Thursday, July 14, 2016

Riley at 14

8th Grade Recognition
What a year it has been for this kid! He ran cross country (8th grade) and made varsity for conference meet. He worked hard on strength training and running with us all winter at the Y. He completed the Indoor Ironman (full Ironman during the month of Feb) at the Y. He participated in middle school track and was the conference champion in the triple jump. He trained for and ran his first half marathon (ON his 14th birthday- recap to come). He graduated 8th grade. He jumped right into high school with band and summer school. He has worked hard at summer school to get credit for fall and realizes the importance of that. He has become an avid fisherman. He knows more than just about anyone I know about fishing and loves to be out there even if he doesn't catch anything. He has become an amazing role model for his younger brothers.
8th Grade Recognition night

Friends at 8th Grade Recognition

Family at 8th Grade Recognition

Brothers at 8th Grade Recognition
It has been amazing to see the growth and change in Riley over the past year. He is no longer my little boy! He is turning into an amazing young man and I couldn't be more proud of him! I have seen him step up and be more responsible and he has been more willing to help out when it is needed. It has been so much fun to be able to work out with him at the Y and to experience training for and running his first half marathon "with" him! It has been wonderful to see him become interested in fishing and to watch him in his element.
It is crazy to think that he is now a high schooler- how the hell did that happen? He was my first baby and now he is a high schooler! I am excited for this next stage in life and what it will all bring for him.

Here is my interview with Riley:
  1. Name: Riley Owen
  2. How old are you?  14 years old
  3. What is your favorite thing to do? Play baseball 
  4. Who is your best friend? Ethan
  5. What is your favorite color? Purple
  6. What is your favorite food? Pizza
  7. What do you like to do with your family? go on vacation
  8. What is your favorite toy? my fishing pole
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Game warden
  10. What makes you happy? fishing
  11. What makes you sad? losing a big fish
  12. What is your favorite show? Mountain Men
  13. What is your favorite book? No idea
  14. What do you love to learn about? science
  15. Where do you like to go? to the lake (Lake of the Ozarks)
  16. Who is your favorite teacher? Mrs. Arellano (band and TA)
  17. What is your favorite treat? ice cream
  18. What do you think about before you fall asleep? nothing
  19. What sport do you like best? baseball
  20. What are you really good at? baseball
  21. What would you buy if you had $1000? fishing stuff
  22. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? chocolate, chocolate with chocolate stuff on top
  23. Who is your biggest hero? Derek Jeter
  24. What do you hope you'll get to do before your next birthday? catch a big fish
  25. What do you like to do best with your friends? fish
  26. What is your favorite song? Thunderstruck by ACDC
  27. I am very proud because.... I was conference champion for triple jump and I ran a half marathon.
  28. I am afraid to.... go somewhere really high without a harness
  29. Imagine that you can become invisible whenever you wanted to. What are some of the things that you would do? Pretend to be a ghost and scare people.
  30. Pretend that you can fly whenever you wanted. Where would you go? I would go really far away to where it is good fishing.
  31. Where do you want to go on vacation? Alaska or Hawaii
  32. What is your favorite thing to do with Mom or Dad? run

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Little man turns 7

Having a summer birthday and wanting to have a party can be tough... especially when your brothers play traveling baseball and have tournaments nearly every weekend. It is really tough when both brothers have a tournament in different places ON your birthday and your family can't even be together.  This was the case for Aidan this year- Riley had a tournament in Holmen, WI (close to home) and Isaac was in Marshfield, WI (a couple hours from home). I think it is safe to say that Aidan made the best of it and had a great birthday. He got to celebrate all weekend with his baseball family. He got to stay in a hotel. He was able to swim. But, the biggest reason he had a great birthday... 
The "twins"

... He got to celebrate it with one of his best friends and baseball sibling, Sissy (aka Cailyn). Sissy is just 2 days older than Aidan so we celebrated the two of them together all weekend at the baseball tournament!

