Remembrance

November always puts me in a state of sadness and remembrance, but this year it’s not just for my losses. This year I feel for all those around the world who are learning to live without their loved ones as well.

I feel for those who wake up everyday and are reminded that life is no longer the same. I feel for those who might not even realize that everything has changed yet. I feel for those who are in a state of shock. I feel for those who will also associate a season, a month, the holidays with loss from now on. I feel for those who continue to be surrounded by losses just because of where they live.

I also think about the insanity that makes it possible for someone to take a live or multiple lives. I am not referring to mental illness here, I am referring to not being sane. I am reminded of something a friend of mine told me back in 2006. He had lost his sister to murder years earlier, so he was able to understand what I was going through. In talking about how anyone could take another life, he said that there was no way a sane person could ever understand why someone murders people because if they were in a sane state of mind, then they would not be able to make that choice. I agree with him on that. The question we have to answer then is why, what is it that prompts the insanity? There are many things that can lead to that, some of which may take many years to change, but if we want the changes to happen, we have to start asking different questions, not just blaming the same things and then moving on.

As for me, I continue to try to escape the sadness I feel this time of year. It is different and better in some ways, but it is also harder in some ways. This year brought an accomplishment that I am very proud of and that I thought probably would never happen. It also brings a major development for my oldest child that is very positive. I can’t express the pain that comes with the renewed realization that we can’t celebrate with one of the most important people of our lives. I know that live will go on and that the pain will be less again, but right now I’m just trying to hold on, to do things that remind me to smile.

mantenerse en el amor

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80/20

I am writing this post while on vacation. I have spent most of the last two weeks exploring the state that both my husband and I grew up in. It is almost a twenty hour drive from where we currently live, but in some ways it seems like a whole different country.

The state that we currently live in really is a year-round playground while the one we grew up in kind of is, but not as easily. In the past week, we have been seeing how those realities affect people’s health differently.

The state we live in is one of the fittest states in the country while the one we grew up is among the fattest states in our country. As for my own family, it has never really made much difference where we live. The exception being my husband who is not much of a fan of exercise. Even with that reality, he has never been more than twenty pounds heavier than he is normally. He just prefers doing outdoor activities to normal exercise. He also probably suffers from S.A.D. Consequently, he is much happier and healthier in the year-round playground state.

We are very confused by the difference between the two states because most of the people in our lives eat the same basic things wherever they are. But for some reason, most of the people we know in the state we grew up in are constantly trying to lose weight. Adversely, most of the people we know in the state we live in are in at least good shape if not great shape.

In each of the two states, I know two men who have been overweight in the past, but are now in terrific shape. They both do it by a combination of maintaining a consistent diet, nothing too crazy, just basically not eating more than is necessary, and regular exercise.

Having known both of them for a while now, I find myself wondering if part of the issue with weight in our country is that people tend to look for the quick fix instead of the lifelong fix. As anyone who has gotten treatment for an Eating Disorder multiple times can tell you, our bodies don’t react well to swings in diet. There is a reason that so many Anorexics end up with either Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder. If you swing back and forth between those extremes enough, the body not only decides that it needs the high calorie extremes, but also that it has to hold on to the excess. I feel like that may be part of why places where everything is too far to walk or bike to people seem to end up heavier. I think the whole 80/20 diet exercise split is just creating more issues for a lot of people. I do think that if you are doing the right kinds of exercise it doesn’t need to take more than five percent of your day. But I don’t think that enough people out the effort in to making exercise a priority.

I think that is a significant difference between the state I live in and many others. Even those people who are not outdoor enthusiasts find ways to get out and exercise when we get warm days in fall and winter. The desire to be able to do those things whenever the opportunity is there seems to help keep people active year-round instead of saying it’s winter, it’s too cold, I don’t want to go outside.

I know that food does play in to it sometimes, but I think we give it too much power. Most of the issues I know of with food can also be fixed by increasing exercise. Exercise has the ability to keep our weight under control, moderate our hormones, lift our spirits, keep us limber, and get rid of toxins. The diet we eat, on the other hand, only dies that when there is a certain amount of consistency to it. That consistency is hard to maintain if every diet you try tells you to eat a different kind of food, a different number of calories, or at certain times during the day. All of those things are more likely to mess up your body’s own internal clock and then when you had in things like the lights we use at night, our bodies become thoroughly confused.

