Tag Archives: courage

Remembering

This morning I randomly decided to watch the music video for one of my favorite songs. Little did I know it would bring me to tears.

If you haven’t watched it, you may be surprised. Check it out:

It is so easy to forget. To compartmentalize in order to move on. To push your past into deep, dark corners of mental closets – safe from the light. It’s surprisingly easy, with time. Things you think you’ll never forget, never recover from, never erase from your memory… you simply do.

You would be surprised what time can do to erase your pain – this is both a blessing and a curse.

Coping requires some level of moving on. But learning, growing, changing, and channeling requires remembering.

This video shocked me back into memories I haven’t touched in forever. I held them in my mind and turned them over with fascinated repulsion as I watched it, felt it, relived it… a relentless montage in my head of the most devastating and debilitating experiences of my life.

I remember that animal-like fear. The absolute terror and pain and the mind-blowing disconnect between deeply loving someone and feeling and receiving what I did from them. I remember the intense physical effects of harsh words and threats and raised hands. I remember that indescribable feeling of being trapped, and alone. I remember the vivid nightmare of my days and the panic of restless nights. The deepest forms of betrayal. Confusion, terror, self-loathing, shame, hatred, insecurity, depression, and anger… all wrapped up into one shriveling life form that was ME. Me: deconstructed, devolving, destroyed. I was dying inside. Hidden from light and love and hope and community.

And I left. I left, I started over. I grew, I lived, I was reborn. I evolved. I strengthened. I stood up, hoped, smiled, connected, and was free. Am free. Am all of these things, and more.

In the midst of my freedom… in the midst of the intense joy I feel in living, loving, hoping, dreaming, connecting, thriving… I must not forget my pain. My pain is what brought me here. My pain is what deepened me, developed my soul, created my empathy for the world and for everyone who has been there, and who is still there.

I’m anxiously awaiting the day when I can get the IDECIDE program off the ground. When I can again connect with a community of oppressed souls and help walk them into the light of freedom – away from this pain and confusion and fear. When I can reach out and touch the abused and the destroyed and the defeated with everything I have to offer from the other side of pain. I cannot wait to begin this mission and to spend the rest of my life pursuing touching as many lives as I can. I cannot wait to give back – to find the balance between living free, and remembering pain.

I have so much to do. I do not want to forget.

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Closer to Love

Mat Kearney: Closer to Love

Oh it’s your light,
Oh it’s your way,
Pull me out of the dark
Just to show me the way
Cryin’ out now
From so far away…
You pull me closer to love
Closer to love

In the last 24 hours I’ve had two very thought-provoking things happen. The first was when a dear friend asked if I “missed being in a relationship,” after I mentioned the commitment I made to ride this year out single so I could focus on self-reflection and getting to know MYSELF through a variety of people and experiences. The second was when I ran across an incredibly dynamic and attractive individual – one of those people you just instantly connect with, that get you thinking intensely about what you want in life, somehow. You know those people – the game-changers. The “hail marys” of your life that skyrocket you into self-reflection and sometimes, powerful life changes.

Between those two incidents, I’ve been thinking deeply on how my approach to love has changed in the last decade. Thinking about the assumptions I now make about self and world, about how I’ve lost the romance along the way amidst the pain, and about the bigger picture of human relationships and connection.

I’ve been reading an amazing book lately called “Waking Up: a Guide to Spirituality without Religion” (available on amazon – highly recommend it!). In the beginning of the book, the author mentions that people tend to love one of two ways: first, for what you give them or how you make them feel, and second, for who you are. He calls the first “transactional love” and makes a firm point that this type of love exists in a vacuum – it cannot survive if practiced by one or either individual – in any type of relationship. Ironically, I’ve said this in my own way upon reflecting on my past this last few years. I say often that “it is possible to be loved selfishly, while loving selflessly.” 

My own experience of platonic and familial love has been powerful and life-changing. I have an incredibly, unconditionally loving family. Parents who love each other and their daughters with reckless, selfless abandon. I have friends who will be there for me at the drop of the hat – who truly love who I am, regardless of what I can do for them, or how I’ve changed. I’ve magnetized more and more of these people this last few years, and I am deeply grateful for them.

What has been painful for me is the romantic aspect of love. I have a deep, vested interest in the success and wellbeing of every stranger I meet. Truly, I care instantly for people, and want their best. If I only touch their lives briefly, I want to touch them powerfully, positively, and inspirationally. I want to help everyone. I’ve always been that way, and I passionately love this about myself.

This is, however, crippling for me in romantic relationships. In a culture where what we have – what we own – seems to determine our self-value, people seem to be just another commodity to acquire. Something entertaining, fulfilling, satisfying – to discard when the amusement has passed or the newer model becomes available. We’ve marginalized human relationships in our quenchless thirst for the next-best-thing.

I’ve never loved this way. I can honestly say that even in two long, emotional, deeply powerful, monogamous relationships, I’ve felt every day that I wanted the best of my partner first and foremost – even if their best was not me, or not what I wanted. I was more invested in their future, their health, their self-fulfillment, than in my selfishness on any level.

