How to stay motivated.

One of the questions I get asked more than anything is how do you stay so motivated? The answer I usually attribute my motivation to is my drive. I’m overwhelmingly driven (to a fault), and always have been, which makes it easy for me to keep going. However, after some recent reading and thoughts on my motivation, I realize there are many other factors too. Here are my tips on how you can stay motivated too!

1. Find an activity you like and don’t force yourself to do something you hate.

We all know I love to run, that’s a given, and that I also greatly enjoy my strength training routine as well. But before I got to this perfect rotation of things I’m in, I circled through a bunch of activities I really despised or weren’t for me. I needed to work on my core strength so I tried Pilates. Guess what? I hated it so much my husband had to drive me to the gym because I wouldn’t drive myself. Yoga? It was okay but it wasn’t my favorite and I couldn’t make a routine out of it. I tried some full body workout and boot camp classes but because those classes we half running, I didn’t feel they were the right fit for me because I already spent so much time running. Find what works for you.

2. If you find something that works for you, don’t be afraid to commit to it, stick with it and pay money for it.

I am very fortunate that I’ve worked hard enough to be able to have some spare bucks for spending on this, but I will be the first to admit that one of the heftiest chunks of change I spend each month is the combo of my Running Coach and my Strength Training Gym but guess what? I love both and they make me feel Whole and complete. They get me out the door in the morning or on the road after work. I have support systems built in both communities that are well worth the value I pay. I know if I told some people what I paid for that, they would then their noses up at me, however investing in my fitness is what I want to spend my money on and keeps me motivated.

3. Find a community who will help keep you motivated when you’re feeling your motivation dip.

I have a huge community of support that I draw from. My community keeps me motivated when I would otherwise want to give up. Some days I am the one cheering for others and some days I need others to cheer for me. Facebook groups have become one of the biggest places I find support and stay motivated. I am in multiple Facebook fitness groups and love the friendships I’ve made through them if other supportive runners and athletes who inspire me and motivate me to work hard.

4. I always have at least one goal in the queue.

I know I’m unique with this one but I always have a goal in the queue. Mostly that means I always have a race on the calendar to train for, but I also have other goals to work for too. I am always curious to see how much more weight I’ll lift the next week at the gym, or if I’ll get higher on the hill in my next hill repeats workout. I set big goals but I also look at smaller, daily or weekly, ones too to keep me going.

5. If my motivation is starting to fade, it might be time for a different goal or routine

On the same note of goal setting, sometimes too much routine or too many attempts at the same goal make me lose my motivation. Sometimes running the same trail feels boring and I’m unmotivated to get a run in. But when I dig deeper, it isn’t the run I don’t want to do, it is seeing the same five miles of trail that I don’t want to do. Mix it up! Sick of the elliptical? Try riding the bike at the gym. Need a break from your kickboxing class? Try a Zumba class. Your motivation to get to it after a little separation from the same thing will do you some good.

On that same note, sometimes attempting the same goal over and over will make you lose your motivation – not spark it. I took a long break from trying to PR my half time. I didn’t even attempt it once in 2018, because I was so burnt out on that goal. I still wanted it – yes, but I needed time away from racing the half marathon to find my motivation to go for it again. I spent last year on other goals and now feel motivated to try again on that one. Staying motivated can mean a little headspace from the thing you’re motivated to work towards, even if that sounds counter productive.

6. Last but not least, sometimes you just gotta suck it up and go.

Sometimes the only way I find my motivation is to force myself out there. Sometimes I don’t find the motivation, it finds me. Don’t let your excuses win. Think to yourself, “I can at least get out there and try today and if it sucks after 15 minutes I’ll go home.” Some days I don’t even wanna run half a mile but those end up being the best runs I have. Some days you just gotta fake it til you make it, but eventually the motivation comes!

Cheers to staying motivated!


How Social Media will help me get to the Eugene Marathon

I am no stranger to loving social media and using it openly to share my running journey.  Between my Facebook blog, webpage and Instagram I have made a lot of new friends and been graced with thousands of followers who share my health, wellness and fitness journey with me.  Though I mostly use my social media to share pictures of cows I see on the run or the hundreds of selfies I manage to snag, I have also learned the importance of using social media as a tool to enhance my training.

