S.T.A.R spells Star

Here’s the deal. I like to look at the night sky. I have a slight obsession with the moon and the stars. The girl who struggles with sitting still, can sit and look at the stars for a long time. Why?!? The sky is full of awe and wonder. In a way it’s magical and mysterious. And part of my favorite part of the Christmas story has always been the star part. You know… Where the wise men followed the star…. Everyone probably thought they were nuts…but they didn’t care.  Similarly my favorite church service of all time is when my pastor would do his “star message”.  He uses the Christmas story to talk about how we are stars…. Or should be stars for God. Leading people to see how good God is. Causing people to look up and wonder why we are the way we are. Makes me think every time I hear that message, or think about it. 

The main thing about stars to me is that they light up the darkness. Similar to Christmas lights this time of year. 

This year something else happened that cause me to stop and think.. There is a beautiful down by the river that lights up this beautiful tree. I drive passed it frequently (even thought I have to go out of my way to do it) to take in its beauty. Here is the thing… It isn’t lit up every night. And that bummed me out. One day I was having a not great day and the thought of seeing the tree put a smile on my face.  And the fact that its wasn’t on got me thinking a couple things. 

A. They have no idea how much joy the light of that tree brings to me.

B. What if I am someone’s Christmas tree.?!?

Yikes. That second thought scared me a little. I haven’t been the brightest star some days. And really struggle to shine to certain people. There is this song by Toby Mac called light shine bright and it kind of speaks to this. As a Christian I am called to be the light in a dark world. Let me tell you….sometimes it’s really REALLY hard. But what if they day I decide not to shine is the day someone is looking for a glimmer of hope, a smile or something that can turn their day around?!? What if I shine for them even when everything in me is throwing a pity party? What does it hurt me? Maybe, just maybe they will be that star for me when I need it? Maybe helping them will turn my day around… Maybe not… But what do I have to lose at that point? 

The world has NO problem glorifying “super stars”. What if we started being the super star of our own stories and in the lives of people around us? Think about it. What would the would look like if we all acted like the super stars we are? Who’s world can we bring light into?  And don’t let what others might think of you… Stop you. Be like the wise men. Be Wise. And no I didn’t say be a wise guy that’s a different thing 😜

Maybe someone you know had a rough holiday season… How can you make them smile? I don’t know what it is or who’s live you can touch. But I know for me this whole season got me thinking. It’s time to shine. 

There is the other thing to remember… It doesn’t have to be a  huge thing. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… It really is the little things in  life that make the biggest difference. Go out there and do something. Spread JOY. Be a shining light. And shine your light bright. Be the star that you are (hey, that one rhymed). And let me know how you are letting your light shine. I’m always looking for ideas. 

Be blessed. And be a blessing. Okay… That’s all… Til next time….

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#11forJacob 

I thought about going so many directions with this blog. On one hand I am at a loss for words. And on another hand I have so much to say. 

This is a story that…. As a kid growing up in central Minnesota in the 80’s…drastically rocked our world and changed our childhood. It’s a story about a young, outgoing, friendly 11 year old kid…. Whose smile apparently lit up a room. This is a story about a horrific tragedy of him being taken. Kidnapped. One night in October almost 27 years ago. In a little bitty town in central Minnesota (far to close to home). This is the story about a legacy and a mothers love. And actually it’s not just a story.  

You see this happened. Jacob Wetterling (who I never knew) was kidnapped. For 27 years it was a mystery what happened to Jacob. 27 years we looked for answers. 27 years we searched and searched. We finally have answers. And however horrific those answers are… They are answers. But I don’t want to talk about that. 

This past Saturday I was supposed to run a 10k. I decided instead to run an 11k and dedicate it to Jacob. (11 was his favorite number).  

 To be honest this run sucked. And when I got to thinking about it. I think it sucked for a reason. You see… When Jacob disappeared a lot of things changed. One of those things was the life of his mother. And every time I wanted to quit on Saturday my thoughts went to Patty Wetterling. His mom. Having an abducted son was something I think she never dreamed would happen. Who would?!? Here is what I find so freaking amazing. She has taken what could have been the demise of her, what she could have easily gotten angry at the world for and turned it into good. Within months of the abductionshe created a foundation for missing and exploited children. Has even beenan advocate for sexual abuse. And continued to look for her son. I read somewhere that there was over 50,000 tips coming in on his whereabouts and turning up nothing!! 

It made me stop and think. What would have I done? How long would have I searched? Where does that strength come from?

