Purpose

I wrote this for one of my classes, but I think it’s important and I would like to share it here. Maybe it will motivate someone into creating their own goals.

What is my purpose?  Why am I here?  What good can I do? These are very common questions people ask themselves, especially in early adulthood.  For their entire lives everything has been done for them, or maybe there have been expectations places upon them from parents or other adults.  As they themselves become adults, everything feels messy and scary; at least that’s how it has felt for me at times.  Some people are lucky and have known what their purpose is since they were very young; others may not know well into their forties and fifties.  Feeling like there’s no reason for you to be here can put someone in a dark place.  Finding your purpose can be enlightening and inspiring.  My purpose is to help others find themselves through communication to encourage them to make a better life for themselves.  I’ve only just begun my journey and have set clear goals to make the most of my life.  Personally, I want to change my lifestyle to a healthier one.  Academically, I want to complete my degree in communications, as well as become certified in life coaching, herbalism, and holistic healing.  Professionally, my goal is to work for myself, be able to travel the world and coach from wherever I please, and be financially comfortable enough to not stress about my bills.  Starting off small, my personal goal is simple, but will take a lot of will power to achieve.

I’m on the path to health.  My goal is maintain a healthy weight around 180 pounds, continue to train for faster half marathon times, and eventually embrace a vegan diet.  These things all take time mental and physical strength, but in the long run will make my life so much more pleasant and safe.  This goal is important to me, because I’ve always struggled with my weight and my relationship with food.  As a child, my parents had the same struggle and I watched them try every fad diet and program they could to lose the weight.  My grandparents have diabetes and other medical conditions that I refuse to get.  The only way to prevent these diseases is by changing my lifestyle now while I’m young.  This is also why I want to study holistic healing and herbalism.  I fully believe that everything we need to heal ourselves can be found in nature and I want the knowledge for myself.  I’ve been a vegetarian for almost a year now and it’s been easy for me.  I never thought about cutting out meat until this year, and it seemed like the natural answer for me and I’ve never looked back.  Someday, I would like to become a vegan and cut out animal products entirely.  This is a little more difficult, as most food products have milk or eggs or butter in them. However, cutting these things out and replacing them with plant-based items will be better for my health overall.  Still, the challenge will be putting more effort into my grocery shopping and ordering at restaurants, not to mention the willpower to give up “real” macaroni and cheese.  Two solutions to this and to my overall health goal obstacles will be meal prepping to prepare for an entire week’s worth of meals, and focusing on the bigger picture of keeping myself healthy in my mind and body.

My college education has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.  After graduating high school in 2012, I attended university for two full semesters before moving back home and transferring to a different institution closer to home.  There, I worked two jobs and only took one class to be eligible for an internship.  After accepting my out-of-state internship with the Disney College Program, I put my education to the side until I discovered what I wanted to study and began working full time.  Now, almost four years later, I’m ready to complete my degree. My goal is to graduate from UCF in 2020 with a degree in Technical Communication and a minor in Mass Communication.  I also plan to take many certification courses through online institutions for Life Coaching, Herbalism, and other forms of holistic healing. I am very passionate about natural healing through essential oils, herbal remedies, and crystal healing.  Learning about energies is something that has become fascinating to me over the past few years, and I believe in its power wholeheartedly. While my ideal career is in coaching and writing, I want the knowledge that comes with healing to be able to offer extra help to my friends, family, and clients as necessary. A possible obstacle will be money.  Money is always an obstacle for most things to help you grow academically or professionally.  However, through scholarships and loans, I will be able to remedy this.  Finding the time to fill out scholarship applications and saving money by cutting out frivolous spending will also help me achieve this goal.