There is a fine line to walk here. I fully recognize that while selflessness is admirable, a martyr mentality is not a healthy approach to romantic love. What I’ve come to recognize the last few years is that love is at times, selfish. Love begins with self-love, and self-love INCLUDES a certain level of selfishness – the courage to say “I want this.” The commitment to speak up when we are hurt. The ability to ASK. 

Somewhere along the way, in the darkest places of my broken marriage, in the corners of my living room – as small as possible, hiding from the world and from my shattering reality – I learned that if I expected nothing, asked for nothing, dreamed of nothing – if I turned fear into open-handed coexistence, if I took away the romance… I was less brutally torn apart by rejection and sharp words and raised fists and a relentless verbal destruction of the things I had always found most beautiful about myself.

I learned not to ask, not to hope, because there is nothing more painful than loving selflessly, and being loved transactionally in return. There is nothing more painful than realizing that you love more deeply and powerfully than your significant other is capable of loving you. There is nothing worse than being loved intermittently, haphazardly, while loving someone with love like the ocean – vast, expansive, endless, deep, constantly moving and changing but always there. There is nothing sharper and more destructive than the careless wounds of someone you love wholly and completely for everything they are, and can be. 

I’ve swung to the opposite extreme these days – not to selfish love, but to the absence of romantic love. I expect nothing, hope for very little, and keep my hands open. I reassure people over and over that I’ll never ask anything of them – that I expect nothing of them – I don’t dream or read into things or romanticize anything, because it is much easier for me to accept the transience of human relationships than it is to hope that something powerful, purposeful, and earth-shattering could come into my life, and remain. 

This year of committing to be single is so very intentional. These are the revelations I need to make – the observations about my extremes that I need to master, to conquer – to find that middle ground. To find the balance between love and martyrdom. To practice discernment in avoiding transactional lovers, but investing fully where I find the possibility of something lasting.

Somewhere amidst the ashes of my former life, there are burning coals of romance and hope and passion and a curious desire to be loved the very same way I love everyone else in my life.

But if there is one, simple way to explain the evolution I am undergoing, it is this:

The more I love myself, the closer I feel to love. 

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CANDOR

Sometimes you sit, and you stare at the reality that is your life, and you reflect.

Today I’ve been all caught up in my head space. I spend way too much time overanalyzing my own progress or regression. I am easily devastated by the opinions of anyone I trust, if a negative criticism is suggested.

Today someone suggested I had PTSD from prior relationships. That’ I run from potential. That I have a lot of unresolved issues.

They said this when I suggested that things were moving too fast – that it was important to slow down and build something rationally, explore possibilities without making assumptions.

I sat there, and I wondered – am I damaged?

I’ve been severely ill, abused, and abandoned. What are the ramifications of those three separate life events?

Are we a product of our circumstances, or of our choices, or of our self-awareness? All three? Does my obsessive self-reflection and desire to understand my own psyche help me progress, or do I need to learn to live in the moment? Abandon all learned behaviors and defenses in favor of possibility? What is truly wise, and what is fear-driven?

Sometimes I am so confident that I know myself, and others, I wonder if I’m blind to my own inconsistencies.

My soul is a war of traditional with free spirit – on a regular basis. Reserve and caution and respect for the culture I grew up in, at war with my constant desire to be free and open to the world, to walk around without boundaries, to rebel against the idea that I could be owned or possessed or controlled in any way by another human.

I’ve changed dynamically and exponentially this last few years. I’ve become a person that I NEVER expected to be – but someone I truly love. I never stop growing, changing, evolving, learning.

The more I know myself, the more I realize how much I have to learn.

The problem with realizing how much you evolve and open up and change is that you realize you’re boundless – your limits are unknown. Apart from your moral and ethical code, you have no idea where your journey and self-development may take you. You’re unaware of who you may be in 6 months, a year, 5 years. You can hardly ever say “I wouldn’t”… because you know the “wouldn’ts” you’ve already done.

The older I get, the more I learn myself, the more I realize that being candid with myself and others means admitting that I am a constantly growing, changing, burning, fiercely alive human being. I am passionately and intensely and humanly both consistent and inconsistent. I am reliable where it matters, and transient and changing where life ebbs and flows. Harsh lessons and beautiful connections empower and compel me to change and evolve.

Candor means admitting that sometimes, I do not know what I want. Sometimes, that is purely because I understand my own capacity for evolution – and not because I’m damaged, broken, or unresolved in any way.

I am simply human.

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What Doesn’t Kill Me

If you look back on a brief synopsis of my life the last decade, you’d wonder how I am who I am today, how I am where I am – and where the hell I’m headed.

