Wedding update (why you care I will never understand).

So, I have not given you an update on the bliss of wedding planning lately and apparently people LOVE to read about this (you people are very WEIRD).   Anywho, it has been quite the eventful few months on the wedding front.  Some good, some annoying.  My best friend tells me I am the “wedding planning grinch”, she is totally right.  I need to suck it up and start enjoying this process!  I LOVE WEDDING PLANNING! IT IS MY FAVORITE!!  Did I convince you?  No? Crap.


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So a couple things have happened, I found my dress which was pretty exciting.   No I didn’t cry, it was more of a “this is what I am looking for and I am over the process of trying on dresses” kind of thing.  I think my mom was a little disappointed at my lack of tears, but I will say that I do really love it a lot despite not getting emotional over it.  The process of trying on wedding dresses was very overwhelming to me, just the costs of these dresses alone made me very uncomfortable.  I have never been one to pay full price for much, so even when wedding dresses are “discounted” they still cost hundreds of dollars.  Discount my butt.   But I did find one that I love.   I have the dress, I guess I have to get married now huh?  Darn.

Other big news is we changed our venue AND our date.  Yeaup.  It has been my goal to have this wedding be under $10,000 and that has been a hard fight since day one. Everything is over priced.  For example, I got a quote from our florist the other day.  Did you know a bride’s bouquet of flowers averages around $100??!?!!  ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  I’m sorry….are there diamonds in those flowers? Do they hold some kind of special secret to life? Better yet, do they turn into sour patch kids at the end of the night?  Even if all three of those were true, I still do not know that I would pay ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for ONE bouquet of flowers.   And I like flowers, a lot.  I am a lover of plants and flowers.  But sorry, not happening.  Oh and also, for a “toss” bouquet (one that you literally throw to all your single ladies) the cost was $40.  For flowers….that I literally toss away.  I wonder if I can just wad up a bunch of cash instead and toss it?  It would be the same thing? Yeah, no.  I will be looking into other alternatives.


Okay sorry got off track on a rant.  But yes, we changed our venue and date.  The original farm we were going to have it at just was not working out how we wanted.  The family that runs it was wonderful, but the costs to have an outdoor wedding with tent and lighting etc. was adding up way too quick.  So long story short- we changed to a place I saw months ago and loved, but at the time Shain was not so convinced.   It is an old lodge right in the middle of a beautiful forest preserve and is very affordable to rent out.  Miraculously, our caterer, photographer, DJ all were able to move the date for us.  So despite the hassle to change everything, I know it was all worth it for what we will save.  These pictures are from a wedding that was held here last summer, pretty cool right?  Love it.

fop wedding

Right now, much of wedding planning is on the back burner again.   Work is crazy for me and same with Shain as he is traveling like crazy and barely home.  So we have to wait until both of our schedules slow down to start hammering more things out.  Yes, that means Shain is very involved in this process.  I will not embarrass him by telling you how much he cares about all of the little parts of this wedding.  Maybe I already did, whoops.

We ALSO decided on our honeymoon!! Yay!!  Since I wanted to go on some kind of wilderness trek and Shain wanted to lay on a beach in Mexico- we decided on a compromise that I am pretty excited about.  Anybody watch the show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?  Well,  we are going to go on a cross-country road trip to  visit all of our favorite places from that show (and some other fun tourist stops)!!  So cool right?  Oh… and we are going to rent a jeep for it too because how fun is a road trip in the middle of summer in a jeep?  So fun.   We love road trips.  We love food.  Combine the both=pure awesomeness.


So the battle against what “society” thinks we should do for a wedding continues on.  I am determined to win this thing.  I refuse to do things just because “that is what you are supposed to do at a wedding”.  I know I have made much of my family and friends roll their eyes and get frustrated with me, but they are starting to come around.  Again, all I care about is having our closest family and friends around us,  and you don’t need extravagant details to make that happen.  We will have an awesome wedding, and our guests won’t even know half the things we skipped on.  Because guess what?  Nobody takes home the favors, notices the detailed centerpiece or what kind of  silverware you used, or what flowers specifically are in your bouquet.  I have been to countless weddings and I could not tell you ONE of those things.  There will be good food, good booze and music.  Do you need more?  I don’t think so.

Stay blessed in the mess! 😉



Say YES to yourself.

