I’m very good at making things look pretty. I delight in finding the perfect piece, especially if it’s on sale, and then meticulously arranging it amongst my other favorite knick-knacks until the look feels right. It’s a time consuming process, one that requires attention to detail, a good eye, and and a creative spirit, but the finished product fills my heart with joy and is what makes my house feel like the home I want to live in, raise my kids in, celebrate birthdays and holidays in, and make memories in.
Presenting a Pinterest Perfect home is actually something that I have always enjoyed, but my ability to make things look pretty and organized made it very easy for me to hide the fact that underneath all of the “pretty” was a woman who was crumbling under my weight, my anxiety, my utter disappointment in everything that I had allowed myself to become. I could host the kind of gathering that made people gush over how much they envied my world, and no one ever realized that while they were enjoying, I was hiding in the kitchen because I hated everything about the size 24 clothes I was wearing and because of how embarrassed I was to eat in front of people when I weighed over 300 pounds.
Like a church goer who knows all the right things to say yet lacks any real relationship with God, I was playing the role of happy housemaker and perfect party planner in order to appear fine, and it worked. On the outside I was the holiday hostess with the mostest. On the inside I was batting self hate, shame, and fear. I was eating in secret and suffering from the physical pains of obesity while I was literally slipping closer and closer to death at the age of 35.
This spectacular time of year, the coming of fall, had always triggered warm and happy memories from my childhood. My mom is who I emulate when I decorate my home because so much of what I loved about my childhood is tied to the beauty and the traditions that she so thoughtfully created to make things special just for us. Growing up, fall meant a complete overhaul of our entire home. From the front door, through the hallways, in the bedrooms and kitchen, living spaces, of course, but also in the bathrooms and laundry room, there wasn’t an inch of our home that wasn’t bursting forth with foliage and pumpkin spice. It was glorious! It felt cozy and familiar and special and it meant that Christmas was coming soon and all was right in the world for me.
When my husband and I started our home as young newlyweds and then when we began to grow our family, I wanted nothing more than to carry on the traditions that my mom and dad had built for me and to create a home for my family that matched the beauty of the home that I had such picture perfect memories of. But when I no longer felt like I was picture perfect, when life got hard, when the weight piled on, and then the holidays came around…I found myself drowning in the stresses of the season that I had once so dearly treasured.
The start of fall became something to dread because it triggered fears of falling short as a mom, of finding something in my size to wear to the Christmas party, of having to face all the holiday feasts and knowing full well that I was not going to be able to control the binging or the regret that followed and shamed me to my core.
One of the HARDEST things for me to learn when I made the decision to fight for my health was how to navigate the holiday season. The magic that manifests between October and January is decadent, superfluous, and unyielding. The to do lists, the obligations, the gatherings, the shopping, the people, even the clothes caused me stress, not because I wanted to avoid them, but because I wanted to do all of them in a Pinterest worthy manner while still staying in control of my new healthy eating and exercising routines. It was exhausting and it was impossible.
What’s on my heart this holiday season is to share more of my story, particularly more of what I struggled with during the holidays, and how I learned to focus on what really matters in order to stay happy and healthy throughout this busy time of year. The greatest gift I would love to help you give to yourself this year is the gift of grace and the acceptance of who you are, of how much you are already doing right, and of remembering who you were created to be!