Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Path Worth Traveling...

Image from Pinterest
When I started my educational journey towards getting my Bachelor's Degree back in June 2016, I really felt like I was just jumping through a hoop to get a piece of paper. You see, I was poised for a promotion at work due to a retirement, and even though a Bachelor's Degree wasn't "required" it was definitely a desired qualification and I knew that I would be part of a very competitive pool applying for this position. Many of the people I would be stacked up against, especially during screening, would most likely have years of experience AND a Bachelor's Degree. The reality was that if it was something that I truly wanted, then I needed to jump through the hoop and at least be working on my degree. Hence, the journey began.

I had previously found many reasons (some people might call them excuses, but to-may-to, to-mah-to LOL) to not start down the path towards my degree, but the reasons weren't enough to be a barrier anymore. After pushing off my start date for almost an entire year, I finally began my first two classes and it was challenging for sure - but, Step One - DONE. Working full-time, taking care of a family, trying to keep up running, studying, going to was TOUGH! There were definite times that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to keep all the balls I was juggling in the air, much less stay competitive for my dream job. 

Six months into my educational journey, the retirement took place and I was selected to fill the position as an Interim! Step Two - DONE! But you know how they say be careful what you wish for? Well, now I was learning a whole new job AND still doing all the same tasks like working, taking care of a family, attempting to run, study, go to class while training someone to backfill my previous position! HA!!! No problem, right?!? Piece of cake...or two or three, and wait, what happened to running or exercising and since when did candy bars become lunch??? 

One year into my educational journey, the permanent position flew and it was now time to actually apply and then interview for the dream job. No pressure, right?!? Thankfully, my hard work paid off and I was awarded the permanent position. Whew...Step Three - DONE!! At that point I still had about 8 months left of school, and don't think for even a second that I didn't think - hey I have the job, I don't *HAVE* to finish school now. LOL But by then, I was too close to being done and I wanted it.

And you know what else? Somewhere along the way school actually became more than just the "hoop" I was jumping through. I started to see the value of an undergraduate degree. I already had my Associate's Degree previously, but this was different. All of a sudden I was able to really see how it was making a difference in my ability to think outside the box, to reason critically, to defend my position in a thoughtful and educated way. It was no longer a hoop - it was something that was beneficial to my professional AND personal journeys! Who would have thought...right?? But for someone who was a teen mom high school dropout that never thought I would actually amount to much of anything, I started to really see differently. I had moved beyond the circumstances of my childhood mistakes and realized that I was worth having my degree. Getting it WAS for someone like little ol' me. Yes, I probably should have realized that a long time ago, but you know, sometimes the most obvious answers are the hardest to see. 

So there I was, working in my dream job and absolutely LOVING it, working towards my degree and not always loving it, but appreciating what it meant for me, and realizing that this was a path that was SOOOOO worth traveling!! And now here we are...and I am so pleased to say...Step Four - DONE!!! On March 4th I officially finished my last class, but I actually turned in the last of my assignments on February 28th. I will walk with my class on May 20, 2018 and I'll be graduating Magna Cum Laude. I wrapped up with a 3.9 institution GPA, but with transfer units I had an overall 3.74 GPA. Not bad for a teen mom, high school dropout that never thought getting a Bachelor's Degree was something for even remotely achievable. 

My overall summary of the experience - wooooorth it!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Closing Out 2017...and It's Been Awhile!

And here we 2018! The last time I posted a blog was in September 2016. Holy Schnikes!!! That's absolute insanity! So what have I been doing since then? Well, pretty much what haven't I been doing would be easier to answer. And that comes down to two things: 1) blogging LOL; and 2) running consistently. I have been buried in work and school so priorities dictated that a few things fall to the wayside while others took precedence...and here we are! So rather than try to be all blah blah blah let me give you a recap of the past 15 months, I'll just start from where I'm at right now and that's closing out 2017.

From Pinterest

At the beginning of the year I selected my one word after closing out a year of NOW in 2016. The past year was a year of BELIEVE and it was a good word in many ways, but in many ways it was a blah word too. I think I took the easy way out on that one, but it seemed like a good word back in January 2017 as I entered a new realm in my life with a promotion that I had spent, well, pretty much my entire career working for. And the sole reason I was back in school working on completing my Bachelor's Degree. That job started as an Interim position in January 2017 and became permanent end of July 2017. Hallelujah!! I also felt like Believe would be an important word as I spent an entire solid year in school pushing hard to complete in early 2018. And there were many days that I had to dig deep and believe that it was first, the right thing to be doing, and second, that I could complete what felt like a monumental task. I was reminded often that timing was everything as I was super thankful I wasn't trying to raise small children in the middle of this. It was a pretty challenging year - but I had an AMAZING year in my career and school! Tough, and many times I felt like I just might have bitten off more than I could chew, but in the end - so. good.