  • 7 years of chronic illness. Hospitals, dressing changes, PICC lines, never a normal life like all my friends had from 18-24… so much crying and so much fear. I went to bed wondering how much pain the next day would bring.
  • 3 years of intense emotional and physical pain in my marriage. Leaving and starting over as a single mother. Begging for money from strangers on my drive. Minimum wage, credit cards. The devil at my back, driving me to succeed because a Little Someone needed me to.
  • Moving for an opportunity that fell through 2 weeks after I had spent my entire, meager savings relocating and signing my first lease as a single mother. Getting a job two days later that fell through 2 months later when I was fired for reporting sexual harassment. Washing cars to make ends meet. Studying my ass off to recertify as a trainer. Never knowing every month if what I had would be enough. Eating rice cakes and peanut butter to survive. 11 things in collections… I simply couldn’t pay them.
  • Finally relocating for a better life, with someone I truly loved who treated me well, and MAKING it, first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of not surviving… breaking up 11 months later and facing my life head-on again, with a dramatic increase in living costs, and no help – once again, single mother, running from all of the possible failure at my back.

With the amount of fear and crying and that tight throat feeling I’ve had this last decade or more, I should be a bitter, jaded, angry, person. I should be cynical, fearful of change, living in anxiety and closed off to risks. I should be, but I am not.

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” – we have all heard it, but it’s not automatically true.

What doesn’t kill you can leave you broken. Your pain can debilitate you. Change you, degrade you, hurt you. Leave you alone in the darkness.

What doesn’t kill you can leave you destroyed – a shipwreck of humanity on the shores of broken dreams and one too many prayers for salvation.

Or…

It can make you stronger. But you know what the difference is in that “or”?

It’s just YOU. YOU are the difference. Your choice is the difference. Your determination, your ability to keep your chin up no matter how many times life throws a left hook and drops you. No matter how many times you’re beaten down and broken and hurt and afraid, no matter how many times you hit the “can’t” wall – no matter how many times life abuses your hopes and tarnishes the beauty of your optimism – YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE.

You decide what you will make of your pain. You decide what will come of your past. YOU. YOU DECIDE.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL TO ME. The little things are precious. Human connection is empowering. The ability to relate to others in pain I’ve experienced is priceless. Faith is a beacon. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I live hopeful, determined, progressive, disciplined, driven, strong. The world is bigger, more open, less limiting for the limitations I’ve experienced.

Life has never been easy for me, but my callouses are hard-earned, and impenetrable. I’m tough as nails, because I CHOSE TO BECOME STRONGER.

I am deeper, wiser, kinder, more hopeful, more loving, more outward-focused, more joyful, because life didn’t kill me. It didn’t break me. I pick myself up every damn time, and I FUCKING CHOOSE TO LIVE.

Here I am in sunny San Diego, surrounded by amazing friends, strapped again but LOVING the fact that I GOT MYSELF HERE. I toughened up, I CHOSE. I DECIDED TO BE STRONGER.

What didn’t kill me made me BEAUTIFUL.

Never forget that YOU are the determining factor in your life… who you become will be a result of what you choose to do with what COULD kill you. BE STRONGER. BE WISER, BE MORE FAITHFUL, DRIVEN, PASSIONATE, OPEN, LOVING, KIND, POWERFUL, CAPABLE…

Be STRONGER.

I believe in you.

smile

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The Importance of Being Earnest

If you haven’t seen the iconic “Importance of Being Earnest” movie, it’s a fluffy, cute romantic comedy starring some fan favorites. You can check it out here. The movie is based on a book by Oscar Wilde, and stars two men pretending to be something they are not… and remembering this film sparked some thoughts for me today.

Our culture is increasingly driven by two powerful “I” words: Ignorance and Image. It feeds off of those who can pretend to be what they are not, and those who believe them. Problem? I think so.

This generation is more belabored by bull shit than any previous generation. We’re surrounded by photoshopping, inflation, exaggeration, comparison, greed, and lies. We’re inundated with it. We live and breathe it.. and most likely as a result, we think it.

When you’re constantly exposed to small amounts of toxic chemicals, they can kill you. In the same way, the constant barrage from a culture based on things that are FAKE (Image) can promote similar tendencies in our own behavior if we are not keen to ascertain them (Ignorance).

Some people are clearly and maliciously fake. They pretend (and pretend very well) to be something or someone they are not. To want things they don’t want, to be what they think you want them to be for whatever end they are serving. Others of us, like myself, may slip into these habits from ignorance – from a lack of alertness to this common cultural bias toward being fake.

I see this in how I present myself to people. I may cater my words, retract a perspective, suggest something that is slightly untrue but not entirely false in order to gain approval or commendation. I may not do this maliciously, or often, but I may still do it. When I do it – or when I catch myself doing it – I hate it. I hate everything about it.

I’m from the old-school society that things that your value depends heavily on how much Integrity you have – another “I” word that is a million times more powerful than Ignorance and Image. When you have integrity to what you believe, who you are, what you stand for – and additionally, to the good and respect of others… you can do amazing things, and you can live with yourself.

It’s so easy to cave to this culture, to forget that we so quickly cater to the people around us in small ways. It’s so easy to let your guard down and be what someone wants you to be because you love them or because you simply want them to like you. But it is so, so detrimental to your character, and your relationships.

This can play out in some odd ways you might not expect. Someone asked me once if I regretted anything from my relationship with my ex-husband. I had to think about it pretty heavily. I finally realized I did have one regret – I regretted lying to him for years. Sound appalling? It is, but it was more subtle than you think.