I guess what I am trying to say is however you choose to eat or exercise, the most important thing is to be consistent with it. I am not a doctor, but my doctor did recently tell me that all my blood work looked  amazing, better than they could even get it with medication. In the past six months, I have been fairly consistent in both my diet and exercise, and I am the healthiest I’ve ever been.

80/20

I am writing this post while on vacation. I have spent most of the last two weeks exploring the state that both my husband and I grew up in. It is almost a twenty hour drive from where we currently live, but in some ways it seems like a whole different country.

The state that we currently live in really is a year-round playground while the one we grew up in kind of is, but not as easily. In the past week, we have been seeing how those realities affect people’s health differently.

The state we live in is one of the fittest states in the country while the one we grew up is among the fattest states in our country. As for my own family, it has never really made much difference where we live. The exception being my husband who is not much of a fan of exercise. Even with that reality, he has never been more than twenty pounds heavier than he is normally. He just prefers doing outdoor activities to normal exercise. He also probably suffers from S.A.D. Consequently, he is much happier and healthier in the year-round playground state.

We are very confused by the difference between the two states because most of the people in our lives eat the same basic things wherever they are. But for some reason, most of the people we know in the state we grew up in are constantly trying to lose weight. Adversely, most of the people we know in the state we live in are in at least good shape if not great shape.

In each of the two states, I know two men who have been overweight in the past, but are now in terrific shape. They both do it by a combination of maintaining a consistent diet, nothing too crazy, just basically not eating more than is necessary, and regular exercise.

Having known both of them for a while now, I find myself wondering if part of the issue with weight in our country is that people tend to look for the quick fix instead of the lifelong fix. As anyone who has gotten treatment for an Eating Disorder multiple times can tell you, our bodies don’t react well to swings in diet. There is a reason that so many Anorexics end up with either Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder. If you swing back and forth between those extremes enough, the body not only decides that it needs the high calorie extremes, but also that it has to hold on to the excess. I feel like that may be part of why places where everything is too far to walk or bike to people seem to end up heavier. I think the whole 80/20 diet exercise split is just creating more issues for a lot of people. I do think that if you are doing the right kinds of exercise it doesn’t need to take more than five percent of your day. But I don’t think that enough people out the effort in to making exercise a priority.

I think that is a significant difference between the state I live in and many others. Even those people who are not outdoor enthusiasts find ways to get out and exercise when we get warm days in fall and winter. The desire to be able to do those things whenever the opportunity is there seems to help keep people active year-round instead of saying it’s winter, it’s too cold, I don’t want to go outside.

I know that food does play in to it sometimes, but I think we give it too much power. Most of the issues I know of with food can also be fixed by increasing exercise. Exercise has the ability to keep our weight under control, moderate our hormones, lift our spirits, keep us limber, and get rid of toxins. The diet we eat, on the other hand, only dies that when there is a certain amount of consistency to it. That consistency is hard to maintain if every diet you try tells you to eat a different kind of food, a different number of calories, or at certain times during the day. All of those things are more likely to mess up your body’s own internal clock and then when you had in things like the lights we use at night, our bodies become thoroughly confused.

I guess what I am trying to say is however you choose to eat or exercise, the most important thing is to be consistent with it. I am not a doctor, but my doctor did recently tell me that all my blood work looked  amazing, better than they could even get it with medication. In the past six months, I have been fairly consistent in both my diet and exercise, and I am the healthiest I’ve ever been.

To Talk , or not To Talk

Have you ever gone through one of those periods where you desperately need to talk to the person or people who matter the most to you, but every time you try it just seems to make everything worse? Do you know what it feels like to be trying to have a simple conversation with someone and not even get a response from them? Do you know what it’s like to feel like you are damned if you do, but also damned if you don’t?

