Joy is the key to happiness

Oftentimes I’ve ran into this situation: “Oh we’re just together for the kids.” I’ve seen it in my family, friends, and acquaintances. It’s become so common that I usually don’t even think about it. Strangely enough, I’ve always found it sad even though I don’t have kids and have never been in a similar situation. Expecting a baby has brought this situation to the forefront once again, and this time I can’t ignore it.

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Growing up with your parents together/married is a dream come true. I can say being able to live in just one home has definitely helped shape me into who I am today. You could say that’s why I believe in marriage, got married, and hoped to be married for the rest of my life. God has other plans for my life, and as you know He was like “Nope, not this one Jen.” That doesn’t change my beliefs. I still believe in marriage, I just believe I haven’t met the right guy yet. Or I know the right guy, but the timing isn’t right yet.

But so many people force it. I’ll be the first to admit, marriage isn’t for everyone. There are a few people I know who should just remain single for their sanity and quality of life. Sometimes my pea-sized brain hopes against all hope as my heart consoles me. That guy won’t ever marry you. It’s ok, though, because he’s happy. And when you love someone that’s all you care about, is their happiness. But too often I find the husband or wife who’s married and miserable.

The pain can stem from a number of things, but they all use the same word: stuck. Oh, well I have to wait until Timmy is 18 before I divorce her. You know, the kids want us to stay together. Then when you actually ask Timmy, he wishes his parents would just divorce already. He sees his mom cry daily and his dad is so distant. The only thing he wishes would happen is happiness on both ends, even if it meant not keeping the family together under one roof.

All too often the parents trick themselves into thinking that what they’re doing is for the best. But instead they destroy everything around them. I witnessed the effects firsthand with my ex. Sure, his parents stuck it out together until he was a teenager, thinking it was the right thing to do. Now he chooses happiness first. After years of watching his parents be miserable creatures, he runs at the first sign of anything but happiness. Where his parents faked it for the sake of the kids, he will only lie so long before they catch up with him and he just moves on rather than work things out. He has mastered the surface happiness but will likely never feel anything deep in his life. Sometimes I am left wondering how he even wakes up in the morning.

What I’ve learned through these situations is that kids don’t care as much about their parents being together as they do about their parents being happy. Don’t get me wrong, kids want their parents together. Like I said, that’s the ideal situation. The two-parent household. Growing up with your mom and dad being there all the time, at the same time. But going down the list of ideal, good, and worse situations, I think it’s safe to say the worse case scenario is your parents being miserable together. Miserable parents = miserable kids.

So do your kids a favor and be happy! Even if that means being selfish. Or if divorce isn’t an option, at least seek counseling. I know some wonderful family counselors in the greater Chicagoland area. Reach out to me if you need some recommendations!

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How expecting a baby raised my standards

Pregnant and dating: not two words commonly seen together.

But that’s me. You’re not so common pregnant chick. And don’t get me wrong, I am focused almost exclusively on my baby and me. But just about two years ago, God told me that He has someone better for me (in the context of my heart breaking over my ex). And the past two years, I’ve managed to carve my own path. I made a list of deal-breakers, and then promptly didn’t follow them. I dated all the wrong guys.

But getting pregnant has helped me to open my eyes and see everything that I was doing wrong. I was chasing that fleeting feeling. You know, the one where a cute guy kisses you and you just imagine the selfies because he is that good looking. Or the one where you feel his abs and think to yourself that you can overlook his personality flaws. Abs tho…

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That brings me to present day. The pregnant chick who couldn’t even make it work with the baby daddy. Trust me, I still get a lot of people wondering what’s wrong with me. I couldn’t keep a husband, and here I am about to be a single mom. But no where along the way have I lowered my standards. Actually, becoming pregnant raised them.

Now I have a screening process. I won’t even talk to a guy on the phone or meet him in person without him knowing my story. Yes, I am literally telling strangers my story. Similar to you reading my blog posts, I am laying it all out there. Married and divorced, pregnant and single. And yeah, I’m not the easiest to love due to these and other situations I’ve been through. But I know I’m worth it.

And even if I don’t find that someone better. Even if I’m single for the rest of my life. I would rather be single and happy than taken and depressed. Been there, done that. Now’s the time that I find that someone better. Or maybe not right now, but in God’s timing.

