Blog

Seasons

Is it possible, to be embracing one’s brokenness while being consciously in pursuit of healing – at the same time?

The last few months have been the hardest period that I have experienced in my adult life. Everything built up so quickly. Here I will share some of the brutal honest truths that I have learned from this chapter of my life:

Firstly, my mind has been tormented with self-doubt for quite a while now. I have not liked the way that I look for almost a year now. I have very few pictures of myself from the last year. I was underweight for a short period of time about two years ago and I knew that I needed to gain weight. And so I did. And it has taken a while to adjust and find my healthy weight.

I also don’t make straight A’s. School is really hard for me in general. I love learning, but I don’t learn the same way as everyone else. I also do not do well with testing mainly because I am naturally a very indecisive person.

Meanwhile, my body has been fighting sickness that I have tried to pretend does not exist. I was drained of all energy. I believe that I may have suffered a minor case of adrenal fatigue. This fatigue crippled me in every way. Basically, I pushed my body to its absolute limit by working 50+ hour weeks, while trying to keep up with 14+ hours of classes and the loads of the homework and studying that comes with that. All while being actively involved in multiple organizations on campus. On top of these – no matter how much sleep I would get, I would always drag myself to the gym before the sun came up. I had no time to cook or prepare enough food for myself, so I was going long spans with no food – adding to the stress that was already overwhelming my body. Then of course, I was trying to maintain relationships with the people that I care about so dearly.

I should not have been so anxious. I certainly should not have been depressed. But I have concluded is that it is entirely possible to have both of these conditions simultaneously, even though they seem to be so completely opposite. Anxiety pushes people to do every single thing, all of the time. While depression weighs down on you so that you have absolutely no desire to do anything useful. I would find myself deeply craving sunshine and physical activity, yet lacking all motivation and energy to actually go out and do those things.

I was giving everything that I had, to others. I had nothing left for myself.

I hit a wall. I hit it going full speed. Waking up in the morning became so extremely hard. Going to sleep was equally as hard. I came to the point at which I could not exercise at all because the simplest tasks took up all of my energy. So, for almost 3 months I stopped exercising completely.

My spirit was crushed. Crushed by the weight of my responsibilities. I just turned 20. I spent my birthday writing papers for school. I didn’t have the time or the desire to celebrate this year.

College is supposed to be the best 4 years of my life though, right?

This is a mess.

This is life.

I am a mess.

A beautiful mess.

I have learned this lesson the hard way unfortunately. I have learned that health is so much more than the food that we eat. As a (hopefully) future dietician and nutrition enthusiast – that is a hard one for me to swallow. The food that we consume is fundamentally important, but mental and spiritual health have their prominent roles as well.

These words are not a cry for help, because I know where my help comes from. (Psalm 46:2-5)

I am making this public for a few reasons:

Firstly, I can only keep all of this bottled up to myself for so long. I cannot handle the weight of my feelings on my own anymore. I need to be vulnerable and I need to share. I needed to write. Writing keeps me sane. I have been quiet about these issues for far too long, and I have not felt genuine in keeping these things to myself.

Secondly, I hope that even just one person may read this, and either a) relate to my season and we can create a conversation about it, or b) learn and possibly prevent from making similar mistakes such as overworking to the point of collapse.

Seasons change no matter what. The equilibrium is always swaying. Balance is hard, especially when one is an extremist such as myself. The person that I know that I am is still within me. I am trying to find her again. I am feeling a lot better now that the spring semester is over. I am feeling inspired again, and I now have the sense to realize that what I was doing to myself- was not fair to my body.

Society today praises such work ethic. Working every hour of the day, and staying up all hours of the night is the trendy thing to do.

That is not how life should be lived.

I am making a conscious effort to heal. To heal my mind, my body, and my spirit. I can see that my next season involves a lot of growth and development. It will be a season in which I learn a lot about myself. And in this season I will also make efforts cultivate more healthy relationships in my life.

Because the only thing that can make a challenging season worse – is to have gone through it alone. I did not tell anyone that any of this was going on.

