Isn’t it amazing how a cloudy sky brings hope for the most colorful sunsets? Layered opportunity for light and color. Vibrance to be filled in. Imagine if we saw our life in the same way. Hurdles as our clouds. Adding layers to our character. Our battles provide potential for a more beautiful life. We must remember we are the artists of our own story. The clouds will come but we get to paint them whatever colors we want. I view my clouds as art and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
As we experience life, we are sure to experience hardships. Cloudy days, maybe entirely grey seasons. For me, it’s been one storm after the next. The first part of my life I was suicidal and obese. After transforming my life into a healthy and happy one, my brother died. Then my chronic pain cranked into high gear, debilitating me from truly living. With my big surgery coming up and the hopes that I will be pain free post-op, it’s hard to believe my life will be smooth sailing from there. My instinct is to prepare for the next all consuming storm. Luckily my previous storms taught me what kind of umbrellas work best and how to hold them strong. I’ve learned I can withstand the heaviest rain and walk through the darkest clouds because the light and drive that guides me is in my control. The storms are on the outside but my protection comes from within.
Those who know me tell me I’m one of the strongest people they know. That they can’t believe the adversities I’ve overcome. Strangers who see my life from a distance think I’m spoiled rotten. As if life has been easy for me. The truth is I’m both. Growing up financially comfortable was a luxury I will never take for granted. There is simply no ignoring the many potential stressors that minimized. But I’m also spoiled because of my adversities. My tumultuous history of mental and physical health problems along with more grief than anyone my age should know. Because struggle began early for me, growth began early too. Life has certainly not been easy for me, but I am lucky enough to be able to understand what a beautiful life truly means while I still have so much of it to live!
My life feels beautiful to me because that’s how I want it to feel. I know what it’s like to have no hope and to give up on fighting for my own happiness. I’m a forever fighter now that I stand strong in my own corner. Now that I know winning is always in my power. I already hold the strength to fight through any and all storms, but what’s more important is my confidence believing that. My perspective is my reality.
Even when the clouds present a dark sky, it’s those times without color that welcome creation. Give me room to picture what I need and hope for. Time to reflect and be open-minded. Space to be thoughtful and appreciative. The truth is, every color I could ever need is available in my mind and I can use them whenever I want.
What we see is a reflection of what we’re searching for. To put this in the simplest of examples, before I had a Mini Cooper, I barely noticed them on the road. Now that I’m looking for them, I see them all the time. During Trump’s presidency, I was made aware of a lot more hate and evil than I ever knew existed, I lingered on that and saw it everywhere I turned. I was miserable focusing on misery. During my first year as new Lindsay I saw the world in new light. I spent that entire year blissfully happy. Focusing on all the joy I missed and the opportunities that were now mine. If I’m actively looking for reasons to be upset, guess what I’ll find! If I’m actively looking for opportunities to be positive, life will appear more beautiful.
After 15 years on drugs that made me suicidal and obese, every single day feels like a blessing. I have a simple way to finding positives and I truly believe that is what it takes to be happy. Just as I can find perspective from the before and after of my own life, there is always a worse situation to shine light on all there is to be grateful for. I can draw on the strength and progress of my own transformation just as I can appreciate where I no longer stand.
I know there are a lot of people who believe comparing personal pain or trauma to a worse situation invalidates those struggles. I beg to differ. Mental health is not a competition. It is not invalidating your feelings by seeing the bigger picture. Stepping outside of your own pain or trauma gives perspective on opportunities for growth. Validating our pain is only the first step. Fostering that pain into strength and persistence in the battle towards a better life is what truly matters. If it takes comparison to appreciate what you have, then use that. It is appreciation that unlocks a positive outlook.
Personally, I’ve been through enough pain and trauma for a lifetime. However, I choose to pull from my grievances all the good that exists. My brother died unexpectedly, but I had 24 years with him first. But he died peacefully. But we were able to have a beautiful funeral to memorialize his life. But my family stayed strong. I can’t change death, but I can change what I focus on when I think of it.
When fighting chronic pain or illness, our minds can only distract us so much from the uncontrollable discomfort. I suffer from chronic TMJ disorder, neck pain & vertigo and while no doctor has been able to help me yet, I am incredibly fortunate to be able to seek help. When I’m in a lot of pain and my mind jumps to “how can I live like this?” I switch my perspective instead to, “I could instead be a woman in Afghanistan suffering from chronic pain with no help”. A very specific jerk back to reality. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, and without taking away or invalidating my own burdens, I am able to rework my negative thoughts. Wake up from the pity party I gain nothing from attending. With the simple and very specific reminder of how much worse my situation could be, I am inspired to look for those Mini Coopers. Keep my eyes open to the opportunities I do have. The hope and the change I can partake in. Sometimes in order to stay with the light, we need to take a glimpse of the darkness.