And yes there are guys willing to date me and take a chance. Just because one guy can’t see it doesn’t mean there isn’t another out there who can.

Special Announcement

IMG_20181029_174540_860In case you somehow haven’t heard, I’m having a baby. While I’m beyond excited and blessed to be experiencing this amazing new Mom thing, my story isn’t the typical one. Then again, it’s 2018 and who goes by the book anymore anyways?

I’m single and jobless. While the first is a choice, the second wasn’t. I normally wouldn’t worry, other than I hear kids are expensive and right now money is already tight with no income. Of course, I gave it all over to God and I had a third interview today. But you never know, and the new Mom in me is already a worry-wart. While my friends are busy congratulating me, beyond excited for my new bundle of joy, I am counting the dollars in my head to figure out just how long can I make it without a job?

I haven’t been jobless in over 14 years. I legitimately can’t remember not working. But I digress. This post isn’t about money or jobs. It’s actually about how people reacted to the news: single and expecting. Most people just said Wow! Congrats! with a few You go girl! Single parenthood is easier than ever these days. But I did get a limited few asking me if I was going to date/marry the father of the baby. Obviously, I expect this from the older generations, but when friends my age asked me that I was taken aback. I guess, ideally, a child should be raised by both parents in the same environment. I get that, I was married before so I totally understand. But when I choose to have a baby while also choosing to be single, it kinda surprised me. Here I am reading up the best way to raise a baby by myself, miss independent style. And my Dad’s like when’s the wedding?

It’s cool though, I guess there’s that hopeless romantic part of me that was secretly hoping it’d work out like a fairy tale. But then reality hit like a semi-truck. Left me alone to change the kitty litter boxes by myself (don’t worry, I’m taking the necessary precautions). While I am and will be alone during this growing a baby process, I’m actually not alone.

I have the most amazing friends and family. My church and running community here in Oak Park has already gone above and beyond for me. Walking my dog, planning a gender reveal, and already talking about baby showers. My Dad and his Fiancee have been helping me rearrange and clean out my condo. My best friend in Chicago has helped me get rid of about 50% of the clutter in my condo, mostly to make room to breathe and eventually for my mini-me. The hoarder in me isn’t happy, but man is it nice to actually be able to move easily in my condo and not feel trapped by my past. Let go and live on.

I guess my point is, just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you have to do this alone. It takes a village. Even if the other parent isn’t in the picture, the most important thing to focus on is providing an excellent environment for growth. I’ve met with many elders who are wise beyond my years, and the most solid advice I’ve been given was that my happiness and joy will be apparent to my little one. If I’m not happy, they will sense that. So everyday I strive to wipe away the tears and find the joy in my surroundings. This isn’t hard to do when you have so much to be thankful for. I’m truly blessed, not just with the baby but also with everyone and everything in my life. I have the ability to workout, to run, to walk. To be healthy. To eat well. And to live life to it’s fullest.

I feel closer than ever to God through this situation and can only imagine how much my faith will grow through this new season of life. I hope my story helps bring encouragement and strength to those who are also going through similar struggles.

 

Kate Spade and the unspoken truth

In case you missed the recent news, fashion designer extraordinaire Kate Spade was found dead after an apparent suicide. All the feels came over me today when reading about this great loss. But it also brought up the fact that just because it may seem like everything is okay on the outside doesn’t mean that’s the case internally. And it goes to show, just because you have money and are successful doesn’t mean you’re happy. Life is hard, for everyone. No matter how many material possessions we have, no thing can bring us true joy. Happiness is fleeting, and so are material possessions, but joy is eternal. And we must find this joy within us.

My heart and thoughts go out to Kate Spade’s family and friends though. None of them wanted her to end her life. All they wanted was for her to be happy and feel loved. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. My prayer is for them to find comfort in the middle of the storm that is death and suicide.

So many are quick to say suicide is selfish. And while it can be seen that way since those who commit suicide don’t think about anyone else other than themselves. It can also be seen in a different way. Perhaps if they were more selfish, they would’ve sought out help from others. Life is hard, and it’s not meant to be done alone. We have to rely on other people, but even people will let us down. Finding a source of joy beyond the physical world around us is key. I look towards God who gave us Jesus, his only son, to die for our sins so that we can have eternal life and joy in Him.

