Today was the first day of school!  I know, there are some grumbly people out there about the first day of school but this school counselor loves the first day and new beginnings of a school year.  I love seeing the smiling faces of all the kiddos that proclaim that they are soooo happy to see me and give me big hugs.  I love the newness of all of their clothes, backpacks, shoes, and most of their attitudes (haha).  It was a great first day overall just a little hectic, but that is to be expected with about 50 more children in the building.  

This morning was a fresh start for me.  Fourth year and I feel like an old hat at this, but I still love the newness of the job regardless of the year.  I woke up at 5:36am to be exact (I am a little strange and I like odd wake up times for some reason.)  I hopped out of bed…not really but I peeled myself out of bed and got dressed to go on a run.  By 5:50am I was running down State St. using my phone for light when needed.  I ran a faster than usual pace which I can only assume is because I often looked behind me just in case…I don’t really care for the dark but it is part of summer fading sadly.  I got back with time to spare actually and did some stretching and a few burpees.  Got my shower, blow dried my hair and straightened it, got ready the rest of the way and I was out the door a little after 7:30am.  I had time to spare and even stopped for a morning Cold Brew to start it off right.  

The day quite frankly was a whirlwind but it was a welcome whirlwind.  I have quite a bit of new names to learn so I will be getting right on that within the next week or so because I do pride myself on knowing all of my kiddos names…all 461 this year give and take a few.  I still trip up here and there but it is always my mission to know their names so they know that they are special to me.  I will start doing my intro to the school counselor lessons here soon and I will work on getting to know them that way too.

 As I sit here tonight posting this I think about how truly blessed I am to work in an environment that allows me to truly love the work that I do every day.  The good definitely outweighs the bad for sure and there is nothing more in this world that I love than seeing a kiddo succeed and value themselves.  The small things really count to me and I appreciate them even more in the work that I do.  Not every child has the same loving upbringing that I did, but at least I can show them that at school.  

I am hopeful about this year.  Every year I get a little apprehensive about the year just because it is new and there are always so many new issues that could arise, but I look at it from a rose-colored perspective and take on the challenges that I face from day to day.  No day is a like in a school environment which is what I really love about it.  I can’t wait to see what the 17-18 school year has in store for me.  1 down, 178 to go!  

I had the absolute pleasure of attending and capturing the most beautiful event today.  It was special to me not only because I know the mother well, but because of how breathtakingly beautiful the moments were.  Adoptions are special moments for all parties involved, and this one was one that I was blessed to be a part of.  

I have known Alicia for a few years now because of my brother getting to know her through work.  From the Penn State tailgates to the get togethers at others houses, I have always had a great time with her.  It was no surprise to me that she decided to foster boys and invite them lovingly into her home.  Last summer I got to photograph Alicia and her boys but because of all of the privacy I could not post these photos anywhere.  During this session it was clear to me that Alicia loved being a mother to these boys and that it was something special to them all.  

One of the boys went back into another home, but Brian and Alicia continued to bond and become their own little family.  What I witnessed today was the creation of a family not by blood, but by the love of a caring individual that puts Brian above herself and has a knack for parenting.  

As the court proceeding went on, it was apparent to everyone present that Alicia cares for Brian unlike any other.  The thing that sticks with me from the hearing the most is that when they asked Alicia on the stand how her and Brian get along, she said, “He is my son.  That is really it.  I have always felt that way about him, he is just my son.”  Tears of joy and happiness were shed and the judge was amazing.  He allowed Brian to have the pen after he signed the adoption papers and took pictures with him.  

The photos that followed were candid hugs and posed memories to be remembered in the years that will pass ever so quickly.  I am not an overly emotional person.  In fact I have been called heartless because I didn’t cry at the movie The Notebook.  I don’t cry at the drop of a hat because of happiness or cuteness, and I don’t see that as a weakness.  However, if I did cry, today would have been the day.  What I witnessed was absolutely beautiful, and it reminded me that there are so many kids out there that just want and need someone to love them for who they are and take them into their homes and show them what real love is.  You do not have to birth a child to be a mom.  You have to show a child unconditional love and the fact that it is okay to have mess ups here and there, but you take them anyway and brush them off.  