me with the birthday kids

fun at the park

birthday treats for the baseball family
swimming with friends
 I think it is safe to say that they both had a great birthday weekend!
Exactly 7 years old!
It has been a year filled with lots of fun for Aidan. He played basketball. He is playing coach pitch baseball and is also doing summer track and field. He got to spend lots of time playing with friends and experiencing new things. There were several trips to visit family in Iowa and Missouri which he seems to love. He learned to tie his shoes (finally) and has lost several teeth. He has started to read more and is learning so much. It has been such a joy to watch him develop into his own little person over the past year. He is very social and likes to be silly but can be serious when he needs to be. He is very sweet and loving. One of my favorite memories of him from this year would have to be how he would leave flowers by my water bottle when I was out training for my half marathon so that I would find them when I got home. That always made my heart melt! He is still snuggly and LOVES to have his back rubbed. He is smarter than he knows and I hope that he finds more confidence over the next year so that he starts to realize how smart he is.
I know it sounds cliché but I really can't believe how fast the years have gone! It still feels like he should be a baby. He will always be MY baby and I am excited to see what is in store for the next year as he moves into second grade.

Here is my recent interview with my little man:
  1. Name: Aidan Everett
  2. How old are you? 7 years old
  3. What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my friends
  4. Who is your best friend? Josh, Jack and Sissy (Cailyn)
  5. What is your favorite color? Purple
  6. What is your favorite food? Mac and Cheese
  7. What do you like to do with your family? go swimming
  8. What is your favorite toy? toy cars- motorcycle and monster truck. Oh, and snuggle bear
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Police Officer
  10. What makes you happy? my birthday
  11. What makes you sad? not being with mom
  12. What is your favorite show? Mountain Men
  13. What is your favorite book? Little Critter
  14. What do you love to learn about? dinosaurs
  15. Where do you like to go? Virginia
  16. Who is your teacher? Mrs. Roesler (1st Grade)
  17. What is your favorite treat? candy
  18. What do you think about before you fall asleep? what I am going to do in the morning
  19. What sport do you like best? baseball
  20. What are you really good at?  running
  21. What would you buy if you had $1000?  a cool racing remote control racing boat
  22. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? vanilla with cookie dough
  23. Who is your biggest hero?  Uncle Steve because he was in the military
  24. What do you hope you'll get to do before your next birthday? go to the zoo
  25. What do you like to do best with your friends? play on the trampoline
  26. What is your favorite song? Can't Stop This Feeling by Justin Timberlake
  27. I am very proud because.... I can run fast.
  28. I am afraid to.... do a backflip on the trampoline
  29. Imagine that you can become invisible whenever you wanted to. What are some of the things that you would do? Spy on people and play tricks on them.
  30. Pretend that you can fly whenever you wanted. Where would you go? Virginia, Grandma's (Elkader, IA) and to Missouri to Papa and GJ's house
  31. Where do you want to go on vacation? Virginia and Florida
  32. What is your favorite thing to do with Mom or Dad? going to the lake

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Isaac turns 11

This kid... What can I say? He continues to embrace every experience put in front of him and works hard at everything he does! He is one determined 11 year old. He knows how to lighten the mood and isn't afraid to be silly. This year marked the end of elementary school for him. This fall he will be moving onto a new building and lots of new experiences. He recently started learning how to play the trumpet. It has been amazing to watch him grow and change and I am excited for what is to come for Isaac!