All of those explain how I have been feeling lately, and I don’t know how to fix it anymore. The one person in my life who I should be able to share everything with seems to shut down every time we talk. He says he feels like he cant say anything right, but I have tried many times to tell him that he doesn’t. I don’t know what else to say to him anymore, how to make him understand that the worst thing he can do is keep shutting down.

Then there are the times when he says that when I get emotional, it just makes him feel like he’s doing everything wrong. Or when I’m talking to him about my job, and he tells me that hearing about it stresses him out. Those are the times that I want to yell and scream at him, that I want to say I’m sorry I’m human, I’m sorry I’m emotional, maybe I should just shut down like him. Those are the times that I want to say fine, I’ll stop talking to him, I’ll push all my emotions down, and make myself numb again, but he better be ready to deal with the aftermath of that.

The worst part of all of this is that I’m very sure he doesn’t even begin to realize how much I am not saying, and that it is those things that truly affect me, that keep sending me back down the proverbial rabbit hole. He never asks about those things either, like he things if they don’t get talked about they will just go away. How can he not see that I need to know that he is actually paying attention, that he cares? How can he not realize that by avoiding the small conversations it makes the big one that much worse?

I don’t know what to do anymore, it seems like no matter what gets said, we still end up back in the same place. He says that it seems like he makes everything worse, and I try to tell him that he’s wrong, that most of the time he makes everything better, but he doesn’t seem to be able to hear it. Maybe he’s right, maybe we’re fighting for something that doesn’t exist anymore, or maybe he just doesn’t care enough. Maybe he really is a heartless jerk who can’t handle other people’s feelings. All I know for sure right now is that if we fall apart, everything else will fall apart also.

Before anyone says it, we are not co-dependent. But when you have to cut the amount of people out of your life that I have in the last year, it takes awhile to build your support system back up. For me, it also becomes very hard to feel like it’s okay to talk to less significant people when those who are most significant to you don’t seem to be able to handle what you have to say.

I wish there was some magic pill that could make me like what I see in the mirror again, that could make me forget all my issues, that could make other people listen when I need them to, that could give all of us the right words all the time, but there isn’t. Life is messy, life hurts, but life can also be wonderful, and love can heal, we just have to figure out how to hold on.

tratar de creer en vivo, en el amor

Long Silence

I keep meaning to write this post, but I just never seem to be able to sit down and do it. There have been many reasons for that as of late, but mostly I’ve just been having a hard time coming up with words. That has been true in all aspects of my life, not just on the blog. It’s recently become obvious how much I need to at least try to write regularly though even if I don’t feel like it.
Some of the things that have contributed to the lack of writing have been an injury that actually made it fairly hard for me to write for awhile. That injury is still a nuisance, but it much better than it has been. Also, I have been putting in a lot of hours at work lately, and when that is combined with not being able to sleep well, exhaustion comes in to play. 
I also have another writing project than I am currently working on that is taking a lot of my time.
I am going to try to get back in the habit of writing posts, but since my children will be out of school soon, and we do have some trips planned for this summer, so we’ll just have to see how regularly I can post.
For all of you who actually read this post, thank you. I may not know most of you personally, but it feels good to know that there are people out there who choose to read my words.

Eating Disorders are…

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In my last post, I talked about what eating disorders are not, so for this post, I wanted to address some of the things that eating disorders are. Hopefully this can help anyone who is trying to help a loved one who is suffering from an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders are…A disease. An eating disorder is a disease of the mind that causes physical symptoms, and is often a lifelong disease with a continuous risk of relapse. The only way to truly be able to treat and potentially cure eating disorders is to look at them as what they truly are. The greatest risk for relapse comes early on when the sufferer has been told they not only have to gain weight, but also to give up their coping mechanisms at the same time. I am aware that the two go hand in hand, and that sometimes it is necessary for survival to focus on the weight gain first. It is also important to understand that for most of us truly recovering is a long process with many little setbacks, and that is OK as long as we keep trying.

