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GlitterGleeandGrit

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

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Lessons Learned

Some stories stick with you and impact your life. I hope I have the opportunity to share these stories with you all.

Starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox

As usual in my life, it has been far too long since my last post. Turns out the holidays are not only busy in my personal life but also very very busy at work. So although I desperately wanted to recommit to writing more, I pretty much failed upon saying that. Oh well, all I can do is admit failure, dust myself off and try to be better this time.

So on with it I go.

I have never been a huge fan of making resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to take the easy road and become complacent in the pursuit of awesomeness. I for one am guilty as charged. That being said, the start of a new year is a great time to set your intentions and/or recommit yourself to something you have turned your back on a bit.

I am the queen of losing perspective and life balance at times. I consider myself a bit of a pinball. I have the tendency to go in one direction full force until I bump into something and it redirects me. My current position is the first position that I really enjoy and have the chance to have an impact. I find myself not avoiding the long days at my desk and grabbing a quick lunch or turning down a run so that I can finish up the details of something I am working on.  In those moments I forget all of my athletic and health goals and, being my pinball self, I go full force into my career. Needless to say that is totally not sustainable or healthy.

So as I came into the Holiday season I realized that I had been maintaining a bare minimum of training and a crappy diet at best (my husband’s love of McDonald’s didn’t help). I also realized that I had few extra jiggly bits these days. Besides wanting to be healthy because I love my body, I also have athletic goals for 2015. My crappy diet and lack of commitment to training were not going to help me achieve them. So Dion and I had a ‘come to Jesus talk’ about 2014’s slippery slope into complacency and decided we needed to do something BIG.

Enter the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Our house is already gluten free thanks to my allergy and besides some cheese and the hubby’s protein shakes we are pretty low dairy. So this program is a good way to level up our nutritional Jedi powers. A year ago we had flirted with this book, but a week in we were bored with our cooking because we were not prepared and bailed. 2015 is a different beast and I am determined to make it my biatch.

So two weeks out I began my research, collected recipes and started making my shopping list and plan of attack. Yesterday I spent about 5 hours doing some meal prep and I am hoping to cook throughout the week to keep our food supplies up and fresh. So get excited because after even day one of cooking I have some awesome recipes to share.

Cheers to treating your body right and chasing dreams!

 

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.

Failing to Reach a Goal: Part Two: The Fall

Sorry for the delay with Part Two everyone. The period after I walked away from rowing I was pretty depressed and couldn’t figure out how to approach my experiences and my feelings. To avoid doing so, I would do anything to not be alone thinking. Which in all honesty, often meant going out and in general not being my true self. I consider this part of my life as lost, so this post was a hard for me to breakdown internally and structure. I hope to represent the shift in my world that occurred and speak to the trouble I had understanding it all …

These ladies have been my friends since grade school and have been there through any high or low.
These ladies have been my friends since grade school and have been there through any high or low.

As you do when your life takes a detour, I called a friend of mine that had some experience in the athlete to civilian transition on my way home from my trainer’s office. I wanted, and needed, him to tell me it was going to be alright and that I was freaking out for absolutely no reason. He had been a football player his entire life, until two knee surgeries led him away from the field. At that moment I had no idea how true his words were when he said, “You are not going to know who you are for the next year. You are going to make choices you never thought you would make. It is going to be confusing and frustrating.”

People set big goals that they feel passionately about. No goal is set with the intention to quit or to walk away, they are set with the purpose of succeeding. Once you fail you need to begin a new journey and  it can take some time to figure out what that journey will be. During that halt in forward movement, you take a step back in order to understand the person you have become. For some its easy to evaluate and move forward, for me it was not. I felt like I was falling and at that time I was totally incapable of figuring out how identify myself. The way I had related myself within the world had changed and that had a huge impact on my relationships with myself and basically anyone that had contact with me during the fallout.

The strong reaction of your family and friends that is caused by your own failure can be surprising and sometimes painful.  Some will come out of the woodwork to support you, some to celebrate your failure, some will attempt to keep you in that state of nothingness and some will abandon you all together. The vulnerability and frustration of failing to reach a goal is hard for those around you to understand and makes their words and actions more powerful than ever before.

