When I was growing up, I used to be the shyest person ever. I would literally talk to no one. I was very backward and reserved. Funny how things change, right? We can all laugh together. Everyone knows I never shut up now. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the exact opposite. Shy doesn’t even fit into the same category as me. I love people, I love to socialize and of course, I love to talk. Well, that wasn’t always the case.
Breaking out of my shell was a very slow and gradual process. It took me years. But once I got there, there was no turning back. There are many things that contributed to me not being shy anymore, but one of the things that helped me the most and began that journey of breaking out of my shell was when I started going to church camp.
Growing up, I was a member of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ. There was a church camp specifically for people from our denomination. Not only would kids go from my church, but they would attend from Disciples of Christ churches from all over Tennessee. The camp was called Bethany Hills and it was in a small town just outside of Nashville called Kingston Springs.
The first time I went, I was about 12 years old. Of course, when I first started going I didn’t know anyone. But I started to meet people. These people were some of the most amazing people that I had ever met. They all played such a huge impact in my life. They quickly became some of my very best friends. Being at camp was a place of comfort for me. I got along with all the other kids and I could always be myself. Society has all of these standards of how a person is supposed to be. People expect you to look and act certain ways to match this image that society wants you to have. At camp, it wasn’t like that. Everyone was truly their authentic selves. No judgement. It was such a beautiful and glorious thing because everyone was their true authentic selves.
Not only did the people and the experiences help break me out of my shell, but it also played a huge part in my life for many other reasons.
I would go to camp three times a years. Once for Octoberfest, Spring Fling, and Summer Camp. I only seen these people 3 times a year. This taught me at a young age that no matter how much time apart, true friends will always be there until the end, regardless of time or distance. Every time we would see each other, it was just as if we were never apart.
Camp became something very special to me and dear to my heart, not just the people, but also the place. But the place wouldn’t have became so special to me if it hadn’t of been for all of the wonderful memories that I created with such incredible people.
I remember arriving to camp being eager to get out of my aunt’s car so I could give everyone a hug and see who could find who first. A very special person, Julie, quickly became one of my very best friends. Whoever saw who first, regardless how far away we were, we would scream the other’s name then run toward each other. We were inseparable at camp. If someone wanted to find me, they would just look for Julie. If someone was looking for Julie, they would just look for me. It was rare that we were ever apart. I even went home with her to Memphis once after camp and another time she came home with me after camp.
As soon as we found each other, we would find our rooms and always hope we were in the same room but we only were once or twice. We would go through line and get our camp shirts and then we would go through each others clothes and see if there was anything we wanted to borrow from each other while we were at camp. Whatever we wore, we almost always matched with our Birkenstocks and our seatbelt buckle belts.
I remember being awoken every morning at 7:00 AM by the sound of someone ringing the big bell outside. Except the last morning of summer camp they would be generous and give us an extra hour until 8:00 AM.
Then we would go eat breakfast at the Dining Hall and sing the Star Wars song every morning. and do the dance that goes along with it. We would have all of our other meals there, as well.
I remember all the guys sitting around the campfire at night playing their guitars as we would sing along and eat s’mores. After the campfire the girls would go to the lodge and the guys would go to their cabins.
During the day, they would play the guitars as we would sit in the rockers on the wrap around porch of the lodge. My friend John even gave me one of his old guitars to keep. He was an artist and he had drawn this really cool design all over it. Which, of course, now most of it has faded but I do still have it.
This was also where the girls would stay. The boys would always stay in the cabins.
We would go to the special campfire when it was a time of seriousness. People would get up and share their stories of hardships and how they conquered them. This was an area designated for deep conversation and a place of respect. At the end, we would always sing “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers as we would lean on each other. Every time I hear that song, it always takes me back to those moments.
I remember having to sign up for our activities for the day. Massage. Crafts. Dance. Kickball. Worship. Hiking. Once, we even tried to see how many people we could fit in a one mini-van. I think we ended up getting about 94 people in there if I am not mistaken. Somehow or another. The activities would always be scattered around camp in different areas and we would break off into groups for a small portion of the day.
We made lots of cool things and took some great hikes through those woods.
We even learned to square dance in the rec hall.
So many wonderful memories from my childhood that I will never forget.
I loved having morning worship outside by the water. It was such a peaceful and spiritual experience being with nature during the sermons.
Singing songs at the campfire and having morning worship here was by far one of my favorites.