Eating Disorders are…Unbiased. Yes, the highest rates of eating disorders occur among young middle class white girls, although even that is hard to truly measure because those are also probably the sufferers most likely to end up in treatment. A Hispanic friend of mine had many of the requirements to be diagnosed as Anorexic, but only those close to her ever truly saw that, and even then some of the people in her life would have said it was just who she was. If her best friend, who is Caucasian had presented with the same symptoms everyone in her life would have jumped to the conclusion that she had an eating disorder. By considering eating disorders to be a disease of gender, or race, or privilege, we keep the rates of all eating disorders from decreasing.

Eating Disorders are…A form of Substance Abuse. This is true with both the mind and body aspects, but can actually be seen more easily by looking at the physical symptoms. Food is actually a substance even if we don’t see it that way, a substance that helps keep us alive, but a substance nonetheless. When an alcoholic or a drug addict stops using their substance, they go through a period of withdrawal that includes physical symptoms in their body. The same can be said for eating disorders, it’s just that for eating disorders those symptoms come from either eating different amounts of food than the body is used to and/or not purging after eating. The most noticeable withdrawal symptom of an eating symptom of an eating disorder is some form of indigestion. If you compare starvation or binging and purging to a stomach flu, you can see how eating more food or not purging it would cause uncomfortable digestion issues. When an anorexia sufferer has gone long enough without eating, just the reintroduction of food can cause reactions in the body that can be deadly. The same can be said when an alcoholic has been continuously binging on alcoholic for a long period of time, and then quits cold turkey. Many people connected to eating disorders are also beginning to say that a treatment approach similar to that used for substance abuse shows great promise for eating disorder recovery.

Eating disorders are…Deadly. We can all see that the eating disorder sufferer with an incredibly low weight and BMI has an increased risk of death, but what about the bulimic who has been going back and forth between recovery and relapse for more than ten years. The biggest reason that the rates of deaths among eating disorder sufferers is the highest of any mental illness is twofold. One reason is that relapse is so common among eating disorder sufferers which increases the stress placed on the body of a sufferer. The other reason is that even though recovery is a good thing, sometimes recovery is not enough to overcome the stress the eating disorder has caused the body, whether that is at the beginning of recovery or many ears down the road. If we could truly connect the deaths from the after effects of an eating disorder to all eating disorder deaths, I believe that eating disorders would end up in the top ten causes of death for women.

Eating Disorders are…Complex. There are many parts of an eating disorder that occur in most sufferers, but there are also many things that are dramatically different. A lot of eating disorder sufferers can also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or depression, or borderline personality disorder, but there are just as many sufferers who will never be diagnosed with any other mental illnesses. Eating disorder sufferers also have a higher risk of developing an addiction after recovery from the eating disorder, but for some of us the eating disorder is the only addiction we will ever have. Eating disorders are about much more than the body, they are a mix of feelings, thoughts, and obsessions that manifest themselves in a physical way. This complexity is what can make it so hard to truly recover from an eating disorder, and is why we need to stop acting like there is a one size fits all treatment approach for them.

te mereces felicidad y salud

Eating Disorders are not…

less-famous-eating-disorders

There are many things that eating disorders, and also other mental illnesses are not. In this post I will talk about the ones that bother me the most.

Eating Disorders are not…Being skinny. Yes, most people with anorexia are what most people would consider skinny at some point during their journey, but that does not mean that all people with eating disorders are skinny. People suffering from both EDNOS and Bulimia are generally at a normal weight. If we throw in BED and Orthorexia, the body types of people with eating disorders open up even more. Also, just because you are skinny does not mean that you have an eating disorder. My oldest daughter is and always has been naturally very skinny, most would probably say unhealthy, but technically her BMI is healthy for her age, on the low end, but still healthy. Many people have tried to call her anorexic though, and it is a major irritant for her because she would love to gain weight, but her metabolism makes it impossible for her to do so without eating non-stop.