On this run, I wanted to stop. A.Lot! More than usual. Every time I wanted  I thought “Patty Wetterling never quit, I can’t either.” That’s true in running and in life. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it is freaking hard. But we don’t quit. We don’t stop. We can’t. What happens if we stop? We’re do we go? What gets accomplished? 

These are some of the things I’ve learned by watching Patty’s life the last almost 27  years:

HOPE. From the beginning it was always all about keeping Jacobs Hope alive. Jacob would have graduated from the high school I attended, the year I was a freshman.   

 

This was in the page where his senior picture should have been. HOPE. We had all signed a giant poster that hung in the high school that said Jacobs Hope. You have to have HOPE. 

Faith. She believed that Jacob was alive. She was living as if Jacob was out there somewhere just waiting to be found. And lived life as he was. Continung to remember each birthday. FAITH.

Preserverence. Her continued fight. Even she the path was long and dark and lonely….she persevered. She didn’t quit. PERSERVERANCE. 

Commitment. Her endless commitment to not only Jacob, but protecting children and raising awareness. Her commitment to the community and her family. COMMITMENT.

Strength. All along she has been a source of strength. Most surprising is the way she handled the news of “that night” after nearly 27 years of searching for answers. This was her statement to the news media following the court appearance:  

 All I have to say is wow. This women wow’s me. And that’s a list I can get behind. Eat ice cream, giggle, pray, create joy… I’m in!  STRENGTH.

Love. I am not a mother. I have experienced a mothers love, cuz my mom is pretty freakin awesome… But wow. The love. Not only for her child, but other children. It’s inspiring. That’s all I have to say. LOVE.

And as far as Jacob goes. I can imagine how proud he would be of his mother. And he, himself left quite a legacy. Made quite an impact! This one is for them: 

  
One more way they choose to do good in the face of pain and tragedy is a list of 11 things we should do. Let’s make the world a better place.  I mean, how much better would this world be if we did these simple things?!? 

 
I have never met Patty and I really don’t know how someone you have never met can touch you so deeply…but Patty Wetterling has really inspired me. 

If you can’t say something nice…. 

Warning rant ahead. But bear with me…. It gets good. But first a little background. Friday I was hanging out with the boyfriend and he had to run an errand for an hour or so. My first thought was “do I have enough time for a run?!?” Pretty sure there was a sparkle of joy in my eye as I said it. My second thought was “yup… I’m a runner”  He said “go for it… But not too far cuz we are going to go for a walk when I get back” seemed like a deal to me. So first I had to define “short”… So I decided that anything less than 5 miles was short. Well…  

 4.75 is less than 5! Hehe. Anyways, this is what happened on my run. I was out… Minding my own business… Enjoying a lovely Minnesota summer night.I’m running across the bridge when some idiot yells out his window something about me being slow. For the next 4 miles I had all sorts of thought percolating in my brain. Before I get into my rant I just want to say I know I’m not the fastest runner… And I am 100% OKAY with it. Sometimes I just run to clear my mind. Sometimes I run for fun or to release stress. Sometimes I run Because I Really…. REALLY like food… (You get the idea)… 

Here is what at I took from this little “insult” 

First off. You don’t know me. Which means you don’t know how far I’ve come. You don’t know the battles that I fight on a daily or hourly basis. You don’t know what I struggle with.   

  

In other words. Shut your face. Why do you have to try and put others down? Keep that crap to yourself. But also…. Don’t let other  people’s negativity hold you back from doing your thing!!! Who cares what people think! You go out there and be amazing…. And pay no attention to their negativity. I also realized I had a choice to let his observation define and ruin me… Or help push me forward… I didn’t let him continue the outcome. I win!  

  
Don’t give into your own negativity. I am my own worst critic most of the time… And can get down on myself real quick. Don’t do that. It’s not helpful. And most of all Don’t quit. What Happens then?!?  We go back to where we started… Or worse? And how does that feel?!? Keep pressing on. It’s worth it. 

  
I get a lot of smiles, nods and waves from people when I’m out running. You have no idea how much that pushes me along. Why can’t we be that? People who encourage and build each other up?!?! 

Bottom line: you have no freaking idea how hard I worked to get to… And stay where I am. Still not exactly where I wanna be… But heck of a lot further than I once was. 

Also. This is just as true in running as it is in life. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we set aside our differences  and just encouraged each other to follow our dreams. Hmmm… Something to think about…. 

