April Showers, May Flowers

It was a cold, drizzly night last week - so, of course, I spent most of the night camping out in the dorm kitchen while baking a fresh batch of homemade granola. Priorities, my friends.

One large tray of granola, one big step towards sanity!
My friends are another priority, though, as I then spent another hour standing next to the sink and catching up with an old gal pal who was enjoying some uncooked brownie mix and Netflix at the kitchen table (it's almost finals week - all the chocolate, none of the judgement). 

As the smell of chocolate, strawberries and cinnamon (recipe soon!) filled the kitchen, we dished on boys. Shared excitement over summer. And disbelief that, in a few short weeks, we'd officially be college upperclassmen. Now that's a horror story fit for a stormy night...

The more we talked of the future, though, the more of the past snuck into my mind. And the more I realized how much I've changed since last May. How much of life's RAIN has washed away past traits and carved new rivers. 

And what a view!

R - reaching a happy place with my body. It's still easy to remember the late night calls to my Mom, tears coating my cell phone over my latest battle with the mirror. I'm breaking out sooooo bad. My hip bones stick out further than my pancake booty. And, the most common complaint? I'm sick of feeling sick. 

As I've hinted at in numerous posts (including a recent ode to bloating), my body and I still have our fights. It bloats from food, stress, or acts of God. It gets glutened and zombie-walks through life for a few weeks. It loses when compared to my gluten-gulpin', flat-stomached classmates

The frog has it right!
But it also powers me through 17 units of college classes with a 4.0 GPA. It lets me bike off stress after class or turn my worries into fuel for a killer weight-lifting session. I'm not America's Next Top Model - but I'm not that emaciated, ill girl with an NG tube and IV. 

College often involves the "Freshman 15." As the overachiever I am, I lost 20 (much needed) pounds and then gained most of it back in two years. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't always been fun. But, this body is mine. And I'm finally learning to be happy with that. 

Not easy, but worth it!
A - asking myself, "Are you okay?" As part of my Type A personality, my own well being tends to fall below homework, sleep, friends, and workouts on my to-do list. That was never more apparent than during my freshman year of college. My doctor and parents wanted me to take a semester off of college and recover before continuing my freshman year - I said no, and I don't regret that. Fact is, even with a hospital stay, I survived my first year of college with all A's and some good memories.

But, on reflection, I sometimes feel like celiac cheated me out of the full freshman year experience. I've made most of my best friends, gone on the most memorable adventures and laughed the hardest this year - now that I make personal check-up's a daily habit. 

The wind has it right...we all need a "MeDay!"

One of my favorite bloggers, Nutritiously Natasha, posted a few days ago about starting a #selfcarechallenge and I couldn't be more of a fan. Especially now that my semester is slowing down (1 week of classes, 1 of finals, then freedom y'all!), I'm moving "me" - both my health and mental well being - to the top of my check list. 

I know I won't succeed 100% of the time. I'll still do a workout when I should've slept, worry over a paper that doesn't matter in the long run, and value "perfection" too much. 

But, like I've started to learn this year, I'm also going to look in the mirror and say, "Damn girl, you lookin' fine" in the most exaggerated twang possible. I'm going to be lazy and spend nights alone with Netflix and sweatpants. And you better bet I'm going to lick the sides of that homemade acai bowl clean even if I'm already full. 

I mean, who wouldn't finish a banana ice cream sundae?
I - inserting more fun into my school life. My freshman year, my dorm room became my haven. When I wasn't in class or (trying) to eat at the cafeteria, I was holed up in my room doing homework, relaxing (via exercise or Netflix) or sleeping. Academics was my main prerogative - and it still is. But, that super studious girl has learned the value of tossing the books away for the night. 

Honestly, the boy of mine deserves some applause. As a solid Type B personality, he's always helpful when I need some relaxing mojo. (I repay him by being both a girlfriend and a walking class syllabus - two-for-one value right here!). But, being in remission from major celiac damage, maintaining a healthy weight and having nutrition-fueled energy also made a big difference

Just a few of this year's adventures...
Grades matter. But, when I think back on this year, I don't remember that 99% of my Lit250 essay (okay, I do, but only because that class was a kick in the writing booty!). Instead, I first remember: dressing up for a girl's night out at True Foods Kitchen, midnight burrito runs (or-watch-them-eat-burrito-runs in my case) during midterms, sneaking a pound of candy into the a premier showing of the Hobbit, and walking into my first Krispy Kreme

Life - and college particularly - is too short to live entirely inside school books. It only took some great friends (and a lot of persistent group text messages) to make me really embrace that. 

N - not letting celiac drive my identity. Fact is, I'm a celiac. I know it - and since I rock it like a new tattoo, so does everyone else. But, as I mentioned in my last post, celiac is only a part of me. 

It decides that I need to bring food to that __insert 90% of college social situations here__. But I decide if my need for a lunchbox keeps me from leaving my dorm. 

Chipotle is obviously the most photographic part...
It decides that gluten is the ultimate mood-killer when it comes to romance. But I decided to say, "Why not?" when a boy asked me on a date. When free Chipotle is a possibility, the answer should always be yes

And it decides that I'll be forever concerned about the food that goes in my mouth, the state of restaurants' kitchens, and the possibility of passing along this disease to my children. But I choose what I eat, where I eat, and what I do with my body.

Considering that celiac disease was literally killing me my freshman year, it's no surprise that weren't exactly best friends. As a sophomore, though, I know my limits - and I know which I can push. I know I'm a funny, pretty, strong, smart, eloquent young lady - blood test results aside. 

I can now agree that a little rain doesn't hurt nobody...

In my college career thus far, I've dealt with a lot of rain. It's blurred my vision, caused me to slip and fall, and left me stranded and alone. But, as this May approaches, I'm seeing the flowers. And they've never smelled so sweet

What did college teach you? How have you changed in the last year? Comment below! 


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