Mr. Magoo, they are the windows to my soul, and often show my true emotion. It’s quite sad: I have NO poker face whatsoever. They also sparkle when I am happy, sassy, confident, or feeling mischievous, or even sometimes all four at once. (This can happen a lot.) At the risk of sounding like a Gavin DeGraw ballad (you know what I’m talking about), if you want to what I am thinking or feeling, just look into my eyes. My eyes are framed by my crazy long eyelashes (seriously. We’re talking Liza Minnelli-length here), which I adore and I hope never changes.

(Quick side note: Did you know that Belle (as in Disney Princess from Beauty and the Beast has hazel eyes? I love her even more now! I knew she was my favorite for a reason!)

My nose is, as mentioned, has been passed down to me by my mother and her father. It is the classic “Bowers” nose, and according to my friend Courtney, it’s “cute as hell”. There is a small scar in the middle of my nose (squint and you can see it in the picture above) that I got by scratching it when I had chicken pox…twice…when I as little. (I think I was four?) My dad named him Fred, and he (Fred) has been with me ever since.

My lips are just, my in humble opinion, cool. I love their bow shape at the top! Truthfully, I never feel more feminine than when I get to swipe lipstick or lipgloss on my bow-shape lips. It’s my favorite part of my makeup routine!

Basically, in the words of Madonna and in my humble opinion, I give good face (like Rita Hayworth).

2.  My Smile

388188_879872666279_1053489481_n

This kind ties in with #1, but I think it deserve its own mention in this list. I love my smile! It brightens up my whole face, and showcases my joy AND strength. It glows when I get to be around people I love, which again I also love! Also, I better freakin’ love my smile, since I had to go through two years of braces, retainers, head-gear, etc…let’s just say that my parents invested a HUGE chunk of change into my mouth. (Don’t dirty this up.) My smile, along with the rest of my face, shows my true emotions and thoughts, which is why I mentioned above (and it bears repeating) that I could NEVER play poker. Ever.  #nopokerface

3. My Legs

Okay, so I don’t have a picture of my legs. My bad. I love them regardless, because even though they are short, chunky, and cellulite, they get me where I need to go, and haven’t failed me yet. 😉 They also were my strong ally when I was an active swimmer; my kick, rather than my stroke, propelled me through the water and got me through workouts and races. I love them. I had power in them once, and I will have power in them again. 

4. My Butt

Sorry lovelies, I do not have a butt selfie. Instead, let’s all enjoy my current anthem. 🙂 #allaboutthebass (I have been telling the men of Richmond this for years, but it I suppose the message hasn’t gotten through. Maybe that’s why I am still single?!)

I love my butt. It’s curvy and round, and fill outs my jeans quite well, thank you very much. I actually don’t want my butt to change whilst I am on this journey. It can stand to be firmer, but if it becomes significantly smaller, I may weep.

(Quick side note about the video above: I know what “da bass” is, but what the heck is the treble? This is question that plagues me, like, all of the time.)

5. My Brain

I love Thomas Jefferson, and his house. #nerdygirlcrush

I love Thomas Jefferson, and his house. #nerdygirlcrush

WHAT?! How did I manage to sneak in a picture of Monticello in this body post, and what does that have to do with the task at hand?! I know what you are thinking: “WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW US A PICTURE OF YOUR BRAIN?! OR YOU IN A CAP AND GOWN?! GEEZ!

Bwahahaha classic.

Bwahahaha classic.

Stay with me, lovelies. First of all, I don’t have a picture of my brain (if I did, that would be weird.) I think this picture best represents my brain: I love to travel to different places and learn as much as I can about that particular place, especially historical sites (a HUGE passion of mine). After years of waffling, I am currently in school studying liberal arts, with the goal of going on and earning my degrees in history and museum science, so that I can help pass on my passion for history to the public, and teach people a new way of viewing their current communities/societies around them. I think this picture of Monticello, one of my favorite places ever, represents my love of learning, my growing intellect, and curiosity, i.e. things happening in my brain. Plus, my brain holds my wit, which is an AWESOME thing, because otherwise this blog would be super dull. 

Yes, this actually happened.

Yes, this actually happened.