Legacy 

I have been thinking a lot about death recently. It all started when Prince died. It was April 21st 2016. A day many Americans will not forget and a day the world turned purple to honor and remember him. Here are a few images that were floating around the Internet of how cities remembered him: 

   
   
The world mourned and you heard tribute after tribute of how he inspired people. Musicians, famous people and well…. America.  As a graduate of the class of 1999 our graduation anthem  was 1999 by Prince. Full disclosure I never really got into his music much. I was more a boy band girl myself. However I can not deny his unbelievable talent. Or the widespread impact of his musical talent and his life. 

So here is what it got me thinking. What is my legacy? What will people say about me when I am gone? What kind of impact am I making? Am I living my life in such a way that I can look back and be proud of the person I was?  What have I done to make a difference? To make the world a better place? Is my generosity reaching further than I could ever imagine? Is my kindness being felt by others? Am I someone people enjoy being around? Am I using my talents and abilities to Impact others in a positive way? 

I guess you could say it left me asking a lot of questions and examining my attitude and my actions. Questioning how I make people feel… Wondering…. What I can do to make the world a better place? I still don’t know how that all plays out or what that looks like… But it’s rolling around in my brain, but it is there. 

I have heard it said that we should live your life so that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral.  I am endeavoring to live a life that I am proud of… And maybe writing this will inspire someone else to do the same. Is that to say that I won’t screw it up… Fall down and fail miserably? Nope! Have ya met me? I am not perfect. But… That’s the beauty. We keep learning and growing. Let’s create a life worth remembering. 

Dreams do come true

Time to blog… It’s been quite awhile since I posted a blog. Several reasons. Technology hasn’t been my friend. Been… Let’s say a little stressed out and a little busy. But I do have to take a moment and talk about the good things that have been going on. Take a quite trip back a few weeks when my boyfriend posed an interesting question. The bottom line was how fast could I run a mile. I don’t really run just a mile anymore. I like to run 5 miles when I go out for a run. So I set out to answer the question. I went to a local track and ran a mile: here is what happened…  

The girl who could barley finish a mile in 14 minutes in high school (yes… I know that was a long time ago… But still). I must admit I was pretty dang proud of this. I don’t brag on myself much… But when I started running just like 4 years ago I couldn’t run even a mile. I literally couldn’t run like 30 seconds… So I am going to be proud of this. So there 😉 full disclosure I didn’t stop after this mile. I ran another 2. But not as fast. Second mile was 8:22 and the third mile 7:25. I am actually more proud of being able to knock out that third mile at that speed. 

Bottom line. Do NOT give up. And when your tired… Just keep going. It’s worth it. I promise. 

Up next. A little weekend road trip I have been dreaming about since I learned it exsisted. A little background. I am a Minnesota girl who loves the Green Bay Packers, it’s a long story and I get A LOT of crap about it… But it’s all good. I stand by my team. However I have never been to Lambeau Field. I discovered last year that they do a 5k where you actually run iN Lambeau field! Of course I wanted to go. Somehow I conned my non-runner, Eagles fan Boyfriend to go on an adventure to Green Bay, Wisconsin. (It wasn’t really all that hard and I think he enjoyed it just a little)  

 
For me…The experience was more than I dreamed it would be. Just being there was incredible. But the run was so well organized and FUN! Not going to lie I got a little emotional entering the players tunnel and as I made the lap around the field. The coolest part of the whole run was seeing myself on the jumbotron as we ran around the inside of Lambeau!  I couldn’t get a photo of me on the screen without really affecting my time (yeah.. I’m a little competitive now, and no it wasn’t my fastest…I didn’t expect it to be)… But here is a photo of me at Lambeau with the Jumbotron in the background. Soooooo cool!  

 

Was a beautiful day/trip that I will never forget! 

They say you know your a runner when you plan trips around running… Well I guess I’m a runner. What a great way to see the sights. Wonder were our next running adventure will be….. 

Here are a few more photos from our trip… And of course technology is still fighting me and I can’t get all the photos I really want on here… But whatever.   

  

Seems only fitting to go to titletown brewing company! I had a delicious cream soda! 

  

We wanted to go to the hall of fame.. But it was closed… So took a photo of the giant Lombardi trophy! 

  

I am a cheese head and I know it…. 

  

Pre run selfie… 

  

The finish line… Aka… The end zone! 
   

So yeah.. Pursue your dreams people! You never know what might be possible!  Surround yourself with supportive people and never give up. Ever! 

I did that?!?! 