As I said, there were those that helped me and those that said some pretty hurtful things to me during this time. But people have no idea how powerful their words are, how they stick with you and how they have an impact on your relationships with others and yourself. Your goals may not have been as important to them and it is usually only yourself that had limited your identity to that one facet of your life. So when you come to the end of a journey many may not understand why you can’t ‘just get over it.’ Your friends may be stoked that you have more time to spend with them and your family might be happy to see you ‘settle down.’ They will likely not understand the feeling of loss that you feel.

When you fail, you wonder how many people had expected it, or worse how many people are happy. In my mind, I was no longer the friend, daughter, cousin, etc. that was training for the Olympics and that meant I was not as important as I once had been. Fuel for self-doubt came from casual questions of what I ‘did’ or when someone I love once said “We always wondered when you were going to get over that dream. We knew you would. It’s time for you to move on and settle down.” Not only did I not completely trust my own judgement at this time but I felt as though I couldn’t even trust the well intended but sometimes misguided support of those around me.

Through the fall I stumbled and fell as I tried to piece together  my life, my values and what I wanted. The fog finally cleared when I realized two things. First, that goals are amazing, exciting and of course motivating. However, it does you no good to pin your entire identity to one facet of who your are as a person. My pinpoint focus on my goal had prevented me from pursuing development in any other aspect of my life. I needed to re-explore myself and diversify. Secondly, I realized that I needed to rely on myself, not only for support, but also to define my self-worth and what success meant for me.

This failure would not define me and I needed to write the blueprint for a multifaceted, fun and love filled life.

Even if they may not always understand me, my parents have always surrounded me with love. This was one of our last nights before I moved to New Zealand.
Even if they may not always understand me, my parents have always surrounded me with love. This was one of our last nights before I moved to New Zealand.

Positivity Challenge Day Four and Day Five

Like all long weekends my husband and I spent more time running around than relaxing and I have a serious dislike for writing with just my phone. So I made the decision to hold off and just start the week off with the things I have been thankful for over Labor Day Weekend.

I have really enjoyed this positivity Challenge and I have decided that I am going to try and keep it up. Not every day but every week. So once a week look forward to a post about all things awesome in this world.

Day Four:

1) Sleeping In: On Sunday I did not have the chance to sleep in but it reminded me that sleeping in is something I savor when I get the chance to do it. For ten years I was up before 5am. Now, the two indulgences that I find so very decadent are not setting an alarm and/or hitting the snooze button. Now that I am married sleeping in is even better. I always tell Dion there is actually no better way to start my day than waking up and being able to linger in bed with him. We don’t get those moments often, but when we do, I spend the day a little happier and a lot more grateful.

2) Gluten Free Beer: This may sound shallow or stupid to some but I am so grateful that people figured out how to make some tasty GF beers. After my car accident I kept getting sick and found out that I had developed a gluten allergy through all the trauma and stress. That was right around the time that I had also realized there was more to beer than Coors Light. Gluten Free brewing was not really a thing yet or, if it had been, I didn’t know about it. I love good spirits and wine but sometimes you just want to chill out and sip on a beer like a normal person. When GF beers started popping up I couldn’t help but get excited. Every time I am able to order a beer at a bar there is a split second where I am just so stoked to be normal.

3) Meghan Trainor’s song ‘All About That Bass’: First of all, high five for spelling your name with a ‘H.’ Second of all, my poor husband has had to pay witness to me car dancing to this song far too often this weekend. I recently saw an article that said she may have stolen the beat/melody from a K Pop artist and, although that’s a serious allegation, I love this song and do not care. The whole body positive movement is so freaking awesome. I wish I had grown up with images, songs and stories that empowered me to love my body for what it was capable of and not what mold it didn’t fit. I am very grateful that I will not be a sole voice of reason to our future super hero children about how strong and capable they are.

Day Five:

1) RibFest: I went to school in Texas and that made my love of meats, cooked low and slow over some hard wood, even stronger than before. When I lived in New Zealand BBQ Ribs were basically impossible to find. Dion and I did find them at two places and, while they were good enough to make it until the next visit home, BBQ is something the we (the US) do right. So when Dion and I found out that the RibFest was happening this weekend we knew we HAD to get our butts down there. On Labor Day we had a casual latte, made by yours truly via our awesome espresso machine, and suited up (ie: everything stretchy lululemon) to make our way to the festival. I bee-lined to a stall from Magnolia, TX and although I knew Texas brisket was heaven on Earth I got the combo (it is RibFest after all). It was glorious and the only way brunch should be done, getting a tan and eating yummy smoked meat and pickles.

