The Big 3-0

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When I was a teenager the thought of turning 30 was horrifying. Literally, horrifying. People that were 30 (or older) seemed so grown up, so responsible, so old. I officially turned 30 on May 11th and now I am the BIG 3-0. But it doesn’t seem old at all! In fact, I still feel young. I still feel like I am trying to figure things out and I am a total impostor in this adult world. I feel like a kid with a big age label on my lapel. Heck, I’m still kid size, pocket size, travel size, whatever you want to call it.

After discussing with some of my closest girlfriends what we had learned in our 30 or almost 30 years back in April, I could not stop thinking about the little tidbits life has taught me. It was intriguing to hear what my friends have learned and to think about the things we have yet to learn.

As most people do when they come to a pivotal age in their life, I am reflecting on the things I have learned in my young 30 years. I know there is plenty I am missing or forgot to include, but I thought this list was pretty comprehensive (not in any specific order). So, here it goes…

  1. If it feels like a fart, it might be a fart, but what if it’s a shart? Don’t risk it in public…
  2. High school is the easiest thing you will experience in your life. WORK HARD so you can get further along in the next stage of your life.
  3. (If you go to college) College is the most fun thing you will experience in your life. However, you should still work hard because the work you do there will lead you to a job later down the line (you can only hope). The harder you work, the better you will set yourself up. Oh. and GET INTERNSHIPS. Internships actually lead to real jobs once you graduate and make it easier to network. If college isn’t for you, no need to worry. There are a lot of career fields that do not require a college degree. A certificate program may be the best route for you. Take the time to explore different career options, you don’t want to feel stuck and regret not going a different path down the road when you have a family and/or mortgage payment (hahahahaha so many Millennials can’t get mortgages because of student loans – not funny, just amusing we go to college to get a good job to buy a house and turns out paying for college thwarts our efforts to buy homes. OK rant over).
  4. Don’t worry about having a lot of friends, make sure they are quality friends.
  5. Don’t worry about having close friends in high school and college. The friendships you make in your young adult life will be totally rad and you will most likely be closer to those people than anyone in high school and college (why, you ask? Because people go off to college or move away for jobs after college and you end up losing touch. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, it just happens. Some of these people will be lifelong friends too though).
  6. Know what your values are and stick to them. They will guide in times of darkness and keep you grounded.
  7. Family is family, spend time with them because you only have them for so long. Unless they are bad people, then spend time with the family you make your family or the family that treats you with respect and dignity. Don’t waste time on bad people.
  8. Don’t worry about what people think about you. You are solely here to take care of yourself. So, put yourself first and only care about what YOU think and how YOU feel. Side note: some of you reading this may think it’s OK for me to say that because I am weird and don’t give AF and, you, my friend, are correct.
  9. Love and love hard. If you don’t love hard you will never experience heart break and if you never experience heart break you will never know the joy of loving and being loved in return. It is worth it.
  10. Dance because it feels good and your body wants to move to the groove. Just please remember, when dancing (and in life in general), have grace, class, charisma, and manners.
  11. Fail and fail a lot. When you fail you are just learning another way that does not work. Be OK with failing because it means you are trying, and the more you try the likelier you are to succeed. It’s better to try and fail than to never try at all. But when you fail, try again, try again, and keep trying until you succeed.
  12. Don’t be someone you are not. In the end you will just disappoint yourself for not being true to yourself and disappoint others who thought you were the person you are not.
  13. Find your rascal pack and support them HARD. They will support you back and it feels WONDERFUL knowing your tribe/squad/gang has your back no matter what.
  14. Laugh a lot, it helps develop wicked abdominal muscles. On that same note, abs are made in the kitchen (seriously). Don’t think you can do crunches every single day and eat crap and have nice abs. It doesn’t work that way and never will.
  15. Wrinkles are really just experience lines and they are beautiful. Don’t cover them up. Accept the aging process, accept your flaws, but most importantly, accept where you are in your life. If you are 30 with wrinkles, don’t try looking like you are 19 again, because trust me, you are fooling nobody. Side note: Once you start getting Botox, you can’t stop because Botox eventually wares off and the wrinkles become worse looking than before. So just don’t start.
  16. Love yourself more than anyone else, it’s not selfish. Practice tons of self-care. It is worth it and it will make you feel fabulous.
  17. Learn personal finance at a young age. It will save you loads of money in the future. Know what interest rates are, know how to budget, live below your means, and SAVE (because one day you will want to retire).
  18. Don’t take out student loans FOR GOSHDARNSAKE! Unless you absolutely have to, and then only take out enough to pay your tuition. Live like a broke student, you will appreciate it so much more in the future knowing you won’t be paying off student loans until you are 55.
  19. Develop strong relationships. It’s ok if you lose some overtime, that is just the ebb and flow of life. Some will last a lifetime. Overall, researchers say having strong and deep relationships are the key to living a longer, happier life.
  20. Forgive ALWAYS. Holding on to anger is not healthy for you. Ask yourself, is this going to matter in 5 years, 3 months, or 2 days? In some instances, it will – forgive anyway. But for most instances, it will not matter. Learn to let go and move on. Holding onto anger is like holding a hot pan in your hand expecting someone else to get burned – you are really the only one getting hurt.
  21. Have a strong work ethic. This will carry you very far. How you do anything is how you do everything. Instead of being lazy and expecting life to be easy, work hard at everything and expect to struggle and things to be difficult. Opportunities will present themselves to you. Have patience. Opportunities don’t present themselves every year. You have to put in time and effort for opportunities to come knocking.
  22. Focus on health, eat clean, and workout. Just like taking care of a car, it is important to put gas in that car, to make sure the battery is charged, and to get the oil changed. It’s just like your body. You need to take care of it for it to last a long time. You may have a sweet tooth, but you need to figure out how to curb those cravings because sugar is truly poison and does things to our bodies that you would not believe (read “The Case Against Sugar”).
  23. Be confident but, be humble, and have humility. Everyone is replaceable.
  24. Read a lot of books and be careful how much time you spend on social media. Always try to learn more because learning and growing is what will move the needle forward in self development and in your career and life.
  25. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Golden rule. Always remember it. It will bite you in the butt if you don’t.
  26. Heels are pretty, but healthy feet are WAY better. Pain is not worth it.
  27. Even a bad plan is better than no plan. Know your end goal and understand plans can and will change.
  28. Learn the Stockdale Paradox and ALWAYS remember it: you must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality. Greatness is a matter of conscious choice.
  29. Problems will always exist in our lives. It is completely unrealistic to think at some point in our life we will get “through” everything and not have any problems. Once you get through one problem, there will be one on the horizon waiting for you. The sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to work through problems that come up. Problems will always exist. Life is not meant to be smooth sailing, that is not the human experience. Don’t rob yourself of the human experience by wanting no problems. If you accept that problems are a part of living, a part of the human experience on this earth, and there will always be problems in life, it will be much easier to handle them and get through them.
  30. Your perception is your reality. If you believe you will never succeed in life, you will never succeed in life. Having a positive mindset goes much further than you might expect.

