Life

… but i should have known better.

This is a story that I have never told
I gotta get this off my chest to let it go
I need to take back the light inside you stole
You’re a criminal
And you steal like you’re a pro

All the pain and the truth
I wear like a battle wound
So ashamed, so confused
I was broken and bruised

you know how you hear a song over and over again for years and yet you never really hear it? And then one day you hear it … like in your soul…. yea, that’s this song. I heard it for years but never really understood it….until it struck a chord on the still fresh wounds of my soul.

i’ve debated sharing my story on a public platform, but I feel like it is a very important step not just in my own healing and recovery process – but also because it is a very important step in fighting the victim blaming stigma associated with sexual assault.

whoa. let’s back it up a bit.

i’m about to get uncomfortably vulnerable and if you’re triggered by stories of sexual assault feel free to click away.

it was March of this past year. if i’m being honest i wasn’t in a very healthy place. i was about to turn 30 and my marriage was falling apart in front of me and i had no idea. i lived in a constant state of intense anxiety that often led me to overuse alcohol as a coping mechanism. my ex had planned a trip to the dominican republic as a spring break/birthday family trip. we had debated cancelling the trip since our relationship was in such a fragile place, but we didn’t want to break our daughter’s heart and i (not so) secretly hoped getting away for a bit would help us reconnect and figure things out. so we went. i was a little nervous about the fact that we were going to an all inclusive resort and i had some issues with alcohol, but i swore i was going to do it right that time. we had lots of difficult conversations on that trip, but came to what i saw as some kind of understanding and for the first time in a long time felt a speck of happiness and hope.

so, i let my guard down.

and i drank more than i intended to. for a second it felt like we were connecting again, like maybe we were going to make it…  i could breathe again and i just let loose. i was sitting at the swim up bar and talking with the bartender and the people around me, some young spanish speaking guy began talking to me and i used my rusty spanish to converse with him. of course, i was naturally flirtatious. my ex was talking to people on the other side of the pool. i got a refill of my drink and that is the last thing i remember for awhile.

i have flashes of memories from this point on… memories that are vivid and filled with feelings. i don’t know how i got to the public bathroom in the lobby, but i remember being in there with the spanish speaking guy from the bar. things happened – things i didn’t consent to. i remember the feeling of being terrified. i’m not sure how i got back to the room, but i did. there is a lot about the night that doesn’t add up, so much so i will always wonder if i was drugged. the rest of the night was a blur of extreme emotional outbursts and other things i’m not proud of.  my initial reaction was one of self-loathing. i blamed myself. i knew i was taken advantage of but the thought echoing through my head was

… but i should have known better…. 

surely i said/did/wore something that brought this on. i should have saw in coming. i should have been able to stop it. i felt so ashamed, so dirty and used. and on top of that there were layers of guilt, shame, self-loathing, and so many negative feelings.

i woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick. my legs didn’t work right so i laid on the bathroom floor. eventually i made my way to the shower and turned the water as hot as it would go and just laid on the floor of the shower in some foreign hotel room crying hysterically for an hour… trying to wash away the dirty feeling in my soul. but i couldn’t.

i had often thought of how i would handle something like this happening to me. i’m a fairly confident, strong, intelligent woman. i pictured picking myself up and marching straight to the police and making an eloquently stated report. but i didn’t. i was told it was my decision, that clearly i wanted it regardless of the fact that i was clearly not coherent enough to consent. not remembering a lot of the evening made me feel like maybe that was true, maybe i didn’t say no. maybe i was being too flirtatious. being in a foreign country on a short trip made going to the authorities more difficult and there was no way to prove anything.

it took me awhile to talk to anyone besides my doctor about this experience out of the guilt and shame and embarrassment. i’ve gotten help and worked through a lot of the issues and i understand that it wasn’t my fault and i was taken advantage of. but i still have flashbacks and sometimes struggle with owning my own sexuality because of this experience. it is one moment that will change your life forever.

please. please. please. if someone discloses any kind of feeling of being sexually violated – don’t dismiss it. validate it. listen. empathize. know that it takes a hell of a lot of courage and vulnerability to disclose this type of thing. check out RAINN for more resources on how to get help or help someone you know who has experienced sexual assault.

remember, life goes on. it gets better. you can overcome. this doesn’t define you. you are a warrior.

divorce, Life, parenting

what i didn’t know six months ago

six months ago my life as i thought i knew it flipped upside down. it was my 30th birthday, that life milestone you spend your twenties simultaneously dreading and looking forward to. on one hand it is that “omg i’m so old” freak out moment… and on the other it is this unspoken life milestone i pictured as a marker of ending the uncertainty and panic that your twenties are known for.

oh how unbelievably naive of me.

instead of having the coveted “dirty thirty” celebration i spent my actual birthday telling my seven year old daughter her father and i were going to be “taking a break” and living in separate houses. and thus began the roller coaster of the last six months.

