Dear Younger Me,

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. I think it’s because it’s September and the weather is getting cooler and all I’ve been seeing for the last few weeks is pictures of kids going back to school. It’s really got me thinking. SO.. I figured I would share my thoughts. I included some random school photos of Young Tonya for your enjoyment.

The question I asked myself was what Would I tell Little Tonya? What would I want her to know?

ENJOY IT!!!

You are only in school so long. It may seem like an eternity at the time.. but you will miss it one day. Learn stuff. Soak it in. Have fun. Don’t take it all so seriously. Lighten up a bit. You don’t have to be so uptight.

DON’T BE AFRAID!!!

Don’t miss out on things because you are afraid. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t let what other kids think of you stop you from doing what you really might like. Don’t be afraid that you aren’t capable of things, you don’t know.

MAKE FRIENDS!!!

Seriously! I think one of the biggest things I would tell Young Tonya is don’t be afraid of getting close to people. Open yourself up a little and make friends. Seek out someone who doesn’t have a friend and be their friend. Share your story, ask questions about them… be someone’s friend. Life is better with friends. Being afraid that people won’t like you shouldn’t hold you back from trying to make friends.

FAIL!!

Fail often and fail hard. I know this one sounds super weird Young Tonya… but it’s true. If you aren’t failing. You aren’t trying. You won’t grow. It’s scary I know. But I promise you it will be worth it. You are a human being, that’s what we do.

FEEL

It’s really, honestly okay to have feelings. You can say when you are sad or happy or disappointed. It’s okay and it’s normal. You are… in fact… a human being.

HAVE FAITH!!!

Keep learning about God. He is good and He cares about you. He Holds your future. Speaking of future, it’s not going to turn out like you think it going to… but that’s OKAY. Keep walking by faith. God has a plan. Trust it.

LOVE!!!

Love God, Love others and Love yourself. I know the last one is hard for you… but it’s actually okay to love yourself. You are a decent human being (who screws up sometimes) but you are decent. You try hard and you deserve to love yourself. Also it’s hard to love others if you can’t figure out how to love yourself. Love others. Even when they are being “unlovable” (you are “unlovable” too sometimes. but you still deserve to be loved). Speaking of Love, You DO deserve to be loved. I know you don’t believe it. But let it happen. It’s actually a really great and wonderful thing. DON’T miss out!

BE GRATEFUL!!!

For everything. The little things. The big things. The little things that turn out to be big things. All of it.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!

You only get one body. Treat it well (but don’t treat it too often). You have a sweet tooth and that’s okay. Moderation is key. Portion control. Making mostly good choices and moving your body are key. Don’t stress out about it too much. Just do mostly good… most of the time and you’ll be fine. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you get off track. Mental health is even more important than physical health. Take care of it. Spiritual Health too. If you aren’t taking care of yourself it’s hard for you to be fully YOU.

EMBRACE YOU!

You are weird. Goofy. Fun. Sassy. Random. Quirky. Funny. Interesting. Loving. Creative. Embrace it.

I’m sure by this point Young Tonya would be telling me she had to go listen to NKOTB and ride her bike around the neighborhood with neighborhood kids. And she probably wouldn’t have listened to half of this because she didn’t believe she was worth it. She didn’t believe that she could go after her dreams and accomplish them. She just didn’t know what she didn’t know. I can’t go back and change her childhood and I don’t think I would. I am who I am today because of who I was in school. But these are lessons I am learning now and things I hope to keep in mind to continue to learn and grow and become an even better version of me.

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100 thing’s I am thankful for

so.. it’s that time of year again. The time of year where I sit back and think about the things that I am thankful for. I really should be better about doing this all year… but i’m just not. However MANY years ago a friend did this and recommended others do it too. I did and I love it so here it goes for 2018 As ALWAYS these things are in no particular order and there are a BAJILLION things that I will miss. But here is a list of 100 things I am thankful for… Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving. 