To wrap it up, I am more excited about my 30’s than my 20’s by FAR. I know this will be one of the best decades of my life. My 20’s were a ton of fun, but now I am more established, more secure personally and financially (and more knowledgeable about personal finance), and know more about myself and what I want. I am in a place where I love myself, I love my body, I love what I am doing, and most importantly, I love the man I am sharing my life with and could not be happier.

Cheers to the BIG 3-0 and the years to follow!

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Failure & Sugar

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I walked by the table and saw the colors through the clear Tupperware container. Immediately I felt my stomach get that excited feeling, jumping up in my body, making me take a gulping breath. I walked by a few more times, trying to contain myself. I kept repeating to myself, “You don’t need them, you should not eat them. Control yourself!”

Next thing I know I am walking over to the container and opening up the lid. I whip my gaze to the kitchen door to see if any of my coworkers are about to pop in. My mind goes blank. I come back to my thoughts as I am shoving a cookie into my mouth, chewing rapidly before someone walks in and exposes me. “Lean over the sink, don’t drop crumbs everywhere” I tell myself. I feel as if fireworks are going off in my brain. Then I swallow the last bite of cookie and those colorful fireworks start to dull. My heart sinks, my brain starts kicking itself. I failed.

My goal was to not eat any sugar (cookies, cupcakes, candy, ice cream – all my faves) for the 6 week Cut the Crap Challenge at the gym (CrossFit Albuquerque). My soul felt heavy and I hung my head in shame. Quickly I walked back to my desk as to not seem as if I were away too long. I got a little work done and quickly got up and went back to the kitchen, repeating the cycle. But the second time around, I ate two cookies. I repeated this throughout the morning and before I even left for lunch I had 5 cookies. I felt gluttonous and foolish. I felt shameful. I felt as if I am never going to be able to kick this addiction, this habit of hiding and eating sweets, shoving them in my pie hole. The saddest part? I did the same exact thing the very next day, but only ate 3 cookies, because that was all that was left. I ate ALL the frosted sugar cookies. Talk about no self-discipline. It felt as if I couldn’t stop myself.

I know I am not alone in my struggle though. What makes it difficult is my coworkers constantly tell me that I can “afford” to eat anything I want and however much I want. It makes me feel guilty for not wanting to eat sweets. But then I feel guilty for eating sweets. I feel as if I am having a set back in my quest for a healthy life.

Recently I finished reading The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. It took my quite a while to finish it. As I got further through the book it became more interesting to me. A lot of the book focuses on the history of the sugar industry and how our society has gradually increased sugar consumption over the decades. It also discusses how diabetes was “discovered” during this time and the issue around metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, hypertension, and other diseases that can be linked to sugar consumption. While reading this book I felt very compelled to quit sugar for good, not just a month here and a month there, but completely.

The author poses a question towards the end of the book – how much is too much? We will never know what the threshold is for the amount of sugar we can take in that will not cause disease and health problems because these diseases take years to manifest. So, a lifetime of eating “very little” sugar can still manifest problems many years down the line. This really struck a chord with me. It made me sad to think that something that brings people so much joy and pleasure (myself included) is wreaking havoc inside people’s bodies over years and years. Something that seems very simple and harmless is added to many different types of foods for various reasons.

What joy is living your life with health problems? That is not a life I want to live. I also don’t want to live a life of shame, regret, and “feeling bad” for failing to reach my goals.

If I want to succeed, I need to think of my failure differently. For me, my failure was a teachable moment. It was something I learned from. I learned that I feel powerless against my weakness, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I learned that I LOVE frosted sugar cookies and have a really, really, really hard time turning them down, but it is possible. I found that my failure is not a failure at all, but a moment to learn from and gain experience from, and grow from. My failure was not a failure at all, but merely a setback.

When we hear the word failure, most people cringe. Failure is seen as a bad thing. It is seen as not capable, not strong enough, not smart enough, not determined enough, not enough self-discipline. Why do we tie such negative connotations to failure? Why are so many people afraid to fail, myself included?

There is a small portion of the population that understands the importance of failure and gladly accepts it in their lives. Why are they so happy to fail at something? When you think about what it takes to succeed, you must understand that success inevitably comes with failure. If we have goals, we must 100% know and accept that accomplishing goals is also going to come with failing goals as well. The most successful people in the world understand this, so why don’t we?

Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School says: “If you want success, you need to double your rate of failure”. What she is saying is that in order to meet or reach the goals we set for ourselves we have to be willing to fail. We have to be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try again and continue on; not dwell and cry and whine over not succeeding.

A lot of people never achieve their dreams because they are afraid to fail. Albert Einstein is considered one of history’s preeminent geniuses. What people do not realize is that Einstein made dozens of mistakes in his life and during his career. Einstein is best known for the “world’s most famous equation” E = mc2. He did not magically come up with this theory. He actually made 7 mistakes in the proof of E = mc2 over the course of 41 years. 41 YEARS!!! He failed over the course of 41 YEARS and kept trying and kept failing until he got it right. If Einstein did not continue to try and try and try again after failing so many times, imagine how different the world would be.

On that same note, Thomas A. Edison is credited with the quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. One of the greatest American inventors developed many devices including the light bulb. If he had failed once or twice and gave up, where would we be today? How long would it have taken for someone else to invent the light bulb?

My point is that we must encounter failure in order to move forward and succeed at anything in life. One thing we must realize and understand is that our thoughts cause our emotions which then spur our actions. If we see failing as negative, we are going to feel bad and down and lowly, which in turn may cause a negative action to proceed (like eating more cookies in my case). If we see failing as positive, we will feel positively, which will spur us to try again and again until we succeed.

What many people do not realize is that they have complete control over their failures. We get to choose and decide what our failures mean to us. Nobody else makes this decision, we do. We are the ones who cause ourselves to have negative emotions about failing. If we choose how we think about failure and see it as a positive instead of a negative, it will trickle down to our emotions. If we see failure as positive, we will feel better about it, maybe even happy about it. If we are happy or content after failing, that will lead to positive actions, whether that be trying again until you succeed, or going for bigger, hairier, more audacious goals, knowing that it is ok if we fail and that eventually we will succeed.

If we choose to change how we look at and feel about failure, our fear of failure will dissolve. If you realize it is ok to fail in front of others, more so if you are willing to fail in front of others, it becomes less scary once you realize it is not a big deal and most people don’t even care! In fact, it may give you more confidence once you realize it is not a big deal to fail in front of others.

Brooke Castillo says, “Failure is something you have to consider as something you want to include in your life. It’s not something to avoid. It’s actually something to pursue and to get very good at. If I feel confident about my ability to fail, you can see how I’m probably going to try new things, put myself out there, and probably be successful because as I fail and as I plan to fail, I will continue to do it, to move forward.”

Failure can be summed up as not meeting your own expectations. Instead of seeing yourself as having failed, see it as you did not meet your own expectations. Change the way you are looking at the so-called problem. If you didn’t meet your own expectations, what can you change to meet your expectations? Figure out the correct action, make adjustments as necessary, and change it until you meet your expectations. Think of failure as something to move towards, not away from. Here is a different way to look at it: If you get really good at falling down, you learn how to fall down really well. Then, you will have more confidence falling in the future, whether that be in public or by yourself. Eventually you will not fall but you will have confidence knowing that if you do fall, it is going to be ok, not the end of the world.

Now, there is a difference between failing by taking risks and putting yourself out there versus failing by not showing up or sabotaging yourself. If you don’t show up or you self-sabotage, you are failing because you omitted the required action that it took to produce the desired outcome. The same goes for confusion. Confusion is way to hide in our comfort zone and not make a decision. You have to take action, put yourself out there somewhat in failure’s way. Don’t say you don’t know, say you are figuring it out and then figure it out! Don’t use confusion as an excuse not to take action.

Well, that was a lot, and I apologize for going on a rant. But I just have to say that I am excited. I am excited that I failed because, to me, I am improving and moving forward. I am working towards my goal of cutting sugar out of my diet. I am not perfect and I will never be perfect, but I am ok with failing because the more I fail the more confident I will become and I will eventually succeed. I am still working on getting comfortable failing in front of others, but I am already ahead of the game knowing that I can fail and I can get back on track and keep working towards my goal. Believe me when I say, next time I have a setback, I am going to forgive myself, I am going to be gentle on myself, and I will graciously hold my head up knowing that my positive thoughts will lead to my positive feelings, which will lead to my positive actions. It will not lead to me smashing more cookies multiple days in a row because I already feel horrible and gluttonous and guilty.

Go out there, fail, be proud, and move closer to success. My name is Kellie and I am addicted to sugar and sweets. It does not define me nor will it keep me from achieving my goal.

Holiday Gift Giving Conundrum

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There is nothing that I love more than giving gifts. I love the thought process behind coming up with clever gifts for specific people. I love the search for that special gift that will make their eyes twinkle as they open it. I dream of being able to afford to send my mom and stepdad on a cruise or some sort of vacation they deserve.

Every year since I started working, I spend all the money I have, plus more, on gifts for my friends and family. I spare nothing. It is my favorite time of year. Let me correct myself. Gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year. I enjoy, but don’t necessarily love, the actual days themselves because they are stressful and tiring. But I absolutely, 100%, LOVE getting ready for them. Coming up with great ideas for gifts, buying the gifts, the pure joy in giving the gifts, it’s just such a wonderful feeling.

But this year I feel a little different. While I have been learning how to budget for many years now, every single year I completely BLOW my budget during the holidays. As I get closer to 30 I am learning better and better how to stick to my budget. Which means this year, I figured out how much I could spend on gifts and I am trying so very hard to stick to it. As “good” as it may be that I am sticking to my budget and even adjusting as necessary, it makes me feel deflated, lowly, sad…

You may be thinking, this is the happiest time of the year, what is wrong with you?! Yes, I agree. But I am feeling a little down because I don’t have the money I would need to buy what I want to buy for all my friends and family. I worry they won’t like the gift I get them. I don’t have as much flexibility in getting a creative, fun gift that I would normally buy for them. I worry that they won’t understand that I really wanted to get them something extravagant and amazing. It pains me that no one quite understands how much it hurts my heart not to be able to spend absurd amounts of money on gifts for the people I love the most. Because I would if I could. I know, I know, it’s not the cost of the gift that matters, it is the thought that counts. I totally get that. I do, I promise. But when I think of a creative, clever gift for someone, it usually is not very cheap.