I am so blessed to have been raised by parents that showed me this kind of love.  I am blessed to know that I am accepted for everything that I do and that I am reminded all the time how proud my parents are of me.  It is refreshing to be loved and to feel that love.  This is not the case for everyone, but it should be.  You should feel loved by your parents but it does not always happen that way.  Adoption is the way to get that love and for mothers to be able to show that love to a child that may not have known it before.  I know that what I witnessed today is the start of a beautiful thing and that it is only the beginning.  

What a better way to spend my last day of summer vacation than experiencing something that beautiful and feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another school year?  I can’t think of anything I would have rather done than capture these moments.  Stay tuned for a back to school update…



Recently a new app came out called Sarahah.  I’m getting older as we all know, so it took me a few days to see it start appearing on social media and then I finally had to Google it to find out the hype of it all.  I do not like the concept at all.  I actually left positive feedback for one of my Facebook friends then I found myself thinking, “When this gets into the hands of kids and teens we’re all doomed.”  These app creators do not see harm in things like this.  

Sarahah was created for positive reasons, which, let’s face it, most apps hopefully are.  The thing that makes this different though is the totally anonymity unless you are the one identifying yourself in the message itself by the first letter of your name or some other clever way which really defeats the whole anonymous thing.   While anonymous positive feedback is a great thing, I think in person positive feedback is even cooler!  Where else can you look someone in the eye and tell them that they look good today or that they have an awesome personality?  In person, that’s where!  We can seek positive reinforcement from strangers or not so much strangers on an app or we can receive that same feedback from people that can show a genuine interest in us as humans.  Call me old fashioned, but I would much much rather be told something positive in person and identify and thank that person sincerely than to think in my head that I am thankful for what they said.  

The whole concept then gets more shaky when you think about people that will not give positive feedback but that will use their words as knives.  These people are the ones that scare me and even more are the people on the receiving end believing what they are being told even though it isn’t one bit true.  The people that tell others to kill themselves or that they are worthless.  I have wondered for ages why anyone would ever in a million years think that it is okay to tell someone to kill themselves.  When I heard about the case of the girlfriend that kept asking her boyfriend when he was going to actually do it and call him a coward until he followed through, I really begin to wonder about the world we live it.  

I don’t want to identify with a world where people are that crude and heartless towards one another.  I want to identify with a world that lifts each other up when we are down and helps others to achieve the goals that they want to achieve.  We can’t be built up by putting others down for sure.  I know, I know, their brains aren’t fully formed until young adulthood, but I knew it wasn’t the human thing to tell someone that they should end their life.  

I hope I’m wrong about this app.  I hope it is used for all positive measures as it was intended.  I’m just not as hopeful that I could be with the nature of the app where random people can leave feedback and do not even have to have the app.  That is scary to me.  The person on the receiving end may not be able to distinguish that they are a worthy person and that they matter no matter what the person wrote to them.  

I couldn’t bring myself to download the app and I will not bring myself to download the app because I would much rather give compliments in real life.  In fact, I am going to challenge myself and others to do something nice for someone each day and compliment someone to their face once a day.  It may be easier some days more than others.  It is building up others that we build ourselves up too.  People feel good when they are appreciated.  They have a better sense of worth; they feel like they belong to something greater.  

Computers and phones in general allow us to put up a barrier.  Most of the time this barrier has a negative impact on our daily lives.  Even I find myself sitting beside my phone waiting for a message or scrolling through Facebook even though I did so about 4 minutes ago.  I am sure that a lot had changed in that time span, haha.  Sometimes we use the phone and texting as means to get out of things or to tell people how we really feel, let’s face it though, face to face interactions mean so much more from all aspects and they are to be more respected because of this.  Often times a screen allows people to feel big and bad when really they are small and not so mighty in person.

The moral of the story I guess I am trying to convey is that we need to work hard to compliment others in real life and not through some app.  Who knows when we will make someone’s day by a simple compliment?  Let’s all try harder to compliment each other face to face when it really counts.


It has taken lots of time and lots of contemplation to come to this point, and then some more nudging and pushing from some awesome people to finally take the plunge and sign up for a Spartan Race.  However if it be because I am up for an extra challenge or just a little crazy, I decided to go for the Spartan Super instead of the Sprint.  You see I missed the Sprint with a really awesome team because I was traveling around the country haha.  I knew I had some extra time on my trips so I decided to purchase the book Spartan Up! which is written by the creator of the race itself.  I could not have chosen a better book to read on my trip.  In fact, I liked it so much that while in California I ordered his other book so it would be at my mom’s house when I got home so I could take it to Chicago with me.  