What helps you find joy and happiness in your everyday?

Body image and self love

It feels like I’ve always had body image issues. Looking back, I can’t seem to remember a moment where I loved the way I looked. I would try my best to be content with my body, but I would always find something I’d like to change.

When I was a baby, I didn’t have a neck. My uncle called me Jabba the Hut since I was all baby fat. I didn’t ever crawl, because I was way too happy being immobile. Once I started walking, I lost the baby fat and thinned out. In high school, I was pretty active and stayed relatively thin but still felt chubby. I didn’t see myself as sexy and focused way too much on my extra-small boobs.

Freshman year in college I’d skip meals because I felt chubby. The other three years of college, I gained about 25 to 30 pounds that I instantly hated and tried to combat best I could. My boyfriend encouraged me by working out with me, but at the end of the day I felt fat and didn’t know what exercises to do other than run and some strength machines. Through the years, I’ve gone up and down in my weight. I started my fitness journey 7 years ago when I weighed in at my heaviest. I still hated my body, but decided to finally do something about it. So I joined a local Kung Fu school and started practicing traditional martial arts.

Even over the last 7 years, I still felt chubby and fat. In the beginning, my diet was crap as I was trying to workout 3-4 times a week. About a year into my fitness journey was when I decided to watch a few food documentaries. These altered my world and my diet. I was vegan for almost two years, and that was when I noticed the real change occurring in my body. I finally liked my body weight, and almost liked how I looked. My endurance was increasing but I felt like I needed more of a challenge. So I started running in addition to the martial arts training.

When I started running, I mostly hated it. But my friend Sarah kept me accountable and we ran many races together over the years. Even as a runner and martial artist, I still struggled with my body image. Especially after I fell off the vegan wagon and started to be more open with my diet. And, you know, got married and comfortable. When I turned 30 only a year and a half ago, I felt embarrassed when looking at photos of myself. That chubby tummy and love handles were too much! I knew I needed more strength training and a better diet, but kinda let myself go. It was when my ex left that I reassessed everything in my life, but chose to focus on self love and body image.

I turned to fitness and working out to help me get through one of the hardest situations in my life. I upped the frequency and intensity of working out. I made a conscious decision to focus on my health and everything else would work itself out. I felt called to run the Chicago marathon last year, and I chose to focus more on strength training both while running and after the race. Even after running the marathon, I still felt chubby. But I sat down and created a fitness goal for myself in order to help me work towards the body I want rather than the one I had.

And guess what? I didn’t reach my goal. My goal was to get to 18% body fat by last week. I’m currently hovering just above 19% body fat, but I started at 25% four months ago. Despite not meeting my goal, I can finally say I love my body. Just the way it is. I know I’m still a work in progress, and I still have fitness goals I’m working on. But I realized it isn’t about the numbers. It’s not about how much I weigh nor how much body fat I have (as long as I’m not obese). It’s about how I look and feel. Hard work pays off, but most of the work I’ve needed has been mental. 90% mental, 10% physical.

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Breaking the habit

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I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to break a habit once I’ve incorporated it into my daily routine. Some habits are good, like brushing your teeth or working out. But some habits are bad, like eating an entire box of cookies in one sitting. I’m not here to talk about good or bad habits, rather I’m going to focus on comfortable habits.

We are creatures of habit. We are predictable. We enjoy routine, and don’t like disruption. Sometimes, we start doing something because we enjoy it. For example, I started practicing Kung Fu in 2011 because I enjoyed the exercise, the learning experience, and the community. I saw many benefits outpouring from the training, and decided to make it a habit. Even when I was scraping by financially, I still made it a priority and found the means to continue paying for the classes.

This was a good habit that I incorporated into my life to make it better. But sometimes I’ve incorporated a bad habit just because it makes me feel better. Or I add something to my routine because at first it seems great, but over time I start making excuses when it’s really not so great.