it’s easy to see snapshots of someone’s life on social media and assume all is well. and for the most part, it is. but some days it’s not. some days are heavy, sad, confusing, overwhelming. the first few months i was a mess. i was in shock. i spent a long time trying to live up to the expectations of myself and others and when those expectations shattered in my hands i struggled. i was disappointed in myself and terrified of disappointing others. mourning the loss of the marriage i thought i had, the future we had planned, the family we had created… it was (it still is) a hard and painful process. this is the ultimate “embracing imperfection” challenge for me. failing at marriage – one of the foundational blocks i’ve built my life on – has created cracks in a lot of my expectations and ways of viewing the world. and i don’t think that’s a bad thing. if i can learn to thrive after what i would classify as one of the biggest disappointments i could face there isn’t much else i couldn’t handle. it has been a catalyst for freeing myself from the cage of people pleasing i’ve felt locked in for most of my life. which i’m thankful for. i’m getting to know myself for the first time in a long time, without the panic of wondering if who i am is enough or acceptable. while this entire process exhausting and painful at times, it’s been refreshing in a lot of ways too. i have to continually be reminded to look for the positive in even the most challenging, frustrating situations.

but… i never wanted this. this wasn’t supposed to be me. it happened so fast. the first few months of living on my own was scary. there is just so much i had never done on my own before… so much you just don’t realize changes with divorce…

  • i never expected to be a “part time” mom (i know i am always her mom… even when she’s not with me… that’s not what i mean). i never wanted to spend long stretches of time apart from my daughter. i didn’t want to miss getting her ready and sending her off for her last day of school. i didn’t want to miss tucking her in every night. the first weekend she was away i had so many mini panic attacks trying to figure out where she was because i was so used to her always being around…. BUT it has made me far more aware of making the most of every moment we have together. we made memories this summer out of moments that would have never happened otherwise.

  • i didn’t realize how heavy simple life decisions were when you had to make them on your own. in the first month of being separated i had to buy a new car and find a new place to live on my own. i moved from the suburbs to right smack dab in the middle of downtown stl. ya’ll – for most of the ten years i’ve lived in this area i refused to drive downtown at all. it induced a high level of anxiety. now it’s just another day. i’m braver, stronger, and more aware of my personal taste and desires. making decisions on my own is still scary sometimes, but rewarding.

  • untangling nearly ten years of physical and emotional connection is messy. he moved out of the apartment that we shared with just what he needed to get by the weekend after my birthday. the lease on that apartment was expiring in a month so i had to move too. that meant the whole apartment and storage unit had to be sorted. packing up a decade of accumulated belongings is exhausting, emotionally and physically. i had to decide what i wanted to keep, what was his, and what to get rid of. our lives were completely intertwined so separating them has been difficult financially, socially, and legally. just when you think you have it figured out something else you forgot about pops up.

this weekend marked the end of the thirty day waiting period that the state of missouri requires when you file for divorce, so it could be legally finalized any day now. this coming sunday would have been our ten year anniversary. so, to say this week has felt exceptionally heavy would be an accurate assessment. but, i’m stronger than i’ve ever been. and i have a healthy support system to hold me up when i don’t feel strong enough to do it on my own.

if you’re struggling through any type of challenging situation, know that you are far more capable than you ever thought you could be. look for the positive. be honest with yourself about your struggles. and find a community of people to be the healthy support system you will inevitably need… because we were never meant to do life alone.

 

Life

new beginnings

hi there!

welcome to my imperfect little corner of the interwebs.

i’m courtney.

some of you may know me from what feels like a previous life over at journeyofadreamer.com. i spent years and years blogging about my life there. that courtney was an entirely different person. that courtney was a young and optimistic wife, mother, business owner, and health enthusiast. over the past few years life has happened and i’m no longer most of those things. i’m now a not as young 30 year old divorced mother and grad student trying to figure out the rest of the “who i am” question.

second puberty is real, ya’ll.

as i emerge from my years of blogging silence i thought it was fitting that i create a completely new online space for the new me. the old courtney was obsessed with meeting the expectations of others, both online and in real life. and it broke me. as i felt the world as i knew it shattering around me i grasped for those shards of expectations i had built my entire worldview on, refusing to acknowledge the pain it caused me and those closest to me… attempting to smile as i bled out from the wounds created by grasping tightly to something so broken.

so, here i am.

broken. bloody. bruised.

but more alive than ever.

see, when hit rock bottom there is nothing else to lose. i lost it all. and in the midst of the darkest time of my life i made the decision to truly start living. and for the first time in my three decades of life, i acknowledged and embraced my imperfections. i still have some struggles with my desire to live up to expectations and portray this image of perfection. so i’ve dubbed myself a recovering perfectionist. embracing my flaws, shortcomings, and quirks as the things that make me unique instead of making me less valuable.

here i’ll share my thoughts about divorce, parenting & co-parenting, being a grad student at 30, finding financial peace, and learning to live a balanced healthy life.

follow me on facebook, instagram, and pinterest to stay up to date.

i’m still in the process of designing and creating this online space… but i didn’t want to wait for it to be perfect before launching it. so, here it is in all of it’s imperfect glory.

and, boy howdy, is it imperfect. but it’s mine. see for a long time my ex-husband handled all my blog tech stuff. as i decided to get back into blogging and create a new space i knew i had to do it myself. and i did. from buying the domain to setting up hosting and installing wordpress and themes… i did it all on my own. once upon a time i believed i was a damsel in distress and wanted someone to ride in on a white horse and rescue me. now, i realize i’m so much more capable than i gave myself credit for and i am determined to figure things out for myself. and i have! not without some tears, throwing things, and lots of ice cream. but i have done it. and i’m damn proud.

i’m looking forward to sharing more with you as i walk this imperfect and unpredictable journey of life.

cheers to new beginnings!

what is something you have done recently that made you feel proud of yourself?