  1. Cupcakes
  2. Sunsets
  3. My new house
  4. My mukluks (new slippers that keep my feet toasty and warm)
  5. Toast
  6. Running.
  7. My family. EVERY. CRAZY. one of them. Ps. If I named them all I wouldn’t be able to be thankful for anything else because there my family is just so big. 
  8. Photographs 
  9. the ocean
  10. my cellphone
  11. Colby Jack (not the cheese…the cat) better known as Fat Cat
  12. music
  13. Netflix
  14. the treadmill (I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD SAY THAT ONE)
  15. HGTV
  16. comfy pants
  17. my wonderful, loving, patient, caring Boyfriend
  18. sunglasses
  19. contact. I love my contacts (just because I can’t stand glasses)
  20. my work family. 
  21. Snowplows
  22. Memories
  23. chapstick
  24. street signs
  25. childhood friends
  26. high school. 
  27. painful lessons
  28. my sparkly diamond earings 
  29. Holidays
  30. schedules
  31. WW (formerly Weight Watchers)
  32. DVR 
  33. Social media
  34. Books
  35. The Kids who come to the Church Nursery
  36. friends
  37. electricity
  38. spontaneity
  39. ADVENTURE
  40. Waterfalls 
  41. Disney movies
  42. Baseball Hats
  43. Text messages
  44. my fitbit
  45. my winter jacket
  46. Hot cocoa
  47. The Girls I used to babysit. (and their parents too!)
  48. airplanes
  49. paint
  50. windows
  51. money
  52. my cell phone
  53. blankets
  54. Pintrest
  55. my garage door opener. 
  56. Tacos
  57. water 
  58. bridges
  59. coloring books 
  60. medication
  61. my health
  62. the pastors at my church
  63. the Green Bay Packers
  64. Movies
  65. my 5 senses
  66. lotion
  67. the couch of awesome
  68. the internet 
  69. my job. Where else can you work that changes peoples lives?!? okay. there are a few places. but my job is pretty freakin’ sweet most days 🙂
  70. the English language
  71. Ice cream
  72. people who can organize things
  73. Sentsy
  74. youTube
  75. my winter jacket
  76. google
  77. my credit card reward points
  78. health insurance
  79. heat in my house
  80. PILLOWS
  81. my car
  82. socks
  83. rollerblades
  84. vacations
  85. pizza
  86. people make me want to be a better person
  87. the fan in my bedroom
  88. window treatments
  89. the fact that I don’t have to cut grass or rake leaves or shovel snow
  90. Target. the store, not like a shooting at kind of target… just to clarify
  91. podcasts
  92. our Funko Pop Vinyl collection (ps. if you are ever looking for a gift for me.. just add to the collection) 🙂
  93. body spray
  94. cruise ships
  95. warm showers 
  96. my gym
  97. Gum
  98. Banana’s
  99. the autosave feature on this blog (I literally almost just lost the whole thing)
  100. the moon!
  101. Cheesy hallmark Christmas movies
  102. grapes

oops. got a little carried away. There is my list. Take a few minutes to create your own. You will thank me if you do. It makes you stop and think about all the little things in our lives that we have to be grateful for and the big things that we don’t often stop to give thought to. 

This is your life

This is your life

this is your lifeThere is this song by the band Switchfoot that’s chorus contains these words. THIS IS YOUR LIFE. ARE YOU WHO YOU WANT TO BE. I have been pondering this for MONTHS. this song pops into my head ALL. THE. TIME. WHY?!? I don’t know. I think maybe because I am striving to be the person that I want to be.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes,
This is your life

And today is all you’ve got now
And today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes.

This is your life, are you who you want to be
This is your life, are you who you want to be
This is your life, is it everything you’ve dreamed
That it would be when the world was younger,
And you had everything to lose?

Yesterday is a kid in the corner
Yesterday is dead and over

This is your life, are you who you want to be
This is your life, are you who you want to be

Have you ever stopped and thought about who you are? Several weeks ago at work I was given the opportunity to take a personality profile type of thing that was FREAKILY accurate. It knew things about me that I try not to admit to anyone, even myself…and it knew these things from a list of words I choose. JUST WORDS. I don’t even want to tell you the things that it said about me. But here is what I got to thinking… WHO gets to choose who I am? This is MY life… I get to pick who I want to be. Hmmmm…. think about that for a moment.

I sometimes find myself with a short fuse with other human beings. Ones who maybe aren’t as “perfect” as me… I’m teasing by the way. I know how impossible I can be to work with or be around somedays. I find myself having no patience with them. Or getting irritated with things I can’t control. Is this who I want to be? do I want people to not come to me because they are afraid of how I will react? NOPE! That means I have an opportunity to change my attitude. Change my tone. Or.. as I like to tell my people “Fix my face.” I find myself bottling up my emotions from the day and taking them out on my unsuspecting, very loving and understanding boyfriend even when he has done nothing wrong. Leaving him walking on egg shells around me.  I don’t want that. That is NOT who I want to be. Good news. I don’t have to be that and It’s something I am working on.

It’s up to me to decide who I want to be.

It’s up to me to be self aware of who I am being.

I get to influence this. I can fix my face. How cool is that??!?!

