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GlitterGleeandGrit

The musings and life of a girly and uncoordinated want-to-be kickboxer.

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Adventures

For those times when I challenge myself. From traveling to a new, possible favorite, hobbies. I assume this category could contain some humor.

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Three: My Authentic Self

In my last post I mentioned what a little bad ass I was when I was a kid. When I went back to that post to start this one I remembered something I said to myself a lot when I was setting my new goals and moving forward after the end of my rowing career. ‘Make the six year old you proud.’ Now I am not saying a 6 year old will give you great life advice but I am saying that when you are 6 years old you only know how to be your authentic self. So that could at least point you in the right direction.

When I up and moved to New Zealand a lot of people said that I was running away from my problems. While I can’t totally disagree, it was only a half truth. I was not running away from my problems, I was separating myself to sort out an identity that longer felt authentic. My goals to find an adventure and further my education would have made my 6 year old self proud and earned me a high five because she was a sassy, confident and independent wee lady that felt the world was hers to take. That was exactly who I wanted to be so I followed her advice.

So off to Aotearoa I went and as soon as I stepped onto the plane, I stepped out of myself and began experiencing new things. From living and working on a dairy farm to meeting, training, learning from and falling in love with a kick boxer from a small town. I was growing as a person each day. I started picking up new sports, training for a trail marathon, dabbling in a bit of Muay Thai and BJJ. My new athletic adventures challenged my lack of athleticism and helped heal my body and soul. I started, rocked and completed my Masters of International Business. Which besides giving me a constant stream of knowledge bombs for two years, also helped me identify my own potential.  My successes in those three years laid a solid foundation for my future and set the tone for what I hope to be a fearless life of possibility and adventure.

My International Business Family celebrating a job well done. This was our last meal together before everyone headed home :(
My International Business Family celebrating a job well done. This was our last meal together before everyone headed home 😦

A big piece of the NZ puzzle was that my three years in NZ were also filled with struggles. From the subtle things like sorting out how to be a loud mouthed American in small country that hates a tall poppy and loves a quiet cup of tea to the constant financial struggle of trying to find ways to pay $9 for a loaf of gluten free bread as a graduate student.  Clearly unplanned, these were struggles I never would have faced had I stayed protected by my family and friends back home. However, it was these struggles that gave me no choice but to get over myself, creating space for possibility.

Finally, I could not write this entry without stressing that meeting my now husband, my then boyfriend and athlete, was a major turning point in finding my authentic self. And while I don’t think you need a man to save you, I do think sometimes  you need someone to see you in a different light and challenge your perception of self. Dion has been my own personal Kiwi Yoda or Jiminy Cricket. From day one, he challenged me to be a bit less selfish, be a bit more humble,  give a few less f*cks (as he would put it), have faith and to put positive mental attitude out into the world so that I could receive it in return. He pushed me to grow from a place of humor and love always offering honesty and support.

Dion and I met when I began training him for a fight. I was so proud of him!
Dion and I met when I began training him for a fight. I was so proud of him!

So my advice for anyone that is trying to find their way past an epic fail:

  1. Take a moment to find your direction.
  2. Once you’ve got that, set some goals to drive you away from the past and toward your future.
  3. Find a friend, a mentor or a mythical being, that will keep you honest, not let you feel sorry for yourself and push you to be the best you.
  4. And finally with all this in mind, look for the opportunities presented in the everyday and don’t be afraid of setbacks because they will remind you of skills or strengths you may have forgotten.

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Three: Sorting My Sh*t Out

When I was younger I always managed to bounce back quickly. When I would fail I would shrug my shoulders and either try again or move on to the next challenge. I had faith that I had a purpose and that everything was going to fall into place, I just had to keep trying. But when my Olympic dreams came crashing down, so did I. This time, I could shrug my shoulders but I couldn’t try again and I had no idea what direction to go from there.

Me being a tough purple unicorn
Me being a tough purple unicorn

The good news is that the resilience and self-confidence that I had when I was younger was still there and still a part of my personality. I had just lost track of it for a bit. After about six months of wallowing in self-pity the fog retreated and I regained my self-awareness and my belief that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ It was time bounce back up and head in a new direction.

