Find your PASSION.

Is there anything in your life that lights a fire inside of you?  I am not talking about the kind of fire that  makes you want to punch someone in the face, although I am very familiar with that feeling.  I am talking the kind of fire that that excites you, that makes you want to shout from the rooftops, the kind of fire that makes you feel like you have purpose.  That fire is also known as passion.

passion How much time do you spend doing things that excite you?  Things that make you feel like you have a place in this crazy world? This time of year is my FAVORITE.  Because one of the many things I am passionate about is goal setting.  I love sitting down and really thinking about what I want to accomplish and then making action plans for it.  I love helping others do the same.  The time is now, friends.  One year from today you will wish you picked up those guitar lessons, volunteered at that shelter, bought that plane ticket, started writing that book, tried that new job etc.  It doesn’t matter if you are not good at it, what matters is that you love it and that you enjoy it.  I think we often confuse passion with talent.  Yes, often things that we are skilled at is also a passion of ours.  But not always.  By doing what you love, you will inspire others.  Your joy will be contagious, even if  you are not very good right away.

passion

My passion is students, my first few years at AU I thought I knew how to counsel and advise them but I had much to learn. I still have more to learn, but I love it every single day.  My passion is fitness and pushing my body to the limits as well as helping others do the same.  Does that mean I am the best runner?  The strongest?  Heck no.  As many of you know, I failed more than once this year at achieving some goals.  That doesn’t mean it was wrong to go after them.  My time will come.  Writing has been something I have loved since the second grade.  It has been my escape and my release for years.  But I kept it to myself.  My bookshelves are filled with 20 years of journals. But I never felt that I was “good enough” to share that with the world until recently.

Justin

One of the best examples in my life of this so called passion, is my baby brother Justin.  He is only 17 years old but since he was in elementary school, he has had a passion for film.  He will be the first to admit how much he hates school and not to mention it is pulling teeth to get him to finish homework, yet he will literally stay up until 430 in the morning working on one of his movie projects.  At a very young age, he could  hold a conversation on the history of film, knew of every Director and all the behind the scenes details of how a particular film was put together.  He constantly has had us in awe with his knowledge.  It is what he loves, it is his passion.  Just this past week, he released his first official movie that he had been working on for years.   We rented out our Church basement, got some yummy popcorn and snacks and had all of our family and close friends come support him to watch it.  Since he does not have access to official actors for his movies (yet), he utilized almost everybody in our family to be a part of the film, including our grandparents!  Despite the fact that most of us got killed in this movie (go figure he loves the thrillers) it was awesome to be able to support him through it and then watch it all take place.  He will go only go up from here.

justin2

As we were sitting and watching his movie, I could not help but smile at how supportive my family has been of him.  This has not been easy for Justin,  he does not have any fancy editing software, he doesn’t have a studio and he has a basic video camera, but he did it.  You have to start somewhere.  My family could easily scold him about going to school for “a real job” or giving up this “silly hobby” of his.  But instead, everybody pushes him forward, talking about the day when he will be on the big screen.

dream

Maybe you don’t have that kind of support.  That is okay.  Those who don’t support you now, will eventually when they see how happy you are.  How successful you can be.  Sometimes it is hard for others to be supportive because they too at some point were afraid to go after their passions, their dreams.  Inspire them.  Be the example.  Go after what you want in 2014, no excuses.  Fuel that fire inside you.

Stay blessed in the mess and HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂

Holiday re-cap.

Man oh MAN.  Don’t go calling me a scrooge or anything, but I am thankful the holiday craziness is slowing down. Not to mention, I kind of maybe went a little crazy over Christmas with sweets.  I was holding on SO strong and I was so proud of myself, up until 12/23 I had maybe a total of 4 treats all month. Go me.   But then we went to my Grandma’s house down south (one of my most favorite places in the world) and it began to go downhill.  Freshly baked cookies and stockings full of candy….uh oh.  That sent me into a sugar frenzy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  How can I turn down sour patch kids, homemade fudge and Christmas cookies??  Over the course of 3 days I put on 7lbs. SEVEN POUNDS!!  You think I am joking.   I gain weight very easily, which is why I always need to  be careful.  But I am on my last day of a 4 day smoothie cleanse and I am almost back to normal.  phew.  I will be avoiding jeans for a while.  Jeans are the worst.