My ideas for what career I want to pursue have changed a lot through the years.  As a child, the first thing I wanted to be was a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld.  From there I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a Broadway actress.  As I grew up and began my college education, I went from an education major to public relations.  Now, I’m not too far off with communications.  My career goal is to become a certified life coach, helping people make and achieve their own goals, while making enough money to support myself and my family, and travel the world as I work.  I’ve always loved talking to people and to help them sort out decisions they need to make.  Life coaching take that idea, but instead of telling your friend what she should do, you give her the tools to discover for herself what she truly wants.  I think this is a powerful career that is very important to those on a journey. I want to be able to have enough clients that I can support myself financially, while still giving each client the individual attention he or she needs.  I want to live a debt-free life in a small home where I have the freedom to travel with my husband and dog, seeing the world and writing about my adventures.  An obstacle to overcome is my own personal self-doubt.  I’m afraid of how people will perceive me as I embark on this journey.  Two solutions are to meditate and get rid of those negative thoughts, and to possibly hire a life coach myself.  Both of these things will help guide me and get into the proper headspace as I grow and go along this path.

Goals are very important to make sure you’re making the most out of your life.  Having a purpose gives meaning to those goals and why you’ve set them in the first place.  For me, having goals like living my healthiest life, completing my degree and certifications, and having my dream job as a self-employed life coach all help each other.  My three goals all support my purpose statement, which is to help others find themselves through communication to encourage them to make a better life for themselves.  If I can’t meet my own goals, I have no right to help others make theirs and hold them accountable.  Achieving my goals means everything to me to make my life better, as well as the lives of those around me.  Attending Valencia College is a small part of what will get me to achieve my goals.  Without Valencia, I wouldn’t be able to complete my college credits and go on to UCF and graduate.

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Personal Development Success and Failure

I think there’s something really important in trial and error. It teaches us that having desires alone won’t get us where we want to go; we have to maintain motivation throughout the entire journey if we want to succeed. I don’t believe that leaving a goal incomplete is a bad thing as long as you made an effort in some way.

Did I make thirty-one entries in my journal or on my blog? No, but I brought conscious thought to the idea of writing and keeping myself accountable in other ways. To me, that isn’t failure.

However, I do want to continue the mindset of having short and long-term goals and holding myself accountable to moving to reach them. Pausing, inching forward, and dead sprinting are all acceptable; moving backward is not.

At the beginning of the year I set monthly goals for myself both here and in my bullet journal. That’s a practice I miss. I’d like to continue that through the end of the year as a way of “checking in” on my long-term goals to ensure I’m on the right track. These goals usually range from professional, personal, and financial, and completing even one per month is a success to me. Stay tuned.

Do you have a favorite way of keeping track of goals? Do you use sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, journal about them, or just keep them mentally? I’d love to hear others’ ways of keeping track of their personal development!

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International Women’s Day

It’s amazing to realize how much you change as you grow up. I realize that’s part of coming into adulthood; the time between adolescence and adulthood is filled with so much drastic change it only makes sense. However, I can see a 95% difference in myself from how I was in my teenage years. Growing up in Bible Belt, Texas I obviously had a more conservative outlook on most things. I didn’t understand the LGBT+ community, I didn’t know any people of color, and I was ashamed of being a woman. 

Anyone that knew me back then versus now remembers the days where I was embarrassed to have breasts and hated going bra shopping. I had conditioned myself to look at my own body and demeanor with disdain because my femininity was wrong or dirty. Having boobs was sexy and sex is dirty and girls are supposed to have purity rings and not be aware of them being sexual beings. Or something like that. All of this was something I had made up or assumed; while my parents never mentioned anything about the birds and the bees to me or made me feel ashamed, somehow I still did. Really, many of these feelings followed me into college and down to Florida. It wasn’t until I began to see body positivity firsthand that I realized my femininity is something to be proud of. 

These days I can say without hesitation that I believe in true feminism. I believe in encouraging girls and women to love themselves as an A cup or a EEE, to love their curves and stretch marks and Fred Flinstone Feet. Women need to hear that makeup doesn’t make you beautiful, but if winged eyeliner and a killer cut-crease makes you feel empowered, then by all means go for it. It is entirely your opinion and choices that matter and not that of society. Show your stomach if you want to! Exposing some tasteful sideboob doesn’t make you a slut unless that’s how you would like to self-identify. True feminism advocates equality for men and women alike, realizing that men face just as many social pressures as women do. Opening my eyes to love myself as I am has made me a stronger woman and I want to encourage other people of all genders and identities to feel the same. 