Octoberfest and Spring fling were only for a weekend, but summer camp, of course, was for an entire week. On the last night of camp we would always have a dance. Well, Julie and some of the other girls decide they want to straighten my hair for the dance. (This is the first time it had ever been straightened for the record.) The dance was always the last night of camp. That was another one of my favorite parts. We always knew when the dance was over because the closing song of the night would always be American Pie by Don McClean. As the song began we all knew what that mean. We all formed a large circle and and would kick our legs up in the air as the chorus and the beat picked up. And then when the line played," you both kicked off your shoes," we would all kick our shoes off in the middle of the circle.
Forming a circle like that was always also meant a special moment. Of course, that song and the dance and kicking off our shoes was a special tradition. Every night after the campfire went out we would also always form a circle and say a prayer and sing I Bid You Goodnight by Aaron Neville. So as you can see, a lot of songs with a lot of special meaning to me.
My eyes are closed in this picture, but it was the only one I had of us from the night they straightened my hair. I am pretty sure it was a harder process than they thought and it didn't get all the way straight which is why I pulled it up. We were probably about 13-14 years old here.
Here is another picture of us with a group of other people from camp.
Well, I haven’t been to camp in over 11 years now. That means that I haven’t seen those wonderful people in over 11 years. However, a few weeks ago Julie sends me a message and randomly tells me that she is coming to visit me. I literally teared up because I was so ecstatic.
So here we are today. 11 years later....
This girl has been one of my very best friends for so very long. I hadn’t seen her in 11 years and she shows up at my door. We hug each other and literally just both start to cry happy tears and not let each other go. It was a very emotional moment. So many amazing memories from so long ago. Yet, we reunite after 11 long years and it was just as if nothing had changed. She is still the same beautiful soul that I once knew. And then just like that, we were creating new memories again. This time with wine, sushi and shopping.
Only this time, we were much older and had a lot of life happen to us. We have both grown tremendously and neither of us are the same person as we were back then. She is now an excellent mother raising a beautiful boy with special needs.
It was just as emotional, if not more when she had to leave. It had been at least 11 years since I had seen her and we didn’t know when we would see each other again. So we made a vow to see each other at least once a year from here on out.
I got to also see her mother, Rachel, who has also always held a special place in my heart. She is also an incredible person. I even got to meet her wonderful son.
It is funny how things change so much. Last time I seen her, we were just kids. Now she is a mom. Life is short. So live it and cherish every moment you have, especially with those who are dear to your heart.
I am forever grateful camp and Julie, as to I would not be the person I am today without them.
In previous years, if someone asked you how you met your significant other and you told them online, they would probably look at you like you were crazy. It was almost a taboo. You get the typical, “they could be crazy” or “how do you know it is really them” amongst other similar reactions. However, I believe being considered a taboo is now slowly becoming a thing of the past.
More and more people are downloading dating apps and meeting people online. I could almost guarantee that at least someone you know is on Tinder. It is becoming more and more common. There are thousands of people all over on dating apps.
As a society, we have transitioned into a digital world and so many people’s lives revolve around their smartphone. So, why would it be considered crazy? Besides, since when does where you meet someone define whether they are safe or not? You could easily meet a crazy person at the gym or at the bar just as well as you could online. Just because someone is crazy doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be found in public places.
Of course, there will always going to be pros and cons to almost anything in life, but I think the pros outweigh the cons here. You can be the judge.
The Pros of Online Dating:
1. You know that they are single and looking. Well, they are supposed to be single anyway at least. You are both in the same place for a reason.
2. You can scope out their pictures and actually take some time to look at them and read their bio (if they have one) to see if you’re interested. In person, you have to actually talk to them to see if you have anything in common. Looks are not everything.
3. You can avoid the awkwardness of face-to-face interaction. When you meet someone out, you have no way of knowing if they are single or taken. You have to stand back and admire your gym crush wondering if they already have a significant other. If you approach them, not only are you taking a risk of if they find you attractive or not, but also to know if they are even available.
4. You can spend time talking to someone and getting to know them to see if you are compatible before ever having to meet them. This helps eliminate the weirdos and crazies.
5. There is a very large dating pool. This increases your options instead of having to wait to randomly meet someone that interests you.
6. You can block someone right away if they are annoying or harassing you. They won’t know your last name, (if you hopefully chose not to give it to them) so they won’t be able to ever contact you again.
The Cons of Online Dating:
1. You get a lot of really weird / really bad messages. Sometimes people are overly sexual. Sometimes people say things that literally make your jaw drop. However, it can sometimes be good entertainment because you literally question how someone came up with some of these things.