So whatever you’re struggling from, whether it be chronic pain, incurable illness, poverty, violence, grief, heartbreak, all of the above and more, take a moment to connect with what you’re not struggling with. Your pain is valid but it does not define you. The only person who can instigate your healing is yourself. Remember all you have. Humble yourself with how much worse things could be. Our thoughts become our reality. You will find what your mind is set on. Whether it be a Mini Cooper or a healthy, fulfilling life, do what it takes to stay in touch with the opportunities in your reach.
I recently read an article on what to say and what not to say to someone who lost a loved one. When my brother died, my family heard it all. We got every type of response from letters to in person, over the phone, text or emails. My reaction to each was appreciation. This person obviously took time to reach out. Whether or not they offered guidance, assistance, support. Whether or not they told me to do something, feel something, stay strong, hang in there, act tough for my parents. Each message was sent with a good heart. Each person went out of their way to acknowledge I was in their thoughts. I choose to assume all of these people had simple, good intentions.
I can bet almost no one read an article on “writing sympathy notes” before reaching out. Even I hadn’t until now. If I went around criticizing what people said to me when they mean well, I’d be stripping myself from the good in life. Dimming light and dampening pure positivity. Why should I complicate a loving moment? I want to embrace all love and all light. There is too much sensitivity in our world today. Too much nitpicking at words and assuming intentions. I know I’m happier when I assume the best and move forward. What good is questioning something meant to be kind? I appreciate the thought and the effort, however it is packaged.
I personally try to formulate my condolences, all my comments really, in a way that is supportive and leaving everyone feeling better. However, on the other end of that, I try to receive in that same way. Supportive of the general message, feeling better however I can control. Reading less into a nice gesture and just accepting kindness leaves me feeling kinder. Just as low expectations prepare for lovely surprises, surprises are lovelier accepted as they are. I can’t control someone else’s words, only how I hear them. So whether someone told me to “be strong” or simply expressed “there are no words,” I heard “I’m thinking about you and sending my love.”
A week before my brother died, my friend lost his. I remember being in those shoes. Wondering if it’s appropriate to text him. If it would be another burden added to his devastating and busy week. Curious what I could possibly say that would offer any help, especially from across the country. I ended up sending a simple message along the lines of “no pressure to respond, just wanted you to know your family is in my prayers.” Unknowing I’d be in his shoes a week later, I was prepared to hold zero judgement on how friends responded in the leading days. I could have easily come to the conclusion it was better to leave it alone. Nothing I could say could change the fact that this life was lost and the lives around will suffer forever. Each and every message received was acknowledged as a difficult task from the other end. A heavy battle for anyone involved. I recognize that anyone having the courage to say anything at all is a blessing.
So while considering our words and how they affect others is obviously important, my advice today isn’t on that. My advice is to practice how we receive words. Allowing love and light into our lives without painting over it. Appreciating support however someone may show it and valuing kindness over details. The more love we accept, the more loving our lives will be.
A couple weeks ago my friend sent me a viral video on Instagram. A man recording his reaction to the finale of The Undoing. Dramatic, ridiculous and completely captivating. A total stranger, yet I was drawn to his personality off this 10-or-so second clip. I wanted to be his friend. His energy projected through the screen and uplifted my own. Sharing with the world as if everyone was his best friend. Vulnerable and holding nothing back.
It was then I realized I have thousands of followers who have never seen my personality. Who have been supporters of what I do, and what I write, but have yet to actually meet me. While I have formed relationships with some of these people though messaging, only the followers who know me in real life actually know how I am. How I moan when I like what I’m eating, cry at the opening credits to The OC, dance with my dog and sing not just the lyrics of songs, but the background beats too. Only my friends and family know just how weird I am. So while I felt I have been vulnerable, with my thoughts and my feelings, my experiences, challenges and triumphs, I have been holding back. I have been sharing through a filtered scope of reality without even realizing. My entire brand revolves around open authenticity and while I haven’t been inauthentic, I have stayed behind the lens.
On my Instagram, I share my day to day doings. What I eat, my workouts, my dog, my scenery, even my diary entries. I have purposely exposed my truths in order to be relatable. For those struggling to see transformation as a possibility. I have admitted to my flaws, revealed my struggles and discussed my dreams. But if I have been doing all of this behind the camera, how much of an impact can I make? How much can we trust someone we don’t even really know?