We were not meant to do life alone. It may seem cliché. But for an introverted person like me, it is a simple principle that is easily overlooked.

I know that I have been a difficult person to love, so thank you to everyone who has loved me through this.

I am stubborn. I am indecisive. I am an extremist. I am introverted. I am quiet.

I am also consistent. I am gentle. I am kind. I am passionate. I am adventurous.

I am all of these things. They make up the essence of my being. The good and the bad. The bad attributes may have dominance in some seasons of life, but seasons change.

 

 

 

All of the Sometimes

Many people ask us- how do we do it? The whole long-distance thing.

It is in fact a unique situation. Nothing of the normal. Everything epic. Long-distance relationships take two very special and driven people. I am not ashamed to say that both me and Kenneth fit into this category. When it comes to the important things in life – we know what we want, each other included.

So here is some background to our story:

We met as sophomores in high-school. Our friend groups intersected and I actually became good friends with Kenneth’s sister before really even meeting Kenneth. We would see each other occasionally at social gatherings, but it wasn’t until the first time that I hung out at the Sims’ house that I really noticed him. I distinctly remember seeing him that afternoon cutting the grass in the front yard, wearing a tank top. Kenneth has always been extremely fit, and I am not going lie – that tank top really emphasized his bi- & tri-cep muscles… (insert blushing cheeks and head-shaking here). Lauren (Kenneth’s sister) even mentioned to me later that afternoon, “You and my brother should totally date someday”. The irony. The following weeks we found ourselves texting and hanging out occasionally. We learned that we actually really liked hanging out and that eventually led us to going on our first date. After a few months of “dating” Kenneth decided to ask me to be his girlfriend, and I was so excited to say yes.

I’ll never forget the night he asked me. That night I had run my first 5K and afterwards I went to his soccer game. After the game we went out with the team and he drove me home. He walked me to my door and surprised me with the phrase- “Would you be down with being my girlfriend?” I was so excited to say yes.

Since that night, we have learned and grown with each other. We have gone through the last three plus years as best friends and life partners. Neither of us have ever chosen the easiest route. We have never really had the privileges of most modern day couples. Since the beginning of our relationship, we have attended separate schools and were involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities that prevented us from seeing each other every day. In high-school, we were lucky to see each other more than 3 days a week. We didn’t realize then that those weeks were preparing us for the months that we would have to spend apart.

Now Kenneth attends West Point Military Academy and I attend Louisiana State University. Approximately 1,200 miles apart. We see each other on average 7 times a year. So time is a precious thing to us. This relationship has taught me the true value of time, and I will never take advantage of it again. As hard as this situation is at times, we both can agree that we wouldn’t change it if we had the option.

As mentioned earlier – I can say confidently that both me and Kenneth are very driven individuals. We have a lot that we want to accomplish within our professional lives, so doing well in college is super important to both of us. We both agree that if we attended the same school, we would most likely distract each other from performing our absolute best. Not to say that we don’t have self-control, because we definitely have that. This situation just ensures that our focus is almost completely devoted to our education at this time. Although, we look forward to the day that we will be able to do life together. That is the ultimate goal.

I think it all comes down to knowing who we are and what we want. This relationship wouldn’t work otherwise. Patience is key. Keeping communication creative and regular is also important. Those few texts throughout the day mean everything. If we can afford a short phone call at the end of the day – that always makes things better. The best thing ever is the FaceTime dates on the weekend though.

No relationship is perfect. It is a constant learning of one another. A constant learning how to love one another in the most efficient ways. Showing gratitude for each other always. Embracing each other’s presence deeply when we have the fortune of being together.

So, this post is for you Kenneth. A little documentation of our ever-growing story.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my human.

I hope this blog entry means something to you. It’s the only thing that I could think to do that would touch your soul and warm your heart being so far away.

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I love you.

Sometimes.

All of the sometimes.

Forever.

-Liz Courville

 

 

Dealing with Disappointment

Social media has a tendency of portraying only the positive sides of peoples’ lives. I’m here however to be as completely real with my followers as I can.

