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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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?!?

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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.

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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?!?!

 

Fitness Cruise 2017 Life Lessons

A month ago I was on a cruise ship sailing around the Caribbean. I wrote a blog about it on the plane ride home, but something happened and that particular blog has disappeared. I was disappointed when that happened because I put a lot of work into that thing…but then what happened was now, I have had a month to reflect on that week and have an even deeper appreciation for the experience. The lessons that I learned are ones that I feel a need to share.

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First A little background. We signed up for this cruise over a year before it was scheduled to set sail. The Tonya that signed up for the cruise had just come off of running 681 miles in 2015 (or what I liked to call 20FITteen). I was feeling pretty good about my self and even my pants size (mostly). I was pumped for this cruise and I was hoping that it would keep me motivated through the year of 2017. Well… life kind of happened. I ate too much, I didn’t push myself hard enough in the gym, I didn’t run enough. . . I bought bigger pants. I have no reasons, no excuse, no justification. But let’s just say that by the time the cruise came around I felt like I was not worthy of going on a cruise that was about fitness or healthy living. AT ALL. Don’t get me wrong, I was way excited to be on a cruise… just didn’t feel like I would fit in. I wasn’t happy with what I had done. I was ashamed and spend A LOT of time beating myself up and not putting anything into action. But then something magical happened:

I embarked on a journey with these two lovely ladies:

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We left from Miami and sailed to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and then on to Grand Cayman Island (my favorite!) and then a final stop was in Cozumel, Mexico.

The reason I even found out about this cruise was because I have been a long time fan of the show the biggest loser. NEVER, until Season 11 did I really care or feel any sort of connection with anyone from that show. However there was this one particular contestant in Season 11 that I admired. Her story, her attitude and her outlook on life was simply inspirational. Before she got onto the biggest loser she, herself, lost 100 pounds. Her smile light up the room and I thought, I could be friends with this girl. And Holy crap, if she can push herself at the gym… why can’t I! Her, and her super cool mom were my favorite. Well, I started following Courtney on Facebook and her posts keep me positive on a regular basis. When I found out she was going to be on this cruise I started to round up someone to go with. Luckily I have cool people in my life who want to spend a week on a boat with me :). So, had it not been for Courtney I wouldn’t have found out about this trip to begin with. Anyways… this is getting long already. I would probably write a short novel about all the things that I learned but from here on how I am going to go Listy. So in short.. these are some of my fitness cruise takeaways:

  1. From the moment I stepped into this group of people I felt worthy and I felt like I belonged. NO ONE cared that I had gained some weight and that was AWESOME. They were there to support me and encourage me. I will never forget!

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  1. Be yourself. This goes back to Courtney. You know, you can be ANYTHING you want to be on social media. Courtney is exactly the same as she is online, in person. She is Genuine. It reminded ME to be genuine as well. Love ya Courtney!DSCN1957
  2. you just never know whose life you are going to influence. I am sure I have said this before, but it’s worth saying again! This women right here is just as inspirational as her daughter. I won’t ever forget your encouragement and your attitude Marci! And of course Kevin too. You guys are so much fun and I wish we lived closer!

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3. Fitness and healthy living takes a team. A tribe. A support system! I am  GRATEFUL for mine little circle, but sometimes I don’t let them in on the struggle or know how they can be supportive, but I know they are ALWAYS there. These two are a great example of how you can keep each other going. The winners of season 11. Well the winner and the runner up…but they are ALL winners in my book. Sisters. Such a bond and make me appreciate even more so the bond that I have with my sisters. I am so glad I got to know these girls. They truly are an inspiration. Even years after the show, staying the course and being so dedicated to being the person that they know they are. PS. I now want to go on another trip to NYC and take a Soul Cycle class with Olivia. Love you ladies!

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4. I wish i had a picture to go with this one… but i don’t. I met this girl named “Murn” who taught me a few things.