I ran some, but really not much. I thought that BELIEVE would get me through keeping up with my running, at least minimally, but alas, it had to take a backseat and I reminded myself often that what I believed wasn't always going to be reality. Many times throughout the year I found out that I was having to remind myself what my word even was because it just never was in the forefront; but that's kind of how everything was this past year. The only thing in the forefront most of the time was just getting through one day and then the next. I never really felt like I was in control this past year - the activities surrounding my life were driving and it felt like everything was "when I'm done with school I will [fill in the blank] again, spend more time with the kids, enjoy summer, have Friday afternoons of TV, watch that show, watch that movie, eat healthier, drink more water..." You name it, I've probably said it this past year. Everything has been a giant INHALE while waiting for school to be over. It's kind of felt like an all-consuming fire many times and I'm just trying to fight through the flames to find the Exit door. But when I pause, I can say that I've enjoyed a lot of it!

I really enjoyed learning and feel like, as much as I hate to admit it because I waited so long to do it, that getting a higher education degree does make a difference! I started out jumping through a hoop, but learned along the way that it has broadened my critical thinking skills and to look at situations from a different frame of perspective. Whaddya does PAY! hahaha I also got to know a lot of awesome people and know that I'm going to be graduating in May with several that have become lifelong friends! I also joined the Student Advisory Council on the advice of my favorite professor and participated in several online activities and meetings to assist the Career Center in meeting the needs of their students and graduates. It has been such a rewarding time but I won't lie - I can't wait to be done on March 4th! Two more classes in 8 more weeks starting back up on January 8. Sooooooo close!!

I don't want to write a novel, so I'm going to wrap it up and say that even though 2017 was full of challenges figuring out how to do a new job, be a leader, go to school, take care of the house, give the family some time and attention, work out and care for my physical self, eat healthy(ish) and more, it was a pretty darn good year and one that I'm happy to tie a neat little bow around. It was a year of growth and believing in myself even when it felt like all the balls I was juggling were going to fall to the ground. Goodbye 2017! I'm looking forward to 2018 being even better!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

This Crazy Life...

My life is crazy bonkers right now between, well, between pretty much everything!! I'm feeling a little like Dory these days as I keep reminding myself to "just keep swimming".

Image Source
I haven't worked out since Monday morning, I'm averaging about 6.5 hours of sleep each night, and I'm taking in copious amounts of caffeine just to keep moving. So what's happening these days? I started working on my bachelor's degree (finally) with Brandman University and have made it through my first 8-week term completing two classes with A's in both of them. I got a whole week off that was absolutely GLORIOUS, but started back up this past Monday...and I don't know why, but the first week of the term is always a brutally rough re-entry that leaves me feeling like I will spontaneously combust at any moment. (Side note: how bizarre is it that "combust" has a red wavy line and is not recognized as a word at all?!? It wants me to change it to com-bust. What kind of dictionary is this using anyways?!? hahaha)

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Work is also crazy busy these days. The semester started a few weeks ago and as everyone settles in, business really ramps back up, so there's lots of projects and meetings and other tasks to contend with.

I do have a family, but I barely see them right now. So I'm pretty sure they exist...I just can't confirm that through actual time spent with them. HA!

But other than feeling like life is kinda outta control these days, I'm plugging along. I had an awesome week-long exercise streak that I'm glad I got so I could at least SEE that it was possible...never mind that it was during the break between terms so it probably isn't likely to happen again anytime soon.

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Since it is all kind of like a train hurtling towards a brick wall, I'm getting back to the basics as much as possible: writing to-do lists, getting time in nature as much as possible, eating well as much as possible, getting a somewhat decent amount of sleep, getting workouts in (okay, not this week, but starting tomorrow I am rectifying that situation!), and listening to relaxing music. I've got this...I know I do. I just need to focus on the things that matter!