Eating Disorder  are not…Stereotypical. Many people want to believe that eating disorders only affect teenage white girls, but that is not true. Eating disorders affect all races and genders. In some cultures, it can even be hard to differentiate who is just skinny and who has an eating disorder because of the types of foods eaten or the genetic body types in that culture. There are also places where food is scarce, consequently increasing the level of underweight BMIs in that area, but that does not mean that those people have eating disorders. It also doesn’t mean that it is not possible that some of those people aren’t skinny because of an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders are not…Fake. Eating disorders are not a diet gone wrong, or something you can have for three hours or a week. They are not something you can try out, or use as a way to lose weight quickly. To say that there aren’t people who try to fake them for attention is not accurate, but there is a dramatic difference in the minds of those people and the minds of people suffering from an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders are not…Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Yes, many eating disorder sufferers are at least borderline BDD, but not all of us suffer from BDD. BDD sufferers also so not always get eating disorders, it is accurate that they have a higher risk factor for eating disorders, but they does not mean that they will end up with an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders are not…A joke. This is probably the one that bothers me most, as evidenced by the pictures at the top of this post, not that I didn’t look for pictures that worked for my other nots. I feel like as a society we try so hard to make things that are hard to deal with into a joke that we often forget that doing so can make it much harder for people to believe that they actually need/deserve help for their issues. When we turn eating disorders into a joke, it trivializes the suffering of all of us dealing with eating disorders or any other issue that gets turned into a joke by society. It is not okay to turn something that kills millions of people every year into a joke, whether it is an eating disorder, a different mental illness, or something like domestic violence.

Eating Disorders are not…Something you can just get over. I feel like this is influenced by the not above in a lot of ways, and also helps influence the idea that eating disorders are fake. For some bizarre reason that I will never understand people always seem to ignore the illness part of mental illness and assume that mental illnesses are something that can be cured by saying if you just eat, you’ll feel better, or if you get out of the house, you’ll be happier. Why does it seem okay to tell people with mental illnesses to just get over it when we never tell someone with cancer, heart disease, or a currently incurable disease like Parkinson’s to just get over it. For all intents and purposes, eating disorders and most other mental illnesses are on the same curable  level as at least cancer, if not currently on the incurable level like Parkinson’s.

no eres tu enfermedad

Diets and Eating Disorders

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What is the difference between a diet and an eating disorder? How does the diet industry affect eating disorders? When does a diet become an eating disorder? With this post I plan to address the answers to those questions, or at least try to.

Let me start by saying that I don’t ‘diet’. When in an unhealthy state, I restrict my calories, my food options, and I over-exercise, but I don’t diet. I know that for someone without an eating disorder, that may be a hard distinction to understand, so I’ll try to explain it. For me, when in the grips of my eating disorder, it’s mostly about the numbers. It’s about trying to keep my caloric intake at least 1000 under my TDEE, which means not going over 800, and that is without taking in to account the amount I burn through exercise. When in the grips of my eating disorder, I eat the same groups of food everyday with very little variation. During periods of recovery, I still eat mostly the same groups of food everyday, but with a little more variety. During early recovery, most eating disorder sufferers feel overwhelmed by having to make food choices again, so it’s important to maintain a certain level of consistency. During periods of recovery, I try to eat at least my TDEE, maybe even a little more. During actual healthy periods, I still don’t truly eat like a normal person, but that is just because I am incredibly picky. I don’t follow a prescribed diet plan during any of those periods, instead I just eat or don’t eat.

The diet industry makes about $20 billion every year by continuing to come up with new ways to lose weight, get fit, cleanse our bodies. With the amount of options out there, it is no big surprise that so many people end up yo-yo dieting, or that obese people can have such a hard time losing weight. Every new fad diet, every new cleanse, every new workout trend promise to help you lose unnatural amounts weight in a very short time period. Even if those diets work initially, the results won’t last unless you change your lifestyle also. The food industry doesn’t help people know how to eat properly either, not with ads talking about how there are only 100 calories in a serving, but not clearly telling people what those serving sizes are. The other problem with advertising 100 calories in a serving is that it can make people think that 100 calories is enough. 100 calories is a snack, or part of a healthy meal, not enough for a meal. The main problem with those ads is that for impressionable people or people desperate to lose weight can start to believe that 100 calories a meal is enough, and once you start to believe that you might start to believe that 800 calories a day is enough.