There is a section in this book/journaling program I am doing that is called “Crazymakers” and it is scary.  What is a crazymaker you ask? According to the Artist Way:

“Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers.  They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive, and powerfully persuasive.  And, for the creative person in their vicinity (you), they are enormously destructive.  You know the type: charismatic, but out of control, long on problems, short on solutions.  Whenever you have a deadline looming or anything else that needs your full attention- the crazymaker shows up at your doorstep needing your attention and it is always important.  Yet, if you need them to return the favor, they will do so, but not without giving you the ‘business’.  When you go out for coffee, dinner, lunch etc..they are always short on cash (especially when you are trying to stay on a budget).   Crazymakers  are the people who call you at midnight or 6am saying “I know you asked me not to call you at this time but….”.  Crazymakers are the people who unexpectedly drop by to borrow something you don’t want to lend or cannot find.  Even better, they call and ask you to locate something they need…then fail to pick it up.  ‘” I know you are on a deadline, I know you are busy…but this will only take a minute.”  YOUR minute. ” 

Chances are, you already are thinking of somebody who fits this description.  And HERE IS THE KICKER…this is probably a person you love dearly.  They might be your family, your co-workers, your friends etc.  People that you never in a million years would cut out of your life because they are so important to you, but they make you absolutely crazy.  When you want to be everything to everybody, people like this will flock to you.  And while it is important  to help others, you also need to know when to say… ENOUGH.  You need to know when to say NO to others and YES to yourself.

blog3This made me think of how I used to be a slave to these so called crazymakers.  Though, in these past months I have to admit, I have become a bit selfish.  I have broken free from my slavery.  Sometimes I look back over the last 5 years (or heck the past 10 years) and wonder how the heck I kept up with the pace I did without having a mental breakdown.  I said yes to everything.  I tried to be everything to everybody.   You want me to go pick up something 30 minutes out of my way when I am on a time crunch?  No problem!  You need me to come over to your house- even though I am already in bed?  Of course! I didn’t make it seem like it was an issue, so why would others think any different?

I worked 40 plus hours at AU, 10-15 hours a week personal training, sometimes babysat on the weekends and I still worked out like mad (I am tired just typing that).  My life and my schedule was a well oiled machine.  I didn’t have time to think.  I just moved constantly.  I wasn’t unhappy, I just…was.  In the rare moments where I had an hour or sometimes 15 minutes to myself….the “crazymakers” would come calling.   Sometimes a little favor here, sometimes a big favor…sometimes it was hours of my precious time that was not even appreciated on the other end.  Time they did not realize was so rare to me.


Since giving up many of my personal training clients as well as other things that filled up my schedule, I am in a much different place.  But Ironically,  even though I have MORE time, I am finding myself to be more selfish with it.  My alone time, my time with Shain, my time with family is important.  When I have been stretched too thin, I have no problem becoming a hermit and just staying in.  I don’t feel like I HAVE to do something all of the time.  If  saying yes to a social event  means I have to rush and not enjoy the moment, I won’t go.  I try to plan ahead for these things now- if I know I am going to have a rough week I purposely will not schedule anything over the weekend.  But sometimes the rough weeks come unexpectedly.  And sometimes it means I have to bow out of things, because I am just not feeling up to it.  I will make it up to that loved one over a cup of coffee or lunch and just hope they understand.  Sometimes we just need to say “NO” to others more often and “YES” to ourselves.  I want to be the person others can count on.  I want to be a good friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister, aunt, co-worker etc.  But I CANNOT be those things when I am not good to myself.


I was told early on in my career to always “say yes” to everything, because that is how you get places.  This is true and is much of how I got to where I am… BUT this can be a weakness just as much as a strength.  I want to give 110% to every relationship and commitment I have.  But do the math…sometimes that is just not possible and you end up driving yourself insane.  Say YES to the things that matter, the things  that are moving you forward and building relationships.   We all have obligations to people who are important to us that we need to fulfill.  I am NOT saying you should stop attending every social outing, birthday, family party because you are on a “me time” sabbatical, let’s not get crazy here.  We all have to do things we don’t want for the sake of our loved ones and to keep relationships.   I am just saying, it wouldn’t hurt to say no every once in a whilePeople who truly love you, will understand. And if they don’t right now, they will eventually.  Just because everyone else is living this fast paced, every minute filled, chaotic life- does not mean you have to.

I have found that when I do take this important time with myself and with God- the rest of the world around me is better off for it.  Say YES to YOU.

Stay blessed in the MESS 😉









Artist Way.

For the last 6 weeks I have been doing this journaling program called the “Artist Way” and it is amazing.  I have always been big into journaling, I have my third grade teacher,  Mrs. Wilsey-Brewer to thank for that.   It has been an outlet for me for a very long time.  A fellow blogger brought this program to my attention,  so I asked for the workbook and book for Christmas last year and just recently was able to get into it since I have a “lighter” semester of school right now.