IMG_2512[1]

Anywho, aside from not being so successful to “avoid sugar” this holiday season I had a wonderful Christmas.  As I mentioned, I kicked it off by going down south to see my Grandma on my step-dads side with my immediate family.  It is bittersweet going there since my Grandpa Howard passed away, but his spirit was definitely present in the beautiful chirping of the birds through the woods.  I love being in the woods, and I have so many wonderful memories of hiking and exploring in those woods with him.  I feel like a kid again in that place.  I get to spend hours stuck in a book, being silly with my brothers, long walks, or just sitting around the kitchen table talking.  I love it.

IMG_2534[1]

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were kind of a whirlwind, a million different places to go.  While I am sad that it was the last Christmas I will wake up with my brothers I am also excited for the future Christmas that I can spend more time with Shain. For the first time ever, Shain has had off this whole week off so we have been pretty much spending every waking moment together which has been so awesome.  Okay so maaaaaybe we are getting on each other’s nerves just a tad.  Still awesome though 🙂 I hope you are enjoying your Holiday time as much as I am.  The days in between Christmas and New Years are actually my favorite…why?  Because it is time to start looking ahead and start some GOAL SETTING!  I have big plans for 2014 (in addition to getting married of course) and I am excited to share those with you as well as help you get geared up for your best year yet.  Stay tuned!

Stay blessed in the mess!

Fight.

People who have known me for a long time, know that for the majority of my young adult life I have been very fearful of getting married.  While normal little girls were dreaming of their prince charming and of their fairytale wedding, I was having nightmares about being handcuffed and drug down an aisle to my doom.  Don’t worry I have been to counseling, I’m all good now haha.  No but seriously, I’m cool.

It was even a running joke in college that nobody was allowed to even say the “M word” around me.  It was not until Shain and I had been dating for about 6-7 years that I finally came to terms with the idea of getting married.  Now, I have great relationship with my parents who are both happily married to my amazing step-parents, but growing up in a divorced household really took it’s toll on me.  It made me question what marriage/family really means and what it stands for.  Which I guess in hindsight, is not a bad thing at all.

eng3

However, since becoming engaged… this fear has crept it’s way back in a little bit. Not a month goes by where I don’t hear of a co-worker, friend or acquaintance talk about their recent divorce.  It is everywhere.  What scares me even more is when people say things like...”We never thought this would happen to us” or “We have just grown into different people”.  When people say these things, I just want to cry.  My heart aches for them and for their families.  It also scares the living daylights out of me.

eng

What if  Shain and I don’t make it? How can we be sure that this doesn’t happen?  This has become a frequent topic of discussion for us this past year.  I don’t think a week has gone by that we don’t talk about it, that we don’t address the question of, “How can we make sure we are different?”.  We have made lists of pet peeves of each other to work on, we have talked about our “family game plan” for how we want to raise our kids, we discuss each others goals and how we can help each other reach them and we have talked about what we are both willing to sacrifice when it comes to our family and marriage, and what we are not.  We have literally sat down and written all this stuff out and had hours of discussion.  But once the kids start coming, once life starts to get crazy and hectic…how hard will it be to hold each other accountable to all this?

As crazy as it seems, we very often talk about wanting to move far away from society as we know it and live in a cabin in the woods, or maybe the mountains.  So much of how we live our lives and what we believe in, is not normal to society.  So the idea of just moving far away from civilization to live a “simple” life sounds so very appealing.  Away from the materialism of wanting more, doing more, having more and spending more.  Away to a place where not eating crap food or worse WATCHING what you eat in general (gasp) doesn’t come with awkward stares.  Away from the need to fill our children’s’ schedules with club sports, private lessons and god knows what else…because everyone else is doing it and if you don’t, your kid will be behind.  Away from the pressures of this society that make sustaining a healthy relationship and focusing on what matters, very hard.