Full disclosure. I am a human being. and some day’s I am going to choose to be a whiney brat. Some day’s I am going to choose to let little things bug me and some day’s I am going to chose to through a pity party. I may also chose to wear a pair of cranky pants once in awhile. Because life happens. because I am not perfect. I just hope that I can choose Joy more days than not. Choose positive and influential. Choose Inspirational. Choose success. Choose never giving up.

life

 

Check on your strong friends…

This is a phrase that has been playing in my mind the last couple of months. Since the death of some famous celebrities. (Quite a few months ago now) and Came as a shock to the world that it was actually suicide. This phrase came into popularity. And I’ve not stopped thinking about it.

Here is the thing. You never know what someone is battling. Never! The thoughts that come. The doubt. The anxiety. Depression. Stress.  The hurt. Their past… etc.

A few weeks ago my sister and I walked a 5k (actually it was 5 miles) for mental health. A cause that means a lot to both of us.

CA6D6D13-4430-4097-AFA8-A78308F5EEDB.jpegI’ve actually been thinking a lot obout mental health lately. Here are some of my thoughts.

You don’t know what people have been through that makes them who they are.

Mental health is a huge topic these days. And I think it’s for good reason. I just have to take a moment to talk about Social media. Social media is a liar. Now… hear me out on this one. All you get to see on social media is whatever side of people’s personality that THEY want you to see. It’s never the whole story. It’s filtered. I get to pick the View of me that’s portrayed on social media. So do you. Think about that.

So that person that you see on social media who is always possitive and “loving life” might be struggling. And wanting to appear to have it all together. Maybe they don’t want you to know their life is really out of control and they don’t know what to do. It’s spiraling like crazy and can’t stop it. We don’t know…

I wanted to write this for a few reasons.. first. Don’t be ashamed if you are struggling. Get help. You’re worth it. Plus if  you are struggling with depression or anxiety or any mental health issue… it doesn’t make you a bad person. Actually it makes you human!

Also… be sensitive to other people. We honestly don’t know what battles other people are fighting. And it’s not our place to judge the battle.  Take a look at things from another perspective… the world might be a little better if we did.

We are all in this journey of life together and we are not called to do it alone.

Be kind.

love people. Love yourself.

Live like you were dying….

A lot can happen in the blink of an eye. One moment everything seems to be okay and then the next moment your world changes. Takes a turn.  A phone call you don’t expect can change everything. It’s been two years since I received a phone call like that. 2 years seems like So long ago and yet just yesterday. Two years ago I lost someone I grew up with and loved like a big sister. and I miss her dearly.

Tonight I honored the anniversary of her passing with a 2 mile run.

IMG_5983

As I was running along the river the song “Live like you were dying” came on. It felt like a message straight from Beki. The beauty of  dusk reflecting off the river was a reminder to not take a moment for granted. Not take your next breath for granted or the ability to get out and go for a run. To bask in the joy of the little things. To let go of the frustrations of the day (today was a rather trying day with the nephews.) To find the silver lining in things. To look on the bright side and be grateful for the challenges because they make the good things that much sweeter. Without rain there are no rainbows.

Beki was so full of faith and love and generosity and joy that it was contagious. I want to make her proud. I don’t know if she knows how much I looked up to her. I don’t. But I wish I could tell her. I wish I could hear her sing one more time. I wish I could hug her… just one more time. I wish she could meet her amazing niece who is adorable as can be that she never met. I wish she could see her other nieces that are growing up to be amazing, adorable wonderful little people.

But what I really want is her memory to live on. Her legacy to reflect who she was. And I wish in the middle of stressful, frustrating situations I could remember to breathe. Slow down and choose joy. That really life is too short to not to enjoy it.

Miss you like crazy Beki.

beki memory

Thoughts from today’s 5k

Confession. I don’t know much about Basketball.

So yesterday at work I was trying to inspire one of my employees whom was struggling. Struggling with doubt really. Not sure he can do it. Feeling he is failing. Not sure whether or not he should keep going….

So we had a little heart to heart. I started the conversation with “Tell me a little bit about Michael Jordan.”  His eyes lit up. This guy is very passionate about sports. So he went on to tell me about all the times that Michael Jordan has failed. All the people who didn’t believe he could be successful and that he never, never, never quit. He went on and talk about how Jordan had used Rejection and Failure to fuel him to success.

Fast forward to my 5k this morning. My Hot.. HILLY… HUMID… 5k this morning. It was an amazing run to benefit kids with life threatening illnesses. Now, keep in mind I have not been running much this year. I have gained more weight than I would like to admit and just am not in “Peak Tonya performance.” So this run was extremely difficult for me.