You do not have to be a writer or an “artist” to reap the benefits of this program.  The idea behind the whole thing is that when we were younger, we were all artists.  We had vivid imaginations.   We weren’t afraid to try anything new.  We had great big dreams.  Our minds were open.   Then at some point, whether it is through the education system or just from another adult who is “wiser and knows better” our inner-artist was muffled and squashed.  “You can’t make a living doing that”  “That is silly”  “Being good at Math will get you farther” and so on…

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It is not that these adults were trying to crush us, most of the time adults say things like this is because THEY had their inner artist crushed too- so they know no other way.  This is how life is to most.  You leave your dreams and passions by the way side and settle for something that is more “responsible”.  Because we all have to grow up at some point right?  Wrong.  The older I get, the more I realize adults are really just kids with a filter.  For the most part we all have the same personalities, desires, funny quirks as our 8 year old selves- we are just a little more mature.  So why do we muffle those awesome parts of ourselves?

I am fortunate to have all the journals I wrote in growing up and it is so cool to look back at them and read what I wrote about.  One that I read recently was from my 8 year old self ( I swear I can not even make this up- but I did correct the spelling so that you could understand it ;)…

“If I had a million dollars I would buy all the Sour Patch Kids in whole world so that I could have them all to myself.  I would also open a puppy shelter and have a  big house in the woods, I love trees.  I would also give lots of money to people who don’t have lots of stuff, because I have too much I think- especially stuffed animals.  God wants us to help other people so we always should.  I like making other people feel happy.”



20 years later….and that sentence above is 100% totally still me, even the sour patch kids part.  What part of your inner child or inner artist are you ignoring?  Don’t ignore it any longer.  Usually the things you are passionate about and put on this earth to do- are the things you enjoyed as a child.   Even if those particular things are not your career choice right now- doing those things  for fun will open up your mind and your heart to so many other cool opportunities.  I used to LOVE writing.  I spent so much of my life doing it, for the longest time I wanted to be an author “when I grew up” but I let a few criticisms convince me that I was not a good writer. So, I just kept it to myself.  When I started this blog, it was really me just trying to do something that I love and enjoy. I was nervous people would think it was stupid.  I was nervous people would say criticize every little thing, every little mis-pelled word.  Guess what?  They did.  But I didn’t care.  I love writing.  And if people don’t like it, they don’t have to click on the link to read 🙂   Often times when people go out of their way to judge you- it is because they have dreams of their own they wish they could pursue and are insecure.  Don’t get mad at those people.  Help them find THEIR inner artist.

Everyday I see students who get their dreams squashed and I try my best to encourage them to follow their heart and what THEY want to do, not what they SHOULD do.  People will ALWAYS say “Oh, there is no money in that”  “Oh, it’s not a good time to get into Education”  “Is that even a job?”   Don’t listen to any of that.  You were given certain talents for a reason, don’t let them go to waste.  The opportunities will follow…in abundance.  Just trust me.

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Stay Blessed in the mess 🙂


3 minutes.

In sports, 3 minutes can make or break the game.  3 minutes can be the difference of winning a championship or losing one.  No matter how hard you work for that win, the decisions made in those mere minutes or even seconds left are what will decide if that moment you worked so hard for… will finally be in your hands… or just at your fingertips slipping away.

I had envisioned writing to you today from on top the world, as an official Boston qualifier.  But instead, I am writing to you a little heartbroken.  I missed the qualifying time yesterday by 3 minutes.  My official time was 3:38.  All day yesterday, I was fine.  I didn’t shed a tear, I didn’t beat myself up.  I kept face.  But unfortunately, that did not continue into the restless night of sleep I had last night.  So many things went through my head, so many things sacrificed.   All these people rooting for me that I let down, months and months of track workouts I hated, early morning runs, missing out on social events, not doing the races I love all because I had to focus on my one goal.  The goal I did not attain.

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There were a number of factors that went into yesterday.  The first and most important confession I have to make to you is:  I did not believe I could do this.  I put on a face like I thought I could, but I had so many doubts in myself you have no idea.  Even though all my races, track workouts etc were all RIGHT ON PACE, I kept thinking it had to be a fluke.  Here is the funny thing about manifesting your dreams and goals, you can manifest all you want but if you do not believe it in your heart of hearts… you will fall short.  You have to trust the process and trust the powers above you, and I didn’t.  So when things did not go as planned on race day, my weak mind immediately started feeling defeat.