A person’s personality can tell a whole story. I am not shy. I probably talk too much. I have reactions for just about everything. My friends call me funny. My parents call me crazy. I let my emotions out when I feel them and that is something I am proud of. A LOT goes on in my head, and most of that makes its way out. I definitely over share and it’s rare someone wouldn’t know what I am thinking. I am truly one-of-a-kind, and honestly a perfect contender for this crazy world of social media. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize.
I can’t wait to show the world my weird. To capture raw moments of goofy, crazy, bubbly, dramatic, emotional, ludicrous Lindsay. Because if you can get to know me not just from my stories but from who I am, my truths might connect differently and my efforts to inspire might make a stronger impact.
I have gotten incredible feedback on how my light shines through. How my adventures lend second-hand joy, and my workouts motivate activity and personal growth. How my recipes come to life in your kitchens and how my stories touch your heart. Of course my dog, Slim, blesses anyone who catches a glimpse. I hope this new layer of sharing projects new light. A different kind of energy, like when I watched the video my friend shared. There is a reason social media videos got so popular. It’s entertaining watching snippets of other people’s personality, especially during quarantine. I have started posting more videos with myself in front of the camera on my TikTok and Instagram Reels @linzybinzy120, so I look forward to seeing who sticks around as well as building new, real friendships. Hey, maybe more of you will decide to show off your personalities too! It’s nice to finally meet you.
I’ve gotten a lot of messages lately admiring my confidence showing off my stretch marks. Women who have carried and given birth to a human life but see their stretch marks as marks of shame instead of strength. All I carried was weight and while it took time, I now see my stretch marks as trophies. Battle scars from a war I won. Reminders of what I have created. I don’t look at my scars as what was once broken, but as markings of success. What I survived. A life I choose to see as beautiful.
Who defines beautiful? The media? A specific person’s point of view? There is no one answer. While many of us have different preferences of attraction, confidence has to be the most agreed on attractive quality. I choose to see my stretch marks as unique. Just like my freckles, or my red hair, they are something I possess that make me special. The difference though, I was not born with them. I gained them through perseverance.
For almost 15 years I carried up to 90 extra pounds from medicine I was put on as a small child. Medicine that made me suicidal as well. So while I didn’t carry a baby and my stretch marks don’t represent motherhood, they do signify a new life I brought into the world. My own.
The bottom line is we have the power to decide what we see as beautiful. To find more beauty in everyday things. Surround ourselves in positive light instead of darkness. So if it’s a decision to see a permanent marking on my body as beautiful or shameful, I find every reason to love them. Eventually, any reason to not gets buried. I used to hate my stretch marks. Now they’re one of my favorite features.
Whether it be stretch marks, cellulite, an 11th toe, or whatever has you questioning your beauty, find more reasons to love yourself because of these differences. Appreciate what you can’t control. The only thing that needs fixing when you’re feeling down about these healthy, lifelike qualities, is your attitude. Transform the way you see yourself and others will see you the way you wish. Be proud of your authentic self.
I’ve started hiking with my dog every day. Recording a list for my Instagram followers, (“⛰Hikes” highlighted on my profile here). Rating difficulty level, mentioning what can be found, listing their convenience for parking and dogs. The feedback I’ve received has been beyond encouraging. Endless amounts of gratefulness. The inspiration many needed to get out with nature. To be more active. To get just enough of a glimpse of the joy it brings me and the beauty they can discover with a door opened to explore themselves. While hiking is good for so many things, heart, health, mood, the thing I find most beneficial is perspective.
Once you climb a huge mountain, those smaller mountains don’t seem so difficult. Everyday stress or hurdles are just stepping stones to a bigger picture. A beautiful life and the necessary roads to see it. Huge mountains seem achievable. Grieving the loss of a loved one, overcoming a traumatic experience, situations that could seem overwhelmingly impossible, now presented in a way that feels manageable.
Ease is granted with each accomplishment, each hike climbed. The confidence achieved is put towards any mountain, any size, any distance. Gained perspective found from a checklist of peaks earned. The flexibility and opened doors that come with advancing strength, bravery, and will are tremendous. Hiking becomes more rewarding, and so does living.
So yeah, life might throw huge, slippery, get on your hands and knees, hanging on for dear life mountains to climb, but we do it. We do it because of what greets us when we do. A mirror with new self reflection. The image of what we’ve conquered. A picture of something daunting with a smiling face before it. Fearless bravery ready for anything. The journey creates the peace. Trust in our own ability to create a reflection staring back that motivates and inspires continued strength. The girl I see finished that hike and is excited for the next. Sure, she climbed a little higher than she would have liked to crawl down, but now she has a story. A memory for next time the climb feels too high. Another star for her board of life. Added accomplishment for today makes tomorrow easier.