On this International Women’s Day, I celebrate all women. This includes trans women, women of color, republican women, democrat women, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and every other type of women out there. So much of the mainstream society tries to pit women against each other by making everything a competition and putting them down. Telling me I’m not girly enough or not as thin as this woman is a way to break down my mind to conform to the bullshit. We all need to stand together as sisters and use our differences to make us stronger as a group to defend against that bullshit social norm. 

In the past, I’ve felt guilty for going to Starbucks and being perceived as a “basic white girl” or expressing my emotions and being called “dramatic and hysterical”.  Now I realize how silly that is and have chosen to embrace myself for who I am. If I can choose to be unapologetically me, then maybe I can inspire more of my brothers and sisters in the world. I’ve been brushed off when I talk about not wanting to have children, as if this makes me less of a woman. When I asked my gynecologist about a tubal litigation he told me I was too young to make a decision like that when I know in my heart that it’s not something I am going to change my mind on. I’m louder and more independent than most men are used to, and I’ve accepted that that is the reason I’m single; it will take a very special man to be able to handle me.  I talk openly about sex and zit popping videos and other “non-ladylike” topics and I’m proud of myself for having the freedom to vocalize my opinions and feelings. 

As a woman in the United States I realize how lucky I am. Compared to how women are viewed in other countries around the world, here in America we have so many rights to be thankful for. Not only am I lucky enough to be a woman in America, I’m also lucky enough to never have experienced a sexual assault when 1 in 6 American women have. While I am extremely fortunate to not have this history, I never want to take that for granted and forget the women who have suffered through harmful situations because of their gender. From the women in other countries fighting for education and jobs to the women around the world who have been assaulted or live in fear of assault (not to mention the women who have not survived these battles), I want to live to support them and not let them be forgotten. Because I am one of the lucky ones, I feel like it’s part of my duty to stand with victims and offer encouragement to my sisters to stay strong through whatever life throws at them. 

I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made since high school. I’m proud to be a woman, and I’m even prouder to be the strong and independent woman I am. Being raised to speak up for myself and encouraged to do anything I set my mind to, I’m using my voice to stand with my fellow women in their right to live the lives they want and not the ones expected of them. Liking Starbucks, not wanting children, listening to bubblegum pop music, wearing pink lipstick and getting your nails done, playing sports, being covered in tattoos and liking sex doesn’t make you more or less of a woman. It makes you you. The most important lesson I’ve learned as a woman is that mine is the only approval I need. I want to support women around the world in their own journeys and battles to achieve their rights and find their individual voices. 

February Goals

I’m very happy to announce that in January I completed 8/10 of my planned goals. Not only did I successfully do the 10 I set out to, I also made great progress in creating lasting habits for my health and well-being. It isn’t important which goals I did or did not meet, what matters most is that I was able to achieve more than I thought I would for the month. 

With that being said, I decided on my February goals. I have less on my list this month, and some are the same or slightly different, while some are new. Although I’m doing a lot of focusing on the short-term goals, I haven’t forgotten about the long term; many of my goals I set intentionally to get into the habit of doing it, so I can eventually turn around and utilize them for a longterm plan. An example would be more exercise: someday I want to comfortably complete a full marathon. I can’t do that without consistent running and training (and diet!!) every day. Another would be my writing: four blog posts a month at minimum gives me the practice and experience to someday get paid for writing.  “I want to learn everything I can, and write down everything I see. Golly says if I want to be a writer, I’d better start now…”

  • Publish 4 blog posts
  • Read 4 books
  • Work out 4 days a week
  • Put (and keep) money in savings
  • Continue to clean and de-clutter
  • No soda

I feel good. These may seem like more “to-do” list items, but they mean more than that to me. These goals mean working to become a better person, both physically and mentally. I want to learn, I want to feel stable, I want to feel strong. I’m so ready to be the best I can be. This month I also want to sit down and seriously begin to plan out my long-term life goals, and I’ll be sure to write about it when I know more myself. 