I've recently found an artist that I've had on my iPhone for the past several years and never really listened to! A friend of mine had shared him with me and I remember listening to it, but not really getting into the groove of it and quickly bouncing off to something else, never returning to it again. But then about a month back I was doing some homework in Starbucks and this song came on that just completely GRABBED me out of nowhere, so I asked Siri what song it was and lo and behold, it was this artist that I recognized the name of, and knew that I had his album in my library but had never listened to. So I started listening to the album, only about 4 years after getting it, and it just was perfect for the time in my life right now. It's always funny to me how sometimes music is like that - we hear it at a specific time in our life and it just doesn't click, but then later, we hear it again and it's like it was created just for this moment in time. So that artist is Ben Howard and the song that I heard in Starbucks is Gracious...take a listen and enjoy!

Keep on swimming, friends...just keep on swimming and stay gracious!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In the Land of Unicorns...Part 1

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in the Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat and 13er Race Weekend in Boulder, Colorado and lemme tell was AH-MAZ-INGGGGGG!!!! Seriously, it's been over a month and I'm still blown away every time I think about that weekend, the amazing stories, the fantastic people, all the love, all the inspiration and so much more!! So let me tell you all about it!

First, a little back story. This is the second year that Skirt Sports has held their Ambassador Retreat and I was super bummed that I wasn't able to go last year. So when I was welcomed back as an Ambassador this year, I told my husband that I didn't care what we had to do to make it happen, I was going to be there for it. Thankfully for him, he listened, and he also decided he wanted to go with. He knew it was going to be a lot of time for him to hang out solo, but he was okay with that.

We flew out bright and early on a Friday morning and had no problems getting into Denver, picking up our rental car, and driving into Boulder. Right away we were amazed by the views in Colorado - seriously, it was soooooooo beautiful!!! Just green everywhere and Rocky Mountain vistas in the background. We were immediately in love...

The beauty of an early morning flight is watching a sunrise like THIS one!! 
Our first views of Colorado didn't disappoint!

Coming from California, especially right at the tail end of a massive heat wave, where everything is already crisp and brown, seeing green was such a welcome sight! I could not get over how LUSH everything was.

Since the hubby decided to come with me and he knew he was going to be hanging solo for large chunks of time, he insisted on finding a hotel that was central to things to do, was appealing, and had a good view. So we selected The Hotel Boulderado in downtown Boulder. And it was so spectacular!! The Boulderado is an historical landmark with two sections, one that is part of the original hotel and decorated in a Victorian style, and the newer section that is more modern. We went with the Victorian and got one of the suites that had a balcony and I'm so glad we did. That balcony was one of my favorite parts of the hotel, along with the lobby and the grand staircase. I felt like I was in a movie, and thankfully I only felt like the movie was The Shining a couple of times. Ha!!

The Hotel Boulderado Lobby in downtown Boulder, Colorado

The view from the balcony at The Hotel Boulderado
After getting all settled into our room at the Hotel, we headed downstairs to the Corner Bar at the hotel and got some lunch. The food was amazingly good, the waitress was fabulous (she even remembered us when we went back the next day for dinner including what we had to eat and drink!) and the vibe was totally chill.

I mean, you can't go wrong with an awesome moose and bottle chandeliers, right?!?

But what I was most excited about was the reception that was scheduled for that night at the actual Mothership - the Skirt Sports store!!!! And not just getting to see the actual store, but finally getting to meet in real life all these wonderful ladies that I had formed friendships with over the past year. I was a little nervous, but when you throw on an awesome Skirt Sports outfit it is like throwing on a coat of armor - you have a little extra pep in your step! Besides, I had cash in my pocket and I was going shopping for new Skirt! LOL But, I will admit that I was like a high school girl in total geeked out fandom splendor. I felt like every time I turned around at the reception and got to meet another fabulous lady I just couldn't help jumping up and down, squealing in delight, and hugging the ever lovin' heck outta whoever was unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of my excitement. I'm sure you can picture it...heehee

Kim, Me, and Kriss - Just call us the Special K's! ;-) 

Jennifer, Sami, Amy and me! You might recognize those gorgeous gals as some of Skirt's models! They are gorgeous inside and out!

Noelle Wilson, the Ambassador Program Coordinator - AKA a ROCK STAR OF A WOMAN!!

I just can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to meet all these ladies and to give them a hug and talk to them face to face. I know it may seem over the top, but these gals that are part of Skirt Sports - they are absolute UNICORNS!! They just radiate positivity and empowerment and determination and perseverance and LOVE...So. Much. Love. You know that part of the mission of Skirt Sports is to embody that women come in all shapes and sizes and that we all have many roles in life, but I mean it when I say that Skirt Sports isn't just talking the talk - they are walking the walk!! These gals that are part of the Skirt family come from all different backgrounds and life stories, are all shaped different, all have different activities that are "their thing" but one thing is consistent and that is that in being a woman we are strong and that #REALwomenmove. It's true, y'all!! I honestly wish I could have bottled the warm fuzzies and share them with everyone I know.