& the last few weeks of my fall 2016 were a real struggle for me.

My last post (The Equilibrium) went up way back in September 2016. I mention chemistry terms and such in this post, but I hope that didn’t fool you into thinking that I make A’s on my chemistry exams. Because I definitely don’t. I always strive to do the best that I can in my school work but a lot of times I feel like my hard work is just never enough.

I have always been one of those people that has to study significantly harder than everyone else to just make passing grades. After years of schooling I’ve come to the conclusion that 1) I am naturally an extremely indescisive person & 2) I am an extremely over-analytical person. So with those two things combined- it does not make for the best test-taking skills. Especially when most of the tests I have to take are multiple choice…

For those of you who don’t know- I am a full time student majoring in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics at Louisiana State University. I also basically work full time now as well. I juggle two part- time jobs at Fresh Kitchen & Magpie Cafe (both at small local businesses) here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I also do demos for a lady who has a salad dressing company occasionally.

My fall 2016 semester was supposed to be super easy, since I was only scheduled for 12 hours of school. Although all four of my classes were science based, I wasn’t really worried. But truth be told- chemistry kicked my butt. I attended every single one of my chemistry classes, but ended with a grade that isn’t considered passing in my major. I didn’t necessarily fail, but I will have to repeat the class and make a higher grade in order to graduate. When I found out I felt like such a failure. I felt completely defeated. Everyone was going out and celebrating the end of the semester, but I felt like that was completely inappropriate in my case. I felt like I had absolutely nothing to celebrate. All of the hard work and stress had been for nothing basically. Right?

I fell into a bit of depression but was relatively good at hiding that. I honestly considered taking time off of school. It took me a few days to clear my mind, and I’ve had to consciously remind myself that everything happens for a reason & that I’m not alone. It’s easy to look at everyone else around you, flaunting their perfect 4.0 GPAs. Everyone else seems to be so good at school… why can’t I be one of those people?!

It may be because: I am not like everyone else. I am completely unique.

Life certainly doesn’t always go as planned, but we have to remember that every so called “failure” is simply guidance. Every “mistake” is not a negative, but can be a learned from.

So now I am preparing for my spring 2017 semester. I am so absolutely excited. I will only have to attend classes two days a week which is going to relieve so much stress. I also am excited for the great things that I have on the agenda for my organization that I run at school (Shout-out to my friends who are active in the Plant-Based Society @ LSU). I am also super pumped to be training for my first half-marathon and my first triathlon this semester (Shout-out to my friends in the LSU Triathlon Club).

So early on, I’m kicking some 2017 “goals” off of my list. I’m feeling super motivated and empowered. I am ready for all of the learning and growing that this year will allow me.

I hope you are feeling the same. Big blessings to all of you in 2017. It’s going to be an awesome year!

P.S. Expect a lot of great content coming from this blog. I have exciting posts planned.

-Liz Courville

The Equilibrium

If you have ever taken a Chemistry class, I am sure that you are familiar with the term “equilibrium.” Equilibrium can be defined as:

  • A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
  • Equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.

I am NOT the biggest fan of Chemistry, but I love this term.

I am here to remind everyone that… it is OK to not always be in equilibrium constantly within our own lives.& also… fill your life with things that you are the most passionate about.

One thing that I would highly recommend is to make sure that you are filling your schedule with things that actually matter to you. If you are passionate about what you are doing throughout the day, they won’t feel like as much of an obligation at all. Things that are significantly important to YOU. It’s easy to fall into activities just because you feel obligated to do them. Sometimes you should just say no to those things, and do the best thing for yourself.  You have this one life on earth and you have specific purposes. You are so worthy of living the life that you are called to.

The reality is that most days are not going to run perfectly smooth, or go exactly how we would want them to. If we come to accept that, the negative aspects of the day will seem much less significant. Look for the positivity in everything.