I have an awesome running coach, Coach Patrick who has helped me progress very far in my mental journey as a runner, as well as physically through his challenging training plans.  Working with a Coach provides a huge sense of accountability, and to enhance that, sharing my training journey on social media and using it as a tool has provided me an even bigger sense of accountability and even furthered my running journey.

When I am able to write about my training on my blog or give a quick caption on Instagram, it offers me the opportunity to reflect on my run that day or where I am at with my training.  It is important for me to celebrate the good runs with a huge smile and a WOOHOO! just for me, but even more important is for me to be able to identify a challenging or bad run and be able to put it into words.  It is very valuable to be able to look back on my last few runs and see where I am at mentally and physically to ensure I am not so focused on the micro that I forget to look at the macro.

Additionally, using social media as a tool to enhance my running journey has benefit me greatly because I have found many online running groups and made friends through social media to help support my running journey to. It is valuable for me, as someone who mostly runs alone, to know I have a community I can share my highs and lows with. I am so very fortunate to have met some awesome people through social media who have become my best running friends, and will rock out some long runs or races with me on occasion when I need a friend or five to run with!

Right now I’m in the throes of training for the Eugene Marathon, half marathon. It’s my goal for 2019 to PR my half time and I’m starting my 2019 journey by using Eugene to see where I’m at. I have been able to use social media to openly express how my training is going, the good, bad and the ugly, and to find and feel support from a wide community of runners and non runners who are rooting for my success. The value of this is so beneficial, especially on the days where my runs are challenging and my frustrations are high.

I’m looking forward to continuing my training for the race and feeling the support and accountability from everyone I am friends with and followers on social media. I can’t wait to see how I do on April 28th! (If you’d like to join the fun, use VANESSAEM19 for a discount on the half or marathon!)

Cheers runners!


2019 Kaiser Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I completed my 16th lifetime half marathon. How cool is that? It was a super fun weekend and though it’s a very chill event, was still super exciting. Here’s how my weekend went.

Saturday 2/2

I actually got to take over the Inspiring Women Runners Instagram account race weekend! It was awesome. My weekend started with a quick shakeout run in the rain. Glad race day wasn’t Saturday! It was wet!!

After my quick run my mom and I went out to breakfast. If you ever go to breakfast with me it’s likely I’ll get a bacon, cheese and avocado omelette with a side of salsa, dry sourdough toast and breakfast potatoes, not hash browns. I’ll also get water and sometimes will have 1 cup of coffee with cream. That’s my go to.

My mom gave me her avocado from her meal. That’s a good mom right there.

Then, I had a dentist appointment. I had all of my dental work done in one appointment. Do I recommend this? Not really. My whole mouth was numb for a good portion of the day! Good thing I ate that giant breakfast 🤣

Because the race is an hour from where I live, I spent the night at a family members house. Mr. Ftof drove so I could be lazy and browse social media 🤷🏽‍♀️.

My family made me a delicious dinner and we tucked ourselves in nice and early.

I had to think long and hard about what to wear for the race. It was potentially going to be raining but I also wanted to be warm. I decided a tank top with arm sleeves would be best so I could peel off the sleeves if I got warm rather than fumbling with a sweatshirt. I once ran in the rain with a sweatshirt during a half Mary and I was weighed down by wet clothing. I also wanted a hat with a brim to cover my eyes and a headband under that to keep my ears warm. It ended up being the perfect outfit. I laid it out before bed to make sure nothing was missing.

Sunday, 2/3

Full disclosure: I went into this race with my longest long run having been only 9 miles. I went out for a 10 miler but that day was a disaster and I screwed the whole run up and didn’t make it to 10. I was nervous about how this race was gonna go.

Being close to the race start AND having an 8:10 start time was AWESOME! I got to sleep in on race morning until 5:00 am! The last few races I did I had to be up by 4:00! I actually could have probably slept til 5:20. Anyhow- I got dressed and made my almond butter and banana sandwich to eat around 6:30. We loaded ourselves into the car at 6 and off we went to secure parking and have time to use the restrooms.