Spiritual Awakening

I’ve always been interested in the supernatural or metaphysical. Even when I was young and living in a conservative Christian home, not allowed to watch The Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter, I still had a strong affinity for learning about magic, ghosts, and other things many people in our church and community saw as “demonic.” As I grew up, my family became less dependent on religious doctrine and we each went our separate ways spiritually. I’m very lucky to have had so many different resources and experiences through my parents’ discoveries because I’ve been given a great spiritual foundation from varying ideologies.

With that foundation, I’m beginning to seek out spirituality for myself. After high school and college, I gave religion a wide berth, not because I felt negatively towards it as a whole, but because I needed space to come to it on my own. I don’t like labels, especially on things like religion; they’re too limiting for such an unknown and strong energy. Even describing myself as “agnostic” didn’t sit well with me. It still doesn’t.

I’m forging my own path through different means. Currently I’m focusing on mediation and healing energy. Chakras, crystals, and candles, oh my! I’ve begun teaching myself to read tarot cards and hope to take a 6-week course on it next month. To learn the cards and their many meanings, I’m updating my Facebook page and sometimes my Insta daily with a tarot card that my deck chose for me that day. I really love it so far and appreciate the clarity it adds to a situation. Tarot isn’t meant to be “fortune telling” or reading the future; tarot is a reflection of yourself.

Similarly, I bought my very first crystal this week. At a a local metaphysical shop I was browsing through the many cases for a few specific ones as gifts. My intention was to buy for others on this trip and only get the tarot cards for myself. I came to the sunstone and saw the brief description on the card and it took my breath away. While it isn’t the most beautiful or most versatile, it certainly is the most important crystal I could have chosen as my first. Instead of putting it in my “shopping cauldron” like my other purchases, I felt drawn to holding it in my hand while shopping, and continued to do so once I got into my car as well. It immediately warmed in my hand and I could feel its energy vibrating through me while I held it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

I have a lot of things I want to learn. I want to educate myself and share my knowledge with those who want to hear it. Maybe that gets done through healing, readings, or charms; maybe my new positive energy will strengthen others to seek out a deeper spiritual awakening of their own. Nonetheless, I want to research and read and try everything to see what works best for me.

Will any of this last? I hope so. I want it to. It doesn’t feel like church revival “warm fuzzies” that fade. This feels like a transformation in my deepest soul. I don’t feel this transformation only spiritually; I feel it emotionally and physically. I feel lighter as I’ve been practicing mindfulness in the past week, taking care of myself and ridding my life of negativity. I’m focusing on the positive energy and not allowing the negative to come close to me. I’m speaking blessings and focusing on the good in myself and in others. I’m becoming mindful of the way I sit, the food I eat, and the amount of wastefulness I’m trying to reduce.

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The Bullet Journal

For way too long I’ve struggled with craving organization in my scheduling; although “organized” is the last word I would use to describe myself, I know I need structure. Every year I buy the cutest planner to fit my personality and fill it out with important dates and my work schedule. After that I never look at it again. Occasionally I might remember it exists and cross out months that have already passed and leave it to collect dust again.

I’ve decided my problem with traditional planners is that they aren’t flexible. They’re all the same and don’t  work for me. I have dozens of break slips in my pockets with tasks and to-do’s that have a much more linear aesthetic that I prefer. When I sit down to make life plans in a notebook, it gets listed. For me, boxy calendar views are wasteful in the end. I have at least a dozen notebooks scattered around all containing the same information. I need one main journal to keep track of my plans.

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Given my life currently, I don’t have “appointments” or meetings to need to plan in detail.  My work schedule is saved in screenshots in my camera roll so writing them down is useless. My life is tasks and flimsy plans with friends with no time crunch. I need to know what day bills come out and when my dog needs her heart worm medication and when to refill my antidepressant prescription and plan out my running days.

With all of this being realized, I began looking at a lot of posts of bloggers who use bullet journals. It’s been a thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to try the “BuJo” life, but like most people just starting out, I was overwhelmed at the amount of creativity most of the examples had. Still, in my fresh mindset I have decided to jump in.  Maybe it will work for me, maybe it won’t. Still, I want to give it a try. I’m standing by my statement that 2017 is a year of continued growth and logging that in a bullet journal with a more linear task list might just be the way to do it.