6. My Height

Yeah, so I am only 5’2″, and I genuinely love being short. Why? In spite of the difficulty of buying clothes that fit length wise (which doesn’t bother me…lovelies, there are tailors for a reason), I don’t mind being closer to the ground, per se.:) My height matches my personality: spunky, trying to be brave and try new things, and yet also willing to prove myself. I think it adds to my charm as well.

7. My Heart

Perfect.

Perfect.

I love my heart. Not only does it genuinely does what it is physically and anatomically supposed to do (you know, beat and pump blood through the rest of my body, keeping me alive and all that jazz), but it holds my dreams and hopes for my life, as well allows me to keep persevering to allow these dreams to come true. It truly does, in every way, shape, and form, keeps me going. It is where my deep reserves of strength reside, as well as my passions. 

I have never talked about this before: When I was a baby, I had a heart murmur at birth that I ended up growing out of; I am only now appreciating how freakin’ tough my heart is. If my heart (along the rest of me) were able to overcome this kinda major health scare, then I can handle anything AND that I should be more kind to my heart. It is indeed a vital and tough organ, but it also it requires the utmost care, since it holds and does everything so valuable to me. It literally keeps me alive physically, and it safeguards the things that I hold most dear.

All in all, this is what I love about my body. I know the list is rather small, but I hope that by traveling on this journey, I will discover more things I love about my body (perhaps different areas that have been hiding throughout the years), and share them with you all here. I know this post may come across as self-serving and braggy, but I don’t care. Self-love is a vital part in this story that I am sharing with you, and I think we should all stop and acknowledge what we love about ourselves often.

What do you love about your body? I would love to know! Tell me in the comments!

And now, a special treat for you, since I know subconsciously y’all wanted this:

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend lovelies!

Please note: no haters allowed on this blog, ever. If you choose to post something negative on this post or any other post, your comment will be deleted, and you will be blocked.

LET’S DO THIS.

Hello lovelies! I am so sorry for not posting in a while…my bad. Things have happened since our last post (pneumonia, chipping away at my college degree #almostdone, an amazing trip to West Virginia that I will blog about in the future)…okay so I’ve been busy, and not faithful to this blogging process. I promise I didn’t leave you all high and dry, my sweetsies! I’m not giving up. Besides, these past few months away from the blog (again, I am so sorry), I have felt restless. I have felt like I am on the brink of a journey, and I wanted (still want) to get out there and on the path already. I haven’t been happy with how I look, and these feelings of bleh coupled with the fact that I just want to get out and DO IT ALREADY haven’t exactly made a peaceful existence.

So, LET’S DO THIS.

After all of my “epilogue” posts on my blog, I am ready to get started with Chapter 1. Here is the “before” of who I am and what I really look like…..all 295 pounds of me. WHAAAAAAAAT?! Did I really just reveal my weight on the interwebz? Crap. Oh well, it’s out there now.

Yup. You read that right.

I weigh 295 pounds.

Wow.

So...this is me. Not the most flattering pic of me out there, but it will do. Also, my roommate would like to apologize for her "lack of skills" taking this pic with my iPhone.

So…this is me. Not the most flattering pic of me out there, but it will do. Also, my roommate would like to apologize for her “lack of skills” taking this pic with my iPhone.

And of course, since this an incredibly revealing, vulnerable post, why not throw in another “before” picture of me awkwardly running:

Fitness?

Fitness?

Let’s move on to my plan of attack, shall we?

1. We can have lots of fun GYM

(Double bonus points for understanding the above reference) I am a member of a gym in my hometown, and I have let my membership lapse. First of all, that is a waste of money, BLERG. Second, I specifically joined this gym because a. They have a pool and B. They offer aquatic personal training, WHICH IS AMAZING. I used to swim year round (summer league, club team, and on my high school team, which I was a 4-year Varsity letterman…letterlady?), and swimming was also a HUGE passion of mine. I think a great way to encourage myself and be kind to myself about getting back into shape is to do something I love(d). Plus, swimming is great for the joints, and it’s fun. If it works for Ellen DeGeneres (and by her, I mean Dory from Finding Nemo), then it works for me!