Lots of things in the books stuck with me, one especially being that once you make it public that you are doing a Spartan race, you need to do it and train a little harder for it knowing that it is on the horizon.  It may sound dumb but after reading the book there is a piece of me that is forever changed.  It talked about a cost-benefit analysis and the best example that he stated is whether or not to take the stairs or the elevator.  The stairs will likely take a little more time, however the benefit of taking the stairs is improved cardiovascular health over time.  These small changes add up even if you do small things here and there like 10 burpees when you have a min.  That is a small step that could get you in the right direction.  I noticed myself planking in my room at night just to get a little strength workout in.  I had my mom time me in Chicago to see that I was improving.  It really is the little things that add up to bigger accomplishments.

Anyway, the race is November 4th in NJ.  It is 8-10 mountainous miles that packs 25+ obstacles into it.  Rope climb, bucket carry, sandbag carry, walls to climb over, monkey bars, spear throw, etc.  All things that when I think about them scare me half to death, but that is also what really intrigues me about doing this whole thing.  I want to challenge myself, I want to do something new.  The half marathon will be a challenge, but as stated in the book it is something that is predictable.  It is 13.1 miles.  The course is marked out, you run.  That’s it.  The Spartan however is not the same every time and there are obstacles that test not only your physical strength but also your mental will.  

The other day it rained like the dickens at our auction.  Sideways, straight down, you name it, it rained it…and I thought to myself, “What if this is what happens on Spartan Race day?”  I thought about it and really if that’s what happens then so be it.  I will be slower and probably sloppier, but at the same time it will be just as rewarding knowing that is an obstacle itself to overcome.  Dancing in the rain instead of wallowing in self-doubt if you will.  

The penalty if you fail an obstacle is 30 burpees.  While I am going to try my best at the obstacles, I am also going to keep practicing burpees and getting really good at them so that I can recover faster between obstacles even if I do end up paying the penalty.  

It took me a good three weeks or so to commit to signing up for this race and another three to start telling more people about the idea.  I know I post a lot on social media, but believe me it is all for good reason and not to flaunt anything.  It is to let people know that you CAN do it.  You CAN succeed even in the face of adversity.  Even when that voice inside of you is telling you to stop, you can carry on no matter what.  It is truly the embodiment of what happened to me at my last 5k.

Picture this:  5k race, 84 degrees, humid, 7pm, the start line goes right uphill for a good .25 mile stretch.  At .6 miles your shoe becomes untied.  Do you stop to tie it and lose time or do you keep going and risk falling?  There was no option of stopping in my mind.  I knew I had to carry on in order to make my time so my shoelace was going to have to wait til the finish line.  It was HOT.  It was rough, and there were times I thought about walking because more hills came and went, but I didn’t stop.  I told myself on the next to the last hill that the mind always quits before the body.  My basketball coach in high school always used to say that before he passed away from cancer.  It is the truth.  My mind was telling me that I needed to stop because I was hot, but my body carried me to the finish line 7 seconds under my last 5k that was in much better conditions than this run.  6 months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed about any kind of 5k or even a 1k.  

We all need a positive influence in our lives no matter in what form they come in.  There is always someone to look up to that came before you or helps you to achieve the goals that you set out to achieve.  I truthfully can name to a bunch of people that have shaped my life in a positive way throughout my life and expecially recently in this fitness journey.  Family, friends, trainers, trainers that become more like friends and family…all these individuals have helped to shape me into this positive ball of energy that I am.  6 months ago I wouldn’t care really what was on a food label.  I didn’t care how much pop I drank.  I didn’t care how much I ate.  I liked working out and teaching Zumba, but I was honestly burnt out in my own routines.  Now I am excited to go to classes, to teach, and hell I even wake up at 5am because there are some sweet workout classes to attend.  I love my life.  