In less than 24 hours, I already learned some things I do and do not like and things I want to add or change in the future. I wish my journal was dotted or gridded instead of lined, for one, but I like the size and quality so I’ll survive. Before even starting, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t compare my journal to the Instagram models; I would allow my bullet journal to grow and evolve with me this year. BuJo would be my friend to learn from week to week and month to month.

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I think that’s my favorite part about the Bullet Journal model: complete freedom. If I try something one week and hate it, I’m not committed to it. I’m in an open relationship with my planner. As I was coming up with my pre-plan, I didn’t think I wanted a daily log. I started off with the blank spread, trying to decide what would work best for me. Then I realized i could do both: on weeks where I know I have a lot going on, I can do a daily log, and on weeks where I’m not doing much, I don’t need to waste the paper. I love the potential lack of waste that comes with this process. If my Thursday is packed, then I’ll do a Thursday log and skip the other days, lumping all my tasks into my weekly tracker.

Some collections that are unique to me are my long-term goals and tasks with no time constraint, things like cleaning out my iTunes library and running a marathon; I have a collection of dreams such as buying a new mattress and getting married; my favorite personal collection is my list of dates I go on, complete with a rating system and where we met. A few collections I added are inspired by others I saw online. Gift ideas, favorites of the season, bills and habit trackers, along with a few others are all a part of my bullet journal.

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Something I plan on gaining from this (besides structure) is strengthening my handwriting. This is a big joke, I know. My handwriting has always been horrendous, but I hope that through. My bullet journal I am able to at least have legible scrawl. In the short time I’ve spent making my first spreads, I’ve found a new acceptance for my lack of artistry and cursive/print hybrid penmanship. I discovered that although it isn’t easy coming up with my own doodles, fonts, or borders, I can copy the basic idea from what I find online and make it fit my needs.

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A trend I’ve noticed in the Bullet Journal community is finding a word to motivate or describe the upcoming year. I didn’t think much of it until I kept using the phrase “year of growth” whether it be in my blog, private journal, or even just my thoughts. I mentioned in my last post that “growth” is the word I plan on returning to throughout the year, and I stand by that. Even in the few short weeks of this year I’ve felt a great sense of growth within my self in many ways and I hope to use my new Bullet Journal to continue that feeling.

If you’re curious about how to start or need more inspiration, Modern Mrs. Darcy has some great posts about her own Bullet Journal and her posts include even more links to great resources. Of course there’s the official Bullet Journal website if you want to learn more from the creator himself. For me, I love the flexibility and casualness of this style of planning and I can see myself using it for a very long time.

January Goals

I could very well write about New Year’s Resolutions and how I plan on maintaining long-term goals throughout the entire year. But we all know how resolutions go, and I hate admitting that I’ve failed at something. Instead of writing about the long-term, I’ve decided to break down my goals into smaller, month-sized pieces and share them as the year goes on. Many of my goals may be the same month to month; this makes it less of a resolution and more of a continuing habit.

With all that being said, here are my goals for January

  • Drink more water
  • Run 3 times a week
  • Lose 5 pounds
  • Complete a “75 Push-up Challenge”
  • Complete my half marathon without dying
  • Enjoy my trip to Disneyland without stressing out about money
  • Continue reducing the items I own
  • Crack down on a good skin care routine
  • Publish at least 4 blog posts
  • Read at least 4 books
  • Maintain a private journal
  • Focus on more photography

I tried to make goals that were diverse. Some are health-related while some are personal goals, and some are just good practices to get into. I spent a lot of December thinking on these and making strides to begin my new habits.

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Both in this blog and in my personal journal I’ve
mentioned that 2017 is the year of growth, and I plan on returning to that word throughout my year. Everything I do this year is all based around personal growth. Expect that to be a reoccurring word in my posts.

What are your thoughts on forming New Year’s Resolutions? Do you stick with them through the entire year or do they fizzle out? How do you separate a “resolution” and making new habits, or is there a difference at all? I’d love to know your opinion on this, and I hope you join me through this year of blogging.

