Self Confidence

When one door closes - Knowing when it's time to move on

Twelve years ago, I decided that I wanted to be a group fitness instructor. I had just become a stay at home mom to my first baby, but was still itching to do something to get myself out of the house and make my own money. I studied, I practiced and then took the exam. Know what happened? I didn’t pass! We ended up moving a short few months later and I set that dream aside for years. A few more moves and another child later, I started to feel the itch again to give instructing another go. Fitness had re-entered my life as a way for me to deal with some pretty harsh trials that had taken a toll on me in all aspects. It became my therapy and my outlet to deal with the pain and anxiety. And after seeing the impact it had on my life, I wanted to help do that for other people. And so, after we had moved for the 6th time in 9 years, I decided to try again. And this time, I passed! And then immediately found out I was pregnant the next day. So once again, my dreams to teach were put on hold. Fast forward two more years, I had another baby and we had just moved AGAIN, and I just walked into a gym and asked if they needed an instructor - my certification was still active and I figured why not just go for it. They took a chance on a new girl and thus fulfilled that goal I had set as a new mom.

At my peak, I was teaching 8 classes a week and loving every minute of it. But, about a year ago, I started to fill the urge to start cutting back. So, I cut back the number of classes to 5. And then I cut back to only teaching at one facility. And then I cut back to two classes a week. As I have stuck to those two classes the past two months, it still didn’t feel like I’d cut back enough. As much as I enjoy what I’ve been doing and the people I have met along the way, my heart is being pulled in another direction and my body is telling me it can’t keep up.

PiYo Class

So, today, I taught my final class. My son is half way done with middle school and I have hated that he comes home to an empty house several nights a week. My youngest seems to be sick more often than not. My own body is suffering from adrenal fatigue and will require me to completely slow down in order to heal. There are so many reasons why I know it’s time to move on. And while I know I am making the right decision, I will admit it has been an extremely emotional week and I’ve been in tears more than a handful of times as I think about closing out this door.

People keep asking me what comes next. For the first time in my life, I have no clue. This is the first time I don’t have a new path to pursue, no new big goal or dream I’m trying to fulfill or work toward. I have been searching for the inspiration, but honestly, I feel like what I’m supposed to do is lean in to the unknown and see what happens.

Closing this door is scary and humbling. I have learned some profound lessons - like sometimes reaching a goal can take several attempts and might not happen in the timeline we expected. Rather it will happen at the precise time I need it the most. I’ve also learned that I can multitask with the best of them. I have shown my kids that I can be their mom and still have time to do something I love. And as I close this door, I am showing them that I’m choosing them.

I regret nothing about this chapter of my life. I needed it, I met some amazing people, I felt like I served others, and I will always look back on this phase of life with nothing but joy. My friends, go after what you love if it makes your heart happy. But also know when it’s time to let go - even if it means stepping into the unknown.

Group fitness instructors
when one door closes

Fresh Face Friday - Madeline

With my son’s Birthday being last Friday and having family in town, I decided to push back this interview a week. I have watched this awesome person grow from infant to the amazing adult she is today. She is such a joy to know and it has been really fun to watch how she navigates the different stages of life. She was also the first teenager I trusted to babysit my kids. I asked Madeline kind of a hodge podge of questions on different topics and I loved reading what she had to say. I know we can all learn something from her.

Meet Madeline.

Fresh Face Friday Interview Madeline

(1) Tell everyone about you.

I am a 23 year old redhead married to the love of my life, Pete. We met at Utah State University in January 2014, dated on and off, and have been blissfully married for almost a year and a half. After graduating from USU in 2017, Pete and I moved to Boston, Massachusetts. He is an officer in the Air Force and I work as a Fitness Professional and Nutrition Coach at Life Time Athletic. My family and I are from Michigan - I grew up in Lake Orion for most of my life. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were all very close while I was growing up. We are still close today thanks to a plethora of group chats.

(2) I know for a fact you have strong relationships within your family. How has that impacted your life path?

Because I was so close with my family while I was growing up, I had many great examples to look up to. The idea of the human I aspired (and still aspire) to be was set by the family I was surrounded with as a girl. Family and friends mold who you are and who you can be, and my family did me a great service by leading me down a path of happiness with their examples.

(3) What is the biggest lesson you have learned from life’s challenges?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from life challenges so far is that the Lord has a supportive hand in all that we go through. The good, the bad, the dirty. No matter what, He’s watching over us. Everything happens for a reason, and we are meant to have joy.

(4) When you don’t get what you want, how do you move forward?