As awesome as an isolated cabin in the mountains sounds, we know we can’t do that.  We have to stay and we have to fight.  We have to fight for our happiness, for our balance and for what we believe in. We have to continue to go against the grain.  Because if we leave, it means we are not strong enough to handle the challenge.  Of course it would be easier to just get away from it all, but then what kind of example would we be setting?

eng2

I am not sure what these next years are going to bring.  I know there will be good times, tough times and just plain crazy times.  But I truly hope we can stay focused.  Not on buying a big house, having nice things or spending so much time running around..that we forget who we are.  Just two people, who love each other very much and want to leave a positive mark on this world.  We will make that official promise to each other in less than 6 months, but that wedding day means absolutely nothing if we can’t actually keep that promise.  I have faith that we will stay in the fight.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

 

 

Hard work.

Do you say that you work hard?  Or do you actually work hard?

I have found more and more students I encounter as well as other adults are incredibly unaware of how hard they are actually working.  Unfortunately, it seems we have created this culture where everybody feels they deserve the moon and that they have worked hard enough for it.   When in reality, that may not be the case.

This is not a post to demean anybody, but to perhaps help you take a look at your work ethic.  Are you truly “giving your all”?  Are you doing your best?  I know many people are perhaps in a position that is not what they truly want to do yet or maybe they just plain do not enjoy their job at all.  What I always tell my Student Ambassadors when they start making excuses to miss work or slack off is…  every part of your life is a stepping stone to the next chapter.  If you don’t work hard and prove yourself NOW…no matter what job you are in, once you finally get to that next chapter you either won’t be ready… or someone will look you right over.  Why?  Because someone else is always going to be working harder than you.  Someone else who maybe hates their job just as much as you do, or has more going on in their life WON’T make excuses…and that is the person who will get to their dreams and goals faster.

hard work2

One of the best pieces of advice I received in my first year out of college was “the key to success is simple…show up early, stay late, always say yes and dress to impress.”  Such simple advice, yet very powerful.    In my first few years as a “working girl”, I realized the importance of always stepping up to the plate, of always being the first to help another coworker and of saying yes to projects that I had no clue how to even start.  I could tell those things were paying off quickly.  That I was making a good impression.  I still have much to learn,  but I am getting there.

I become very frustrated when I hear others complain about not being where they want to be in their career or where they “deserve” to be in general.  But yet those same people will continue to show up late, leave early, Facebook/browse the internet all day and complain of “boredom” at work.  Coincidence?  I think not.

hard work

Ironically, these will also be the same folk who will quickly judge others around them or the first to boast to the world when they worked a 15 hour day.  Hard workers and successful people work long days all the time, the difference is they are not telling you about it.  They just do it.

Am I saying that you should work hard enough so that you never see your family or have a personal life?  Of course not.  But you cannot expect to get to where you want to be by just coasting.  You have to put in the work.   Why NOT do your best?

Maybe you are surrounded by people who consistently don’t work hard and it drives you mad.  Don’t let it.  Put your nose to the grindstone.  Hard work always wins out in the end.  Every time.  You will get to where you need to be if you just keep at it.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

Encouragement

Within the last few weeks I have gone back to a gym I haven’t been to in a while to take up some spinning and yoga classes as a means to replace my running.  To those of you familiar with the gym and group exercise scene, you know what I mean when I say I have been getting the “looks” from the regulars.   I used to love going to group exercise classes all the time, they are a great way to keep yourself accountable and have somebody put together a good workout for you.  But since finding my lovely running group and Crossfit, I stopped frequenting those classes as much.

you

So in the last couple weeks I have gotten many of those looks from people, since I am now a “newbie”.   I am a pretty hyper aware person, so I could tell that people were a little irritated that I maybe took their usual spin bike and that they were looking at me with their judging eyes.  Oh the judging eyes, my favorite.   One woman next to me in spin class last night even said out loud to the instructor- “New people are already starting to come in before January! You better start taking it easy on them!”

Now… there was literally 5 people in the entire class including myself, and it was VERY obvious that the other 4 knew each other.  Really Lady?  Did that make you feel better to say that? I just smiled to myself , if only she knew.

Honestly, people like that piss me off.  And let me be clear, it is not because I personally feel judged.  The LAST  place I feel judged or insecure is in a gym, that is my haven no matter where it is.  What pisses me off is the many people I know who are afraid to take that class or join that gym,  because of people like that.  This is why you hear people making goals to lose weight so that they CAN join a gym.  It is so contradictory, but I get it. They know they will get those “looks” for being new and inexperienced.  They know it will be hard for them.  They know they might finish last, or be the slowest one there.   But that should NOT matter. 

judge

Back in January I wrote a post about this subject entirely, you can read it here.  I won’t repeat too much of what I already said but what I will say is, let’s make a point to encourage each other.  I am sure you feel a sense of pride because you are always at the gym, always in class, etc.  But that pride should not be turned into you being cocky.  None of us are better than anybody, we are all just on different paths.  Use your motivation to inspire others.