I got way off track so let’s bring it back to this race.  Scared as I may be, I am also so very excited to take on this challenge.  We all need goals, we all need something to work for that is attainable over time.  It is not something that will come overnight.  I may struggle through a lot of it, but the book says, “You’ll know at the finish line.”  I have no doubt in my mind that I can achieve this.  It may not be in the fastest time, it may not be in the most graceful manner, but I will do it because that is what a Spartan does.  

I don’t expect everyone to understand why I want to set goals like this for myself and that’s okay.  Everyone should have different goals to meet them where they are so that they can be attainable.  Six months ago, this would never have been one of my goals.  Losing weight was my original goal until I realized that it isn’t about how much you weigh as much as how you feel and if you are satisfied with what you can achieve.  People that are solid muscle weigh more but that doesn’t mean that they should define themselves by a BMI number that shows little to no meaning in that world.  My goal is to keep working through this journey, not to diet, but to keep my now healthy relationship with food going.  To live my life to the fullest and allow myself small cheats here and there that keep me on track.  I make conscious decisions everyday on what to eat and how to exercise to keep on the path towards my goals.  Not everyday is perfect, but it really isn’t about being perfect at all.  It is about staying true to who I am as a person.  

I believe everyone can attain sustainable change through the setting of goals.  It takes time.  I can be the biggest advocate for this because of the challenges I have faced through my life.  Setbacks are the way to even better comebacks, believe me.  

At the end of the day, the best we can do is try our hardest.  If we are satisfied with our own performance that should be enough for everyone else because we are enough.  We are worthy human beings that deserve nothing but the best.  I. Am. Spartan.  

To Be Continued…


When I got back to Pennsylvania the only page that I was on was to get back my luggage from American Airlines.  I had a few friends ask me why I wasn’t fighting for more compensation or why I wasn’t more upset than I was, however, my outlook on things like this is different than most.  Yes, I was really mad, upset, and very frustrated, but I also realize that this luggage is a thing.  It is not a person, it is not a dynamic being.  I’m not going to dedicate my life to looking for it day in and day out when at the end of the day it is still just things in a thing.  

Luckily after all of my phone calls and all of my frustrations, it was rightfully returned to me in one piece with all of the things inside.  I had a joyous feeling when I went to pick it up, and I am just so happy that I don’t have to continue to replace the things that were missing from me for so long.  Situations like this really make you reevaluate how you travel and what you bring on a flight.  Let me explain. 

This was the FIRST time in all of my travels that I have used a checked bag, and it will probably be my last unless it is a direct flight to my destination.  It is funny to me that of all times this would happen, but then again that is my luck.  I tell people my story and they always say, “This is the worst baggage story I have ever heard besides someone actually stealing the luggage.”  Tell me about it!

I am, however, good with rolling with the punches.  I only cried twice throughout the whole situation and only once in public out of pure frustration to which the older woman at the desk reassured me, “I know it will be found, don’t cry.”  As most of you know, I am not someone that gets overly mad about things, nor am I one to complain unless it is something bad, so for me to go to an airport and spend two hours with no real progress and call 5 times in one day.  Maybe sometimes I’m too good at rolling with the punches.  Maybe by that time I should have brought out my mean pants and had someone hold my hoop earrings while I went in to fight the good fight.  Nevertheless I realize that my luggage is material possessions.  Material possessions that I am blessed to be able to buy.  

The part that also makes this story just so dang interesting is the fact that this luggage saw 5 different states and 4 different time zones.  That is more than I saw on my own trip!  When my bag was finally located wherever they found it (if only this bag could speak to me and tell me the story), it was sent from LAX to San Fran then to Charlotte, NC then to Pittsburgh.  When I heard it was coming to Pittsburgh, I called luggage services there and told them I would be picking it up once we got confirmation it made it onto the flight to Pittsburgh.  Because of my luck this far, we know that it couldn’t be just that simple.  It was supposed to arrive at 11:34pm which was perfect because we had gone to the Pirates game.  However, when I looked at the flight at the game to make sure it had taken off it had been delayed by almost 3 hours meaning my bag would not reach Pittsburgh until 2am when baggage services would be closed.  I called again and the man told me he would hold my bag for me and that they opened at 7am.  