You might be asking yourself, if you want to so bad then why don’t you? I am trying my darndest to be more responsible and not go into debt any more than I already am. Although, I have gone into debt in years past in order to buy everything I want for my family and friends, if I continue to do so, I will be unable to accomplish my goal of getting out of debt. Not to mention the crazy number of birthdays in the month of December alone…

There is a phrase that always sticks with me – “Live a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.” For me, this means living within my means, sticking to my budget, and doing my best to get into the holiday spirit. I need to take this phrase seriously and understand that it is the act of giving the gift that should be important, not how much I spend or getting exactly what my nieces and nephew want.

While my heart will still remain somewhat heavy, I hope that all my friends and family understand that I love them so very much. I am doing what I can afford and sticking to my guns on accomplishing my goal of paying off my debt.

Happy holidays to all, my love for you is more than my pocketbook will ever be able to afford. ❤

How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

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This blog post was originally written for Radiate Daily. To read the original post please click HERE.

I have heard this phrase several times in my life. Most recently, in the past week or two. It did not really register with me until recently though.

What does this phrase really mean? How you handle the day-to-day challenges, situations, and tasks is how you handle everything in your life. It is your character or your nature and how you deal with “everything”, whether it is big or small.

It hit me as I was at a conference in Chicago. I read it in another blog (surprise surprise) and realized I do not always put forward my best work, my results tend to be mediocre, and I give up on many projects that I start. What dawned on me is that I try to do too much and I end up rushing everything.

I pondered this phrase over the course of a few days:

  • Why is the quality of my work not always outstanding? Because I take on too much at one time and am always rushing.
  • Why have I not been able to get the best results/outcomes from my passion projects? Because I try to do too many at one time and end up not having enough time for any of the projects.
  • What occurred to me is that I am constantly trying to bite more off than I can chew, which causes me to hurry through tasks and deal with things in a quick manner. We only having 24 hours in a day and I am usually trying to stuff as much as I can into that period of time.

Wow. Truth bomb, right there. I am trying to do more than what I am capable of, in a short time period. This does not mean I do not put forth my best effort. It does mean that I don’t always have the time it takes to give to particular tasks or situations or ensure I’ve put the best quality into my work. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing things to get them checked off my list.

This is not anyone’s fault but my own. Looking back, I realize that I have always handled things in this manner. I rushed to finish high school a year early. I rushed to finish my undergraduate program in 4 years, taking on 22 credit hours in my last semester while working full-time. I rushed to finish my graduate program in 2 years, while trying to do 2 internships at one time and working part-time. Time and time again, it goes to show that I am not taking the time to enjoy the process, ultimately just trying to achieve the end result and checking it off my list. Could I have finished high school on time and applied to more colleges? Yes. Could I have taken an extra semester in my undergrad program to do a minor and second concentration, possibly diversifying my education more so, leading to more job prospects and career opportunities? Yes. Could I have taken an extra year or two in grad school to really figure out which direction I wanted my career to go in? Yes. I also could have taken more time to study and complete projects, getting better grades, ultimately boosting my GPAs. But I didn’t.

It is hard to look back and realize that I could have been more organized, cleaner, produced higher quality work, and received more experience if I had only taken the time and effort necessary. This doesn’t mean I can’t change things going forward.

How can I change the way I do things in my life? Here are five ways anyone can change in how they do “everything” in their life. These are the steps I am going through currently and may not work for everyone, but take what you want and add a few more if you’d like!
1) Time: Take the time to figure out your mantra or motto or how you want to live your life. Figure out what it is and how you want to define your life. I want to live less rushed, taking my time to complete my passion projects (one at a time) and tasks, knowing I have done a fantastic job, I have not missed anything, and have paid attention to the details.
2) Re-evaluate: Re-evaluate your goals (personal and career, long-term and short-term), make sure they match with what you want in your life, and put them on a realistic timeline. I am cutting down my goals from the long list that I had last year to a more concise list that truly encompasses what I want in my life. I will cut out the goals that do not add value to my life and that are not in line with how I want my life to be (the “fluff” goals, as I like to call them).
3) Prioritize everything: Stop doing things that are not necessarily important to you. Start saying no when you do not have the time or necessarily want to take on the task. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time for XYZ” start saying, “XYZ is not a priority” in order to help differentiate between things that are important to you and things that are not necessarily a priority. For me, this is huge. I have trouble saying no to people, especially when I know it is going to help them out in the long run. I love helping people. But at what point should I stop compromising my personal well-being for others?
4) Plan: Use your phone calendar and/or day planner (yes, I use both) to plan things out in advance to ensure you have enough time to complete tasks and projects. I set deadlines on just about everything and put it in my day planner, on my calendar, and in my task manager. It helps me remember because I see it everywhere and cannot forget.
5) Re-evaluate more: Re-evaluate on a regular basis to make sure you stay on track, keep focused, stick to your timeline, meet my deadlines, and enjoy the process along the way. I will keep checking in with myself on a monthly basis. I easily get distracted, so hopefully this will help me really start to get on the path that I want to be on and live my life the way I want to, all while enjoying the process.

We only have this one life to live, we might as well enjoy it, do the things that are important to us, and do them well!