 

Life

It’s just mine.

Just over month ago I turned 30.

I had so many plans and dreams and expectations about what 30 would look like. I wasn’t one of those people who dreaded it. I expected to leave the struggles and uncertainty of my twenties behind me and embrace a new decade as a more powerful and confident version of myself.

I wasn’t exactly wrong… but I wasn’t exactly right.

I enjoy taking time around stereotypical life milestones to reflect on things leading up to that point, compare it with my expectations, and readjust as I move forward. As 30 crept up on me I hungered for that day to come and go, one to symbolize a new beginning… a chance to start fresh. You know the “we can start over on Monday” mindset when you mess up a diet. I needed that with life.

As it turns out, I’d get that – just not in the way I expected.

Most of my twenties were incredibly amazing… times and decisions I wouldn’t trade for the world. I learned so much, grew so much, experienced so much. Not all experiences and growth were pleasant… many were painful and difficult. Each experience and decision led me to where I am today.

Today I’m sitting in my new downtown loft leaning against my upholstered headboard with the glow of the twinkle lights I just attached to it filling the tiny dark room. Despite having just moved in a few days ago, I’m completely unpacked and beginning to feel somewhat settled in. I’m cuddled up in my ruffly teal and purple bedding, complete with a matching mermaid sequin pillow. My room here is tiny, just big enough for my bed, nightstands, and my dresser, which is adorned with my growing collection of stuffies (I keep my favorite purple/rainbow giraffe, Pink, in bed with me). It’s silent minus the sounds of my fingers on the keyboard and the occasional siren or random shouting from the streets.

Despite the fact that it is tiny… I’m proud of my room. MY room. I’ve never ever ever in my 30 years had my own room. Growing up as the second of four children meant I was used to sharing my space. When I moved away from home to my internship program after high school I shared a room with 5 other girls. I made a short pit stop back at home for a few months after that year and half internship program and before getting married. When we eloped I first shared a house with my new husband and his two other roommates for a few months… eventually we moved out on our own to a one bedroom apartment, then a two bedroom apartment, then to what we thought was our dream house which we sold just last year and we moved back into an apartment. Each place was ours. but this one… it’s just mine.

Ah, yes. There it is.

The bombshell I’ve been dancing around.

It feels like there is no truly natural, not awkward way to acknowledge the ending of a season… of a marriage. Life happens. People change and grow and not always at the same rate or in the same direction. We were young, oh so so so young. For a long time we skirted around the seriousness of the issues we were living with. To the world we may have looked like we had it all together, that we were living our happily ever after. We played the parts so well that even we were unaware of many of our issues. We did things right… This wasn’t supposed to happen to us… The fear of disappointing each other, ourselves, and those who believed in us was so heavy that we couldn’t be honest with ourselves. Neither of us did anything more wrong than the other. We still love and care for each other, but we have admitted to ourselves and each other that we are no longer the best fit for each other in a marriage. We are still friends and we will continue to be as we co-parent together. Providing a loving environment… or two… for our daughter is our main priority.

I’m not trying to pretend like this has been easy. It hasn’t. Disassembling the life we built together for nearly a decade hasn’t been easy logistically: we’ve had to decide who gets what stuff and create a schedule for who has our daughter when… financially: the same income we lived on together in one household now has to stretch to cover two households… and emotionally: there is hurt that needs to heal, sadness that needs to felt, and dreams of a future together that need to be mourned. I’ve had days where I feel stronger than I’ve ever been and I can take on the world… and I’ve had days where all I’ve done is cried and getting out of bed seemed to be impossible. I’ve spent countless hours playing through every way I could have done something different to fix it and and just as much time excitedly dreaming of every new opportunity this presents. It’s been a roller coaster. I know those ups and downs will even out eventually… that letting go and moving on is a process.

So, this is 30. Embracing the opportunity for growth that this new decade provides I am now pursuing my dream of becoming a counselor, leaving the suburbs for downtown city living, and disassembling the life we shared as I rebuild myself and my life on my own… now that it’s just mine.

Health, Life, Life Lessons, mental health

Giving Voice To The Struggle

I’ve started this post more times than I can count. I’ve written and deleted what I would imagine is hundreds of half drafts with hundreds more floating around in my head. How do I find just the right words to say what I want to say? What if it’s not perfect? What if people don’t understand? Is being vulnerable worth it? If it’s not flowery and pretty – but raw and honest – will people even care? What if they think I’m just trying to get attention? Will it even help anyone?

… STOP…

Enough is enough. The thoughts keeping me from sharing are the thoughts that I am trying to share. Sharing is important to me. This little corner of the interwebs is a very important part of my life.  It’s not about the notoriety or attention. For me sharing has always been about making people realize they are not alone. Not only have I wanted to make others realize they weren’t alone, I needed to know that I wasn’t alone either. Over the last two years or so I’ve been eerily quiet here though. I’ve wondered what, if anything, people thought about my silence. That I was just too busy (true), that I hit my weight loss goals and had nothing else to write about (not true), that I didn’t care about sharing any more (not true), that I gained back all the weight I lost and was ashamed to talk about it (it’s complicated)… while there could be many different reasons and excuses for my lack of presence both here and on social media there is ultimately one reason…

I’m struggling. 