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I did the number one thing you should NEVER do in a marathon. I went against my race plan and went out too fast. When I showed up to my corral, I immediately started looking for the 3:35 pace group- they were going to be my safe haven.  The fastest pace group that was in my corral (Corral D) was 3:50 and the 3:35 was all the way up at Corral B.  In past years, you could move up Corrals no problem but this year with all the heightened security, you were not allowed to.  That was my first panic moment.   So instead of just taking it easy the first ten miles and not worrying about the pace group,  I ran way too fast to try and catch up to them, stupid.   In the Chicago marathon there are hundreds if not thousands of people in each corral- so the fact that I thought I could get them in the first few miles was ridiculous.  I stopped trying to catch up to them at mile 8 and ran paranoid for the remainder of the race.

Even though I was on pace well over the halfway point- I started worrying how those first few fast miles would affect me later on as my legs were not feeling great at this point already.  I kept saying to myself – “Okay, Jill-mile 20 the work begins- just coast to mile 20”.  Got to mile 20 and felt okay, not great.  Mile 21- I hit the hardest Wall I have ever hit in a race ever.  Worse than my first marathon.  My legs both felt like one solid cramp and heavy as concrete.  Things went through my head like:  “No, no, no I am so close this can’t be happening.”  “Maybe if I just coast a little bit longer I can kick it into gear the last 2 miles.”  then came the other thoughts “I can’t believe you thought you could do this, who are you kidding?” “Of course you are going to miss it, you are not a fast runner.”

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Once I got to mile 24- I would have had to run 7 minute miles and I still I might have missed the cutoff by seconds.  So at mile 24, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.  I knew I had friends and family in the next miles and I was ashamed to see them.  I was so disappointed in myself that I ruined my shot.  I could not even make it through the last 200 without walking my legs were in so much pain.

Part of me is embarrassed that I made this goal so public and then fell short.  But the other part of me is glad I did.  I knew that if I told everybody this is what I was trying to do- I wouldn’t miss my track workouts, I would work harder and I would focus- because who wants to fail in front of everybody?  I sure didn’t.  But I did and that’s okay.  Sometimes you have to fall flat on your face when reaching for your dreams, that’s what makes them worth it.  If it was easy to chase,  it wouldn’t be a dream right?


When I say qualifying for Boston has been a dream of mine, I really mean a dream.  The kind of dream a little kid has but doesn’t actually ever think it would come true.  Here I thought this goal was so incredibly unattainable- yet I came within 3 minutes of it.  It is possible.  I think I needed this race to slap me in the face and make me realize that if I ever want to accomplish something- I need to better manage the battlefield of my mind.  I need to tell my doubts to sit down and shut up.  I am worthy.

I can’t tell you how blown away I was by all your messages, texts, facebook posts.  I didn’t even know so many people were following me through this and it means the world that you believed in me.  I may have let you down yesterday but I promise that this battle is not over yet.  I will get there.

Whatever it is you are trying to go after, don’t be afraid of failure. You might fall and fall hard.  People might be disappointed in you.  But all of those trials are going to make that victory so much sweeter when you get there.  The only thing worse than failure, is never trying.





Sorry for my lack of blogs-piration, friends.  The last couple weeks have been kicking my BEHIND.  Between classes and usual fall craziness in the wonderful world of Admission- I have had zero time.  But I am here now, so never fear (as if people really notice when I don’t write for a week).

So the big day is approaching, the day I have been working my tail off for over 5 months and then some.   I am super excited and nervous all at the same time.   I say nervous because since my last 20 miler 3 weeks ago, my body has not felt good on a run or any workout for that matter.  The stress of work really hit me I am hoping I just needed rest, which this week has been all about.  So of course, that is getting to my head a little bit.


Although this will be my third marathon, it will be the first one ever where I am aiming for a pace.  For you marathoners out there, you know how tricky that can be.  A lot can happen in 26.2 miles.  My goal for Sunday is to find the 3:35 pace group and hang with them for the first 13-18 miles depending on how I feel.  That way I will not have to worry about looking at my watch and psyching myself out every two minutes.  I can just listen to my music, take in the scenery and get in the zone.  Miles 18-26 will be where I need to dig in and bring it home.

It is still very surreal to me that this could potentially happen.  Could I really be a Boston qualifying caliber of a runner?  You have to understand, that the majority of my athletic life I have been good at many things, but not great at anything.  It always kind of stuck with me on the soccer field,  race track and cross country course that I was just mediocre.   “Some people are born with talent and some aren’t, at least I am out here”- that is what I would tell myself.  You know what I have realized?  It was never that I was not great, I just never tried hard enough.  Plain and simple.  I was comfortable being mediocre.  Being mediocre doesn’t hurt.  Nobody expects anything of you.  Nobody depends on you.  It is safe.