At the time I had two jobs. One I loved but was not making enough money to support myself with and another I loathed but was consistent. I was at the end of an athletic career with a degree and Anthropology, certificates for personal training, nutrition, Crossfit and enough wit to be a solid problem solver. My career seemed like a good place to redirect my focus and energy but, for me, the sum of all of those parts did not equal a career. I wanted to do something that was exciting, dynamic and challenging. So I looked to myself and my past to see what patterns I could find to help me set a new compass. These were my two take-aways:

  • Although my past positions had been general they all pointed the same direction. No matter the title, I love to communicate and would always find a way to get involved in some form of marketing and communications.
  • I have always been a drawn to travel and new cultures. More specifically I have always enjoyed breaking down cultures, figuring out the purpose behind what makes it unique and finding ways to communicate with and about new people.

With my career not really going any place fast, an expensive apartment, trouble figuring out who my true self was these days and a love life that was leading me to more frogs than princes, I knew two things were pretty defined on my list: a change of scenery and that it was time to go back to school. I liked the dynamic nature of marketing and wanted to find a career in an organization that operated across borders. It may not have been much to go off of but, for me it was, and sprint may be a better definition of what I did.

Within a month, I had researched different programs and applied to Masters of International Business programs in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Italy.  I figured, I spoke a little Spanish and Italian, if needed, and had friends from Australian and New Zealand. Which to me meant I could survive. So why not get a different perspective of the world and challenge myself in a new culture. In the end I picked the University of Auckland’s program. When I found out I would have to wait a year to begin school I decided staying in an expensive city, working two jobs and not being my ideal self was no longer an option. I pretty much gave everything away, had a farewell party and jumped on a plane to New Zealand before anyone could successfully talk me out of my master plan (Boy, did they try).

My first picture in New Zealand after a run on the beach.

While all of those New Zealand stories are for later blogs, and my future grand children, I will simply end this post saying that although I am a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals, sometimes you have to go with your gut and trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to. You just have to keep bouncing back.

Positivity Challenge: A Few Weeks Out

My apologies for not writing much the past month. We have been doing a lot of running around the U.S. from a concert in Northern VA to a row in Dallas, Texas. Between travel and keeping up at work it has been a wild ride to say the least…

Maybe it’s because in October Dion and I will hit our one year here in the US or maybe it because Dion and I have been on some great adventures over the past month, but lately my heart has been very full and I am more grateful than ever.

When you are a bit of a gypsy like myself you always leave a bit of your heart in each place you live; you unfortunately always leave friends as well. In my case, I have friends in every corner of the globe.  A lot of people say that must mean that I have a place to stay no matter where I go but what it means to me is that I don’t see a majority of my friends as much as I would like to. But, when I do get the chance to catch up with friends, even if it is brief, I can’t help but be nostalgic and extremely grateful for my friends. It never ceases to amaze me how it feels like no time has passed, which I think speaks to just how bad ass the people I have in my life are 🙂

So without further ado, here are five things that the past few weeks have left me flattened with gratitude for.

1) My Friends: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Washington D.C., New Zealand and beyond, you are all amazing. As I said, it never ceases to amazing me how quickly we pick up right where we left off. Over the past month Dion and I have run into Friends at concerts, grabbed margaritas in Dallas, gone for a row and swapped hugs and embarrassing stories and for that I am so very grateful.

2) My Husband: Ok, Ok I know I have put him before but this is for something different. As many of you know, Dion is a Kiwi, and sometimes I forget how new and different things are to him and that really he is still a tourist in it all. Every once in a while it hits me and I am filled with awe for the little things that I usually miss. Be it the beautiful bridges of Pittsburgh or trying fajitas for the first time, my husband has really pushed me to take a step back and recognize how fortunate we are and how special everything is.

3) Rowing: I know my series on failing to reach a goal really speaks to the struggles I have gone through with injuries and ending a rowing career but the recent weekend in Dallas with a huge group of former teammates was AMAZING! I always said that rowers are the weirdest people on the face of the earth and therefore the best people to have as friends. Being surrounded by those ladies reminded me how precious and positive my ten years as a competitive rower was. Our group truly spoke to how a common goal can bring people together no matter how diverse they may seem. I am so grateful for a sport like rowing that allowed us all to lower our barriers, strive for greatness and become friends.

Keep an eye out for my paleo cherry chocolate layer cake recipe that I will be uploading this weekend. It may have taken me a month but I think I finally sorted out the icing!

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