I have a really hard time when things don’t work the way I plan. And it’s not in a spoiled brat kind of way, I just love to plan and know what’s happening. I’m very organized. Moving forward is difficult for me. I remind myself that it’s okay to have time to adjust and for me that means some crying, lots of exercising, cooking, and cuddles with Pete. After giving myself some time, I regroup and come up with the positives of the situation, and make a new plan. It’s essential for me to not force myself into faking it when things are difficult. Taking time to feel emotions and work through them in the best way for YOU is important for everyone, I think.

(5) How does your career help you build confidence?

My career as a personal trainer helps me build confidence in myself, sure, but more importantly I get to build the confidence of others. The opportunities that I’m able to present my clients may be challenging at first, but seeing their confidence build over time is extremely rewarding.

(6) What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could give any advice to my younger self, I’d say to not be afraid of the things that other people think. I spent so much time worrying about being judged by others that I didn’t let me be myself until I was a Junior in high school. That was when I realized, through several different experiences, that it truly doesn’t matter what people think…and life is way more fun this way.

(7) Biggest lesson you’ve learned from your friends?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my friends is that true friendship is invaluable. Those friends, the ones who really love you for who you are and don’t judge you for your shortcomings, they’re priceless. And, we need our friends. As much as I love my husband and my family, my girl friends are a very close second. I love you guys!

(8) Why does taking care of your body matter so much?

Our bodies are very important gifts. Taking care of your body means something different to everyone - but to me, taking care of my body is so important because I want to be respectful to the gift I’ve been given. Have you ever eaten something that made you feel terrible? Or gone a long while without being active? I hate feeling like that, and I listen to my body when it says it doesn’t like something. My body likes exercise. My body loves a balanced diet. My body needs good sleeping routines and habits. Have you ever noticed what your body is trying to tell you? Listen to it! You don’t have to feel gross inside, and food and exercise has a lot to do with how we think and feel. Take care of it so it will take care of you.

(9) What encourages you to keep growing and learning new things?

I’m fascinated by learning. There is a vast array of information out there, and I wish I could learn everything! I am inspired by the fact that we can take our knowledge with us. Of all the things we don’t get to take with us after this life is over, our knowledge remains. That’s encouraging. My efforts to gain knowledge won’t go to waste like the efforts to gain almost anything else in this life that is temporal.

(10) What has surprised you about life after high school?

I am surprised that life after school doesn’t stop. It sounds silly, but there’s no scheduled breaks in the work-world. Of course, I knew that before, but being in the groove of school since I can remember, it’s weird to not have those breaks. No summer vacation. No winter break to go home and visit family. No extended time off, really. And working at a gym makes that especially true because it almost never closes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and not taking exams anymore, but the breaks…I miss those.

(11) Who in your family do you turn to when you need advice?

I turn to my mom and my husband when I need advice. Both of them are extremely invested in my happiness and can help me see the big picture when I can’t. They give wonderful advice and help me all the time.

(12) What character trait has helped you the most?

The trait that has helped me the most is my thoughtfulness. I’ve been blessed to be able to sympathize with people around me and I’ve never regretted being kind or going the extra mile for someone. i love helping people.

(13) What are your Top 3 tips for kids getting ready to leave home?

#1 - Get a calendar and stay organized! Respect the time you have as well as the time of others. That can apply to your job, friends, school, family, etc. When you move away from home you realize that you need to make time for the people/things that matter most because nobody else is going to force you to make time for anything. That being said, don’t be afraid to take time to live in the moment. Some of my favorite memories are when I allowed time to kind of stand still and soak in the time I get with family and friends.

#2 - Jump right in - get out of your bubble, people!! With nothing but a car-full of stuff and my faith, I moved 2,500 miles from home with the closest relative living three hours away from me. I knew nothing and no one and it was the absolute best decision I ever made. I have EVERYTHING I have now because I got out of my comfort zone and away from everything I was familiar with. Scary? Sure. Exciting? Yeah. Worth it? Just ask Pete how many times I will cry in random moments because I’m overflowing with happiness…100% worth it.

#3 - Think about the kind of person you want to become and make choices to get you there. Will living with those people help you be your best? What will living in that city/town do for you? What kinds of situations will you be place in in that environment? Usually, you won’t know what the future will hold, but when you are independent you can control where you live. And when you choose where you live, you choose the kind of people you’re surrounded with, and when you choose the kind of people you’re surrounded with, you choose the kind of person you’re going to turn into. Even if you don’t realize it, you’re a product of your environment in some way - and you CAN do this!

(14) Fun Facts:

Favorite Cookie - Salted Caramel

Favorite Place - Crete

Next bucket list trip - Spain/Italy

Favorite Date Night - walking around Cambridge/Boston area

Favorite Book - Slade House

Favorite Movie - Sherlock Holmes

Morning or Night person - Morning person allllll the way

Favorite thing about where you live - I love that we live in a suburban area, but we can drive just 20 minutes and be in the heart of a beautiful city with an amazing history.