So a month ago I wrote a blog. And I received some of the kindest words from a friend of mind. Apparently I inspire people! Me?!?! I guess so! How did I do such a thing? Just by being me I guess! Here is what a friend of mind posted on Facebook….     

First I need to say that I am so freaking proud of how she has taken control of her life that it’s an inspiration to me! It’s definitely a full circle type of deal. 
It really did get me thinking. How Would 221 lb Tonya have reacted if you would have told her that someday she would inspire someone to lose half their body weight? What would she say if you told her that countless people would look to her for inspiration and motivation on a regular basis? If you would have told Chubby Tonya that people would literally make different choices from the vending machine just because I walked in the break room? 

This much I know. I would not have believed it was a possibility. I didn’t have enough belief in myself that I would be able to make the changes necessary to even be where I am today. But I started on a journey… That has been steal,y quite amazing ….

I think The coolest part about what Bonnie wrote is that fact that I inspired her just by being me. By my being imperfect and flawed and being honest about my struggles and just by living my life. Not shoving healthy living down her throat.  That’s how I hope to continue to be. An inspiration just by being me.

It’s people like Bonnie that keep me having my head in the game. It was really easy when I was leading weight watchers meetings (chubby Tonya would have laughed if you told her that was in her future!) and had to stand up in front of a group of people and be accountable. Now, I don’t have that. I don’t have to weigh in weekly. It is up to me to keep going. And it’s hard…

Being someone’s inspiration is really kind of a cool thing… But it’s also a lot of pressure. Like I can’t slip up. I have to stay on my A game. However, it also means that when I do have a moment there are always people to knock me back to my senses 😉 I am so blessed to have such a solid support system! 

Your future is in your hands. What are you going to do with it? People are watching you… Be proud of who you are. And be You. You are beautiful, capable and amazing… Above all.. You are worth it! It’s not easy! Losing weight was not easy and keeping it off is not any easier. But don’t give up! Deal?!? 

As the sun sets….

As the sun sets….

Let me set the scene for you. I have been a little cranky recently. I am trying to chose joy… But there has been an internal battle waging inside of me. Why… You might ask. Well… Because I just turned 34. Big deal? Well it kinda was… And let me tell you why. But first I have to show you what I did to mourn not being 33 any more… I mean… celebrate turning 34.  

 This was the view… 

 that was my course. So fun! 

Celebrating. Tonya-style. On my birthday eve I ran 6.24 miles (my birthday is 6/24/81) get it?!? Okay. So as the sun set (literally as I was running, the sun was setting, it was beautiful and symbolic) on my last day being 33 I was working through some of the reasons why this birthday seemed to be bothering me so much. 
I think I figured it out: first of all, both of my parents claimed they would always be 33. Was both of their favorite ages. So 33 always seemed like an “old” age to me. Like that’s how old parents are, and parents are old. I don’t want to be old. I also figured that I would sort of have life figured out by now. A house. A family. A dream job. A car that doesn’t need work done. As I look around it seems everyone is living the things I had been dreaming about, the life I thought I should have… And thought I wanted to have by 33.  Not only that but I started thinking about Jesus. It is believe that Jesus lived to be about 33. He did so much… And inspired so many. Made such a difference in his time on earth. What have I done? Who have I inspired? How have I made a difference. These are the things I was pondering for 6.24 miles. As the sun was setting on 33. 

Let me tell you this. The crankiness of the recent days… Melted away after a few miles. And by the end I felt a thousand times better. Here is the conclusion I came to. I don’t have it all figured out and… That’s okay!!! I don’t have the family that imagined (husband, twins and cute dog) but I do have a family that I love more than anything in the world. As far as kids go… I’ve got the greatest niece and adorable nephews ever! I don’t have the job I dreamed of when I was growing up… But have a pretty great job that is making me into a better person… And allowing me to live a pretty great life. I believe I’m not where I totally should be… But I’m having a pretty great time. There are people in my life that I love and that love me. I’m healthy and overall pretty freaking happy. I try to make a difference in people lives (hopefully positive) that I am around. I can’t be Jesus… But I can work with what I have been given. I believe we all have a purpose.. Even me. And I’m okay with not quite knowing what that is at 34. The plan as I embark on 34?!? Be awesome. Keep being me (cuz everyone else is taken). Continue to figure out who “me” really is. And have a fantastic time doing it. Not going to compare my life to the life I thought it would be (or someone else’s life) And be excited about what my life is. 

Life is too short to be cranky (sometimes I forget). Let’s live life to the fullest…. Live your life. Possibly Make a difference in someone’s life. K?!?