Not in the “it’s Monday afternoon and I’m a little tired” struggling. The dig deep, foundation shaking, world view cracking, sleepless night, anxiety filled, broken, exhausted, confused, and trying to figure it all out kind of struggling. That kind of struggling isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell. There are no three easy steps to create pinable images out of. There’s no finished product. There’s no before and after that will fill you with a flash of inspiration.

There are always three parts to a story. The beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is easy to share. I was here… the end generally brings resolution (unless it’s last night’s season premiere of walking dead but that’s a whole other post). But the middle… the struggle… that is always somehow minimized. Yet it is the meat of the story, where the magic happens. Before and After weight loss pictures don’t tell anything about the middle. As a matter of fact, they ignore it completely. People generally don’t want to hear about the struggle. We don’t go around showing our still open and raw wounds. We may show off our scars, once the rawness and pain has passed. The struggle doesn’t ever get a voice. And because of that living in the struggle is a shameful, dark, and lonely place. That’s so sad when the reality is many of us are living in the struggle. It may not be an earth shattering, sleep taking, life altering struggle… but it’s a struggle none the less.

I’m not going to try to minimize or exaggerate my struggle. It is mine to live with, to work through, to conquer. We each have our own and it affects us all differently. No ones is better or worse, easier or harder. Your struggle isn’t any more or less important or valid than mine. While I’ve had many different types of struggle there is one underlying struggle that seems to connect with and make the others far more difficult to conquer… and that is my struggle with anxiety. It wasn’t until the last several months that I was able to put a name to the thing that has haunted me for so long. I’ve lived with this feeling for about as long as I can remember. This constant buzz (and not the fun kind LOL). This constant feeling that I had to be doing something, doing more, doing better. This suffocating fear of not being perfect. This unquenchable thirst for control over the tiniest things. This overwhelming fear of the unknown. It’s lived with me for a long time. It didn’t manifest itself in the stereotypical ways we see anxiety being portrayed. It festered just under the surface enough to be annoyingly undetectable under normal life circumstances. I managed it well without even knowing it, numbing the pain and discomfort with busyness, productivity, overachievement. I kept that dull ache at bay for a long time. This post really sums it up well –> What it’s like to have ‘High Functioning Anxiety

Over the past year or two life has been anything but normal. In a really healthy way and out of a desire to live our best life Chris and I began to ask hard questions about where we were and what we wanted out of life. You know the typical “It’s the end of your 20’s and you should have life figured out by now” kind of questions. How did we get here? Is this the life we want to live? Are we happy? If we keep doing what we’re doing now what will life look like 10 years from now? While there are a lot of deep and personal answers we discovered both individually and together there was one big decision we made that changed everything. After years of running several of our own businesses and trying to live off the high of the “American Dream” because it was what we were supposed to do… Chris decided to pursue his lifelong passion of working in the medical field. With a bachelors in marketing and some experience as an EMT nearly a decade ago we set ourselves on a journey to make the impossible happen. Less than 2 weeks before the start of the semester he enrolled in school to finish the pre-reqs he would need to get into the program he wanted. In typical Chris and Courtney fashion we dove into the deep end. Him in school and working full time with the marketing company meant I had to step up in a lot of other areas. I believed in him and his passion and ability to make the jump from marketing to nursing and wanted to do anything I could to make it happen. I was capable and driven. The story of how we are where we are today with this is nothing short of a miracle. In the past year I went from helping coach and manage to running the CrossFit completely on my own, he passed his pre-reqs, he was accepted into a very difficult to get into accelerated masters of nursing program, we sold our house, moved into in apartment, P changed schools and started 1st grade… so yea, not just a normal year.

This circumstances made my previously undetected unproblematic anxiety show it’s true ugly face. The truth is I am more than capable of handling everything I’ve been through – anxiety just made it a lot harder than it should have been. I didn’t understand what was happening with me. I was scared. Anxiety that usually manifested itself in a deceivingly productive way became almost crippling. There were days when getting out of bed seemed impossible. I was disconnected, shut down, closed off. I couldn’t catch my breath, literally and figuratively. I knew there was something wrong… but I was a perfectionist, the smart girl who should know how to handle it all. The one who helped not the one who asked for help. I was neck deep in the struggle. I said I was ok, that I could handle it. I always did. I was the strong one, the capable one. Hell, I have a psychology degree surely I should have healthy coping mechanisms for this. But I didn’t. Refusing to acknowledge I was living in the struggle cost me a lot. Not being honest with myself or the people close to me about my struggle caused a lot of pain. Pretending to be ok when I wasn’t nearly killed me. Maybe not in the physical sense. Suicide, while a very real and scary problem that I’m not discounting, is not a struggle of mine. I’d rather live with my pain than inflict it on those around me by taking my life. Living with that pain was suffocating though. I tried to numb that pain in a lot of ways – some more reckless than others. My default pain killer of choice was and will always will be busyness. If I’m not still enough long enough to feel it I can pretend it’s not there. All this self-medicating was wearing on me though. Eventually… in some very painfully vulnerable moments… I was able to admit I was struggling and needed help. And even just being able to tell someone that felt like weight off my shoulders.