Do you love her as much as I do? I love her advice to be conscious about the kind of person you want to be and then make choices accordingly. So wise.

This will be the last interview for the year. Fresh Face will be back after the holidays with more awesome people you should know.

Fresh Face Friday - Ashley

Back for the second edition of Fresh Face Friday and I can’t wait for you to meet Ashley. This lady knows a thing or two about girls and today’s youth. And, I mean, how darling is she and her little miniature versions?!

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(1) Tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your family.

I’m a Utah native, married to a Michigan man for the past 11 years. We currently live in the greater Detroit Metro area with two girls, ages 4 and 2 with another girl on the way in March. I love doing anything that exercises my creative abilities whether it’s crafting, photography, design, or DIY home improvement projects. I am off beat in ever sense of the phrase.

(2) What do you most look forward to raising three daughters?

Matching clothes, girls’ trips, and having them be good friends.

(3) How do you plan to develop their confidence?

I have a three pronged answer to this. First and foremost, is to be an example, which for me is really hard. I can’t expect my girls to be brave, to put themselves out there, to not feel insecure about who they are or what they look life if I can’t do it myself. And believe me, I’m not very kind to myself. My husband even tells me I am brutal. But, I’ve worked hard this year to be my own friend. I also make it a point to not talk down about myself, especially when my girls are around, or to complain about how I look. I’m sure one day they will absorb negative messages about what girls should be from the world, but they will not get it from me. It would be a dream if they can look at their mom and say ‘Hey, Mom likes herself, I can too.’

Second and third is a balance between words of affirmation and providing chances for my girls to be challenged - out of their comfort zone. Both are so important. Kids need to know that they are loved and loved as they are right now, and they need to know their strengths. I also think that giving our children opportunities to stretch and grow. They need to know their confidence doesn’t come from getting things right all the time. It’s okay to fail, to not be perfect and things worthwhile are things to work hard at - even if it takes a really long time.

(4) What role do you hope family will play in their lives? What about friends?

I hope they will discover that family and friends are the many branches of love and they will make my kids feel like they are not in this world alone. There are lots of people rooting for them.

(5) Do you have a family motto or mission statement? Why did you choose what you did?

We have a couple. “When we know better, we do better.” This came from my oldest feeling bad and saying sorry for things she didn’t know were wrong or wasn’t supposed to do. I didn’t want her to apologize since she didn’t know, so I took this quote from Maya Angelou. It’s been a good one we use frequently. The second one is “By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass.” It’s kind of similar to the first, in that it’s about improvement. Even just a little bit at a time, small things can lead to amazing things.

(6) What are your biggest fears as your girls get older?

When they learn the world can be mean and harsh; and that people will be mean and can hurt them.

(7) Anything you hope to pass on from your childhood/teen years?

I want them to have tenacity and drive. I had an early morning paper route at the age of 12. I woke up at 6:30 every morning to deliver papers. I saved money and budgeted for things that I wanted at a young age. It helped set good habits for the rest of my life.

(8) What is your biggest piece of advice for other girl parents?

Teach them to be kind.

(9) What would you like to see change in the way girls are treated for the next generation? Any ideas for accomplishing this?

I hope that we embrace girls the way they are and not what we (or society) expects them to be. My girls couldn’t be more opposite; one is super girly and the other is tomboyish and I love them both for it and don’t want either one to feel like they need to be anything other than themselves. I feel like we are getting better at this, but we need to be better at not judging other women for who they are or what decisions they make. We need to lift each other up.

(10) I firmly believe that the rising generations will change the world for good - moreso than any before. How do we support and encourage them to speak up and let them know their voices matter?

I think the best thing we can do is to listen to them and take them seriously. Both my husband and I work with the youth in our church and we are always amazed by the ideas and thoughts they have.

(11) Favorite ways to build connection with your girls?

Personal and family anecdotes. For me, I like hearing relatable stories and I feel that there is power in them. Also, to get down on their level to make eye contact and hug things out.

(12) Any favorite resources?

Know How Mom Tips on Instagram and A Friendly Affair Blog

(13) What do you hope your daughters learn from your example? From your husband?

Just to work hard and to be genuine and authentic.

(14) Fun Facts:

Favorite way to unwind? Bubble baths or skincare stuff

Books or Movies? Both

Mountains or Beach? Beach

Favorite holiday movie? It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas Vacation

What candy did you steal from your kids Halloween stash? All the Reese’s, Almond Joys and Kit Kats

Favorite Thanksgiving Pie? Apple a la mode…ALWAYS!

And now you all can love Ashley as much as I do! I have watched her in years past as she worked with the youth at church. She has a gift for relating to them and I think it is so fun watching her raise her own daughters. She’s wise, relatable, fun and beautiful.

Thanks Ashley!