2. Join Weight Watchers

(Because Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson. Duh.) In all seriousness, however, I have research different diet programs, and this is the one I trust. I feel like I will have the most success with this program over other programs, since they teach you portion control, lifestyle changes, etc. Also, this is the most cost-effective option I have in my life right now (Lovelies, I can’t afford a legit nutritionist. Those noble creatures cost money (like $$$ type of money, which I don’t have), and I would rather invest my money in an aquatic personal trainer (see above), and save in this option.)

3. Blog, Blog, Blog

As I have stated before, I plan on blogging about the whole process: the highs, the lows, the celebrations, the despairs, and everything in between. I plan on being super active with my blog, post on the reg with all sorts of goodies and updates. This is what I have planned out so far:

  • Weigh-In Wednesdays: I think this speaks for itself, but to be clear, posts in which I document my weight loss, complete with pictures!
  • Tasty Thursdays: Posts in which I attempt to cook healthy recipes, and live to tell the tale
  • Park Saturdays: Posts in which I (and a friend that I have bribed with maple bacon doughnuts  recruited) walk some walking trails in some parks around my hometown and home state (I live in the Greater Richmond area of Virginia. I am told that this is God’s country, bwahahahaha). By the way, loved ones/people that know me in real life: Let me know if you want to walk with me!
  • Music Mondays: Posts in which I feature a song on my own personal playlist that I jamming out to, particularly tunes that are inspirational to me and ones that I sweating to as I work out.
  • Inspirational posts sprinkled out in between, such as:
  • Pictures/articles/videos/people who I find inspiring
  • Interviewing women I know about beauty, health, etc.
  • Frank discussions about how I am feeling about as I go about this journey
  • Geeking-out posts of things that I am obsessing over
  • Goals of mine: What are they? How will I achieve them? Did I succeed, or do I need to adjust?
  • General posts in which we talk about that magical time in our lives in which our bodies change I’m just kidding, sweetsies. 😉
  • And many more!

I also would like to beef up the blog to make it more open, more user-friendly, and more me. 😉 I want to learn how properly learn how to post and keep my blog updated, and looking cute. (In other words, I want my blog to constantly have her hair did.) I also would like to try to attempt posting some vlogs(?!), in which I just about a topic, say Hi, and possibly answer any questions you may have (in which I beg and plead for your comments on any of the above topics).

Stay tuned for a new roll out of The Lovely Courage in the late fall, as I plan on investing some money in how the blog looks and feels. I have an amazing friend who helped me create this one, and she has agreed to help me build the beautiful-er new one! YAY!

4. Yo, I gots to buy some stuff, and save some cheddar. (Cheddar=cash.)

With any journey, one needs to financial invest in it, because, like, things cost money. Just ask Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat Pray Love. Do you think that was free?! (The answer is no.) Here are the things I financially need to commit to:

  • Re-upping my gym membership
  • Joining Weight Watchers
  • Buying a scale
  • Buying a “dry-land” gym outfit or two
  • Buying a waterproof MP3 player/iPod shuffle with waterproof case (so I can groove whilst I get my swim on)
  • Making more meals at home/bring my lunch to work everyday vs. going out
  • Save my pennies for an “After” photo shoot AND a DURING photo session project that I am keeping secret for now. 🙂 (I promise, I will blog about this soon!)

I will add more things to the general plan of attack as I go (and I promise I will keep you all updated). This journey will officially start on September 1st! Why September? Because this gives me enough time to get things settled before then, so that I can jump in with both feet and hit the ground running/hit the water swimming! (I know that this reason may seem vague, but I am asking all of you to trust me.)

Keep me in your thoughts and in your prayers! I am SO EXCITED/SO SCARED to be starting this adventure, and I am honestly thrilled to be sharing it with all of you. I am ready to do this, now and forever. I am ready to swim for my future, and for brighter days every day. I’m not going to give in. 🙂

A Love Letter to my Babies (a.k.a. my youth group girls)

304255_10100447903949372_1582095921_n

Just a normal day: Strong women, covered in mud.

Warning: This love letter/post is TOTES long.

Dear Beloved,

HEY GIRL HEY!/Sup.

Let me begin by saying how proud I am of all of you. You all sparkle in your own way, and are making your marks on the world. I am so excited to see glimpses of the young women you are becoming; I know our world is and will continue to be a much better place because you are in it, and are intent on changing it for the better (in your own and unique ways)! Some of you have started your careers already (Oh Lord…I am ANCIENT), some of you are sweating it out in college, trying to figure out who you want to be when “you grow up”, and the rest of you are simply trying to survive high school and middle school, figuring out who you are in the midst of so many voices and influences on either side.