Most of the morning is a blur but it came down to:

  • Me trying to stay warm and dry because it rained on and off before the race began
  • Me stepping in a huge mud puddle trying to walk to the portopotty
  • Me trying to figure out what group photos I was supposed to be in and where
  • Me trying to figure out where to corral myself because the 5k started before the 10k/half

I made a very loose game plan for the race and knew I needed to stick to it to be successful

  • Run walk intervals
  • Fuel on my chews every 45 minutes
  • Take in Nuun starting at the mile 6/7 aid station
  • Save some energy for the miles heading out on the Great Highway
  • Gain some time on the miles back from the Great Highway

The race started at 8:10 and I had pretty smooth sailing out the gate. The first sixish miles are through Golden Gate Park and a neighborhood. Usually Golden Gate Park is really humid when I’ve run it but I think the rain helped. It was very comfortable.

I was saving a lot of my energy for when I got to the Great Highway. I new those miles were going to be windy and they were gonna tear me apart.

While I was running through Golden Gate Park there was one linkup where the 10k met up with the half I think around mile 5 and a gentleman doing the 10k saw me and his face lit up.

“You’re doing the half!”

“Why yes I am, it’s my 16th one”

“That’s so great! You have about 8-9 miles left right? I used to do triathlons but I had some heart problems as I got older. This is my second 10k now. Do it while you’re young and you can. Have a great race!”

Moments like that really warm my heart.

I hit the turn onto the Great Highway and I knew I was in for some great views but some horrible wind.

I wasn’t wrong. The moment I turned onto it my hat started to blow away. I laughed to myself and said “tighten your hat and let’s get going!”

The threeish miles out on the Great Highway were into headwinds. I had to fight hard for those miles and it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve had to do but it was a challenge for certain.

It’s funny because even though I was in the back, I felt really strong and experienced and knew how to handle myself. I had a plan and I executed it. It was awesome seeing the fast runners on the return while I was going out. One day I’ll be one of those runners. One guy ran across the barrier and high fived me. I love the running community.

When I finally got to the turnaround a little before mile 10, I was so grateful but I was still feeling good. I’ve noticed that after training for two marathons last year I feel pretty solid in the 13.1 distance and often the miles fly by pretty quickly. They don’t seem to drag on or be as hard as they used to be.

Eventually I picked up some speed and miles 11/12 felt really good and I knew I was just moments from finishing. My friend Tony was the finish line announcer and he gave me the kindest most heartfelt announcement. It was rad!

And with that, it was all over. Half marathon number 16 was completed!

I had an absolute blast and though I don’t know what my schedule looks like for next year, I just may be back!

Thanks Kaiser half for such a fun event!

Cheers runners!


My body is strong and I appreciate it.

Let me preface this with saying I debated writing this and I felt silly writing it, but I also like to go places with my writing that others may need to hear… happy reading!

Last night I got a massage. I don’t get massages very often. In fact, I don’t do most things that are considered pampering or indulgent all that often. It was two years between my most recent haircut and my last one, and I still have the “pedicure” on my feet that I got for my friends September 2018 wedding…. so needless to say, massages are pretty low on my list of priorities, though I’m trying to allow myself to partake in them more simply because I am so much more active now.

I got a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas (ok full confession: I bought it for myself for Christmas as a Christmas gift to me… don’t judge!), and finally scheduled an appointment. The last few massages I’ve gotten have been either more Sports Massage, so it ends up being all business when I go in, or one of those reflexology places where they really dig into you but I’ve had some issues with language barriers there, so there isn’t a whole lot of hot neck towels and relaxing music happening.

But I digress.

This magical gift certificate that I gifted for myself was at a spa place than I’ve ever gone to before. They give you a whole robe and a foot soak and some hot tea in a room called the relaxation room… the kind of stuff that is the polar opposite of who I am and how I operate. (What is a relaxation room? On that note, how does one relax? All I do is keep busy…) So, as I sat in a fuzzy white robe with my feet in a foot soak of hot water, in a dimly lit room with no clock (what the hell time is it, how will I keep on schedule with my life), no cell phone (I bet I have a thousand new emails piling up or I could at least have brought it to browse social media) and a hot towel around my neck (that I could get used to), I felt a little out of place and wanted to move things along. This was a lot of relaxing and not a lot of getting it done and moving on to the next thing, until they called me in for my appointment.