I’ve spent a very long time trying to be perfect. I’ve constantly been “on” trying to prove something… to myself, to the world. I was trying so hard to hold it all together because I was so scared of falling apart. Of being less than perfect. Of not being good enough. I was talking to a very close friend of mine about this… About how I kept everything tucked so neatly inside the outline everyone drew for me with their expectations… and that if I ventured outside those lines I was afraid I’d fall apart. The response was exactly what I needed to hear even if I didn’t want to hear it (tough love friends are the best, aren’t they?)

“You can’t be scared to address your shit. Living in fear is no way to live. The truth is you may fall apart when you open it up. But guess what?  The people in your life who love you are going to be here to help put you back together and the reassembled version is going to be so much stronger, more confident and healthier.”

I lived my whole life refusing to give myself permission to not be ok. I held myself to impossible standards. I was… am.. broken. Because we, as humans, are imperfect and broken. I have, with the help of Chris and other very dear people in my life, given myself permission to be broken. And it has been intoxicatingly liberating.

I am still in the struggle. I’m just giving that struggle a voice. I have good days and bad days. I saw my doctor and am taking Anxiety meds. I set up a meeting with a therapist. I am learning how to have healthy coping mechanisms. I don’t have it all figured out. My wounds are still raw and open wounds not impressive scars. I don’t have a perfectly posed after picture to inspire you… all I have is the promise that you are not alone. You are enough.You don’t have to be perfect. Simply existing makes you worthy.

img_0659

It’s ok to give your struggle a voice. To not have it all together. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m here for you and I know each and every one of you have people around you that love you and would love to be there for you too.

Life

Finding My “Why” Changed My Life

You know when you’re a kid and you think about what you want to be when you grow up? Astronaut, Doctor, Rock Star, Ballerina… Nothing is impossible. We don’t think about the logic or the path it will take to get there. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that in that moment that is what we are absolutely convinced that is what we were made to do. That thing brings us great joy to dream about. That dream may last a day, a month, or years. Maybe you still think about that even if life has taken you another direction. In those innocent moments of childhood we are so connected to our true authentic selves. It’s before we learn to stifle our dreams, desires, and passions to try to fit into some mold society says we should fit in to.

shouldbe

Years pass and we become so used to ignoring the voice of our true selves – our desires, passions, and dreams – that we don’t even know what it sounds like anymore. We spend so much time and effort becoming who we are told we should be. The only voices we know how to recognize are the ones who tell us what we should want or who we should be. So we build our lives on those voices. Some people live their whole lives never questioning the “should’s” that we have always been taught. Some people begin to question those should’s and are reprimanded… and because they are afraid of disappointing important people in their lives or afraid of being rejected or not fitting in they quickly return to their default programming and live out the rest of their lives as they “should.”

Those options seem so easy, so peaceful, so… comfortable. Life is easy that way. Following the default patterns of operating you’ve been taught your whole life takes little to no effort. It’s like auto pilot. Asking difficult questions, acknowledging that there may be a huge gap between who you have been told you should be and who you really are… those things are hard.

As a habitual people pleaser I have lived a lot of my life working to make other people happy. I prided myself on being a perfectionist. If I was going to do something I was going to do it right. I followed all the rules. I was the perfect church kid never getting into any kind trouble. I did what was expected of me so I wouldn’t disappoint people. And you know what? It worked really well for me for a long time. I devoted myself to achieving whatever goals seemed most admirable. Checked off all the boxes… Graduated High School at the top of my class, spent a few years at a Christian internship “finding my vision” (which really meant finding a husband), found a husband, got a dog, a house, a baby, a college degree (that one was a little out of order, I know), a business… And all of a sudden I had this beautifully chaotic life that I had built for myself because it was what I was supposed to do.

But.

I felt so disconnected. Like a shell of a person going through the motions that everyone expected me to. I had always thrived on meeting people’s expectations… Check off one thing on the list and move on. And suddenly I found myself standing there having checked off all the things on that list. I was left standing there wondering if this was how it was going to be for the rest of my life. I achieved all the goals everyone had for me. I made something of myself. I did all the shoulds that were expected of me. And when finally left with enough stillness to hear my own voice… it was terrifying. Listening to the voices of others was easy and safe. I couldn’t disappoint people or be rejected if I did exactly what was asked of me. Asking myself what I wanted and being quiet and honest enough to hear the response was scary. Could I trust myself? I never really had to before. What if what I truly wanted wasn’t “good enough” or what if it was disappointing to those who mean the most to me? I wasn’t unhappy with my life. I was perfectly happy being locked inside my safe cage of expectations. But something inside of me knew it wasn’t right. I needed to learn to trust myself. I needed to get to know myself.

It’s not that the goals I’d worked for were wrong… or that they weren’t something I would have wanted anyway. It’s that my motivation for reaching them wasn’t because I wanted to do it for me. It was because I wanted to do it for everyone else. I needed to feel safe that what I was doing was right so I just did what I was told. Because if I did, I couldn’t be wrong. And if I was wrong and I simply followed someone else’s directions it wouldn’t be my fault. I had to be perfect and blameless. It was what was expected of me, afterall.

I needed to be fully convinced that the life I was living and the person I was becoming was not because it was what was expected of me, but because it was truly who I was and what I wanted. It wasn’t so much the what… but the why.