2)Orange is the New Black: Dion and I are automatically suspicious of any critically acclaimed shows. Because of that we didn’t start watching GoT until this past Fall, and on a whim this weekend we decided to give Orange is the New Black a go. I was immediately hooked, Dion, not so much. However as we got a couple episodes in we both couldn’t help but get invested in many of the characters. So after attacking the RibFest we sat on our couch and watched a couple, ok probably three, episodes in a row. It was lazy and glorious and I loved it.

3) Clean Sheets: Seriously, is there any better tiny pleasure in this world? While Dion and I watched Orange is the New Black, we washed any and everything we could get our hands on in our apartment. The only thing better than taking all of your sheets out of the dryer is knowing that you will get to snuggle up in them later. After a day of RibFest, binge watching TV, working out, working and a family BBQ our clean sheets were crisp and amazing and the prefect end to a laid back long weekend.

For those of you that have continued to follow my Positivity Challenge, I hope it has inspired you to look for the little joys in life… and over see my grammatically challenged writing. Over the past five days I have found myself taking in even the smallest of things with more gratitude which is why I hope to continue posting weekly Positivity Posts.

Have a great week everyone!

 

Positivity Challenge Day Three

Today has been a pretty cool day in the Sekone-Fraser household and because of it I am going to dive right into my three things I am grateful for today.

1) Our Espresso Machine: I am a coffee fiend and Dion puts up with it hahaha. For our wedding we were given a Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Machine. Today I woke up determined to pull my first shots of espresso. So after watching 20mins worth of how to videos I made two lattes. Not to brag but they were so good. I can’t wait to make two more tomorrow!

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2) My Friends: The past couple of weekends I have had the chance to catch up with friends. When I first met Dion, I told him how lucky I have been my whole life to be surrounded by strong and awesome ladies. Every time we have the chance to spend some time together I am amazed by how much we have grown and how fortunate we are to have each other through it all.

3) The Drive In: Ok, not some much the drive in, more the idea of it all. Dion and I came to Pittsburgh last October. Ever since we moved we have had so much fun chasing down firsts. Earlier in the summer we went for Dion’s first drive-in and it was so much freaking fun and magic filled. Last night and tonight we went to the drive-in trying to soak up the last few days of summer. Having My Kiwi hubby here reminds me of how much magic surrounds us and for that I am grateful.

Positivity Challenge Day Two

I am a day late with this one because I had such a busy and awesome day yesterday. I started work at about 6:30am which meant I got to get home early and spend some time with the husband. It’s such a gift to get to steal some extra time with him!

So without further rambling here are the three things I am/ was grateful for on Friday, September 29th, 2014.

1) My Family: There are no words to describe how important my family is to me. For better and worse they have challenged me, supported me and made me the woman I am today. I have a feeling I will talk much more about them all as this blog continues and you get to know them well. They are crazy and I love them hahaha.

2) My Pup: First of all, Ollie is the best. She is a total weirdo and picky with who she gives her attention, every kiss and tail wag is well thought out hahaha. She is also the most emotionally intelligent pup I have ever seen. When a Disney movie causes me to let a couple tears go, her head is on my lap before the first one falls.

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3) Dry Shampoo: I am pretty sure this stuff has existed for longer than I have known. When I did find it, my hair and life was changed hahaha. I have straighter than straight, fine hair that usually needs washed and styled everyday and dry shampoo has saved me at least 15mins every morning. That’s 75mins of extra sleep a week people and for that I am grateful!

Hope everyone is having a great Labor Day Weekend !

Positivity Challenge: Day One

So a day or so ago, I was challenged by my mother to take part in the Positivity Challenge and I am so game. So for the next five days I will be posting three things I am thankful for. And although I am supposed to ‘nominate’ three people each day, I think this is a great exercise in spreading good vibes, high fives and gratitude. Therefore I challenge anyone that reads this to start the Positivity Challenge.