Oh, and my wallet went home a little lighter, but I picked up some amazing things at the store! A few of the items in the store weren't yet available online and are some faves in my collection including this shirt:

Friends & Coffee & Running & Skirts - this shirt was MADE for me!!! And that's my Melissa in the background eating up some delicious Noosa yogurt - a Colorado based company that was one of the weekend's sponsors...and SOOOOOO good y'all! Seriously, so good. 
Another highlight of the night was getting to hear Nicole De Boom share with us some little anecdotes, her skirt story and how Skirt Sports was born, some behind-the-scenes previews (have you checked out The Sewing Room yet?) and more. You guys, she is AMAZING!!! I just don't have words to even describe her outside of she is like the Mother Unicorn! So warm, engaging, funny, authentic, kind, and inspiring. I implore you to watch this little video of her speaking at a women's event in Colorado, Evoso Live:

The evening ended with a sneak peek at the Fall/Winter line that will be releasing over the next several weeks, but I do have it on good authority that you may want to start stalking the website as early as TOMORROW for the first set of items. I have come to expect a lot from Skirt Sports, and for good reason! What I saw in the preview is definitely exciting and I know I'm pinching my pennies right now in preparation for buying all the things.

There was still a lot of fun to be had over the next several days and no matter what, just know that there's no way possible for me to truly convey how amazing it all was. But if the first night hanging out in the Land of Unicorns was any indication, then hopefully you know it was EPIC! More to come...stay tuned for the Ambassador Hike & Breakout Sessions, and of course, the 13er race (sneak preview is that I earned my personal worst finish time and am so glad I did!).

Here's a few pics from the Skirt Sports store (AKA The Mothership)

Talk about motivation walls!

How the magic all began - that's THE very first running skirt, EVERRRRRR!!

The entire Ambassador weekend was helped along by some amazing sponsors and we are all so thankful for them stepping up and supporting us. Special thanks to:

This CAKE you I've ever had, yo!

Two Moms in the Raw
SKA Brewing

Thanks again to all the wonderful sponsors! They kept us fed, hydrated, and happy all weekend long!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Good Dose of Happy

Photo by: Melissa Grimes on 3/27/16

What can I say, folks...I've been just living high on life lately!! I'd like to say that's why I haven't updated the little ol' blog lately, but I'm not going to start making excuses for that. Today is a new day and I'm going to start from right here, right now. :-) So here's a good dose of what is making me happy lately!

1. Being Outdoors

The weather in SoCal has been absolutely KILLING it lately and I've been enjoying being outside soaking it all in. We are a little cool and breezy at the moment, but low 80's will be back by the weekend. I've been outside hiking, running, sitting, eating, playing. I can't get enough of the outdoors these days.

2. Running

My running has been going really well lately and I'm having a great time! Okay, maybe not a "great" time in the sense as a great time when you're doing something that isn't a form of exercise...But it's getting me outside on the weekends and is allowing me Netflix time on the weekdays. LOL Kind of joking there - but honestly, the feeling that running gives me, that sense of power and
accomplishment, is priceless! And then hand in hand with running is my ever growing Skirt Sports collection, my ever growing Balega Socks collection and my ambassadorships with Skirt Sports, Balega, Nuun Hydration, 261Fearless, and the latest - Momentum Jewelry!! I have gotten to work with some fabulous companies that are doing such AMAZING and INSPIRING things and I'm super thrilled to represent quality brands that have a larger message than just making some money or selling a product.

3. The Walking Dead

I just started watching - don't tell me ANYTHING!!! I'm digging it so far!
And how cool is it that it is Rick badass - I'm sure we must be related. LOL

4.  Family

Enough said - I am blessed beyond belief with my family. The grandkids are just amazing, the kids are awesome, the hubsters is fabulous. Life is good and I'm so lucky to have a big crazy family to share it with!

The Little Litigator's first trip to the beach! Photo by: Curt Miyasato (And yes, that's Momma holding that little guy and yes, you would never know she had a baby 5 months ago...she doesn't get it from me. LOL)

5. Friends - New and Old

Not really anything extra I need to say here - I appreciate the friendships I have with some really, really, really awesome people!

So there's a handful of things that are giving me a good dose of happy these days. Your turn - what's something that is keeping you happy? I wanna hear all about it in the comments!