Sunday morning I woke up and called baggage services and the man told me that the bag had made it back. I got ready and made it out to the airport, parked in the cell phone lot (which is really far away from the terminal) when to my surprise the shuttle service was going by.  I was able to be picked up and saw my bag sitting there inside the door.  The man was helping another woman and asked me what I needed.  I said I was there to pick up that bag and he just asked me to bring him the tag and what my last name was.  No identification was needed for me to get it…no wonder we have so many problems like this!  I was overjoyed, and snapped a selfie with the bag.  I hopped on the shuttle back to my car and made it back in time for church and then my trip to Chicago.  

Throughout the craziness I reflected on the fact that it could be much worse.  It could have been stolen, things could have been missing, and I could have had a really horrible trip or even worse I could have let myself have a horrible trip because of this fiasco.  I, however, pressed onward and made it an awesome trip and found of some cute clothes in the process.   I replaced my running shoes that are so pertinent to my training these days, and I found comfort in having faith that it would turn up sooner or later.  

It all goes back to the fact that the luggage indeed is just material possessions.  Material possessions that can be replaced.  I am thankful I have things, but I am 308504984 times more thankful that I have my health, great family, and awesome friends.  This matters so much more to me than some piece of luggage.  

And oh yeah, I have started drafting the children’s book Lolita the Little Lost Luggage in LAX.  I’m 8 pages deep now.  You really have to appreciate the fact that I can still have a sense of humor about the whole thing as I still continue to work on reimbursement of the money that I spent and of course the $25 I was charged to check the bag in the first place.  

Appreciate what you have.  Appreciate what your family and friends can offer you.  Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control, and never give up.  


As I sit here on my flight home from LAX.  I start thinking of a culmination of things that this trip has brought to me.  It has brought great joy, tears, frustration, utter exhaustion, happiness, bliss, annoyances, anger, positive thoughts, and a lot of dead ends.  These things can all sound very different from one another and really that’s what this trip has been.  Not only did I see family that I haven’t seen in over 15 years, I enjoyed every minute of my visit with them.  I got to meet many great people and had another friend to show me all of the sights while being a killer Disneyland tour guide.  I couldn’t have asked for a better visit really.  I hate to bring up the bag situation, but it really took up a great part of my trip there.  For those that don’t follow me on social media or care about my other posts, my luggage has seen more states in the past 5 days than I have in the past few years because of an American Airlines mess up.  I should have had my bag the day after I arrived because of flight switches, however I did not receive my bag ever on my trip forcing me to make many trips to the store and constant phone calls to me on the search that has turned up little to no results. 

I did a chronological analysis of my problem in this matter, and I spent approximately 4.39 hours on the phone with 3 different American Airlines offices.  I talked to easily over 15 different people in these calls and sometimes I called up to 5 times a day getting a different answer each time.  You see, American Airlines sent my bag to LAX, however, they didn’t read the address correctly and sent it to another airport with a similar name to be “closer” to me 7 hours north by driving.  Not only did they do this, when the bag came back, it came via an Alaska Airlines flight.  I got a call about the bag and they told me they were taking it to American Airlines in Terminal 4 which is where they are housed.  I spent 2 hours yesterday at the airport itself looking into my bag trying to get an answer and not even a supervisor could help me.  I burst into tears when the woman told me they could not find it anywhere and they had no idea what happened to it.  You see, at this point I am getting worn down in the fight to find this bag. 

I have not lost hope that it will turn up.  I have not lost my positivity in this manner, but it is very discouraging when every corner I have turned has turned out to be a dead end street.  I have patience galore, and if you know me, you know it takes a lot to get me frustrated and upset with something like this, but I reached my max point around 3 days into this mess.  I am making phone call after phone call while still trying to get the most out of my short time in a brand new state that I have never gotten to explore yet. 

I keep thinking about the mental picture of what was in my suitcase and outlined what was in there that I won’t have when I get home.  Among the highlights are my red Ray Ban prescription glasses, my running shoes, 4 brand spanking new dresses, 2 swimming suits, various VS bras, and clothes that I just recently bought knowing that they fit me since I have lost weight.  Now I start over with the bras, the dresses, the glasses, etc., and hope that it turns up in time. 