Please head to my Instagram and check out my highlighted story, “⛰Hikes”. Even if you don’t think you like hiking or if you don’t live in the LA area, it might just give you that boost of energy, curiosity and desire to dive into a new perspective.
I’ve been having a really incredible week. Nothing specific. No good luck moments, or good news announcements. I’m just utilizing my time in a way that makes me happiest. Reconnecting with the earth and the love affair we share. Spending time with the sunshine. Living on the edge, hiking and exploring new land with my wide-eyed, beaming dog by my side. I had a period of lows where I almost forgot how incredible life can be.
While I know not everyone has the freedom or weather to hike every day, there are activities, new hobbies, maybe even breathing techniques that can soothe the soul. Find at least one thing that truly makes you smile. The kind of time spent where your energy takes your hands and dances with you.
I know my mood is most uplifted when I’m outdoors, sight-seeing. Breathing in fresh air and turning down all volume but the sounds of nature. Moving to California was my way of pursuing more of what uplifts me. More sunny days, more land to see.
Just like a hike, I anticipate what’s around the corner. But if I’m always waiting for what’s around the corner, I might miss what’s right in front of me. The blossoming flowers on my journey to my next destination. The confident understanding that gratefulness can be found anywhere at anytime and is the key to releasing negativity.
Sometimes all it takes is a comfy pair of leggings and a jump start into the life you imagine for yourself. What was lost can be rekindled, and with new spark, too! I recently started running everyday. Eating clean. Feeling motivated and healthy. I lost sight of my super active lifestyle once my weight-loss journey reached a weight I felt comfortable at. As if the only reason I was active was to lose weight...
I was on a hiatus from enjoying life. Struggling to remember how. Swept up in worrying and sulking, removed from the desire to create my own happiness. All I needed was to find the switch. Those cozy leggings that motivated movement. Next time I feel low, I’ll remember happiness is always mine to grasp. Wherever, whenever, however, it is always my choice.
I have the tools to select lifestyle choices that nourish my soul. That feeling of satisfaction when I know I’m in a really good place. I’m taking care of myself, enjoying time with myself, loving myself. “How are you?” no longer answered with an empty, “Good.” I’m really good. I’m feeling strong and unstoppable. But, I also feel light and free.
Embrace whatever moments you can create. Search for newfound appreciation. Hang on to as many chances there are to strum on those happy strings. Life is a myriad of moments. Encounter them with whatever shines light on your grateful mind.
A couple weeks ago I visited the Lone Cypress tree in Pebble Beach. One of the most photographed trees in North America, this western icon has withstood 250 years through fires, storms, wind, drought, vandalism and more. People travel from all around the world to admire this tree and its resilience. Beauty gains value through hardships.
I blog because my life hasn’t been easy. I share because I am standing on a platform that is reachable to so many. I’ve been suicidal, obese, lived through tragic loss, kicked out of my home and abandoned, heartbroken, you name it. I fight through, growing from each and every challenge, standing strong and capable. I know I can live through whatever comes my way. I hope my resilience inspires. An average girl with an extraordinary understanding of what it means to survive. What it means to be happy.
I don’t want pity. That is not the takeaway from my struggles. I don’t view my life with teary eyes, I view my life through sparkly eyes. I want people to see me and understand how challenges turn into strengths. My beauty is my hardiness. My confidence comes from the trust I have in myself. My courage, my fight, my influence come from my tribulations. Misfortune doesn’t equate to destruction. Misfortune comes with opportunity. Take what you’re dealt and be better because of it. Pick up the cards in your hand and make something from them. The more cards you’re dealt, situations you find yourself going through, the more hands you can create. Life experiences broaden the mind. Take advantage of the directions you can go from here.
I fell in love with the process of living my best life. Nothing can derail me from that goal. Anything that tries to dim the light navigating me to a better being can be lit by my fire and brought back to illumination. I am in complete control of this mission. I do not adjust my goals when they feel hard to reach, I adjust my attitude. My puzzle is never complete but every moment has a place to fit and build from. I am on a never ending journey of becoming. Guided by what brings me joy, steered by my reactions. The course of my life might come with complicated obstacles and undesirable routes, but I can look back at my many triumphs. Levels conquered. My life deserves reward. I am the captain and I’ve kept my ship afloat through each and every storm. It is not drowning when my reflection breaks the surface.
Resilience is noteworthy. You have to sink a little to attain depth. Pushed past breaking points, stretched thin, crumbling. Easy doesn't feel like an accomplishment. It’s the scars, the bruises, the wrinkles that carry worth. Appreciate the moments that bring you down, because it is these same moments that show you how it feels to fly.