Staying in line with the last several years, I recently sat down with Isaac to interview him. I am excited to look back in the years to come to see how his answers change over time.
  1. Name: Isaac Paul
  2. How old are you?  11 years old
  3. What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my friends
  4. Who is your best friend? Sam
  5. What is your favorite color? Purple
  6. What is your favorite food? Burgers from Burger Fusion (local restaurant)
  7. What do you like to do with your family? go to Missouri
  8. What is your favorite toy? phone
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up? DNR Officer
  10. What makes you happy? playing baseball
  11. What makes you sad? when it rains and I can't play baseball
  12. What is your favorite show? Mountain Men
  13. What is your favorite book? UUUMMMM... I don't know.
  14. What do you love to learn about? wildlife
  15. What was the best part of your birthday? going go-carting
  16. Where do you like to go? to my grandmas
  17. Who is your teacher? Mrs. Turgeon
  18. What is your favorite treat? ice cream
  19. What do you think about before you fall asleep? the next day
  20. What was your favorite birthday present? money
  21. What sport do you like best? Baseball
  22. What are you really good at? taking care of dogs (Mollie)
  23. What would you buy if you had $1000? Fishing stuff
  24. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? blue moon
  25. Who is your biggest hero? my big brother
  26. What do you hope you'll get to do before your next birthday? go to the Mall of America
  27. What do you like to do best with your friends? play baseball
  28. What is your favorite song? Kill the Lights by Luke Bryan
  29. I am very proud because....  I am good at catching fish
  30. I am afraid to....   be catcher again in baseball because I got hit in the knee.
  31. Imagine that you can become invisible whenever you wanted to. What are some of the things that you would do? Scare people.
  32. Pretend that you can fly whenever you wanted. Where would you go? I would go to Florida and Wyoming. I would also go visit Papa and GJ in Missouri and go fishing.
  33. Where do you want to go on vacation? Disney World
  34. What is your favorite thing to do with Mom or Dad? Going on vacation and to baseball games.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Seriously, my last post was April 28th??????? You mean to tell me that I haven't updated you on my crazy life since then?!? My life has been a sort of whirl-wind since then and I have had posts written in my head but I guess they never made it to the blog!

Here are just a few things that have happened since then (more details to follow in upcoming posts and with pictures, of course):
  • Isaac turned 11
  • Tim, Riley and I trained for a half marathon
  • Tim and Isaac went to EBELC for a multiple day field trip for 5th grade
  • Riley did middle school track
  • Riley was conference champion for the triple jump
  • Riley turned 14
  • Tim, Riley and I  spent a weekend in Green Bay celebrating Riley's 14th birthday
  • Riley ran his first half marathon and ROCKED it!
  • Tim and I ran and finished the Green Bay Half
  • Dad had a health scare that sent us on an urgent trip to Missouri for Memorial Day weekend.
  • Riley graduated 8th grade
  • Last day of school
  • Baseball, baseball, and more baseball
  • All three boys play games on Tues/Thur nights
  • Aidan turned 7
  • Very little running after GB due to an angry right leg
  • I spent an AMAZING weekend in Madison for the HER Madison Half and 5k
  • Riley has busy days with summer school, strength, band and baseball
  • Isaac and Aidan are busy with track and baseball
  • I still work full time
  • Tim works full time and is coaching Riley's baseball team
  • We are trying to keep up on laundry, house work, yard work and keeping everyone fed
  • Operate day by day
I think we have had just a few things going on in the past couple of months... no wonder it felt like that time went so fast!

I really miss blogging so I will be working on getting some updates done as I am able. There are lots and lots of pictures to document most of the above :)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Running is my therapy

We have been having a tough week or so due to Isaac having some behavior issues at school ending with an incident that he participated in resulting in really hurting the feelings of one of his best friends, whose family we are also very close with. It has been an emotionally draining time for all of us! Add to that me working Wednesday-Friday last week and so far Monday-Wednesday this week- all 12 hour shifts. That has made dealing with emails/texts/phone calls/voice mails, etc very challenging... very necessary but very challenging and now I am also physically drained! Last night after work, I was able to have a very nice chat with my friend, and the mom of the child Isaac upset. It was great to talk to her mother to mother and process through the situation together and I feel good about where we are headed and know that we can all help support the boys the best we can. Their friendship is important to all of us! They have been close for several years and it has been a good relationship for each of them. We were also finally able to coordinate a meeting with the principal, his teacher and the school counselor this morning and  I think we are on the right track there too.  Now it is just a matter of mending those broken fences!

After getting back home from the meeting at the school I just wanted to crawl back into bed but  I knew that it wouldn't make me feel better in the end. I knew what I needed... a good, hard RUN! Even though my mind was racing all over the place I also felt hyper-aware of everything on this run. I was fully present and in tune with myself and it was strange and amazing all at the same time!