Finding a balance in this high-paced life is difficult and the topic is brought up a lot, especially in the beginning of a new season of life- like a new school year. I started my third semester of college over a month ago, which seems ridiculous. The weeks are already flying by! This semester I decided that I am going to make community a priority in my life again. Last year I felt like I was drowning in school work. It was so overwhelming. I think that is normal for most people going into their freshman year of college. I had to say no to things that I really wanted to say yes to. I felt like I had to spend all of my free time doing school work, studying, or working. Those things should be at the top of the priority list for sure, but they shouldn’t over take my life.

I have pushed the things that I care about most a lot closer to the top of my list and I am feeling so great about it. Those things include: overall health, community, connection, relationships, embracing my athleticism, this blog, my social media platform, and last but not least- Jesus (the sole reason I am capable of doing these great things).

So don’t get discouraged when you are struggling to find that “balance” that everyone is talking about. Balance is important, but it is not the most important thing to focus on. Life will get messy and crazy busy sometimes if you are leading a full life- it is just inevitable. Remembering in those times that you can’t control everything. All that you can do is strive to do everything in excellence and to the best of your ability.

-Liz Courville

Just Another Child?

My latest endeavor was a trip to Romania for missions work. Why Romania? Mathew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ The Romani and gypsy communities in Romania are among some of the most impoverished and discriminated people in the world. For the last two summers I have had the opportunity to reach out to some very special kids that live in a the poorest section of a city called Târnăveni.

Besides actually being with the kids, my absolute favorite part of the trip would have to be the bus rides once we were in the mountainous parts of Romania. It may just be because I am from southern Louisiana where there aren’t even hills, but I am so drawn to mountains. I get so excited. Riding along the countryside always creates the deepest sense of awe and appreciation for creation. Romania and its people are among the most beautiful things that I have ever encountered. The bus rides through the mountains seemed so familiar as this was my second summer taking this trip. Even though it had been a whole year since I traveled those roads, I could still remember certain points along the way and even gas stations we had stopped at the year before. Reconnecting with my friends from Connecticut that I met last summer was so much fun, and working with all of the kids in their youth group was also really cool. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to travel with.

Day 1 of camp and VBS (vacation Bible school) was awesome. We had the same basic schedule everyday with Bible stories, art, music, and games rotating throughout the first half of the day. Then all of the afternoon activities varied each day. This first days’ activities included colorful parachutes and a huge 9 foot wide beach ball. All of which were thoroughly enjoyed by the kids.

Day 2 we had a water games which consisted of hundreds of water balloons and slip n slides. Snack that day was of course watermelon! (Some of the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted to be honest.)

Day 3 was the hike and bonfire. We hiked for a total of an hour and the spot we ended up stopping at had such an incredible view of the Carpathian Mountains. After the hike all of the older guys and myself gathered tons of wood for the bonfire later that night. We even had supplies for the kids to make s’mores, which most of them had never had before!

Day 4 Everyone was excited to show off at the talent show! Kids were told to sign up and practice for this night, and there was indeed some true talent that walked onto the stage. These kids love to sing and dance. They also learned some songs in English throughout week which was so amazing to hear.

The kids looked like they were having tons of fun each and every day. At the end of every day, we as a team had a “debriefing” meeting where we discussed improvement methods for the next day and things like that. It was honestly hard work. We woke up around 7:00 am and, as a chaperone, I didn’t stop working until about 12:00 am. Every single moment we dedicated to those kids, which is of course how it was supposed to be. Every one of the ACF staff member are so passionate about what they are doing with these kids which is such a huge inspiration. The teachers and translators love these kids so much. It is so relieving to see that the kids are exposed to that kind of care. Most of the kids don’t get treatment like this at home. The most important message we wanted the kids to get out of the week was that God is love, and that they can feel His love and presence whether they are at the Point of Hope center or not.

I was happy to be the teams’ designated photographer for this trip. At the end of the week as I walked around capturing the faces covered in tears and all of the hugs that our team was sharing with the Romanian children – I began to sob. If you happen to know me well, you would probably know that I am not a super emotional person. It takes a lot for me to start crying. These moments were some of the most powerfully emotional moments that I have ever experienced. The girl that I sponsor came up to hug me I couldn’t control it. I sobbed- not because I knew this girl very well or just because I would miss her, but because I realized that it was all worth it. Seeing the connections the rest of our team had made in just a few days with these precious kids, is what struck me so hard.