These were lies of omission – of omitting how I really felt and thought about things. How I felt about him yelling at me, about porn affecting our relationship. How I felt about never seeing him, never getting time together. About his hours and hours on the computer and me crawling into bed alone every night. About sexuality when he wanted it, but only when he did… and always when he did, and how he wanted it. I lied about who I was by not saying how I felt. By not standing up for myself. By not being honest when things hurt me. By the time I did, he was genuinely shocked that I remembered every single hurt, abuse, and neglect. Every single malicious word. Every put-down. Every time I paid for his bad days. I remembered Every. Single. One.

My dear friend Josh was the unfortunate beast of burden right after I left my ex and drove in the middle of the night many hours away. He had to listen as I poured my heart out, brokenly, about finally leaving. About fear and pain and loss and hurt. We talked about a lot of things and he called me out when I said that my ex forgetting every little thing about me every day – likes and dislikes and holidays and birthdays and anniversaries – never hurt me. He said “when did the romantic Jen die? You know, it is okay to be a woman.” I burst into tears.

Have you ever heard the phrase “We accept the love we believe we deserve?” Neither had I until this year. But that is so damn true.

The more you lie to yourself, the more you omit things in your relationships, the less you say when things hurt, when they break you down – the less you listen to your gut instincts, the less you are honest with others about who you are, what you want, and where you’re headed – the more you cater and cave and conform… the more you will find yourself playing right into a culture of Ignorance and Image.

You’re losing your Integrity.

The little things that bother you. The repeated hurtful words. The distance or the disregard. Those things will destroy you – they will destroy your relationships if you do not speak up.

Have the integrity to operate outside of a culture of lies. Be earnestly, completely, fully yourself. Fully honest with yourself, and with others. If you do love someone and you do care about them, be honest now. Speak up now. Be real – NOW. Before it is too late and one day you break, and you’re real and raw with them and everything falls apart because it was based on lies.

The truth will either make your relationship stronger, or it will break you apart – and if the truth breaks you apart, you never would have made it. Wouldn’t you rather know now?

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others.

Be real, and true, and raw with the world.

Be you.

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When to Move On… When it’s Not Giving Up.

I was in an odd frame of mind writing yesterday’s post, fighting with myself to remind myself why I compete, why I’ve been pushing into a new federation with WBFF, why I love it all enough to stick with it.

After a good night’s sleep and a few emails, I’ve come to the wearied conclusion that I’m simply done with it all.

As melodramatic and pained as that sounds, it’s really a relief.

This last 2.5 years of competing has taught me a ton about health, nutrition, exercise science… much, much more than I learned through my certifications with NASM and NCCPT. It’s taught me discipline, drive, and it’s taught me to care about what I put into my body.

Competing in bodybuilding has pushed my limits, and it’s taught me that I can surpass them. It’s taught me that my body is really capable of anything if I work hard enough, long enough, consistently enough.

Competing in bodybuilding has led me to some amazing friendships, relationships, opportunities as an athlete – widened horizons, new goals, new ways of moving and learning and growing. Competing has enlarged the world of fitness for me in some really, really cool ways.

At the same time, competing has taught me that people will do almost anything for fame, recognition, a leg up, perks, an incentive or an edge on someone else. It’s taught me that the bigger an industry gets, the more it grows in popularity, the more political it becomes. The more it’s about who you know, who they know, what you can pay, what shortcuts you’ll take.

Competing has bitterly introduced me to a darker side of humanity I didn’t run into as your average trainer in a gym. A world where people will backstab, gossip, and hurt. Where they will outright lie to preserve face. A world where jealousy, pettiness, anger, and selfish disdain for the feelings of others run rampant like weeds.

There are good things about this industry, and there are bad. Few people who stay in it long-term seem to keep their integrity, and the few who have are running against the odds, and I commend them.

In the past two years I’ve had several instances where I had to challenge what was “politically smart” on my part with my own sense of integrity, empathy, justice, and a strong desire to always stand up for those who won’t stand up for themselves. Every time, it’s gotten me “in trouble”, but every time, in a painful sense, it was worth it. Because I could never live with myself knowing I hadn’t spoken up.

“All that is necessary for evil men to triumph in this world… is for enough good men (and women) to do nothing.”

I refuse to do nothing, I will always do something. No matter the cost, I will always stand up for people  who are being mistreated, misused, hurt, abandoned, or put down. And that’s something about myself that may have slowly edged me out of this industry.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in a short time, for a young mom. I placed 3rd and 2nd in my first two shows, qualifying for nationals, and I worked really hard for and with each coach I’ve had the privilege of learning from. I’ve learned something from each of them, both positive and negative. I’ve come a long way from a skinny-obsessed distance runner counting every calorie with no knowledge of balance or muscle development, and I’m proud to be a constantly developing trainer today. I’m grateful for all the industry has taught me, both hard lessons and happy triumphs.