Ok, awesome… until I realized when I made the appointment I had said I was fine with a male masseuse, and then for the first time in my life was having a massage with a man. When I scheduled the appointment I assumed that because my “back is whack” (my opinion, not a medical diagnoses 🤣) and has knots for days a male would be better to help work out my issues.

I have almost always in my adult life gone to male doctors, have many male friends and have always felt comfortable in male dominated settings, but for some reason my first thought was “oh shit, I don’t know how I feel about my body in this moment.”

I felt conflicted about the fact that I’ve got extra weight sitting in my mid section, but I also know I’ve got some strong defined muscles and was about to be butt ass naked on this massage table with no unicorn onesie or little while robe to cover my anxieties of my saddle bags and my stretch marks.

I’ve never had that type of a gut check ever, where the two ways I see myself mesh into one visualization. I was about to be full Monty face down on this table and I couldn’t decide in that moment if I felt I was fat or if I felt I was strong.

I pulled myself out of my headspace fast. I reminded myself that there’s no pre-reqs for coming in and getting a massage. Any insecurities I am feeling right now shouldn’t be projected as what I imagine others are thinking about me.

As the session was going to begin we discussed what I needed work on. I noted my calves and my shoulders from all my running and strength training, and we made that a topic of small talk. As I felt knots being worked out, a few four letter words almost come out of my mouth, and some much needed physical relief, I worked on letting my insecurities go away and relaxing.

I had a moment while I was on that table where I thought to myself this exact phrase: “be grateful to your strong body and all it can do”, and that I was gifting myself this hour to give my little body some much needed attention for all the hard work I give it.

And at the end of the day, it was one of the best massages I think I’ve ever had.

Don’t let yourself get into the headspace of insecurity. Let yourself celebrate the positive and focus your energies on that. You’re the only person who sees yourself in a bad light. Don’t project those feelings onto others.

Lesson learned.

Be grateful to your strong body and all it can do.

Do I look relaxed?

Cheers to strength!


If you run, you are a runner.

I had a weird not me experience the other day earlier this week… I really enjoyed my workout at Santa Rosa Strength & Conditioning and felt like a champion…. the kind where you play Eye of the Tiger on the drive home and then came home and got into weird head space about my body. That’s really unheard of for me, though I know I have goals, I don’t really ever get in a funk about my body size. That same day I had to submit what size shirt I wanted for The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and it stung a little to be the only women’s XL on the list. I felt a little bit like hmmm, do I belong here?

But I had to remind myself…. When I had the honor of reading through commentary on the ambo applications for Mermaid Series, I was surprised how many people wrote “I don’t look like a runner”.

I have now been to many races and training runs and though the really super fast runners are built a certain way, there are people of all builds running 5ks to 50ks, from noviced runners to runners who can tackle events with thousands of feet of elevation gain.

I don’t look a certain way but I haven’t really let that stop me. I had to remind myself of the same words I constantly am reminding everyone else of…

If you run, you’re a runner.

I don’t have to preface that with things like “slow”, “fat”, “plus size”, “turtle” because I don’t identify that way. I simply see myself as a runner.

End of story.

When New Years Resolutions stick.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through social media, I stopped on a post that said New Years resolutions usually don’t stay past January 12th. Though I myself am a huge fan of goal setting, I actually never really set very big New Years Resolutions like losing a certain number of pounds, buying a house, paying off a big bill or anything like that. In fact this year I only set one, to be less wasteful, and restated last year’s, to always put my cart in the corral at the store after unloading into my car.

Last night my husband and I enjoyed a much needed date night and our first stop on our outing was pizza. 🍕

Now, like any other self respecting 30-something year old who grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and begged my mom for a TMNT birthday party instead of a stupid princess themed one when I was a kid, pizza is basically a good group to me. Life without pizza is like a day without sunshine. But I digress.

I had hardly eaten much of anything before going out because I was knee deep in working on a project before we left. After basically inhaling the salad I ordered as an appetizer and spilling half of the olives on the table, our pizza arrived in all its glory.