Perseverance

This blog post was originally written for Radiate Daily. To read the original post please click HERE.

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What does that word mean to you? Have you experienced it? Are you in the middle of persevering right now?

I have always known what perseverance meant. Heck, I persevered through my undergraduate and graduate degrees. But up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t truly know what perseverance meant. So often in my life I spent the time and effort to start new projects. If my heart wasn’t in it, I gave up. If I didn’t believe I could do it, I gave up. If it was taking an exceptionally long time and there was not a timeline with an end date, I gave up. But there has been one person in my life that I have always admired. Let me re-phrase that. Growing up I did NOT admire him. He smelled funny, he was mean to me, he teased me, and on several occasions, I’m pretty sure, he tried pushing me down our stairs. What I admire about my younger brother now is his perseverance. If anyone has persevered, it has been Scottie.

It started the week of his 3rd birthday. We were in Arizona with our father, visiting our grandparents. We all went to the stock show and somehow, someway, Scottie was signed up to ride his first sheep. When we went back home to New Mexico, he continued to ride sheep, falling in love with rodeo. As he got older Scottie moved up to riding calves, then steers, then junior bulls, eventually graduating from junior bulls to regular bulls. All the while he would watch professional bull riders at the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) and PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), memorizing every bull’s twist, turn, and buck. Scottie promised our family at a very young age that, he too, would be riding in the PBR and PRCA one day. At the ripe age of 3 years old I don’t think he knew he would have to wait till he was 18 years old to “go pro”.

Scottie was one of those kids that poured his heart into his passion. If he could convince a family member to get on all fours and “buck like a bull” he would dig his heels into their sides and “practice” until they were good and worn out. If there was any amount of time in which he could practice, he would. Whether it be on an imaginary bull or studying the technique of other riders.

As he became a pre-teen, Scottie started becoming interested in skateboarding and spent a lot of time at skate parks. I worried he would fall into the wrong crowd and would give up on rodeo. But no, he stuck to it and continued to carry out his plans.

Through injuries and setbacks, Scottie has never given in, given up, or walked away. He refigured his plan. He laid out a new map. He continued to persevere. It all pays off one day. From December 1st through December 10th Scottie was in Las Vegas, Nevada riding in the National Finals Rodeo, THE NFR. This is basically the Olympics of the rodeo world folks. These are the best of the best competitors from around the world. I was able to watch my brother ride in the NFR, like he’s been telling me he would for 22 years. The second night at the NFR Scottie ended up with a dislocated shoulder (which he has had surgery on in the past), a concussion, and 6 stitches above his eye. We thought he was done for the rest of the NFR. We were wrong. He got on the next night and the next night. He wound up getting another round of 6 stitches above the other 6 stitches. But guess what, he got right back on the next night.

22 YEARS. 22 years he had been telling all of us that he was going to be in that arena, riding bulls in the NFR, and he most certainly did. No, he didn’t take the overall world title, but he won the 5th round (out of 10 rounds) and placed in 2 other rounds, bringing home a pretty paycheck, a beautiful new belt buckle, and some fresh scars. Will he be back there next year? You betcha. And I can guarantee that he will keep persevering until he does win that world title.

Perseverance. What does this word mean to me? It means never giving up when the world is screaming at you to. It means defying the odds and standing up on your feet every single time you get knocked down. It means making a dream a goal and going after it full force. I’ve spent my entire life watching my younger brother persevere and I finally watched him succeed in the most epic way possible. He is my inspiration to continue to persevere no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

Screw Bubble Baths

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I thought it would be a wonderful idea to take a little time to myself and relax with a nice, soothing, hot bubble bath. I was thoroughly looking forward to this, as it has been 12 years since I had last taken a bath.

The images going through my head were of Pinterest quality. Perfect bubbles enveloping me and easing my senses into a tranquil state. I wish I had some flowers and essential oils to add to my bath.

I light a lavender soy candle next to the tub and start running the water. The instructions on the new bottle of bubble bath read: “Pour a generous amount under running water”. No problem. I add some Epsom salt for my sore muscles.

The bubbles start to build and the fragrance from the bubbles and candle are absolutely delightful! Eager to get started, I carefully step into the tub. It is a bit, um, hot for my liking. I switch the water to cold and use my hands to swirl the water around. The bubbles continue to build until they are almost past the top of the tub.

Finally, after a few minutes I sit down. Wrong choice my friend. The water is scalding hot still! But how could that be?! I just ran the cold water to cool it down for 5 minutes. Totally fine, totally cool. I will just turn off the water since the tub is becoming quite full and eventually it will cool down. It is a chilly night anyway.

A few minutes into my relaxing bath I am finally able to lean all the way back and rest my head against the back of the tub. I feel like I could scratch my skin and peel off the top layer. I stretch out my legs to push my feet against the other end of the tub so I don’t go under or float awkwardly. I close my eyes and start breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth trying to clear my mind. Gosh, this water is just way too effing hot. I am surrounded by glorious bubbles! It can’t be that bad. I can hang, no worries.

A minute or two goes by and feel a light tickle going down my forehead. Is it possible that I am sweating? Yes, yes indeed. I am sweating because this water is melting my skin off. I sit up for a bit and try to cool off, as steam rises from my shoulders. Hey, look at this, the bubbles are fun and I can make myself a bubble bra! Is it inappropriate to give myself a bubble beard? I better not, I don’t want this stuff messing with my skin.

I lean back again and try to void my mind of thoughts. Holy hell, is that the sound of my heart beating or warrior drums?! My heart doesn’t even beat this hard during workouts. Why is my heart beating so fast? This effing water! My skin feels like it is burning off. So many bubbles too. I don’t think I was supposed to put in that much… Oops.