At this time, I feel I’ve learned what I can without buying into politics and increasing hurt at the hands of people who will sacrifice their integrity for recognition or ego. It’s time to move on, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I’ve been a distance runner, triathlete, yogi, trainer, bodybuilder, group ex instructor, spin-ner and more. I’m ready to move on. Making the next 11 weeks my carved-out time for cutting bodyfat and then working on maintaining, with balance, and building muscle, slowly and in a healthy way. At the same time, purposing to try new things, like more boxing classes and (GASP!) Crossfit, to stay rounded and challenge myself.

There are no dead-ends in life unless you make them dead-ends. There are only stepping stones into your future.

I am not giving up, I am moving on.

And I’m okay with that.

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Calling the Fitness Industry Out: It’s Time for Some Integrity.

After careful consideration and an anticipation of backlash, unfollows, and unpopularity, I’ve decided to publish a letter I wrote to my old bodybuilding team when I made the decision to leave them a few months ago.

The reason is trifold:

1. This letter was never acknowledged.

2. This prep with a different coach has taught me a lot about wrong and right.

3. I’ve now had MANY people come to me with similar concerns, female athletes triad, eating disorders, depression, and depletion and adrenal issues from poor coaching or a lack of attention – from several teams.

I would have appreciated the response I felt this required, or to have seen changes in the last few months as I and others have expressed these concerns.

The bodybuilding industry is losing its integrity and its focus on the long-term benefit to their clients. The responsibility to the individuals. Multiple coaches are guilty of this… The integrity is leaving us…Let’s bring it back.

To be clear, I do support a lot of these girls on my old team and consider them brilliant industry competitors. But the personal care is going downhill, and the more experience I gain and the more pain I see, the more I feel people need to be made aware of these concerns, which apply to many coaching styles.

Please feel free to contact me at sportyspicefit@gmail.com with any questions. 

I have also included the response of a friend who is hugely active in the fitness industry, and someone I respect a lot, because it was invaluable. You’ll find both below.

My intent in sharing these is to push the people who participate in the industry to recognize how far we have come in the wrong direction, and to help competitors and athletes and people seeking weightloss alike to make informed decisions.

Here is the letter I wrote the team, months ago. It’s reflective of the experience of many, on multiple big-name teams.

Hey guys!

I wanted to take the time to send you a thorough email and express my gratitude and also a few thoughts.

First, thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in me and bringing me on board during an incredibly difficult time in my life. The added kindness of the sponsorship enabled me to really find my feet and establish myself after an awful abuse situation. It pushed me back into a career and community that I love dearly, and opened my eyes to a whole other side of fitness.

Working with you has been a wonderful education and an incredible honor.

This year was super challenging as I pushed through starting life as a single mom and returning to school, as well as battling the confusion of post-show metabolic compensation and feeling really lost when my body rebounded last winter. I knew so little, despite years as a trainer, about the effects of competition on your metabolism and reverse dieting, it was a shock for my system and something I learned from this time around.

I wish I had been ready for and physically able to do North Americans, and to see everyone again.

Despite the fact that my training has been gratis, I will be leaving the team at this time. I wanted to write an email because I didn’t want in any way for you to feel I was angry, bitter, or prepared to trash talk the team as some others have done. I’ve had girls come to me upset or confused about things and every single time explained how hard you both work and how I respect and love you both.

That being said, just a few thoughts.

First, for many girls as the team has become so big, they are panicking and stressed by the lack of personal attention. While it is understandable with the empire you’re building that you don’t have the time to respond quickly to emails, in my opinion it would’ve been ideal quite some time ago to start hiring assistant coaches in order to keep from the growing number of posts I see in our private group from girls weeks or less from competing who haven’t had plan updates or responses to emails.

Another girl in particular came to me stunned that it had been three weeks with no reply regarding her prep. I don’t get involved in those discussions, but it’s fast becoming the norm. That doesn’t speak well of the team, or of the heart I know you have for everyone. There has to be some way to delegate so that people are taken care of on a personal level.

Second, favoritism. While I know this is likely NOT the case, people are observing that a few girls in particular seem to have more time and attention. I can’t speak to the truth of that and don’t know if that’s true, knowing you both, but it probably comes from the first thing I mentioned above.

Third, personal care. While people are more and more needy and emotional and stressed, and I deal with that myself with the few bikini clients I have, they also do occasionally have valid need for more personal input which ties back to the first thought. They ESPECIALLY need more preparation for what happens post-show, and some basic direction for reverse dieting and off season. This to me says there is a full extension of care for each person so that they don’t go through what I went through (and many others have) after my last show.

All of that being said, I do know who you are and I do love you both and admire and respect you. I just think as the team has gotten so big, there is a much greater need for assistants and delegation because things are slipping through the cracks. It reminds me of the difference I’ve noticed between working for a mom and pop gym vs a franchise. Your girls NEED the one-on-one and the prompt responses and the TIME investment that says we are here for you.

I’m transitioning to another team because they’ve offered an opportunity to be a part of something smaller and more personal, but also because I have a chance to assistant coach there which is a HUGE dream of mine. I’m excited that they’re already working on off-season plans for me and I’ll be competing with them in the spring in Arizona. I look forward to seeing the girls out there and have nothing but love and support for everyone competing, no matter the team. You know that my integrity is everything to me, and I think this is a good transition to support that. It’s also the reason I took the time to write this email.