2. Your inbox can get quickly overloaded. You get a ton of messages on a daily basis so it can be hard to keep up. If you find a few people that you may be interested in, you have to go back and sort through all of them to find that person again or your inbox is getting so many message you may have forgotten about that person because it is hard to keep up with.
3. You will get more messages from people that you don’t like than you do like. A lot of the ones you don’t like are very persistent and you have to end up blocking them to get them to stop contacting you
4. If your friends are on dating apps, then it is possible you could be messaging the same people.
5. Sometimes people are not who they say they are. Either they have posted pictures of themselves from years ago and they have gained a lot of weight since them or sometimes people will straight up catfish you so they can get a date.
6. Not everyone, but there are a lot of people just looking to get laid. Which of course, you may just be looking for that too but you should always know the foundation initially before you get involved.
I am sure there many other pros and cons to the online dating world. But this was just to name a few.
I remember when you used to come home from work every day. I would try to time it perfectly so that dinner was ready for you when you got home. You would come in the door and immediately get on your phone and play a game. Not just sometimes, but every single day.
I remember sitting at the dinner table just staring at you while you would eat. You were eating this meal that I had just cooked for you, yet your eyes were on your phone the entire time. Not once would you look up and talk to me, not even when I spoke to you. You would answer my questions with short answers, but your gaze never left your phone. It was never enough to truly have a conversation with me. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time we had a real conversation.
I remember having surgery and I was bawling my eyes out because I was in so much pain. You were home and I needed you to comfort me. But all you did was play your game on your phone. It took hours for you to come check on me.
I remember being at the airport upset because I had missed my flight after returning from my cruise. I was going to have to fly into Asheville instead of Knoxville, otherwise I was going to be stuck in Florida for a few more days. I called you and asked if you would pick me up from the airport and your exact response was, “I will have to think about it. Let me think about it and I will get back to you.” You later called me back and told me that I was being inconsiderate of your sleep schedule by asking for you to come and get me. Yet, you didn’t seem seem to think it was inconsiderate to leave me stranded at the airport.
I remember getting home from the airport at 3:00 AM that night. I found someone else to come get me since you wouldn’t. You were asleep. I hadn’t seen you in 5 days. This was the first time we had ever been away from each other since we had been dating. You got mad at me because I woke you up so you screamed “fuck you” in my face about 15 times.
I remember you constantly wanting to belittle me. You told me my hair was nappy. You told me my hair looked like a mop. You told me that I looked easy. You told me I didn’t dress conservative enough. You told me it was childish and made me look 16 because I had a glitter nail design. You told me I looked like I had never worked out a day in my life, but we both know that isn’t true. You told me all of these things. There are so many more. You wanted me to feel less about myself for some reason.
I remember seeing your ex-girlfriend in your phone as “Charles.” You lied to me about talking to her numerous times. You snuck around to call her even and still kept lying about it.
I remember waiting at home to cook you dinner. You even told me to hold off on cooking until you got home and you would be home soon. I was starving, but I waited for you. After you got home and we had already started eating, you finally told me that the reason for your delay was that you were eating dinner with your mother all the while I was at home hungry waiting on you because I wanted to share a meal with. You couldn’t even tell me that you were already eating. Instead, you just left me hanging. Then you had the audacity to tell me, “It’s not my fault. I eat when I get hungry.”
I remember laying in bed every night crying myself to sleep, what little I would sleep. You would get so annoyed with me and you would yell at me because I was crying. You would say things like, “My God, I am never going to get any sleep tonight because you won’t shut the hell up.”
All of these things are only a fraction of what you did to me and how you treated me. I spent months trying to figure out why I wasn’t good enough for you. Trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why you wouldn’t love me back.
But oddly enough, the less you loved me, the more I loved myself. You didn’t make me less confident. You didn’t make me insecure. So whatever you were trying to accomplish by putting me down constantly, it didn’t work.
It took months for me to finally want to walk away from you. For far too long I held on to the idea of who I thought you were, not who you actually were. You had me fooled.
The day that I decided to walk away from you, I knew there was no turning back. I no longer saw good in you. I knew that a man who loved me would never treat me the way that you did. At that point, there was nothing you could have done to make me stay.
During those days I spent with you, I never would have imagined that I would be saying what I am about to say. You caused me so much pain and so much hurt. I experienced so much heartache trying to love a man who just wouldn’t love me back. You literally sucked the life out of me. I didn’t realize just how much until I have had the strength to walk away.
But once I walked away, it was like a huge burden had been taken off my chest. I was so happy to be away from you because you are such a toxic person. I didn’t realize how toxic you were and how much you were destroying me until I was finally back on my own and away from you.