As I started out I couldn't help but notice how much this run was representing my past several days. The weather was dreary and drab just like my mood. It tried to rain on me multiple times just like I had shed some tears over the past days due to feeling disappointed in both Isaac and myself as a parent. There were hills that were tough to charge up but I knew I had to push through to enjoy the view at the top. There were down-hills that felt like I was coasting though time.

the ups and downs of the past several days
At times, the wind picked up and made it tough to move forward... like when I was upset, angry, and felt frozen in fear of what was going to happen to Isaac and what was going to happen with his and our friendships that were involved. At first my breathing felt crazy and out of control much like my world over the past several days but as my feet continued to hit the ground I started to feel more and more grounded and was able to take control of my breathing very similar to how this whole process has felt. At that point, I was also able to take in and appreciate the beauty around me- the flowering trees and all of the beautiful spring flowers.

To me these beautiful things represented all of our wonderful relationships and amazing support system. I also noticed all of the new leaves and buds on the trees indicating to me that we are going to all be able to grow from this experience and flourish like we are meant to! I struggled to keep my pace consistent just like I wanted to rush through this process and make it better knowing full well that it was best to take it easy. I started out feeling very little confidence but as the miles went by I felt more and more confident in the fact that I knew what was the best next steps and as I was able to feel that way my pace was able to get faster and faster. It was a tough run (mostly emotionally) and I had to push myself through the process but in the end I felt much better!

The universe works in very strange ways and my music during my run was also interesting to me and something that I was in the moment enough to take note of. No matter what I was thinking it felt like just the right song would come on for that thought. Here are a few examples:

Feeling defeated and struggling up a tough hill

Feeling emotional over the whole situation and what the consequences could be

Feeling down about myself in general
(Tim says this song is how he thinks of me)

Inner critic creeping in
(another one that Tim says expresses how he feels about me)

all the feelings in one song and being grateful for walking through this with Tim by my side
(another song that Tim has played for me in the past)

as I was noticing all of the beautiful flowering trees

As I came around the block to home- feeling more confident.
 I am absolutely serious about when each of these songs came through my earbuds. It was crazy how spot on each was with how I was feeling at the time!

turquoise flower= believe & stay strong
#FFCREW Hat= fiercly united
It felt great to get out there and in the end I was so glad I did. It was a much healthier way to deal with all of my emotions than sitting around on social media comparing myself to everyone else's highlight reel while eating crap! That just drags me down. This run helped boost me back up and helped give me an entirely new perspective! It is amazing to me the power of running!

This was a "turquoise flower run" for me and for my middle man who I love with all of my heart! Now to build him back up so that he starts to believe in himself and see his potential like we do!! Maybe I need to get him out there running with me:)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Big sigh of relief

Based on past history I figured I would get a phone call if there was something to worry about and since I hadn't gotten that dreaded phone call yet a week after my biopsy,  I allowed myself to relax a little over Easter weekend. When my worry/anxiety would try to sneak in I stopped it by telling myself that there was a letter with good news somewhere in the US Postal System. But, as a worrier, I still needed that confirmation before I could completely relax and fully believe it. Late Sunday night, after a long day of traveling home from visiting my dad and stepmom in Missouri, I was grateful to find the letter waiting for me. This letter brought with it good news and a great big sigh of relief!

I feel very lucky and incredibly grateful for such great news and also for all of the wonderful people in my life who sent messages of thoughts/concern/support over the past couple of weeks. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people by my side helping me through tough times like this!

So, now that I am able to put that scare behind me, it is time to move on to "fun" stuff.

We had a great time in Missouri and I will have more to share on that once I have an opportunity to get my pictures off my camera. That hasn't happened yet because we have been busy enjoying the beautiful spring days that we have been blessed with the past few days (and the fact that I was only working 6 hour shifts- a coworker and I split our Monday and Tuesday shifts up to help each of us out).

Monday the kids were off of school so I hustled home from work (grateful to be off after 6 hours) so that we could go hiking with some friends. We had a lot of fun exploring some new trails in the area. It was a beautiful day and was nice to catch up with a friend while being active with our boys.