Thank you again for the time and love and care. Best wishes in all of the amazing opportunities you’re pursuing!

Love and respect,
-Jen

————-

Here is the post back to me on FB from my friend (his reply – Team Edge never responded to the email):

From MD:

Standing up and sharing truth! Never, NEVER anything wrong about that. Any business should adapt to the growth swing, yet this is more common. Unfortunately the side effect teams loose sight of is that they are coaching people to a physical extreme that leaves these competitors in a very delicate state physically … with their physical health swinging in the balance. I wish more “coaches” would look at the magnitude of what they are doing to their client’s body as more important than how much money they can make. 

At some point, a client of a team / coach is going to wise up after suffering serious health issues due to their practices and hold them accountable and sue them … AND WIN! Until then, these teams / coaches are playing a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette sending people into adrenal fatigue and failure leaving so many with serious, if not permanent, endocrine problems due to their cookie-cutter approach, lack of communication and no concern for the health of their clients. What these teams/coaches fail to understand is that just because a client signs a liability release, if gross negligence has occurred … the release can’t protect the team/coach from knowingly or unknowingly harming their clients resulting from poor communication & misguided coaching that causes physical damage. The lawsuit could in fact show criminal negligence and some could end up in jail, but God forbid a client actually dies as a result to these issues you’ve stated. 

What if their client was suffering serious physical/mental issues and needed guidance from their coach, and as you pointed out, no response? The results could be tragic for all parties involved. But as you have said, this isn’t good. 

**HIGH 5** Jenny for no longer biting your tongue. Until people like yourself voice the problems and exposing these poor business practices that clearly the bottom line is more important than their client’s health … it will continue to occur.

Bravo my friend. BRAVO!

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Life’s Purpose

People want purpose.

They want something to live for, rules to live by, rewards and struggles and triumphs.

People want to define value by what they achieve.

What they have.

Who they marry.

What group they identify with: gay, straight, religious, atheist, athlete, musician, hipster, corporate, blue collar, white collar, married, single, middle class, poor…

I grew up thinking my value was defined by how many people I “converted”. How “close I could get to God”. How much better I could get at being “perfect”.

What if, instead, our value is defined by our self awareness?

What if, instead of fighting to identify, to redefine, to blend, you fight to find yourself?

What if you use your challenges to ferret out your strengths? Your triumphs to encourage you to sharpen your gifts?

What if you spend life surrounding yourself with people who push you to be the truest and best version of yourself?

What if your income, your possessions, your relationships, your studies, your job, your future are simple tools to discover the deepest parts of you?

I would submit that the end-goal of life is never a line in the sand, a box of things, a relationship and its tenure…

The end-goal of life, of my life, is knowing myself better.

You discover, with time, as you let yourself into YOU, what you are capable of, what you can achieve.

You discover your self-discipline, the lengths of your patience, the better parts of your character, and the struggle to preserve them.

And from there, you give back.

Until you really know what you are capable of, until you know yourself, you cannot truly capitalize on your abilities.

When you pause to study yourself, you begin to be awed by your own potential.

Learn your potential. Fight for your individuality.

Don’t blend, cave, surrender. Be you, find you, develop you.

Learn the value of “I can”, and learn to DO, by learning the essence of the person behind that knowledge and its implementation.

Stop focusing on what the world thinks of you, what your friends think of you, who you want to look like and become, and start delving inward.

Turn your focus to being the best and truest version of your very own individual self.

I promise you, that’s the best place to find happiness, and to develop purpose.

Your integrity to yourself is the greatest and most beautiful thing you can achieve in this lifetime.

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The Power of Experience

Day three  – in a row – of blogging. This has certainly never happened before, and it feels as good as my coffee tastes this morning. 

The older I get (as I approach the ripe age of 27, ripe being an apt adjective for this post), the more I realize that when people said “you won’t understand until you’re older”, what they’re really speaking of is experience. 

There are some things that you simply cannot learn without time and experience. 

This valued ingredient of maturity, experience, is also the reason why some people age and never mature. There are people so sheltered, who run and hide from the challenges, risks, successes and failures that life brings, and as a result fail to develop the depth of character that can come from experiencing more of the world. 

The majority of the unexperienced are narrow-minded, and lack empathy and respect. 

It is fairly impossible to be immature without being unexperienced. 

Here is the best illustration I have for you:

Growing up, I was quite sheltered, as has been previously discussed. This kept me from much pain, but also slowed my maturing, and kept me close-minded, arrogant, and self-righteous. 

I would hear about women who were married, unhappy, wanted a divorce, and I would be shocked, and make generalizations common to the church culture: “Well, she shouldn’t have gotten married if she didn’t realize marriage was work”. “Divorce is way too easy these days”. “They need counseling”. “She didn’t ever love him if she wants a divorce”. “If she prays more fervently and realizes her heart is deceitful, she will come around”. 