Panic starts setting in. How the heck am I going to get rid of all these bubbles!? I continue playing with the bubbles, making little bubble snow balls. I swish around in the tub hoping to make the bubbles die down a little bit. Not happening. They won’t go away. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. What am I going to do? These bubbles are immortal. I still need to shower, rinse off, and wash my hair. I lay back trying to relax a little more. I feel like the water is vibrating from my heart beating so fast. Every time I move it feels like the water is lighting my skin on fire.

Screw it. I’m done. I let the water start draining out of the tub. The bubbles are not going down the drain either. @!*#&%@^#$*&! I try gentle sweeping the bubbles towards the drain. As the water is getting lower and lower the more the bubbles are clinging to me. I’m finally able to get a foot free of bubbles and lean over to get the shower started, trying my hardest not drip all over the floor and bust my face in the tub. Ermagersh, what if he comes up here and sees the mess I made?! Ugh! Bubbles start coming out of the overflow thingy. Great, just great! Full on panic mode has commenced. I leave the bubbles there to sit, hoping they will dissipate on their own while I shower.

I finish showering and get out only to realize that the bubbles have stayed and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I get the Comet and a sponge and start sprinkling it all over the tub. It’s working! It’s killing the bubbles! I realize I’ve used half the container of Comet. It takes me a good 10 minutes, but I finish cleaning out the tub and blow out my candle. So much for a relaxing bath.

Screw bubble baths. Next time I will stick with a little bit of yoga and a warm shower instead.

Trying to Love the Skin I’m In

 

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Image credit: Alexandra Dal

After my last challenge went so well, I made the decision to try another challenge. I thought it would be a great idea to embrace a piece of me that I’ve never seen in a positive light. I thought it would help me appreciate my inner beauty and accept my flaws. My challenge is to stop wearing foundation/powder and blush on my face. I am still allowing myself to wear eye makeup, but the challenge is not to put any other makeup, besides eye makeup, on my face for 20 days.

How is that going? Let me be reeeeaaaal honest here. It’s not going as well as I hoped. Ok, ok, maybe my skin is doing a lot better and I’m not breaking out as much. However, my confidence is very low and I am uber self-conscious of my skin. Some days I feel as if I am reliving my teenage years. I’ve been trying not to cover my neck and sides of my face with my hair. I’m trying to exude confidence when I walk into a room and I think I feel all eyes on the red bumps on my cheeks and neck and chin. I think about my skin constantly. It’s an absolute full blown obsession at this point.

Let me preface this for a minute. For those of you who don’t know me, I have been dealing with “problem skin” (aka acne) since I was a ripe 12 years old. In 8th grade my acne was at its worst. I wouldn’t leave the house unless I absolutely had to. I walked with my head down and my hair around my face. I didn’t want to look people in the eye and tried to avoid conversation as much as possible. I was utterly embarrassed. My mother took me to what would be my first of many, many dermatologist appointments. I was prescribed my first round of Isotretinoin (well known brand name Accutane).

I absolutely loved this medication. It worked wonders and it made my complexion clear and blemish free. My confidence went up 110% and I felt comfortable and beautiful in my skin. I didn’t have the horrible side effects that others experienced, which I am eternally grateful for.

However, after being off the medication for a while my skin started breaking out again. This turned into a cycle. I’ve been on Isotretinoin 6 times total and continue to deal with this rutty, problem skin of mine. After my last dermatologist appointment a few months ago, I was informed that they would not be putting me back on Isotretinoin again because they didn’t want to “go through the cycle again”. I was crushed! I’m pretty sure my heart broke. in. half. Instead we are trying a mix of an oral medication and a topical medication. Let me just say that it’s no cure all, but it’s helping.

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Of course makeup can cause acne to get worse and I thought maybe if I were to stop wearing foundation/powder and blush it would help clear up my skin more so. After all, my skin did clear up a little bit when I cut desserts/sweets out of my diet. I really wanted to embrace and truly love the skin I am in.

My first day of wearing no cover up was the absolute worst. I have not felt this self-conscious since I was a teenager. I have slight acne scars on my cheeks from years of battling zit nation. My skin tone can be described as a light lobster red shade. My pimples just smile and wink at me every time I look in the mirror. Side note, I’m an obsessive pimple popper, which only makes matters worse.

As I sit here typing this, I am on day 9 of no cover up. Each day is a struggle; a struggle to love my flaws; a struggle to love my skin; a struggle to know I am going out in a beauty obsessed world showing all my imperfections to everyone I come across. But what I’ve learned through the challenge thus far is:
-I will always be my worst critic. Nobody notices as much about my skin as I do.
-Although I may not have the confidence I want or once had, if I can fake it, nobody knows the difference.
-What may be incredibly embarrassing for me may be the best, healthiest thing for me.
-Although I may not stick with the no makeup campaign forever, I know that I can use makeup from time to time to help me on a day when I just need a little confidence boost.
-I am trying every day to love the skin I’m in, accepting each and every flaw of mine. It will never come easy and it’s something I need to actively work on.
-I am in complete control of me and my life (and hopefully, one day, my acne too – come on 30’s, bring me some clear skin!).

Here’s the good side of this challenge. I have seen an improvement in my acne and breakouts. Now, if I could just stop picking, it would be even better. For the first time in my life I feel like I am starting to gain control of my skin. Never mind the fact that I am 28 years old and getting closer to 30 every single day and shouldn’t have the skin of a pubescent boy. But I’m learning and I’m growing and I’m trying my darndest to love this skin I’m in.

From Challenge to Choice

This blog post was originally written for Radiate Daily. To read the original post please click HERE.