According to Aidan we hiked to the top of the world.
Tuesday the kids were back in school so I was able to get back to my normal Tuesday morning routine of heading to the Y after dropping them off. I was able to get in a 5k run on the dreadmill before heading to my favorite yoga class. I have worked the past several Tuesdays so it felt so good to get back to that class. The stretching was just what I needed and helped me find some balance again.

When I walked out of The Y I couldn't believe how nice it was outside and I started to regret running earlier. On my drive home I decided that I had just enough time (and energy) left to head out for a couple more miles before having to get ready for work. It turned out that was also just what I needed. It felt so good to run outside after a week off (due to work and traveling). It was nice enough that I was comfortable in a tank top and my leggings and I was able to "take in" and appreciate the wonderful morning while my favorite songs played in my ear. It was glorious and really helped me embrace my inner blue flower.

This is a flower that I have not always felt I connected with but am really working on this year and  I think I was successful in doing just that on Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pesky little rogue cells

Just because this picture makes me smile:)
Dang! Where did the past month + go? The only explanation is work, work, and more work with a little fun thrown in on the side. We had someone leave at work so I have been working lots of extra hours since my last post. It is amazing how fast time goes when you are working extra and have a lot going on outside of work! I will get to all of that in my next post. First I have another post that I need to get off my mind before I gain a bunch of weight by eating my fear/emotions. Typing my feelings seems to be a good way for me to understand what is going on in my head and in my heart so here goes...

Last Friday (3/18), I had my 6 month dermatology follow-up. For a week or more I had been feeling pretty emotional but couldn't put my finger on it. It dawned on me on my way to the clinic that this tends to be a pattern for me leading up to these appointments. Once I started to acknowledge this pattern and really think about why they would make me emotional I realized that deep down they scare the crap out of me! I have always acknowledged the fact that they make me uncomfortable (who would like to have their skin examined from head to toe every) but they also scare the crap out of me!

Usually they are very easy appointments and I am in and out in minutes- it usually takes me longer to check in than it does to actually be seen. But they still make be emotional and full of fear. These are all things that I am thinking through as I walk into the clinic and check in because I am finally processing this after all of these visits. Why does this appointment bring me so much fear/emotion?

Well, my appointment on Friday helped me understand exactly why! How ironic that I was thinking about all of this on my way in! USUALLY, I am in and out within minutes but not Friday. It took longer because I had a mole on my shoulder that was a concern and he wanted it gone... then and there! Before I knew it a consent was pushed in front of me to sign and a photographer swooped in to take pictures of this pesky little spot. The room was full of people as a couple of other staff (MAs and/or RNs) came in and began to lay me back and helped get everything ready. My doctor injected lidocaine, to numb the area, and before I knew it those pesky, little rogue cells were gone. I got a small bandage and received instructions on how to care for my new "wound" over the next week. At that point I was also told that I would get a letter or call within 10 days regarding the results. It was such a whirlwind! It wasn't until I got back out to my car that it all started to sink in and I was able to process what had just happened. Then it was full freak out mode... HOLY CRAP... this is why these appointments make me so emotional! It was deja vue... in that moment I was taken back to December 2012... and all I could think was that I could be headed down the crazy path of melanoma again!

So, here I sit... marinating in that fear! Waiting for those darn pathology results to come back! Scared out of my mind but hopeful at the same time. I have been going to dermatology every 6 months for 3 years now. Plus, my family medicine doctor is amazing and keeps a close eye on me and my skin (I should add that he actually commented last fall about keeping a close eye on the spot of concern). I am hopeful that, even though this is concerning, I believe that we served it's eviction notice early enough to not cause bigger issues! I believe the fear comes from the fact that you just never know. I thought the best back in 2012 and was blindsided. Reality is that I could be dealing with this all over again many times in my life. I will probably be dealing with these same feelings again in 6 months when the pesky mole in the middle of my back (that the doctor looked at three times this visit) decides to go rogue and my doctor decides that one needs the boot. I am learning to recognize and acknowledge these feelings instead of stuffing them with a chocolate malt like I have done in the past. Last Friday I pounded it out on a run THEN finished it off with a chocolate malt.. progress not steps!