I want you to know that I love each and every one of you. You ladies are beautiful, and are my heart. God sent each and every one of you to me, and I will always be grateful for that. You ladies may also be the only babies I ever have, and if that turns out to be true, then that’s okay. I excitedly take part (for as much or as little as you want me too) in raising you, or at the very least, be a listening ear for whatever life throws at you (either happy or sad). Seriously, I brag on all of you, like 100% of the time to all of my family and friends.

9125_183223877066_4826228_n

Yeah, I tend to not follow directions when taking group pictures. My bad.

Thank you for your faith in me, even as I have let you all down in some way or another. Y’all are constantly encouraging me, laughing at my dumb and nerdy jokes, and are always greeting me with warm smiles. Truthfully, I don’t understand what exactly you lovelies see in me that makes you want to keep hanging out with me (or befriending me on Facebook); however, it warms and fills my heart (kinda like the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, except I am not green and furry) whenever you beg me to eat dinner with you, sit with you at church, or insist that I come to a Chorus concert, soccer game, or just out to lunch/coffee/smoothies to hang out. You allow me to embarrass you by doing one (or all) of the following:

1. Praising all of your accomplishments out loud to anyone who’s listening
2. Doing the jump/clap thing I do when I celebrate your accomplishments
3. And, if you are feeling down, allowing me sing loudly to you any song of your choice, complete with a nerdy dance I made up OR my attempts at the latest new dance craze (is the Dougie still a thing?)

155123_1496444093514_454858_n

You guys may not know this, but the picture is sooooooo love.

Thank you for also being cool in my group driving abilities, as I may or may not have side-swiped church vehicles against, let’s say, a parking garage pole, or the church van port. Or driven THE WRONG FREAKING WAY down a one-way street in, say, downtown Baltimore. Or pulled off a NASCAR turn in a church bus into a narrow farm driveway in Goochland, VA. I have appreciated all of the slow claps, the exaggerated prayers to Jesus for sparing your lives (lovelies, it was not that bad), and ultimately encouraging me and laughing at/with me about it later. Jerks. 🙂

Somehow, even with all of my flaws, you always see the best in me, and are ALWAYS planning out my future: me, being rich (I’m not sure how this always is a factor), with a husband (who is a GORGEOUS firefighter/Army guy/Doctor hybrid with a Southern accent), and 7 kids*.

*(I want to take a break for a second to discuss the kids part. WHERE IN THE HECK DID YOU GET THE IDEA THAT I WOULD HAVE 7 KIDS?! Lovelies, that’s a LOT of babies to carry and push out of my business-end-of-things. Yes, I know you ALL told me that I could have them in “batches”…but listen here sweetsies: Having babies is NOT like baking cookies, or having puppies. That much I do know.) Thank you for having faith in me and my future mothering skills, but please stop discussing my “womb of fire” (adorably/disturbingly your phrase and not mine. I love you for it, but let’s talk about LITERALLY anything else next time, mmmkay?)

253459_10100251240399702_7319098_n

Adorable. Or, as my girls would say, this pic is totes adorbs.

I want you to know that whilst my many reasons for creating this blog are varied and full of meaning (as some of you have already read), one BIG reason that unites them all is this: I am doing this for you. I want to be the woman you (and God) see me to be, and I want to live honestly and healthfully, so that I can continue to be there for all of you many moons from now. You demand (in your own quiet ways) honesty and “realness” from me, and I love you all enough to finally put aside facades to show my scars, as well as my smiles.  As I have told some of you before (but it bears repeating to all of you): In the very wise words from Sir Justin Timberlake: you guys are my mirror, (oh oh), my mirror staring back at me (oh oh)…I see how God sees me in your faces, and I want to fight this fight so that someday, you may not have to.