In my life, when pizza arrives at the table in most instances, my first instinct is to find the BIGGEST piece and generously offer to distribute slices to everyone so I can selfishly keep the biggest one for myself. This says a lot about my relationship wit food. It doesn’t matter if the slice is one centimeter bigger or if they forgot to cut two pieces in half and it’s a mega piece. I can find it immediately and IT IS MINE.

But many years ago I realized my relationship with good was skewed because thoughts like that cross my mind. I feel a sense of entitlement to the largest piece of pizza, cake, pie. The bowl that looks like it has the biggest portion it is should automatically go to me. It doesn’t matter that this can often equate into one extra bite, but I realized long ago that this was a big habit deeply burned into me I needed to break.

So a few years ago my New Years resolutions was to not take the biggest portion of something. I can’t fix all of my relationship issues with food in one fell swoop but I can attempt to break them one at a time. It took that entire year to stop and think about my choices around which portion was mine, or which to choose when cake, pizza, and staff luncheons happened at work. But slowly I got there, and am still here today.

So last night when I picked up the pizza spatula and found the largest and most glorious looking slice of missliced pizza that was nearly 1/4 bigger than its companion slice, I asked my husband to hand me his plate and I placed that piece of pizza on his dish for him.

Sometimes NY resolutions stick if we really want them to and are willing to work for it!

New Year, Same Me but with less baggage.

My husband and I are getting a new couch. It’s the most exciting to happen to me in a while, which makes me think that I’ve really entered into adulthood. We have a hand me down couch that we have had for five years. It’s been well used and even has a dent in the armrest where my cat sleeps. It’s just one of those regular long couches. We are upgrading to an L sectional couch with an ottoman.

In order to fit our new couch in our apartment, we have had to rearrange the furniture in the living room. We started in a spree to fix things up and after the living room, began purging our whole little apartment. It’s amazing how many things were hiding in little pockets or cupboards we forgot about.

Where am I going with this? I’ve realized that to prepare for 2019, I’ve done a lot of something I should have done long ago… purge. I am only filing my space with things that deserve my energy.

I have done more than just purge at home. I’ve gone through piles of stuff and donated so much stuff. I pulled out all the clothes that are too small and boxed them up to try on again in April or March with the hopes they’ll fit then.

I’ve unsubscribed to marketing emails that I never read anyway. I got rid of an email address I wasn’t using.

I cut off my hair. It wasn’t serving me a purpose. It was like an emotional release to do so. It was an honor to donate it. Someone else can use it more than me.

I’ve put timers on my phone that automatically tell me when I’ve wasted too much time on the phone and to get off my ass and go read a book.

But on a deeper level, I’ve kept close with friends who are invested and let go of the ones who have made snarky comments towards me that don’t fuel my positivity, or the friends I have gotten tired trying to chase who don’t reciprocate the friendship back.

I’ve stopped going to fitness classes, events and meetings that I only attended because I felt I had to.

I quit Weight Watchers and found a one on one nutrition program that suits me better. I was paying for WW for months because I felt I had to.

I have been trying to own up to mistakes early, apologize and learn from it and not let the weight of them sit on my shoulders.

All in all, I’m excited to go into 2019 as the same me, but a better version who is more refined and with less white noise in her life.

I’m purging the unnecessary and keeping what’s worthwhile in my life. But you can’t quite call me a minimalist because I’m fairly certain minimalists don’t have a need for four unicorn horns and a tutu in their repertoire.

This isn’t about a resolution or a goal for the year but more a mindset and mentally cleared headspace to be in. I’m excited to think and exist this way!

Cheers to 2019,


2019 goals

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. After some reflection about how bummed I am to see 2018 go, I felt instantly rejuvenated and ready for 2019. My running coach and I met up yesterday and I’m looking forward to what we talked about as my 2019 map. I feel good about my choices to decide what events to race and set as goals, while having a healthy mix of fun races. I love going to races and running with my friends!