One woman left her husband, and weeks later was with another man. My brain processed: “Adulterer”. “Sinner”. “Slut”. 

My categories for right and wrong were limited simply to what I had heard was right. They were limited by my inexperience.

Years later, many years later, I left an abusive marriage. I was a shell of a human being. Destroyed emotionally, and terrified. I felt I had no value. I was lost and broken. If I had stayed in that marriage, I strongly believeI would have eventually killed myself (or been killed) from fear and depression. Very few people knew anything of that marriage but the happy exterior. The young me, the inexperienced me, looking in, would have been appalled that I left. Shocked that I wanted a divorce months after I left.

But it was right. 

Months after this, I was on the road to recovery in abuse counseling. I was dating. 

What. Dating? And still legally married. 

The young me, the inexperienced me, would have been stunned.

But it was right. 

Even more stunned when, after months of a few dates with various individuals, I met the love of my life, a gentle, amazing, kind, empathetic, patient, loving man, and he moved in with me, long after I left my ex-husband, but before the final processing date for the divorce. 

Technically, according to law, I was a married woman living with another man. Our separation paperwork agreement allowed for this, but my younger “conscience” would not have. Nor would the culture I grew up in, I’m sure. 

But it was right. 

Looking at every step of that journey, I regret none of it. I know exactly why every decision was made, and made in good conscience. Experience has taught me that many things which seem so very black and white are never so until you walk through them, alone, yourself; painfully, slowly, sincerely, with all of the emotional wrestling matches you will encounter on the way, and all of the incredible “AHA!” moments that experience brings with those painful struggles.

It is to my shame that I made so many harsh judgments of others growing up. The older I get, the more I learn to never judge what seems a certain way from the outside. Unless someone is hurting someone else or directly self-harming, no judgments are made. I cannot speak without walking in their shoes, and the likelihood is, because I haven’t had to, I wouldn’t be strong enough to understand the lessons they are learning, anyway.

Experience is the greatest teacher, and the most painful one. 

I note, painfully, the inexperience of people I know, as a reason for their judgment, arrogance, and self-righteous behavior. 

Purely and simply, people fear what they do not understand.

Put more clearly, they fear what they have not experienced. 

Fear drives people to judge, hate, and hurt.

Be slow to judge what you cannot understand, what you have not been called to experience. Respect the painful journeys of others, in their own uniqueness, with their own set of trials and understanding.

And pursue experience. Take risks, interact with people outside of your “experience circle”. Learn from them, learn to love and respect the differences, and release fears of the unknown. 

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Comprehensive Disclosure

Comprehensive Disclosure

Tonight welcomed in a strange moment for me.

The man I once called my husband, who abased and destroyed me emotionally and mentally and left me fishing for dignity, self-worth, and any remnants of pride in who I am and all I can be… this man was sitting in my living room and we were laughing and holding a friendly (if respectfully distant) conversation.

If you had told me a year ago that this would be happening right now, I would’ve been completely confident that you were wrong.

This is a good and beautiful thing, and redeems a lot of pain for me. It was accompanied months ago by profound and sincere apologies, and has gradually evolved into a confident acceptance that things are over, and done, and were very, very wrong, but that people can change, and redemption can look like moving forward as parents to our son in an amicable and respectful fashion.

This is where things are now. In many ways because I have found myself; found my own two feet, my “balls”, my confidence in my beauty and strength and abilities, again. It took at least 11 months to do so.

Here is where you should probably stop reading, if you’re a very religious person, my parents, a man (this may wind up coming off as male-bashing although this is not the intent) or an interested party.

So basically, if you’re a female, non-lesbian, non-relative, uninterested atheist, this is for you… ha.

Here’s where we get into the gritty, gory, messy details of the rebound confusion and self-discovery phase post relationship.

*God alone is my judge.*

—–

After my ex and I split up last year, I was lost. So incredibly lost.

With the culture I grew up in, all I knew was monogamy… committed, defined, going-somewhere-(and-fast) relationships. The only man I had “known” was my husband.

I was naive, abased, had no sense of value, and no real understanding of the world when it comes to relationships, sex, and male-female interactions outside of monogamy.

Where was I? Where did I want to be? Who did I trust?

It has taken me a while to figure these things out. During that first 6 months of a rebound phase, sex just happened, quite a few times. It really did. But not in great ways.

I went from someone who had waited 23 years for sex to someone who was so stupid and sheltered, she would place herself in situations (a car at night to talk, trusting and agreeing to “just sleep, no sex” in bed with someone, late night outings or isolated movie times at someone’s house) where someone would make a move, I would be taken aback, but then have so little self-value that I simply caved even when I really didn’t want a hookup.

I remember many promises men made “not to f*ck [me]”, many suggestions of interest in a relationship, cards played, mind games, blameshifting, tactics, working of angles to confuse and manipulate me.

I was weak. Lost, unaware of the value I held. I caved. Over, and over. A few times I said no… the kept going, and I simply gave in and felt empty, used, disrespected, stupid, almost like throwing up amidst it all.