I wanted to quit more than once. More than twice even. I stopped to walk to catch my breath (which was really hard in the humidity) and wouldn’t you know… there was a guy passing me. Not only any guy. But a guy wearing a freakin’ Michael Jordan jersey. (side note…this story would have been a thousand times cooler if it was Michael Jordan himself…. just sayin’). Meanwhile, back at the story… this guy in a Jordan jersey comes running beside me. ALL I could think about was the chat with my employee yesterday. How could I encourage someone else not to quit when I am thinking about quitting myself?!? How could I expect someone else to keep pushing through and following their dreams and pursing their goals if I was just gonna quit in the middle of a 5k?!?! I need to lead by example. I need to keep running. I would like to say that I just kept running and never looked back. But it didn’t work that way. We kept switching the lead off and on a few times. Every time he passed me I just smiled and used it as fuel to push even harder. In the end I did end up crossing the finish line before him. This story is bigger than that. This is about following your dreams. Leading by example. It’s about NEVER, NEVER, NEVER giving up.

Ps. I did find the guy at the end of the run and tell him this story and thanked him for pushing me.

You just never know who you might inspire. and you never know when someone might inspire you. I didn’t think I would be the one getting inspired from the conversation yesterday. And who knows, telling the Jordan jersey guy the story just might have inspired him as well. Pay attention to those in your circle of influence.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts from Michael Jordan himself:

MJ quote 2

When the going gets tough…

When the going gets tough…

What do you do when the going gets tough??! When life is throwing you curve balls. When is seems like nothing is in your control… or going the way you want it to!?!?

Here are some of my thoughts  (you don’t know to know them all…) from tonight’s bonding session with my running shoes.

I have been hearing myself say a word quite a bit lately and I don’t like it. The word is Failure. “I feel like a failure” has come out of my mouth more often like I would like it to. it’s time for that to change… and it’s up to me to change it. I fail at my job. I fail at keeping my apartment clean. I fail at getting things done that I want to get done. I fail at being who I want to be in my relationships sometimes. I fail at following through with things that are very important. I fail at keeping my checkbook balanced. I fail at blogging as much as I want to. I fail at reading books that I really want to read…. you get the point.

Why is my brain saying that I am failing at these things?!?! I think it’s because I am working on them. And it’s hard. And I’m not seeing results as fast or in the areas I want to see them. I am a work in progress and that’s okay. and that does NOT mean I am a failure.

Work is hard. I don’t think it would be called “work” if it wasn’t hard. It would be called… Retirement. Tonight’s blog is about doing what is hard.

Tonight I went for a run (which has become harder as I’ve gained some weight and haven’t been focused on running) and it wasn’t easy.

I came upon this incline. A steep… horrific incline. Staring at me in the face. I had 2 choices. Face it or turn around and find another “easier” way to get home. IMG_5824

I started thinking about life. How I want big things. How people that I work with want big things! Lots of money in retirement, a beach house, a BMW… a nice house… a good education for their children and how we can get it all. But it’s a battle. A mental battle. An internal battle of “can I do this” “is this real” “is it worth is” “what if I fail”… all these things… and I sure I missed things.  We can get those things if we work hard. If we put in effort and create habits that get us what we want. I think what is standing in our way most of the time is…. OURSELVES. Our BRAIN.

But what do we do?!?!

Here is what I did:

IMG_5825

I put on my big girl pants and ran up the dumb incline. It was NOT fun at the moment. In fact I was severely under hydrated tonight and phlegmy and at one point ended up with spit in my eye (don’t ask)… but you know what?!?! It was freaking worth it. I felt amazing after my run was done. And the reward?!? So many things. Mental clarity. Toughness. Endurance. Mental strength. And it was for my own good. Sometimes we fight things that are for our own good because they are tough. Because life is hard. Because a lot is expected of us. But nothing easy is worth doing. The hard things are where you flourish. Where you grow outside of your comfort zone.

It’s real easy to break under pressure. To throw in the towel and quit. To literally just run away. I feel this particular subject is top of mind right now because of all of the recent suicides that have been in the news. Everyone struggles. EVERYONE. Even the ones who appear strong and unshakable are weak and shakable. The going gets tough… what are you going to do when it does?!?

tough

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to people in your life who care for you. Something else that has been circling social medial is “check on your strong friend”. Do it. You may not know what they are struggling with.

IMG_5826

here is a visual representation of it being “worth it” after I climbed that hill… there was a bridge over the Mississippi river and here is the treat I got. There is no filter on this photo… this is real life.

Big money (insert whatever it is that your after, Health, better relationships etc) is on the other side of the struggle. On the other side of Tough. On the other side of your comfort zone. The other side of where you are now… how are you going to get there!!?! and how much better will you be when you do?!?!