Here’s an overview. I’ll definitely write more during my 2019 training! 3 running goals:

  • I am going to PR my half time. I AM GOING TO DO IT DAMNIT. I set that PR May, 2016 and I am DYING TO BREAK IT. Whenever the memory on Facebook comes up about it, I get fired up and determined to do it. 2:26:01 was what I set. I ran that half so fast that I thought I had missed a mile of the race because the half I had run 3 months earlier had a finishing time of 2:37. I have my goal race at present to do that at is the Eugene half marathon. I don’t know if I have it in me to do it then, but I will never know if I don’t try. The event is 17 weeks away. If I go for that goal and I miss it, I have a second half marathon I am not currently registered for but lined up a few months later I am willing to go for it again at.
  • I am going to be very transparent about this goal as I tackle it this year. I want this goal more than I want any other goal I have set for 2019, or have ever set in general. I know it’s going to be A CHALLENGE and force me to work REALLY HARD. It will be about running well, eating right and continuing my strength training. I am DETERMINED.

    You guys, I don’t think my words convey how much I want this goal…. but I think you get the point

    Become an Ultramarathon runner! I am registered for the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen 12 hour endurance race in July 6th and intend to run 50k, which is 31 miles at that event. I would need to maintain a 23 minute/mile pace to do so. I ran the 6 hour event last year so I have a decent idea of what to expect!

    Coach Patrick informed me that training for an ultra is different than anything I’ve trained for. Will involve double weekend runs to acclimate my legs to running while tired. Will be a new challenge but fun!

    Come in under the 6 hour official finishing time at CIM. Every year I’ve run CIM I have been over the 6 hour limit. I’ve still gotten an official finishing time and medal and it’s been great! This is actually in my mind, a subset of PRing my half time. If I can get a faster half time, I can certainly get a faster marathon time. I now feel like I have a good grasp on the CIM course and how to pace myself during it. This isn’t until December so it’s much farther down the line, but still fun to think about!

    Well those are my running goals for 2019! Do you have any goals for 2019? What are they?

    Cheers to goals!


    3rd Grade Vanessa’s lesson on Holiday Gratitude

    3rd grade was a big year for me. 3rd grade was the year I got glasses. It was the first year I started to understand loss and grief because my teacher, Mrs. Smith, lost her husband while being our teacher. It was one of the first years of my life where I no longer had the spotlight to myself because I had a baby brother. I was in dance class and Girl Scouts. My parents took good care of me. I had it good.

    At Christmas time in 3rd grade my teacher had a Christmas party and the kids in the class were told to bring in a present for a game we were going to play. Girls brought in a girl present and boys, a boy present. We all sat in two circles, one for boys and one for girls, and eagerly passed our gifts around while the teacher read us a story, passing gifts to our neighboring classmate at certain story prompts. At the end of the story whatever gift you ended up with was the one you went home with. At the end of the story I had ended up with Natasha’s gift.

    Looking back now as an adult who spent many years working in enrichment programs in low income school districts, I can only imagine what kind of home Natasha came from. I remember her sort of brown haired bowl cut and pale skin. She was taller than me, but most kids were. My best guess through a fuzzy memory, is that she likely came from a home with no structure. No parents at home, and possibly parents who had some type of addiction or just didn’t care to be parents. Me, being in my early years of life, had no idea what types of different families we came from. My mom, always being caring for others around her, reminds me of a time she gifted Natasha an outfit for her birthday, realizing it may have been the only gift she got. She came to school in it the next day. Natasha definitely did not come from the warm and fuzzy life that I did.

    Upon watching the other kids open their Christmas gifts, presumably Polly Pockets, coloring sets and Barbies, I opened my package to find a set of dirty, smelly Christmas ornaments. One in particular was a small knit, red, green and white ornament in the shape of a stocking. My mom retells the story of me thanking my fellow classmate in a cheerful “thank you!” as though I had gotten something equally as delightful that the other kids got. In the car, my mom always retells the story, that I had a very opposite response.

    Upon getting into my moms Blue Ford Taurus station wagon, I had a meltdown of all meltdowns you would expect any 9 year old to have when faced with that situation. Tears, and feelings of how unfair it was to see other kids and their Christmas delights. I wanted to throw everything away and pretend it never happened.