I guess what I am trying to say here is...
Life can be scary at times. We need to acknowledge the fear but we can't let it consume/control us. We just need to keep on living life the best we can because you just never know! Oh... and sometimes a chocolate malt does make it feel better... for a moment!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sweaty Bands

I have tried just about every headband out there and they always slip off my head, even when they claim that they "won't slip". I was to the point where I had given up thinking that I just wasn't meant to wear headbands. Over the last few years I heard a lot about Sweaty Bands through blogs that I follow and on social media and they all claim that they won't slip and that they love them but I was hesitant to spend more money on a headband that wouldn't work. I was super excited to find a Sweaty Band included in my FFCrew kit when it arrived so I could finally see if it lived up to all of the hype I was seeing/reading on social media. I think this is just about the only brand that I hadn't tried! I went into wearing it for the first time with very low expectations...  I have been through this several times before and was always let down. Until now!! It didn't budge through a run and a tough strength training workout and I was immediately in love. Finally a headband that works to keep all of those little stray hairs out of my face AND stays put on my head! I have worn it during all of my indoor workouts since then and have to say that it is wonderful.

After falling in love with my new Sweaty Band I had to head over to their website to see what other options they had for colors and prints. I was impressed by what I found and my wish list is now pretty long! But honestly, it was more than just the colors and designs that impressed me, the mission and values also impressed me even more!

To Create quality products that empower women, one drop of sweat at a time.

Focused- We believe that dedication and confidence lead to personal bests.
Fierce- We believe that strong, passionate women are unstoppable.
Fresh- We believe that adventure inspires innovation.
Fun- We believe in celebrating the journey.

After reading this I was even more in love with the products and the company behind them. With everything that I was reading, I was very excited to see that they have an ambassador program. This is definitely a company that I could get behind and promote to my friends (both real and virtual) and family. I love their products and even more I love what they stand for. I decided to take the chance and fill out the application with my "story". I am very excited to tell you that I am now a Sweaty Bands Ambassador/#SweatyCrew member AND there is something in this for you as well... a 15% discount when you use my link to purchase your own Sweaty Bands!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New experiences

Like usual, this past weekend was a busy one for my family. It started with me picking up an extra shift (we had someone leave which left several holes) to work on Friday. I only agreed to work as long as I could be off a bit early to make it to the high school basketball game where Riley was playing in the pep band (middle and high school playing together). I got home and didn't even turn off the car. As the rest of the family was coming out to get in, I was taking all of my stuff inside. We hustled off to the game only to wait about a half hour longer than expected to hear them play. We watched part of the game before we headed out to grab some dinner.

~This is where I would normally insert a great photo of Ry playing in the pep band. But there was a mom fail moment and I didn't get a picture~

Saturday started with watching Aidan play basketball. I have to admit that it is really tough to watch 1st/2nd graders. There are so many different skill levels and they are all over the place during the game. I definitely respect those coaches and wouldn't want that job! They have their work cut out for them! Aidan seems to be having fun and that is what matters at this point!

After the game we headed to my best friends house near the Dells. Her daughter turned 14 on Friday and we were going to help celebrate! We hung out, had a wonderful meal, enjoyed some cake and then headed out to the main event of the celebration... roller skating!

 It has been a loooong time since I have roller skated... like since high school. Back in the day we use to go all the time but I haven't really done it since. Yes, I have roller bladed and really enjoy that but it is different.
 It took a little bit to get use to it again but before I knew it I was back in the groove and it felt like old times! Just like riding a bike! (it appeared that Tim was in the same boat- although he did fall several times and I only took one big digger!)

Riley has gone to our local rink a few times over the past years for parties and for field trips etc. but I guess he usually gets roller blades and that wasn't an option at this rink. Like usual he caught on pretty quickly. He took some falls but did great and had fun with Tresajo and her friends.