I am having trouble composing Part Two of Failing to Reach a Goal. It is about the dark time I experienced after I quit rowing and honestly writing about it has been bringing me down the past couple of days. Not cool. So, I am going to begin this challenge today and continue it alongside that post to hopefully balance it out. Gotta keep up my #PMA.

1) Life: I know it seems obvious, but seriously, I am so grateful to be given this day and to be healthy and capable of spending it chasing my dreams and goals. Just think about that for a second, let it sink in. When we wake up in the morning we are given an opportunity. Some days we might gain an inch, some days it may be a mile, but each day is another opportunity to get closer to our dreams.

2) My Health: I know I spoke to health in my last one but, when you have had the injuries I have had, a day in which I don’t feel pain and can go to kickboxing, lift some heavy stuff or go for a run is always something to be grateful and downright stoked about.

3) My Husband: If you are new to my blog, or me in general, let’s get it out there. I freaking love my husband, he is amazing, awesome and I cannot stop myself from talking about him. He allows me to be the geek that I am and the impact he has had on me as a person has been so positive. I cannot wait to see how much cooler we get as we grow old together. Every morning I wake up next to him I am so grateful to have him in my life.

My lovely husband and I enjoying a night out with friends.
My lovely husband and I enjoying a night out with friends.

So thats it for day one everyone. What are you thankful for today?

Failing to Reach A Goal: Part One: My Journey

A funny thing can happen when you spend a majority of your life focused on one major goal; you can lose yourself. At the end of it all, success or not, you do not know who you are, what your purpose is or where to go without that one major goal. It is confusing, crushing and freeing all at once. My goal had been to make a US Olympic Rowing Team.

While I don’t want this series of posts to purely be about my past endeavors, I do think providing the back story is appropriate. When I was 15 years old my friends and I decided we wanted to start a rowing team. I was a chubby (weighing in at about 235lbs) and unathletic kid that had tried every sport possible, desperate to find something I would spark with. I found that spark in a boat.

Fast forward about ten years and I had lost around 60lbs, had won some races, had made a Junior National Team, spent four years rowing for a less than supportive college coach, completed an undergraduate degree and was working full time while training 4-6 hours a day. I had been denied jobs because of my training, moved across the US multiple times to train with different coaches, rowed through multiple injuries (to prove to myself just how badly I wanted it) and made every single choice, no matter how small, throughout each day as if that would be the one thing between myself and making the Olympic team. There was no time, or energy, for personal development or to begin a career. For those ten years, my sole life’s purpose had been to crawl, drag and inch myself closer to my goal.

After heading out for a little row in Canada. This lady has saved me from myself many times.
After heading out for a little row in Canada with one of my very best friends. This lady, has saved me from myself many times.

What stopped me in my tracked, and derailed it all, was one lunch time trip to my Austin apartment to take my dog out and grab a 10 min nap. On my way back to work I was side swiped and ended up going full force into a concrete barrier. My airbags did not deploy, my car should have been totaled and I did not have health insurance. I was rushed to the hospital repeating to every official looking person, “I am not hurt. I can’t be hurt. I have trials in a month”. I was pumped full of anti-anxiety meds, anti inflammatories, painkillers and muscle relaxers and when x-rays did not show anything I was kicked out into the world with no follow up.

With no one telling me to stop I kept going. I was back in my boat within a week and raced at the event the next month. I had done something right, placed well and was offered a spot training with an elite team in Washington D.C.. Life in the Capitol was the same as usual, except it wasn’t. I couldn’t get a job, there was more pressure to preform, I was constantly told to lose weight and every time I rowed my arms and  legs went numb and the pain made me see white. So the cycle began of training for 3 months and then taking a month off. I was continuing to get faster but I was inconsistent and couldn’t be depended on for team boats (my only hope of making a team).

Getting ready for races and cheesin for the camera.
Getting ready for races and cheesin for the camera.

One of the last times I was in a boat was trials for the women’s double. Leading up to the race I could tell my back/body were hating me but I had a great partner and the best chance I had had yet. I figured I would deal with it later and focused on the opportunity rather than the pain. The final was the race of my life, it was also my last. After the race I could not feel my legs and realized that something was truly wrong. I booked an MRI that week. Eight months later, two months into trying to come back to my passion, I re-injured my back lifting and found myself having a conversation with my trainer that no athlete wants to have.

I needed to re-prioritize my life. I was officially a civilian.

 

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