The worst part about it all is that I kept being hopeful that it was going to show up.  One day at a time I bought an outfit thinking that, “tomorrow I won’t need another outfit.”  However, tomorrow still hasn’t come for me.  I almost feel like I have lost a small part of myself, and not that things are a part of you, but because I feel like I am not valued by such a large company that sees person after person after person each day.  I’m a baggage claim number to them; I’m just someone that got lost in the shuffle.  But how many people can say that they have gone through this much without completely losing it on someone in customer service?  I would think it hasn’t been many considering these kind of situations I do not wish on anyone.  I still can’t put a hold on the fact that it really happened to me. 

Four hour thirteen minute flights really get you thinking about things.  The one thing I want to do when I get home is run.  I have waited 5 days to go on a run because of all the craziness and not having my running shoes that are a literal part of me now.  I would have never said that 6 months ago or before training for this half.  I need that stress relief.  I need to feel the open air and really take in the world around and not have a care about the future and just focus on my breathing, my distance, my time.  I can’t wait for that feeling again after all the stress that American Airlines has put me through.  It will get me ready to fight the good fight when I call and explain myself for the 16th time. 

Throughout all of this, I continue to remind myself that things could be worse.  At least I made it to LAX, I made my return flight, and had an awesome time.  At least I am incredibly blessed to be able to afford to come to Caifornia and visit.  I am blessed that I had my most expensive items with me such as my laptop and camera.  I am blessed that I had a great time and people to show me a great time while on my trip.  At least I have a loving group of family, friends, etc.  At least I have clothes to come home to.  At least I have means to communicating that there has been an issue.  At least I wake up and can walk every morning and even run!  At least I know that through all of this I still kept my cool and never went back on my character of treating everyone as a valued person and not being blameful of those that do not know my situation.  I am hopeful that this will turn out for the best.  I am hopeful that American Airlines will right their wrong.  Stay tuned. 

You know what?  Today was a great day.  Did something really special happen?  No.  I mean except that last night the Penguins DID become the Back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions and all…but that’s really not the point.  Today was a great day because I made it a great day all on my own.  Which is what happiness is all about.  

We can look at other’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter posts and think, “Wow, that is awesome.  I wish that were me.”  Or there’s the other, “I am so jealous of that.”  However when we have those feelings, we often lose sight of what matters most…our own happiness.  There is research that shows that there can be depression that comes out of envy of someone’s social media life.  Things can also look peachy on social media and not always really be that way for that person in real life.  I try to take a lot of social media posts with a grain of salt which doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy posting myself and liking the wonderful things that people do and see.  I love seeing those posts, and I love seeing great things that people have accomplished because it is really by building people up that things get better for us.  

Today was my first official Monday of summer vacation.  I loved the endless possibilities that came along with that.  I woke up at my normal time and went for a run before it got too hot.  It was so peaceful, and a great way to start out my morning.  Came home, put both air conditioners in the windows, showered, had some breakfast, started to clean a little, and contemplated about the rest of the day…all before 9am!  I got checks together for the bank, got my letters ready to mail, and I set out!  I ran my errands and decided it was time for a little pampering and went and got a gel manicure and some iced coffee.  I headed for home and visited with a friend for over an hour and just caught up.  I then got actually home and had some lunch, edited some pictures, and jammed out until it was time for my normal Monday night routine at the Y.  

The energy I had today was amazing.  It was something I never had last summer.  My routine last year was to get up around 830 and walk the Rails to Trails.  I am not knocking a good walk, because I do love being outside, but this year I ran.  I woke up early just because and that is not something I usually do.  At 11am I wondered why the clock didn’t say 3pm yet haha.  Since January when I made all the changes to my diet and exercise routine, I have been even happier than I was before.  There is something about setting out for goals and being able to attack them one small step at a time.  It is what keeps me going for the half marathon in October.  It is the thought that I can accomplish that goal, one run at a time.  

I have changed since January.  A lot of people don’t like change, but I welcomed this change with open arms.  I have never been so satisfied and happy everyday that I wake up.  I know that I am beyond blessed with the people that I surround myself with and the family unit that I have.  I can appreciate the small things even more so now than ever before because I just see things differently.  

I want everyone to feel this happy.  I want everyone to experience the joy that is the satisfaction of just being excited to wake up and do something awesome.  There is no better feeling when you have a great day for really no particular reason at all.  