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It’s no secret that I love sweets. Cupcakes, candy, cookies, ice cream. You name it, I will devour it. That was up until a month ago. I decided to challenge myself and cut out sweets from my diet for 30 days. Let me state that I still allowed myself to eat yogurt (preferably yogurt made with honey but not other sweeteners such as cane sugar), a few flavors of Lara Bars, many different flavors of gum, and coffee creamer.

I will be the first one to tell you that I didn’t think it was possible for me to not eat sweets. I fully expected to fail in this endeavor. Many people asked me why I was cutting sweets out of my diet. I explained over and over that my body started to feel overloaded with crap. I was eating dessert most nights of the week, my joints were hurting, I couldn’t say no as much as I tried, I felt as if I was gaining unnecessary weight, and my GI issues were not getting any better. To be honest, I have been addicted to sugar for most of my life and I just wanted to see what my body would feel like without sugar for 30 days.

I decided it was time to really challenge myself and try to make a serious change. The prize at the end of the 30 days was Halloween – which meant alllllll the candy and a killer potluck at work, guaranteeing many homemade goodies.

Over the 30 days I struggled EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I thought about sweets, dreamed about sweets, salivated over sweets as I watched others eat them. Oh, let me tell you, it got real. I would feel down and out when someone in the office brought in doughnuts. I am ashamed to admit, I waited till no one was in the break room, held back my hair, and smelled the doughnuts in a ferocious, crazed way. And no, that was not the first time I delighted in the scent of the sweets plaguing my existence. But, I did NOT give in.

On the other side of things, my body felt great! I did not have my mid-afternoon crash every day at work, my joints were feeling much better (especially working out), I felt like I had some respite from my GI problems, and in general felt awesome about being able to kick a bad habit.

Come Halloween, I was pumped. I was ready. I was going to ease back into the sweets and have a fantastic day. But that didn’t happen… I started off my morning with mini chocolate chips in my yogurt. When I got to work I had a homemade cinnamon roll and a Twix. During the potluck I overindulged after eating “real food” and had about 4 cookies and 2 homemade rocky road bars. That night at my parents I had a cupcake in honor of my mother’s birthday, I had a Frankenstein rice crispy treat, and I was slamming candy like a kid on Christmas. I thought it was going to be a glorious day, but I was MISERABLE! I felt like complete and utter crap. I was bloated, my stomach was killing me, and I felt as if I could throw up any minute. That day goes down as one of the most awful food experiences of my life.

Needless to say, even though I thought it could never happen, this 30 day challenge has changed my life. I have decided to stay off sweets. I have gone from challenge to choice. Don’t freak out though, I will still allow myself a small piece of dessert on special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, if I’m feeling it. But I’ve realized that I feel better overall, physically and mentally, when dessert is not a regular part of my diet. I’ve actually been walking by the sweets on the break room table all week long without one desire to eat (or sniff) them.

Although it was only 30 days, I learned a lot about myself during this challenge:
-I can do anything I set my mind to, even if I didn’t believe in myself to begin with.
-Telling everyone about my challenge held me accountable.
-I can change my life by making a simple adjustment and sticking to it.
-I can get through any struggle.

I can say that my life is a little better and I feel healthier, first by challenging myself and then by making the decision to stick with the change.

What will be your next challenge? 😉

How I Found CrossFit

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I was recently asked how I got started with CrossFit. Interesting question… so here it goes.

It was May of 2013 and at the time I was working for lululemon. I was big into hot yoga but kept an open mind and enjoyed trying new things like barre and other workout classes.

Our new ambassadors were fresh on board (my first day at lululemon I was taken to the first meeting of the new lululemon ambassadors – talk about daunting). The new ambassadors were starting to put together events in conjunction with lululemon.

Joe Vigil was, at the time, was running CrossFit Albuquerque (which he now owns). His girlfriend, Patricia, worked with me at lululemon and kept talking about CrossFit.

The first time I heard of CrossFit was in a very negative connotation at a boot camp gym I had been attending from 2011-2012. The owner (and main trainer) was asked, “What is CrossFit?” and she proceeded to explain it was “A new stupid training regimen that is causing a TON of people to get rhabdomyolysis. They push these poor people so hard and have terrible form on EVERYTHING…” She went on to rant about how they do American kettlebell swings which are “unsafe and frankly ridiculous”. At the time, I had completely written off CrossFit and had no desire to hurt myself or be a part of these “stupid people”. Naturally, this came to mind when Patricia mentioned it to me.

But Patricia and Laura Hines kept talking about it, as well as a few other ladies that I worked with at lululemon. They kept telling me I should give it a shot, maybe I would like it. Well, it turns out that Joe had planned an introduction to CrossFit in the park with lululemon. It would be a “fun way to learn what CrossFit is all about and get an introduction to it.” With some coaxing I decided to try it out.

That morning I got up early and had breakfast, went to hot yoga, had a Keva Juice, and then later went to the park to try my first WOD. I was dropped off around 3:15pm and walked up hesitantly as there were very large, muscly guys AND girls that looked pretty darn intimidating. I bee-lined it for the ladies I knew, signed a waiver (even though I didn’t have to since I worked for lululemon) and waited for the festivities to begin. Immediately, a guy walked up to me with a big smile on his face and introduced himself, “Hi! I’m Matt Booth”. He seemed friendly. Still somewhat intimidating with his big muscles though. I introduced myself and he walked back to hang out with his burly CrossFit friends.

It started off with a group picture, followed by stretching. At this point I learned they were heading to “Regionals” as a team. I didn’t know what that meant, so whatever, good for them. Joe then explained what the WOD was, short sprints and burpees, and that we needed to get into teams. I was not told that these were some of the fittest people I would ever work out with or that they were at their prime getting ready to go to Regionals. No one said that they had been training pretty darn hard and that I shouldn’t try keeping up. Nope. No sir-ee.