  • follow your dreams.
  • it’s NEVER to late to become what you might have been in life.
  • you Do you. Don’t care about what other people are doing. You do… YOU
  • Every day is CHOOSE day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. it’s ALWAYS choose day. you get to choose your attitude and create the outcome of your day.
  • Yoga: you can’t do it wrong and you can’t do it right.
  • If you aren’t checking yourself out, how do you expect anyone else too
  • it’s important to breathe
  • yoga isn’t as boring as i thought it would be

5. Do something you might be scared to do. I wanted to Swim out to this infateable playground in Cozumel, but it was a hard swim and then there was this REALLY tall slide that I wasn’t sure I Could get to the top and if I did i would be terrified up there. Well I did it and it was totally worth it.

 

6. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. Wait, did I yell that one? Full disclosure I am still working on this one. But here is what I learned from an entire week of not having my cell phone. I use it TOO MUCH. It wastes a lot of my time. I am missing out on a ton of my life by staring at my dumb phone. I am missing opportunities to connect with people. I use it to prevent myself to have to deal with the real world. It’s killing my relationships. And why?!?! Seriously. There was question whether I would be able to go a week without Facebook but it was SO FREEING! I am not kidding you! I still haven’t figured out how to totally incorporate this into my regular life, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I have tried to be more conscience about actually being in the moment when I am with people. It’s such a habit… baby steps.

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7. speaking of that. Be in the Moment was another. Just enjoy what you are doing now. Don’t worry about what’s next or what you should be doing or what ever. Be in the moment.

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8. Don’t judge people. Someone who looks unhealthy quite possibly works really hard and is really  very much healthy. We all don’t have the same standard. People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And all these people INSPIRE me! A community, A family… that I will not soon forget! Don’t forget to encourage those around you!

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9. Don’t let other people define you. Don’t let your past define you.

10. You are stronger than you think you are. Do something that you don’t think is possible. and Be freakin’ Proud of yourself!

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Sometimes is’s fun to get a little fancy

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Also I would like to report that since I got back that I have been on track and my pants are looser. Truth be told, I have increased my workouts (kinda) and sorta started making better choices… but I am inspired and I haven’t totally given up on the whole healthy eating thing and that progress. I can’t tell you the last time I had onion rings OR a cupcake… soooooo. eventually the pants will fit again. But for now I am proud. I am worthy. I am ME and I am happy. I will keep running and making good choices, and someday I will be in smaller pants.

Thanks for letting me share this incredible journey on the Carnival Vista with you all.

and now… it’s time for my run!

Life can be rough

Current location: sunny, very windy Cancun, Mexico. Vacation. Full disclosure: this girl lives for vacation. I dream about, plan, and work hard for vacations. 

Here is what happened today on my fabulous vacation. Wind. Making the Caribbean Sea VERY choppy. As the boyfriend and I played in the very rough waves a couple go thoughts crossed my mind. So I thought I would write about them. 

Life can be very rough (just like the sea)… How we handle the situation largely determines the outcome.
 Some days are rougher than others. Yesterday the waves were gentle and super fun. Not to say today wasn’t fun…. Just different. You can’t really judge one day by the last day. Don’t let the struggles of one day carry into the next. Wonder how much different life would be if we could just Let things Go and move on. Just a thought. 

The same circumstances are navigated differently by different people. The boyfriend is an entire foot taller than I am. He struggled less for that reason. He also weighs a little more than I do. You can not judge your experience based on someone else’s. This life is yours to live. Experience. Enjoy the ride. 

Don’t give up. Today it seriously felt like Tonya VS. the sea. And I felt like I was losing. Getting beat up. One wave felt like it slapped me straight in the face. However I was determined to not give up. The reward was totally worth it. As in life. Things that are worth it, don’t usually come easy. 

Surround yourself with people who have your back. Dave (that’s the boyfriend) saw me struggling a time or two. So he reached out and grabbed my hand. He even said “I’m going to just hang onto you, because if I don’t, you seem to float away.” I’ve found an important key in life is surrounding yourself with people who let you be yourself. But also call you out when you are not so much being yourself. Also keep you from danger (don’t let you drown) and don’t let you backslide. I am blessed to have a LOT of these people in my life. 