So does that mean that the diet industry causes or increases eating disorders? The answer to that question is very complicated. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, not just diets gone wrong, but they can start because of a simple diet. There does appear to be evidence that eating disorders have a genetic connection. There is also potential evidence that the eating disorder mind can be influenced by an extended period of malnutrition. The genetic connection does not necessarily mean that you will get an eating disorder though. The eating disorder like thoughts that someone has after going through an extended period of malnutrition don’t always continue once the malnutrition is corrected either. Those who do end up with eating disorders have a very hard time getting rid of those thoughts though, some of them never do. People with eating disorders vary in the amounts of food that they eat, the amount they exercise, their levels of restricting, binging, or purging. There are some things that all eating disorder sufferers have in common though. We all have what we call safe foods, and unsafe foods, and despite what people might think the reasons that foods are safe or not safe are not always connected to whether they are good for you or not, they are connected to our thoughts and emotions. All eating disorder sufferers have voices in our heads that tell us whether we are good or not, whether we are worthy of love, of life, of food, of anything. It is partly that voice that separates us from people who are just on a diet. For someone without an eating disorder on a diet, messing up one day and eating the wrong thing isn’t the end of the world, it just means that they start over the next day. For an eating disorder sufferer, eating the wrong thing can seem like the end of the world, and lead to binging, purging, excessive exercising, or true starvation. The reason that eating disorders are so hard to treat is that you can’t just treat the mind or the body, you have to treat them both. The part we don’t know yet is whether to treat them at the same time, or whether we have to treat the mind or body first, and honestly, it is different for every sufferer.

alimentos no es el enemigo

NEDA-Awareness-Week

This is my first post for NEDA awareness week which begins tomorrow Feb. 22. This post is mostly going to be images about Eating Disorders. As the week progresses, I will write more about my thoughts on Eating Disorders, and on how society and the diet industry influences them.

The following images are just some of the things that Eating Disorder sufferers feel and think.

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I hope the above pictures can help anyone who is concerned about someone in their life possibly begin to understand why it can be so hard to start trying to recover from an Eating Disorder.

Pure Love

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would talk about some of the greatest love stories I know of. If you are expecting Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Marc Anthony, or other love stories along those lines, you won’t find those here. These love stories are better because they are real, they are about real people who have been able to find and hold onto what I considered to be pure love. When I use the term ‘Pure Love’, I am referring to the kind of love that often starts out as friendship and that never dies, the kind of love where you truly want what is better for the other person, even if sometimes that means they might not be with you. I hope you enjoy these real life love stories.

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The first story I want to share is the story of Jimmy and Elizabeth. Jimmy and Elizabeth met in high school. How I have heard it is that for Jimmy, it was very close to ‘Love at First Sight’. I am not completely sure how quickly after they met Jimmy and Elizabeth started dating. What I do know is that they during their high school years, they dated for at least a year, and that during that time, Jimmy fell in love with Elizabeth. I believe that Elizabeth also fell in love with Jimmy during that time period, but since she proceeded to break Jimmy’s heart, it is hard to say for sure. After Elizabeth broke up with Jimmy, she apparently continued to date other people while although Jimmy did occasionally go out a date with another girl, he never truly got over Elizabeth. To be fair, I have to say that Elizabeth was dealing with some rather large issues during that time, and that did influence her decision to break up with Jimmy. Jimmy knew about theses issues, and was the first person to defend Elizabeth when family members try to tell him she wasn’t worth it. That’s not to say that it didn’t hurt Jimmy to watch Elizabeth seemingly move on without him. What hurt Jimmy the most was to watch Elizabeth continue to struggle with her own self-worth and for him not to be able to help her see the amazing girl he saw when he looked at her. After graduating high school, Elizabeth and Jimmy went their separate ways, but would still see each other during breaks from school. Sometime during those four years, they developed a friendship that had never really been part of their relationship before. During the last year of college, Elizabeth had a life-changing experience that helped her to finally truly be able to tackle the issues she had been dealing with for years. During that time, Elizabeth and Jimmy’s relationship changed from friendship to the beginning of a long distance relationship. After that, Elizabeth still had some reservations about whether she was good for Jimmy, but Jimmy didn’t give up. Jimmy kept telling Elizabeth how much he loved her and how amazing she was, and that he wanted her in his life forever. Today, Jimmy and Elizabeth have been married for almost three years, and are happier than either of them have ever been with or without each other. They support and love each other through whatever life sends their way, and their future looks very bright.