I wasn’t sure if taking this trip was “smart” for me. I just finished my first year of college and I only have a small part time job. Financially it really didn’t make sense for me to go. Something drove me to try though. I felt like God would provide someway if He was in fact leading me to go back this summer. I was blessed by so many people who are close to me and even some people who I hardly know. If you were one of those people- I cannot thank you enough for your donations. You were a big contributor to all of the smiles, laughs, and hugs that those kids received that week. You also helped spread the message of the love of Christ to these children which was the most important aspect of this trip.

This trip was very different for me this year since I was a chaperone helping lead a team of teenagers. I wasn’t able to interact with the kids as much as the rest of our team. But seeing this group of young people run the camp and form real bonds with these kids made me just as content. The money, time, and effort has been so completely worth it. This land and its people are now so close to my heart and I want to continue to support the efforts of Another Child Foundation for the rest of my life.

– Liz Courville

To donate or sponsor a child through Another Child Foundation check out their website: http://www.anotherchild.org/

My GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/elizabethcourville

Finding Where You Belong

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I recently traveled to Massachusetts and stayed in the Somerville area, which is near Cambridge and Boston. I was there for 10 days which was just enough to feel settled in and I found that by the end of the trip- I was very familiar with everything. I have fallen in love with that state. There is so much to do and see ALL of the time. It was so full of life. It was so active. People walked and biked everywhere… how cool is that? You can’t really do that in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Not to mention the weather, which was absolutely amazing the entire time. The winters are supposedly horrible, but I would be completely OK with living there two seasons out of the year…

I stayed in a beautiful old house. The streets in this area have houses facing each other on both sides. Each house is uniquely different from the next. I had not seen any that looked even slightly similar to another. The houses are almost just as unique as every human is, and each one displays some of the owner’s characteristics as well. Every house also had an amazing display of flowers to accompany it. I was struck by the simple beauty of daily life each time that I was walked, ran, or biked.

My second day there (June 12th) happened to be a Sunday and Kenneth (my best friend/boyfriend) and I decided that we wanted to find a beach. After tirelessly searching on Google for a decent beach that wouldn’t take all day to get to, we decided on one called Revere beach. We walked to the subway station and took two different lines to get there. When we first arrived at the beach, the weather was absolutely perfect. We found huge seashells to keep as souvenirs. About an hour or so into our visit however, the wind picked up a lot and there were a lot of rain clouds. So we waited it out and the rain clouds eventually passed but the wind was pretty strong all day long, which was kind of annoying. However, just being with Kenneth made every day that I was there fun and memorable.

The following 5 days (June 13th-17th) consisted of a lot of work. The non-profit organization that I am involved with is fairly new and there is a lot to keep up with. Planning a research project, applying for grants, blog writing, and social media posts were our top priorities. Overall I enjoyed my work with the team and was grateful to get that experience.

My favorite part of those days was waking up and being able to be with my favorite person (AKA Kenneth). And then at the end of our work days we could see each other for dinner. Honestly, it felt too good to be true. For those of you that don’t know- my boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship. He attends the United States Military Academy in New York, while I have stayed in our home state to attend Louisiana State University. Long distance is not easy, but when you know you are meant to be with a person- it will always seem like it is worth the wait. (I will share why and how we make it work in a separate blog post!)

The following weekend (June 18th-19th) we spent most of the time in Boston and we did some basic tourist activities! We did a trolley tour that took us to see many of the most historic spots and it was narrated by the nicest/funniest drivers. We also got to do a ferry tour that took us all over the Boston Harbor which was absolutely beautiful. Also, my friend and co-worker Lacey traveled there with me and we are both major “foodies,” so we had a list of restaurants that we had to check out while we were there. There are so many vegan and vegetarian options in the Boston area, it was almost overwhelming. Even if you go to a regular restaurant, there will be plenty of options and the staffs are way more educated on and willing to accommodate to those diets compared to restaurants in Louisiana. On my last full day, Kenneth and I decided to be adventurous again and we went to an island called Spectacle Island. We would highly recommend going there or one of the surrounding islands. It had amazing views of Boston and we got to walk the trails and hang out on the beach as well.