But I have to say, thank you. And I want to say it a thousand times. I can honestly not thank you enough for treating me as badly as you did. If you had never treated me like you did, then I may not have ever walked away.
Thanks to you, I was able to walk away and fall more in love with myself than I ever have been. Oddly enough, the less you loved me, the more I loved myself.
If you hadn’t of treated me so poorly, then I may have never walked away or it may have taken me so much longer. But thanks to you, I was able to fall back in love with myself. I was also able to find that inner strength I had been searching for. So again, I want to thank you for everything that you did to me. After feeling so much pain that you had caused me, I had no idea that I could be this happy.
I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for a long time. I know I wasn't alone, though. I know that there are tons of women and men out there who are with someone who is either physically or emotionally abusive. Neither are worse than the other. It is still abuse. Love is not supposed to hurt. Love is not supposed to make you feel like less of a person. Love is supposed to make you more of yourself, not less of yourself.
If you aren't with someone who brings out the best of you, then why are you with them? If a person is going to be in your life, then they are supposed to bring happiness and joy to your life, not stress and turmoil. If this person isn't enhancing your life, then ask yourself why they are part of your life. You can't be happy when you are constantly surrounded by negativity. Find someone who will love you for everything than you are and who will love you just as much on your bad days as your good days. Love yourself enough to do better and find better. Trust me, it is out there but you can't find the right person unless you learn to let go of the wrong one.
just recently broke things off with the guy that I had been seeing for about 2 years. So, I have been newly single for a only a few months. Since I have been single, I have made myself more available and open to dating, of course. But it has been so long since I have been single, something has recently came to my attention again: WE ARE STRONG, LADIES!!
The dating world is hard for single women. And I say that not because it is hard to be a single woman. I can totally take care of myself. I don't need a man to take care of me. If someone is going to be in my life then they are going to enhance it. But I say it is hard for other reasons.
Since I am on the market again, I have realized just how much we as women have to go through to just find a decent man. We get macked on repeatedly. To be quite honest, it is slightly annoying. It is hard to be a single woman because you have to weed out so much dirt. There are so many men that are pigs. And there are different kinds of pigs.
There are the taken men. They are either married or they have a girlfriend. They just don't care. I just don't get this. Do you seriously not have any respect for the woman you lay down in bed with each night? If you're not happy, simple. LEAVE! These men approach women all the time. There is no shame in their game.
Guys will straight up ask you for sex. I mean, okay I guess I give them credit for being honest, but don't you think this is disrespectful? You should want a woman for more than her body.
Then, there are the boys who will straight up lead you on. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what a woman wants to hear to make her heart melt and sweep her off her feet. Anyone can say those types of things. And that is one of the biggest problems. Women get so wrapped up in those words that we forget to watch the actions. These men just say whatever to try to get you all wrapped up in them just so you want to sleep with them.
Of course, not all men are going to be this way. That is not fair to say. There truly are some good men out there, but damn, it is hard to sort through the fool's gold to find the real gold. Now, it is going to be worth it in the end. But it takes a strong woman to be able to watch out for all of those signs. There are so many fake people nowadays that try to put on a front that it is hard to know who is real and who isn't. Wait for the man who is willing to move mountains to show you how much you mean to mean. Don't settle for the man that makes you question if he even cares. Once you meet the right man, you will never have to question what you mean to him. There will be no doubt in your mind because men go hard for what they want. If he is not going hard for you, then you are not what you want.
But I just want to give a shoutout to all the ladies. If you have found the man of your dreams, kudos to you! You may be happy now but you had to sort through the crap too before you found him. If you're single, don't worry. Keep your head up and keep going and DO NOT get caught up in someone's words. Watch what they do. Don't listen to what they say. Sort through the crappy men and never settle. You will find exactly what you want. Don't give up hope and settle for the wrong person because if you settle for the wrong person then you will never find the right one.
We have all been there. We meet a person, fall madly in love with them. We think they are just God's greatest gift to earth. We believe they are our soul mate and we are going to get married. We plan to spend a happily ever after with them and blah blah blah.
Then before you know it, things have changed and you have no idea where things went wrong. You find yourself crying on the bathroom floor asking yourself why they don't love you the same way anymore. You have probably tried to work things out for months or maybe even years and you have gotten no where. You don't want to let them go because you love them. But unfortunately, sometimes we have to let go and move on with our lives.