I’ve found myself in this sort of cycle when it comes to dating and relationships. I tend to be attracted to the same type of guy: a little arrogant, a little smart, very good looking, self-absorbed, and fake(?) nice. Every time I start having feelings for someone like this, I see past the bad qualities and only see the good stuff, the surface things. But over time, the truth shows it’s ugly head. And my problem is that I start making excuses for them. In my head they aren’t perfect, but they’re also not terrible. In reality, they’re just not the right person for me. But for some reason, I can’t let go.

Is it the fact that by this time I’ve spent time, money and energy on them? Or maybe because it feels comfortable. They’re always around, and I enjoy their company. Or am I just used to their company and can’t remember how it was before? Then I feel trapped. How can I break this habit? This cycle of self-destruction, of dating the wrong guy. The list of wrong guys I’ve dated seems endless, and all at once it feels like I’m staring down into an empty bottle. Where are the good guys? Better yet, where’s the right guy for me? Does he even exist?

So I challenged myself for this year: I’m breaking this cycle I’ve allowed myself to fall into. Moving forward, I will be honest with every guy I meet. If after talking once or twice they don’t meet my standards (deal-breakers), then I will be very clear in regards to my intentions and how I see them. This is something I thought I was capable of doing last year, but I lost my way. I let my guard down, and I let the wrong person in. No regrets, because life is all about learning and growing. And I’m learning and growing everyday.

Suicide Prevention and the Holidays

With the holiday season comes an increase of sadness and depression. Some blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the decreased daylight, whereas other cases can be traced back to lonely or drama-included holidays. Speaking from experience, I can see where the holidays can be sad for someone since I lost my mom right before Christmas of 2015. I want to focus on suicide prevention and ways to lift your spirits despite the gloomy circumstances surrounding you.

Suicide Prevention: tips and tricks

  • Move! Stay active. I know it’s hard during these colder months, but staying active will increase your feel-good hormones. It may be too cold to exercise outside, but there are some great gym membership deals going on right now that you can jump on.
  • Eat better! Instead of grabbing processed and fatty foods, go for foods rich in protein, fiber, and/or good fats. I.e. eggs, avocados, oatmeal, etc. These foods will also help you stay full for longer and won’t tire you out.
  • Start or re-vamp a hobby! Whether you like to read books, watch movies, or play the guitar, pick up an old or new hobby to focus on. People who do what they enjoy find more joy in their daily lives.
  • Be social! Join a meet up group or a local running club. Whatever it is you like to do, there’s likely a group of people to do it with. Doing something you enjoy with others is a great way to make new friends.
  • Choose yourself. Love yourself. You are amazing and you are worth it.

If you find yourself considering suicide or suffering from depression, don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-8255

Check out this website HERE for more resources and information. Let’s get the conversation going and let it continue on everywhere.

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I’m a few days late. But better late than never..

Merry Christmas!

merry christmasI hope you all had an amazing Christmas Eve and Day! I filled my two days off of work with friends, family, and of course a great workout. Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year, so I spent the morning at church with my extended church family. Afterwards, I hit the gym bringing my A game and my Santa hat. I got to spend some quality time with Nathen Mixon at one of my favorite LA Fitness locations in the South Loop of Chicago. It was nice to get away from the office for a day and get some different views while lifting.

After a good sweat sesh, we headed over to my dad’s house for some quality Christmas Eve dinner. Thus begun the holiday eating binge. We ended the night with some Beauty and the Beast (original Disney version) and It’s a Wonderful Life (classic Christmas movie).

merry christmasThe next day was Christmas, and since the gym was closed I got my workout in by carrying a heavy load of laundry over to my dad’s house (I asked first). I got there early to help him prepare for the Christmas Day feast. About 14 people or so showed up, many cousins, aunts and uncles. A few came in from out of town, so it was great to see everyone.

Nathen even remembered almost everyone’s name afterwards, and I learned some new tricks to remembering names since I meet about 30 to 50 new people everyday at my new job. After eating way too much food, we headed out to see the new Jumanji movie which was awesome! Overall, I had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and friends. I hope you also had a great holiday surrounded by friends and family. Or perhaps just a relaxing one.

What did you do for Christmas? Any family traditions?