Something about being there just felt right. I did not want to go back home at all, I was honestly considering extending my stay. This trip definitely reassured me that I do want to travel and live other places besides where I have grown up. I do not think that I am meant to stay in Louisiana forever, and maybe I have simply grown out of it. Louisiana is known for its prominent Cajun culture. This culture is largely centered around food (lots of meat and almost everything is fried or covered in a fatty gravy) and “letting the good times role!” I strongly believe that food should fuel our lives. I personally “eat to live” but most people here in southern Louisiana insists that’s it’s the other way around and most claim that they would rather “live to eat.” Not that I don’t appreciate the opportunities and experiences that I have had here! And of course I still love all of my family and friends that are here. I just feel the need to explore other options and I love connecting with more like-minded people as I travel.

I cant wait to visit Boston again. I would  strongly encourage everyone to adventure out into the beautiful world that God created for us. You will not only enjoy the sights, but travel is one of the best ways to learn. Learning through experiences and real life situations cannot compare to listening to a professor lecture for an hour. It’s a whole different level of education and I believe it is just as important as the standard academic protocols. So if life allows you- just GO. Find where you truly belong. Find a place in which you feel that you can be your true self. Somewhere that will allow you to do the things you were made to do. You may have already found that spot, which is so great! I’m still trying to find my way and I will indeed enjoy the journey.

-Liz Courville

 

My favorite activities & places in / near Boston:

Trolley tours

Ferry tour / boat ride

Cambridge

Harvard and Harvard Square

Boston Public Market

Spectacle island

My favorite restaurants & cafés in / near Boston:

Life Alive

Clover, Clover Food Lab

My Thai Vegan Café

Cocobeet

FoMu

Boston Tea Stop

Thinking cup

Café Crema

First Blog Post!

This is my very first post and I am so excited! I am starting this blog as a means of personal documentation, and hopefully; it will blossom into an enjoyable collection of posts for those who choose to invest a few minutes of their time in reading them. I have always loved reading and learning new things. While writing has always been very enjoyable for me as well, I have never thought that what I write/publish could be taken seriously by many people. However that perspective has changed and at this point in my life – I find it imperative to share what I learn. Every person on this planet has a different journey and chooses completely different paths that lead to various outcomes. We can all benefit from one another’s lessons.

I care so deeply about the health of those around me and I cannot help but want to show people how easy it is to be truly HEALTHY. Healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Of course I would like to point out that I am in no way perfect or have all of the answers. I am not certified (yet) to give professional advice on what to eat, any psychological advice, or be an adequate counselor for anyone. However, I will share my best tips and will aim to give a clear perspective on how I live my life. I personally eat a whole-food, high-carbohydrate, plant- based (vegan) diet. I enjoy long runs, walks, weight lifting, yoga, and anything that gets me outdoors or moving. I despise being inside for very long.

I love to travel and will be doing a little bit this summer. I will be staying in Boston, Massachusetts for 10 days interning for the Eradicate Childhood Obesity Foundation (EChO) based out of Harvard University. I currently live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana- so it will be quite a change in scenery. Later this summer I will also be going on a missions trip to Romania. Last summer I went on a similar trip and it impacted the way that I think about so many things. I cannot wait to be back in the breath-taking mountains of central Europe with those beautiful Gypsy children. (I will be making separate posts on all of these trips with much more detail)

With those things being mentioned- be expecting many great photographs along with all of my posts. I love taking pictures and believe it is one of the best ways to capture life’s most precious moments.

I hope to encourage you as a reader with every post, and also be a positive addition to your life which may seem to be much too hectic at times.

-Liz Courville