When I began to realize and acknowledge these issues I knew I had to fix them. For me, that meant quieting as many of the voices I had allowed to dictate my life and expectations. A huge part of that had become the world of healthy living blogs and social media. I knew that this blog wasn’t something I wanted to completely shut down, but I also knew that I couldn’t keep writing empty posts just to keep up my readership or online presence. I started this blog to help inspire others to embrace the process and the journey, every step of the way. I had no idea how much I needed to hear that message myself.

I don’t have all the answers. I make mistakes. Outwardly my life may not look much different than it did a few years ago… but I can tell you that it is drastically different. I have full confidence in who I am and what I am doing. I don’t do things just because they are expected of me. I have more passion and conviction about finding your “why” in life more than your “what”… Because even if your “what” stays the same when you find your “why” it is life changing. When you can passionately and confidently say that you are doing what you love and becoming who you truly want to be everything makes so much more sense. There is a focus and clarity that can’t be explained. It may not be easy. It could be painful. It may not happen over night… it took me a few years! You have to be willing to let go of the all the things people tell you that you should do or should want. Give yourself freedom to explore, grace to make mistakes, and courage to take action.

[Tweet ” Give yourself freedom to explore, grace to make mistakes, and courage to take action.”]

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All that to simply say… I’m back!

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And better than ever. I’m working on a few fun things as I relaunch this blog. I’m still the same old Courtney, but with a much greater passion for helping others learn to embrace the journey they are on every step of the way. So, I hope you stick around awhile. Sign up for the email list, follow me on instagram and facebook.

Join the conversation either on social media or in the comments below…
How do you think finding your why has or could make a difference in your life?

Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Why I Became Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified

I feel like a bit of an anomaly in the fitness world. I’ve lived and worked in this space for a few years now. Even as I have worked in this space I have still been on my own journey to discover what health and fitness means in my life. As I have come into a world dominated by people who have lived in health and fitness for most of their lives I felt like an outsider. Many fitness professionals have chosen their career because it was the easy choice, because fitness has always been easy for them. I didn’t end up in this profession because it was easy for me. I ended up here because when I was starting out on my fitness journey I felt like none of the people I went to for help understood where I was at. I had to fight like hell to get here. The things I have learned aren’t just from a textbook. I’ve lived them.

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It wasn’t that long ago I was on the other side of this industry… not the fitness professional, but the terrified fat girl walking into a gym of mostly fit people. I vividly remember what it felt like to not be able to hold myself up on a pull up bar for a millisecond. I remember how terribly difficult it felt to push my 250 pound body up off the ground, even doing a girl push up from my knees. I remember crying in the dressing room because nothing fit or getting winded climbing the stairs. But I also remember the very first time I deadlifted 100lbs and couldn’t believe I just lifted that much weight off the floor. I remember the first time I jumped on a box after months of being terrified of it. I know what it feels like to work hard and see results. I know what it feels like to work hard and see no results.
I have been where you are. 
 
It is overwhelming and confusing hearing everyone try to tell you what you should do… shouldn’t do… what to eat… what not to eat. They try to sell you shortcuts, magic powder, pills, or wraps to get you to your goal in 21 days for 10 easy payments… or whatever. I’ve tried a good amount of them and none of them worked. I was gluten free, paleo, keto, low carb, whole30. I spent a long time following a strict meal plan that dictated exactly what and how much to eat. While that last one wasn’t bad in itself (it was a healthy meal plan) the overly structured format left me terrified to deviate from the plan… not wanting to attend social outings because there would be food and I’d have to be “that girl” who brought her own food or didn’t participate because it wasn’t on my meal plan.
There are no short cuts to lasting change.
[Tweet “There are no short cuts to lasting change.”]
If you aren’t seeing results some fitness professionals might tell you that you aren’t trying hard enough or you must be lying about what you’re eating or how much you’re working out. They tell you to get motivated….  To workout more, eat less. Push harder. Rest less. Eat high carb… no paleo… no try no carbs. If you slip up they tell you to work it off. Workouts should be painful. You should turn down fun life events because they don’t fit your diet. You should be starving. Society in general has told us that losing weight can’t be an enlightening experience. That we should deprive ourselves, starve ourselves, overwork ourselves. We are put down, or we put ourselves down, for not being good enough.
This process will be hard work, but it shouldn’t feel like punishment.
 
I became a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Nutrition Coach because I want to help people reach their goals in a way that makes sense for their lifestyle. I believe the best diet is the one that works for you. I believe that food isn’t good or bad, it’s just food. IMG_7787I believe that whatever way you most enjoy moving your body is the best exercise for you. We are all different. I want to help people quiet the noises of society, the media, that old friend from high school who messages you on Facebook to tell you about this awesome opportunity they have… and discover to what works best for YOUR BODY. Not what worked for your mom, your friend down the street, or some celebrity.
There is no one size fits all prescription for health and fitness. 
 [Tweet “There is no one size fits all prescription for health and fitness. “]
I became Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified so I could help coach people to live their best life now. Not 30lbs from now. Not when they fit back in those jeans from high school. But NOW. Today. I want to help people find true health and wellness. That includes being at peace with their bodies, having a healthy relationship with food, and realizing it will be hard work… but that they are worth the hard work.
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I spent the last year learning the both the science and psychological aspects of Nutrition Coaching through the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification Program. I also have a Degree in Psychology. I’ve been a CrossFit Coach for 3 nearly years now. Helping and Inspiring others has been a passion of mine my entire life, that’s one of the major reasons I blog! Now I’m getting more personal. You’ll probably start seeing some more posts here about nutrition and wellness. Be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter to stay up to date on the upcoming launch of my online coaching program as well as get exclusive content and free resources to help you live your best life now.
What would you be looking for in a online coaching program?
How are you living your best life NOW?