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The Star Wars Half Marathon

About this time last year my friend Skylar and I decided to sign up for a half marathon together. We signed up for the Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland so we could also plan a trip for the 60th anniversary and holiday events.

When we signed up, we thought we would train and work hard to meet our goal for the November race. I was extra ambitious and signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, which meant I was running the 10k and the half marathon. Neither of us did much training, and by “much” I mean, “I don’t think we trained at all.” Life was busy and work days were long and boyfriends and roommates took priority over running. Fair enough.

Because training was low on the list of worries, I was not at all prepared for my 19.3 miles that weekend. Somehow I managed to push through, even though it meant I didn’t get the most out of my Disneyland trip because I was asleep in the hotel for two days after my races. I cried for the last 4 miles because everything hurt and I realized I made a mistake in not preparing at all. There was a point where I didn’t think I would make it and just wanted to sit down and wait for the wheelchairs to pick me up and take me to the finish line.

I was so relieved to cross that finish line, and although I was frustrated with myself, I was proud that I had persevered through the race. I proved to myself that I could finish on time and showed what my body was capable of. With that being said, I also vowed to never sign up for a race that long without committing to at least a little bit of training leading up to it.

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My race medals after taking a loooooong nap in the hotel.

Fast-forward to the beginning of this year. Tax returns came and I had planned on  saving mine to put towards another Disneyland trip with Jay for his birthday later this year. With our breakup, I had no other plans for that return (besides using it to pay off my credit card, which would have been the responsible thing to do). I wanted to start running again to help with my depression and emotions that remained after such an awful heartbreak and I saw there was still registration available for the Star Wars half marathon in April–8 weeks away. I found a training guide and signed up.

Now, I didn’t follow my training guide. In fact, I never ran farther than 3 miles in those 8 weeks. But I averaged walking at least 7 miles a day at work, plus I had friends to encourage me and run with me a few times a week. Even consistently running 3 miles every few days made such a huge difference when it came time for the race on April 17th.

I made it to the race expo the day before my race to get my t-shirt and race packet. To me, the expo is what gives me the motivation to get up the next day for the race. There is so much energy from the people excited to run their various events during the weekend.

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As soon as I saw the signage, it became so much more real that I was actually doing this race.

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All of my race gear ready to go early in the morning.

I worked until seven or eight o’clock on Race Eve, and my alarm was set for two in the morning to be able to make it to EPCOT for parking. It was that moment that I suddenly felt anxious about running this race. I suddenly remembered how unprepared I felt at Disneyland for the race and it scared me for this one. For a moment I lost all confidence in myself and wished I was at home sleeping.

Something cool that happened before the race was that they had several character meet-and-greets out both before and after the race. As someone who isn’t fast enough to factor in character photos during a race, I really appreciated the incorporation of characters during that time before heading off to the corrals. I hadn’t seen the line for Boba Fett until it was too late, but I did manage a photo with the storm troopers.

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Other characters included Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Captain Phasma.

It really wasn’t until I was in my corral (L for “Last!”) that I realized I couldn’t back out. When the time finally came to GO there was no turning back. While training with my friend Kristen, we had recently developed an appreciation for :30 intervals so that was my plan for the majority of the race. There were times I would walk a few extra “dings” but then I would make up for it and run the same amount of time. Somehow, I felt really good.

IMG_9482During my first half marathon, I was shot by mile 7. It dawned on me too far along just how far 13.1 miles really was. By mile 9 I was ready to sit on the ground and wait for a wheelchair to pick me up. By mile 10 I was in tears because every part of my body ached and felt like my joints were separating with 3 miles still to go. I felt emotionally and physically broken by the time I hobbled over the finish line and went straight to my hotel room.

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I chose one character photo instead of a bathroom break so I could meet Sabine (And Ezra, but Sabine was more important to me).

This time around, none of that happened. Around those miles 8-10 I felt overwhelmed, but I knew it wasn’t impossible. The tears I cried were when I crossed the finish line and realized how good I still felt even with as little training as I did. I proved to myself that I was capable of making great time and pushing myself to complete this massive distance.