Now, Isaac and Aidan have not really experience roller skating before and it was very clear. I like to say that they looked a bit like newborn baby giraffes learning how to walk for the first time. I am serious! Can you picture it... legs going every which way? That is exactly what they looked like! Isaac was brave and took on the challenge head on. He took lots of spills but got right back up and pushed through. By the end he was doing pretty good. Aidan wasn't so sure. It took lots more coaxing to get him out there. Little by little (holding my hand and the wall) he got more steady on his feet. But it took "Aunt" Julie to really get him going. There were skating buddies! She finally got him out there going around and around without holding the wall. She was still holding his hand basically pulling him around but, after his initial reaction to the idea of skating, I will count that as a win!

Skating buddies
In the end, I think everyone had a great time! It was so much fun to experience this as a family and with our best friends.

The birthday girl and all of the kids
Once the skating rink closed we headed for home because I had and event to attend the next day and Tim and the boys were going out ice fishing with a friend of his from work. It was a late night but we were happy to do it to make it work to celebrate with TJ.

Sunday I attended a local Declare It Day (a Fellow Flowers event) event, "a day for women to speak from their souls, listen to the whispers of possibility, crush excuses and boldly and proudly declare a goal for the year ahead"- Fellow Flowers. You can read the history of Declare It Day here.

In past years there was a featured color or meaning. This year they decided to change it up. The following is from the National Declare It Day Event page and summarizes 2016 Declare It Day.

FEEL the power, excitement and connection of declaring your goal and saying your dream out loud with thousands of other strong brave women from around the world. Step in to instant accountability, fun and celebration and reminders that we are not alone in the journey of becoming the best version of ourselves. 

But unlike years past, this year, Declare It Day has no featured colors or meanings… it’s just about you.
Yes. You heard us right. Who are we to determine and drive your journey? If there is one thing we’ve learned this past year it’s that only YOU know what’s best for YOU… period.
Does your goal make you a better you?
2016 is about your story. Your journey. Your reasons.
No distractions, no glitz, no glamour.
Goals aren’t wishy-washy maybe someday ideas. Goals are action, and when done intentionally, they challenge your greatest fears and ignite your dreams.
This goal, dream or new of living will not be handed to you simply because you want it… your willingness do the work must come from within.
You’ve gotta earn it.

Goals are initiative, grit and will. Goals are getting up early and staying up late to get it done. Goals are fueling your body, soul and spirit properly so you can push through the moments when you will want to quit. Goals are walking away from people who make you feel small and insignificant, and deciding to surround yourself with people who believe in you. Goals are doing the work when no one is watching.
Goals are about giving a shit. Being your own kind of badass. Fighting for what you love. Taking a stand for the life you want and the person you know you are meant to be.
Just you and a goal.
Just you and a desire to be better and stronger. Just you and a long overdue fight with your perceived limits.
Decide what you want to be… and go be it. Put in the work and be stronger than your excuses. Quit hiding. Embrace discomfort. Turn your dial to action and get started.
You can, and you WILL.
Declare It Day 2016 is not about colors, Mel + Tori or anything else. It is about YOU.
Your goal doesn’t need to be grand, big or bold. It needs to tell your story – where you are RIGHT NOW. Maybe it’s declaring something to the world or simply making a promise to yourself.
Make it yours. Make it what you need. Make it about finding the answer, or simply asking the question. Make it about getting lost… make it about finally feeling found. 
Make 2016 about stepping into the best version of you. This year, it’s personal. xo
With gratitude,
Mel + Tori

Photo by Dallas Fitch

Declare It Day was actually Saturday with events being held all over the country but the one nearest to me that was hosted by a couple of local FFCrew ladies was held on Sunday. The thought of driving alone to Winona, MN (only 30 minutes) to attend an event where I didn't really know anyone (other than the two crew ladies that I only met once) made me super nervous (um, can you say introvert?!?). I am not the type to approach people and just introduce myself or strike up a conversation. I am more of a keep to myself person in situations like this but I decided that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and go to this event. After reading the above message I knew that I NEEDED to go! I knew it would be hard and a bit uncomfortable (and it definitely was) but it was also sooooo worth it! What a great event!! A room filled with wonderful ladies that all felt empowered - not intimidated- to set goals with meaning and substance. For several the why behind the goal was just as important as the goal itself. This was a space for all of these amazing ladies to be heard, validated, and celebrated and it was such an inspiring and empowering thing to witness and be a part of.