    My mom, always (and still is) being a gentle heart reminded me that come Christmas morning, I will have presents from friends, family, neighbors. I will be flooded with love and around those who love me. She reminded me that this young girl who brought me a gift that possibly came from her own tree, or maybe her parents took her to the thrift store as an afterthought, was certainly not going to have the same holiday as me. She was proud of me for my kind face and holding it together in that classroom, but also took it as a teaching moment to me to remind me to reflect on what I have, and be gracious to others. I believe the story goes, that after her humbling lesson, I requested to go purchase gifts for my classmate who I then realized may have received her only gift for the holiday season in that 3rd grade classroom.

    It has been over two decades since that moment happened and my mom washed that little stocking ornament and hung it on the tree every year to remind me of that moment in my life. I am humbled and reminded of it every year when I see it.

    In my adult years I’ve seen it all first hand while my years in direct service organizations. Families asking where they can get gifts, a holiday hot meal, or enough food to last through Winter Break since school is out and their child won’t get meals at school. Every year as I sit down with my family at the holidays and look at my piles of presents and my feast in abundance, I am grateful for what I have and grateful for what I can give to others, both close to me, or as giving back to my own community through volunteer or donations.

    I hadn’t ever shared that story with anyone, but this holiday season I am humbly reminded to practice my gratitude, celebrate and love others, and to count my blessings.

    To all of you this holiday season, I wish you the merriest and brightest and all the love and cheer I can spread.

    With gratitude,


    My 2018 Top 9

    Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Hard to believe it is the 51st week of the year!!

    Every year Instagram does a thing of your “Top 9” posts from the year and though I wasn’t surprised by what got the most “likes” so far this year, I didn’t think it captured the true spirit of the great things that happened to me this year. So when I saw the collage I decided I wanted to highlight what my top 9 moments of 2018 were as we get ready to launch into 2019.

    1. Being in the Weight Watchers magazine and meeting four of the best friends in the world.

    In February I was flown to NYC for a whirlwind 36 hour trip to be in the Weight Watchers magazine. (More on that can be read here.) It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.

    2. Visiting my brother at his University

    My younger brother and I are very close and I was very grateful to get to see his school with my Grandma. My brother graduated in May from Rensselaer Polytechnic University in New York, and I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to see his school, but I did. We also visited the Baseball Hall of Fame which my grandma had on her bucket list to do. It was an amazing trip.

    3. I ran my first out of state race and visited my husband’s side of the family in Oregon

    It was my first year on the Eugene Marathon ambassador team and I had a blast racing in Oregon for the first time. (Race recap here). It was special to see his whole family together for the first time in many years and we enjoyed many laughs, conversations and love.

    4. My mom did her first 5k and I got to do it with her

    My mom has always been a walker but never at a formal event. She came to the Mermaid Series East Bay event after I strong armed her into signing up, but she had a blast and so did I. I can’t wait til we do another. She got bit by the racing bug!

    5. I ran the Santa Rosa Marathon

    This event was my first marathon back in 2016 but after seeing my husband complete the Eugene Marathon in April, the marathon bug bit me hard and I had to sign up for 26.2, so I went back to the marathon where it all began. I became a hard core training machine over the Summer, and despite having to overcome an extreme physical illness just two weeks before the race, I completed it and felt like a champion. (Race recap here)

    6. My college roommate got married

    I was honored to stand next to my college roommate Marge at her wedding this Summer. It was a gift to be part of such a special day.

    7. I performed in a musical again

    After a 16 month hiatus from being on stage I was ready to perform again and was cast in the Addams Family musical. It was one of the most fun shows I have ever been in and was so grateful that the director took a chance on me and cast me in the show!

    8. I ran the California International Marathon

    Getting to the start line of this event was harder than getting to the finish. I trained for this race while also performing in the aforementioned musical and then lost a few weeks of training because of poor air quality due to the fires. I surprised myself by finishing faster than I expected to on such a challenging course, and really felt like an athlete that day in the most amazing way. More than I ever had.

    9. My husband and I enjoyed our first week long vacation since our honeymoon which was almost 5 years ago.

    And at the happiest place on earth, no less. It was special to spend time together. We needed it, and made lots of fond memories.

    And that folks, are my top 9 highlights from 2018. There were so many to choose from but those were the best! I look forward to what 2019 has in store for me!