Comparison is the thief of joy they say.  I agree wholehearted.  Happiness is an inside job.  External sources of happiness can be great, but they aren’t everything.  It is when we look inward that we can really begin to appreciate the growth that we have made and the progress that is built upon everyday.  The person in the mirror is the biggest critic.  


Today I woke up with a smile on my face.  I look at my phone to find a few birthday texts which are always nice to wake up to and some good old Facebook wall posts as well.  I mean if it’s not posted on Facebook, did it really happen??  (Lots of sarcasm here if you can’t tell).  As I got ready for work, I contemplated what to wear.  I had 2 different dresses picked out, and the one I ended up going with was one that I typically would not have been comfortable with a few months ago because it hugged my stomach.  I am learning to appreciate the strides I have made even more by realizing that I like myself for who I am even more now that I have some more confidence overall.  I almost traded the dress for another one in my closet, but I decided it was time for this one.  I got a lot of compliments on it, and to be honest I love bright patterns so it fit perfectly for the day and the occasion. 

The occasion of course is my 27th birthday.  27.  Where did I imagine myself at 27 as a small child?  I imagined myself becoming an Orthodontist by this age.  I imagined myself having a family.  Neither of those things happened, but I will tell you that I am just as happy had I pursued those dreams as well.  Actually, I’m quite certain that I am even happier that I did not pursue my dream of being an Orthodontist.  The more I look at the profession I chose, the more I realize what a perfect fit it is for me.  I’m okay with not having a family at this point in my life.  I’m cool with enjoying life and going places when I want to go to them and doing the things that I have always wanted to do.  It’s not a missed opportunity, I’m sure there is something great brewing for me in the future regardless of what it is.  

27.  It is just a number.  Three years from 30.  I don’t feel like I’m 27 at heart, but really how are you supposed to feel at 27?  I can tell you that I feel like this time in my life is where the magic happens.  I’m kind of in my prime so to speak with being through college and in a good job, having a good family unit and base, and knowing myself well as a person.  I really want to make the rest of my life the best of my life through helping others and knowing myself that what I’m doing is for the best.  

This year is going to be my year.  I am not giving up, I am not rushing things, and I am not letting people get me down.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff, and it is too precious not to be thankful everyday for what you have been given–the good, bad, and even the ugly.  

Today was a good day, not only because it was my birthday but because this morning and pretty much every morning I tell myself that it is going to be a good day.  I am going to make this happen for myself.  My happiness comes from me and not from other people.  That is not selfish; that is self love.  

I am not fearing what the future has to offer me because after all, it is the future.  I can’t worry about too much in the future or let it consume me.  Being in the present is the best thing that could happen to a person.  When you fully appreciate the moment, you can appreciate all that you have an every need that is fulfilled.  

27 is going to be my year, I just know it.  If it is rough, I will still make the best of it regardless of the hand that I am dealt.

We live in a time when people want immediate results, gratification, and reassurance that they are doing what is right and good.  However, we do not always get what we want.  I can say I have fallen into the trap before of choosing to want results right away whether it be waiting for a grade on an exam in college, in therapy with my kiddos, or even in my own life with thinking that progress occurs overnight.  Well it doesn’t happen like that.  Never have and really never will with most things that are worth working for.  Busting your rump is where the magic happens.  

When I reflect upon the past 4 months of my life in particular there has been much progress in a seemingly small or large amount of time depending on how you look at it.  I obviously like to think of it as a long time, but I have my whole life ahead of me as well to continue on with this journey.  I am sooooo much more focused on working towards goals that I have for myself that I am so super excited to hit the gym almost everyday of the week.  I still have not drank pop since January which has been fine, I really don’t even think about it as a possibility even though when I was at my last Pirate’s game my stepdad tempted me.  You really don’t think much about the choices you make until you watch what you eat and how you workout.  I didn’t care about portion size and I sure as hell didn’t care about what I was eating as long as I liked it.  These days I look more closely at food labels than I ever have and I eat tons of fresh food.  This being said, I am not a perfect eater and will never claim to be such.  No fad diet, and no cutting out sweets.  I will have the occasional piece of cake, etc because life is more fun with a little cake.  

I still can’t tell you what it was that clicked in my brain and woke me up to start doing what I’m doing.  I wish there was a defining moment, however there really isn’t.  I do credit Chris for inviting me to start up going to Boot Camp even though when I even though about the name “Boot Camp” I shuddered a little inside.  Now I really can’t imagine a Monday without it, even though I have to deal with no class on Memorial Day…ughhhh.  