Photo by Dallas Fitch

Photo by Dallas Fitch

Photo by Dallas Fitch

Photo by Dallas Fitch

Photo by Dallas Fitch
We talked about our obstacles and excuses but we also talked about ways to overcome them. We talked about having celebration circles and girl squads. We talked about our whys and then we spent time writing our declarations.

I have known this was coming for several weeks and have been thinking long and hard about what to declare but I was still struggling.

I have done the goal of running a 5k. I have done the goal of running a half marathon. I have even done the goal of running a full marathon. I mixed it up one year with the goal of doing a triathlon. I didn't know what I wanted to set as a goal for this year. I know this isn't the year to train for a marathon. We are already planning to do a half marathon... that is happening so I don't need to set that as a goal. After the past couple of years of rocky training schedules, I don't feel like I am in a place to get the goal of a PR at any distance. I think you get my point... I was stuck!

Prior to leaving for the event I texted my best friend asking for her help and she said I should do consistency and staying positive. My response to that was "how do I measure that". SMART goals have been drilled into me and looking back at it that was what was hanging me up. Then I remembered the last part of that above message from Mel and Tori-

Your goal doesn’t need to be grand, big or bold. It needs to tell your story – where you are RIGHT NOW. Maybe it’s declaring something to the world or simply making a promise to yourself.
Make it yours. Make it what you need. Make it about finding the answer, or simply asking the question. Make it about getting lost… make it about finally feeling found. 
Make 2016 about stepping into the best version of you. This year, it’s personal. xo

Here is what I ended up declaring:

I CAN & I Will: Step out of my comfort zone! I can and I will change my habits to be more consistent in my running/strength training/cross training/eating habits so that I can be the athlete that I want to be and lose 20 pounds in the process.

I AM... ready and able. I am stronger than my excuses and believe that I CAN do it!

I KNOW... it will take hard work and dedication but I also know that I can do it!

I am happy with this declaration but I think it still needs work to really get the feelings that I want into it. The consistency doesn't only get me back to being the athlete I want to be, it also gets me back to being ME! Finding myself again. Over the past few years when I have lacked the consistency I haven't felt like myself. I haven't had confidence or felt that I was worthy. Over the past couple of months I have started to get this all back and it is coming back because I am back to running more, strength training more and taking time to do the things I love and I am focusing on MY journey! Now I need to be consistent and continue to make positive changes by stepping out of my comfort zone and continuing to ask myself hard questions. It is time to figure out what is next for me. Is it time to go back to school? Maybe that is something to investigate/explore this year. Maybe that will lead me to my 2017 DID goal. I don't know... but this year I intend to figure out who I am and where I am going to be the best me.

 I took my first step in fulfilling my declaration of stepping out of my comfort zone right after writing it. They asked for volunteers to read theirs out loud and even though I wasn't completely confident in what I had written I found myself volunteering to read mine. You know what? Nobody laughed at me and I didn't die! I was validated and supported!

I was also rewarded with getting to pick a prize from the basket. I selected the Black Flower and the I promise magnet. The black flower is not a flower that I feel I AM but one that I ASPIRE to BE! I love the 'idea' of the black flower.

My prize
I will admit that it was uncomfortable going into an event where it felt like so many of the ladies knew each other and already had connections. There were moments where I felt like an outsider but there were so many moments that I also felt supported and empowered. Next year I will bring my 'tribe' with me or maybe I will host my own DID event for my 'tribe' because it was an amazing day and I can't wait to share that experience with others!

Winona, MN DID

 The information and declaration form are still available if you would like to join me in making a declaration for 2016.

My new wallpaper on my phone