Of course, I was put on a team with Matt Booth, AJ Bales, and one of the lovely lulu ladies. Thinking to myself, “They are going to put me on a team with the two biggest guys that seem to be the most competitive. Great. Just my luck.” I thought I had to go as hard as I could and do as well as possible as to not let them down. That plan DID. NOT. GO. WELL.

To start, I was doing negative burpees and they corrected me and told me just to “drop to the ground”. Fine, got it. I was sprinting as hard as could, doing burpees as fast as I could. The next thing I remember is feeling faint and a little woozy. I told Joe and he said to sit out the next round. I felt horrible for letting my team down, but I couldn’t get a grip on how my body felt. WHAT THE HECK WAS HAPPENING TO ME?!

Everyone finished the workout and I picked myself up from the grass, walked over to the picnic table, sat down, and held my head in my hands (you know, to keep it from falling off and rolling across the park). I texted my ride to come pick me up as soon as possible, this was SO embarrassing. Some of the lulu ladies came to check on me and Patricia and Joe proceeded to ask what I had eaten that day. Considering I had only had breakfast early in the morning and a Keva Juice and hadn’t rehydrated after hot yoga, they concluded I was super dehydrated and didn’t have any nutrients in my body. It was probably close to 4:30-5:00 in the evening at this point. Cue the stuffing me with fruit snacks to bring up my sugar and trying to rehydrate me.

My ride arrived and as I got into the truck, I proceeded to puke my guts out. At least it didn’t happen in front of all the brawny CrossFit athletes that were getting ready to go to Regionals the following week…

The next time I saw Patricia and Joe they convinced me that I had to give CrossFit another try. It wouldn’t be like that again (uh huh, sure). I believe it took me a week or two, but I went to the gym for round two and absolutely fell in love with it. Maybe it was Joe’s great coaching, his kindness, the attention he gave to my form and overall well-being, or maybe it was because I didn’t get sick.

I realized that I had never been challenged like that before. The workouts were different every day and I didn’t get bored. I learned new movements, some which came naturally, and some which I still struggle with 3 years later. I learned to push myself which led me to become better, faster, and stronger. I had a new appreciation for my body and what it was capable of. Best of all, I gained friends that I am closer with than any other “friends” I’ve had throughout my life.

There is something about finding a community of like-minded people that puts a different perspective on life. As I’ve mentioned before, CrossFit and the CrossFit Albuquerque community has changed my life for the better and I am incredibly happy that I tried it, even though I got sick the first time.

Movin’ On Up and Out!

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Recently I moved out of my parents house into a rental house with my (extremely handsome) beau. Wowza! Yes, we have taken that “next step”. It actually was quite a smart move for both of us, as we live in a beautiful home in a great neighborhood, yet we are saving money living together.

One thing I must say is, I survived living with my parents in my twenties. Late twenties at that. Yes. I did. We are the boomerang generation. We are the ones that left home around 18, bounced back home, moved out again, and bounced right back in with the parentals. Is it entirely our fault? No. Well, maybe for some of us it was our own fault. We have endured some incredulous economic stressors. Many of us are struggling with student loan debt, while others are over-educated and underemployed. Some of us are dealing with both. Some of us just made some bad mistakes, end of story.

I have heard it plenty of times, “my parents said don’t come back once I turned 18”. I was fortunate enough to have very supportive parents that let me move home a couple times, once when I lost a job, the time before that to focus on grad school and paying down my credit card debt (totally my own stupid mistake), I think another time was just because I was in a weird place and transition phase in my life. It doesn’t help that I’ve been trying to pay on my way-too-high student loan debt (no worries, I have consolidated my student loan debt and am on an income-based repayment plan – HELLLLOOO 25 years of payments!).

Living with my parents was actually quite nice though. There was always food in the house, I got to see my mom every day, I was living in the house I grew up in, I was able to pay off debt and still enjoy going out with friends for dinner on occasion. It was nice to be living at home during the time my mom was dealing with breast cancer, having a double mastectomy, and going through chemo treatments. It was hard to see her so weak from chemo, but I was grateful I was able to sit with her for a few minutes the nights she was awake and ask her about her day and how she was feeling.

I was never ashamed to live with my parents, I was more so ashamed of the fact I didn’t have my sh*t together to be able to live on my own. But I owned up to it. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a complete idiot when it came to credit cards and got myself in some deep water (not that I’m completely in the clear). I didn’t know how to live within my means or budget the money I did have. As many of us know, there is a lesson to be learned from every mistake. I’m proud that I’ve made these mistakes because learning from them means I am growing.

The struggle bus gets real when you are trying to adult. It’s hard adulting. It’s very humbling experience to live with you parents when you are in your late twenties (I’m 28 if you were wondering). I don’t regret it one bit and I couldn’t be more appreciative to my parents for taking me in when I really needed a helping hand and for showing me immense love and support during difficult and stressful times. I am far from paying off my debt, but I am in a comfortable place in life where I can afford to pay rent and utilities and buy my own food while still paying down my debt. I’m still learning to stick to a budget and live within my means, but I’m doing my darndest to figure out the ropes. I’m happy to report that I moved out and I’m movin’ on up!

If you’re still living with your parents, hang in there. It’s not forever and there is usually a silver lining. Keep these four things in mind:

-It’s not forever. Not even close! Your parents don’t want you living with them forever (hopefully) and I’m sure you also want some independence.

-Remind yourself why it is you are there and what your end goal is. Whether you are in school, paying down debt, or trying to find a new job, it is temporary until you accomplish your goal.

-Embrace the silver lining, whether it is free rent, free food, or quality time with you ma or pa.

-Above all, don’t be ashamed. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. You’d be surprised how many people are in the same boat.