 

Health, Life, Life Lessons, Nutrition

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Oh hey there.

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It’s been faaaaaar too long. I had a moment this summer when I realized that I was trying to juggle so many different things and doing none of them exceptionally well. I wanted so desperately to be good at everything and ended up feeling like I wasn’t good at anything. And while it was something I loved and worked so hard to build… the blog was something I had to let go of updating regularly. Who knew being a wife and mom, running (and expanding!) several businesses, trying to maintain my own health and fitness, and figuring out life with a kid now in school would be too much for one person to handle… ha. It was important to me to be more present in every day life and most of my responsibilities, like running a CrossFit, weren’t ones I could give up on. So I took a break from posting regularly here. But I’ve missed it! And now that I feel like I have a little bit of a better handle on things I’m excited to try to get back into the groove with posting here.

This blog has grown and changed as I have grown and changed. It has been a place for deep reflections, a training journal for my past races, it had a short stint as an attempted crafting blog, but mostly it has been the way I have documented my weight loss and fitness journey over the past 5 years. The thing is along with realizing I couldn’t do it all I reached a major turning point in my weight loss journey this summer. I reached a point where the number on the scale wasn’t very important. I wasn’t willing to go to more extreme measures just to see that number change. I stopped stressing about it. As I continued to study for my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification I started implementing some of the principles I was learning. I kept up with my regular Crossfit workouts, which range between 1-2 hours a day 5 days a week. I made healthy choices for the most part and enjoyed some indulgences on occasion as well. I’m almost scared to admit it… but I feel like I found peace and balance. I don’t want to say I’m in maintenance mode. I do want to be more lean than I currently am. But I absolutely love my body where it is at as well.

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It’s weird, though. To be at a place I always dreamed of being. We just got back from a trip to Jamaica (I’ll write more about that in another post) where I spent 4 days in a bikini and not once felt ashamed or self conscious. And when people started posting pictures from the weekend I didn’t cringe or hate any of them. I looked at myself and think “wow, I did this” instead of thinking how I need to eat less or workout more.

This shift in mindset didn’t happen because I lost weight. This shift in my mindset happened because I worked on my mind and soul. By learning to care for my body I learned that there is so much more to being healthy than just eating right and working out. Being completely healthy means taking care of your body, mind, and soul.

Healthy concept, Spirit, Body and Mind, drawing on blackboard

Doing things you love, challenging the lies you’ve been told about yourself your whole life, speaking powerful truths in place of those lies, taking time to invest in yourself, discovering your worth, surrounding yourself with people who support and empower you… all these things lead to being completely healthy. And that is what a lot of people miss on this journey. That’s dangerous. If all you do is focus on the physical aspect it is far more likely the changes you see in your body won’t stay around for long. I’d wager to say the changes I’ve seen in my body, especially in the last few months, have been not because I was focusing on the physical changes but because I have been focusing on my mind and soul as well. Realizing (and admitting) that I can’t do it all was a huge step for me. It eliminated the stress I put on myself. Because no one expected me to be able to do it all… except for me. When I started removing stress and unrealistic expectations from my life I became happier and healthier.

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Same bikini, 5 months apart. I noticed a huge difference! According to the scale I’ve lost 13lbs on the scale, PR’d several lifts, and even got a few pull ups, got toes to bar, and got my rope climbs back. I haven’t changed my eating or workouts significantly. I’ve simply focused on my mental and emotional well being and tried to manage my stress more effectively. [Tweet “Take care of your mental well being and your physical well being will follow”].

It’s been a process, It always is. But you are worth the hard work.

Do you focus on your mental and emotional health or just your physical health?
What can you do today to be healthier in mind, body, and soul?

 

 

Life

Where does your food come from?

While I prefer knowing exactly where my food is coming from sometimes it just isn’t possible to spend your weekends at the farmer’s market or to grow your food. In this fast paced, on the go world I end up having to run to the local grocery store and do my best to make good choices. Having a local grocery store that cares enough to supply local homegrown food choices makes making healthy choices for my family a far easier process.

There are far several benefits to choosing local homegrown food. One of the first that comes to mind are the health benefits. When crops don’t have to travel long distance they can be grown for taste and health, rather than grown specifically with the ability to survive while being transported long distance. Buying and eating locally grown food is also healthy for the economy, instead of purchasing food grown across the country or even in other parts of the world you are able to invest in your local economy.

Get all the health benefits of homegrown produce with Hy-Vee’s Local Homegrown Twitter Party July 22nd at 2pm CST with #WinFreshWinLocal

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A team of Hy-Vee’s in-house health experts will be on-hand and ready to answer all of your fresh, local, homegrown questions at our upcoming Twitter Party!

Whether you’re looking to eat more nutritiously or to support your local growers (or both!) we’ll be tweeting all things FRESH, LOCAL and HOMEGROWN and we want to hear from you! When you share your questions with #WinFreshWinLocal during the Twitter Party you’ll automatically be entered to win 1 of 4 Hy-Vee Gift Cards valued at $250 each! A great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy all the fruits and vegetables grown within 200 miles of Hy-Vee stores across the Midwest!