Just because I have run a marathon, does not make your goal to run a 5k silly.  Not even a little.  Just because somebody else can lift twice as much as I can, does NOT mean my personal records are worthless.  It is all relative, we are all on our own journey.

And during those times you do still feel that judgement, just remember that 99% of the time those who are judging others for whatever reason…are insecure themselves.

comparing

Let’s encourage each other instead.  Be the reason someone keeps going, not the reason they become discouraged.

Stay blessed in the mess! 🙂

Weekend Craziness!

Man, I am exhausted.  I went to sit and read a book at 7pm last night and fell asleep for the whole night. Why so tired you ask?  Well, I had a crazy awesomely packed weekend.  This past weekend one my best friends got MARRIED.   It was one of the most love filled, fun weekends I have ever experienced.  These are two of my most favorite people in the world, and I was so honored to be a part of their day and celebrate with them.

wedding

The rehearsal dinner on Thursday was at Cooper’s Hawk, yum.  No big deal we had the WHOLE bottom floor rented out just for us.  AH-MA-ZING.

2013 Cont. 171

I have to admit, Friday during the day/morning was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend. Just getting to hang out and spend time with some of my closest friends while we are all getting ready was so fun.  It is not very often I get to spend this kind of time with these ladies whom I love so very much, so I really enjoyed it.  Another awesome part of the weekend was being able to give Krissy all the awkward attention she deserved.  Her and I have had many discussions about how this is one of the aspects of getting married we both dislike.  All eyes on you, all the time.  Can you say uncomfortable!?  Just trying on wedding dresses alone made me feel so vain, everybody look at me look at me!  I totally felt her pain.  Although I can’t say I helped the situation…I mean look at this girl.  How could you not stare??

2013 Cont. 173

The night was filled with drinks,  dancing,  funny pictures and lots of love.  I hope it all turned out as she wanted it to, I know we all sure had a good time.  Hope you two lovebirds are having an even better time in Spain right now 🙂

Saturday morning I forced myself to workout, run some errands and do the usual cleaning and what not.  But man I was worthless for a better part of the day.  I sure don’t recover how I used to.  Okay, who am I kidding I never recover well.  Later that afternoon, Shain and I went on our annual Christmas Tree hunt with his family.  Always a fun tradition that I look forward to.

2013 Cont. 181

That same evening we headed to a friend’s Christmas party which was also a ton of fun and sooooo much good foooooood ( I would expect nothing less Ami!).  I also have a confession….I did have one cookie.  I know, I know.  December “no sweets” challenge bla bla bla.  BUT I avoided cheesecake, wedding cake and an ENTIRE sweets TABLE FOR GOODNESS SAKE for the wedding so really I’m not that bad right? (Don’t be mad Krissy, I drank countless cocktails)  Anyway, that little cookie surprisingly did not send me into a sugar frenzy, phew.  Crisis avoided.

On Sunday,  Shain and I pretty much spent all day running errands and getting our decorations and tree all set up.  It is finally all done!  It is awesome to just sit in our cozy little living room and take in all the lights.

2013 Cont. 180

All in all, it was a good weekend.  I don’t always love how crazy this time of year is, but I do love all the friends and family I get to spend time with.  Ready to get back into somewhat of a routine this week!

 

Stay blessed in the mess! 🙂

 

 

 

Support.

What good are we without the support of others around us?  I am truly blessed with a great support system, it is almost unreal.  My family and friends who have attended every ridiculous sporting event or race no matter how big or small.  My running friends who wake up at the crack of dawn or on a precious weekend morning to run with me.  My Crossfit coaches who are in my face in every moment of weakness and my Crossfit buddies, who make all the torture “fun”.

naperville

The best thing about my support system is their lack of sympathy. They are not afraid to tell me to suck it up, and I need that sometimes.  Okay..a lot of times.

shain2

The other morning I came back from a run and when Shain and I exchanged our usual “How was your workout” discussion over breakfast, I immediately said “terrible”.  It was yet another workout that felt like crap.  Yet another run that I felt like there were daggers in my legs.  I was hoping a fresh new pair of running shoes would get me out of my funk, but it has yet to pass.  I went from feeling invincible this summer to feeling down right terrible.   So after I said that to him, I waited for the sympathy that he had been giving me the last few weeks…I received quite the opposite.