I completed Avengers in 03:30:00, and Star Wars in 03:12:23. Going from a 15:51 pace to a 14:41 pace and shaving almost 18 minutes off a half marathon time was so amazing to me. I knew I wanted to “do better” than my last half, but I had no idea I would do that much better.

The race had started at EPCOT and ended at ESPN, so I took a charter bus to the Polynesian and took the monorail to EPCOT from there. During the bus ride I rested and wished my phone hadn’t been dying or I could have gone to a park to show off my medal with the rest of the racers. Instead I went home and napped for five hours, but I deserved it.

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Crossing the finish line.

What Does it Mean to Be Healthy?

I’ve written a lot of posts about rebooting my health goals. Like, a lot. Like here, here, also here, and you get the picture. It’s not that I just stop caring about my health; it just gets hard. Even when I stop eating what’s good for me or lower my activity level, I’m constantly thinking about how good I felt. But let’s be honest with ourselves: “health” isn’t just diet and exercise.

I’ve done a lot of diets and workouts and weigh-ins and measuring and counting. That’s great if that’s what you want or need. To me, my health is not defined by numbers anymore. It also isn’t just about food. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

What does “healthy” mean to me?

  • not biting my nails
  • keeping a consistent schedule
  • hydration
  • not eating only junk food
  • raising my activity level
  • giving myself love and grace
  • not hitting the snooze button

These don’t sound like the epitome of health, do they? But listen, they’re all steps. Having scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast is better than ice cream (I may or may not have done that yesterday) and even opting out of my daily soda at lunch is a step to making my body happier. Making a turkey sandwich for work instead of stopping by McDonalds saves calories and money–a two-for-one deal!

I’ve never been a “snoozer.” I don’t know what happened recently (actually I do), but I don’t want to get out of bed when I have to. I reset my alarm for a later time and get ready for work at the last minute. I always feel so much better when I just get up and start my day, plus I get to have time to write before work.

Like I said, my health is not defined by numbers. I don’t need to lose a certain number of pounds or eat a certain amount of calories or run this many miles a week. That puts too much pressure and anxiety on me if I don’t meet those numbers. I see nothing wrong with people who need those numeric goals, it definitely works. But that isn’t the best way to motivate me personally. My Fitbit step goal is really the only number I care about.

I’m so incredibly proud of the race medals I’ve earned. Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted, running a half marathon or a 5k is a huge achievement for anyone. It’s like the quote that says, “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.” And that’s what I want for myself. Running is so rewarding to me, and after running (mostly walking) a half marathon last November, I got a little taste of the person I could be. I didn’t train like I had wanted to, and that is my biggest regret as far as my health goes. If I could comfortably run three or four miles, that would mean everything to me to be able to work harder for longer races.

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Last night, Enthusiasm asked me how badly I want to meet my goals. It made me think a lot about my past attempts. I won’t call them “failed,” but they were forgotten. Disney costumes are so unflattering, and I’m tired of looking down and seeing my stomach in the pants I wear at work. I know how to dress my body on my own time, but I want to feel better at work. I don’t want to hate myself or feel down about myself for one emotional reason or another. I want pretty fingernails again. I want to be happy and energetic again. Diet, activity, mindset, and consistency are all equal factors to finding peace with myself and my health.

Being healthy, both emotionally and physically, is hard. Creating and keeping healthy habits takes time, but I know just as well as anyone else that it’s so incredibly worth it. So here I am, starting again. I’m picking up where I left off with my health and doing my best to make a better physical and emotional situation for myself.

Finding Out Who I Am

With recent conversations the topic of “Who am I?” has come up and stuck with me. Some days it’s more of an anxiety than a passing idea. I’ve worried a lot recently about not knowing who I am or why I’m even here. We as humans are always changing and I’m not excluded from that. Everything from religion to education to habits and personality have changed for me; a lot of those changed have happened in the last 5 years. More than anything I’ve changed a lot in the last few months.  At first, I changed for the worst, but now I can see myself making a lot of really good changes. As I got to a better place mentally, I’ve found myself even more lost than I felt during my depression. Now it’s clear-headed lost feelings because I don’t recognize myself since emerging from that darkness I was in for so long.