I am excited to announce our partnership with Hy-Vee for this upcoming Twitter Party on July 23, 2015 at 3:00 CT.

Don’t Forget: keep your eyes out for the Local Homegrown program logo when you’re shopping at Hy-Vee!

 

Do you think about where your food comes from?

Coffee Date

If We Were Having Coffee…

Coffee is good for the soul. Something about it makes me feel so at home and so open. The smell of coffee brewing is invigorating. It isn’t just about the caffeine, although that doesn’t hurt. It is like a loyal friend. Always there for you when you need to wake up, take a break, have a pick me up after a long morning, or just need a warm hug for your soul.

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And thanks to Starbucks advocating for their “third place” experience, a lot of my deep musings and conversations have happened over a cup of coffee. So today I’m going to chat (or type) with you over a cup of coffee. I used to do this all the time but then life happened and the only thing I do regularly is eat, sleep, work, and workout. So, let’s have a fun little Coffee Date!

If we were having coffee… 

I would tell you how excited I am to be able to connect again. I miss this space. Writing has been something I’ve always loved. Really, it has been a therapy of sorts. There have been so many times that things don’t make sense in my head but as I start to write they just seem to make sense. I would tell you how I have been writing a little more in an actual paper journal! For a long time the only place I journaled was here on the blog, but not too long ago I found my collection of paper journals from the year before I got married and it was so enlightening to read through those. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way since then… Oh the thoughts that go through a 19 year old girl’s mind…

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that I am thiiiiiiiis close to finally finishing my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. I registered in September and got most of my materials close to October of last year. I’m extremely thankful that it is a go at your own pace program. It took me awhile to get through the first half of the program, which is the science based portion. I’m cruising through the second half, which includes a lot more practical coaching education. The coaching portion comes a little more naturally to me as it is more psychology based… Good to know I will actually get some kind of use for that Psychology degree I have! I’d tell you that I am really excited about being able to help teach others how to have a healthy relationship with food and to get the results they are looking for. One of the biggest thing I’ve noticed, especially in women, is that most of the clients we see come in to our CrossFit are not eating nearly enough of the right foods. Especially Protein. Let me step on my soapbox for a moment…

LADIES… Lifting weights and eating adequate protein will not make you look like some she-hulk body builder! I wish to the Dear Lord in heaven that it did, because I would be jacked. You should aim to eat protein dense food with every meal, even your snacks! If you aren’t getting enough protein from whole foods, or you are traveling or crunched for time,  you can supplement a protein shake.

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I have used several different brands of protein, most recently getting the opportunity to try out Lean1 Protein from Nutrition53. The most important thing is to find a quality protein that you will actually drink (The regular Lean 1 Flavors all tasted great, the Vegan flavors tasted very… earthy. Which is cool if you like that taste. I wasn’t a fan). All that to say I don’t care how you do it, but eat you freaking protein.

*steps off soap box*

Sorry, I get really worked up about that.

Deep Breath.

Let’s get back to coffee…

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you I have been doing my best to read more. I really love reading. I recently finished the Book Start by Jon Acuff and I really enjoyed it. Now I’m working on Tribes by Seth Godin and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. I have several other titles on hold in my online library… Did you know you can get ebooks from the Public Library? I read them from my ipad. That was life changing when I figured that out! Some of the more popular titles have a long hold list but I like that having them on loan makes me want to read them before they have to go back to the next person on the hold list. It’s so easy in this fast pace busy society to forget about the things we enjoy. For me it is reading. I love learning and reading is one of my favorite ways to learn. Plus Leaders are Readers!

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If we were having coffee…

I would ask you what was one thing on your to do list that has been sitting there for awhile. I’ve been using my Passion Planner to keep track of my chores and errands. That means whatever I don’t complete for that week has to be rewritten on the next week’s page. I had a huge stack of things in my garage that I was supposed to mail to someone for the last month or so. And I just kept putting it off for no real reason. I finally bit the bullet and packaged them up and mailed them out the other day. It felt so good. I would tell you to bite the bullet and get that thing done. The energy you spend dreading it is more draining than the energy it takes to actually get it done. So like Shia says… JUST DO IT!

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If we were having coffee…

I would tell you I have been really enjoying training lately, but it has been hard. I feel stronger than ever. I’m trying to dial in my nutrition (PROTEIN, remember?!) and work on my form. I’ve found some major errors in my pull that I’ve been doing for so long they are miserable to try to correct now. But I’m working on it and making progress. This week was tough. I posted this on Instagram after Wednesday’s workout:

“This week training has felt hard. The heat was crazy and the weights were heavy. I feel strong, hitting just 10lbs below my 1RM max split jerk for 5×3 today. Some days it feels easy. Most days it doesn’t it. If you want something worth having, you are probably going to have to fight for it. I want to to be a better athlete and coach. I want to be stronger, faster, leaner. I want to be better than I was yesterday. And that is worth fighting for when it’s hot… And the weight is heavy… And you suck at double unders. Now I’m just thankful that tomorrow is rest day”

Rest day was amazing and today’s workout felt good. I would tell you that I think your mentality about your training effects the outcome of your training more than we realize. I have been in a good place mentally and I feel like it is making all the difference in my training.

If we were having coffee…

I’d thank you for putting up with my random rambling and tell you we have to do this more often!


If we were having coffee… What would you tell me?