My 4-Minute Life Story

Per The New York Times’ 30-Day Well Challenge, here’s my 4-minute life story:

I was born on a Tuesday, shortly after my family’s house burnt down. The stress of the trauma put my mom into early labor, but we were both safe. In fact, the doctor told my mom it was probably pre-labor and encouraged her to have a glass of wine and relax. I came along shortly after.

Before I can remember, my parents divorced. I have no memories of my parents being married or living together. I remember being raised by my mother, with the help of my aunts and grandparents. And while I always thought myself a daddy’s girl, I think that was more a pipedream than anything else.

My favorite memories with my dad include watching and playing baseball and snuggling with our dog Sammy. Otherwise, most of my memories with him revolve around his joyriding through fatherhood with little consideration for his children.

As a kid, I spent my time writing. My grandma likes to tell me how before I could even write, I would scribble on page after page of my notebooks writing “stories.”

My brother and I fought like hell as kids. He was my idol but wanted nothing to do with me. In fact, that even lasted through high school. It wasn’t until college that we both finally figured out how to be friends. And, today, I consider him my best friend.

Anyway. My mom enrolled me in tap dance classes as a kid, which I loved. But I have one distinct memory of a photographer telling me to “suck in” my gut. I always knew I was chubby, but that was a real kicker. Enter a lifetime of self-hate.

By the time I was in 6th grade, I opted out of dance class and into sports. I was never very athletic but always very competitive. I played volleyball, basketball and softball through 8th grade, and while I was never very good I loved being apart of the teams (except when we were losing).

When I started high school, we moved out of Detroit and to the suburbs. Holy fuck was that a god damn nightmare. I went from classmates who were on food stamps to having a “friend” who received a Jaguar for her 16th birthday.

I can’t really say I have any good memories from high school. I spent most of my time listening to emo and punk music, sneaking off to shows solo and trying to forget things. But, really, nothing worked.

So when I got to college I immediately fell in love. I basically wasted 4 years on a trash human who did everything he could to control me. He broke up with me during our senior year when his family pressured him with questions about marriage over Thanksgiving break. We shortly got back together with a hell of a lot of rules and regulations. When I realized I was my own person and couldn’t deal with that shit, we broke up. Soon after, I ran away to Chicago.

During my freshman year of college, my stepmom died. She was the definition of a wicked stepmother, but I felt the need to gain some closure so I went to the funeral. It was then that my paternal grandfather told me he regretted not being a bigger part of my life as a child and asked for forgiveness. Of course, I forgave him.

That was an opportunity to reconnect with my father. It didn’t really go so well.

So, back to Chicago. I moved here in 2008, during the height of the recession. Getting a job sucked, so I spent the next few years freelance writing, walking dogs and waitressing. After a series of unfortunate events, I ended up working as a barista at Starbucks.

That job eventually led me to the Chicago Tribune. And while that job sucked, it dictated the future of my career. Gone were the plans to work at a publishing house and I found myself working in content marketing.

While working at the Tribune, I was in a really bad bicycling accident. I shattered my ribs, collapsed both lungs, fractured my pelvis and spine. I think that covers it? I spent a month at Northwestern and three months at my mom’s outside of Detroit recovering. As soon as I was strong enough to, I moved back to Chicago. In retrospect, I’m not sure what for.

It was then that I connected with who would be my future husband.

As part of my recovery, I got involved with different physical challenges. It started with Muderlla, a 5K obstacle course (in the mud). The proceeds went to the fight against violence against women, and I finished the race with three badass chicks.

Since then, I’ve finished two Tough Mudders, the Chicago Marathon, two half marathons and a boatload of other events. Currently, I’m training for my third marathon and after that, I’ve got my second triathlon to work on.

Today, I find myself focused on work and my career. My husband and I bought a house last year (in Chicago) and we’re making plans for the years to come. And while I don’t know exactly what the future will hold, I’m looking forward to the possibilities.

I’ve been through a lot of hardships and I’m at a point in my life where I feel happy, confident and comfortable. I’m thankful for that.

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Today I Missed My Workout

Christmas morning seems like as good a time as any to reflect. Especially when it’s 6 a.m., you’ve been up for two hours and you’re at your in-laws trying not to wake anyone.

Whole 30

2018 has been a full year. I kicked it off with the Whole 30 program, a diet meant to help you learn more about the foods you eat and how they affect your body. I was proud, and surprised, when I hit the 30-day mark cheat-free and feeling good. As an avid cook, meal prep was something I looked forward to, even if it meant no booze, sugar, carbs and a whole lot of other stuff.