Fresh Face Friday - Mary Beth

I am so excited to kick off this new series. Each Friday I will be posting an interview with someone new. For this first series of Fresh Face Friday, I’m introducing you to women who I think you’ll find really inspiring - mostly relating to the next generation of strong women.

First up, say Hi to MaryBeth. I love her and I think you will too after hearing what she has to say.

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(1) Tell everyone a little about yourself.

My name is Mary Beth. I’m 16 years old and in 11th grade. I have a twin brother who keeps me laughing and an amazing Mom and Dad who always look out for me. I run cross country and track. I love photography and enjoy going outside.

(2) What does being a friend mean to you?

Being a friend, to me means that you will stick up for each other, respect standards, listen and genuinely try to help, be a positive influence in their life and be as understanding as you can when giving advice.

(3) Why do you think it’s so hard for people to be a good friend? And why is it hard to find a good friend?

I think it can be hard for people to be a good friend because they worry about their own busy lives and forget that we are here to help each other. I think it’s hard to find a good friend, especially in high school, because many of my peers are trying to figure out what the next step in life is. And a lot of them change as they figure out what their new lists of priorities will be.

(4) What are the most important character traits to develop in yourself?

I think the most important trait to develop in myself is compassion, patience and the ability to not only listen but to understand what that person needs. I search for someone who is positive and makes me feel uplifted. Something I learned while in my awkward years of middle school was girls are mean. I did not belong in my new friend group and they were quick to point that out. After struggling through 6th grade I learned that something I needed in a friend was someone who would lift me up, not tear me down.

(5) How does technology affect friendships today?

I think friendships can benefit through technology. For example, I’m able to keep up with a friend I met at EFY in Georgia this past summer. I also think that technology can have a negative impact on the development of close friendships. Technology can spread negativity and rumors that can separate you and someone you care about. In an age of technology, I have seen friend groups get upset over posts, videos and messages. Technology can be the fine line between keeping up with someone and pushing others away.

(6) What would you like to see change with your peers?

One thing I would like to see when interacting with my peers is that we extend more forgiveness and compassion to each other. I wish that we would come to understand that we are trying to figure out this earthly experience. We all struggle with that one class we can’t wait to get out of, too much homework, and other extracurricular activities. We need to be a little less harsh on ourselves and our peers because they choose a different path than us. I would love to see that when we talk with older generations we are respectful of the challenges they have already gone through. Even though times have changed a little, they understand and remember the struggle of high school and so many other challenges the younger generation will soon encounter. I try to keep in mind that trials haven’t changed throughout the years, how old we are when we experience them and how we approach them does.

(7) What makes you a good friend?

I think that what makes me a good friend is that I try to be as bubbly and bright as I can because someone else needs to catch a little bit of my energy. I’ve always believed if you are positive more people will want to spend time around you. And I think when you’re the positive one in the friend group, people associate feeling happy and fun memories to you. And if I can make sure that one person feels happier after spending time with me, then I have been a good friend.

(8) What advice would you give to someone who feels lonely?

My advice to someone that feels lonely is to remember you have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who care so deeply about you. These feelings of loneliness will soon pass, I promise! You are going through this because someone else might need to relate to this similar experience. Although you feel lonely now, I assure you that if you push through with a smile, turn to the Savior and serve others, it will get better.

(9) What are some effective ways to reach out to other people?

An effective way to reach out to others is write them a note or send them a text letting them know you were thinking of them. I absolutely love when I get notes in the mail, I love it so much I keep them as little reminders that people care. And that’s just a simple way to reach out to others but it ca make a big difference.

(10) Tell us about an experience when a friend helped you.

I would say that I haven’t had a consistent ‘best friend’ that I have relied on for my whole life (unless you count family) so it is hard to name a specific time one friend has helped me. Because as I have gotten older, I have realized that God knew who I needed at that exact moment. As I have seen friends come and go, I have shared many experiences with each of them and they have helped me in so many different ways. I continue to have the impression that Heavenly Father knows me and is so aware of me that he sent me a friend that he knew would best suit me through a trial or circumstance I found myself in.

(11) What or Who inspires you?

My mom inspires me.

(12) What do you hope people say about you when you’re not around?

I would hope that when I am not around, people would say how positive I am and how much I genuinely want to make others feel welcomed.

(13) Fun Facts:

Favorite Color: light pink

Favorite Hang Out: park in the summer but usually when I hang out its somewhere near food

Sweet or Salty: Sweet

Favorite Vacation: Hawaii

Summer or Winter: Summer

Pizza or Tacos: Pizza

Dream Job: speech therapist or photography

College of Choice: BYU

You guys!! Is this girl wise beyond her years or what? I love her emphasis on being positive and trying to understand where someone else is coming from. No matter your age, I think we could all use some tips on friendship and I couldn’t think of anyone better to share some advice than Mary Beth.