He laid into me about my recent negativity.  He also said something to the effect of…“Jill, you have two legs. You are alive, stop acting like things are so awful right now.”  Did I like that?  Of course not.  Did I need that?  Yes.  I of course immediately pouted something to the effect of… “Aren’t I allowed to feel sorry for my self every once in a while?!!”

Then his smarty pants self responded with, “Absolutely! But it’s been weeks. Time to move on, k?”.  Even though I did not want to admit it, I knew he was right.  Man I hate when he is right.

shain1

This might sound harsh to some, but this is truly one of the things that I have always loved about Shain.  He is not afraid to tell me the truth.  He knows my deepest darkest fears/weaknesses and he knows how to motivate me (and push my buttons in the meantime of course).  He will be the last one to sit there and allow me to complain.  After every race he is quick to say how proud he is but also quick to push me to do better.    This goes for many other people in my life as well, I am a lucky girl.

Of course it is nice to get sympathy every once in a while.  It is okay to throw a little pity party.   But at the same time, it can also be a little too easy to feel sorry for ourselves and stay stuck in a rut…instead of gritting our teeth and taking the hits.  Sometimes, those hits are important.  Those hits are crucial lessons that we may not yet know the meaning of.  But we will.  Hindsight is always 20/20, you know.

Do you surround yourself with people that challenge you?  That push you out of your comfort zone? People who know better than to accept your excuses?  People who know your true potential and WANT you to live up to it?  Or do you surround yourself with people that will gladly listen to you whine for days and keep you comfortable?  Surrounding yourself with the right people is incredibly important in helping to get you where you want to be.

rocky balboa

Instead of continuing to complain about running, I am taking the month off of  it entirely.  My intention of this month was to “let go” a little anyway, but of course still stay active.  I am going to change up my workout routine, maybe do some more spinning, yoga and work on getting my strength back.  No more negative thoughts here.  Go on back home to pity land, nobody wants you here.  Pity party is officially over.  If you catch me complaining you have full permission to slap me (Dave King, I know you would never miss that opportunity).

Stay blessed in the MESS! 🙂

 

December Challenge.

So remember how I told you I was going to do this NO sweets thing for the months of November and December, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Well, let’s just say that either November did not go so well orrrrr all my pants mysteriously shrunk…weird.

Doesn’t help that I have been feeling a little mopey with the cold weather and still searching for my running/lifting groove to come back (come back SOON PLEASE)- this has lead me to a few poor emotional eating decisions.  Oh, emotional eating, how I loathe you.  What is incredibly frustrating is that my body’s tolerance for bad food/sugar has gotten worse.   Eating one little piece of cheese or a couple pieces of candy results in incredibly sharp stomach pains and skin that resembles a 13 year old boy going through puberty (yet I still can’t stop sometimes).  My skin is currently a mess, just in time for holiday pictures.  YAY!

holiday-eating-caution-sign1

So that being said…today is DECEMBER 2nd.  I am on a 30 day challenge gosh darn it.  I am going to MOVE every day this month.  Maybe not run, but some kind of workout every single day in December.  I am going to decline as much sugar/sweets as humanly possibly until Christmas Day when I can cheat.  No more eating candy. No more mounds of cookies.  I AM SERIOUS PEOPLE.  I cannot eat crap “just because it’s the holiday”.  CAN’T WON’T DO IT.

2013 Cont. 169Even Wyatt gets sucked in…

I want to start the new year fresh, lean and with no extra holiday weight.  No need for a fast or a cleanse.  Big things are coming in 2014 so I need to start it right.

2013 Cont. 170

On the menu this week is pork loin and sweet potatoes, Buffalo chicken and mushrooms and a whole lot of veggie/fruit smoothies to get back on track.   Let’s see if I can hold strong.

Stay blessed in the mess! 🙂