Running

From there, I jumped into training for my second full marathon. Looking back on my training program, I don’t quite remember where I fell off. I know I hit my 18-mile run and missed the 20 miler. But I did a lot on the treadmill, big mistake.

Race day, Memorial weekend, was hot and humid AF. The Top of Michigan Marathon starts in Charlevoix and ends in Harbor Springs, hitting Petoskey along the way. And, unlike the Chicago Marathon, the course is slim. There were maybe 100 marathoners and even fewer supporters along the course.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. At the halfway mark, I called it quits. The night before, my CamelBak broke and I wasn’t able to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the heat (water stations were limited and some even ran out of cold water). The humidity made it difficult to breathe and the lack of crowd support killed my motivation. Don’t worry though, I signed up for the 2019 race and plan to kick its ass.

Home

The summer was consumed with our new house. We moved in in April and I literally never wanted to leave. From unpacking to decorating to yardwork, it kept us busy. While we still haven’t finished hanging our decor, we did just furnish the third bedroom.

I’m in love with our home, and I think the rest of the family is, too.

Friends and family

We spent time celebrating some of our closest friends throughout the year. Weddings, babies, engagements, big moves and new homes. Even our niece’s first birthday.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I’ve lost on here. It’s part of the purpose for my blog—coping, healing and remembering. But 2018 has shown me how lucky I am for what and who I have in my life.

SuperSprint

Training for my first triathlon also kept me busy this summer. Part of the Chicago Triathlon series, the SuperSprint is awesome for first-timers. Event weekend takes place at the end of August and the course is manageable.

Swim, bike, run. That’s the basics of a tri. The atmosphere was electric and the participants were incredible. So much support and inspiration. While not as physically difficult as a marathon, a triathlon is more mentally taxing.

This is another race I’ve already signed up for in 2019. This year, my goal was to finish. Next year, I’m keeping time. My hope is to one day complete a full triathlon. Until then, I’ll be working on my open-water swimming.

Work, work, work

The end of the year has kind of been swept up with work. Professionally, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to grow and advance, all of which I’ve embraced with open arms. For the first time in a few years, I’m not only satisfied at work but excited for the future.

Personally, I’ve been focusing on my beer blog. The focus the past two months has been on social media, but I’m planning for a 2019 relaunch of the blog. Until then, check us out on Instagram: @chibeerclub.

To help expand my reach, network and knowledge, I joined PorchDrinking as a copy editor and social media coordinator. I’ve only been working with the team for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a positive experience so far.

2019 and beyond

I think 2019 will look a lot like this year, only refined. I’ve learned so much and have so many things I want to accomplish next year. More travel. More learning. More growing.

The Way Things Change

Moving on is hard, and sometimes damn near impossible. For the better part of the past year, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit obsessing over a lost friendship. Funny isn’t it, we always think romantic relationships are the hardest to end. Now, this isn’t the first friendship I’ve had come to a close, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, it’s the only one that ended in an explosive argument. And — at the time — I didn’t realize it was actually the end. I thought she’d admit wrongdoing, apologize, or at least forgive and forget. But none of that happened.

The more time that passed without one of those things happening, the angrier I got and the further I distanced myself from the relationship. Looking back, I realize how that probably just made it easier for her to pull further and further away. In the end, by the time I was ready to acknowledge my wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness, it was too late. By that time, she’d moved past our friendship and was ready to not turn back. Oh my god how that hurts.

Perhaps the hardest part of accepting the fact that “your person” is no longer there for you to turn to is not even having the chance to say goodbye. Not even getting a big “Fuck you, I’m done,” and instead receiving radio silence after a phone call, text message and email. For some reason, as much as that response sounds painful, it seems better than this. Better than a lack of closure. Especially knowing I could have prevented things from going this far.

So, I try to look for the good in things. Lessons learned, frustrations ceased. But in the end, none of that matters. Nothing can replace the person you could laugh with, cry with, bicker with. So it seems the only thing to do is become better. Recognize how to better deal with situations and react to emotions, even if it’s too late to fix what’s been broken.

Dear [Baby],

I originally wrote this post about six months ago, but decided to hold off on posting it at this time.


You are precious. Your life has just begun and you have a lifetime of moments ahead of you. And my wish for you is that you get to experience every single one of those seconds. The joyous, the painful, the thrilling, the terrifying, the precious, the bittersweet – all of the good and all of the bad. Take in and savor each and every emotion. Hold on to those memories. Because the adventure ahead is just beginning and you’ll need all that you know, all that you’ve learned to make your journey your own.

When you’re young, the years fly past. Summers seem endless until the snow falls, and before you know it you forget to remember the last browned leave hanging from a tree. And they say that as you get older time seems to move faster with each passing year, but I disagree. I think we stop savoring the moments and truly living each experience that passes us by.