Sometimes we just need to take a break. Relax! It’s quite amazing how a break from your normal life can reset you. Makes you take some deep breaths. Stop, realize what is really important in life. Think on how blessed you are. Getting some space from the daily stresses of life= Good. 

Life is full of things to be afraid of. The sea is a very dangerous place. Those waves were very powerful. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced. However, we can’t stop that from letting us live. Being in a foreign country were we don’t know the culture, the language, the customs… Could have stopped us from exploring, but it didn’t. Be safe. Have fun. But live life.

I love the sun, sun makes me extremely happy. Winter in Minnesota sucks for a lot of reasons, one of those reasons is lack of sun. However… Too much sun isn’t good either. Just ask parts of my body that got slightly red due to overexposer. Shade became our friend. Life is about finding balance. We can’t just always sit on the beach. Life is more than vacation, I guess. 

 Life can be rough… But it’s also a wonderful, magical, fantastic adventure. Embrace the ride.  

That’s all for now!

Redefining success

So…I’ve struggled with writing this blog for months. MONTHS! And I think I’ve got a good idea why. Success is something I don’t feel qualified to talk about. And I’ll tell you why in just a second, but first I just have to say it’s because if those very things I just might be perfectly qualified to write this blog. Here’s the thing. I fail. A lot. 

I fail at maintaining a positive attitude (choosing joy if you will). 

I fail at being the kind of friend/ daughter/ sister/ auntie/ cousin/ coworker/ employee  (You get the idea) that I would like to be. 

I fail at being a good girlfriend (I take out a lot of my attitude and issues on my wonderful, loving, and very understanding boyfriend). 

I fail at returning phone calls (sorry grandma!) 

I fail at doing stuff. I have a lot of great ideas and fail at following through. 

I fail at making good choices… I try… But that dang sweet tooth!!! And that emotion eating thing. And onion rings. 

I fail at my job… More than I would care to admit. 

I fail at keeping track of my checkbook (thank God for my mother) 

I fail at reading my Bible regularly. 

I fail at being in the moment sometimes. 

I can’t even manage to take a ONE a day vitamin for crying out loud. 

When I was growing up I always figured that by 35 I would be married. Have a houseful (more like 2 kids) a house and a dog. I would be working as a kindergarten teacher and loving life. Well… Life had other plans. There is NO freaking way that 17 years as a bill collector (well… Some of those were customer service years) was something I thought of. Ever! But does that mean I’m not successful? I don’t hit my “goal” at work every month. But does that make me a failure? Am I trying new things? Am I going outside my comfort zone?  Am I changing lives? How’s my attitude? I think these are the things that should be defining my work succes. It’s hard…..VERY hard to see that in the moment, but sometimes I need to step back and realize it. 

What I realized when thinking about this whole thing is that sometimes your definition changes over time. When I started my weight loss journey I viewed success as me fitting in a size 10 jeans. No lie. However…. Today if I had to buy a size 10 I would be disappointed in myself. Not because there is ANYTHING wrong with being a size 10, but because I am currently like a size 3-4. And me going back to a 10 at this point would really show I had given Up.   This isn’t about pants size… It’s about how perspective changes as time passes and goals are hit or things change.  On a related topic when I started thinking about wanting to run, I wanted to 30 seconds, yes SECONDS!  Without feeling like I was going to die. Now, I run 5 miles for fun. Things change, the definition has to change at some point.  

I guess I say all this to pose a question. What does success look like to you? How do you define success? I asked this question on my Facebook and had several conversations with people about it. I got lot of interesting answers. Some very specific summed up as results define success. A lot of people said they define success by how happy they are. Some people responded that it’s the seeds you plant and the legacy that you leave behind that really defines success. 

I guess what I’m learning is that it’s the daily things that add up to success. I’m still trying to figure this all out. I’m not perfect. And you know what?!?! . I’m going to keep failing. Maybe success is not letting that failure define me. Maybe it’s not letting failure keep me from keeping on trying. Maybe it’s getting back up once I’ve been knocked down. Idiot really know the answer…. 

What are your thoughts? 

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….