It happens to the best of us. In life you are going to get your heart broken. That is almost a foregone conclusion. Sometimes you even have to break your own heart. But either way, It is going to hurt. It's not going to be easy. People were created to change and we are all constantly changing. We grow and sometimes you grow away from your partner instead of together. And it is okay to outgrow people. It's okay to not be compatible anymore. Unfortunately, love and compatibility are not the same thing.
You are going to need time to heal. Take as much time as you need. Do whatever you need to do to feel better. But just don't give up on love. Don't blame everyone else for their mistakes. Don't think everyone else is going to treat you the way that they did. Everyone is different. There are no two people alike on this earth. Just because they cheated or just because they neglected you does not mean that everyone else will.
Everything happens for a reason and sometimes that reason is so that you can have a practice relationship before you meet the person that you will actually spend the rest of your life with. You may even have lots of practice relationships. But if you can love the wrong person that much, just think about how much you can love the right person?
I am sure you also made mistakes. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. But making mistakes is also how we learn. The goal from making mistakes is to learn from them so that we can do better and be better for the next person. Even though it is hard to go through, it is necessary for growth. You will meet again. You will love again. Don't worry.
Stop dwelling over that one person that broke your heart. You can't force something to be meant to be that is just simply not meant to be.
You may be struggling because you are in a toxic relationship and you find yourself holding on and not wanting to let go. Things went wrong for a reason. Don't try to fix what is broken If a person wanted to change for you then they would. You will find someone else and the next time will be better. You will know what signs to look for when choosing a partner and you will have learned from your own mistakes.
Sometimes we have to experience bad relationships so we can appreciate the good ones. Life is too short to dwell on one person. Instead of looking back on the past, look forward to what the future may hold. There is someone out there praying for someone exactly like you. If the paths are meant to cross, then they will.
A few months ago I was out shopping, not for anything in particular. I was just browsing around to see what I could find. I stumbled across a pair of Brooks running shoes that were half off! I was so excited because I knew I was going to be starting my training soon for my half marathon and these would be perfect. They were my two favorite colors, pink and turquoise. I looked at the box and they were my size, a size 8. I didn't even bother trying them on because I was in such a hurry and excited that I was getting such a great deal on them. I had purchased this style before and loved them so assumed they would be just fine.
So, I get them home and tried them on and they were too tight. I was like, so disappointed. They are my size so what's the problem? I looked at the tag inside of the shoe and it said size 7. So, apparently they just happened to be in the wrong box. Of course, I was disappointed because I loved these shoes and it was the last pair that they had left. However, being the Pinterest addict that I am, I remember seeing several pins about how to stretch shoes that were too small. So, I decided to keep them and hope that I could make them work anyway.
So, here I am saving all of these pins on how to stretch shoes. I froze water inside of them and put them in the freezer. I bought these stretch inserts. I put on big thick socks and walked around. All kinds of crazy things I had read that supposedly worked. I kind of felt ridiculous doing them, but, they did actually work........
I froze the water inside, just like the article had said. I took them out of the freezer and they fit perfectly. I was impressed. My ridiculousness paid off. I wore them the entire day. I went to the gym and worked out. I walked around the grocery store and by the end of the day, they still felt great. They felt just like my normal size 8 shoes. I thought I had made them fit. Well, after that night I took them off and put them away. Of course, being a fitness addict, I have tons of running shoes. So I didn't put them on again for a few days.
So, a week or so later I put them on again but this time they were too tight. Just like they were when I first bought them. So, I continued to do these little tricks I had learned to stretch them, only it was a continuous process. Yes, it worked. But they always reverted back to their normal size. They could be temporarily altered, but not permanently altered. So am I disappointed about the shoes? Of course. But oddly enough, I have learned a very valuable life lesson through all of this.
If the shoe doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. You can't make a shoe fit that wasn't intended to fit. And I don't just mean shoes. I mean jobs, relationships, people. Everything in life. There will be things and people that we love throughout our entire life, but unfortunately that does not always mean that they will fit into our lives.
We may love a person. It could be a romantic partner, a friend, or even a family member. We may constantly try to make the relationship work. It may work temporarily but it always goes back to its original state. And sometimes that does not fit our lifestyle. Does that mean that they are a bad person or that we are a bad person? NO, not necessarily. It just means that person isn't supposed to be in our life. Sometimes we have to let things go.
Same thing with a job. Maybe you want to work for a specific company or you want a specific position within your company. You have applied a hundred different ways but keep getting denied. That's a sign that isn't your door. If the door doesn't open, then it is not your door. I am a firm believer in signs and having our steps directed. We just have to listen and pay attention. Just remember, if the shoe doesn't fit, you can't force it to fit.