No longer do we whiff the scent of a fresh cut blade of grass as the spring’s rains subside. The first flakes of winter loose their glittery charm. Instead, we’re always ready and waiting for the next big thing – even if it’s happening, right then.

So do grow up, do grow old. But while you do: Live. Experience life.

Body Image

Over the last year, I have struggled with my weight more than ever.

Growing up, I was never thin, but I was also never fat. I know plenty of girls who suffered eating disorders throughout their childhood and teen years, but I guess I always just accepted my chubby cheeks, thick thighs and belly. Fore the most part though, I was fine.

In high school, college and after graduation, my weight fluctuated. A boyfriend led to extra pounds, and the following break up shed what I’d added plus some. Biking and hiking around the city always kept me fit, and I owe something to that. Still, I was never skinny.

But after a three-month recovery, I was finally thin. I joked: Great weight loss trick, get hit by a truck. But at that point, I was unhealthy looking and the doctors urged me to eat, eat, eat – even if it was ice cream and potato chips. So, I did. And I got healthy. Then, I got fat.

I don’t weigh myself, to me it’s more about how I look and less about my actual size. Because of that, I think my body image issues have worsened. On top of the pounds, I have a hideous scar. Fake it as I might, never will I feel confident laying out at the beach in a bikini – no matter my size. I’m hesitant to even let a peak of my mid-drift slip into view.

(For those of you who are unaware, I have about a 12-inch scar running down the center of my abdomen – the result of emergency surgery.)

Some people say it’s beautiful, and I want nothing more than to wear my skin with pride. But it’s not. Either side of the scar is off-balance, as the left will always remain a little bit swollen. And more than anything, that scar serves me as a daily reminder. No, it’s not something everyone can see, but I always know it’s there. It greets me in the morning when I shower, and kisses me good night when change for bed.

If you follow me on social media, you know well that I’ll be participating in Mudderella Chicago this May. Not only have I found this training as an outlet for aggression and stress, but of course I’m also getting stronger. However, over the last six weeks, my visible body has not changed. Tonight, that hit me as a frustrating and disgusting fact. What do I have to do to be happy with my body’s image?

Still, I can feel myself getting stronger, and for that I am infinitely proud.

What’s a Tragedy?

I’m sure if I had a lot of followers, I would get a lot of backlash for what I’m going to say in this post. However, I don’t, so I’m not too worried about it.

With the breaking news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death (may he rest in peace), social media has been set ablaze with grieving fans posting about the “tragedy.” From what I have read, it sounds like this was the result of an overdose – please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Of course, death is a difficult thing for many to warp their heads around, especially when it comes unexpectedly. I don’t blame these people for grieving. However, I do not think that ODing constitutes the same response as an actual tragedy would. In my opinion, a tragedy marks reference to something that was out of the victim’s own control: terrorist attacks, disease, murder. But choosing to pump yourself full of too many drugs and paying the ultimate consequence for those actions? No, that’s not a tragedy.

Now, don’t think that I don’t find the news of Hoffman’s death sad. I am, after all, human – of course I do. I enjoyed his work and think it’s a shame for him to have left this world at just 46. I also wonder what led him to an early grave? There’s always a driving force behind addiction.

I’m hesitant to post this, or at least to link to it on my social media profiles. In no way am I looking to spark a controversy, this is just something I’ve often thought when hearing breaking news of celebrity deaths from over doses, reckless driving and other unhealthy decisions. Shouldn’t I feel safe to feel my thoughts on my personal blog anyway?

Do Wishes Come True?

Throughout my childhood, I must have spent $100 in pennies, throwing wishes into fountains. Of course, that change never came from my pocketbook. I’d ask my mom, grandma or an aunt, “Can I make a wish?” How does one say no to that?

First, I’d look at the date to see how old the penny was, and then hold it tight in my tiny hands. I’d squeeze my eyes shut tight as I rubbed my wish into the copper. Before tossing it in overhand, I’d open my eyes to ensure it was safely delivered.

Never once did I feel a magical response, as though my wish would be granted. And never once was my wish granted – I know this because that wish was always the same.

At some point, I’m not sure quite when, I stopped wishing on fountains. With this, the hope for my wish slowly faded away.

On this past Christmas Eve, though, I saw a shooting star. It was a brief, magical sight in the clear, dark sky – when I was a child, I would have believed it was Santa’s sleigh. While it had probably been 15+ years since I’d tossed a penny in a fountain, I found that my wish had changed. Yet still, seeing that meteor’s tail glowing behind it as the rock entered Earth’s atmosphere made me wish again.