Let me expound (big word alert) on that last sentence: I don’t want you to be like me, my sweet chickadees. I don’t want to grow up hearing that you are too much (too fat, too nerdy, too weird, too smart) and not enough (not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough). I don’t want you all to be scared of your own shadows or hold yourself back in life, all because some pretty crappy people told you some ugly un-truths and in doing so, broke your heart so deeply that it takes you 30 years to try to put it back together. I don’t want you to build walls around yourselves because of all of the pain you have felt in just trying to live your life, all of the crappy things that you have experienced that makes you feel like you are simply trying to survive. I don’t want you to EVER question who you are because someone or something told you that you just aren’t good enough and are too WHATEVER to fit into a mold.

574956_3280327439742_234574242_n

Lovelies, life is a gift, and it is meant to be lived with a brave and open heart. Let me share with you a lesson that it has taken me 30 years to learn (and am still learning): Whilst it’s totes safer to close yourself off from and build walls around yourself so that you don’t have to feel pain and hurt, these walls can also box you in your own prison, “protecting” you from yourself. These walls you made can trap you within yourself, and in turn the words that you tried to block are trapped in with you. They echo off of the walls, and you can’t escape it. It’s only in reaching out in honesty and asking for strength and help that you are able to knock down these walls; it’s only in being brave enough to be vulnerable to learn the truth about yourself that you can move on from the prison (and live a free life).

I want you to remember something I learned from a favorite book and movie of mine (and no, this is not from The Hunger Games, even though I have talked about them AT LENGTH with all of you and how much I love them so):

You are kind. You are smart. You are important. (from The Help)

Anytime someone tells you something about you that you just freakin’ KNOW is not true, repeat these words to yourself, over and over. Eventually, you will believe it, because it’s true; I know it to be true. Don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you are “too much” or “not enough”; you. Are. Enough. You are all so beautiful, and you all bring so much light into the world. Don’t associate with ANYONE who is trying to bring you down and extinguish your life.  NEVER forget that you have in your possession a heart with a HUGE capacity to love, a brain made for all of your smart thoughts, a voice to use to speak up, and smile to show the world that NO ONE can take away your light (no matter how hard it may try). You matter. Always know that for as many who may “hate” you or just not like you, there are many more who love you all to bits and pieces, and think the world of you. I don’t want you to ponder what life would be like if you didn’t exist, because guess what: it would suck.

373_583642239792_16_n

I taught her everything she knows. BWAHAHAHAHA

Lovelies, live your lives knowing these truths: You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You matter. You are beautiful. (God doesn’t do ugly.) You all have something to bring to the world, and each and every one of you have the capacity to change it for the better. Your very existence brings GINORMOUS blessings upon the world around you, and I can’t wait to see what you make of it. Your very BEING is so bright that it makes me (and everyone around you who loves you) smile so freakin’ big. Don’t let the walls, moats, prisons, towers, etc. overcome you and guard who you are from the rest of the world. This is no way to live. Be brave!

My beautiful babies, I love you. Thank you for being my mirror. From the here and the now, I want to make you this promise (with God on my side, of course): Just as all of you have so valiantly fought for me (whether you knew it or not), I promise I will do the same for you. I REFUSE and WILL NOT allow you to believe anything about yourself that is NOT the truth, and I will not let you create walls around your heart to protect the world from yourself. The world make not always greet you with open arms, but guess what: I will. So will your loved ones, aka the ones who matter most to you. We WANT to see and celebrate who you are. We love you! I promise that when the walls start laying themselves back up, I will look into my mirrors, and knock them down; I also promise that I will do the same for you. I promise to always be there for you, no matter what. When life knocks you down, I will be there to remind you to keeping swimming through the storm (and to swim it with you); when life lifts you to the craziest highs, I will also be there to do my happy jump/clap thing, complete with squeals and giggles. (You gals know you love this.) God brought you all to me, and why would I want to throw away such a cool gift?

115_519972614232_9694_n

Thank you for being my heart, and for always believing in me, no matter what. Thank you for being my light. Thank you for giving me strength to be honest and brave (and encouraging me to write this blog). Thank you for loving me with all my quirks and flaws, and never allowing me to justify these quirks and flaws for when things are not so awesome in my life. I hope to make you all proud, and I promise I will continue on this journey and give it all that I got.

Remember (this bears repeating): You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You matter. You are beautiful.

I love you!

Ashley

Thank you for being my light.

Thank you, God, for giving me my babies. They are the lights of my life. 🙂