Go ahead and roll your eyes when I say this but…Crossfit taught me that this way of thinking was pretty much crap.  I THOUGHT I worked hard in the gym…I am a runner!  I have done Ironmans! Of course I work hard!  Maybe to the un-trained eye I work hard, but you see there was all this un-tapped potential that I never even knew I had.   Crossfit taught me that when I dabble outside my comfort zone, I am capable of some pretty awesome things.  I have been running since I was 13….yet in this past year alone I literally PR’ed in every single race.  EVERY SINGLE ONE! It blew my mind every time, for 3 of them I was the overall female winner…what?  It was kind of uncomfortable at first,  I mean a PR is awesome but winning?  I don’t win races, I am mediocre.  Not anymore.

Most of us will say we want to be great at something.  Most of us will envy those with “talent”.  The truth is anybody can be great, you just have to tryAre you willing to push your limits?  Are you willing to fall on your face and get back up?  If you don’t want to put in the work to be great, you simply don’t want it bad enough. 


I cannot express how thankful I am for all the support in my journey to be a Boston Hopeful.  Whether or not I make my goal on Sunday, I can say I tried.  I can say that put myself on the line  and went after this thing called “great”.   If nothing else, I hope that this journey of mine has inspired some of you to get after something you always dreamed of, but never thought possible.  To realize YOUR true potential in running, in life, in work whatever.   If one of you felt that way, well then I consider this journey a success already.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂


P.s  to go along with this post, if you need an extra kick in the butt…watch this:

Make your health a priority.

Everyday we are faced with many choices, of those choices is what to eat.  The more I observe carts at the grocery store and just what people are eating in general, the more I realize what a serious problem we have.  Convenience has taken a priority over wellness.

Does eating healthy mean putting in a little extra work? Yes, it does.  But I can assure you…the rewards (and there are many) are so worth it.


Just this past weekend my family had our annual “Early Thanksgiving” celebration.  We do this every year so that we can spend time with my grandparents before they head to Florida for the winter.  My mom put me in charge of stuffing….yikes.  Talk about a challenge.  I did not want my family to disown me, so I decided to NOT make my Paleo version of stuffing.  I mean…people love their breaded stuffing.  So I went through all my clean eating magazines and found a good one (can also be found on   Off to the grocery store I went to get my ingredients…

As I was walking through the store, I did think to myself “Hmmm do I REALLY need to make something healthy?  Can’t I just pick up a boxed stuffing mix and call it a day?” GASP. How dare those thoughts cross my mind!!  SEE, I am human too people.

I actually had to laugh when I walked through the “processed-crap-that-will give-you-cancer” aisle.  What…you never read that aisle sign?  Anyways, I could not believe that a JUMBO box of stuffing that feeds 20 and takes 2 minutes to make….cost $1.99.  Of course.

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Meanwhile in the “food-that-is-real-and-won’t-give-you-a-disease-10-years-from-now-aisle”… I gathered up all my ingredients for a total of $16.  Sigh.  Why must society make these decisions so hard for people.  Of course most would go for the box- who has the time or the money to cook real food anymore?   In the colder months I LOVE spending nights in my kitchen cooking with some wine and music blaring but sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I want to do other things, sometimes I am frustrated by how much more I could save by NOT eating good food. But my health and my family’s health is a priority.  Period.  I was able to serve this awesome Mushroom and Leek stuffing, knowing I was doing something good.  Not to mention it was a fun night that Shain and I spent cooking and doing something together (he is the master vegetable cutter, you know).


Picture 520I swear this tasted better than it looks, pictures on phones suck.

I know that you say your health is important to you, but take a stand and really make that true.  I know you have a million and one things you are trying to balance and sometimes boxed dinners just have to happen, it’s okay just try to make them happen less.  There is a cleaner, healthier option for EVERYTHING.  With the right planning, it doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be time consuming.  I take 2o minutes each Saturday before I head to the grocery store to plan out what we will eat that week and what stores have different sales on what I need.  I will never be a coupon lady (although I do find that amazing) but I don’t need to spend 3 hours cutting out coupons so that I can buy 18 cases of pop for a dollar.  I get our basics at Aldi and then I shop around at other stores for our produce and miscellaneous items.  All of this combined takes me 2 hours a week at most.  We also keep ourselves on a pretty tight budget, no more than $75 a week.  So it IS possible.  You just have to make it a priority.

You have far too many goals to accomplish in this life, so give yourself the best life insurance to make sure you can reach those goals…eat real, clean, natural food.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