The interesting thing to me is when people say, “You must feel great!”  Well I do, but I never really felt “bad”.  Yes I was a lot bigger and yes my energy levels were not as high but I always felt like I could do what I wanted, no pains, etc.  Now my knees occasionally scream at me, but overall I do feel even better than before.  

A big piece of who I am is where I have come from.  I say it all the time, “One day at a time” and “Never give up.”  I liked the second saying so much it is even permanently on my foot.  (Which my mom would tell you she doesn’t really like, but at least it isn’t some random thing that means nothing, right mom?)  But these sayings keep me going, they remind me daily that it doesn’t have to be a perfect day all the time, but there really is at least one good thing in every day.  Waking up breathing and well is a good thing.  If the rest of the day sucks at least you have your health.  

On Saturday evening I was home doing my typical dancing to music around the house when I stumbled upon one of my journals from college.  As I read through the pages, it really made me think about how much I have grown as a person and I’m not too proud to say that I cried.  October 2, 2008 (mid first semester at college) I wrote this as part of one of my entries, “I just hate this chapter in my life.  It’s supposed to be the best years of my life and it’s not at all.  I feel horrible and stressed and like everything is falling apart.” I can’t stress to anyone how much that life does eventually get better no matter what you’re going through even if it seems like forever when you’re in those dark times.  A few years later I wrote, “My strength is so weak you could cut it with a dull knife.”  Seriously what a powerful statement.  Growth and progress are not overnight or over a few weeks, it takes a long time and it doesn’t stop.  

So in all of this progress I see a gain in physical, mental, and emotional strength in myself which is someone unintentional.  I hope to inspire others, and I hope that I don’t get annoying with my monthly posts.  I’m not looking for bunches of praise, I just want everyone to know that it can be done in time.  One day at a time. 

Six years is a long time.  Time can heal wounds, but realistically the wounds of death are never completely heal.  As my good friend says, “You feel like you have a load of bricks on your chest and that weight gets heavy but it never completely goes away.  Sometimes it even gets heavier for no reason.”  My grandma passed away six years ago today on what was Mother’s Day that year.  I distinctly remember waking up to the call late at night and knowing what would be on the other end.  She was 90, and she had been sick for awhile.  It is never an easy thing thought knowing that door is closed to that person you once knew and loved.  

I have wonderful memories of my grandma whether it be from growing up with family get togethers at holidays or going to bingo with her and just visiting her.  When I was younger I would spend the night there and we would play cards and watch TV.  I would pretend to be a figure skater in her living room and she would feed me a TV dinner because that was something my mom never would (she always cooked lol).  My grandma made the best dinner rolls and my mom still makes them to this day.  We barely ever won at bingo or the rip off tickets but she would always give it a try to see if we could be lucky some day.  All the memories of my grandma truly make me smile.  She was everything that you could ask for in a grandma.  She was the only grandparent I even knew so she was even more special to me.  She didn’t have a lot, but she would make sure that everyone had something on their birthdays and holidays.  

And even to this day when I think about my grandma I smile, but I also get tears in my eyes because I know I can never see her again.  There is no doubt about the fact that she lived a long, great life.  She was one of the most modern older people I know with her beliefs.  She had wisdom for ages and she loved with her full heart no matter what.  There’s a lot you can learn from a woman so great.  There’s even more you can learn from having a mother that descended from my grandma.  🙂

With mother’s day coming up I know it is not easy for my own mother.  She misses her mom and rightfully so.  It’s the pain that never goes away that makes it the hardest thing to bare.  I will tell you one thing though, my mother is incredibly strong and loving just like her mother so I guess that’s where I get it from.  There’s no doubt about the fact that I have a totally amazing family whom I love their quarks.  My mom is no exception to that, and I am glad to be her daughter.  

Six years is a long time, but it seems even longer when you think about the time in the future that I am without my grandma.  I am blessed to have a mother that is my rock and my side kick.  I get her to do things she normally wouldn’t.  Losing someone is never easy.  This is really why you need to live and not just exist.  Go beyond just existing.  Look at what you do and cherish every moment.  You never know when it could be someone’s last day.