Late night thoughts

I have a theory. Or maybe a few of them. All relating to people and their behaviors. This is probably one of the latest blog posts I’ve ever done, but I wanted to write this week and didn’t have time until now.

scale-403585_1920There’s an article I read recently about this amazing couple that lost all this weight together. Like nearly 400 pounds between the two of them over the last two years. I can’t even make this up, it’s like two completely different couples. This story got me thinking about relationships and how they can literally build you up and push you forward, or knock you down and hold you back. This is an extreme case of the former. It’s like together they pushed each other to be healthier and to take back their lives.

Ideal relationships

This is the ideal relationship. We all want someone who will love us no matter what, but will also push us to be better than who we were yesterday. Settling is for dirt; people are meant to grow and evolve throughout their entire life. If we end up settling, we may miss an opportunity because we may not even get to that level to open that door. In my previous relationship, I thought I was with someone who was supportive no matter what. It wasn’t until I wanted to go back to school did I realize that he was holding me back from my goals and dreams.

Unhealthy relationships

Then you have the relationships that knock you down. “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” (The Room). You know, the ones where your partner tells you you’re fat or you’re boring. And somehow, despite all the weight you lose, you’re never good enough. In a way, they can push you to do better, but you’re only trying to do better because the person who’s supposed to be on your team is tearing you down. And you want to prove them wrong. Pretty sure this is unbelievably unhealthy. And if you’re in this type of relationship, the one where your significant other is extremely selfish, please do yourself a favor and leave it. You can do so much better.

Are you in a healthy, ideal relationship? Is your guy or gal willing to support you and push you forward all while loving you no matter what?

Pursuing my dreams

What does it look like to pursue your dreams? There’s a saying that if you find your dream job, you’ll never work another day in your life.

My many hats

Through the past several years, I’ve worked in many different fields. When I started out fresh out of college, I wanted to work in the veterinary field for the rest of my life. So, naturally, I started out as a Veterinary Technician (nurse). Through the years, and Grad school, I determined the Veterinary field wasn’t right for me. I also worked a little in Information Technology, where I thrived but wasn’t passionate about my role there.

I thought I broke through the mundane when after I received my Master’s degree, I got a Technical Support role at a laboratory supply company. It mixed my skills of IT with science, and I got to talk to customers. I love talking to people, something I found through the veterinary roles I had. Then the company management started micro-managing me, despite me being one of the top employees in my department. They pushed me away and into sales since they gave me sales goals with no incentives. And I entered IT sales, because it made sense. Yes, I knew it wasn’t my passion, but I thought there would be a bigger chance to make more money.

That brings me to now..

After a year and a half in IT sales, I wasn’t making nearly as much as I thought I would. The company I was working for actually lied about the role of the job and instead of it leading to a sales account manager position, it was more of a glorified admin role. And if you know me, you know I’m not one to just sit back and do nothing. I’ve been there, done that. And no way did I get a Master’s degree to be someone’s assistant.

So I decided to take a risk. After months of job applications and a handful of interviews, I received zero job offers. I was getting this itch to get out of my current role and into something that would help push me towards my dream job. Not to mention, I wanted to get away from my old life as much as I could and my career was the last string to be cut. So when LA Fitness called me, I agreed to interview with them. The words manager in training were said and I was instantly interested. After the interview, I knew I had a shoe in but that my life would be changing completely.

My passion in fitness

pursuing my dreamsThis is only my first week and I’m still in training and learning all that I can. So far, I’m loving it. It feels like I belong in the world of fitness. Technically, I’m still in sales. But now I’m selling personal training rather than laptops and servers. I’m helping people work towards and obtain their health and fitness goals. And this makes me happy. I know that I’m taking a huge risk. My income is based on how much I sell, and I have bills to pay. But for some reason, this feels right. And I believe that if you don’t push yourself and put yourself out there, you’ll never know your full potential.

Also, you can’t know success until you know failure. So if I fail, I will know what doesn’t work. But I like the saying do or do not, there is no try. I’m beyond trying and now I’m doing. I’m following my passions and dreams. And I know this will help me grow in the fitness field and gain the experience and knowledge needed to be a leader in the fitness field.

What’s your passion? Are you working your dream job?

Come see me at LA Fitness in Oak Brook if you’re looking to start or change your fitness journey!