PuC6ZBG

The second story is the story of Cyndi and Chris. Cyndi and Chris had known each other since childhood, but it was when Cyndi was in high school that they first truly became friends. Due to the eight year age difference, their relationship stayed at the friendship level for most of Cyndi’s high school years, but for those of us who spent time around them during those years, it was obvious that it could only lead to love. One of my favorite things about their relationship was their ongoing friendly feud about football. Cyndi was a diehard Cowboys fan while Chris was a diehard Steelers fan. I think that when they teased each other about football was when I really saw the beginning of their future romantic relationship. To some the teasing might have looked like sibling teasing, but since I have an older brother I was able to pick up on the difference, maybe even before they did. I left the town they lived in before they actually started dating, but from what I saw of both of them in other relationships, I’m sure that the early part of their relationship was very sweet. I saw them again a few years after they got married, and watching them talk about the house they were fixing up was one of the sweetest things I ever saw. I don’t think I have ever seen two people more in love with each other than I did that day. It wasn’t really the romantic part that I saw that day, although I am sure that was there also, it was the genuine love and respect for all the things that made them the unique people that they were that I saw that day. I believe that may be the rarest form of love you can see, the kind of love that exists even if there is never anything more. A few years after that they had a daughter, and a few years after that a son came along. Everything seemed to be perfect for Cyndi, Chris, and their young family, but within the year, Chris was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer. Chris went through two separate rounds of treatment, one of which seemed promising, but ultimately he lost his battle with cancer. It is devastating to all of us that knew Chris that he was taken so young, especially for Cyndi and their kids. I believe that Cyndi would not trade the time that she had with Chris for anything in the world though, for with Chris she got to experience the kind of love that most of can only dream about.

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The last story I have to tell you is the story of Albert and Nellie, and is quite literally a story about love for a lifetime. Albert and Nellie met when Nellie was around 18 and Albert was about 23. She was spending the summer on her grandparents ranch and he was working at least for the season. Everything I’ve heard about the beginning of their relationship has been third hand information, so I can only assume about how it truly started. From what I have heard at the end of the summer when Albert discovered that he would not only be leaving the ranch, but also the state, he asked Nellie to marry him and move back to his family’s farm with him. The story goes that Nellie said “Sure, I have nothing else to do anyway”. In this day and age, that may not seem like the best start to a relationship, but since this love story began in the early 1900s, it was not actually that abnormal. Within the year of their marriage, they had moved back to Albert’s hometown planning to help his brothers with the family farm only to find that his brothers had sold the farm out from under him. Albert was able to find work in the auto industry which was very good for the couple as during the next five years they had three children. Their second child, unfortunately, did not live long enough to meet his little sister. Their lives continued as most married couples lives do through the parenting and empty nest years until Albert’s mid eighties when his and Nellie’s deteriorating health caused them to move close to their daughter and her husband. They continued to live in that small cottage until Albert’s death at the age of 97, at which point Nellie moved into a nursing home due to her health issues. She stayed in that nursing home until her death five years later, also at 97, and she missed Albert every day during those five years. Those who saw Albert and Nellie’s relationship during it’s progression tell of a love that was full of mutual admiration and respect that was truly made to last a lifetime.

These are just a sampling of the amazing love stories around us. There are at least three others that I believe either are or will become as great as those I just told you. They are stories about overcoming illness or how one person in the relationship was able to bring about the best in the other person just by being themselves. I didn’t talk about those stories because they are not ones that I know as well or have not been written completely yet. This Valentine’s Day, I hope that you are also able to see the examples in your lives of great love stories, and that maybe you can even be part of one for yourself or someone else.

enamorarse es oportunidad, permanecer en el amor es una elección