There was #1.
He was a “no”. I was in a situation I shouldn’t have been in, sleepy and disoriented and alone with him. He seemed aloof and respectful, and then he wasn’t. And I just didn’t care anymore. I gave in after faint protests.

There was #2.
A few days later, lessons unlearned, the “two adults taking care of each other, no big deal, just sex” card played, taken. I said no a few times this time, I felt dirty and empty… and cheap.

There was #3.
Through a friendship, one I trusted. I didn’t know how to relate to men without sexuality after so long being that for one person… I was beginning to enjoy realizing I was wanted, after the one person I really wanted did not want me…. and it was consensual, but still so empty of meaning.

There was #4.
A player, the best at his game, manipulative, crafty, a liar, and a douche bag. Ignored attempts at asking for respect and the strangest, most awkward engagement so far.

There was #5.
If you count him, some favors given and received after he pushed me to believe he wanted a relationship, and that “men need sex to feel love”. No sex, but sexuality. More emptiness when a few days later, he admitted to zero interest in who I am as a person.

There was #6.
A major front given online, to others, to the world. Supposedly, a man of honor, integrity, who treats women with respect. Who drew me into a situation after months of talking on promise of helping with my career, and pushed physical boundaries, made me feel guilty for saying no. .. and so very stupid when I gave in and realized a day later that I was doing the walk of shame, and that that was all he wanted from me.

Over, and over, and over.. this continued for a while. I was desperately searching for something to mimic the companionship and consistency and intimacy of my first relationship, back at the beginning. I longed for it.

During this time I began to realize a few things about myself and the world. Here they are:

1. Far too many people trust themselves.
Men, and women. Even the good men think they can keep it to “just a kiss” or a cuddle, but any straight heterosexual male who has been in my bed has quickly forgotten those restrictions. I think I can keep them at that door, “keep the wolf at bay”, if you will, but I am weak in certain situations.

2. Wisdom looks like learning to not put yourself in situations where those boundaries and willpower may be tested.
The more I remove myself from those types of interactions, the less drama is in my life and the less regrets I have.

3. Sex has become the H2O of our generation.
People reach for it and ask for it and demand it and feel entitled to it from others like one grabs a bottled water in a checkout line.

4. 90% of men want to f*ck me.
Only a small percent of them are interested in more than just hooking up; a small percent convince themselves it’s not “just sex” so they don’t feel like tools but are completely emotionally unavailable; 10% (at most) and 10% only are interested in friendship or wouldn’t take a chance if I offered it, and the majority have so little value for me or themselves that they’re able to make “convenience store sex” the standard for performance.

5. No means no.
My original instinct is a good one. If I say no once, and that’s blown past, it’s rape. Stop, no, don’t = GTFO.

6. Just because I’m treated nicely or someone pays for dinner doesn’t mean I owe them anything sexually.
Men who work on a give and take system of treating a woman a certain way in order to acquire favors they then believe they deserve are dbag jackasses and not worth a moment of my time.

7. It is possible to have intense sexual chemistry and zero relationship potential.
This was really tough for me to learn because it was so outside of my experience. It was a shock to realize you can have physical attraction and a “spark” without relationship development. Discerning which is which (and if both are present) takes practice.

8. Men are manipulative bastards, even the nice ones (sometimes).
The good ones don’t always mean to, but still find ways to coerce you into intimacy. The bad ones do it on purpose. Sooooo many guys played or tried to play the “it’s just sex, you’re overthinking it” card, the “this will help you heal emotionally” card, the “you owe me because __ card”, the “this is normal and should be expected even outside of anything long-term develping” card, and the “you’re a bitch if you don’t” card. I’ve learned to essentially say “shut the f*ck up and stop playing mind games to get your d*ck wet”. Forgive the bluntness, but it must be said.

9. The best sex involves a marriage of minds and bodies.
Mental compatibility and a desire to explore someone’s mind, emotions, and heart make for some crazy amazing physical connections if there’s also chemistry there. The rest of sex (for me, at least) feels cheap and stupid and very over-the-counter.

10. Save that sh*t.
Screw the 3-date rule, the roadtrip rule, the time frames given or demanded by others or by what society seems to think is acceptable. Take your damn time. Don’t cheapen that type of intimacy by throwing it around. If you let the sexual side of any relationship drive relational development, the rest of the important compatibility departments like respect and fun and friendship will struggle to keep pace.

Take your sweet effing time.

After that first string of empty, unwanted, painful, confusing hookups and some tough life lessons…

There have been a few guys who never demanded it, didn’t expect it. Waited for it. Honored me, themselves.

Made me feel wanted without feeling violated, and respected without feeling unwanted.

As I’ve learned to really value myself again, to own my potential and interest and strength and beauty, I’ve quit frequenting convenience stores. I’m going all gourmet with that *sh. Making it count, making it last, keeping it for the best moments, the best people.

You can judge me all you want, condemn me, preach at me for my casual discussion of sex. But this learning curve of sexuality, of understanding how to take care of myself, but also simply rediscovering that I am WANTED, was a powerful and beautiful thing.

Simple lessons in profound ways, through profound pain and much confusion, but lessons well-learned.

*CHEERS*

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