But who was I before? I don’t remember that girl at all. I remember being popular in my friend group, easily being the center of attention–but not in a bad way. I was always holding court amongst my peers. I was full of light and attracted people to me. I was loud and social and full of energy and hyperactivity that the girl I am now isn’t reminiscent of at all. I’m a lot quieter now, which is something I never thought I’d be.

Thinking back, I don’t know who I was for most of my adolescence. I defined myself in high school and college by who my parents were, who my friends were, where I went to school, where I went (or didn’t go) to church. I don’t think I realized what I was feeling back then; I felt out of place, that was all I knew.  Since moving to Florida, I defined myself by the job I had. Everything revolved around that, and not who I was deep inside, so I forgot.

Being unhappy in the workplace that was the only defining factor I felt I had made me feel like a failure. During my college program, I knew I’d found my place. That was who I was. Then I went to merchandise and lost myself. With a transfer back to the place I was happy, I felt alive again. Look at any of my social media bios and you’ll see “Pirate” on there. Hardly ever does it say “Cast Member” because I never defined myself as that. I was a pirate and only a pirate.  I went back to Adventureland part-time as a “real” Cast Member and in the best way possible thought I owned the place. I was going to apply for trainer and coordinator and facilitator and I was going to be there forever. Moving from my definition to Frontierland has been hard. Again, I felt like I had failed myself and didn’t know who I was outside of my Pirate Life. That’s what I’m struggling with right now. I’ve made myself feel like I have nothing special to prove that I’m unique or interesting.

I thought maybe school would make me interesting. Maybe I needed to label myself as “Student” if I couldn’t have “Pirate.” But why? In high school when everyone was talking about college plans, I joined in, but in my three semesters of college, I changed my major three times and took only one class outside of the core requirements. Everyone knew who they were and the plan to get a degree to match. But I don’t want to be “Career Woman Hannah,” so why do I need to spend the money on school to get a degree that I’m only getting because I’m lost? What I realized I was actually doing was following others on their paths to happiness. I’ve spent so much time comparing my success to others’ when they’re on their path and I’m swerving into their lane. This is the exact opposite of finding my individualism! I can’t find myself when I’m not forging my own way and only following what others seem successful in doing.

I have no answers. Just trying to get out these thoughts bouncing around inside. While doing this, I’ve been making a list of things I know to be true about myself: interests, habits, personality traits all good and bad. I’m not writing down things I wish I was or can be sometimes. But I’m writing down constants in the moment. Deep down, I know I’m special and unique. So I made a list to remind me why.

I don’t believe in coincidence. This post has been a thought for about three weeks, and a draft for one. Yesterday I was catching up on blogs I follow and came across this post by guest writer Maxie McCoy on The College Prepster blog. Incredibly inspiring, this post made a lot of sense for writing this one. In it, Maxie talks about her three buckets of experience: Contribution, Personality, and Values. She goes on to ask three questions, “What does it mean to be radiantly you? What work aligns your talents and interests? What gives you the most energy?” That was exactly what I was trying to do by making my personal list. But Maxie put it into inspiring words and gave me a process and a goal.

I’ve chosen to not define myself by the people I spend time with or the location I work at. I want to look at my “buckets” or list of things I know for sure about who Hannah Noel Jackson is. I’m a writer, a reader, a dog mom. I’m a wife to someone I’m not married to yet; I know that deep down just like some women know they’re meant to be mothers I’m meant to be a wife. I’ve got messy handwriting and I’m stylish as hell. I’m supportive and independent and say whatever is on my mind. I say things without thinking and sometimes I hurt people’s feelings. I’m a hard worker and I’m not lazy. I can perform one-woman Broadway shows in my car. When I care about something, I care a lot. There’s so much to me and I’m just trying to figure it all out.

People change. That’s life. I’m not who I was in high school, I’m not who I was 6 months ago. I’m not who I will be a year from now. I’m trying to find who I am in this very moment outside of work and relationships. More than thinking about how those things define me, I need to worry about how I define them. They bring nothing to me, but I can bring everything to them. This whole “find yourself during your twenties” thing is a lot more difficult than tv and books prepared me for.

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